Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Characters: D.I. Greg Lestrade, John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Mrs Hudson
Pairings: John/Lestrade, John/Sarah
Summary: March 28th, 2010, Lestrade heads away from home, John heads towards. Neither finds much in the way of peace and quiet...
First Chapter: ( Chapter One )
Previous Chapter: ( Chapter Eight )
March 28th, 2010
March 28th, 2010
Lestrade leaned over and put his hands on his knees, slowing his pulse and his breathing while he got his bearings. He wasn't even sure which direction he'd headed in. He'd just grabbed a sweatshirt and his keys, bolted out the back door, scrambled over the wall of his garden and legged it before he changed his mind - again.
He closed his eyes and sniffed the air, allowing his deeper senses to come to the surface. His nose caught the unmistakable scent of Kentish Town City Farm - he'd gone west. From here, if he wanted some more open space, he could either go south to Regent's Park or north to Hampstead Heath.
The thought of the latter's reputation made him snort with barely contained laughter.
Good plan, Greg. Go running round the Heath at this time of night and get the scent of all the cruising couples in the bushes - that'll take your mind right off the raging hard-on John gave you...
South then. He set off at a gentle jog towards Primrose Hill...
He slowed as he got near to the north side of Regent's Park where the Zoo was located. He'd considered visiting the Wolves there in the past just to see if he felt any sort of connection but they'd moved them to the other facility at Whipsnade a few years ago. Besides, the place made him uneasy. The last thing he needed were thoughts of cages, captivity and rare species being encouraged to mate rather than go extinct.
He hopped the park fence and moved further south past the Zoo into the open grassy area of the football pitches beside the Hub. The temptation to change and have a proper run itched at the back of his mind but he ignored it with an ease born of long years of practice. He'd only allowed himself to do that once and it had been far from the centre of London.
It was cold but the ground wasn't completely frozen. He lay down on his back, with his fingers intertwined behind his head, enjoying the feel of grass against the back of his hands and looking up at the few stars visible through London's pollution.
Lestrade sighed. Maybe I should have a good howl...See if that makes me feel better...
Instead, he closed his eyes and re-thought over all the reasons he'd ever told himself he had to be alone. There were plenty.
But none of them seemed to quite weigh up anymore against the feel of John Watson's short, firm body against his...
John was tired, angry and frustrated; a mood not helped by returning home to find Sherlock using the wall for target practice... or by finding a head in the fridge... or by having his write up of their first case together so thoroughly belittled.
"Put that in your blog," Sherlock finally spat. "Or better still, stop inflicting your opinions on the world." He whirled round to face the back of the sofa and drew his dressing gown around him.
Right. Sod this for a lark... John stood up and grabbed his coat again.
Sherlock's head snapped round. "Where are you going?
"Out. I need some air." That smells less of gunfire, testosterone and ego. It's like being back in the fucking army...
John barged out of the flat, barely noticing Mrs Hudson as he stormed past her and headed for the door...
Lestrade's thoughts were rudely interrupted by a muffled crump and then the distant sound of car and shop alarms. He sat bolt upright - every nerve on high alert.
That was an explosion!
He sprang to his feet and twisted his head from side to side to place the origin of the noise.
Due south... What's south from here? Oh, shit! Baker Street!
He took off in a sprint across the grass, moving far faster than any human should be able to but for once not caring if anyone might be watching.
As he ran he realised the boating pond lay between him and his destination. He swung around to his right to go via the boathouse, cursing the added distance. When he finally reached Clarence Gate he barely slowed down as he hurdled straight over the park fence and then vaulted one-handed over the railing separating the pavement from the road. He ignored the outraged shouts of a Park patrol man behind him as he dashed across the street and turned into the top of Baker Street.
A cloud of dust hung in the air and there was rubble all over the road. A couple of cars had stopped and their occupants had got out to stare in astonishment. Lestrade headed for the nearest one, an older man in an anorak.
"Are you OK? Did you see what happened?"
"Yeah, yeah.. that house there - the whole front of it just blew out!"
Lestrade followed the man's shaking finger. It wasn't pointing at 221 as he'd feared but at 218 on the opposite side of the street.
The man looked at a large piece of masonry sitting on the road in front of his car. "If I'd been ten feet further up the road..."
"OK, just get back in your car and sit down. Emergency Services will be here in a minute."
The man slumped back into his car and sat side on, with his feet on the road.
Lestrade looked around. The other people there also appeared shocked but unharmed. "Was there anyone in front of you? Anyone in the street?"
The man shook his head. "No, no. Not that I saw anyway."
Lestrade ran over to the remains of the house that had contained the explosion. Even from what little was left of the interior it was clear the house had been empty. There were many conflicting scents on the air (bricks, heat, glass, wood, smaller hints of deep fat fryer and coffee coming from Speedy's shattered window) but blood wasn't one of them.
Lestrade crossed back over the road to the familiar black door of 221. It had several scrapes from where bits of brick had bounced off it. He tried the handle first - Sherlock had been known to leave it open when in a hurry - but it was firmly locked so he pounded on it with his fist instead. "Hello! Sherlock? John? Open up! Mrs Hudson - you in there?"
There was no response. He stepped back and was about to shoulder charge the door when he heard the lock disengaging. The door opened to reveal Mrs Hudson. She looked a little more dazed than usual.
""Oh Inspector, thank goodness!" She looked past him into the street. "What happened? I thought maybe it was Sherlock experimenting but-- "
"Not sure, Mrs Hudson. It looks like it was in the ground floor of the house across the street. Are you alright?" He held her shoulders and studied her eyes for any sign of concussion.
"I'm fine, dear - just a bit shaken. Came down those last few stairs a little quicker than I meant to." She laughed nervously. "What a fright! It was like being back in the Blitz again."
"Surely you're far too young to remember that?" He smiled.
Mrs Hudson blushed and batted his hands away. "Get on with you. You're as bad as... Oh! Sherlock!" She started towards the stairs but then strangely turned back towards the front door as she said "And John! Oh!"
He quickly steered her away towards the door to her flat. "I'll check. You go pop the kettle on, sit down and I'll call if I need you. OK?"
"Alright. Yes, I'll... Yes."
He bounded up the stairs, two at a time. His stomach clenched when he saw the figure sprawled on the living room floor covered in glass and dust but then Sherlock groaned and coughed so Lestrade knew he couldn't be too badly hurt.
"Sherlock! Sherlock? Come on, let me see you." Lestrade knelt beside him.
Sherlock groggily rolled over. "'L'strade? Wha.." He sat up and looked at what remained of the two large windows facing the street. "Oh. "
"Are you hurt?"
"No. Ears are ringing a bit but... John!" He made to get up but staggered and fell back on the floor, clutching at Lestrade's arm.
"Where is he?" Lestrade looked around frantically. There was only the faintest trace of John's scent.
"He left shortly before the explosion. He went out. He might be hurt. We have to..." Sherlock struggled to stand again.
Lestrade grabbed Sherlock's shoulders. "Easy. You have to sit there and do nothing. It's OK - I came up from the street. John wasn't there."
"Not in...But he hasn't come back... so... he must have already been in the Underground..." Sherlock visibly relaxed before he suddenly tensed again. "Is Mrs Hudson alright?"
"She's fine." Lestrade picked out a few bits of glass from Sherlock's hair and started checking his scalp for any damage. "Better than you at any roads."
"I told you, I'm not hurt... OW!" Sherlock jerked away as Lestrade found a sore spot on his head.
Lestrade looked at the blood on his fingertips and sighed. "Yeah, right. Come 'ere."
"And let Auntie Lestrade kiss it better? Must you?"
Lestrade sat back on his heels. "No, I don't have to. You can sit there and bleed for all I care. It won't kill you."
Sherlock huffed but bent his head forward and tried to part his hair to allow Lestrade better access to the cut.
Lestrade pushed Sherlock's hands away and did his own rearranging of Sherlock's impossible curls. He swiped across the cut with a few rasps of his tongue then watched as it started to heal.
"Hold still, you've a couple more."
He did the same for a smaller cut on Sherlock's cheek and another on the tip of one of his ears. In the meantime, Sherlock's face was doing a spectacularly good impression of a child disgusted by having his face cleaned by its mother using spit on a handkerchief.
"There." Lestrade gently ruffled Sherlock's hair. "Let's get you away from this mess, eh? And let me help you off with that dressing gown - it's covered with glass. Come on, up you get."
Lestrade helped Sherlock get shakily to his feet, carefully took the gown off him and hovered one step behind him as Sherlock stumbled over to the kitchen table and plonked himself down at it.
"So where was John heading to?" Lestrade asked as he rolled the gown up inside-out and laid it aside.
Sherlock looked Lestrade up and down and sighed. "Of course. He must have gone to Sarah's."
"Is he.. Is he still seeing her then?" Lestrade wondered why he was even bothering to try to sound like he wasn't bothered. He wouldn't fool anybody, least of all Sherlock.
"Oh. Right. Well... good for him."
"Got a dustpan and brush? We should get this glass cleared up." Lestrade started opening and closing cupboard doors. "Ah - here we are."
"Lestrade." Sherlock grabbed his arm as Lestrade made to move past him back into the lounge. "John propositioned you and you pushed him away again, didn't you?"
Lestrade sighed. "Literally. We got a bit too close and I... panicked."
"You're worried you may make John like yourself? We already know biting and licking has no effect."
"How about fucking?" Lestrade said vehemently. He quickly blushed and turned away. "Sorry. It's not... it's not just that."
"Then what? I can't think of a single challenge that John would not be prepared to face - would probably welcome in fact. He thrives on risk. Everything that makes him a perfect partner for my work also makes him a perfect partner for you in a more romantic sense."
"There's no such thing as a perfect partner for me, Sherlock. We both know that. If I'm discovered then anyone I might care for could be used to flush me out. We've been over this."
"God!" Sherlock growled in frustration. "Sit down, Lestrade. I can see I'll have to explain this at Anderson-level."
"Sherlock..." Lestrade said reprovingly.
"Sit." Sherlock pointed at the chair opposite him.
Lestrade sat down and put the dustpan and brush on the seat beside him.
Sherlock put his elbows on the table and pressed his palms together.
"Let us assume there are persons unknown who suspect your... alternate nature and wish to exploit it. You are concerned these people will use any personal relationships you may have to force you to surrender to them, should you manage to avoid capture when they attempt it. Yes?"
"Therefore your only course of action is to have no personal relationships. Yes?"
Sherlock sighed, the way he usually did when he felt Lestrade was being abnormally thick. "Then why did you dash over here when you heard that explosion?"
"If you cannot be seen to care for others, why are you here?"
"I... I was just...I'm a policeman - it's what I do." Lestrade couldn't think clearly. What was Sherlock getting at?
"No, if you were merely doing your duty you'd be back down in the street investigating the explosion once you'd ascertained there were no casualties - and have you even checked any of the other houses?"
"Lestrade - you're trying to pretend you don't want a relationship with John so you can keep him safe, but any idiot can clearly see you already have a relationship with John - and me for that matter. It doesn't even matter that John and I know what you are. Even if we didn't, anyone watching you for more than five minutes would mark us both as potential leverage to use against you based solely on our friendships with you. You have so few relationships it's not really the strength of them that matters, just their existence. John, me, possibly Sergeant Donovan as well, are all already at risk."
Oh God... How could I not have seen that?
"So you have two choices."
Sherlock parted his hands and counted off his points on his fingers. "One: you stop giving any indication at all that you care the slightest bit for John or me or anyone else..."
"I... I could do that." Lestrade said, but without any real conviction.
Sherlock just looked at him. "Lestrade, I am rapidly realising that even I cannot do that... or two." He tapped the tip of his middle finger. "You do what you should have done weeks ago and admit that you and John are perfect for each other and strengthening your relationship with him can only be a good thing for you both."
"Yes, admittedly," Sherlock continued, before Lestrade could interrupt, "That will make him target number one but objectively that's a position he already holds. Any outside observer would consider you much more likely to be sympathetic to John than myself."
"So if I really want to keep him safe, I have to act like I have no feelings for him at all, not even as a friend. Same for you."
"Yes, but like John, I believe I would be... I would miss...That is... I am also happy to assume any risk associated with being considered your acquaintance, rather than have you disown me."
Lestrade was genuinely touched. As far as he was concerned he'd just got on with looking out for Sherlock ever since he'd realised that was what the younger man needed. He'd assumed Sherlock tolerated it as part of working with him, not that he actually set any store by it.
He swallowed a sudden lump in his throat. "Well, that's... Thank you."
Sherlock stood up. "I'm going to bed. I'm so bored out of my mind, I may even sleep. Let me know if that explosion was anything interesting - or if you have a case." He stretched and then shuffled back down the hall to his bedroom. "All or nothing, Lestrade - it's your choice."
Unless John's already made it for me with Sarah... Lestrade thought. He looked at the chaos in the living room and the dustpan and brush beside him. "Sherlock! You..."
Ah, stuff it. Better I clean it up than Mrs Hudson - which reminds me...
Lestrade picked his way across the carpet to the stairwell.
I promised her an update - and there's a very good chance of a cup of tea and a biscuit or two before I have to come back up here to this lot...
John pressed the buzzer and leaned over so his mouth was close to the intercom.
There was a crackle of static then the expected voice. "Who is it?"
"Hi Sarah - it's John. I know it's late but... could I come up?"
"Is everything OK?"
"Yeah, it's just... Sherlock was driving me mad and..."
"Say no more." He could hear the laugh in her voice. "Come on in."
John pushed the door open and jogged up the stairs to Sarah's floor. She opened the door of her flat in her dressing gown.
"Oh, shit. Sorry," John apologised. "You were probably in bed, weren't you?"
She stood back to let him in. "Yeah - but I wasn't asleep, just watching telly with my brain off. Do you fancy a drink or...?"
"Honestly? I just want to talk to somebody sane for five minutes."
"You nearly got me killed on our first date and yet I'm still speaking to you - are you sure I qualify?"
John chuckled. "Fair point."
They sat and chatted about nothing much for a while over two mugs of very Irish coffee. John could feel his stress easing. He liked Sarah - she was good company, she obviously liked him and most importantly she hadn't run screaming at her first exposure to Sherlock. Sitting progressed to snuggling... progressed to kissing...
"So are you... staying the night?" Sarah finally asked.
The hint of more hung tantalisingly in the air between them. John had played this game enough to know if he wanted it, it was there for the taking. He'd been taking it slow so far, but maybe he should. He should have some really good sex with this lovely woman and forget all about that bloody irritating stubborn (gorgeous) bloke.
Except he was still very much thinking about the bloody irritating stubborn (gorgeous) bloke and he'd be cheating on both of them by doing that. Suddenly he was just tired.
"I'll just crash on the sofa, if that's OK? I'm really done in."
"You sure? You'll do terrible things to your back on that. I've still got that lilo somewhere."
"No, sofa's fine, honestly. Thanks, Sarah."
"OK - let me get you a blanket." She disappeared through into her room and came back with a spare duvet and blanket.
"One of these days I'll catch you before Sherlock wears you out." She was laughing but John could tell she was a little disappointed. It was quite good for his ego.
"I already fell asleep on the job once - didn't think you'd forgive me a second time."
"You might be surprised." Sarah gave him a quick kiss goodnight and sashayed off to her room.
John unbuttoned his shirt, pulled his socks off (his shoes had been kicked off much earlier) and hauled the duvet over his legs...
Next thing he knew Sarah was pulling back the curtains and turning the Breakfast TV news on...
( Chapter Ten... )