Greg Lestrade stands behind the crime scene tape at the culmination of a three day long investigation. Donovan hands him a coffee absently while she orders around two of the new PCs. Greg feels a headache coming on.
Yes, they found the culprit with the aid of everyone’s favorite ‘consulting detective’ but did it have to end with a gunshot? Now their original killer is shot by his own hand and John Watson is sitting in the back door of an ambulance getting a long gash on his head looked at. Sherlock, of course, is hovering over the gurney of the suspect turned corpse with a desire to see ‘one last thing’ which will probably seal the whole dramatic deal and confirm everything he had been very pointedly pointing out these past few days. Sometimes Greg thinks Sherlock is only able to solve cases dramatically, boom and bang and some maniacal laughter.
Greg drinks some of his coffee. It could use sugar.
“Sir?” Greg turns to Donovan as she holds up a clip board. Greg glances over the initial crime scene description sheet then signs off. Donovan nods then points at his coffee. “Another?”
Greg laughs. “Barely started on this one.”
She tilts her head. “Well, you look like you’re into 'needing a double' territory.”
She gives him another look then turns on her heel and heads toward Sherlock, probably to tell him off if she can think up a reason. Greg rubs the line in the middle of his forehead then drops his hand, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out his mobile. He clicks the screen on and sees no voicemails or texts. He stares at it a moment longer then puts the mobile back in his pocket.
“Nothing from your wife?”
Greg starts in surprise and nearly spills his coffee over his wrist. He turns to see a tall man beside him, just outside the caution tape, and in front of a black town car.
“Mr. Holmes?” Greg asks because, though his visits are infrequent, anyone who has a lasting connection to Sherlock Holmes has met his brother in one way or another.
“No message?” Mr. Holmes points about a foot off the ground with the point of his umbrella, vaguely indicating Greg’s general location and, thus, his mobile.
“She’s an anaesthetist, changing hospital hours.”
“And I am sure that’s the whole of it.”
Greg frowns. “Can I help you, Mr. Holmes?”
He breathes in through his nose slowly and taps his umbrella on the pavement. “I have a vested interest in this case and came to assure the conclusion.” He glances toward Sherlock’s direction then back to Greg. “And, of course, my brother.”
“As I see.”
“John will be fine too.”
“Hmm.” Mr. Holmes tilts his head. “That, however, remains to be seen.”
Greg opens his mouth but realizes he does not need to ask what Mr. Holmes means. “He’s been all right so far.”
“Little faith in your brother?”
He turns to Greg and raises his eyebrows. “You have more?”
“Well…” Greg glances at the ambulance where John is finally standing up and batting away an earnest paramedic. “They seem to be helping each other.”
“Hmm.” Mr. Holmes nods and glances down at his finger nails. “I trust he aided you well on this case?”
Greg laughs once. “As well as he always does, leaving us behind a few times but we do find him again. You know how he is.”
Mr. Holmes smiles. “Oh yes.” He glances Greg up and down once. Greg swallows and feels oddly like it’s Sherlock looking at him now. “You do look as though you could use some sleep, Detective Inspector.”
Greg stands up straighter and touches his forehead again automatically. “Well…” He drops his hand and holds up his coffee just a touch higher. “I have assistance.”
“Still.” Mr. Holmes tilts his head and his eyes circle around Greg’s face. “Mustn’t let the criminal classes of London cause you to fall into disrepair due to denying yourself the basics.”
“I imagine food is important as well.”
Greg laughs and Mr. Holmes smiles back at him.
“And I would recommend the kind with nutrients, something about ‘an apple a day’ I believe.”
Greg chuckles again and nods. “All right, yeah, I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Do.” Mr. Holmes smiles more. “And if time permits you might consider dry cleaning.”
Greg raises his eyebrows. “What?”
Mr. Holmes points at Greg’s collar with his non-umbrella hand. Greg looks down and sees some discoloration on the dark gray edge. He cannot quite tell what it is but it certainly isn’t a 'years old' stain as of yet. He looks up again and Mr. Holmes raises both eyebrows.
“I imagine if you should have any unfortunate press interactions you’ll want to look your best.”
Greg smiles. “Not tonight I think.”
Mr. Holmes smirks and tilts his head. “Fortunately it is only coffee.”
“You can tell that?”
“Sherlock is not the only Holmes with observational skills.”
“But the only ‘Consulting Detective.’”
Mr. Holmes smiles slowly. “Wouldn’t do to burden you with such a weight as two.”
Greg chuckles again and nods. “Well, thank you for the consideration.”
Mr. Holmes nods back. “You are welcome.”
They stand quietly for a moment. Greg takes another sip of his coffee as Mr. Holmes watches him, twirling his umbrella around in his palm once, tip on the pavement. Greg glances at his PCs still collecting the scant witness statements then looks back to Mr. Holmes. Mr. Holmes purses his lips slightly then his eyes shift to the side toward Sherlock who is now standing beside John, face animated and hands pointing toward the body being loaded into the ambulance.
“Well.” Mr. Holmes glances at the ground then up again. “I leave you to your crime scene.”
“Wait,” Greg says before Mr. Holmes turns away. “You didn’t say what interest it was you had in this case.” Greg waves a hand behind him. “Beyond Sherlock that is?”
Mr. Holmes nods. “No, I did not.” Then he opens the back door of his black car and steps inside, shutting it behind him.
Several hours later, after releasing the witnesses, pulling information out of Sherlock, apologizing to John as John apologized to him, and letting the crime scene technicians do their work, Greg walks back into his office at a little after nine PM. He hangs up his coat as he closes his door, pulling out his mobile from the one pocket. Greg clicks the phone to life then clicks the one contact on his home page.
It takes four rings before she answers. “What?”
Greg closes his eyes once then opens them again. “Late one?”
She sighs. “About to drive to the house now, why?”
“I was… you said you’d check in.”
“I did not.”
“Yes, you…” He sighs. “We said we’d call once a week.”
“All right, we’re calling then.”
“You said –“
“Greg, what is it? We’re on the phone now, what do you want?”
“Anne, look I know space is the point but we can’t just stop talking all together, that’s why we said once a week. With both our schedules we have to pencil it in, isn’t that what you said?”
“I did say that.”
She sighs and he can hear her rummaging in her handbag. “Look, Greg, we’re separated. That means something wasn’t going right. Scheduling time to talk each week isn’t going to shine it all up again.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“I know you didn’t but maybe some weeks I just don’t want to talk to you. I just… shit.” Greg bites his teeth down together and paces two steps across his office. He breathes slowly and paces back again. Anne sighs. “I’m sorry, that’s… look, it was a long day, it’s getting late, just... you leave the yard and get some sleep.”
“Why is everyone telling me that today?”
She scoffs. “Is that a real question?”
“Anne, I thought… I thought we could do dinner this week, talk about –“
“Not now, Greg.”
Greg huffs. “Space, more of that?”
For a moment he only hears faint background noise, an echo of shoes in a parking garage. “Yes." She says quietly. "Good night.” Then she hangs up.
Greg stares at his inner window blinds then drops his hand. He steps backward once and puts the mobile on his desk behind him. He sighs and crosses his arms. Through the blinds he sees PC Clipton and PC Bradford at their computers probably getting the forms from the crime scene into the system. Greg turns and walks around his desk, sitting down in his chair. Then he notices the light blue envelope in the middle of his desk, writing on the front.
To D.I. Gregory Lestrade
Greg sits up straight and picks up the envelope, more like a card than any sort of official document and with no post mark. Greg turns it over and sees the flap merely tucked into the back. He flips it up then pulls out the light blue card, a large 'MH' embossed horizontally on the front. He opens it and reads the short line:
It was a pleasure speaking to you this evening, Detective Inspector. We should do it again.
Greg turns the card over, closes it, picks up the envelope and flips it around then opens the card again. That’s it, nothing else, just the one line. Greg reads it again then a third time before he places it back down on his desk on top of the envelope.
“Huh…” Greg crosses his arms and stares at the card. He cannot decide if this is good or very bad.
Greg parks his car at the curb, no sign of his wife's Toyota. He gets out of the car then pulls out two flat cardboard boxes from the back seat. He walks up to his town house, notices a piece of paper in the grass but leaves it. He unlocks the front door and closes it behind him. Peering around the front hall, he leaves one box at the foot of the stairs then heads up with the other in hand. In the bedroom, he opens the wardrobe and sees his clothes all pushed up tight to one side.
"Really?" Greg sighs and shakes his head.
He pulls down some shirts and trousers; he's been re-wearing the same three pairs of trousers for a few weeks now. He throws them onto the bed and notices Anne has put those throw pillows he hates back on the bed. He picks up one flat box and starts to fold it into shape, staring at the blue and white pillows.
"Fucking... useless pillows."
He drops the complete box onto the floor, folds up the trousers and puts them in. He follows that with the shirts then walks over to the dresser. Anne's one opal necklace hangs out of the open jewelry box. Greg touches the silver chain but pulls his hand back almost immediately. He sighs and opens the second drawer. Luckily his socks and pants are still inside. He scoops out about half of them and throws them behind him into the box. A pair of socks miss and land on the cushioned chair under the window.
Greg stares. He rubs his eyes with both hands then walks over and retrieves the socks. He twists them back and forth in his hands, staring at the curtains. He can indistinctly see the street beyond through the sheer fabric. Greg turns away and tosses the socks into the box. He crouches down and closes the box, flaps overlapping. He picks up the finished box and carries it downstairs. He puts it down at the bottom of the steps then hears a key turn in the lock. He stands up straight as Anne walks in the door. She gives a sudden start and gasps .
"Jesus, Greg." She sighs heavily and hangs up her handbag on the hat stand beside the door.
"Sorry." He points at the box. "Just needed some clothes."
She smiles and glances down at his trousers. "I see that."
She twirls her keys around in her hand once and clears her throat. Greg puts his hands in his pockets and looks at the floor.
"Work all right?" He asks, looking up at her again.
She nods. "Yes, fine, same."
He chuckles. "Yeah."
"Plenty of criminals for you still?"
Greg pulls a hand out of his pocket and rubs it down his shirt. "Never stops really."
"Oh yes," Anne smiles, "as with the sick."
"I, uh," Greg points into the living room, "some CDs as well."
Anne waves a hand at the living room then walks past him down the hall toward the kitchen. Greg watches her go until she turns to the right where he can no longer see her. He picks up the other flat box and walks into the living room. He picks a few U2 albums, Abbey Road and Let it Be, The Police, some Dire Straits and a David Bowie album that he doesn't always admit to. He folds the box together, puts the CDs in, then stands up and walks back into the kitchen.
Greg leans in the doorway and watches Anne rummaging in the freezer for a moment. "Hey," he says finally and she turns around. "Thought I would take the blue plates. I don't have any at the moment."
"Still? What have you been eating on?"
She scoffs incredulously. "Have them then."
Greg crosses the kitchen over to her and opens the cabinet beside the fridge. He pulls down four blue plates, chips on all of them, from the top shelf. He holds them against his chest and turns to Anne beside him.
She glances at the plates then down the hall. “Did you take any DVDs?”
“I would not dare touch your Hugh Grant.”
She nods and closes the door to the refrigerator, soy milk in her hand. Greg shifts the plates slightly so they make soft clacking noises. They stare at each other for a moment until Anne looks away.
"Need any more crockery?"
Greg looks at the side of her head, some brown hair tucked behind her ear. "No."
Greg turns around and walks back into the living room, fitting the plates in with the CDs. He closes the box, picks it up then moves back into the hall and puts it on top of the clothing box. He stands and watches the doorway to the kitchen. He hears Anne doing something, getting out food from the refrigerator maybe, but he cannot see her.
"I'll be off then," he says.
"All right!" She calls back.
Greg picks up the boxes, waits a few seconds then turns and opens the front door again.
Greg listens to the radio as the last reports from the officers three streets down comes in. It turns out that PC Gupta tackled the suspect in the street, broke her nose in the process but got the man in handcuffs before any of the other officers could catch up. Now they all owe her a drink at the pub next copper night.
“Bring him back,” Greg says into the radio, “and watch that nose.”
“His or mine?” She quips.
“Yes, sir.” He hears her chuckle just before the radio cuts off.
Greg drops the radio and waves his hand at the two officers on the corner. He whistles and they finally turn. “Pack it in!”
Greg leans down back into the car and puts the radio back. When he stands up again he sees Mycroft Holmes standing beside a black car on the other side of the street. Greg watches Mr. Holmes for a moment but when he does not come over, Greg steps forward.
“Something wrong?” He asks.
“You appear to have it all in hand.”
Greg glances down the street where his PCs are returning with the suspect. He turns back to Mr. Holmes. “Not really your sort of high level crime, I’d say, so…” He raises his eyebrows. “Why are you here?”
“For you, Detective Inspector.”
“Well, when last we saw each other you were appearing somewhat worse for the wear. I felt the need to check on you.”
Greg opens his mouth then closes it again. He blows out the breath then shrugs. “Uh, all right. Well?”
Mr. Holmes smiles. “You appear to have eaten at least.”
“Not a ringing endorsement.”
Mr. Holmes tilts his head and purses his lips. “It is in your hands.”
Greg slides his hands into his pockets and sighs. “That it?”
“What more would you wish?”
“I don’t know, something about Sherlock probably?”
Mr. Holmes tilts his head down and gives Greg a ‘really now?’ type of look. “Not everything is about my brother.”
“And thank God for that.” Greg laughs once and Mr. Holmes just smiles back. Greg clears his throat. “So, that’s really all? It seems a bit…” He glances at Mr. Holmes’ sleek black car then back to the man himself. “Excessive?”
Mr. Holmes breathes in slowly and nods. “As you say, Detective Inspector.” He backs up one step toward the back car door. He looks Greg up and down slowly so that Greg has to breathe in to stop himself from shivering. Then Mr. Holmes opens the car door. “I would suggest you remember from now on to look after yourself.”
Greg opens his mouth to retort but Mr. Holmes is already back in the car, door closed and driving away.
One memo, three press information requests, two closed cases for review, and a promotion approval meeting agenda sit on Greg’s desk. The memo says something about rotating hours and need to be ‘on call’ during holidays. Greg folds it in half, opens the bottom left drawer of his desk, and drops it in with the other memos that he will probably need to pull out again at least once to prove to the superintendent that he did indeed receive it. He picks up one press release then remembers he still needs to turn on his laptop for the day.
Greg rubs his forehead. “Shit.”
Greg writes two of the press releases, keeping the facts simple after he has to review ten pages for each case in the computer system, then sicks Donovan on the third because that new reporter at the Daily Mail needs to shove it.
Before he can open the first case for review his desk phone rings and the superintendent gnaws his ear off about the robbery statistics from last month.
“When the press hears about these numbers –“
“Statistics can be read a number of ways, sir.”
“D.I. Lestrade, numbers do not lie and I expect this number to be higher.”
Instead of the obvious sarcastic response, Greg considers just hanging up.
After thirty-six long minutes, Greg finally, joyfully hangs up, drops his pen, and pulls up John’s blog. Hopefully he will be lucky and John will have written up a new case. In a stroke of mercy, John has a new entry posted.
...Then, as he does, Sherlock asked our witness if her weekly sexual exploits with the victim were satisfying enough to give her cause to tell us the truth this time. So she slapped him; I've stopped keeping count of the times this happens.
Greg laughs out loud and reads on; he really needs to ask John out for a pint to get more details on some of these. He bookmarks the entry then decides he should bite the bullet and actually go through his e-mail. A quarter of the e-mail should be information requests which hopefully he can pass off on to some rookies to chase down. He opens his e-mail and see one hundred and twenty-three unread messages.
Greg groans. “God…”
When Greg finally comes around to opening the first closed case, Donovan taps on his door and pokes her head in. He raises an eyebrow and she holds up a hand with case files clasped in it.
He stares at her. “Closed?”
“Two of them are.”
“And the other… others?”
“One we want to declare cold.”
“All right.” Greg holds out his hand. “I’ll do that one first.”
Donovan steps in and hands him the files. He takes them and she claps her hands together once, pointing at him. “Good luck.”
“Ha.” He waves his hand at her until she back steps out of his office.
Greg drops the files onto the top of the stack and stares at them for a few seconds. He then glances over at his mobile. He watches it, waits to see the blinking light indicating he has a message or a text. No such luck. He sits up straight, picks up his pen and opens the top case file.
When Greg looks up again and sees the clock on the wall it reads eleven PM. Greg blinks, checks his watch then sighs. He closes the finished case and puts it on the ‘done’ pile on the left side of his desk. He puts his pen down then notices a man in a suit standing in his door.
“Detective Inspector Lestrade?”
Greg frowns. “As the name plate says.”
The man pulls what appear to be two coffees from behind his back and walks into the office. He puts the travel cups down on Greg’s desk, avoiding any papers, then holds out a white card envelope. Greg reaches out and takes it automatically. The man in the suit nods then turns and walks out of Greg’s office. Greg’s eyes tick to the card then to the two coffees, the pleasant smell starting to spread through his office. Greg puts down the card and picks up one of the coffees. The container is a sleek plastic, not the kind you’d save and use over yet not something just from Starbucks. There is no brand label or any writing on either cup. Greg takes the top off one and see dark brown liquid, not quite black inside. He takes a small sip, not too hot and exactly how he usually takes it.
“Oi!” Greg calls. He stands up and walks to his office door. He looks out into the open space, empty desks and a couple lamps left on. The courier, or whomever he was, is nowhere in sight.
He turns back into his office and sits down again. He picks up the card, nothing written on the front. Greg pulls the white card out of the envelope. Then he recognizes the ‘MH’ embossed on the front of the card.
“No…” he whispers and frowns.
Greg opens the card and reads the inside.
Do go to sleep at some point, Detective Inspector.
He puts the card down again, edges on the desk so it sits propped up with the ‘MH’ staring at him. Greg sits up and picks up one of the cups. He takes another long drink then breathes slowly through his nose. It might be the best coffee he’s ever had.
“We don’t have anything fresh this morning, apart from a few overnights downstairs. Avery, check with booking on those.” Greg looks up from his papers and scans the room. Then he points, “Brooks, I want you on the background checks for Donovan today, all right?”
She nods and smiles though Greg can tell she’d rather stab a pen in her eye.
“Donovan,” He turns to her, “I think you still have some witnesses to interview?”
She nods. “Yes, Martin and Ted are coming with me to cover the buildings on both sides.”
Banks makes a quiet ‘whoop’ noise and a low chuckle spreads around the room. Greg smiles and flips a page. “All right, the museum murder?”
Bell raises her hand. “The bodies are down in the morgue, still waiting on more.”
Bell points to the right but Brooks shakes her head. “I’m off it now.” Bell scoffs and flings a hand up. Brooks picks up the papers in front of her. “I sent the slug from the wall down and Peters is going through purse contents right now.”
“What about the hair we found?” Bell asks, tapping her pen on the knuckles of her other hand.
Brooks shakes her head and puts the papers back down. “No match in the system. The rest is out of my hands now, still with the crime scene guys.”
The women look back at Greg. Greg nods and sighs. “All right, fine, one of you make sure that Peters and the SOCO get back to me.”
“Yes, sir,” they chorus.
Greg turns and points at the white board behind him. “The rest of you should have assignments, turn some ‘unsolved’ to ‘solved,’ right?” Everyone nods and a few of the PC’s in the back stand up straighter. “Anything else?”
Anderson raises a hand. “The coffee machine?”
Donovan snorts and few others murmur. Greg shakes his head and waves his stack of papers. “When I know, you’ll know. For now, kick it if you want.”
Anderson grumbles but just crosses his arms.
“Dismissed,” Greg says and marches away as everyone rises and spreads out onto their various jobs, most of which will be woeful paperwork.
Greg flips the papers in his hand in an attempt to organize them as he walks to his office. He opens his door and shuts it behind him, papers in order and clipped together again. He steps over to his desk then sees a white box with a violet envelope on top sitting just to the right of a stack of papers in the middle of his desk. Greg blinks slowly then steps around his desk and puts the morning agenda notes down. He picks up the envelope and pulls out the matching violet card, MH embossed again.
Better than your usual doughnut, kick that stereotype.
Greg’s eyes shift to focus on the box. He drops the card then pulls the top off the box. Inside is an assortment of a dozen, maybe a couple less, of pastries. He sees a cheese Danish, some sort of chocolate croissant, something that has a caramel glaze to it and another with strawberries on top. Greg picks up an innocent looking piece of pound cake and sniffs it. He puts it back in the box then picks up the card again.
“Kick that stereotype…” He huffs quietly and closes the card.
Sitting back down, he stares at the open box like it might sprout legs and walk toward him across the desk. Greg laughs once despite himself at the image. He turns his chair left then right, still smiling. Finally, he sits up, picks the cheese Danish from the box and takes a bite.
The next week when Greg comes back from a lunch press conference where the reporters harped too much on the victim’s past sexual partners, he finds a small box on his desk. For a moment Greg thinks it is just something sent up from evidence then he sees the white card sitting propped up in front of the box.
“Ah…” He picks up the envelope, pulls out the card and sees the MH on the front again. “Really? What…”
He drops the card without opening it and goes straight for the box. He has to pull off a gold, seal-like sticker from the front before he can lift the lid. Inside are four rows of circular tea bags. Written on the lid at the top of each row are types: Lady Grey, Darjeeling, Vanilla Chai, and English Breakfast.
Greg closes the box and picks up the card.
If you should tire of your coffee at work.
Five days after the box of tea, Greg arrives in the morning to find another box on his desk. Donovan, Peters, and Bell are standing by his door within five minutes of him hanging up his jacket and sitting down.
“Can I help you?” He asks, rose colored card in hand still unopened.
“We’re fine, sir,” Donovan answers.
He stares at them a moment longer but not one of them moves. Peters at least has the sense to look slightly nervous as he shifts from foot to foot half hidden behind Donovan and Bell.
“Well?” Bell insists. “Open it then. You had a box with a card the other week too.”
“And a few days ago,” Donovan adds.
Bell leans forward. “Did we miss your birthday?”
“No, it’s in May,” Peters says. Donovan and Bell both look over their shoulders at him. Peter clears his throat and pushes some blond hair from his eyes. “What?”
Bell groans and Peters takes a large step back. Donovan only crosses her arms. “Sir?”
Greg waves the card at them. “Come on, out.”
Donovan sighs, turns around and shoos the other two out. She flashes a disappointed look over her shoulder then shuts the door behind her. Greg breathes out and opens the card. It says,
Stick to good coffee, Detective Inspector.
Greg puts the card down and opens the box. Inside on a bed of rose tissue paper is a French press.
When Greg comes into the office the week after, he finds a black box on his desk with a white note card on top.
"Oh... no. No."
He picks up his phone and switches on his computer to find a number because this is enough.
After an hour of combing through their database and calling two dead end numbers Greg is nowhere. He rocks his chair from side to side, calls their PR office just in case they have something on file, then smashes the phone receiver down after another twenty minutes of frustration. He considers for one second calling Sherlock to ask him for his brother's phone number but then decides he would rather spend the night in jail with 'copper' tattooed on his forehead.
It finally ends up being John who is his savior when the pair of them come in, John forcing Sherlock to return cold case files he stole. John drops one box on Greg’s desk and, when he calls to Sherlock to just give in and ‘give the damn files back,’ Greg picks the right pocket to steal John's mobile without John noticing. He should probably look down on pickpocketing but for now he will consider it payback to Sherlock for all the times Greg knows it was him.
After returning the cold cases to their homes and shoving the duo out, mobile surreptitiously returned, Greg calls the number. Two rings later the line connects with a clipped, "Yes?"
There is a pause, longer than the normal stretch of phone conversation, then Mr. Holmes replies, "Detective Inspector, to what do I owe this pleasure?"
"I want to ask you..."
Greg clears his throat and decides there is no point in not being direct. "Why do you keep sending me these things?"
"Well, I would term them as gifts myself."
"All right, gifts."
Greg sighs. "Why do you keep sending them?"
"Are they not to your liking?"
"No, I mean," Greg huffs. "That's not the point. They're all... they're thoughtful, but why are you sending them?"
Mr. Holmes chuckles quietly. "Did you call me just to ask a question you already know the answer to?"
"I don't know the answer."
“Yes, you do. I believe I have made my interest in you clear, Detective Inspector Lestrade."
"But you... you barely know me."
"Perhaps I wish to know more."
“I…” Greg clears his throat again and scratches his free hand quickly through his hair. “Mr. Holmes, I am not –”
“Detective Inspector,” Mr. Holmes interrupts smoothly like a man who does it all the time, “with such a conversation like this I believe we can dispense with some formality; call me Mycroft.”
Greg sighs. “This really isn’t –”
Greg stares across his office at the window then looks down at his desk. He taps his fingertips slowly on a manila folder. Greg clears his throat and relaxes his hand flat on the folder. “Mycroft.”
He hears Mycroft make a small ‘hmm’ noise then before Greg can say anything else the line clicks off.
When Greg opens the box he finds a bottle of red wine inside. The note says:
You should relax now and then. Do feel free to call sometime.
Under Mycroft's signature is his phone number.
Anne stands in the hallway in front of the door to Greg's flat. He peeks at his watch, sees it is after eight, then glances back. Beside Anne are three boxes on a dolly.
"I brought some more of your things."
Greg extends his hand so the door knocks into the wall. "I have all I need right now."
"There were still a lot of your things at the house."
Greg scoffs. "I wasn't going to take all of them." He waves at the boxes. "What is this?"
"What, all of them?"
She shrugs. "Mostly."
Greg blinks. "Are you kidding me?"
"Can I come in?"
"So you can drop off my things? What things exactly?"
Anne grabs the handle of the dolly, tilts it onto the wheels, then shoves herself past Greg into the hall of his flat. Greg knocks into the doorknob as she passes and stares at his keys hanging on a hook on the wall for a minute. Then he breathes in slowly and steps away from the door, shutting it before walking down the hall. Anne has two of the boxes off the dolly at the intersection of the kitchen and the living room. She pushes the last one off then pulls the dolly free.
"Isn't the dolly mine too?"
Anne rolls her eyes. "Don't be petty."
He points at his chest. "I'm being petty?"
"It's better this way, your things in one place and mine in another. We don't have to be in each other's way or surprise each other."
"You mean surprise you, because you don't want me coming by the house." Anne sighs and puts a hand in her long hair. Greg steps around so he's in her eye line. "Anne, separated does not mean forever, right? Come on, we said we were going to keep talking, that this was to figure out what..." He sighs. "Aren't we even going to try?"
"I am trying." She waves a hand at the boxes. "I just... I just need the space to be real, okay?"
"Real?" Greg groans and stalks across the living room, just one couch, bookshelf and a TV, nothing up on the walls. He stops at the window, shakes his head, and turns around again. "You're talking like you'd rather I was gone all together!"
"I didn't say that!" Anne insists. She breathes in and puts her hands on her hips. "I just... I just need you here and me there, okay? We both spend enough time at work anyway, right?"
"Wasn't that part of the problem?"
"You thought so, always wanted me home more but that didn't apply to you!" Anne bites out suddenly.
"That's not fair!"
Anne flings up her hands and shakes two fingers. "Oh, no, it wasn't."
"Fine! Fine, I was wrong." Greg throws up his hands too. "I said it, better?"
"You know that's not it."
"Maybe if you actually would talk to -"
"Oh yes, always me, never Greg! Always throwing the whole thing back on me as if you were so present and aware; as though you weren't the copper through and through."
Greg frowns. "Because you weren't the career woman?"
She scoffs loudly and smacks the wall. "Oh, the thorn in your side."
“Yes, yes, because you were always so proactive. When you had the free time, what did you do? Go out and fiddle in your garden, plant vegetables, pull weeds.”
“I can like what I –“
“Yes, what you like, all by yourself. Who’s the one unavailable?” Greg points at her and raises his eyebrows.
“Did I say the word ‘unavailable’? What are you a romance film?” She flips her hair and steps forward. “We did plenty together. We weren’t flatmates!”
Greg shrugs. “What, fishing?”
“You like fishing!”
“So did you!”
“Christ.” Anne flips her hair again and scratches a hand over her scalp. “Are we yelling about things we like now? When is the last time we really went fishing?”
“Exactly!” Greg puts his hands on his hips.
“You say you need me here and you there but how is that a solution?”
“Because maybe I just don’t want to see you now, all right? I need it to be about me.”
"Oh? About you?” Greg growls and puts a hand over his eyes.“God, we were bloody lucky not to have children."
When Greg drops his hand again, Anne is walking out with the dolly pulled behind her. He hears her march down the hall and open the door.
"Don't I know it!" She shouts back and the door slams loudly behind her.
Greg stares at the boxes on the wood floor. He breathes in and out slowly a few times before turning away and dropping down onto his couch. Greg knocks his head back against the edge of the couch and scrubs one hand over his face.
"Shit..." He shakes his head. “Stupid.”
Greg pulls his mobile out of this pocket. He clicks the screen on and pulls up his contacts. His thumb hits 'M' but he clicks the screen off again almost immediately and puts it back in his trouser pocket.
Though the body is under a plastic tent and Bell ran to find him an umbrella, the walk from the car to the scene leaves Greg completely soaked from the rain so severe it actually obstructs his vision as he walks. It is calls like these where he wishes he were still a PC and would already have his hat on to at least save his face somewhat. Sherlock and John are on the scene now, the rest of Greg’s force off at the perimeter getting the caution tape to stay up as best they can. John looks a bit like someone threw him straight in the Thames and Sherlock’s hair has gone straight against his temples.
“Sherlock, don’t –” John starts as Sherlock practically sticks his nose right into the victim’s hair.
“God…” Greg mutters.
“Enough with the sniffing!” John snaps.
“Now who’s contaminating evidence?” Greg mutters.
Sherlock hops up to standing again and give them both separate glares. Then he points at Greg. “Was the body moved?”
Greg rolls his eyes. “Would I have called you if I hadn’t noticed that this isn’t the murder site?”
Greg sighs again. “No, we haven’t moved it when it comes to this spot.”
“Hmm.” Sherlock smiles. “Well someone else did then.”
“Yes, I said this wasn’t the murder –“
“You mean someone moved the body again once it was here?” John supplies.
Sherlock snaps his fingers at John and smiles. Greg clicks his teeth and wonders which of his detectives needs a talking to this time for missing whatever it is Sherlock is about to expound upon.
“Well then?” Greg asks and shakes his hands out as some water starts to seep under his cuffs.
“Obvious presentation,” Sherlock begins, pointing at the arms of the body on the ground, “his arms look haphazard, as though he just fell or was dropped but…” Sherlock crouches low. “This angle is wrong, it is close, yes, but still not the way a body would actually fall.”
Greg tilts his head, looking at the arms but knows they’ll photograph it soon. “And?”
“Roses?” Greg and John says together.
Sherlock grins. “The hair, smells of roses. Not something a man would usually spray himself with.”
“Or for shampoo,” John says.
“Same marks around the wrists as your other body, Lestrade.”
Greg nods. “And the throat.”
“Hmm.” Sherlock grins in that manic way that reminds Greg of the serial suicides and, god please, let this not be a serial killer. Sherlock claps his hands. “The marks, this man was kept somewhere for a few days before he ended up here. His nails, the lips, the dust in the hair, oh this could be interesting.” Sherlock’s head whips around to Greg. “Connection between them?”
“I… we just got….”
Sherlock waves a hand at Greg and huffs. “John, we are off.”
Sherlock only chuckles and grabs the collar of John’s coat pulling him out into the rain.
“Oi!” Greg calls but Sherlock does not heed him. Greg sighs and rubs his forehead. He knows there is at least one line there which is due just to Sherlock Holmes.
Greg turns and sees Donovan behind him. Her eyes tick to where Sherlock and John used to be then she looks at him again. She raises her eyebrows.
Greg nods. “Yeah, photographs and evidence then let’s get this poor bugger out of the rain.”
“More so.” Donovan nods. “On it.”
As Donovan turns away, Bell comes running up. She stops in front of him with water running off her hat and into her curly hair sticking against the side of her face.
“I, uh…” She takes a deep breath in. “No umbrella.” He stares at her. She clenches her teeth and frowns. “Sorry…”
“How can we not have a bloody umbrella?”
“Uh, we do but…” She looks behind her then back to him. “They are over witnesses right now.”
Greg sighs. “Fine.”
“I could –“
“No, it’s fine. I am going back.” Greg turns and shouts, “Donovan!” She spins in place and, though she is under the tent, water splashes off her. “You’re in charge.”
“You mean you’re…”
Greg grins at her. She purses her lips then sighs and nods. He takes back what he thought about being a PC again.
After talking to two brave reporters stalking the crime scene line getting just as drenched, he finally makes it back to New Scotland Yard. Greg steals a chair from the conference room and drags it to his office to drape his soaked coat on. He has a feeling it is not going to be dry by the time he leaves for his flat tonight. Underneath, his suit jacket and shirt are also a bit damp, not to mention his trousers.
Greg sighs and shakes his hair once, far enough away from his desk so none of the case files become subject to such abuse. Then Greg sees the large, long gray box propped up in his chair with a blue envelop stuck to the front.
Greg blows out a slow breath of air, very much does not smile, then walks over to his desk. He shifts the chair around by the arm and pulls the card off the front. He opens the envelope and then the card. This time it reads:
Greg raises his eyebrows. “You’re kidding…”
Greg looks over the edge of the card at the box. He puts the card and envelope down on his desk and stares at the box. He glances at his office door, no one peeking in this time, then back to the box. He scratches the back of his neck and sighs.
“All right then.”
He picks up the box and lays it on top of the arms of his chair. He eases the box top off – it feels heavier than a box top should which means it’s expensive – then lays it on the floor. Inside the tissue paper matches the blue card perfectly. He unfolds the two flaps of tissue paper and sees a coat. The coat is dark gray, three buttons, with black leather on the top collar. He touches two fingers to the leather then squeezes the corner. He pulls his hand away, steps back once then steps forward again and pulls the coat from the box. He holds it up, long enough to hit his knees, and stares. He does not need to put it on to know that it will fit him perfectly.
He lowers his hands so the edge of the coat touches the box again. He huffs. “Damn.”
It is a Tuesday at one in the afternoon when Mycroft Holmes himself, not a note or box or courier, walks through Greg’s office door.
“I, uh…” Greg almost falls off his chair in surprise then carefully puts his pen down. “Mr. Holmes.” He raises his eyebrows at Greg. “Mycroft.”
Mycroft smiles. “Detective Inspector.” He closes the office door, leans his umbrella against the wall beside it then walks over and takes a chair.
Greg leans back in his chair and clears his throat. Mycroft smiles at him, glancing around the office quickly before looking at Greg again.
Greg threads his fingers together and keeps his breathing as even as possible. “To what do I owe a personal visit?”
Mycroft smiles in a thin line and nods. “Yes, a usual reaction. I wanted to bring to your attention he may soon be…” Mycroft clears his throat. “He may soon inquire about an open case of yours.”
“A double homicide in the West End.” Greg’s eyes scan his desk for an appropriate case file but Mycroft continues before he locks in on the one that would fit. “The point is that there are factors neither of you will be aware of so it would be best to, well, remove it from his radar, so to speak.”
Mycroft’s lip twitches and he crosses his legs. “It may intersect with some affairs of my own.”
“Matters of state.”
Greg raises his eyebrows. “A double homicide in the West End connects to matters of state?”
Mycroft sighs. “Detective Inspector, while I do wish I could share the intricacies with you, there are areas above your pay grade.”
Greg laughs once. “Oh don’t I know.”
Mycroft smiles, eyes shifting up and down Greg once before he speaks again. “Sherlock, however, does not often care to acknowledge this.” Mycroft shakes his head and straightens his tie. “It would be better if he avoided it all together.”
“So, what you’re asking me is to distract Sherlock with a different case?”
“He can be distractible with the right motivations, Detective Inspector.”
“It is merely a request that I can assure you is in both our interests.”
“Exactly, Detective Inspector.”
“Look.” Greg sits up straight, puts one hand on his desk, and hooks his other elbow on the back on his chair. “You don’t have to…” He laughs once. “You asked me to call you Mycroft and here you are still ‘Detective Inspectoring’ me.”
“Well…” He pulls his arm off the back of the chair and puts his hand beside his other on the desk. “You should just call me Greg.”
Mycroft folds his hands together over his knee and smiles. “Greg then.”
Greg nods. “All right.”
Mycroft uncrosses his legs and stands up. Greg pulls his hands off the desk and feels the instinct to stand up as when one’s superior does. Mycroft crosses to the door and picks up his umbrella.
“I shall leave you to your work and good luck with Sherlock.” Mycroft turns the door knob. “I hope you have more success in this than other times.”
Greg chuckles. “All right.”
Mycroft opens the door. “Good day.”
“Mycroft,” Greg says suddenly. Mycroft stops and looks at Greg again. “Thank you.”
Mycroft nods. “Of course.”
“No, I…” Greg lays his hand on his desk then pulls it away again and grips the arm of his chair. “I meant for the coat.” He clears his throat. “You probably wouldn’t take it back even if I told you it was too much, would you?”
“No, I would not.”
Greg sighs with a smile. “Well, thank you very much then.”
Mycroft lets go of the door and this time when he smiles it is not just proper and polite. “You are quite welcome.” He pauses and seems to consider. "I am sure I will see you again soon, Greg."