Natalie wasn't surprised to hear, or really feel, the rhythm of music come up from Greg's basement flat. The dancing, on the other hand, was unexpected; but nevertheless, there he was, back and forth past his front window.
Well, we all cope in different ways, don't we? She remembered, distinctly, one especially bad case where she'd gone looking for Sam. Looked for him first at Jake's, been told they'd had a row, and then went looking at the next obvious place. Found the bearded man on the floor, covered in facepaint, with little Aly braiding beads into his hair. She'd watched smiling in silence; Matty had sidled up next to her. "Wish I'd known how relaxing this was when I was on the force; I'd have borrowed Kira's little one."
No face-painting for Greg; Anisa had taken his girls off on holidays somewhere.
And the young man Greg had always jokingly referred to as his eldest....
Natalie gulped at the thought, as she descended the stairs to knock on his door.
The entire Met had been in an uproar the whole week; it had been all she could do to shield the MIU and weather them through the storm. She'd never brought in the detective in question on a case of theirs, though not for lack of desire, sometimes. Her boys tended to catch the complex, deep and mundane cases that he'd deem "boring" and move on from in a heartbeat.
Natalie had been acquainted with Sherlock Holmes the way many of the Met had; a gust of wind, a toss of a scarf, an imperious bon mot.
She knew John Watson a little bit better; been out down the pub more then a few times when Greg would tug John along with them. The doctor would tend to sit in the corner of their booth, slowly nursing a pint of bitter or the house ale...listening. Quietly listening, occasionally throwing out a joke that would bring the place down.
Natalie wondered where the young man was right now; she knew better then to trust the claptrap in the Sun or the Mail.
She was only roused from her thoughts by the door opening, and there was Greg. Smiling at her with that grin that could suck you in, convince you that everything in the world would be okay. The only signs of strain being the way he gripped a little too hard on the doorjamb; and the tell-tale waft of whiskey emanating from his shirt. Look at me, I'm playing Sherlock Holmes now, aren't I?
"Nat, love, what on earth are you doing here?" A new song came on; Greg reached for her hand. Despite her misgivings, she didn't resist too hard as he twirled her into the middle of the room.
"What is this? Jazz?"
"This, my darling, is New Orleans, it's so much more than Jazz."
"Ah...the blues then?" She raised an eyebrow at him; they kept dancing. The song swung to a close, and he abruptly swung both of them onto the sofa.
Natalie couldn't help it; she started giggling. At this reaction, Greg got a look of sheer bewilderment on his face; this just made her laugh more.
"What? What is it?"
"You. You remarkable man."
Greg started to grin again. "Well I am that." He reached towards the glass on the table, taking another swig. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow..."
My Greg...always putting on the bluff face, the brave face.
A slow song had come on the stereo now. Natalie reached for the bottle, and poured herself a small tot. Then a thought popped into her head.
"Oh, damn, Ronnie would never forgive me if I forgot this," (as she reached into her pocketbook). "He and Sam ended up in Strasbourg for some reason last month, and he stocked up."
She passed over the small bar of German chocolate; Greg smiled wistfully, fingering the shiny wrapper.
Natalie continued. "Comes with some words, too, if I remember correctly: 'keep on it, kiddo.'"
Greg smiled a little wider at that, his eyes shining brightly. "And Ronnie would know."
The air had changed in the room; Natalie watched as Greg rose to his feet. But he said nothing.
So she'd have to. "On leave?"
"You weren't the only one; they couldn't cashier you over this, surely."
"But I'm the only one whose unit can't stand to be in the same room with me. Sally...I swear, Natalie, I knew she didn't get along with him, but I never...."
'Him'; no names.
Greg went on, pacing about the small living room.
"And of course, *someone* chinning the Chief Superintendent didn't help." Lestrade sighed.
He looked over in her direction, and smirked mirthlessly. "I've really fucked it up this time, haven't I, love? I mean, you'd never get yourself trussed up like this, never believe..."
This sentence proved too much; he rubbed his hands over his face instead. Natalie rose, to grasp him by the elbow.
"Greg...Greg. Answer me one thing."
"Do you believe that he was a fraud?"
He was silent at that. Natalie repeated herself.
"Do you, Gregory Lestrade...do you believe in Sherlock Holmes?"
His eyes brimmed with tears. "...yes. God help me, I did. I do. "
"Then that's good enough for me."
"For all the good it did; I couldn't do, couldn't stop a damn thing, and now...."
Greg bowed his head; teetering on his feet, he leaned towards Natalie, and she took him in her arms. The tempo picked up slightly again, and she found herself unconsciously dancing.
Listening to the lyrics, softly crooned by an low male voice.
Baby you don't know
you don't know my mind
when you see me laughing
I'm laughing just to keep from crying....