Sherlock Holmes was the first man she met on the job who didn't say stupid things like, "Ladies first!" or "Let me get that for you." He didn't talk down to her, didn't flatter her. He barely noticed her at all.
If he'd acknowledged her more, maybe she'd have been able to ignore him. But he hadn't, so she couldn't.
She started to play a game. "Sherlock, hey. Sherlock. Deduce something about me," she'd say. The first time, he frowned, as if trying to figure out her angle. The angle was she wanted his eyes on her, if she could admit that to herself. In the months she'd known him, he'd remained a mystery. Lestrade had said that he wasn't with anybody, said that he didn't even look.
Sally thought he might get the hint if she could ask him to look at her. He never got it, though. He'd tell her what she had for lunch, or tell her she'd re-hemmed her skirt, but he never told her she was attracted to him. He had to know, didn't he?
Sherlock was beautiful. The shifting colors in his eyes made her breath catch. The way he rose up like a regal bird, balanced and true, made her want to stand up straighter. He was absolutely brilliant.
One time, after demonstrating the path a victim took, she chuckled and brushed some pretty red leaves out of his dark hair.
He stared at her, frowning slightly.
She cocked her hip and her eyebrow, brushing at his hair once more. "What?" she asked.
"Thanks," he said with narrowed eyes.
She swallowed when he turned around to head back to Lestrade. She wouldn't give up quite yet, though.
"Hey," Sally said as he was leaving the Yard one day. "Let's do coffee. I'll treat you."
He raised an eyebrow, sizing her up for a long moment. "As colleagues?" he asked.
"Sure, I guess. I mean, I was hoping for more." She smirked. "You're not taken, are you?"
Sherlock took a cold step back. "Thank you for the offer, Sargent Donovan, but I have to decline."
"Why?" she challenged, crossing her arms.
"I don't want to get coffee with girls," he said bluntly. "Does that answer satisfy your desperate need to know?"
"Fine," she raised her hands. "I can take a hint."
"It's my turn to ask why now," he said.
She hesitated, finally deciding to just be honest. Perhaps things could still go her way. "You're intelligent, for one," she said. "And handsome, in the right light," she teased.
He stared at her. "Is that all?"
"Yeah, that's all. I've just complimented you. And what's more, I mean it."
"Yes, you do," Sherlock said, then sighed. "As I said, no. Don't look at me like that; things are better this way," he said, and walked away.
"Hey," she said. "Hey, what do you mean?"
But he didn't turn around.
Sally thought he might be gay at that point, but Lestrade, who seemed to be in love with Sherlock, who was the closest person in the world to him, or so it seemed, didn't catch his interest at all. Neither did any of the other boys at the Yard. No one caught his interest.
She noticed the way he lit up about the murders, though. He looked at case files the way she wished he'd look at her. If he could have, he'd have taken a triple homicide to the cinema. He'd have taken a kidnapping out to lunch.
"You get off on solving crimes," Sally told him seriously.
Sherlock looked about. "I've never 'gotten off' on anything, to date," he said with a hint of disgust.
She tilted her head. "Most guys wouldn't admit that."
"Most women wouldn't tell men they get off on solving crimes."
She traced her lip with her fingernail absently. "You do, though."
His eyes took her in, drew up and down her, clinically, too slowly. She failed to repress a shiver.
"I'm not the one whose fire is being lit by this scenario," he pointed out coldly.
Her eyes flashed. He was gone before she could think of a reply.
He gently walked toward her until she was against the wall of the abandoned room. "How's the crime solving?" he asked in a sensuous tone.
She raised an eyebrow. "Is this sexual harassment, Mr. Holmes?"
"Are you feeling harrassed?" he asked carefully.
"And if I was?"
"I'd step away. It's not my intention to make you feel anything. What could I possibly make you feel?" His voice was lower than usual, with a quiver in it that did terrible, wonderful things to her.
She reached up and pulled him close, crushing their mouths together, feeling him respond, then pull back with a lingering bite at her lip. He sighed against her mouth, staring down at her for a moment.
"That was sexual harassment," he whispered.
"You should let me take you out for a coffee," Sally said. She slipped out from between Sherlock and the peeling wall, patting him on the shoulder as she passed him. She paused before she reached the doorway. "I know it's all you live on, during a case," she said with a laugh.
He turned around and tilted his head. She had a nice laugh.
"Okay," he found himself saying.
Things didn't stay nice. She'd thought she could trust him. She really had. But when she spilled hot coffee on her arm, he stared at the burns for much too long.
When she had an allergic reaction to garlic at dinner, he studied her face, kept poking at the puffiness until she'd right yelled at him.
Somehow, she found the same mistake had been made at a different restaurant, when the dish should not have contained garlic at all. She'd gone to the loo, which meant he'd had an opportunity. She wondered if...no. She shouldn't suspect things like that; normal women didn't.
She went round to his and sat waiting for him to find a particular book he wanted to read to her about Victorian law enforcement. When she thought he was taking too long, she got up to explore. The flat wasn't too shabby. Though it was mildly cluttered, it did look the place of a genius, especially with all the test tubes he had roosting in the kitchen.
"So what do you experiment in here?" she asked teasingly, trying to figure out what all he was testing. She'd been never been good at chemistry.
When she opened the fridge, she screamed.
She stared at the foot, crying out, remembering crime scenes, horror films, dramas about serial killers.
Sherlock came running. "Sally?" He poked his head into the kitchen, his shoulders slumping as he watched her stand, staring, frozen.
With trembling lips, she demanded, "What is that? Sherlock, that is a foot," she said, turning round. "That's a bloody foot—literally bloody. And you owe me an explanation."
"It's for research," he said with a motion of his hand. "It's not important, Sally. Though, it's not going to stay cold if you don't shut the door."
"So this is a thing with you," she said, eyes wide. "This is a thing. This is how you get your kicks. On the weekend, you curl up with...you curl up with some thumbs and you just analyze."
"Sally," he said softly, reaching for her shoulder with unsure fingers.
"No," she said, jerking backward. "No, don't. How many girlfriends have run screaming because of this?" she asked, turning to point at the fridge. "How many?"
"None," he said honestly.
Sally suddenly felt embarrassment wash over her. She was a policewoman. Damnit, she was not supposed to let a foot in the...the fridge...frighten her. Even all the normal, pretty girls Sherlock must have dated before had been able to deal with the sight. "Well, fine," she said, crossing her arms, more in protection of her pride than in defiance. "Fine! Go find another one who won't scream, then. Not that I'm your...fine! Am I really the only one who...?"
"Yes," he said, tilting his head curiously at her.
"Sod all this," she said, gesturing to his kitchen. "Good luck with your life. I won't be a part of it," she said, running a hand through her hair.
"You're a freak, aren't you, Sherlock?" she said slowly.
"I bet all your other girlfriends were just as freaky. I'll bet you'll find another just like you. That's twisted. It's not normal."
"And you're so normal?" he snapped. "The picture of a perfect Englishwoman?"
It hit her raw nerves in exactly the wrong way. She'd been trying so hard to convince herself she was right, that she was okay, that it was fine she'd been afraid, fine she couldn't handle Sherlock like she'd thought she could.
"You," she said, raising a finger, "are not to call me Sally. You are not to deduce things about me. You are not to call me, or invite me for tea, or poison my food with garlic." He looked stricken. "Oh!" she said. "So, I got that right, then! Look at you. Just look at yourself."
"I am not some lab rat. I am your colleague. Wait, you know what? Scratch that. You don't even work for us. You aren't even paid, are you? Isn't that a bit sad?"
"I didn't think it through," Sherlock admitted. "I thought it would be interesting to see the effect again. Your face...it's nice," he said, sounding a bit desperate.
"Oh. Oh, my face, huh?" Her hands lowered to her hips. "Oh, yes. Perfect. That's real normal, that. My face is pretty when I could be dying."
He rolled his eyes. "Come now, Sally. Do you really think I'd try to kill you with garlic? It wouldn't work."
"It wouldn't work? That's why you wouldn't?" She felt a little dizzy. This was the sort of man she'd always been warned about. This was the kind of man they arrested. "You're a freak," she bit out. "No, you really are. You can piss off." She pushed past him, quickly locking her eyes on the door.
"Sally?" he tried one last time. "S-Sargent?"
"Piss off," she said, crossing her arms in protection of her pride again as she led herself out.
The experiment with the foot was thoroughly carried out, and he kept the notes as a reminder of Sargent Sally Donovan, the only girlfriend to fear the contents of his fridge by virtue of having been his only girlfriend.
"Girlfriend, no. Not my area," he said to John, ignoring the smell of garlic as it both tantalized and mocked him.