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Summary: Even when it's someone else's case, if Sherlock is involved Lestrade will be too.

Rating: PG-13

Timeline: Between Study in Pink and The Blind Banker

Word Count: 3800

Type: Gen,

(yes I know I said Part 5 was the final.  I was strongly encouraged to do more.)

Once more the creative[livejournal.com profile] elfbert   came to my rescue with much biffo and some insights into Lestrade not coping.


Part One: First Encounter

Part Two: The first time he saw the car

Interlude in a Blue Suit

Part Three:Irresistable Force and Immovable Object

Part Four: Well of Courage

Part Five: Power Corrupts

====================

Lestrade had barely got halfway across the floor to his office when he heard Moe bellow "Lestrade! Get your arse in here"

DCI Andy "Moe" Macdonald was a pretty hands off manager as a rule, saying "You've been around long enough to know your job, don't need me to wipe your nose for you" and letting him get on with it.

So something that had Moe bellowing across the room was important and Lestrade got his arse in there pretty damn smart.

In Moe's office was DI Halford looking upset, a couple of case files, and an atmosphere of "shit aimed at fan and already in transit" that just about choked you.

"Right. That pet weirdo of yours has been fouling up one of Halford's jobs to the point we have no chance of a result. And we need one because it's just the sort of twisted thing the tabloids will pick up unless some footballer's wife is found in the wrong bed. So you take it and you sort your weirdo out and make sure he doesn't bother anyone else. Clear?"

Lestrade looked at Halford who was obviously Not Coping With Sherlock. He could understand that, Coping With Sherlock was not easy for anyone and years of experience was no guarantee.

He wanted to say "Do Halford good to learn to cope, he's been coasting too long" but Moe was no fool and knew Halford was marginal. OK on the routine simple stuff, but hopeless on anything tricky. What he was doing in Serious Crimes was anyone's guess.

So he gave the only possible answer which was "Yes Sir", took possession of the files and waited for Halford to have his whinge in the guise of briefing him.

He wasn't disappointed.

Seems that Sherlock had barged in, been warned off, broke in to the site after Halford left, been chased off again barely escaping arrest, had possibly nicked something, had been texting all and sundry with insults and deductions and was generally driving Halford mad. (not hard thought Lestrade...)

As Lestrade sat through the diatribe he cast a weather eye on Moe to see if the DCI was angry or amused. Amused if he was reading correctly. That was a relief, if Moe decided he needed to be a hands on manager you knew all about it. He escaped as soon as he could.

He sorted through the file - at least Halford was comprehensive, he'd even recorded the texts - and pondered. Sherlock was on about a wine bottle with an expensive label, which Halford had dismissed.

What else... not much. Sherlock had definitely seen more than he was letting on, but Halford had held things back too. That notepad for example. Idiot. If the doodle was important Sherlock would decipher it in ten seconds flat, so far none of Halford's people had a clue about it.

Lord knows why Halford had been given this job. Probably because they hadn't seen the connection to the minor celebs until the body had been identified. Lestrade wondered if that was what had caught Sherlock's interest but probably not. Celebs were not his thing. He'd probably just seen the crime tape and decided to stick his nose in because he was bored.

Lestrade preferred to go to Sherlock rather than Sherlock coming to the Yard, fewer applications for stress leave that way.

Although now he had that Doctor fellow in tow, he seemed fractionally more stable. Still inclined to bait people with his deductions about their personal lives just to watch them squirm, but less inclined to yell said deductions to the room, and less inclined to wild gestures which was easier on the furniture. (Lestrade had been fond of that chair, the replacement was definitely not as good.)

Lestrade pulled out his phone.

I have file and evidence for case with wine bottle. - GL

The answer came back quick as thought.

bring milk - SH

Lestrade stopped by the evidence locker to sign for the notepad and a few other things from the crime scene Sherlock wouldn't have seen then headed off to pick up milk. And biscuits. And teabags. Voice of experience that.

He took an unmarked car, not wanting to travel on the tube with evidence. Not as easy to lose as a USB stick but why take chances?

Parking the car more or less nearby he texted to Sherlock to let him in, toted the bag and file up the stairs, and wandered in to 221b.


Sherlock was draped over the couch, hands steepled in his "Genius thinking, do not disturb" pose.

The Doctor was putting a laptop down on the table, carefully moving various Things that Lestrade knew better than to enquire about.

Sherlock's eyes snapped open at his entrance. Leaping up from the couch with a "hah!" of glee he snatched the evidence bag from Lestrade's hand and dropped crosslegged to the floor to paw through the contents.

Lestrade handed the other bag to the Doctor who received it with thanks and a roll of the eye in Sherlock's general direction and went off to the kitchen. Tea might be forthcoming, you never knew.

"Boring! Not relevant!" Sherlock declared, tossing items Lestrade had signed for over his shoulder. "Aha!" that was the notepad, Lestrade congratulated himself on spotting that was the big one. "Printer's ink smudge, was there some on the corpse's thumb?" Lestrade checked the autopsy report "Yes, at least a blue smudge on the thumb, they don't know what it was".

"Incompetents!" was the answer.

Sherlock examined the doodle on the notepad, turning it around, but who knew what upside down or sideways was on a bunch of squiggles and a square or two?

"It's an address of course" said Sherlock, the "of course" was part of the ritual. "No way" said Lestrade, folding his arms. Which was what he was supposed to say. To give Sherlock a reason to show off.

"This rectangle with the marks is a sketch outline of a wine label, so it's to do with the forged label on the bottle in the room, they match up. This rectangle with the squiggles on the side and the top is a candle, the circle means the flame or wick, not the whole candle.  That's a tree leaf. He wanted to note the address but didn't want to write it down so he made a pictogram"

"Oh come on. Might as well say it's a copy of something in the Tate!" The next step in the ritual, disbelief. Which should be met by pronouncement then action.

Sherlock had been frantically working the phone keypad while pontificating. "Wick Lane, Poplar. Storage buildings to lease. That's where they are storing the counterfeit wines before sending them to wine merchants. The lines here are the number, 31, that will be a building not a room"

So that's what this was about, Lestrade thought. Money in that game, but murder?

Watson came out with the steaming cups just as Sherlock shot to his feet. "Come on John, time to go!"

The Doctor looked resigned to losing his cuppa. Clearly it hadn't taken long to get him accustomed to Sherlock's ways.

"I can give you a lift" said Lestrade, knowing the answer.

"Not in a police car! Not even an unmarked one!"

Which wasn't true, he'd been in both kinds before when it suited him. Or when Lestrade insisted, but doing that had consequences so he only did it when it was important. He still made the offer though, if only because sometimes Sherlock accepted.

"I'll meet you there" Lestrade said to the vanishing backs as he gathered up his scattered pieces of evidence. And snaffled half a cup or so of tea as he did so and a couple of the cream biscuits. He'd brought them after all.


================


Lestrade approached the building, no one around apparently which was odd for a weekday afternoon. Maybe it was just for storage?

No sign of Sherlock or the Doctor which meant they were in there somewhere. Side door probably and don't ask how they'd got in, best not to know. THe whole evidence chain was irretrievably wrecked anyway, so here's hoping there was going to be enough here to mean they could skate over the illegalities when it came to putting it in front of the CPS.

John Watson had followed Sherlock into the warehouse with no thought of trouble because Sherlock had no thought of trouble. And so far there had been none. Just boxes of wine stacked on pallets, some boxes opened and bottles lying about.

Sherlock jumped to the nearest bottle checking his phone. "See John! There's a mistake in the label, the colour registration is off here, and here, here's the correct label from a Sotheby's auction."

He darted through the room tearing at boxes "The whole lot is worthless. That's why the dead body, he organised the labels this end, see there's the pack of them over there! None of this can be sold, if the labels were right these counterfeits would be worth thousands."

Suddenly a yell "Hey, what the fuck! Marky get him!"

Two men ran at them from the back of the building, one pulling a knife as he ran.

Sherlock dodged the first slice but was hemmed in by the wine boxes nearly tripping as his foot was caught by a pallet corner and then he was grabbed by the second, thankfully unarmed, man.

John lunged towards the melee, with the intention of at least distracting the one with the knife to even out the odds when a noise from the side made him spin, ready for more assailants. Instead he saw Lestrade charging in from the side door yelling "Police!" Lestrade crashed into the nearest man, shoved him face-first into some nearby boxes, grabbed him by the hair, pulling him off balance as he flailed wildly with the knife, and dropped him with a savage punch to the kidneys.

John would never have picked Lestrade for a dirty fighter but he was a bloody effective one. The man rolled into a ball, knife forgotten on the floor, groaning.

Sherlock had taken advantage of the surprise and flipped his remaining assailant into the wall head first, then, whilst he was still dazed, buried his knee in the man's groin. John turned to see who was left in the fight just in time to half-yell a warning as Lestrade was almost blindsided by someone with a wine bottle - barely managing to get an arm up to protect his head, wine and glass expoding everywhere as the bottle shattered.

Lestrade pivoted clumsily and kicked out at his attacker, John clubbed his two fists into the man's neck and finished the job. The last man - the one who had yelled? - faltered, then took to his heels.

Lestrade saw him go and tried to follow, tripping over the knifeman and extending his hand to catch himself. As it landed on the wine boxes he let out a choked scream and fell in a twist on top of the thug he'd tripped over.

John realised with horror that the red all over Lestrade's shirt and the floor and the boxes wasn't all red wine.

Lestrade struggled up with his weight still on the groaning knifeman, holding his torn and bleeding arm. "Someone secure these bastards before they start up again!" he barked and John found himself instinctively obeying the command, grabbing the man's own belt to secure the knifeman then his own for the one he'd punched. Sherlock's one was dead to the world.

He returned to a whitefaced Lestrade, helping him to a more comfortable position against some boxes and looking at the damage.

John's hands were covered in Lestrade's blood, he froze for a moment remembering sand and blood and too many dead men...

Then his training took over, he pressed onto the wound trying to get the edges together. He could see the shining white of bone, and too much blood but not much else in this light. Which got darker "Out of the light Sherlock, and give me your belt!

Wordlessly Sherlock handed him the belt, and he set a torniquet to try and slow the bleeding. "Need something to bandage it, a towel or a shirt or something!" Lestrade was trying hard to make no noise, just the occasional little whining sound. John was as gentle as he could be, but was still hurting Lestrade with every movement.

Muttering his thanks as a scarf fell into his hands he wrapped the bloody mess as well as he could, lifting the arm up still applying pressure. Too much blood soaking through all over everything. Lestrade was looking shocky but fighting it.

After a moment or two to gather his strength Lestrade shifted, eased his phone out with his good hand, and called the Yard. "Donovan? Lestrade, I'm at a storage place in Wick Lane, Poplar, number 31. You'll see a pool car out the front. We've got some injured thugs to process, and a bunch of evidence to deal with. May as well bring some forensics techs to go over for prints, doubt we'll get any but do it anyway."

John realised he wasn't going to say anything about his own injury, stupid damn man. So snatched the phone and barked into it: "Sergeant! This is John Watson, Your DI's been injured and needs an ambulance quick smart! Serious tendon and muscle damage, he needs surgery as soon as we can get him in."

"Watson? The Doctor? Ahh.. right, ordering ambulance now, should be there soon." He heard her yelling to someone "The boss is down! Get an ambulance to this address, get a move on!"

John gave the phone back to Lestrade who didn't have the energy to even scowl at him.

===============


Lestrade had only been here two days and already was sick of the bed, sick of the damn cast, and really just generally pissed off.

The doc had been quite clear: torn tendons did not heal well if you used them and the graft had been a tricky job. If Lestrade wanted the use of his hand then the cast was on from fingertips to elbow till he damn well said it was coming off.  And he was staying in bed until the foot they'd taken the graft from was ready to bear his weight.

The mild concussion was just another complication.

He'd had bad dreams the first night, courtesy of the concussion and the anaesthetic and the painkillers. He only clearly remembered bits of one, seeing Mycroft Holmes's face fading in an out of sight. Figures... He was trapped by this damn cast and in pain, what else would he dream of?

Well if that's what morphine does, Sherlock can have it, Lestrade would stick to beer.

Moe had come in once he'd been cleared for visitors, all jolly and Moe-like. "So you jammy bastard! You've scored four whole weeks recovery leave with more subject to medical advice from your own surgeon. And not so much as a 'please explain' never mind a p745 in triplicate and a medical board."

"Thanks Moe, how did you swing that?"

"Wasn't me old son, someone on the ninth floor must have cancelled the order at the wine merchants and decided to pass on the favour which counts as a miracle in my book."

And in Lestrade's come to that.

"Anyway, your pet weirdo's being amazingly helpful, Halford's clearing it all up now. I'll send Gregson in later, get him up to speed on your current jobs and you tell your DS I want him back in one piece."

Lestrade grinned. Gregson had once tried to patronise Sally Donovan as a "woman of colour" and had been thoroughly and publically savaged for it. He'd been wary of her ever since. This was probably the DCI taking the opportunity to tell them both to get over it already.

"Well" said Moe "I'll see you in four weeks time. If your Holmes character turns up again I'll get Dimmock involved, could do with him out of my hair for a month!"

With that he slapped Lestrade on the shoulder and strode out telling his accompanying DC to get a wriggle on they had work to do and couldn't lie about here all day, leaving Lestrade immeasurably happier for the lightning visit.

A good antidote to the earlier appearance of one Dr John H. Watson which had been surprising and welcome, but disturbing too. He'd been worried about the injury and the possible consequences. Trying to be all upbeat and encouraging but the worry shone through. He'd managed to talk to the surgeon and what he wasn't saying was depressingly clear. Which hadn't helped Lestrade's mood any.

==============================

Life in the flat with one usable arm was not at all pretty. People from his team dropped in to help him with food now and then (mostly takeaway though Parker - or his partner, he didn't ask - was quite a decent cook) and he could manage most things with difficulty so it wasn't as if he was helpless.

Most things. He couldn't dress in anything but slops, shaving was spotty, putting on a jumper was an exercise in gymnastics and he'd tried for what seemed like hours to get the new jar of coffee open. He was frustrated, he was bored, he was climbing the bloody walls!

The knock on the door was a welcome distraction. No idea who it could be at this time of day but anything that wasn't the TV or a website was a godsend. He pulled his shirt down and answered the door.

Which was a mistake.

===================

Mycroft Holmes watched the inadequate footage from the tiny camera with concern. The man was clearly not coping: uneven stubble, sloppy clothing, unsuitable diet, little mental stimulation, body language of a man unhappy and in some pain. His sleep patterns were disturbed which wasn't surprising, he seemed to have reduced the dosage of his medication presumably not liking the side effects.

His people did seem to be helping as they could, which was also not surprising, loyalty went both ways.

But it was not enough.

If you had asked Mycroft the reason for his concern, he'd have smiled and said that DI Lestrade was important to Sherlock's wellbeing. (And would have totally ignored the fact that Sherlock had totally ignored Lestrade.)

He'd have said nothing about how the sight of Lestrade distressed and run down and in pain made him feel. Because feelings about Lestrade had caused him problems before, and he was not going to let that happen again.

=====================

Lestrade had once walked through that door into a nightmare, now the nightmare was walking through into him.

"May I come in Inspector?"

He wanted to say no, he wanted to slam the door and hide, but there was no hiding place. He wanted to say no, but what good would it do? If the bastard wanted in, he'd be in. So he took a step to the side in reluctant invitation, unconsciously hunching over his wounded arm to protect it.

Holmes strolled in, and surveyed the place. Lestrade had kept it as neat as he could, but he knew he'd been a bit slack.

He straightened up and looked Holmes in the eye. "What do you want?"

"I'm told you saved Sherlock from being stabbed Inspector. I wish to thank you for that"

Well that was the first time anyone had thanked him for saving Sherlock's skinny little arse, it was true. Sherlock hadn't. But there was no way Holmes was here just for that.

"It is a pity you were injured doing so."

"Sherlock has Doctor Watson to look after him now, so why do you care about a crippled detective? What are you here for?"

Holmes looked down his nose at him.

"You are not coping, are you Inspector. You find shaving difficult, uneven stubble indicates where you can't stretch the skin and so risk cutting yourself. Some of the crockery on the draining board is freshly chipped because you can't easily manage to wash it with one hand and you won't ask your visitors to help. Your kitchen drawer is partially out and the wood is damaged because you have tried using it as a vice to hold jars you wish to open, with minimal success."

Lestrade stared at him. Jolted out of his apathy by the sheer bloody cheek. "On top of everything else, that's all I need. Yes I know I'm bloody useless. Carved up by a shonky little chav because I was too slow and too stupid to see him. No one else with a bloody scratch on them, and me having to leave the cleanup to Halford who couldn't close a door properly let alone a bloody case."

"I can't even tie my own shoelaces! Having to ask people with better things to do to bloody well feed me, never mind everything else I can't manage! Crippled and no good to man or beast, don't need you to tell me that! And if this damn thing doesn't heal I'll be out of a job, or stuck with deskwork which is the same thing. So here I am going stir crazy and the last thing I need is for some posh bastard to come in here and rub my bloody nose in it! Go find some other tame copper for your damn fool brother!"

Lestrade ran out of steam and slumped into the nearest chair, wincing at the pain shooting through his arm.

Holmes waited until he had clearly finished before speaking again.

"It isn't a slur upon you Inspector. You manage surprisingly well for a man in your condition, your determination is impressive. But you won't manage another what...two weeks? more? like this."

"You need regular skilled help. To that end I will arrange a visiting nurse to come daily to do the things you can't."

He paused, as if remembering something "That is... I ahh.. request that I may arrange a visiting nurse."

Lestrade looked at him, gobsmacked. He couldn't quite reconcile the (admittedly grudging) request with the manipulative bastard he was dealing with.

His arm hurt, he was tired, he was dealing with an unpredictable man who waltzed in, insulted him, then offered him help worth about 300 quid a week as though it was nothing...

Lestrade hunched over his aching arm and said "Do what you want, I can't stop you."

He knew he was being bloody ungrateful, but he didn't want to be grateful to Mycroft Holmes.

The following day as he was luxuriating in clean hair and a shaven face, decent clothing, and a belly full of Neil-the-Nurse's excellent scrambled eggs he decided he had no idea what the posh bastard was up to, but as there was nothing he could do to stop the man he might as well enjoy it.


Part Seven: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't
 
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