Recovery (9,214 words) by LokiOfSassgaard

Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Sherlock (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Greg Lestrade, Mycroft Holmes

Summary:  The story of how DI Lestrade came to be saddled with one Sherlock Holmes


For six years, Sherlock had sent letters in to Scotland Yard. After the obvious murder of Carl Powers, Sherlock had simply taken it upon himself to correct every mistake made by Scotland Yard.

The only thing Sherlock had ever learned during this period of time was that the police were lazy and couldn’t be trusted to do anything properly. Every one of his letters had gone ignored. He would write them out, put them in an envelope, and drop them in with the rest of the outgoing post. And not once did he ever hear back on anything he wrote. The police never even seemed to glance in his direction, not even to wonder how someone could possibly know about unpublished details for cases that had barely even made the press.

The longer the police ignored him, the angrier Sherlock became with them. They were wrong, and someone needed to tell them. He didn’t care that the letters were probably destroyed without even being opened. He needed to tell them for his own sake. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The police were useless, and by the time he started sixth form, Sherlock had been taught that they were not to be trusted to do anything.

 ***

The first time had been during a bust. He had been so busy contemplating the contents of a jar, which was filled with a near black sludge that he was positive hadn’t started out that way that he’d found in the back of the fridge that it took him several moments to even notice the population of the flat had risen by 400%.

He wasn’t even high at the time. Not really, anyway. Though the DC who had been putting him in handcuffs didn’t seem to care about this detail after Sherlock announced his penchant for wearing women’s deodorant, and the attached implications, to the entire room. It had just been an observation of the facts as they presented themselves, and did not warrant a punch to the stomach, especially after he had already been restrained.

Three hours later when one of Mycroft’s minions had come to fetch him up in an expensive black car, he’d been assured that the DC would never even handle a warrant card again, but the damage had already been done. Police—detectives especially—were not to be trusted, and the next time a member of the CID had put himself into close contact with Sherlock, the detective was greeted with clumsy and inelegant punch to the middle of the face.

That time, Mycroft did not send anyone to fetch him until the day before he was scheduled to appear in court, and then had him sent to a new clinic outside of Cardiff. Sherlock had learned his lesson from that experience, but his contempt toward the police services never did wane.

 ***

He was on his way to his dealer when he happened upon a crime scene, complete with flashing lights and perimeter tape. He’d been in the flat Mycroft had arranged for two days, and had already started to feel the unbearable itch of boredom. Without realising he was doing it, Sherlock glanced over slightly at the scene. A young woman in her pyjamas and a large coat had been attacked and left in an alley, and CID and SOCO were only contaminating the evidence. Sherlock stopped to look at the scene, feeling a surge of bitter resentment toward the stupidity of the officers on the case. Even from where he stood, the solution was glaringly obvious.

“Husband,” Sherlock shouted, continuing on his way.

He knew the police didn’t care. They never did, as he’d learned so many years ago from personal experience. He had, however, forgotten that people could be surprising, as was the DI who stopped him just then.

“What do you mean, ‘husband’?” he asked.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “This was pre-meditated,” he said simply. “You’re looking for her husband or domestic partner. Hard to know for sure from here.”

He started to walk again, but was annoyed when the DI reached out and grabbed his arm, the look on the man’s face one of mild suspicion.

“Mind telling me how you know that?” he asked, letting the words hang as though he wanted to say more, but couldn’t figure out what.

Sherlock shook him off, pointed at the woman on the ground, and then invited himself beyond the tape. The SOCO officers on the scene started to pitch a fit, but miraculously, the DI cautiously silenced them.

“You shouldn’t be here,” he said to Sherlock. “I should arrest you right now.”

“Look at her,” Sherlock said, ignoring the threat. “Just look. It’s all right there. How can you miss it?”

“Miss what?” the DI asked.

Heaving a heavy sigh, Sherlock bent to get closer to the woman. “Married, or at least in a long term relationship,” he announced. “She’s not wearing a ring, and never does, but she’s also not wearing any other jewellery. Look at her ears; pierced, years ago, but she hasn’t worn anything in them in… two years. Maybe three. The holes have almost completely closed over. They’re off balance, so it was likely a DIY job when she was a student. That, and going by the fact that she has her watch attached to the strap of her handbag, she’s likely developed some sort of skin sensitivity, and had to stop wearing jewellery all together.”

“Of course she isn’t wearing any jewellery,” the DI pointed out. “She was mugged.”

“No,” Sherlock declared simply. “It was done up to look like that, though. But she’s still got her handbag! If you’re going to mug someone, and you’re desperate enough to kill them, you’re not going to do it in halves. Why leave the handbag?”

The DI just stared at him, and Sherlock sighed again.

“All right,” Sherlock growled. “You’re looking for the husband. Why? Because look at her. She’s in pyjamas, but they’re not hers. They’re too big; tied tightly around her waist, and she has the cuffs rolled up and tied off so she didn’t tread on them. But why? It hasn’t been raining recently, so there’s no danger of them getting wet. They’re at least a year old, which says that they’re not hers. If they were, she wouldn’t care so much about getting the cuffs a bit dirty. They belong to the man she’s living with. And it’s obvious that she’s living with him, because look at her legs. She hasn’t shaved them in at least a fortnight. If they’d just moved in together, or were just staying the night, she’d still be keeping up appearances. No; they’re comfortable with one another. Comfortable enough that neither of them mind that she’s stopped shaving regularly.”

The DI started to say something, but got sidetracked when Sherlock reached into her handbag and pulled out her mobile phone. He opened up the text message folder, ignoring messages from the likes of Mum and Rebecca. Eventually, he found a conversation with a man called Darren, and showed the screen to the DI.

“Look at the inane chatter,” Sherlock said. “Pick up milk, dinner plans, this stupid little… what is this? Less than three?”

The DI looked at the characters in one of the messages. “It’s supposed to be a heart, I think,” he said. “It’s on its side.”

Sherlock rotated the phone, and then scowled at the screen.

“Stupid,” he said, handing the phone to the DI and picking up the woman’s hand, peering under her fingernails. “Look at her. There’s no sign of a struggle. Nothing under her nails. She didn’t fight back. Why not? She knew her killer. She let him get close to her.” He held the back of her hand up to his lips. “Time of death… less than an hour ago, am I right?”

The suspicious look was back on the DI’s face. “Yeah,” he said.

“Who called it in?” asked Sherlock.

The DI blinked. “It was anonymous,” he said. “From—”

“That payphone, right there,” Sherlock said, cutting him off. He pointed at a payphone lest than half a block away.

“Look at the last text from Darren,” Sherlock continued. “It says, ‘wait up, you forgot your cash,’ sent thirty-four minutes ago. She’d gone out to pick up something from the shop, he sent that message, and instead of giving her cash, he killed her. It was planned, probably for insurance or something equally boring. She wasn’t having an affair, because she’s not keeping up appearances, and people don’t usually pre-meditate killing their lover because of an affair anyway. They react out of anger and do it on the spot. All likelihood points to him having the affair; he wanted her out of the picture, but divorce wasn’t an option, because then he’d miss out on some sort of financial gain.”

The DI just gaped at Sherlock.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “He killed his wife, made the anonymous call himself, and went back home to wait for someone to make a next of kin notification. And when you do, he’ll skip right past shock and anger and denial, and go straight on to bawling like a baby because he already knows she’s dead.”

“Up,” the DI said as he pulled himself to his feet. “Now.”

Sherlock knew what that tone meant, and he could feel his face getting hot with anger. The balls this man must have had.

“I have just handed you a murderer,” he pointed out as he got to his feet.

“You may find it difficult to believe that no one’s ever done that before,” the DI said. “I’m gonna be nice, and just detain you for now while we work out how you’ve come to know so much about a homicide that isn’t even an hour old. You’re not under arrest. Yet.”

He grabbed Sherlock by the arm and turned him round to cuff him. It was a battle of wills for Sherlock to let the DI manhandle him and not react by throwing a punch to the man’s insufferably smug face. He would not be making that mistake twice, and let himself be led to a panda car.

“I do need your name,” the detective said as he turned Sherlock to face the car. “Mind telling me it?”

“Yes, I do mind,” Sherlock said.

The detective frowned. “Do you have anything in your pockets that I need to worry about?” he asked. “Knives, needles… guns?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “No, I’m a bit more careful than that,” he said. He was likely going to wind up arrested anyway, so he didn’t see the point in self-restraint.

The DI just sighed and quickly searched Sherlock’s pockets, eventually finding his wallet inside his coat. “Sherlock, is it?” he asked. Sherlock didn’t respond. “Right. I’m just going to put you in the back of the car until we get all this mess sorted.”

He returned Sherlock’s wallet to his pocket before guiding him into the back of the car, shutting the door heavily. Sherlock watched as he returned to the crime scene.

“Stupid,” he muttered to himself. “Stupid, stupid boy. What was the point of that? Stupid.

He sat still, cursing himself as the inspector closed the door at started to walk away. He knew the police wouldn’t have cared; they never did, and now they had an easy arrest that wouldn’t actually do anyone justice. It was all about the numbers, which was exactly what he’d become by opening his mouth.

“Stupid,” he repeated loudly. He thrashed his head against the window so hard that his eyes went crossed.

Great. Now he was stupid and he had a headache. This day just kept getting better and better.

By his own count, he’d been left in the back of that car for nearly 25 minutes before anyone came back round to deal with him again. He’d been sitting with his eyes closed and his head back against the top of the seat, focusing on his own pulse; just a faint little bit of pressure in certain joints and on his wrists against the handcuffs. He’d found that if he really concentrated, he could track the beats in his wrists and in the back of his knees at the same time. He had been counting every beat of his pulse, and was up to 947 when the door opened and made him lose his focus. Still remaining completely still, he opened his eyes to glare at the officer who had no doubt come to tell him that he was formally being booked under suspicion.

“What?” Sherlock demanded of the inspector who had detained him.

“It would seem,” said the officer, with just a hint of confusion on the edge of his voice, “that you’re free to go.”

The confusion seemed to be spreading, and it took Sherlock a few moments to register that the DI was trying to help him to his feet. He might have, he was willing to admit, hit his head on the window with a bit more force than he’d previously realised.

He stood still as the handcuffs were removed from his wrists, waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop.

“Now get out of here,” the inspector said. He sounded much more tired than he had just a half hour earlier, and Sherlock wondered what might have happened since then for the detective’s mood to change. “I don’t even know how I’m supposed to explain this in my report, so why don’t we each do one another a favour and just pretend that you were never here, all right?”

Typical. Sherlock wondered if the inspector was hoping to get a promotion over this. He snorted at the man and straightened up his coat before turning on his way to finish what he’d set out to do in the first place.

 ***

Two hours later, Sherlock stormed up to a desk in a large foyer on Pall Mall. The man behind the desk was armed, and there were two more guards visible from the door, and they all watched Sherlock closely.

“Can I help you, sir?” the receptionist asked with fake cheer.

“Yes,” Sherlock s aid simply. “I’m here to see Mycroft Holmes. Let me in.”

The man looked confused and Sherlock quietly commended him on his acting abilities. “I’m sorry, who?” he asked. “We don’t have anybody by that name here.”

Sherlock frowned and walked back out to the pavement. He found a small bit of masonry on the ground and flung it at the nearest CCTV camera, smiling at the way the camera was knocked out of position. He returned to the building, giving the man behind the desk his own fake smile.

“I’m here to see Mycroft Holmes,” he repeated.

Before the man could say anything, his phone rang. “Er, excuse me,” he said as he gave the phone a nervous look before answering it. He was quiet for only a moment before saying, “Yes, Sir.”

He hung up the phone and looked up at Sherlock with a renewed hesitancy. “Just through there,” he said, pointing at a door to his left.

Sherlock nodded at him and walked toward the door. It opened just before he got to it, revealing Mycroft’s PA on the other side.

“Persephone,” he greeted in the way he’d been instructed.

She smiled at him, barely looking up from her BlackBerry. “Just this way. His office is a few floors down.”

Sherlock frowned. “When did it move?” he asked

Persephone just smiled up at him.

 ***

“I need a phone,” Sherlock announced as he walked into his brother’s office.

Mycroft’s eyes narrowed. “Why?” he asked, not bothering to hide the suspicion at the edges of his voice.

“I don’t know what you do with phones, but most people use them to communicate with other people who aren’t in the same room as them.” Sherlock had to resist the urge to call Mycroft any names, since doing so had the habit of seeing him thrown out of the building.

“If I give you one,” said Mycroft slowly, “will you answer when I ring you?”

“No,” Sherlock said simply. “And don’t be ridiculous. I’m not going to sell it.”

“I never said you were going to,” Mycroft defended.

“No, but you thought the hell out of it.” Sherlock moved to lean against Mycroft’s desk. “You want me to get clean, don’t you? Well, I need something to do, and a phone would greatly help in that aspect.”

Mycroft met Sherlock’s gaze, taking the time to determine how much of this display was genuinely Sherlock, and how much was the addict speaking. It had been so long since he’d had a proper conversation with him that Mycroft could not tell where the one stopped and the other began. Finally, realising that Sherlock was not going to give him a choice in the matter, Mycroft reached for his phone, jamming his finger down on one of his speed dials.

“Dear, my office, please,” he said after a few moments, before hanging up softly.

Waving Sherlock away from his desk, Mycroft sat back and waited for Persephone to come from where ever she had been waiting. Taking a cue from his brother, Sherlock flung himself into a chair near the desk.

“Sir?” Persephone asked as she let herself into the office.

Mycroft smiled up at her. “My brother needs a phone,” he said. “Could you secure one for him?”

She smiled at the two of them. A completely fake smile that she overused entirely, but it was easier than manufacturing any real response. “Yes, Sir.” She turned her attention to Sherlock. “This way, Mr Holmes.”

She led him down the corridor to another room, which was barely any larger than a closet, and lined with filing cabinets. After giving Sherlock a quick glance, she moved to one of the filing cabinets, and after quickly unlocking it, pulled out an envelope.

“This should do you, I think,” she said, pulling out a small, silver clamshell phone.

“I want what you have,” Sherlock said stiffly, not reaching for the proffered device.

“You’ll take what you’re given, or you won’t have anything at all,” the woman said. “It’s very simple, really.”

Sherlock frowned at her as he snatched the phone away before it could be denied. It was flimsy; a new Motorola RAZR that looked like it would break from just the pressure of talking into it.

“It doesn’t do anything,” he complained.

“It sends and receives calls and text messages,” Mycroft’s assistant said as she filled out a small amount of paperwork. “That’s all you need it to do.”

“Yours has email,” Sherlock pointed out, mashing the flat keypad and running through what little charge the device had.

“And you don’t have an email address.” She slid the completed form into a folder and handed Sherlock the envelope the RAZR had been housed in. “Charger, and the phone’s information,” she explained. “Would you like me to add Mr Holmes’ number to your contact list?”

Sherlock scow led at her as he crammed the phone deep into his pocket. “No,” he said. “And I’ll see myself out.”

She smiled at him again. “No, you can’t,” she said. “Security, after all.”

 ***

It was hours before Detective  Inspector Lestrade was given any time to himself. Even an open-and-shut domestic carried with it mountains of paperwork and protocol, and would still require further investigation for the trial. It wasn’t until half nine that he was even able to think about anything other than official paperwork, and let his mind wander to the person who made the arrest possible. Lestrade knew that he shouldn’t have let the man go, but there was nothing to actually allow them to hold the man.

Sherlock Holmes. It was the sort of name people who weren’t very good at making up names would make up, but unless he was the world’s greatest forgery artist, the poor sod had actually been bestowed that unfortunate string of syllables by his parents.

It was nothing more than an idle curiosity that had Lestrade typing the name into the system, and while he wasn’t sure what he might find, twelve arrests for possession and one for assault against a police officer were not on his mental list of possibilities. It hadn’t been a mix-up, though; that much was clear just by the mug shots. The more he dug through the man’s record, he began to realise that he hadn’t actually done a proper search of him. Maybe if he had, he could have taken one more junkie off the streets.

But that didn’t seem to sit right. There was something very wrong with the man’s record, sitting right there in front of him, but he couldn’t see it. Something was missing—something important.

“Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade?”

Lestrade jumped slightly when he heard his name, and looked up to see a dark-haired woman standing in the door, looking down at a BlackBerry. She smiled at him.

“My boss would li ke to meet you.”

Lestrade glanced around cautiously.

“Your boss can set up an appointment, and we can talk tomorrow,” he said.

The woman shook her head. “No, he’d rather speak with you now. The car’s waiting.”

“Car?”

Lestrade’s phone chimed a happy little alert, signalling the arrival of a text message. Hesitant to take his eyes off the woman blocking the only exit from his office, Lestrade reached for his mobile and glanced at the message.

Follow her.

He frowned at the words. “What is this, the bloody Matrix?” he muttered.

The woman just smiled at him again. “Oh, no, sir,” she said. “Nothing quite so dramatic. He just wants to have a chat.”

Lestrade hesitated, and his phone chimed again.

You’d be wise not to make me ask again.

Not sure what else to do, Lestrade moved to shut down the file he’d been looking at and stood up.

“I’m being threatened via text message,” he muttered, not entirely convinced that this wasn’t just some elaborate wind-up.

Still, he followed after the woman.

“You won’t be needing that,” she said.

Lestrade realised that he was reaching for the baton on his belt, remembering too late that he’d taken it off when he sat down, because he didn’t like the way it dug into his hip. And like an idiot, he’d left it on his desk.

He found himself being led to a very shiny Mercedes S-class in the car park, before which stood a man in a black suit, which fit him in a way that suggested he was hiding more than just muscle under the jacket. For a moment he stalled, looking between the woman and the man holding open the door, but was broken from his though by a voice coming from inside the Mercedes.

“Get in the car, please,” a man said, his voice somewhere between completely irritated and totally bored.

Mycroft Holmes watched as Lestrade took several more moments to decide his next course of action, smiling when the detective finally slid into the car, followed closely by Mycroft’s assistant. The door was shut behind them, and a few moments later, the car started moving again.

“Tell me,” Mycroft said, reading over a file. “What’s your interest in Sherlock Holmes?”

Lestrade frowned at the man, trying to work out what someone as posh as him would want with someadmittedly brilliantjunkie.

“What’s yours?” he asked.

Mycroft just gave him a tight little smile, and kept on reading, apparently willing to remain silent for as long as it took for Lestrade to answer the question.

“He solved a case for us this morning,” he finally said with a sigh. “I don’t mean like, tipped us off, either. Just strolled in and told us where to find the murder and why he’d done it. I almost arrested him for suspicion.”

Mycroft hummed and closed the folder. “And it’s a rather good thing for all of us that you didn’t,” he said. “It’s always such a mess, with all that paperwork every time he gets himself into trouble again.”

Lestrade frowned at him. “What is he? Some sort of secret government project?” he asked. “Only reason I’d expect to see trade plates on a vehicle like this.”

“Nothing like that,” Mycroft assured. “He’s just a very confused young man who can get very dangerous when allowed to get bored.”

“You make him sound like some sort of psychopath,” Lestrade said.

Mycroft’s expression hardened. “Nothing of the sort,” he said in a tone that suggested any future repeat of this notion would not be taken kindly. “Confused and misguided. You’d do well to remember this if you intend to keep in association with him.”

Lestrade couldn’t stop himself from laughing slightly. “Why would I do that?” he asked. “You must not know him very well, if you think he’s the sort of person I’d have anything to do with outside of a crime scene.”

Mycroft’s face settled back into his almost annoyingly tacit smile. “That’s exactly my point. He solved a crime for you, didn’t he?” he asked. “One from which, if I’m not mistaken, you sent him away, and then neglected to mention in your reports anything about his presence.”

Lestrade tried to shift in his seat to a position that would let him seem a bit more threatening, but the woman endlessly tapping on her BlackBerry prevented him from moving much at all.

“Right,” he said. “Who the bloody hell are you?”

“No one of consequence,” Mycroft answered. “And let’s not kid ourselves, shall we? Everyone here knows that one simple domestic isn’t going to put you up for consideration for DCI. A string of cases, however…”

Mycroft let himself trail, allowing Lestrade to jump to his own conclusions.

“What?” the detective asked. “Are you saying that if I take his advice—”

“You’ll never be up for another promotion again,” Mycroft finished. “Your credibility as a detective, should you start listening to a consultant, will vanish, and no one on the force will be able to take a single report you submit at face value.”

Lestrade bit his tongue so hard it nearly bled. He’d been threatened plenty of times before, but never quite like this, and he reached for his radio in retaliation.

“Officer requesting backup,” he said into it.

“Cancel backup, dear,” Mycroft said before Lestrade could continue.

“Cancelling backup, sir,” the woman said, smiling at her BlackBerry.

“You can’t do that!” Lestrade protested, trying to divide his attention between the two of them.

“I believe she just did,” Mycroft said.

“Backup cancelled, sir,” she said in confirmation.

“Right, I get it,” Lestrade said, exasperated with the situation and tr ying to find a way to just run, as fast as he could. “Stay away from Sherlock Holmes.”

Mycroft cocked his head curiously to one side. “No, I don’t think you do,” he said. “I want you to help him.”

“Help him ruin my career, you mean?” spat Lestrade.

Mycroft just smiled. “I think you do get it, after all.”

The car pulled to a stop, and after a few moments, the door was opened from the outside. Mycroft’s assistant slid out, allowing for Lestrade to step free of the car and back into the car park where the ride had started. Without saying anything more, the slightly scary woman got back into the car with her very scary boss, and the whole affair slipped off into the night as though nothing at all strange had just transpired. Lestrade wished he could have done the same.

 ***

He stared down at the text message, the second in less than 12 hours from a number he didn’t know.

Roof. SH

It took him a moment to parse the meaning, and another two more to realise the implications. Not even sure how the psychotic bastard had found his way up there, Lestrade rushed toward the stairs that led to the roof, finding a familiar gangly figure in a familiar oversized coat, standing on the ledge.

“Listen, we can talk about this,” he said, slowly inching his way across the roof.

Sherlock turned quickly to look at Lestrade, a strange sort of confusion on his face.

“I’m not going to jump. I’m not stupid,” he said. “There’s absolutely nothing I have to gain from killing myself.”

Lestrade let himself relax, but it only lasted a moment before Sherlock started leaning forward, peering intently at the ground.

“Well, if it’s all the same, I’d feel a lot better if you weren’t up there,” Lestrade said, still slowly inching toward Sherlock.

Rolling his eyes, Sherlock obliged the detective and stepped back from the ledge, planting his feet firmly on the rough surface of the Yard’s roof.

Lestrade finally felt able to relax, and approached Sherlock with the intent of taking him far away from the roof, and possibly off the premises completely. Instead, Sherlock pulled his coat tightly against himself and sat down, leaning heavily against the ledge. Realising what Sherlock was trying to do, and was accomplishing, apparently, Lestrade sighed and sat next to him. Sherlock wanted to be up on the roof for some reason, and clearly wasn’t going to let himself be removed until he got what he wanted.

“You’re going to help me,” he said after a few moments. “Or, more accurately, you’re going to let me help you.”

“Am I now?” asked Lestrade sceptically. “I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.”

Sherlock glared at him. “He didn’t offer you money to spy on me, did he?” he asked.

Somehow, Lestrade wasn’t surprised that Sherlock knew what he was talking about. It probably happened every time he talked to anyone new.

“No,” Lestrade answered. “He just threatened my career if I helped you.”

Sherlock frowned, not expecting that answer. “Why would he do that?” he asked. “That doesn’t make any sense. Did he threaten you, or just tell you that you’ll never get promoted?”

“It all amounts to the same thing, doesn’t it?” Lestrade asked, already feeling this conversation slipping from his grip.

“No, I don’t think he actually has the power to do that,” Sherlock said. And then he blinked. “He might, actually. I’m not sure. He wouldn’t do it, though; too much work. He’s far too lazy to actually make things happen. He’s just very good at predicting events, and making it look like he made them happen.”

“Who is he anyway?” asked Lestrade.

Sherlock just shook his head. “Not my problem right now. Maybe in the future, you won’t be so quick to get into cars with strangers. Christ, he didn’t send her in to fetch you, did he? Predictable. Boring.”

Lestrade found himself wondering if Sherlock often had conversations with himself, despite the other person being right there in front of him. He just sighed.

“Right,” he said. “Well, if this guy, whoever he is, is so smart, then he already knows that even if I wanted to, I can’t let you help. Lord knows we need it.”

“Can’t, or won’t?” asked Sherlock, turning an all too piercing glare on Lestrade.

“Can’t,” the detective clarified. “I would be able to, if you hadn’t decided to assault some DC during a drugs bust.”

“What? That was supposed to go away.” Sherlock practically growled as he wrenched his phone from his coat.

“What do you mean, ‘go away’?” asked Lestrade.

Sherlock ignored him as he angrily typed out a text message. When he was finished, he slapped the phone shut and crammed it back in his pocket.

“We have a deal,” he said. “For every four months I stay clean, he makes one more charge go away. I don’t know how. Eats them, for all I know. He’s supposed to be doing them in order, but I guess this is his idea of making a point.”

Lestrade found himself once again wondering if Sherlock was some sort of secret government project gone horribly wrong. “How many have gone away?” he asked.

“Six, over nine years,” Sherlock answered. “And those were all because he had me locked up somewhere for long enough to fill my end of the bargain. I’ve never cared about it until last night. And now that I do, it doesn’t matter. Not much in it, this caring lark.”

He buried his face in his hands, and Lestrade could see that he was shaking slightly.

“I was twenty,” Sherlock continued. “Just a stupid kid who made a stupid mistake, and one which I’ve never repeated.”

His mobile beeped loudly, and he pulled it out of his coat, glaring at the screen.

“For someone who’s supposed to be a genius, he’s a damned idiot,” Sherlock grumbled as he mashed out another text.

He crammed his phone back into his coat, and replacing it with a nearly-empty pack of cigarettes, pressing one of them between his lips.

“Could I get one of those?” Lestrade asked cautiously.

“No,” Sherlock said simply as he pulled out a lighter. “You have your own; half a pack, at least. This is all I have, and I can’t exactly afford more.”

“Right,” Lestrade said. For a moment, he considered reaching for his own pack, but found that he didn’t want to give Sherlock the satisfaction. “So, do you—”

“No,” Sherlock said forcefully. “You can just stop that idea before it even forms.”

“You don’t even know what I was going to ask,” Lestrade pointed out before he realised that Sherlock probably knew exactly what he was goin g to ask.

“I don’t need a place to stay,” Sherlock said, confirming Lestrade’s suspicions. Clearly, the man was psychic. “And no, I’m not psychic,” he said. “Everyone thinks that, because they’re stupid and they don’t see. Of course you assumed I’d be homeless, because you took one look at my record and made all the judgements you thought you needed to. White male, under thirty, a criminal record almost a decade long, all of it drugs related. I can’t afford a pack of cigarettes, and have nowhere else to be at half eight in the morning. What you didn’t see is the £1000 coat I’m wearing, brand new mobile phone in said coat, and the conspicuous lack of any convictions on my record. I have no pocket money, but I’m not exactly ‘broke’.”

Lestrade bit back on his own observation that Sherlock was some privileged rich kid whose rebellious stage had gotten a bit out of hand and had caused him to be cut off, although he realised that it did go a long way toward explaining all of the bits that hadn’t actually made any sense up until that point.

“One conviction,” Lestrade pointed out.

Sherlock glared at him. “What?”

“One conviction. Though, I did notice that you didn’t do any time for it, but I don’t imagine that’s something a person would forget, nonetheless.”

Sherlock groaned and pulled out his mobile again, punching out another angry text to this mysterious person who apparently made his indiscretions magically vanish.

“I wish I could help you,” Lestrade said honestly. “I really do, but with your record, I can’t bring you on. The drugs charges, I might be able to have overlooked, but it’s all out of the question with that assault conviction on there.”

He stood up, finding himself feeling sorry for the strange man before him. Sherlock looked like someone who had been told that the thing they wanted most in the world was going to be given to someone else, and for a brief moment, Lestrade wondered if Sherlock was going to start crying.

“Come on,” he said before he had the chance to find out. “I don’t know how you got up here, but let me see you back downstairs.”

Sherlock remained quiet for a few moments before finally flicking his cigarette away and getting to his feet.

“I know a place that does good coffee,” Lestrade offered.

“I don’t need your charity,” Sherlock said, following after Lestrade anyway.

“I was going there anyway,” the detective said. He reached out, hesitantly placing a hand on Sherlock’s shoulder to guide him away from the ledge and off the roof.

“No you weren’t,” Sherlock said simply.

Lestrade laughed slightly, and pulled out one of his own cigarettes. “Prove it.”

 ***

It was just after midday when Lestrade had been led to believe that a riot had broken out somewhere just beyond his office. There was enough shouting for the whole affair to have been mistaken as a riot, at any rate.

Lestrade jumped up from behind his desk and threw open his door in time to hear DC Donovan, new to his team, shouting at someone.

“No, you can’t go back there,” she said, still hidden in a nearby corridor.

“Stop me.”

Lestrade had to sigh at the voice when he heard it. He hadn’t expected Sherlock to stay away forever, but he had assumed he’d have more than three hours break from the man.

“Donovan,” Lestrade called, stepping out of his office just as the other two rounded a corner and came into view. “It’s all right. You can leave him with me.”

Sherlock shot the young detective a positively smug grin, which was answered with a very predatory sneer from Donovan. Well, it was nice to see that the kids would be getting on all right. Shaking his head, Lestrade held out his arm, welcoming Sherlock into his office. He watched as Sherlock sat down in the seat behind the desk, his entire body trembling. It wouldn’t do any good to argue with him, as Lestrade had already learned from their earlier encounters, so he sat down on the other side of the desk.

“I have to ask,” Lestrade said, trying not to sound nervous.

“Yes, I’m clean,” Sherlock said automatically. “At the moment, anyway. I have nothing to do, and I’m bored. Do you have any idea what it’s like to be bored when you’re me? No, of course you don’t. You couldn’t possibly understand.”

Lestrade frowned at the insult, but ignored it in favour of pulling Sherlock’s hands away from the computer mouse before he could actually click on anything.

“You shouldn’t be back there,” he said. “Come on. Get on this side of the desk.”

“No.” Sherlock did relinquish the mouse, and started opening drawers instead.

Lestrade couldn’t believe what he was about to do. He knew he could get sacked for it, but he could also get sacked for letting this madman dig through his desk. But he’d be lying if he said he hadn’t expected to see Sherlock turn up in his office, and had been prepared.

“One case,” he said, reaching into a filing cabinet. He pulled out the folder and held it aloft, not missing the way Sherlock’s eyes snapped to it greedily. “If you get on this side of the desk right now.”

The only reason Sherlock didn’t just leap over the desk outright was because Lestrade was in his way, but he found his way to the other side almost as quickly as he would have done had he leapt over it.

“Went cold six months ago,” Lestrade said, putting the case down on his desk. He pointed at a cardboard box on the floor near the filing cabinet. “Vic’s affects. I liked the brother for it, but he had an airtight alibi, if ever there was one.”

Sherlock was already tearing through the file. “Which was?” he asked.

“Sweden.”

Sherlock snorted. “Please. I could think of a dozen different ways to kill a man in Australia without even leaving this office.”

He didn’t even look up from the photograph he was peering at, but Lestrade paused slightly. “You should probably refrain from saying those sorts of things when you are in the presence of a police officer,” he pointed out.

Sherlock finally looked up at Lestrade and rolled his eyes. “It wasn’t a confession of guilt, it was pointing out that the alibi wasn’t as airtight as some people might like to believe. I want to talk to him. Where is he?”

“Can’t let you do that,” said Lestrade as he went back to the backlog of work he’d been seeing to when Sherlock burst into the station.

“Why not?” asked Sherlock. “You want this case solved, don’t you?”

Lestrade sighed. “Yes, I do. But you are a drug addict who knocked around a police officer, and shouldn’t even be allowed to be doing what you are. Be grateful for this much, or I’ll throw you out on your ear, and probably wind up arresting you proper later this week for possession.”

Sherlock spent a few moments glowering at the inspector before turning his attention back to the case.

“I need the internet,” Sherlock declared suddenly.

“I can’t let you on my computer,” Lestrade said.

When he looked up, he was surprised to see Sherlock gathering the file and walking out of the office.

“Hey, where’re you going?” he called after Sherlock.

“I told you,” Sherlock said heavily. “I need the internet.”

Taking the case with him, he left Lestrade’s office, making sure to shut the door loudly behind him.

“You can’t—” Before Lestrade could tell him off for stealing a case file, Sherlock was already well out of earshot.

He got up to chase down Sherlock, gritting his teeth at the conspicuous absence of his newest problem.

“Which way did he go?” he asked Donovan.

She looked up from the forms she was reading over. “Who?” she asked. “That freak that followed you in here? He went off that way.”

She pointed toward the exit.

“He looked like he was in a hurry. He’s probably long gone by now.”

Lestrade sighed. “Thanks,” he said.

He followed in the direction Donovan had led him, and found that Sherlock was indeed long gone. With an entire case file. It wasn’t as though there weren’t back-ups, but it was something he shouldn’t have been allowed access to in the first place, and which would now probably cost Lestrade his rank, if not his badge and warrant card outright. He’d known better than to give in to some not-quite-but-near-as-makes-no-difference street junkie access to it in the first place, but he couldn’t help feel sorry for the kid. He was asking for help, and Lestrade thought that he’d been doing just that; thought that if he’d given the kid something to do, maybe he could help him get clean. He wasn’t sure what Sherlock had planned to do with the information he’d just stolen, but he knew it couldn’t have been anything good.

Swearing to himself, Lestrade turned to walk back to his office, weighing the benefits and risks of putting out an APW on Sherlock Holmes. After just a few moments, he realised that the risks far outweighed the benefits, and all he could do if he hoped to keep his job was just hope that Sherlock showed back up with the file.

 ***

Lestrade was not surprised, when by the time he was ready to call it a night, Sherlock had not shown back up with the file. He couldn’t help but think that maybe this was what the threat had meant, when the strange man in the back of the car had told him that he wouldn’t see any further advancement if he decided to help out an apparently absolutely mental junkie.

He made his way back to his small flat in Paddington, contemplating all the while the best way to recover from his frankly massive cock up. As he got to his door and reached for his keys, he paused, startled at the sound of music coming from inside his flat. After quickly verifying that the door was indeed locked, he turned the lock and stepped inside. The music was coming from the direction of the sitting room, and was, by the sound of it, being played live on a violin. The tune was something Lestrade recognised, but he couldn’t quite place it. It certainly wasn’t Tchaikovsky by any stretch of the imagination.

The last thing he expected to find was Sherlock Holmes stretched out on the sofa in his pyjamas and dressing gown with a violin tucked under his chin. He could have been asleep, for how otherwise still he was, except for his hands.

“What the hell are you doing in here?” Lestrade demanded, slamming his keys down on the table by Sherlock’s head.

Sherlock’s eyes opened and he stared at Lestrade without stopping playing. “I should have thought that would be obvious,” he said.

Lestrade very nearly hauled him off of the sofa, but stopped himself in favour of neither of them getting hurt. The man did have a history of smacking police officers around, he reminded himself.

“How did you get in?” he asked.

“I picked the lock,” Sherlock replied simply. He finally stopped playing and moved the violin down to his chest. “Takes two seconds, if you know what you’re doing.”

Lestrade moved to the front of the sofa, not sure if he should be thankful or irate at Sherlock’s startling honesty.

“I haven’t taken anything, and even locked the door, as I’m sure you no doubt noticed when you came in.” He sunk further into the sofa, making it clear that he had no intention of going anywhere.

“Okay, let’s try this one,” Lestrade said, fighting back his anger. “Why are you here?”

Sherlock smiled briefly, as though Lestrade had done something infinitely amusing. “I may actually be a bit more homeless than I let on this morning,” he said. “It’s a new development. My landlady probably found the hole in the floor. But since you seemed so willing to offer your hospitality when you thought I was homeless, I didn’t think you’d mind.”

Lestrade dragged his hand down his face, finding this entire conversation infuriatingly enlightening. At least now he knew exactly what he’d gone and gotten himself into.

“Did you get evicted before or after you left my office?” he asked.

“After,” Sherlock said. “I was going to come round later tonight anyway, but my landlady had changed my locks. I broke in to fetch some of my things, and came straight here.”

“You make a habit of breaking and entering?” asked Lestrade. He’d have been amazed at Sherlock’s honesty if he hadn’t still been angry at finding his own flat broken into.

“Only when there’s something to gain from it,” Sherlock said. “Today was rather unusual, as I’ve never picked three locks at three separate locations before.”

“Any other crimes you’d like to confess to, or should I just arrest you right now?” Lestrade asked, finally reaching for his handcuffs. “Which, by the way, where’s that file you stole?”

“Borrowed,” Sherlock corrected.

“Stole,” Lestrade re-corrected. “I’ll be needing that back.”

Sherlock pointed at the small desk, where Lestrade’s laptop was open and on. Next to the laptop was the file Sherlock had taken, with all of the pages neatly stacked inside it. Lestrade moved to pick up the file, and cast a glance to his laptop, noticing the browser was open to a Yahoo! email account that wasn’t his. It was, if the name on it was to be believed, an email account of the man Lestrade had wanted to bring in for murder some six months earlier.

“What is this?” he asked. “How did you…?”

“It’s the brother’s email account,” Sherlock explained, tucking his violin back under his chin. How he could even play at that angle, Lestrade had no idea. “He’s terrible at deleting his sent correspondence. He was smart enough to clear out his inbox, but his outbox is intact, and the emails he sent had copies of the originals attached. The whole thing was premeditated. Insurance companies pay out right away if the policy holder is murdered. Didn’t your people do a medical history on your victim? Terminal cancer. How could you miss it?”

Lestrade blinked, unable to tear his eyes away from the computer screen. “What?” he asked.

“There’s no pay-out for a suicide, and his only other option was to spend the next unknown amount of time in unimaginable pain. It was a mercy kill,” Sherlock explained. “Much more creative than flinging himself down the stairs, I will admit. More effective, too, since so much can go wrong with staging an accident. He set the whole thing up himself, but had the consideration to tell his brother what he was doing. A mistake, really, but I imagine he was trying to save him from the grief or something terribly boring. Even had the courtesy to do it while his brother was out of the country.”

Lestrade slapped shut his laptop so he didn’t have to continue looking at the email account. “Where did you get all of this?” he demanded.

“Jameson has his browser set to remember all of his passwords,” Sherlock said.

He started playing again, a different song, but one which Lestrade recognised. He’d heard it at a coffee shop not even two days before. Some sort of jazzy big band piece. Placing the singer was almost enough to distract Lestrade from something else vitally important.

“Hang on. You said you broke into three places today. I told you not to go to Jameson’s.”

Sherlock just smiled. “You said that I couldn’t speak to him,” he pointed out. “He wasn’t there when I was.”

“I should arrest you right now,” Lestrade said, walking back over to Sherlock.

“For what?” He stopped playing again, but didn’t move his violin. “I’m not with the police. I don’t need a warrant to get evidence. For all anyone else knows, I’m just the guy who got on the computer after he did at the library. He forgets to log out, I see the screen he was on, and send the information to the police.” Smiling an amazingly smug smile, he pulled a single, loud screech from his violin, which contrasted painfully against the actual music he’d been playing only moments before.

“What you do with that information is entirely up to you,” Sherlock said.

Lestrade sighed deeply. Even if he had gone about everything in the most illegal way possible, Sherlock had managed to solve a case that hadn’t made one iota of sense from the off. Or, more accurately, he had presented it in a way that had made sense, but Lestrade wasn’t prepared to take his word for gospel after witnessing his recent behaviour.

“I should arrest you,” Lestrade said, feeling like he was repeating himself.

“You won’t,” Sherlock told him simply.

“Won’t I?” He couldn’t help being curious about what Sherlock had to say on this matter.

Sherlock just looked up at him for a moment, his eyes seeming to look at something directly behind the inspector’s face. “No,” he said after a moment. “You would have done already, if that were your plan. You don’t want to explain how I came to be in possession of something you shouldn’t have given me in the first place, and you’re glad to finally have a case solved that your DCI no doubt did more than a little shouting over when even a single lead failed to turn up. You’re going to verify all of it, of course, and I wouldn’t expect you not to, but I assure you, you’ll find that I’m right, and will have the whole thing closed by tea tomorrow.”

Lestrade turned away and made his way toward the kitchen. He couldn’t believe the course this day had taken, and had decided to give up on trying to make it make sense.

“Have you eaten anything today?” he asked tiredly.

“Just tea for me,” Sherlock called from the sofa.

He started playing again, picking up from exactly where he’d left off earlier. He ignored the cup of tea that was set down on the table for him, continuing to stare at the ceiling as he played. Lestrade eventually returned to the sitting room with a sandwich and a bottle of beer.

“What’s with the… kid who fancies himself the next Sinatra?” he asked, moving Sherlock’s feet out of the way to be able to sit down on the far end of the sofa.

Sherlock glared at him, and pushed his feet up against Lestrade’s side.

“Van Morrison,” he corrected. “You’re thinking of the cover. And it helps me think.”

“About what?”

Again, Sherlock glared at him, as though he were asking the most boring questions on the planet. “About the best way to get my brother to keep to his end of the bargain and clean up my record like he said he would.”

“Your brother?” asked Lestrade, going right back to being confused.

Sherlock let his violin screech loudly again. “Yes, I believe you met him. He was probably in the Mercedes at the time. He does like that ghastly thing.”

Lestrade very nearly choked. “That was your brother?”

“Did I not just say that?” Sherlock demanded “Yes. That was my brother. Do keep up. You have a brain in your head; I suggest that you try using it.”

It was Lestrade’s turn to glare. “You’re certainly an arrogant sod for someone who’s just lost his flat,” he said.

Sherlock flashed a positively sinister smile. “And solved your case. Don’t forget that.”

“Yes, well. I don’t know that yet, do I?” Lestrade asked.

Sherlock studied his face again; looking for god only knew what. “No, you do, but you’re smart enough to want to verify it, even though you’re wasting your time to.”

Lestrade blinked. “Thanks. I think.”

 ***

Sherlock could tell right away that Lestrade was stalling on going to bed, no doubt not sure how he felt about leaving a stranger to sleep on his sofa. He’d been right, of course, not to trust an addict to stay in his flat overnight and not rob him blind by morning. Sherlock had no intention of doing anything of the sort, and had told Lestrade both of these facts, which he realised belatedly probably had not been the best thing he could have said, because the inspector didn’t make his way toward bed until after midnight.

By the time Lestrade woke the next morning, Sherlock had already formed a plan and left the flat, taking only his mobile with him. He had stalled on taking his coat, but felt a strange pull in his chest at the idea that if he took it with him, he might not see it again. He considered this against his plan the previous day to try to sell it, and found that he would have regretting this action had he done it. It was not a feeling he enjoyed, and one which ultimately led to the decision to leave his coat hung over the side of the sofa.

Before Lestrade had wandered off to bed, Sherlock had managed to lift his wallet from him, and quickly searched through it. He pulled £20 from it and found a pen on the worktop, using it to write a note on the wall.

Needed cash. You’ll get it back. SH

He took a step toward the door before casting a glance at his violin case. He didn’t think Lestrade to be the type, but just in case, he added an extra bit to the bottom of his note.

Don’t touch my things.