Lestrade aims for "pleasant." At his very best, he's avuncular. The officers under him – excepting the newest and most skittish – feel free to crack jokes, when appropriate. He smiles. They smile. It's the least he can do to make the moments between bodies seem a bit less haunted by them.
He thinks about his mates in fraud and forgery, theft. They talk about wanting to get out in the streets, they envy him his work. It blemishes the sterility of what they do, in his eyes. They were young officers once, they've - all of them - seen horrible things. Greg's just ended up on track to see a lot more. And he's fine where he is, with his lot. At least he's not somewhere else wishing he could get some more murder into his life. That'd be ghastly.
When he was younger, little touched him. Awful day of awful things, then down the pub for laughs and enough beer to flood a space between him and everything else; a blanket to keep the blood from his dreams. During the day, cigarettes kept his trembling hands busy, gave him an excuse to pop off the scene, take a dozen poisoned breaths, and steady himself enough to go back. He stopped drinking when it got to be too much, when he realized he hadn't dreamt anything in a long time. That he'd have at least a failed relationship or two to hang around the neck of a bottle if any of late had lasted longer than an evening. He quit smoking then, too, because: why not.
He starts snapping at colleagues at crime scenes. The blood in his dreams is overwhelming.
Now he can't tell if the anger's getting worse or his imagination's getting better. It sneaks up on him, hiding behind sadness when he stands over the body of the girl from the shop near his flat. His brain whirrs, clicks, ties bits of information together and files them. But the satisfaction of solving it, catching the bad guy ... it's eclipsed by the thought of how easy it'd be to crack a few bones in the bastard's wrists when he gets him in handcuffs. Any pride he's due for overtaking the foul, shouting man gets chucked aside when they bring a car around to take him in. Lestrade puts his hand on the guy's neck to angle him into the backseat and thinks he'd be willing to exchange a firm squeeze 'round the windpipe for a quiet ride to the Yard.
As long as it bothers him, it's all right. But between the rage is a hollow sensation like sadness, only colder, that he works to cover, too. Singing a little song with Sharon in Records, goading young Sgt. Mitchell to join, then later sitting across from a kid a third his age, long-haired and tattooed, soft hands that haven't worked a day still streaked with blood, and the only thought Lestrade can hear over the sound of his heartbeat, I bet I could hit you hard enough, enough times, you'd die.
And so it's off to the psychiatrist made available by the Met, because he's a modern man, unashamed of seeking help. He's a good cop and a good man, but can't be either if he's scared of himself. Doctor agrees it's good he's bothered, good he's willing to talk. He hesitantly suggests relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga; certain Greg will laugh, as other coppers have. He doesn't, he listens. Doesn't immediately pop down the gym and sign up for Bikram for Beginners, but he gets a book on meditation. It works a trick, until one evening on the floor with his back against the front of the sofa, thinking about nothing at all, when puzzle pieces from a case suddenly presented themselves, linked together. He opened his eyes, sighed, and hauled himself up. If it was repeatable, it'd be a neat skill, but he'd honestly been enjoying the quiet.
He struggled with his coat and locked the front door. Sherlock was leaning on the car thumbing angrily at his mobile.
"There you are. We need to get in touch with-"
"The au pair, yeah," Greg nudged him away from the driver's side door. "Get in."
In the car, Sherlock stared.
"For Christ's ... how'd-" Greg flexed his hands around the steering wheel and let a breath unclench his jaw. "Fine. No matter. I'm seeing a psychiatrist. Comments?"
"Why?" Sherlock returned his attention to his phone.
"Stress. Anger management. Relaxation."
"Well, yeah: shooting at a wall would be a more elegant therapeutic measure, but I don't have the spare ammo."
Sherlock smiled, half-hidden in the collar of his coat.
"He's got sterling credentials."
"You investigated my shrink?"
"I had to ensure your care was acceptable. You're of no use to me mad."
"It's plain I'm of little use to you, full stop."
"I work with you because of the badge-clutching mass of dullards in the Met's employ, you-."
"Put up with you?"
"-I've been led to understand that's difficult, though undoubtedly rewarding. And you've never so much as shoved me; I'm certain you've been tempted."
"An anger management miracle itself."
"Anyway, you're not useless."
"It's frightening, I don't mind saying. Seeing criminals, recognizing in yourself the capacity to be that cruel. Knowing one wrong turn puts you on a very dark path, a very different man."
He looked over at Sherlock, catching a glimpse something like empathy.
"And hey, I was meditating when I came up with the au pair connection, so it's useful, yeah?"
"A Basque terrorist. Honestly, that is-"
"Pull over here," Sherlock jumped out of the car and walked around to Lestrade's window. "You made the connection, now let me show you what it means. Let's go, Detective Inspector!"
He threw the car into park and called for backup. His heart felt light for the first time in ages. He watched Sherlock recede into the shadows of an alleyway, and ran to catch up.