"Please don't be offended, but what's your name again?" Inspector Lestrade pleaded exhaling the smoke through the nose.
The girl sitting next to him, an astonishing creature in a business suit of the color of dark chocolate, bent over Mrs. Hudson's sleeping form and took the cigarette from the Inspector's fingers. Lestrade honestly did not remember her name - Artemis, Aphrodite... It was something so ancient and Greek that it did sound like Hebrew to him.
"Andromeda," the girl replied inhaling and added in a calm contemplative voice: "I think grandma’s had it."
Grandma, aka Mrs. Hudson, snored and tried to turn over, but given that Inspector and Andromeda were on either side of her, the gesture/action was doomed to failure.
From Lestade’s point of view the last thirty minutes spent in Baker str., 221B fit the description of a mad tea party more than ever. Admittedly, tea ended quite fast, and the contents of their cigarettes were far more consciousness-expanding.
When Inspector had entered the house thirty minutes earlier with the intention of paying back properly or at least doing some dirt (a wish quite reasonable for a man who’s ID had been stolen again), he never expected to find such company. For starters Lestrade tempted by the idea of letting the Drugs Control loose on Sherlock had not ever expected to find the landlady, Mrs. Hudson, with a cigarette. Sweet smoke that filled the room was very familiar – Lestrade snorted at the idea that he was not wrong when he told Sherlock that there was at least a stash of pot in the apartment.
He always dismissed the thought that the aforementioned stash could belong to Mrs. Hudson.
The second persona he encountered was a cute strangely familiar (or just resembling someone) girl in an impeccable business suit. The impression of propriety and strictness was tainted not by the dense smoke in the room, but the fact that the girl stood on the table and staggering in high heels tried to set straight the headphones on the horned skull that Sherlock put up on the wall a while back. As the girl testified she came to chat with Mrs. Hudson (she studied with the landlady’s relative in the university) and stayed very late. Ultimately Mrs. Hudson had good tea, remarkable pot and plenty topics to discuss. Mrs. Hudson puffing the cigarette only nodded without contradicting the girl’s words which, of course, could be the result of too much pot and the old lady’s general not quite adequate state.
Inspector wanted to get freaked out by such blatant disregard to public peace. But the girl looked at him the way that Lestrade only read about in the Romantic poetry course at school and offered him tea. Inspector thought that Friday night was virtually weekend. That he was divorced for a couple of years. That he never suffered from withdrawal symptoms. And finally that the girl named Andromeda was friendly, sweet and exceptionally charming especially given that she used some very quaint wording - and agreed.
And as the Romantic poets observed the night was tender. For the last thirty minutes at least.
Andromeda was pleasantly talkative, did not detest the cops and knew who Mrs. Hudson’s tenants were. Lestade figured that in such a case the conversation would have inevitably turned to Sherlock Holmes, but did not expect himself to confess his true reasons for this visit even after three cups of tea and two green cigarettes.
"Drugs Control!" Andromeda snickered after Inspector's confession.
"Call it an attempt to control that psycho," Lestrade offered handing the cigarette to the girl.
"Through blackmail? Yes, that might do it." The girl stopped laughing and nodded. "It doesn't always work though: my boss was successfully blackmailed only once, for example."
"Yes." Andromeda puffed the cigarette again. "When his younger brother figured out that instead of a fencing lesson the boss ran off to Duran Duran live performance and threatened to tell the mother about it."
Andromeda's and Inspector's united laugh could have risen the dead, but Mrs. Hudson was in nirvana at that moment and did not react. The old lady collapsed ten or so minutes ago and had a blissful expression on her face. Andromeda laughed, tucked a pillow under Mrs. Hudson's head and handed the cigarette butt back to Inspector. At that moment something started buzzing in Lestrade's brain that he had seen this girl before, but memory did not cooperate reminding that everything was alright...
Everything was actually alright. The annoying thought that bugged him for the last thirty minutes (about the possibility of Holmes and Watson returning to the apartment any minute and demanding the search warrant which never existed) did not bother him as much. On one hand Lestrade mused if he had ever seen Andromeda behind the bars. On the other he was curious if smoking pot was considered a lapse from principles of a man with a nicotine patch. Thirdly Lestrade thought unexpectedly if Mrs. Hudson's body would be in the way if he tried to kiss Andromeda...
Truth be told, he wanted to know the answer only to the last question.
Mrs. Hudson snorted with suddenly approving overtones. Andromeda smiled to Inspector. Lestrade started to calculate the angle so he would not crush the old lady, the girl smiled a little wider, and...
According to the Universal Murphy’s law at that precise moment a phone beeped - curt and demanding - in Andromeda's jacket pocket.
"Oh!" The girl perked up, looked at it and jumped up from the sofa. "I'm sorry, I got to go. Mrs. Hudson!"
"M-m-m?" the landlady answered sitting up at attention like a good soldier.
"Don't forget to air the room." Andromeda smiled and winked at the old lady.
Lestrade who felt that luck turned its back on him dumped out the contents of the ashtray into the garbage bin, turned to the girl who was typing a message and offered: "Can I give you a ride?"
Andromeda's dark eyes met his for a moment, and she smiled.
"It's not necessary," she said. Pity was evident in her voice. "A car will pick me up. I think we'll have a chance to meet and I don't know... Have a cup of coffee though..."
For no particular reason Inspector first felt stupid, then happy, then suddenly he realized he loved coffee, and finally he felt like a happy idiot. The latter feeling grew stronger when Andromeda stood on the tiptoes and kissed Inspector on the cheek – really, it seemed like he was a little over twenty, not forty something. In this condition Lestrade was pleasantly surprised when he managed to negotiate the doorframe at the first go.
Funny, but with all things considered he did not for a second feel bombed.
It must be said though that later he had a chance to ponder where he had seen Andromeda before. Or what she was doing in that apartment so late at night. Or about the fact that before exiting the room on Inspector’s heels the girl turned swiftly and blew a kiss in the direction of the horned skull in headphones (although Lestrade could have not noticed that).
Several minutes later when Inspector had already turned around the corner and ‘Andromeda’ was getting into the black car her phone beeped again.
“I sincerely hope that the last gesture should be regarded exclusively as functionality check on the surveillance equipment.” Her boss’s voice was dripping with sarcasm.
“Of course, Mr. Holmes,” the girl replied gravely.
She grinned wolfishly being absolutely sure that there were no cameras in the car.
Somehow she had a feeling that Mycroft was smiling too.