Summary: Lestrade trusts his instincts.
Word Count: 3850
Timeline: before A Study in Pink
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
Once more my thanks to the patient and encouraging elfbert
If you judge by the TV shows, there's a lot of interesting crime in England. Strange murders and baffling robberies. Mysterious strangers bringing equally mysterious messages to people who then die mysteriously.
The real story wouldn't make good TV.
So far this week there have been no mysterious deaths, they've all been boringly straightforward. Fights over drugs or drink or "respec" or someone who can't take it anymore and lashes out with a knife or a lump of two by four. Or a car, more of that these days. Or a husband drunk on cheap lager or a sense of entitlement slashing about with his fists once too often.
Boring routine work with boring routine answers.
A heartbreaking death of a child from abuse, Lestrade was glad that wasn't on his plate.
Nothing for for Lestrade's lot in that so far, so a good chance to catch up on the scut work.
While routine is.. well... routine and no one joined the Met to fill in forms, there's a lot to be said for spending a quiet day in the office. A nice quiet day that didn't involve standing about in the rain or smelling 4 day old dead bodies or talking to deaf old ladies about what they might have seen last week,
But a nice quiet day means nothing for Sherlock this week either.
Lestrade wondered what his chances were of a nice quiet day, compared to his chances of a skinny git infestation.
He'd had three Sherlock-free days, it couldn't last. Three days without text messages and phone calls and whining about boredom and the bloody nuisance trying to alleviate same by driving Donovan to commit murder. By that point he'd have called it justifiable homicide himself.
He finished his first (and best because he'd bought it from the Greek stall by the station) coffee of the day and started in on the routine.
Talking to his team. Progress reports and who was doing what. Who had interviews to do, who had forensic results to go through, who had to brief CPS, who was stuck where, who thought they'd clear up soon, who thought they were never getting anywhere. Who was due on training, who was due on leave, who was overdue for both.
It was Parker's turn to do the monthly stats, and he could write that "Community Interaction Initiative" report the Poicy and Affairs lot wanted or whatever it was called this month. He'd hate it but they all did so no ice there. Same shit different day, seems that a new idea came down on from on high every other week on powerpoint slides full of terms like "substantive generational change" and "appropriate metrics in place", with every one requiring coppers to fill in forms and attend meetings and generate reports and none of it anything to do with actual policing.
Lunchtime came, the paperwork pile did appear to have a small dent in it, so Lestrade decided to make it an even nicer day by heading out to find non-canteen food that wasn't eaten at his desk.
As he strolled towards his favourite Indian joint, watching everything around him as coppers will until the day they die (and they'll probably size up St Peter and rate the security at the Pearly Gates) he became aware of a feeling something was wrong.
It niggled and niggled at him all through the Vindaloo, making him replay his walk in his head to try and work out what it was. Someone acting funny? A car out of place? A construction hoarding slightly wrong? Patterns of people not quite right? What the hell was it that was making him uneasy and ruining his quiet non-canteen non-desk non-Sherlock lunch?
Not even an enquiry? No phone calls? Not one text saying "bored" or "bruises to the left side fade at a different rate"? Or even "the sister did it, check car left front wheel" which would mean he'd have to track down whose team had a case that had been in the papers involving a sister and a car.
He should be happy that he didn't have to deal with Sherlock because that meant not dealing with brother Mycroft and the Holmes brothers between them were the cause of almost all his grey hairs.
Should have been happy, but the more he thought about it, the more he realised a quiet Sherlock was a worrying Sherlock. He'd check the man's website when he got back to the office, see if there was any activity there.
But when he emerged from the restaurant he found himself hailing a taxi.
"Montague Street" he said.
Mycroft was frazzled.
He prided himself that no one at the table could tell it from his demeanour, but he was getting very close to the end of his tether.
Sherlock might complain about unimaginative rule bound police but at least he had Lestrade who appeared to own a few functioning braincells. Compared to the idiots Mycroft was dealing with who were sharing theirs on some departmental rota with the current custodian on leave.
Or if anyone here did actually have something to think with, Harcourt for example, they were using it purely for personal gain in the vicious game of interdepartmental throat cutting. Time to get Harcourt's attention back to the job.
"Gentlemen, the Minister is aware of the date of the Estimates Committee, however the funding for item four is guaranteed. If we cannot reach an agreement on this matter, then I expect the Minister will have to bring forward the re-structuring of the Policy Division, which may well have implications for some ongoing initiatives."
There, that got Harcourt's attention. Good. The man wanted a Permanent Undersecretary's job so badly he was salivating, Mycroft could use that ambition. Not that Harcourt would get a sniff of a promotion if his affair with the Brazillian attache blew up which judging by his tiepin and the shaving nick under his left ear it would do any day now. Might need to do something about that.
Finally! Harcourt at least had worked out what was wanted, which was more than Ridlington was capable of. Ah well, the man looked good on television and that was important.
After a little more blathering the meeting wound up and Mycroft decided he wouldn't go back to his office, he'd take a stroll around St James, be good for his waistline. And for his incipient ulcer, four days of back to back committee meetings were too much for anyone, never mind the stress of the Kashmiri situation. Dismissing his assistant with a wave he went out into the sunshine.
As he got out of the cab Lestrade pulled out his phone to text Sherlock, it was more reliable than knocking.
Downstairs, let me in - GL
You could usually bank on a reply within seconds unless he was asleep but he seldom slept deeply. He might though if he was sleeping off a binge....
No answer. Not "come up" not "busy" not even "piss off copper" which he'd got once when Sherlock had been doing 'undercover work' meaning dressing up as a homeless man and following some agenda of his own.
Lestrade's instincts were on fire now. Sherlock never slept in the daytime. Sherlock never missed a text.
He ran up the stairs to number 3 and banged on the door. "Oy Sherlock! Open up!" Better to be invited in than....
He sniffed. Something in there was bad, and it wasn't the usual sort of Sherlock-experiment smell either. Ear to the door he strained to hear, no loud noises but dammit he *knew* there was a problem.
Breaking down doors is usually done with a ram and two big burly constables, but an alarmed DI on a sudden adrenaline rush can do the job if pushed.
Some digging with his knife and some solid hits with shoulder and shoe finally popped the door and he got inside.
To be met by the full smell of vomit and blood and piss and shit and something else that cut through it all and the sight of Sherlock Holmes lying on the floor in the mess looking at him groggily with unfocused eyes and a horrible foolish expression.
He leapt forward, kneeling down heedless of the filth.
"Christ Sherlock, we had an agreement! What have you taken! Come on, sit up, oh God what have you taken?"
Sherlock's bloodshot eyes tried to focus, failed. "aghhreeemen' yeshhh. Ekshper'm'nt. " he tried to lift his arm up but it flopped and shook with tremors "shheee? c'l'n"
The arm did seem clean, so whatever he's taken didn't go in that way.
Grabbing his mobile to call for help Lestrade looked around for whatever the hell it was. Given Sherlock's condition he can't have hidden it, it would be in plain sight somewhere.
Whatever it was, it wasn't any of the big three, no overdose of heroin or cocaine or meth did this.
"Christ what a tip Sherlock! How the hell can I find anything in here?"
Experiment... OK, that meant the table. Too much shit on that, packets, powders, dishes, burners, any of it could be involved, right outside his area. How long to get a team in, how long did he have? And they didn't have the facilities...
He metaphorically slapped himself. You wouldn't think he could have forgotten Mycroft bloody Holmes, but as the posh bastard had kept his hands off (and his car away) since that memorable night he'd been glad to. But if anyone could pull a top flight analytical lab out of the air on a Wednesday afternoon it was him.
Thank God! Sirens!
Lestrade ran down to wave the paramedics up. They did their quick efficient thing, and let him into the back of the ambulance once he flashed his warrant card. "UCH then?" he asked and getting the nod pulled out his mobile.
sherlock very sick taken to uni coll hosp. Need top chemist to look at stuff on table in flat find out what he's taken - GL
Lestrade squeezed right over to the side so as not to be in the way. He fretted at the pace but knew from his own experience that sirens made no difference in London afternoon traffic.
Damn he'd forgotten about the door. He rang the Yard, got Parker, and organised for someone on the door to keep the lowlifes out and let the chemists in. He had no doubt Holmes would have yanked some poor white-coated bastard into a taxi within minutes of the text.
They rolled into the emergency bay, he dived out and kept out of the way, looking for the triage nurse to tell her what he knew. Name, date of birth, don't think he has allergies, no idea what he's taken.
"What's your interest?" she asked meaning "Is this a crim?" He could have said "just a friend" but for some reason said "An important witness, we don't want people to know about it if possible". Go with instinct every time.
"Next of kin?" What could he say? "Yes, Mycroft Holmes, address care of a current model black Mercedes, if you want him just find a CCTV camera and hold up a sign"?
Instead he said "I don't have that information at the moment, I'll pass it on as soon as I do."
He picked a post in the waiting area where he could be seen by the nurses on the desk and he could see the entrance. He was surprised Holmes wasn't there already, although maybe he'd pulled rank and was insisting on being in the operating room? No, there he was. Right, proactive, that's the ticket.
Lestrade walked to meet Mycroft Holmes and steered him to a quietish corner. Wednesday after lunch isn't usually a busy time in A&E so there was a quietish corner. "Mr Holmes" he said quickly taking charge "he's in surgery now. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't any drug I'm familiar with. He said something about 'an experiment' so could be anything. They'll get me when he's been given a bed".
Holmes looked angry and frightened and annoyed that the world wasn't going to do what he told it.
"You have people checking the flat Sir?"
"Yes yes Inspector, 2 top men are there now to see if they recognise anything, pack what they think is important, and take it back to the best pharmacological lab in London"
They both waited, both tense, both fidgeting, neither speaking. Holmes moved about walking up and down, nose in the air, Lestrade leant against the wall fiddling with his keyring for something to do
with his hands.
A movement by the nurses's station, Lestrade made himself known and they were taken to ICU. Machines, tubes, Sherlock whiter than the sheets he was on and just as lifeless, the doctor standing nearby
"You are?" he said.
"Detective Inspector Lestrade" he said, flashing his card by reflex, "And this is Mr Mycroft Holmes, next of kin".
"You don't know what it he took?"
"No, but there are people working on it, we'll pass the information on as soon as we have it"
"Some stomach contents would be useful, although judging by his nasal passages he has been inhaling something quite nasty. I strongly suspect it's crossed the blood/brain barrier. We won't know for sure until we have more, but the symptoms are not good."
Holmes's mobile went off, he looked at it, and turned the screen to the doctor. The doctor blinked, thought about it for a bit and blanched. "Oh dear, if he's been heating that and breathing it then that would explain the symptoms."
He had been looking professionally calm before, now he looked actually worried.
"And?" said Holmes, tense and focused "what is the prognosis?"
"We won't know for some hours" said the doctor, "we might have got to him in time".
"And if not?"
"He won't die, we have arrested the damage and he's stable, but... I'm sorry, there might be some brain damage." Holmes's face froze "We won't know until he can do without the oxygen and is conscious."
A pager went off and the doctor excused himself, presumably thinking the copper could handle it now. The copper looked at Holmes and wasn't at all sure.
They both stood there, staring at the pale man in the bed with the tubes snaking out of him, his hair the only colour they could see.
Then suddenly Holmes broke.
He just dropped straight down to the floor, no noise no collapsing slowly, straight down. It was shocking to see the calm controlled powerful mandarin collapse like his strings had been cut.
Lestrade had seen it before though, tough people who coped with everything life threw at them would sometimes find they couldn't cope anymore. It might not be anything big either, he'd seen SAS troopers cry about a dog being run over, he'd seen the headmistress of a well known girl's school go to pieces when she realised there was no sugar in the bowl.
His old uniformed sergeant had told him that everyone has a well of courage that they drew on when stressed. Some people had a deep one and they could draw on it for a long time, some had a very shallow one. But when it was empty it was empty and then it didn't matter how deep it had been.
"So get yourself on to stress leave and fill yours back up you stupid bastard" he'd said after that fight when Lestrade's beat partner had been smashed in the head with a two by four after 5 days of riots and double shifts trying to keep it all contained. Lestrade had come in to work the next day with his hands shaking and still tasting Mike's blood in his mouth but thinking that somehow if he admitted he was not coping they'd all think he wasn't a real man.
So here was Mycroft Holmes with his well of courage dry and all that control just... gone.
Lestrade grabbed the glass of water from the side of the bed (why was it there, do hospitals just put them by every bed even when the occupant was dead near as dammit and might never make those crazy beautiful obvious startling deductions again?) and went to the man on the floor, put his arm around him.
The right thing to do would probably be to get hold of the man's assistant or driver or someone but Lestrade's instinct said no.
He'd been running on instinct through this whole mess, why stop now?
"Come on,breathe. In. Out. In. Out. That's it. Now take this, come on, both hands, that's it, focus on not spilling it, come on, breathe, come on drink a bit, that's it" giving the man something to do, something to focus on, words and actions and some human contact as another focus point. Something for him to cling to as the poor bastard's world collapsed.
if anyone had told him he'd have his arm around Mycroft Holmes comforting him and getting him to engage and control himself he'd have known they'd been drinking.
But right now he wasn't Mycroft Holmes, posh smarmy bastard manipulator, he was distraught relative of a victim and while managing those wasn't his favourite part of the job he knew how it was done.
Which was not to leave him, but be with the man till he was back to his old top echelon civil servant dinner with the PM self. Looking down his nose at a mere copper and not sitting on the floor shivering and breathing funny as though crying needed too much attention and control.
"Come on Mr Holmes, stand up, that's right over here... Come on, sit down, focus, you have to be strong, you are all he has."
"Or at least the only one who gives a shit" but he didn't say that.
Holmes looked at him for a moment, terrifyingly open, a disturbing look on that face that had always been closed and aloof. "I wasn't there." he said.
"*I* wasn't there." he said again "I'm not the only one Sherlock's got".
He looked down again, Lestrade almost didn't hear the next words "But he's the only one I've got..."
Lestrade didn't want to think about why that meant surveillance teams and putting the cops onto him. An old CID maxim was "never get involved in other people's family dynamics. They are not only more fucked up than you can cope with , they are more fucked up than you can imagine."
"Look Mr Holmes we don't know what's wrong, we have to wait. They say he's stable, that means he's not getting worse and for all we know that doctor was talking out his arse and Sherlock's out of it because he hasn't eaten or slept for 3 days, you know he does that."
Holmes sniffed, mechanically taking a handkerchief from his breast pocket which was an encouraging sign given his earlier helplessness. He fixed his eyes on the man in the bed, who knew what he was
After some time staring at the white man on the white bed, Holmes seemed to startle a bit more into life. He fumbled his phone out of his pocket, held it to his ear, and it was as though the phone was pouring Mycroft Holmes back into himself.
His eyes focused, his head lifted, he turned to Lestrade "Inspector! Find that doctor!"
Lestrade waylaid a nurse, using his best smile to persuade her to locate the right MD. (Charming nurses is a useful skill for a Serious Crimes man and he had cultivated it assiduously.)
When he got back into the room, Holmes was the one he remembered, not the odd vulnerable broken man but the posh bastard, firing on all cylinders.
Who thrust his mobile at the medico and stood there impatient and overbearing as the man listened, asked a rapid spate of incomprehensible questions, looked at monitors, and rapped orders at the nurse.
A bit of medical bustle, a change in IV lines, and the doctor said "Good news. He did inhale some bad stuff, but it seems there was not enough to do major damage. We have the antagonist in now, and in a few days he'll be fine. A bit of a headache and sensitivity to light is all. But you will need to talk to him about his food hygiene! As well as the biflouride derivative toxin he had one of the nastiest cases of food poisoning I've seen. Nothing notifiable, no salmonella or botulism, just poor food management. Combine that with the biflouride and the agent the biflouride was bound with and you get what we see."
"He seems quite healthy and strong, so he should come out of it alright, he was lucky he didn't inhale any more of that stuff. Nasty rubbish, God only knows what he thought he was doing."
Lestrade snorted. Food poisoning. Well, if a man keeps dead bodies in the bloody kitchen cupboards then he gets what he deserves.
The doctor left and Lestrade found Holmes was between him and the door. "A moment of your time Inspector".
Holmes looked a bit uncertain for a moment, as he appeared to make up his mind to say something his PA walked into the room. "An update on the Kashmiri situation" she said, and handed him her Blackberry. He looked, typed something, gave it back, and returned his attention to Lestrade.
"Thank you for your efforts with my brother today Inspector" he said "I'm sure Sherlock will thank you later". The horrible little smile was back as though it had never gone, as though its owner had never lost control and cried his heart out for his brightly shining, lost and dying brother. The horrible little smile and the lofty disposition of other people's lives. "I will send a car to take you back to the Yard, please do pass on your drycleaning expenses".
Holmes and his assistant swept out of the room, Lestrade looked towards the bed to find Sherlock looking back at him. "I knew what I was doing, I had it under control. Wasn't my fault the kebab was
Lestrade didn't point out that someone who was keeping decomposing fingers in the butter dish and eyeballs in an olive jar (with the odd left over olive) was probably not a victim of a street vendor's poor hygiene. There was no need, Sherlock knew it perfectly well but there was no way he'd say so.
"He won't acknowledge it you know"
"Acknowledge what? Who?"
"Mycroft. He won't acknowledge you looked after him when he lost control. He hates people to know he has emotions. Hates it when he can't control everything."
Lestrade shrugged "It's over, you'll be out of here tomorrow, doesn't matter if he doesn't say anything."
It wasn't until later that he wondered what a brilliant powerful control freak who hated people knowing he had emotions did when someone found out..
Part Five: Power Corrupts