Sophie Hooper has one not-uncle. He is called Lestrade.
She thinks that Lestrade is a funny name, but he does not seem to have any others. Mummy calls him Lestrade, and so do Uncle John, Uncle Sherlock... everybody calls him Lestrade. So she does too.
The first time she meets him and remembers, she is nine years old. Her school is pretty close to Bart’s, and, now she’s old enough, some days she walks there instead of going home on the bus or being picked up by her mother or grandparents. She sits in the corner of one of the labs and does her homework, and sometimes Mum comes and makes a few corrections to her maths, or random people come in with test tubes and talk about interesting things because they haven’t noticed her.
Lestrade is in and out of Bart’s far too often for his liking, and he sees Doctor Hooper on a semi-regular basis, as half the time she’s the one giving him the rundown on the latest corpse.
He has met Sophie before, but she doesn’t remember. But it is not one of the many times in her life when people have come up to her and announced, ‘I haven’t seen you since you were this big!’ and smile at her like she should remember. Lestrade is not that stupid. He spots her in the lab while he’s waiting for Molly, puts two and two together, and introduces himself. She shakes him by the hand, all dark hair and big eyes and seriousness. There is an HB pencil in her hand, and ink from her pen has made it onto her nose. And he is a real live police officer, and that is really, really brilliant in Sophie’s book. She thinks she might want to be one when she grows up. But she’s not sure. Maybe a firefighter. Or a doctor. Or a Gladiator. (90s shows have made something of a kitschy comeback).
Lestrade smells like coffee and rain and sarcasm, and he teaches her how to roll her eyes without feeling dizzy (in her teenage years, her mother will curse whoever taught her, but she never finds out it was him) and how to break a stronger person’s grip, and he never, ever tells her that she is pretty, or cute, or sweet.
Lestrade tells her that she is getting strong, and that she will be powerful, and that she will be a good person.
(And even though none of those things are technically true yet, he tells her anyway, because he hopes and prays that they will be.)
And one day, shortly after she turns thirteen, he offers to run a background check on any boys (or girls) that she likes. It’s mostly redundant, given how much time her generation spend glued to their screens, typing furiously about their feelings and the mean things that their parents do, but she appreciates the offer nonetheless.
Lestrade is not ‘Uncle Lestrade’. He is different.
And that’s just fine.