Falling rain sparkled in the light of the streetlamps. The police-car blues and aid-car reds flashed, reflecting against the wet pavement. Sally Donovan stood dripping in her police-issued raincoat. It was a hell of a night for a double homicide.
The Freak was inside with Lestrade while everyone else, even John Watson, had been banished out into the downpour. There were few gawkers that night, all but the most morbidly curious no doubt kept away by the miserable weather. Small favours there, at least, she thought. Crowd control was easy when there was none.
That made the pair of onlookers just outside the police tape that much more obvious. "Is that Molly Hooper over there?"
John glanced up and followed Sally's line of sight. "Yeah. We were at her place when Lestrade called Sherlock."
"You were? What for?"
"Dinner party. Molly's idea."
Sally shuddered and it was nothing to do with the cold and wet. "Who's that bloke she's talking to?" The fellow was officially tall, dark, and handsome. He looked as tall as the Freak, in fact, but he was as dark-skinned as Sherlock was pale, with strong features and a devastating smile that he'd just turned on Hooper.
"That's her new boyfriend. Oscar...something. I forget his last name. Owns a trendy little shop that sells fairy cakes."
"That's Molly Hooper's new boyfriend?"
Sally frowned. "What's he doing at a crime scene? He oughtn't to be here." She could hardly say what she was really thinking. She barely believed she was thinking it.
"Neither should Molly, technically," said John with a shrug. "Nor me, for that matter."
"Yeah, well. I'm used to you." She and John exchanged a small smile. The pair had reached détente a long time ago. She glanced over at the couple again. "At least they're outside the police line."
Lestrade and the Freak emerged from the house at that moment, the former shouting out orders and the latter promptly calling John away.
Sally dismissed the thought of Molly Hooper and her boyfriend from her mind.
It wasn't until two days later, with the case complete, the murderer apprehended, and some time to relax that Sally thought back to that night in the rain. She sat on her sofa with a mug of tea and her woolly robe and fluffy slippers. Her reaction to learning that Molly and--what was his name? Oscar. That's right. Her reaction to learning they were dating had been immediate, visceral, and shocking. Only now, with no witnesses, would she even admit it to herself.
She'd been angry that a white woman had snagged such a gorgeous black man. She'd realised instantly that it was ridiculous, of course, and dismissed it from her thoughts. Sally had dated white men, so why couldn't Molly cross that colour line, too? Hell, her own family tree was a mixture of ethnicities. Plus, this was the fucking 21st century, for God's sake! But she couldn't deny what she'd felt in that brief moment.
She pulled the memory of the feeling out and examined it like she would a clue in a case. There'd been anger, yes. Envy? Probably a little. She'd not had a date herself in weeks. Was it just that it was mousey little Molly Hooper who had got such a good-looking bloke while Sally was currently single? That would make Sally a bit of a bitch, but she was more comfortable with that than with the alternative.
But Sally was a detective. She'd spent too many years asking questions and dealing in facts to stop now, even when the subject under investigation was herself. She took a deep breath and made herself look at it.
Jealousy was a part of it, sure, but it wasn't the whole thing. There was prejudice there, too. Sally didn't like that one bit. She'd been on the other side of that sort of rubbish plenty in her life, particularly in her career. The idea that she would make that snap condemnation against someone else was an unpleasant thought.
"How does that song go?" she muttered, wryly. She began to hum a catchy refrain from a West End musical she'd taken her niece and sister to as a birthday present a couple of weeks ago. Sally smiled. She couldn't not, to be honest. The painfully true lyrics, couched in a bouncy melody, made an ugly subject manageable.
She quietly sang the few lines she could remember. "Everyone's a little bit racist sometimes. Doesn't mean we go around committing hate crimes. If we all could just admit that we are racist a little bit, even though we all know that it's wrong, maybe it would help us get along.*"
She sipped at her tea. She might make snap judgements, but she was mature enough to recognise it, admit it, and do what she could to get along. With Molly and Oscar, anyway. There wasn't a West End musical in the world that could make the Freak likeable.
*Lyrics from Everyone's a Little Bit Racist from the genius show Avenue Q.