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“I’ve had a rough day and honestly all I want right now is a drink and someone to cuddle with...” She paused in her conversation with her mum to open the door to her flat, trying to end the conversation as quickly as possible. “No, really, Mum, it was a bad case. One of the types you don’t like hearing about. Like, on Holmes’s scale? Over a ten.” She got her door opened and smiled in grim satisfaction as her mother gasped. “Yeah. So I’m going to get myself that drink and go cuddle with Bernard a bit, alright? Love you, Mum. Talk to you later.”

She pulled her cell phone down and switched the hand holding the bag with the bottle of wine and her takeaway order to the one she was holding her mobile in. Oh, it had been an absolutely horrid week. Seeing the victims had been bad enough, having to look at the grotesquely mutilated bodies of children dressed up in fairytale costumes. But seeing where the killer did it all… She nearly dropped her bag as she tried not to retch. She’d seen a lot in all her years as a copper, but nothing that horrific.

Her cat ran up to her and entwined itself between her legs and she felt herself give a faint smile. Bernard had been one of the kittens out of the litter Molly’s had had when she’d found a cat in the rain who’d been pregnant. Bernard had been the runt, a lovely little Siamese kitten with gorgeous blue eyes, and he flourished in Sally’s home. He was her world these days, the only male who understood her.

She had bought the wine chilled so she poured herself a glass and then went and took it into her bedroom to change into her comfiest pyjamas to just relax. No telly tonight; too much chance of catching the news and having to relive tonight’s arrest. Just quiet. Nice peace and quiet.

One and a half glasses and half her food in, she hated the quiet. It was too loud, pressing in too close. She needed distraction, meaningless noise. Something, anything, to chase the silence away.

She needed to talk to someone.

She had tried to call Greg but his phone was off. She understood why; he was probably off getting absolutely pissed. She would have, too, but she didn’t want to deal with the literal and metaphorical headaches of a hangover in the morning. It wasn’t worth the hassle. She considered calling Molly, but she had Tom and it was...strange. He didn’t seem thrilled when she talked shop, and this would probably be one of those “talking shop” things because they’d either end up talking about the case or she’d ask her for funny work stories to get her mind off the case. Molly lived and breathed her work, really. Tom was...different. Not bad, just different.

She had few other friends, and while she had acquaintances, most of them would be no help. They wouldn’t understand.

That just left one person, really, and so she got up, threw on a coat and grabbed the rest of her takeaway and got in her car, intent on heading to 221B Baker Street. She knew Holmes wouldn’t care if she arrived in her pyjamas, a green flannel set decorated with four leaf clovers. They’d been a gift from an ex, she’d forgotten who, and it didn’t matter really. Holmes wouldn’t care, wouldn’t question it, and she really had nowhere else to go right now.

When she knocked on the door and he answered he gave her a questioning look but let her in, and she marched right up into his sitting room and sat down on the sofa as soon as she got her coat off. “What do you want, Donovan?” he asked.

“Bore me to sleep.”

Holmes raised an eyebrow. “How would you suggest I do that?” he asked.

“Talk to me about something scientific, something you say would go over my head because I’m too simple to understand. Like those ash samples you went on about years ago.”

He looked at her for a long moment. “You might understand the differences. You’re much smarter than I had originally thought you were.”

She blinked. “Excuse me?”

“I underestimated you, Sergeant Donovan.” He looked down. “You are more intelligent than I’ve given you credit for in the past. I’ve underestimated you. Your insight in this case was valuable.”

Was...was she actually getting an apology from Holmes? She couldn’t believe her ears. “Damn right it was,” she said quietly.

He scowled for a moment, then stopped. “And it has been in the past as well. I...apologize.”

She looked at him for a long moment, then nodded. “Apology accepted, Holmes. But don’t think I’ve forgotten the past. I’ll be less antagonistic, though.” She held out her her hand. “Try our best to start over?”

He hesitated a moment, then shook her hand. “Alright.” When he began to talk, though, it wasn’t scientific babble. She recognized it as “Treasure Island,” and soon she laid down on the sofa, listening to his mesmerizing voice.

When she woke up, there was a pillow under her head, a rather comfortable one, and a quilt over her. She smiled to herself slightly, and pulled the quilt up for a moment. Maybe Holmes had really changed after all.