definewisdom: (morning after)
[personal profile] definewisdom
Title: Three Years Gone
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Characters: Lestrade, Sherlock, John, Mrs Hudson, Molly, Sebastian Moran
Rating: G
Warnings: Post-Reichenbach. Unbetaed atm.
Author's Note: My love of Lestrade, my reaction to The Reichenbach Fall and my annoyance at having to wait for canon fix-it caused me to write this. I needed to get it out of my head and onto the screen somehow. Under 3000 words, so there's undoubtedly more to come, though this is stand-alone.
Summary: The Empty House - from Lestrade's POV.



“Don’t turn on the light.”

The voice is familiar, the tone is almost familiar, and the figure, the dark shape in his chair, is definitely familiar. The only problem is that the person that they are connected with in Lestrade’s head is dead.

Very dead.

Took a gainer from a fifth storey rooftop dead.

Bashed his arrogant, brilliant brains out on the pavement dead.

But if there’s one thing he knows about the man connected to that voice and that shadow, it’s that he can’t stand it when you point out the obvious.

“Did John know?” is a safer comment.

“No.” Lestrade isn’t sure whether to be pissed off at his friend’s expense, or grateful that John hasn’t been lying to him for the past three years. His mouth decides on pissed off, though.

“You hard-hearted bastard.”

“There was a back-up plan,” Sherlock says, and it is Sherlock. Definitely him. The man leans forward so, in the dim light of the office Lestrade can just about make out his face. “Moriarty had a failsafe, in case I didn’t jump.”

“John would die,” Lestrade guesses.

“Not just John.” Sherlock answers. He sounds calm, but the way his eyes flick up to Lestrade’s face and down to the desk again tells Lestrade everything he needs to know. There had been a target on his back for the last three years and he hadn’t even known about it. He resists the urge to look back over his shoulder. “But he missed someone off the list.” Sherlock smiles to himself, thin-lipped and secretive. It’s enigmatic, random and completely impossible to follow, but that’s Sherlock.

“Does John know now?” Sherlock doesn’t answer. Lestrade swears. He’s about to lay into him – properly lay into him, when Sherlock changes the subject.

“You were demoted.”

“Not quite,” Lestrade answers. He finally walks in to the room properly, letting go of the door. “After all the stress and bother of having to try and hunt you down I was kindly given the opportunity of a less demanding and stressful position.”

“They give you the easy jobs.”

“They give me what no one else would look twice at,” Lestrade agrees. There’s a pause, almost like an apology and Lestrade sighs. “Not your fault that a mad, genius psychopath decided to destroy your reputation.”

“It’s my fault that I let him,” Sherlock says. But the moment of darkness is gone in a split second. He’s standing up – just as tall as ever. “Do you want your old position back?”

“What?” Lestrade’s off balance for a second. “How?”

“I couldn’t come back until I had it all – the whole web. Moriarty’s organisation was like hydra – cut off one head...”

“And three more grow in its place,” Lestrade finishes; he knows his mythology, whatever Sherlock’s opinion of his intelligence might be. It is startling to him how easily he has slipped back into the old patterns. “You get it all?”

“I’m hunting the key,” Sherlock says. “One man to rule them all.”

“What? Did you spend the last three years reading fantasy novels?”

“Among other things,” Sherlock waves a hand. “Not the point. There’s a man; I know where he’s going to be tonight, doing something very illegal. If you catch him, my name is cleared, your reputation is restored and you’ll probably find them begging you to take a promotion.”

Lestrade looks at him for a long moment. Trusting Sherlock Holmes was what had got him into this mess in the first place. 2012 hadn’t been a good year, with his divorce, his job in tatters, Sherlock dead and John shutting himself off with grief. It had been hell, but somehow he still finds himself trusting Sherlock. Somehow he knows that he’s about to make the same mistakes all over again.

“Will you come?” Sherlock asks. This is, Lestrade knows, the closest he will ever get to an apology. The words are steady and calm and subdued. Sherlock catches Lestrade’s gaze, and Lestrade feels a strange bubble of relief rising up inside him.

“Well... I suppose someone’s got to be there to do damage control.”

“Thank you.”

It was the first time he had ever heard Sherlock genuinely grateful, and Sherlock took advantage of his shock to sweep towards the door.

“The time and the place are on your desk,” Sherlock said, he opened the door and turned, framed by the light of the office outside.

*

The address isn’t unknown to Lestrade. In fact, he knows it better than his own.

He brings a team of seven officers, all young, none of whom have ever worked with Sherlock before – it’ll be easier that way. The younger they are, the less they’ll be blamed if it all goes horribly wrong, which is a serious possibility.

It is what most people would call a traditional stake out. He sits in a nondescript car getting progressively more bored, looking intently at the house opposite 221b Baker Street and wondering if he just imagined the whole thing.

“What are we waiting for, sir?” the DC in the passenger seat asks.

“I’ll tell you when I see it.”

“Right sir.”

Donovan and Anderson had managed to dodge the deluge of shit that poured onto his team after the Sherlock incident. He doesn’t often begrudge them that, just every other Tuesday. They were doing their job, they thought they were helping. And it was his mess to clean up anyway. But the buck stopped with Lestrade and he's not been able to get rid of the mantle of 'the guy taken in by the fraud' since.

He hopes he's right about Sherlock.

A car passes too slowly, and the faces disappear from the window. It pulls over and the driver gets out.

He is not the sort of man Lestrade would want to meet on a dark night. Just over six foot, mid-forties, dark hair going grey at the temples, clean shaven, muscular build and the attitude of a hunter.

Lestrade’s faced a lot of people in his time as a police officer and there’s a certain gaze that always chills him to the bone. This man has it. It’s a gaze that says ‘I can see thirteen ways to kill you and escape and I won’t even hesitate’.

“That’s our man,” he says.

“Shall we take him down?” the DC asks, eager.

“Steady,” Lestrade says. He knows the boy’s raring for some action. He’s been stuck with the same jobs Lestrade’s had, after all. “He hasn’t done anything illegal yet. We don’t have cause.”

The man stops on the pavement and looks up at the windows of 221b. Lestrade waits until he’s turned around and headed for the building before he leans forward to try and make out what the stranger was looking at. There is a light on in the window of what had once been Sherlock Holmes’ base of operations, and silhouetted on the curtain is a man that Lestrade knows couldn’t possibly be there – because he’s waiting in the house across the street, the house the unknown man had just walked into. But it’s an unmistakeable shadow, playing the violin.

Suddenly Lestrade knows the plan.

“Jesus Christ,” he breathes. “This is a bloody assassination.”

The man had been carrying a bag – sniper rifle, no doubt, Lestrade isn’t even surprised.

The window opposite 221b is opened a crack, just enough for the barrel of a rifle to poke out.

That’s cause enough for Lestrade, and he gives the order over the radio. He needs to get his men in there before John and Sherlock do something stupid. And they will do something stupid, he knows that as well as he knows the earth goes round the sun.

They go in quietly, though. If there’s evidence on this unknown gunman, then Lestrade bloody well wants it intact.

They make it into the room while he’s dismantling the weapon and he looks round in almost comical surprise.

“Drop the gun and put your hands on your head!”

It’s too late though, he can already see the hole in the window opposite and, though the light is still on, there’s no silhouette any more.

*

The man’s name is Sebastian Moran and there is evidence on him. The sort of evidence that no one in the world could ever deny. It is enough evidence for Lestrade to be banging on doors at three in the morning demanding that someone sign his goddam warrants right now, because they’ll be useless in the morning.

Sherlock had been right. There is a web, a huge tangled web, but what they’ve got in their hands now is enough to start an international operation of such proportions that Lestrade knows there’s going to be paperwork for weeks.

He gets a text at five thirty.

Still not dead. SH

Followed by another one from John Watson.

The bastard’s sleeping on my sofa.
Just walked in said hello and asked if I’d mind.


He has enough time to text back Some things never change before the Commissioner of the Met is on the phone asking him whether he’s co-ordinated with Brussels yet.

*

It is the single largest international operation of all time.

On the third of May 2015 Police forces in thirty countries performed co-ordinated raids on thousands of warehouses, homes and offices tied to the operations of one James Moriarty (deceased). More stolen goods were recovered in that one night than in the previous decade.

The newspapers reported on it – the usual seesawing between ‘amazing policework’ and ‘undermining our civil liberties. The prime minister had to comment, the president of the United States commented, every member of the G20 had to have some sort of a say.

And Lestrade found himself knocking on a very familiar black door and waiting patiently until it was answered by an elderly lady with a huge smile on her face.

“Hello Inspector,” she said. “Oh, it is good to see you again. They’re upstairs and the cake’s just come out of the oven.” There’s the sound of breaking glass from upstairs. “Only back for three days and he’s already at it again.” Mrs Hudson shakes her head. “Will you be wanting some tea?”

“That’d be lovely Mrs Hudson,” Lestrade answers, stepping inside.

“Just this once, mind you,” she says as he heads up the stairs. “It is a special occasion.”

Lestrade doesn’t bother knocking, just walks in to see Sherlock manhandling a life-size dummy of himself holding a fake violin across the room. John is sitting in his usual armchair sipping at a cup of tea and reading the paper.

“You’ve made quite a splash,” John comments without looking up. “The man who never gave up.”

“Yeah, well. You know what they say – today’s news, tomorrow’s fish and chip paper.” The public have been looking for a hero and, given as Sherlock’s been strangely absent, Lestrade’s been pushed centre stage. The Yard is having difficulties with it all, pretending that he was never out in the cold. Suddenly he's everyone's best friend. But police work's as much about politics as it is crime these days. Sherlock's watching him with that gaze he isn't used to any more. He talks just to fill the silence. “You should come forward, take your bows...”

“What? And steal your glory?” Sherlock says, finally giving up on the dummy and throwing it into a corner. There is a cracking sound.

“You just broke the table,” John says.

“It was old,” Sherlock replies.

“It was an antique,” John says.

“I’m sure it’ll still work.” Sherlock says. John, very calmly, puts his cup of tea down on the table top, there is a shudder and the wood seems to fold under it. The teacup smashes on the floor.

“Yes,” John agrees. “Works perfectly.” Lestrade decides not to get involved.

“The Commissioner wants to apologise to you,” he says instead. “Personally.”

“Will there be press?” Sherlock asks.

“Yes.”

“I’m busy.” Sherlock says, blasé as he had always been. Lestrade prays for strength and realises, in a bizarre moment, that he has missed that.

“He’s the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police force, Sherlock.”

“That doesn’t make me less busy.”

“It’s a great honour.”

“Not interested,” Sherlock says, picking up his violin.

“You’re the hero of the hour,” Lestrade says. Sherlock turns to him and stares.

“Really?” he smirks. “Have you read the papers recently, Lestrade? I think you’re getting a bit confused.”

“Of course I read the papers.”

“It’s not my face that’s all over the front of them,” Sherlock smiles. He’s right too. Some annoying reporter somewhere got a photograph of Lestrade on his way out of the Yard and it’s been splashed on every newspaper and news website that can be found.

“Congratulations,” John adds. “You deserve it.”

“You two are...” Lestrade draws in a deep breath and sits down on the sofa. “This is going to take some time to get used to... again.” In the amused silence that follows, the door creaks open.

“On second thoughts, I thought champagne might be more appropriate,” Mrs Hudson says, coming in with a bottle and four champagne flutes. “Unless you’re on duty, of course, Inspector.”

“Not at the moment,” Lestrade says. “I’d love some champagne.”

Sherlock begins to play some strange rousing dance of a melody, Mrs Hudson pops the champagne and John puts his paper down to lean forward and smile, his voice lowered so that Sherlock won’t hear over the music.

“He thought he’d be better off staying out of it,” John says. “Less chance of people saying he’s made it all up again.” Lestrade glances over at Sherlock’s back.

“Too much evidence for that now,” he says. “But it was probably a good plan. I take it that it was the dummy Moran shot.”

“Yes,” John confirms. “perfect kill shot to the head. Sherlock set it up then climbed out the back window.”

“And you’re just moving back in?” Lestrade asks. There’s a lot of subtext in that question. ‘He made you think he was dead’, is there, but foremost is ‘he made you watch him die’.

“Oh, don’t worry,” John says. “He knows he owes me one.”

“You’re being surprisingly calm about all of this,” but Lestrade isn’t surprised, not really. John Watson has never reacted to Sherlock Holmes in what most people would consider a normal way. It follows that he wouldn’t react to this normally either.

“We had the argument days ago,” John admits. “After he woke up. And anyway...” He pauses, glancing over at Sherlock. “Well, I was sort of expecting it.” Lestrade doesn’t quite admit that he was too.

“You saw...” He begins, because he’s read John’s statement of that day a dozen or more times.

“Yes,” John agrees. There’s a twist to his mouth that proves he isn’t quite as resigned to it all as he seems. “But it is Sherlock.”

The glasses of champagne are handed around and Sherlock puts his violin down to take one.

When they’ve all got hold of their own glasses, John starts to raise his, but Sherlock stops him.

“Not yet." Sherlock holds up a hand. "We’re going to need another glass, Mrs Hudson.”

She frowns and Lestrade can see that her ‘thank goodness he’s alive’ feelings are already being replaced by the standard background noise of Sherlock irritation. She goes anyway, though and Sherlock, looking out of the window, smiles.

There is a knock at the door and he hears Mrs Hudson opening it on her way back up. There are two sets of footprints on the stairs, two voices speaking – both female.

The door is pushed open and Lestrade is surprised to see Molly Hooper standing there, looking happy, if just as nervous as always.

“Now we’re all here,” Sherlock says. There’s a moment’s pause then, where Molly’s grin grows and Lestrade thinks That’s how he did it. Before a glass of champagne is being pushed into Molly’s hand too.

Sherlock raises his own glass with a smile that somewhere in the uneven ground between mocking and sincere, but he doesn’t say a word. No one does. They just raise their glasses and drink.

It might be a toast to Sherlock, for being alive. It might be a toast to John, for coming back home, it might even be a toast to Lestrade, hero of the hour (though he really hopes not). It might be a toast to Molly for pulling off one of the greatest cons of the century. It might be a toast to Mrs Hudson for being constant through it all. It might be a toast to laying the ghost of Moriarty well and truly to rest.

Whatever it is, it’s like coming full circle. Back to the beginning again, and Lestrade’s profoundly grateful that he’s going to get a chance to do it all over again.
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