spock: logic is sexy

Sherlock Fic: The End of the Affair (Sally/Anderson, Sally/her job)

Title: The End of the Affair
Characters/Pairings: Sally/Anderson, Sally/her job
Rating: Teen
Summary: Sally would rather marry her job than keep sleeping with a married man.
Word Count: 1500
Notes: Thanks to spikeface for the initial beta and yeomanrand for looking it over before posting




Sally's affair ends the same place it began: a crime scene.

There's a body on the floor, and Anderson is crouched in front of it, dropping things in evidence bags, and he says, “Sharon's gone to Majorca for the weekend.” He doesn't even look up from the dead woman's fingernails.

“Is that all?” Sally asks. “Just, Sharon's gone away on holiday and you think I'll come fuck you?”

Anderson looks up at her, uncomprehending.

“Glad to see I merit a glance, at least,” she says, not bothering to keep the bitterness out of her voice.

“Keep your voice down.”

He glances meaningfully at the door, and Sally rolls her eyes. What they're doing is hardly a secret, and not just because of the freak. Working at the Yard is like living in a small town populated exclusively by spying old ladies. Lestrade's about to get a divorce, McConley gambles, Anderson cheats. They all know each other's business, whether or not they say it.

“Is this because of what he said?”

They both knew who he was talking about. The question doesn't merit an answer, just a glare. If she cared what outsiders thought of her romantic life, she'd hardly be fucking a married man. If she cared what other people thought of her at all, she wouldn't be herself. But she did require a man who at least looked at her when he invited her to spend the night.

“If not him, then what?” Anderson asks. He's got a hair clamped in a pair of tweezers, and he sounds annoyed.

Sally doesn't answer; she's spotted a familiar lanky figure in a swirling coat outside the police barricade. Time to go back to her post then. She decides to let the freak in without complaint.

“Body's on the second floor,” she says and hopes Anderson likes his present.

***


It hadn't always been this way. Once, she had liked her secret affair.

In secondary school, when the other girls were dating, she was always working. When she came home late from her job at Tesco, her sister would eye her suspiciously and ask, “Who're you seeing, then?”

“No one,” she'd snap, but secretly, she was disappointed that she didn't have stories to tell, even though she knew that her wages and her marks at school would carry her away from her family's dingy little flat.

Her sister is happily married and living in Surrey now, and Sally never told her about Anderson; she'd disapprove, even though Sally's not the one cheating. But then, doing something wrong was exactly the point. Sally had always followed the rules. Diversity hire, people whispered behind her back, and she'd stilled her fists, bitten her tongue, and done the job twice as well as they had. She didn't mind; working hard suited her, and she'd never been one for making mistakes.

Until Anderson had started ogling her legs at crime scenes, and she'd let him. Oh, she'd known it was foolish, even then. She's not a lovestruck teenager, and she'd never imagined they would fall in love. What she wanted was the now, the hurried rendezvous, secret weekends, and text messages exchanged in elaborate code that drove all thoughts of past and future from her brain and showed her, for once, what it felt like to do something wrong.

Now she knows exactly what “wrong” feels like: exciting for a few months, then boring as hell.

***


As always, she and Lestrade are the last to leave the crime scene.

“Split a cab?” he asks, but she shakes her head. The cold night air stings her skin, but it makes her feel awake, and she needs to think.

She thinks about the petulant tilt of Anderson's mouth when someone knows more than he does.

She thinks about how often she's the one who knows more than he does.

His kisses are sloppy.

The secrecy of their affair had once been thrilling. Anderson, however, had never been more than average in bed.

He takes her for granted. That's the one she can't forgive.

***


The inside of her flat is cold, and her cat's staring at her balefully over an empty food bowl.

“Quit complaining. I didn't get dinner either,” she says, scratching its neck. She wasn't technically supposed to be on duty tonight, but Lestrade had said he needed her, and she'd left for the crime scene without a second thought. That had been six hours ago.

Her half-eaten plate of spaghetti is still on the table. Her phone chimes while she's got her head in the cupboard, rummaging for the bag of cat food. Anderson, of course. Are you really not coming?

No, she texts back. She can't think of him by his first name and wonders if that's dysfunctional. Her head smacks the top of the cupboard, and she swears. Of course it's dysfunctional; she's been fucking a married man for six months. Everything about it is dysfunctional.

When the phone rings, she answers it even though that's probably dysfunctional too.

“All right, just tell me what I've done.”

“Nothing.” She rips off her nicotine patch and lights a fag from her secret stash in the back of the silverware drawer. “You've done absolutely nothing.” Absolutely nothing to deserve me, she thinks. She doesn't even consider saying it aloud. It's too trite, too emotional, too many things Sally Donovan is not.

“So that's it, then? We're done?”

Brilliant deduction.”

She jabs the “end” button and, for a moment, hates her mobile. Slamming down a receiver would have been so much more satisfying.

***


She works late on Monday night because burying herself in her work feels good and Lestrade's in his office across the way, the wedding band finally missing from his finger. They're both single now – not that they'll ever talk about it – but when he leans across her desk to switch on her lamp, she knows he's checking in.

“Think any of us have got a chance at a normal life? Working here, I mean?” he asks, an empty paper coffee cup dangling from his hand.

“Hope not,” Sally says. She can't remember wanting to be average, even for a day.

The phone rings then.

Pop star found dead, locked room, no sign of overdose, no marks on the body. She reads the words as fast as Lestrade writes them down, his crabby shorthand no obstacle after their years together. Wordlessly they fall into step, shrugging on their coats on the way out the door.

***


The freak's there almost as soon as they are; she starts to sharpen her tongue as soon as she sees the familiar billowing silhouette coming down the street.

“Scrubbed the floors again last night, I see,” he says as soon as she lets him under the bright yellow police tape.

Sally smiles, radiant and sharp.

“Yeah. For hours and hours.”

She rounds her lips around the words, says every syllable nice and slow like it's filled with hidden innuendo, even though it's not. It had been ages since she'd cleaned her flat properly; now it looks like a home for the first time in a year.

“Gave them lots of attention, I'm sure,” the freak says. Loads and loads, she answers in her head. She could go on like this for hours, sarcasm and innuendo, except he's already skipping up the steps, eyes alight with glee. That's the moment she hates him the most, when he's stepping past her like she doesn't matter even though she's the one who worked for years to get here.


“Oi, quit staring. Lover boy will be jealous,” she says to Dr. Watson, who seems transfixed by the small length of her legs visible between her skirt and her boots. She grins to soften the words; it's the freak she has a problem with, not his friend.

“Oh, we're not. I mean, I'm not...” he says, cheeks reddening faintly. “Everyone assumes...”

She smiles again, waving his words away with her hands.

“I know,” she says, and silence settles between them, comfortable even though they don't talk much. He's an easy man to be around, she thinks. He never seemed to mind her sharp tongue, some days even seemed to understand her antipathy toward his best friend.

“Listen, Sally, if you ever have a bit of free time and you want to go for a pint...”

“You're shameless,” she says because she's heard him say that exact line to women before. At crime scenes, even. He's got an eye for the ladies, Dr. Watson has.

“Is that a no?”

He's kind, she thinks, and not bad looking. Not afraid of crime scenes, tolerant of misanthropy and people who keep odd hours. For now, anyway.

“It's a try me again in six months,” she says. If he's still around, she'll decide if he's good enough for her then. Now she can see an army of paparazzi speeding toward them on the darkened street, flashbulbs already blazing. She's got a job to do.
Oh my. There's nothing about this I don't absolutely love. So well done, so insightful. Even the cameos here have great depth. Kudos to you.
Thank you so much! I wasn't sure whether there would be much appetite for a Sally story, so I'm really glad that you liked it :)
This is a wonderful Sally character study. Despite the short wordcount, this story left me feeling that I knew Sally better, as well as how she sees the people around her. This bit was my favorite:

“Think any of us have got a chance at a normal life? Working here, I mean?” he asks, an empty paper coffee cup dangling from his hand.

“Hope not,” Sally says. She can't remember wanting to be average, even for a day.


This says a lot about Sally and Lestrade's working relationship as well as what drives her. Also, coming from someone who never wanted to be average, "freak" is perhaps not so big as insult after all.
Wow, love this! I really like Sally's no-nonsense attitude and how she makes the decision to end it without wavering. Plus John's flirtation at the end, fabulous!
Congrats on making Sally a real person! She almost never gets enough credit. And the snippets of her interactions with everyone were pitch-perfect. :)
Thank you pso much, I think Sally is such an interesting character. It means a lot that you think I did justice to her.
Oh, I like this Sally. She's as sharp as she should be in all ways.
I like this. Great portrait of a complicated, interesting woman.
Seriously, I love the 'boring as hell' line. And the but where she just...wakes up to the fact that she can do so much better.

Yeah. sally is awesome.
Thank you so much! I agree completely - Sally is an awesome woman, and she can do better than a married man.
...and now I really do want to see if she gives John a try after six months. Suspect it would be a couple of decent shags and then realising he dumps *everything* for Sherlock isn't quite so theoretical.
I had actually intended to write more of the story, exactly to see if she gave John a try and to see what came of it. Then I saw that the new series is premiering January 1, and I didn't want to write something that was just going to get jossed. Maybe after I see what happens in the new series, I'll come back for a sequel.
I think I will write it, but not till after the new canon comes out. It's so close that I may as well wait :)
This is excellent. The subtle treatment of her character gave her just the right amount of depth... It's always great to see minor characters fleshed out like this. <3 I'm looking forward to any future Sally fics, AU or no. ^^
Thank you so much! I do intend to write more about Sally - I think she's such a fabulous character! I'm so glad you enjoyed her here.
Really loved this. I'm so glad a few fanfic writers have given this character a voice--one that fits what we've seen and the circumstances of her job.