Chapter 1: Untitled
Never tell Greg Lestrade anything even mildly embarrassing about yourself. Also, don't bother trying to hide it, because he'll find out anyway.
“There’s always public transport,” Anderson reminded her as Dimmock slipped past him to get at the tea.
Sally tried not to cringe. “I haven’t had an oyster card in ages. And it can be so unreliable.”
“What’s this?” Dimmock asked while he rifled through a box of assorted flavours.
”My car’s shot,” Sally answered. “The mechanic says he can fix it, and it’ll be cheaper than getting a new one, but it’ll take a while. I’ll be without for two weeks at least.”
“Greg can’t fix it?”
“He offered, of course, but it needs a couple of new parts or something. It’s just easier to get a shop to do it.” She folded her arms over her chest. “And, in the mean time, I’m going to have to get a bloody bicycle or something.”
Dan snorted. “Good luck with that.” Sally rolled her eyes.
“You live near me,” Iain pressed. “I could give you a lift, if you like.”
Sally fixed the slightly younger detective with a quizzical look. “What, on the one day a week you’re here at 9AM? D’you even know what days you’ll come in?”
Dimmock blushed. “No,” he answered sheepishly. “But why can’t you take her?” He asked, shifting his attention to Anderson in his effort to mask his embarrassment.
There was a brief moment of silence where both Donovan and Anderson stared at him.
“She’s a big girl,” the forensics scientist answered. “She can take care of herself.”
Sally smirked. She absolutely could. “A bicycle doesn’t sound so bad anyway. I think my mum’s got one of those old one-gear ones laying about somewhere. I can get an oyster card for the days when it’s pouring, but a bike’ll be good for me.”
Iain made a face. “Well, whatever suits you,” he answered, tossing the tea bag in the bin.
“What, you don’t like bicycles?” Anderson asked.
“No motorist in London likes bicycles.”
“You sound like you’re fresh off Traffic,” Sally said with a grin. “What’s wrong with bikes? You’re not a bus driver.”
“They just seem like such a waste is all.” Anderson’s eyes narrowed slightly as Dimmock spoke. “Why ride a bike when you can get a cab, or use the Tube?”
“And what if I don’t want to pay to get to work?” Sally asked, folding her arms over her chest.
“No, hang on,” Dan interrupted. “What do you mean ‘seem like’?”
“You said ‘seem like’. You have ridden a bicycle before, haven’t you?”
Lestrade mercifully stuck his head into the break room before Iain was forced to answer. “Unless you’re planning a coffee run, I need you two in my office.”
Iain immediately stepped out of Donovan and Anderson’s way, keen to let them pass. They, however, made no intentions of moving.
“In a minute, boss,” Sally replied. “Iain doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle.”
Greg, who hadn’t been privy to their conversation, stared at her in confusion. “Excuse me?”
Dimmock was a very vibrant shade of red.
“Apparently,” Anderson explained, “Detective Inspector Dimmock never learned how to ride a bike.”
“I never said that,” Iain contested.
“But it’s true.”
Lestrade stepped into the room, his face lit up like a Christmas tree. “Not at all?” He asked, clearly more interested in the subject at hand than whatever he’d needed them in his office for.
Dimmock tried to casually sip his tea.
“You’ve got to be joking,” Sally said, mirroring Lestrade’s expression. Iain hated it when they did that. It always meant trouble.
He took a second, slow sip before answering. “No. But so what if I can’t ride a bicycle. I’ve only ever lived in the city.”
“Tossers ride bikes in the city all the time,” Greg replied. Sally looked slightly embarrassed, but didn’t say anything. “Just yesterday a lady across the street had her little girl out on the sidewalk practising on one that was all pink and poshed up.”
“Did you just call a little girl a tosser?” Iain questioned with a wry smile.
“Don’t try and evade question.”
“You haven’t asked me one!”
“You’ve never learned, ever in your life, how to ride a bicycle?” Greg asked slowly.
The older DI whistled. Donovan and Anderson looked delighted.
“Oh, what?” Iain asked, putting his tea down. He could hardly drink it while they were interrogating him, and if anything — they’d say something shocking enough to make him drop it.
“Nothing,” Greg answered, still grinning. “S’just interesting, is all.”
“Don’t give me that,” Dimmock grumbled. “You’re plotting something. I can see the wheels turning.”
Lestrade winked at him. “C’mon, team. My office.” He pulled the door open for Sally and Daniel.
“Greg!” Iain whined, almost sounding exasperated.
“Yes?” Greg asked with one foot out the door.
“What are you thinking?”
The grey-haired detective smirked. “Oh, nothing. Just that there’s work to be done.”
He, Sally, and Dan cackled as they marched to his office, leaving Iain alone in the break room with his tea to fret about how terribly ominous those last words seemed.
Chapter 2: A Terrible Pick-Up Line
The Yarders swap "come-on" stories over a pint.
“I’m not joking. Four days in a row, he stood outside the classroom, with a different flower every time. I told him to sod off twice, and the fourth time I just blanked him. He literally could not take a hint.”
Iain snorted. “Did you tell him off the first time?”
“In no uncertain terms,” Sally answered, lifting her glass. “I think a toddler could have understood ‘I am not interested in you. Please go away.’ But this guy…” She shuddered and sipped her beer briefly. “Honestly, where do people get off thinking they can just keep hounding you, after you’ve said no?”
Lestrade shrugged. “Never made sense to me. Seems like the more you bother someone, the less likely it is they’ll want to date you in the first place.”
“Common sense.” Anderson idly studied a scratch in the table while he spoke. “Never apply it to most people.”
The other three grinned — somewhat bitterly in Sally’s case — and toasted the sentiment.
“Alright, Iain,” Sally added. “Your turn. Worst come on ever.”
The younger detective frowned; he didn’t even need a moment to consider the question. “Easy.”
Greg looked up.
“It was ages ago, actually, but I’ll never forget. Possibly the worst line anyone’s ever said to me — or anyone, actually.”
He pushed his drink to the side and folded his hands on the table. “We were having coffee— this was before I’d made inspector. I’d just transferred to a new office, and didn’t really know anyone, so I befriended this one girl in Accounts, and…” Dimmock paused for a moment to consider how to explain the scenario.
“Somehow… she didn’t realise I’m gay,” he concluded, with an incredulous expression. “And I stupidly didn’t notice when she was flirting with me, because there was this handsome bloke at the coffee shop we always went to.” He waved his hand dismissively. “Not important, but anyway. We were having coffee this one time, and she— well, she was kind of forward, I guess? She was a bit blunt, but not- not like you, Sally.”
Sally rolled her eyes. “Thanks for that.”
“No, she was more… well, I guess it was my own fault, because I didn’t even notice that she was coming on to me until that moment, but whatever. She leaned across the little table we were sitting at,” he paused to mimic the girl in his story. “Leaned forward, looked me square in the eye and said: “Hey, you must be really good in bed.”
Greg met his eyes, smirking slightly.
“So, you know… I asked her why she thought that— realising I might be in a spot of trouble at the point.” Sally and Anderson chuckled into their drinks. “She said— and I quote… you can’t spell Dimmock without dick.”
It took everything Greg had not to do a spit-take straight across the table. Sally bit down on her hand to keep from howling, and even Daniel chuckled at the absolute ridiculousness of it.
“It was-” Iain struggled to continue over their laughter. “It was the most awkward — and honestly, still is — moment of my life. But at least it makes one hell of story.”
Chapter 3: Office Secrets
Dimmock gives John Watson his phone number on a whim. Needless to say, Lestrade's quite amused.
“So I heard you gave Dr. Watson your phone number.”
Greg slid into the chair next to Iain’s desk as he spoke. He couldn’t refrain from smirking as looked across the stacks of files at his fellow detective inspector.
Iain glared at him. He was naturally sulky — some people just were, but today’s frown went beyond his usual pout. “He seems like a decent guy.”
Greg’s smirk widened. “Yeah… a decent guy in the company of Sherlock Holmes.”
“Oh, don’t. You dated the bloody sociopath.”
“He’s not a sociopath, and I did — but John Watson? Seriously?”
Dimmock shook his head dismissively, returning his gaze to his computer screen. “I didn’t expect anything to come of it.”
“Then why do it?” Greg asked, folding his arms over his chest and settling back into the chair.
Iain didn’t answer for a moment. It didn’t take a consulting detective to observe his unfocused expression, and how distant the younger man had suddenly become.
Dimmock shook his head, looking a bit startled. “Sorry,” he answered. “Almost dozed off at my desk again.”
It was a running joke at the Yard that Iain never did anything at his desk but sleep. To his credit, he spent the majority of his time out in the field, and was never at his desk long enough to open a file — never mind complete a report. But even his keyboard was currently sitting on top of thick piles of paperwork, which he notoriously neglected until Greg or Sally (or both) had to bully the interns into helping him finish.
Of course, it didn’t help that on the rare occasion that he did make it in for an office day — he could usually be found with his feet up, and sound asleep.
But Greg was a detective inspector for a reason, and Iain’s defensive jokes were hardly subtle.
“Are you… seriously interested in him?” He asked cautiously, wondering if giving Dimmock the Van Coon case was a bad idea.
Iain shook his head.
“Then what’s with the long face?”
“Doing my Anderson impression.”
“No, seriously — I can do Donovan, too. Just ask me about fishing.”
The older DI struggled to cover his laughter. He coughed quietly and cleared his throat as he straightened up, ignoring the dirty glare from the ageing secretary at the front desk. “Fine,” he replied quietly. “I’ll shut up about it. But don’t think I’ll forget.”
Iain followed his eyes as he stood up, but said nothing.
“If you feel the need to talk…” Greg slid one hand onto Dimmock’s shoulder, squeezing reassuringly. “We can grab lunch off-campus. My office is shit for privacy.”
This time Iain was the one laughing — a dull, half-chuckle that seemed to catch in his throat before he could stifle it. “Yeah, of course,” he answered. “Thanks.”
Lestrade nodded and pulled his hand back. “And finish those bloody files,” he said loudly as he walked back to his painfully transparent door.
Dimmock gave him a mocking salute and turned back to his desk. His frown was gone, but the warm feeling of Greg’s hand on his shoulder still burned under his shirt.
Chapter 4: Vigilante Justice
The Yarders just love their office pranks.
“Shhh. Shut up, Sally. Here he comes.”
Donovan bit down on her lip and quickly covered her mouth with her hand as Dimmock approached. Greg would slaughter her if her expression gave away what he’d been plotting all morning — and frankly, she was rather fond of living. She was also fond of harassing her co-workers — and oddly enough, so was Greg.
And only naturally, they casually ignored Anderson’s suggestion that they might both be in need of therapy.
Dimmock glanced across the office at them as he walked to his desk — and immediately stopped short. As if the pure, unhindered wickedness in Donovan’s eyes wasn’t telling enough, she and Lestrade were camped out at the water cooler — in perfect view of his desk.
“Subtle,” he called out.
Greg gave his best bewildered expression — and a shockingly good one at that. “Problem, Dimmock?”
The younger DI paused next to his chair, eyes scanning the desk’s surface, his computer, the ceiling — anything — for signs of a terrible practical joke. “Yeah. What’d you bloody do?”
Sally seemed affronted. “What are you on about? We’re just talking about a case.” She flapped a file in evidence.
“Like I’d ever believe that,” Dimmock retorted, running his hands along the drawers, checking for trip wires. There was no end to Donovan and Lestrade’s depravity when it came to pranks. If it worked, if it would end in humiliation, if by the end of the day someone had made an arse of themselves — it was worth trying.
They claimed it was vigilante justice — just desserts dished out to those who’d earned it. Ironic, given their employment as law enforcement officers — but very few people (i.e. DI Iain Dimmock) denied that detectives who routinely slept at their desks while others worked ought to be ranked highest on the list of the Yard’s Most Deserving Victims. Obviously, Iain wasn’t their only target. More often than not they turned on each other. All it took was one transgression — one excuse — to bring their entire division to a halt while they carried out an intra-office war.
Three things were sacred to the Met police: the coffee, the tea, and the pastries. Over-zealous caffeination by one of the Yard’s more caustic detective sergeants, or dictatorial consumption of the morning muffins by a senior DI resulted in immediate action. Everyone knew why Lestrade never accepted baked goods from Donovan — a toothpaste-filled cream puff was a scarring experience. But, as she’d noted while he was retching into his waste basket, he probably shouldn’t have tried to swallow it whole. Similarly, Sally had recently learned that a bitter mix of cayenne and cardamom in lieu of sugar for her morning coffee was an excellent remedy for a caffeine addiction.
Both incidents were were put down as extreme, but reasonable retribution for distressingly serious crimes.
But unlike the other office miscreants, Dimmock was a repeat offender. He enjoyed his naps, and no manner of practical joke could convince him to put an end to it. Instead, he’d gotten better at unearthing their tricks and traps — leaving them no alternative but to come up with increasingly more creative methods of punishment. Unfortunately for them, his desk was almost barren, which they suspected was intentional. The truth was, he didn’t need ornamentation infecting the space with overplayed happiness; he enjoyed simplicity. The only two things he needed were a chair, and a way to put his feet up.
And as Greg and Sally went their separate ways, he wondered if perhaps he’d become paranoid. Their shallow innocence at the start seemed too dubious, but what if that was the trick? He honestly didn’t mind the jokes, but if he was suspecting things where there were none — he’d clearly lost his mind.
Scowling, he sat down at his desk. Nothing stood out at him. Nothing had been moved, or looked tampered with, or seemed strange. He wasn’t Sherlock Holmes, but surely he knew his own desk well enough to tell if even the slightest detail was awry?
The clock on the wall ticked on, admonishing him.
He gave up. If Sally and Greg had a trick up their sleeves, he wasn’t going to find it. It might have been in the desk drawers, it might have been in the ceiling — hell, it might not have existed at all, but he was wasting valuable time fruitlessly searching. With a sharp, seething glance across the office at his nefarious co-workers, he put his arms behind his head and leaned back. It was nap time.
But he kept leaning as the back of his chair gave out behind him. And as it gradually tipped — as he flailed and clawed helplessly at his desk, fingers finding no traction along the smooth, wooden surface — he knew it was too far gone to stop. He yelped and flipped, head over heels, in a tangle of limbs and chair and dissembled metal bits that went skittering across the office floor.
His co-workers stared. Iain glared at the ceiling, hardly breathing as his face began to burn from the embarrassment. New Scotland Yard had never been so silent.
And then it started. Someone, somewhere in the vicinity of the secretaries’ desks began to chuckle. Within seconds, the entire office was in an uproar — howling and applauding his ‘graceful’ display. How ironic that he should fall victim to his favourite posture! That DI Dimmock — always good for a laugh!
‘So ironic,’ he thought to himself, clawing his way up from the floor. He pushed the chair back and slowly righted himself — but not before glancing across the floor at Lestrade.
“You alright?” The senior DI asked, leaning out of his office and looking for all the world like he was concerned.
Iain rolled his eyes and pushed himself to his feet, not believing the charade for a second. Greg was a great many things — a great many good things — but an actor was not one of them. “Yeah. Fine, thanks,” he muttered with a hint of sarcasm, staring down at the ruins of his desk chair.
“Good…” Greg nodded, offering him a reassuring smile. “Well, chin up. Back to work everybody.”
Iain looked up as their co-workers dispersed, shooting Greg a knowing glare. The older man met his eyes briefly — and winked. Iain’s mouth tightened. The older DI turned back into his office, cheerfully whistling a jaunty tune and twirling a small wrench between his fingers as he went.
Chapter 5: Men Will be Boys
Donovan takes Dimmock out for coffee and demands an explanation for his recently mopey attitude.
“Nice work on the Llewellyn case.”
Iain looked up sharply, surprised to see Sally hovering beside his desk, stirring a cup of strawberry yoghurt. By god, that woman could move quieter than a cat when she wanted to! Clearing his throat quickly, he nodded. “Yeah…,” he answered. “Yeah, thanks. Turned out alright, I guess.”
“Two crims in the lock-up and a case closed?” She asked quizzically, licking her spoon. “Sounds like more than alright. What’s wrong?”
Dimmock shrugged. “Just the usual post-case paperwork… why?”
And for a brief moment, he could see exactly why Lestrade waxed lyrical about Sally’s detective abilities. She was smiling at him — not in the way one co-worker reassuringly smiles at another, but in the way that suggested she could read his mind like an open book, and knew without hesitation that he was being deliberately obtuse.
Thankfully, she was also caustically forward — and didn’t require him to own up to his own charade. “Greg’s coming back from holiday tomorrow. ‘Bout time, yeah?”
Iain leaned back in his chair, rubbing his face with his hand as he considered all the terrible things she might mean by that. “Yeah, it’ll be nice to have him back in the office,” he replied, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. “Back to bossing everyone around and being a menace.”
Sally watched him struggle, and couldn’t resist the smugly victorious smirk that tugged at the corners of her mouth.
It had taken her longer than she cared to admit to notice. The day after Greg had left for his holiday, Dimmock had spent all of ten minutes at his desk before getting up and leaving again — a case needed him, he’d said — and didn’t return. The next day, and for several that followed, he seemed uncharacteristically sulky; he never once stopped for a nap at his desk, and politely declined Sally’s offer to go out for coffee — twice.
And then there was the staring.
She’d been minding her own business, of course — just enjoying her yoghurt at her desk during her lunch break. But every so often, she noticed how Iain’s head would gradually turn towards Greg’s office. At first it was just a glance — just a brief look at the empty chair, and then back to his desk. But as the hour wore on, the looks got longer. He went from furtive glances to an extended, puppy-like stare at the vacant, darkened room, and then Sally knew. She knew and she wondered — having worked with the young DI for so long — how the hell she could have missed it.
His dismay was all the confirmation she needed. She seized the opportunity.
“Let’s go for a walk.”
Iain looked up, over his hand. “Sorry?”
Sally dropped her yoghurt in the bin next to his desk. “You. Me. Out for a walk.” It wasn’t a suggestion.
And theoretically, he could have refused. He was higher up in the chain of command than she was, and going out now — at the tail end of her lunch hour — wasn’t exactly ethical. Realistically, however, she was going to haul him out of the building no matter what.
He nodded. She smiled — the cheery, reassuring kind — and went to fetch their coats. Iain stared down at his desk, wondering briefly if it might be better to run for it. She’d know he was guilty, but that’s all she’d know — and he wouldn’t have to answer every embarrassing question she put to him.
But Sally was back before he had a chance to move. Feeling resigned and thwarted, he took his jacket and followed her to the stairs. Neither of them were accustomed to taking the lift, thanks to their Luddite friend. Greg had grown up in a run-down, shabby apartment complex whose one elevator had plummeted into the basement some twenty years before he was born. He’d never had a chance to use it, and frankly — he didn’t mind. A small box on a string was not his idea of safe travel, regardless of how much science Anderson threw at him. He’d taken the stairs all his life, and unless their division was relocated to the top floor, he wasn’t going to change. Where the boss walked — his workers followed.
It took them ten minutes (the last ten of Sally’s lunch hour, incidentally) to get off their floor and out of the building. Neither of them spoke — but unlike the awkward silences that would usually accompany that kind of frank, unwanted discussion, it wasn’t uncomfortable. Iain gradually realised — to his embarrassment — that Sally wasn’t going to push him for answers until he owned up to it. She might be blunt and a little sarcastic, but she was fair when it came to her friends. She’d given him a setting and an opportunity to open up — but it was up to him to actually do it.
“Four months,” he admitted with a sigh.
“Since I realised I-… like him.”
They turned the corner and walked towards the Yarders’ favourite chip shop.
“And you haven’t told him?”
Dimmock shot her an offended frown. “Of course not.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because! He’s the boss, Sally.”
“He’s not your boss.”
“…no. But he is senior to me, and that’s just as awkward.”
Sally rolled her eyes. It was bad enough that Greg was so obstinate about his sexuality at the office. Iain wasn’t — to be fair — but she wasn’t sure she could handle both of them being so bloody secretive. She was an open-minded, free-spirited kind of woman. All this deception just set her teeth on edge.
She steered the conversation to more optimistic waters. “When’d you realise it?”
Iain looked up. He’d been shuffling along awkwardly, eyes focused on the ground until Sally spoke. “Sorry?”
“When did you know that you liked him?”
It took him a moment to answer, but when he did, he smiled slightly. “It was pretty obvious, actually.” He shoved his hands in his coat pockets and looked up at the busy streets ahead of them. “You know how in primary school, the young boys would sometimes pick on the prettiest girls? When you get older, you look back on it, and you realise that he didn’t pull your pig tails because he hated you — he did it because he wanted your attention.”
Sally nodded, not quite sure where he was going with the story.
“Because how else do you expect a kid to express himself when he doesn’t even know what a crush is, you know? There’s this girl — she’s very pretty, but I’m too young to understand that. I’m going to put worms down her back, and pull her hair and do other boy things instead — because that’s what I know how to do. And when you get older, you realise — well, that little boy had a crush on you. Even if he was a stupid jerk for putting a worm in your dress.”
She laughed. “And you’re the… stupid— oh. I get it, because of the pranks.”
Iain nodded. “Not that I’m a pretty girl or anything, but he does harass me quite a lot more than he does anyone else in the office. And-” he cut her off before she could contest him, “I refuse to believe it’s because I put my feet up more than everyone else.”
She was grinning. “Valid, but I think he just likes playing tricks on people.”
“Yeah, I thought that, too. And I do — really, I don’t expect anything. But I can’t shake the… I can’t dislike the attention. Does that make sense?”
“He teases you more than everyone else… and even though sometimes he’s a stupid jerk, he’s still a stupid jerk to you, specifically.”
Iain snorted. “Being friends with you lot is inherently masochistic. The pranks hardly make it worse.”
“Oi! I can make them worse. Greg doesn’t do it alone, you know.”
“I’ll switch the coffee for dirt.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
He shrugged. “Step up the pranks, and we’ll see what happens. Might wanna start bringing your own coffee to work, though.”
Sally looked indignant. Coffee was sacred. and every Yarder in their division knew it. “Fine — no change. I can’t afford to buy the fancy stuff every time I want a cup.”
“You could just drink tea like normal people. It’s fairly inexpensive.”
“Now you sound like Daniel. He’s always harping on about the effectiveness of things, and how I should cut back on my caffeine intake before it gives me heart damage.”
“Well, he is a medical professional. Might wanna trust him.”
“He’s head of forensics. He can tell me about the problems caffeine causes after I explode.”
“Defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?”
Sally held up her hands. “Then put my body on display, and let me be a warning to others, but for god’s sake, don’t touch my coffee.”
They laughed and turned again, as slowly as possible, rounding the block that encircled New Scotland Yard. It was a crisp but beautiful autumn day, and neither of them particularly wanted to get back to work. Without Lestrade around to whip the office workers, paperwork and files moved from hand to hand at an absurdly sluggish pace. It was almost impossible to get anything done without waiting a ridiculously long time for it to clear each department.
Iain stopped and looked up a the rotating sign that marked the entrance of their building and then back to Sally. “Do you wanna go grab a drink?”
She blinked, slightly puzzled. “Now?”
“Yeah, why not? It’s not like they’ll miss us.”
She considered it, even though she knew he was right. “Yeah. Actually — yeah, I do.”
Iain grinned as they turned around, marching back the way they’d come. It was a perfectly logical decision, the longer he thought about it. Greg was on holiday, and they were taking the afternoon off. Where the boss went — the workers would follow!
Chapter 6: Lager and Eggnog
Sally drags Dimmock out again and finally convinces him to ask Lestrade out on a date.
“Oh, for god’s sake! Just invite him out on a date, Iain! He doesn’t bite.”
Iain shook his head, pulling his pint closer. “You know I can’t. We work together.”
“Never stopped me,” Sally answered dryly.
Iain casually ignored the remark. He wasn’t oblivious — he knew what went on between his friends when Anderson’s wife was out of town. But they weren’t obvious about it, and he didn’t judge them for it. And as far as it was possible, no one ever brought it up.
The four of them — he, Sally, Greg and Daniel — were uncomfortably good at keeping secrets.
“It’d never work out. He’s not even out in the office — it’d be stupid to agree to a date with a co-worker.”
Sally pursed her lips. “And it’s stupid that he isn’t. He keeps telling me that he doesn’t care, that isn’t not really a big deal-”
“Well, what’s he supposed to do, stand up and announce in front of the Chief?”
“It’d be better than letting those old hens at the front try and set him up with with some new girl every week.”
Dimmock snorted into his lager.
Unlike their silver-fox friend — the secretaries’ words mind you, not his — he’d put an end to their nagging on his very first day. They’d jumped on him the moment he walked through the door, crowing and making suggestive remarks about all the curly-haired granddaughters they’d had who might be just the thing for a handsome fellow like him.
And in return, he’d immediately whipped out his wallet (a present from his darling mother, congratulating him on his recent promotion to detective sergeant) and paraded the filler photo of some handsome male model in their faces, claiming it was the love of his life — an amateur actor named Ben. He pulled together a weak backs-story about how happy they were together — no one else in the office believed a lick of it — and the old birds at the front desk never questioned him about it again.
“I think he secretly likes the attention,” he answered. Greg had always been good with people — even the irritating civilians who wanted to give you their entire life story when you were trying to collect information about a murder. He was just too damn charming.
Sally rolled her eyes, tipping back the rest of her eggnog.
“But you get it, right? Why I could never act on…” He couldn’t bring himself to express what he felt for his fellow DI.
“No, I don’t. I think you’re being stupid.”
“Sally! I can’t-”
She cut him off. “Yes. You can. You’re just pretending you care about all these rules because you’re scared he’ll turn you down.”
Dimmock’s jaw tightened.
“Iain… I’m his best friend. And I’m your friend. Do you really think I’d tell you to go for it if you didn’t stand a chance?”
The look on his face suggested that he indeed thought she might. Sally called for another round of drinks.
“If you don’t make a move, I will.”
Iain’s eyes narrowed in confusion. “You’ll what?”
“I will make a move for you,” Sally repeated. “It’s nearly Christmas, and I’ve got a box of mistletoe to hang up.”
“Sally, come on.”
“No. I will hang the lot of it up in Greg’s office, if that’s what it takes to get you to try.”
Iain pouted briefly. “That’s cruel. But it doesn’t matter, he’d never let you near his office with a wreath, never mind mistletoe.”
Donovan reached for their eggnog and lager as the pubman slid them down the bar. “I won’t give him a choice,” she answered matter-of-factly, passing him his beer.
“Thanks. How do you think you’ll manage that?”
Sally smiled. Dimmock felt a cold shiver trickle down his spine. It was a stupid question. When Sergeant Sally Donovan wanted something done her way, that’s usually how it happened.
“Sometimes you scare me,” he added. “You do know that, right?”
The detective sergeant laughed. Swirling her drink in one hand, she reached out with the other and patted his arm gently. “Iain… I should scare you all the time.”
Dimmock made a muffled, choking noise as he sipped his drink.
Beaming, Sally pulled her hand back. “So you’ll ask him out then?”
“Iain,” Sally growled.
“Christ, now I understand why he’s your best friend. You’re both bullies.”
“And yet here you are, out to lunch with me and fancying him.”
Dimmock’s face flushed pink. “God help me. Is Anderson the only one among us I can trust?”
“With a secret like that?” Donovan snorted. “He’d tell Greg the very next time he saw him.”
“Thinks it’s stupid to get dramatic about that kind of thing.”
“Yeah, and I agree with him.”
Iain rubbed his face with his free hand, pinching the bridge of his nose. After a moment of silence, he looked up at her — resignation written across his face. “Fine… but not before Christmas.” He finished off the last of his beer, pushing the glass to the middle of the table with the others. “He’s got enough to deal with right now… it’d be stupid to complicate things.”
“Immediately after Christmas,” Sally insisted.
Iain nodded. “And you’re not going to tell him. Or Daniel. No one, do you understand?”
Sally waved him off dismissively, standing up. “Of course not. I am a decent person, you know.”
Iain slipped into his coat, digging his gloves out of his pockets. “If I see mistletoe hanging over my desk or Lestrade’s between now and Christmas, I will demand you retract that statement.”
“Deal,” she answered with a smile, holding out her hand so they could shake on it.
Iain took her hand, shaking firmly. “Thanks, Sally.”
“Don’t mention it,” she responded, steering the DI out the door. “Now let’s get back before Chief puts both of us on Traffic for the rest of our lives.”
Chapter 7: The Spirit of Christmas
The Yarders have a holiday party at the office.
“Come on, it’s just for tonight. You can take it down after the party, I promise!”
“Absolutely not, Sally. You are not putting that monstrosity on my door.”
Sergeant Donovan rolled her eyes and huffed. “This-” she replied, brandishing the giant, red bow at him, “is Christmas cheer, Greg. Cheer and good will, and you are being such a Grinch about it!”
Greg Lestrade took a step backwards, into the safety of his office. “Your Christmas cheer is already all over my office, Sally. Look.” He motioned behind him at the hanging baubles and tinsel and bloody, little bits of holly she’d tacked up everywhere. “On every surface and then some, and that plus a big, floppy bow on my door is just too much good will for one holiday.”
He’d put his foot down and refused to have any more decorations when she tried to pin a giant wreath of mistletoe over his desk. Damned if he was going to relent and let her add anything else now.
“Fine,” she hissed. “Whatever you say, Detective Inspector Scrooge. I’ll just bring this to someone who will appreciate my holiday enthusiasm then, shall I?”
Greg smiled, resting his hand on the glass door that separated his office from the rest of the floor. “By all means… just remember that it’s against regulation to bring anything but evidence into Anderson’s lab.” Sally’s eyes flashed with anger as he merrily shut the door in her face.
Sometimes he just couldn’t resist.
Sally glared as she turned her back to her best friend, eyes sweeping over the remainder of the office in search of more accommodating prey. Two interns immediately grabbed stacks of files, averted their eyes and pretended to be wholly absorbed in their work. They’d learned very early on not to cross Sergeant Donovan when she was irritated.
In fact, only one person seemed utterly unconcerned with her sudden change in temper — probably because he was sound asleep.
Sally locked on like a heat-seeking missile, strutting over to the snoring Dimmock and casually shoving his feet off his desk. He awoke with a snort, mumbling his excuses as he looked up. “Sorry! Sorry, Chief, I- …what the hell, Donovan!”
“Iain,” she replied with a smirk, perching on the edge of his desk where his feet had been. “Get up and help me decorate.”
Detective Inspector Iain Dimmock stared at her, mouth hanging open slightly. “Bit of a waste of company time, don’t you think?” he asked, well aware of the irony.
“Shut up. I’m putting this on your desk.” Sally dangled the bow in front of his face. “It’s about time you had something worth looking at over here.”
Dimmock pursed his lips. “Thanks for that.” To be fair, she wasn’t joking. He didn’t have much in the way of personal effects — he never had. He had a small box of things in the bottom drawer that he hadn’t ever gotten around to putting up, but considering how infrequently he was actually at his desk, it had never bothered him.
Sally straightened up, grabbing the tape as she stood. “You could at least put up pictures or something. Maybe change your computer background so that it looks like an actual employee works here, and not just a temp.” Kneeling in front of his desk, she centered the bow and taped it down. “Better, but hardly enough.”
“Is this your Christmas mission?” he asked. “Drowning the whole office in holiday decorations?”
“Yes,” she answered. “And you’re gonna help me. Because there’s an office party tonight, and I have a whole box of mistletoe that needs hanging.”
Iain closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Oh, Christ.”
Hours later, New Scotland Yard had been transformed from a modestly decorated office into a winter wonderland — or a holiday warzone, depending on how you looked at it. Deck the halls had been amended to include desks, pillars, cubicles and even Lestrade’s door — not that he had noticed. He had completely forgotten about the incident with the bow earlier that day. In fact, he’d rather forgotten about anything that had happened before the Yard’s Christmas party had started.
To his credit, he was completely sloshed. He, Donovan, Anderson and Dimmock had staked out the punch bowl at the back of the office the minute one of the secretaries had announced that there would be karaoke. They’d done well at first, stifling their derisive laughter behind hands and cups and turning their backs if they just couldn’t contain themselves — but hours into the event, they’d all but given up.
Sally was nearly doubled over, clutching her cup in one hand and clinging to Greg with the other. She was shaking with laughter, and trying desperately not to spill her drink. Despite the fact that he was weak in the knees himself, he was doing his best to keep her upright. The four of them howled as their co-workers demonstrated exactly why they were all on the police force, and not professional recording artists.
“Oh god, it’s the Chief — somebody get a camera,” Anderson muttered as Good King Wenceslas blared out over the speakers for the tenth time that evening. Dimmock snorted into his punch, and Sally buried her face in Greg’s shirt to muffle her high-pitched giggling. He chuckled, rubbing her back reassuringly. The rest of the office they were free to laugh at as they pleased, but openly mocking the police commander was never a good idea — not even at Christmas.
“Can you imagine?” Dimmock asked, straightening his Santa hat. “Hey Chief — I need a raise. No, you say? Well, let’s have a look at this video from last year’s holiday party…”
Sally struggled to regain her balance. “I’d like extra holiday time-” They winced as the commander’s booming baritone cut her off. “…and a new desk chair, while you’re at it.”
“I’d like to know who thought karaoke was a good idea in the first place,” Greg added, sipping his drink. “Tinsel is one thing, but-” He lowered his voice. “I think my ears are bleeding.”
“You think?” Anderson asked, slightly incredulous. “After round six of Rudolph, I felt my brain start to dissolve.”
“No, that’s just the punch,” Iain corrected, as they shook with laughter once again.
“See, Greg?” Sally asked as they struggled to keep straight faces. “Even you have to admit this is fun.”
The detective inspector glanced sideways at her. He’d been humming to himself in an effort to drown out the overwhelming noise at the front of the room. “I never said Christmas wasn’t fun.”
“Are you joking?” Dimmock chimed in. “You’ve been complaining about it for a month now.”
“About the crime rates,” Greg protested. “Not the actual holiday.”
“You can be a bit of a grouch, you know,” Anderson added.
“I am not!”
Sally punched Greg lightly in the shoulder. “Admit it, boss. Even your bad attitude can’t stop Christmas.”
“I was never trying to st-…” he stopped, eyes drifting to the ceiling. Despite their teasing, he couldn’t keep the grin off his face. “Fine. You want Christmas spirit?”
Sally nodded enthusiastically as Greg put his drink down.
“Fine,” he repeated. Putting both hands on Iain’s shoulders, he propelled the younger detective backwards several steps. Iain looked slightly startled — his hat had slipped to the side again, and his face was significantly rosier than any of theirs.
“What’re y-” Greg tipped his chin up and kissed him firmly on the mouth before he had a chance to finish the question. Anderson whistled and Sally cat-called, both of them clapping as loudly as they could. The rest of the office rapidly joined in, cheering and applauding just as enthusiastically.
When Greg finally pulled back, Iain didn’t bother looking up for the clump of mistletoe that was no doubt hanging directly overhead. Instead, he took a very deep breath and rested both hands lightly on Greg’s hips.
“Well-” he paused to clear his throat. He knew his face was on fire, but there was absolutely nothing for it at that point. “Well, hello Christmas,” he finished with a wide grin.
Chapter 8: The Spirit of Christmas Continues?
Lestrade is on his way home -- but Dimmock's not finished with him yet!
His shoes slammed into the concrete as he sprinted down flight after flight of stairs. The sound roared in the stairwell like a charging herd of buffalo, but Iain couldn’t be arsed to care. There were other things on his mind at the moment — other significant things — and the man responsible for it had fled the scene before he’d had a chance to speak his mind.
“Greg!” he called out, but far too late. The door at the base of the stairwell had clicked shut, closing both him and the noise he made inside. He took a breath, and leapt the remaining six stairs, landing hard against the door at the bottom. He shouldered it open without stopping, bursting into the underground lot and spun around — searching for the older DI.
Lestrade stood at his car, rifling through his pockets for his car keys. He’d been too far ahead of Dimmock to hear the thunderous footsteps, or the shouting — but a man nearly breaking down the door to the parking garage was a different matter. He spun on his heels, staring across the lot at the younger, very out of breath DI that was running towards him.
“Dimmock? What’s the matter?” he asked, cutting the distance in half with his long, low strides.
Iain halted in front of him, doubling over for a moment as he caught his breath. He straightened up only after he was sure that his lungs had re-inflated. “Will y-” His voice broke. Not quite yet then. Holding up a hand, he shook his head — panting with effort.
“Christ, man.” Lestrade put a hand on his shoulder to steady him. Iain’s eyes widened slightly. “What’s the matter?”
“Go on a date with me,” Iain blurted.
Iain straightened up, quickly shifting his hand to cover Greg’s. When he spoke again, he was far more insistent than before. “Come on a date with me. Supper. A movie. Please?” A week ago he would have shot himself before being so blunt — but a week ago, the other DI hadn’t kissed him square on the mouth.
Greg didn’t answer for a solid minute — and when he did, Dimmock felt his heart plunge into the pit of his stomach. “Are you serious?”
Iain didn’t have the energy to wince. “…yeah,” he replied quietly, dropping his gaze to his feet. “Yeah, I was.”
“It’s just- I mean, I knew you were gay. I just… didn’t think-” he stopped, finally noticing the look of black despair creeping across Iain’s face. “Yeah, sure,” he finished, nodding reassuringly. “Dinner sounds great, Iain.”
Iain stepped back, folding his arms over his chest defensively. “…you’re not just saying that, right? Sally didn’t just put you up to it?”
Greg’s eyes narrowed. “Sally? What has Donovan got to do with this?”
“Nothing. No, just- just figured since you’re best mates and all.” The younger DI cleared his throat quickly. “How’s Saturday?” Greg smiled and opened his mouth to answer, but Iain cut him off. “Or is that too soon?” he added with a wince. “Next week is fine, too.”
Greg chuckled, holding his hand up to get Iain to be quiet. “Saturday’s fine. I’ll pick you up at your place at eight.”
Iain nodded and grinned, backing away from the car as Greg slipped into the driver’s seat. Even as he waved Greg off, he couldn’t contain the smile — a rare sight, even on the best of days — from stretching across the full width of his face.
Chapter 9: Of Hitmen and Detective Sergeants
Lestrade's hitman and Dimmock's Danish detective sergeant discuss life at the Yard.
“Nice to see you kids in the office again,” Donovan commented as she passed Dimmock’s desk. The young detective inspector and his Danish sergeant exchanged wry smiles. Two weeks in Toronto, and they were pretty thrilled to be back, too. Canada, they decided, was not their kind of country.
“Alas… not for long,” the sergeant replied, digging a pack of smokes out of his coat pocket. “I have important business elsewhere.” Donovan rolled her eyes and Dimmock chuckled. “See you in ten, boss,” the Dane added, clapping Dimmock on the shoulder.
A broad-shouldered, blond man watched him stand up. “Out for a fag?” He asked casually. “Mind if I bum one?”
The blond Brit laughed. “That’s colonists for you. Mind you, things have been pretty quiet around here, too.” The other man didn’t acknowledge his comment, so he pressed on. “Makes Lestrade a bit restless, I think.”
“Makes everyone restless,” the Dane corrected.
He laughed. “Yeah, that too.” He paused briefly. “Wonder if he’s always like that.”
The detective sergeant shrugged — completely typical behaviour.
“Well, I mean — I just imagine you know him better than I do, at this point.” Unlike the Dane, the British detective was a much less suave fellow, and prone to fits of excessively chatty behaviour. “He’s doesn’t have much to say unless it’s about music.”
“…or them, yeah.”
The Dane ashed his cigarette.
“Dimmock’s right talkative, though, isn’t he? Bet you know all sorts of things about the big man that you wished you didn’t.” He laughed awkwardly. “Bet that’s weird.”
If the Dane was unsettled by the other man’s questions he didn’t show it. He’d been in England — or working with Scotland Yard, rather — for several years now, and the longer he stayed, the less his co-workers surprised him. They were a perplexing people, the British — but at least they weren’t Canadian.
“Not so much,” he answered, after a moment. “He usually stays focused on the cases.”
The Dane smiled. “Give him a few drinks after the work is done, and it is impossible to make him shut up.”
Chapter 10: Round Four
Another pub night for the Yarders, but Iain's not all there this time.
Iain wasn’t a shy person. Young, and easily flustered perhaps — but never shy. But that night he stared deeply into the glass in his hand, and very rarely looked up.
It didn’t take long for his friends to realise something was wrong. Anderson noticed how he fidgeted, twisting the glass to and fro. Sally could tell by his one word answers to her questions — usually they were the ones who talked while Dan and Greg smiled and watched.
Greg knew because — for once — Iain wasn’t distractedly watching any of the other blokes in the bar. He was just sitting there, in silence.
“Iain…” Sally interrupted after a moment. Interrupted herself, technically, because she was the only one talking — but also Iain’s nervous solitude. “Is everything alright?”
The detective inspector hardly heard her. It took her hand waving in his face for him to look up — sharply — and glance around at the three of them. “Sorry, what? Zoned out a bit there.”
“You’ve been ‘zoned out’ all evening,” Sally retorted. Greg smiled.
“I have not.”
Daniel snorted and pulled Iain’s beer away from him. “We’re on round four. Let me help you catch up.”
Iain looked startled as he snatched it back. “You’re lying. That’s my first.”
“Yours, yeah,” Sally answered, grinning.
“God, I’m sorry,” Iain mumbled as he bowed his head, running a hand through his hair. “I probably need to catch up on sleep.” Sally and Dan exchanged bemused, and concerned looks — but Greg seemed somehow unsurprised by the younger man’s odd behaviour.
Only after Sally had turned her attention elsewhere — to harassing Daniel about the fit of his jacket — did Greg lean in smoothly and press his lips up against Iain’s ear. The younger detective shuddered as Greg spoke — he could feel the soft vibrations of that lovely, deep voice against his skin.
“You,” Greg murmured quietly, “are the only person I know who gets more nervous after getting shagged, you know that?”
And it was true. Greg subtly kissed him on the cheek and straightened up. Neither Sally nor Dan batted an eye at the affection, but for Iain it was more than enough to leave him red-faced and out of breath.
Chapter 11: No Sleep Tonight
Dimmock's famous for sleeping at his desk -- because he spends more of his nights working on cases and trying to overcome jet lag.
The kettle hissed and frothed, but it wasn’t ready yet. Every so often Iain would glance up, his tired eyes taking ages to shift focus from the table to the stovetop no more than six feet away. He was waiting — and anxiously.
If it had been noon, like his watch suggested, he might not have cared whether the damn thing started shrieking. But it wasn’t — it was hardly three in the morning, and the flat’s other occupant was sleeping, as people tended to do when they had to be up for work that day.
Funny how he and Lestrade could have the same title, in the same office — and yet kept such radically different hours. The whole bloody system was just a bit strange.
But there it was — that brief pause when the rolling boil dulled to a whisper. Iain leapt up, wincing as his back popped and groaned, and fetched the kettle off the fire before it could get noisy. No need for all that fuss just for a cup of tea. Even if that tea was the only thing keeping him going.
The thought of sleep made him yawn. Yawning made him think of bed, and bed, well — bed made him think of the warm man in it, not two rooms away. God, what he wouldn’t give to put aside all that bloody work and just go curl up. The HKP could wait.
But the smugglers wouldn’t, he reminded himself as he carried his mug back to the table. The bureau didn’t operate on its own schedule, it revolved around criminal activity, and right now — as a plane was about to set down in Hong Kong International Airport — he had work to do. And it was work that he loved, regardless of how much sleep it stole from him.
He had asked to be an international liaison, after all. He had access to all sorts of tricky, complicated murders and kidnappings, and could visit such interesting places with his job. There was nothing better.
The chair scraped across the floor as he pulled it forward and he bit back a curse. He couldn’t get any farther from the bedroom than the kitchen, but that damned man was just such a light sleeper. ‘Don’t wake up. Don’t wake up. Don’t wake up,’ he begged in silence, but nothing doing. He heard the bed creak.
“Jesus Christ, you’re still awake?” Greg’s voice was always a little husky — too many cigarettes in his youth — but sleep and grogginess made it deliciously deep.
Iain pursed his lips as the older man shuffled into the kitchen, and fought to hold on to the expression as he noticed the other DI’s wild, grey hair, sticking up at every angle. “Work to do,” he murmured quietly, completely failing to hide his delight. “Sorry for the noise…”
“Nah, s’fine,” Greg answered, pulling the door to the refrigerator open. A bad decision, it turned out, as the bright light inside flipped on. He shut the door with a growl and turned around, falling back against it as he rubbed his eyes. “Any luck?”
Iain stood up again, manoeuvring around the table and chairs to take Greg by the hand. “Come sit before you hurt yourself,” he chided.
Greg followed along like a grumpy puppy.
“I’ve got a conference call in about an hour, but I want to get some more of the evidence sorted before I talk to them.” He pushed Greg down into the chair and put his own cup of tea in front of him. He’d been friends with the older man long enough to know that there was no going back to sleep now.
“You heading to the office, then?”
Iain looked sheepish. “I was just going to go to the car…”
Greg held up his hand to silence him for a brief moment while he took several rejuvenating gulps of too-hot-but-too-sleepy-to-care tea. “How is that supposed to work?” He asked, wiping his mouth with his hand.
“A conference call from the car? There’s no phone.”
Iain smiled. “Laptop,” he answered. “Skype. Sally’s explained it to you at least a dozen times.”
“I know what Skype is,” the tech-phobic DI answered with a huff. “I just didn’t realise the Hong Kong PD used it.”
“Fascinating modern world, isn’t it?”
Greg grunted. “Still too much shitty music.”
Chapter 12: Trying to be Polite
Dimmock's sergeant is a smoker, and Lestrade is an ex-addict. It makes coming home from a work trip a bit of a hassle.
The key scraped in the lock, and Greg rushed to brush crumbs from a packet of crisps off his chest. Iain pushed through the door just as Greg stood up, sliding across the floor to greet him.
But the younger man held up a hand to stop him before he could get too close. “Don’t.”
Greg looked bewildered, and slightly hurt. The smile faded from his face.
“Oh, don’t give me that. I absolutely reek of cigarettes and I’m going to shower.”
Greg snorted. “You know I don’t care. Come ‘ere.”
But Iain backed up against the door in the short entryway. “Stop it. Greg, stay.” The other DI paused like an obedient dog. “I care. Don’t touch my luggage. I’ll get it when I’ve had a bath.” He stepped to the side slowly, both hands up as he inched towards their bedroom, and the bathroom beyond.
“You won’t even let me say hello?” Greg protested. “You’ve been gone for a bloody week!”
“You can wait another half hour!”
But he couldn’t. And as much effort as Iain put into keeping him away, the somewhat heavenly aroma of tar and nicotine had already flooded the flat.
Greg took a small step closer to him. Iain took several steps back.
And then they were running. Well — Iain ran for it, and Greg slipped along behind him, his socks refusing to find traction on the wooden floors until he dug his toes in and jumped after his delicious world traveller. Greg’s arm caught Iain around the waist just as the younger man’s hands hit the bathroom door, scratching and scrambling in vain to grab the handle.
In an ideal world, he would have stopped and clutched Iain to his chest like the cover of every terrible romance novel. But Greg was no Fabio — thankfully — and Iain didn’t have the grace of a distressed damsel, and down they went in a tangle of limbs and creaks and assorted grunts of pain. Greg laughed and rolled away from him, clutching his side where he was almost certain that Iain’s heel had gone right through his ribcage.
“What the hell was that for?” Iain whined, rubbing his ankle.
Greg smiled. “Maybe next time you’ll let me say hello before you run off.”
“You haven’t yet!”
“So get over here.”
Iain pouted — and considered getting up and strutting to the bathroom in an act of defiance, but he knew from the devious look in Greg’s eye that he’d never make it. Honestly, the man was a menace.
He groaned and crawled over to where Greg had sprawled out across the floor. “Hi,” he said after a moment, trying to sound sullen and failing completely. The smile spreading across his mouth didn’t help.
Greg reached up slowly, cupping Iain’s face with both hands. He very slowly brushed his thumbs over the younger man’s cheeks, taking in all the little details of his face with those big, brown eyes. Iain’s smile widened, and Greg pulled him close for a small, gentle kiss.
“Hey,” he whispered softly. “Welcome home.”
After that, Iain didn’t even care that he never made it to the shower.
Chapter 13: Digletts
Forty-eight hours with sleep isn't healthy. Also, Anderson's a nerd.
Sally looked up from her sandwich slowly. “Everything alright there?”
Daniel gripped the table between them with both hands, a concerned look spreading across his face. It took him a minute or so to answer, but eventually he shook his head. “No— sorry, yeah. Fine. Just had a dizzy spell or something.”
Sally rolled her eyes. “Let me guess… the Matrix resetting itself? Imminent alien invasion? Or is it — what’s his name, from that one show with the box.”
“He’s the Doctor. And it’s called the TARDIS.”
She smirked. “Right, yeah. Tardis.”
“TARDIS,” he repeated.
Sally stared. “That’s what I said.”
Anderson shook his head. “You said Tardis. It’s TARDIS.”
There was a slightly loathing frostiness to her expression now.
“All capital letters,” he murmured, looking her in the eye. “Whovians can hear the difference.”
Sally’s mouth fell open slightly. She was rarely, if ever, speechless, but this — this was worth a moment of silence. Across from her, Daniel’s eyes only grew wider as he watched her — like a cat strung out on nip.
“We know,” he whispered.
She broke, and stood up. “That’s it— forty-eight hours without sleep is beyond legally drunk. Go home and go to sleep before I have them drag you to Bedlam.”
Dan wasn’t listening; he’d pressed his ear to the wall beside his head and seemed delighted.
“For Chr— what now?”
He laughed. “Digletts.”
Chapter 14: Untitled
Just a quick kiss.
Iain’s head slipped to the side, dropping on to Greg’s shoulder. The older DI wasn’t surprised. Iain had a habit of falling asleep… well, constantly. Greg smiled and glanced down at him. “Missing the best part of the game,” he warned quietly, fully aware that Iain wouldn’t have cared even if he’d been conscious.
But he wasn’t.
Greg rested his forehead against Iain’s, rubbing their noses together playfully. Iain hardly stirred, but his mouth fell open slightly, and Greg found his eyes drawn to the charming shape his lips made. He went cross-eyed in his effort to stare, but he couldn’t bring himself to pull back.
Not while that mouth was so close.
Not while those lips were in reach.
He craned his neck a little more — ignoring the strain and the ache as he gently pressed his mouth to the younger detective’s.
Chapter 15: Anachronistic
Greg is nearly fifty.
Iain glanced across the sofa. “Something wrong?”
Greg shook his head, but raised his hand to his face and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Just a slight headache.”
The younger man sat up quickly, closing the distance between them. “Do you need aspirin? I’ll get you some water—” but Greg grabbed his arm before he could stand.
“Nah, just c’mere.”
Iain shifted, curling up against his side. “You’re sure?” He asked as Greg wrapped him up.
“Sure as there’s carts to horses,” Greg mumbled, pressing a light kiss to Iain’s temple.
Iain laughed. “Christ, you’re so old.”
Chapter 16: "Paperwork"
Everything they do in the Forensics lab is serious business.
The door to the lab swung open and Anderson looked up sharply. A very flustered Lestrade stalked towards him, fluffy hair flapping like a grey cockatoo. He opened his mouth to ask, but the detective never gave him a chance.
“I need the evidence files on the Gower Street case—” He stopped as he realised that Anderson was behind a desk for once and not at a microscope or working with some other complex forensics equipment. “What are you doing?”
Anderson struggled to answer. “Just… you know. Catching… up on some paperwork.”
Lestrade’s eyes narrowed.
The forensics scientist’s shoulders slumped as he sighed and pulled a small, handheld console out from under the table. “Pokémon Black,” he amended awkwardly. “New game… just came out.”
The silence that followed was physically painful. And without breaking it, Lestrade turned on his heel and left.
Chapter 17: Lovely
Greg rushes Sally who doesn't know the meaning of punctual even though they're already terribly late to a ceremony.
Greg was staring at the ceiling. He’d already counted every individual crack and picked out a few places he’d re-plaster the next time they had a week-end free. But at the moment, they had places to be and he was at his wits’ end.
“You know, for someone who prides herself on being able to get ready quickly, you sure are taking quite a long time.”
Sally glared into the mirror, even though he was a room away and couldn’t see it. “It’s not my bloody fault. It’s this stupid uniform.”
“Right. Well, I got into mine just fine.”
She growled. “Shut up, Greg. You look good in anything.”
The detective inspector grinned and glanced down his chest at his dress uniform. It did fit well — she was right about that. “As if anyone notices me with you in the way. Besides, don’t you think they’ll have other things on their minds?”
“The press will be there.”
“I heard that. It’s not that I care, I just don’t want to look like a bloody life raft in this.”
His brow furrowed and he sat up. “How’s that even possible? You’re the width of a twig.”
Sally strutted into her living room, her heels clicking on the floor. “And they don’t make these in my size, believe it or not.” She tugged on her slacks. “These are the uniform. These are mine. Because they don’t anything long enough. I’m lucky the coat’s got a belt, or I could fly us to the ceremony.”
Greg smiled as he looked up at her. “You look lovely, Sally.”
“…thank you,” she conceded, but it hardly pacified her fiery temper.
“Besides. It’s hardly their problem that your legs go all the way to Aberdeen, is it?” He paid for his comment by catching a silver clutch with his face. “I donno… might clash with my hair.”
“Get out,” Sally huffed, pointing at the door. “This is as good as it’s going to get.” Greg held the small wallet out for her, but she refused it. “Oh, no. You’re carrying everything now. You deserve it. Now, up.”
He grinned and pushed himself up off her low-slung sofa. “Bad jokes get you out of the house faster… Christ, I wish I’d known that eight years ago.”
“Out!” She yelled, grinning as she pushed him towards the door.
By the time they arrived, Sally had threatened to put the heel of her shoe through Greg’s head for the dozen or so even-shitter-than-before jokes he’d rattled off while she was trapped in the passenger’s seat. Getting out and into the crowd of decorated police officers was — unbelievably — a relief.
It didn’t take long to find their mates, hanging back from the throng of black suits and pins and braids. Dimmock stood on his tiptoes to catch sight of them and waved, but Anderson — in a simple, dark suit rather than a uniform — seemed uninterested in the whole affair. Of the four of them, Dan was the only person who liked crowds and big events less than Greg, who hated them. Sally didn’t mind them all that much, and Iain — popular cad that he was — seemed to enjoy it, to no one’s surprise.
“You’re late!” Iain called out as they approached.
“Thanks for that,” Greg retorted. “Hadn’t noticed at all.”
“What’ve we missed?” Sally asked, looking to Dan for a reliable answer.
It took him a moment or so to reply. “Not much,” he said quietly — a strangely dreamy expression on his face. Greg and Iain smiled. “Just the Chief yelling about… something we couldn’t hear.”
“Probably have ages to wait, still,” Iain added.
“No surprises there.”
Sally folded her arms over her chest. “So really, we’re not late at all.” She fixed Greg with a hard stare. The DI feigned embarrassment.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Dan cut in. He hadn’t taken his eyes off her since they’d arrived — and Greg could understand why. Very few people could make the Met’s dress uniforms look good. Sally alone made them look couture.
And there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that she’d be the first to ditch her shoes and sprint after a criminal if the need arose.
Still, it was lucky they were so far-removed from the centre of attention, because a blind mouse could’ve seen the admiration in his expression.
“You look beautiful,” he added.
Not one of them doubted how sincerely he meant it.
Chapter 18: Strays
Anderson points out an interesting habit of Lestrade's -- and saves him from ruining his tea.
“Well, you do have a habit of adopting stray dogs, you know.”
Lestrade turned, milk poised over his tea. “What?”
Anderson took another bite out of his sandwich, and spoke around a mouthful of bread. “Jus’ think abou’ it,” he answered, before swallowing. “That’s herbal tea, by the way.”
He looked down at his mug, sighed, and put the bottle down. “I’m about to dump milk in—” Greg paused and grabbed a tin from the shelf, “—lemon-apple tea.” He made a face. “And you expect me to decipher whatever little word game you’re playing at?”
He had a point — Anderson smiled. “Your friends — all the people you keep close to you — they tend to be… different in some way.”
“Dan, if you don’t cut the crap—”
“Broken,” Anderson amended, before Greg could chuck the tin at him. “Or not quite normal. You know what I mean.”
“If I bloody well knew—”
Dan put his sandwich down. “Your best friends, Greg. Sherlock and Sally.”
Lestrade folded his arms over his chest.
“Sally will skin you if she finds out you said that.”
“And I’m begging you not to tell her, but you know it’s a bit true.”
Chapter 19: Patrick
DS Dane is a mystery to everyone -- even Dimmock.
I believe this is actually part of a dark!AU, wherein Iain and Søren are assassins. ...and yet, strangely enough, I'm not totally sure.
He was considering stealing a towel. He’d never seen a hotel with such big, fluffy towels — and even though it would’ve been an unnecessary weight in his luggage, he was willing to do it if it meant having that lush piece of heaven come home with him.
The Dane seemed to sense his conundrum, because he chuckled around the cigarette clamped between his lips.
Iain frowned, and shoved the towel into his bag.
“You have interesting dilemmas for such a dangerous man,” the Dane commented, stretching one leg out across the fire escape and letting the other hang down inside the window.
“And you sit in the weirdest places. Like some kind of bizarre cat.”
Søren smiled and tapped his cigarette out into the open air.
Dimmock continued packing and the Dane kept smoking. They didn’t speak — they didn’t need to, but a question was gnawing at the edges of Iain’s mind. Ever since he’d seen that book, he couldn’t shake the curiosity.
What the hell — his companion seemed to be in a good mood. The sun was shining; there was a nice breeze. What was the worst that could happen?
He took a slow breath. “So… who’s Patrick?”
Søren didn’t move — but Iain could see how stiff he’d suddenly become. He regretted not thinking about the fact that Søren had a loaded gun in his luggage.
The Dane turned his head to look at him slowly. “If you ever say that name again, your detective friends in England will have to piece you back together.”
Chapter 20: Untitled
“Sally, what’s the hold up on the Parkinson case?”
She glanced up from her computer screen, more dissatisfied than apologetic. “Forensics,” she answered — almost sullenly.
“No, the whole sodding department. They’re backed up, and the chief M.O. won’t be arsed to push things through any faster. Says he won’t risk his neck in a criminal trial just to get results.”
“Well, that’s bullshit,” Greg answered, eyes narrowed. “This is a murder investigation, and that has top priority. I needed that blood work yesterday.”
“I know, but he won’t budge. Daniel even offered to stay let — do it in his off hours.”
“What’d the chief say?”
“That he should stop being such a bloody suck-up, and do his job.”
Greg scoffed. “Fucking tosser. Anderson should be in charge down there.”
“But he isn’t,” Sally replied. “And our results won’t be in for another week.”
“A we- Sally! I can’t get a warrant for the suspect’s arrest until I get those results.”
“I know, Greg. There’s nothing I can do!”
“We’ll see about that.”
Chapter 21: Explosions. Fireworks. Microwaves.
Please see chapter title.
He loved Greg’s flat — he really did. But there was no denying that the place needed about a dozen more bloody outlets. Iain shifted the toaster and sighed — nothing. Or rather — almost nothing.
He had to lean in close to be certain — damn his eyes, and damn his glasses being back on the bedside table — but he was fairly sure that he was starring at faded burn marks creeping up the wall of Greg’s kitchen. Not that a little charring was out of place in a kitchen, but it did seem odd to keep them. And he couldn’t recall any recent catastrophes that would have been responsible.
Iain jumped. “My god, make a little noise next time why don’t you?”
Greg chuckled as he sidled into the kitchen. “And lose a chance to spook you?” He asked, slipping his arms around Iain’s waist. “Never.”
“Bastard,” the younger detective muttered.
“You love it.”
But Iain pulled away. “Oi, find me an outlet.” He glanced along the kitchen wall again, and recalled the sooty marks that had distracted him in the first place. “And what happened here?” He asked, rubbing his finger into the blackened paint.
Greg sighed. “Sherlock.”
“Yeah? Did his ego combust, or did his brain just move so quickly that it started a fire?”
“He blew up the microwave.”
“Y’shoulda seen it. Bright, bloody sparks everywhere.” Greg folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the counter. “Looked like fireworks.”
It took a moment for the information to process. “…is that why you won’t let me get one?” Iain asked, almost incredulous.
Greg nodded. “You may think this… technology stuff is useful, but it’s bloody dangerous. And if you ever forget—” he reached past Iain and tapped the wall, “—think again.”
Chapter 22: Cute and Gross
Greg wakes up sick and Iain takes care of him.
It’d been awhile since he’d woken up with his head in the toilet. He did take some small comfort in the fact that he was in his flat, in his own bathroom, hanging over the edge of his own— well, it wasn’t a dirty pub, and he was grateful for it.
“Bloody mess,” he muttered to the water.
Iain smiled and dotingly ran his fingers through Greg’s grey hair. The older detective inspector jumped slightly, and winced as memories of the night before stitched themselves together in his head. “That’s one way to put it,” Iain mused.
Greg tried to push himself up, but didn’t make it very far. A whole new wave of nausea hit him, and it seemed like clinging to the porcelain was all he could do to keep from falling off the face of the earth.
His nurse didn’t seem particularly concerned by the gravitational shifts.
“I’d say never again…”
“But it’d be a blatant lie. I know,” Iain answered. “But you had fun.”
Iain laughed. “It’ll come back to you.” He trailed his thumb over Greg’s cheek — and paused, his face darkening. “Are you still drunk?” He asked, pressing the back of his hand to Greg’s forehead.
“No idea,” Greg muttered.
“Greg, I think you might actually be ill.”
He would’ve answered if he could’ve. But he’d learned a long time ago that it was best not to talk — or even try — while dry-heaving. Iain was right.
He was genuinely sick.
The younger man hopped up quickly, pulling open the medicine cabinet. They didn’t have much in the way of supplies — neither of them got sick very often. There were band-aids and contact lens solution and toothpaste — but almost nothing useful. He grabbed the old thermometer and a bottle of mouthwash before he crouched back down.
“Take this,” Iain instructed, filling the cap. “Get the taste of alcohol out of your mouth, at least.”
There was no arguing with that. Greg braced himself against the toilet before reaching out. “Close that door,” he muttered — Iain stared at him, perplexed. “The med cabinet, twat. You’ll knock your head on it and I’ll have to cart a bloody mess to the emergency room.”
Iain rolled his eyes, but reached up and forced the door closed. It wasn’t an unfair demand — he had hilariously bad luck with cabinets.
Greg pulled a face as he swished the mouthwash. “Always did hate that stuff,” he said as he spit it into the toilet.
“Yeah, but now I won’t have to burn this after you put it under your tongue,” Iain replied, holding out the thermometer.
“I am not that ill,” Greg snarled.
Iain prodded his disgruntled partner’s lower lip with the metal end. “I could always do it the other way.”
But the grey-haired detective had whisked the thermometer out of his hand before Iain could carry through with his threat. “You’re a fuckin’ menace.”
Iain smiled. Indeed, he was.
Chapter 23: Untitled
Backstory for Dimmock and his previous relationships. Also, S's name is Enzo.
“Just a second,” he murmured – but his new friend had him by the belt, and wasn’t making it easy to get back into his flat. Iain grinned over his shoulder as he struggled to dig his keys out of his pocket. “I said just a second,” he repeated – chiding the charming lad whose hands miraculously – marvelously – seemed to be everywhere at once.
“Hurry up,” his friend replied, nipping at that tender place where the neck and shoulder meet.
Iain leaned into the door, gripping the handle just to keep himself steady. He might have had a bit too much to drink, but the man behind him – what was his name? Sam, probably. Sam or Sean – something with an S, that sounded just right over the rim of a stiff drink. S certainly wasn’t helping.
“If you don’t stop…” he warned.
S chuckled; Iain was about as threatening as a kitten, and just as cute. “You’ll what?” He asked, pressing close. “Gonna arrest me, copper?”
Iain jammed a key into the lock. “Might do,” he answered, focusing on twisting it the right way. It took a few tries, but the lock clicked and the door slid open, and he – and his friend – both toppled forward into the small flat.
And if the man on the other side of the door hadn’t been so quick, they’d have run straight into him, too.
But Matt was a footballer, and fast on his feet – he leapt out of the way before Iain and S could come crashing through the door that he’d been kind enough to open.
Unlike the hallway, whose lights were perpetually flickering, Iain’s flat was positively cosy, and warmly lit. Some might even say it was romantic. The dozen or so white candles scattered across the sitting room certainly gave it that effect.
The bit-too-sloshed detective sergeant lifted his head. “What’s that smell?”
Matt pursed his lips. “Supper.”
Iain sat up quickly. “Did we have plans?” His shock was genuine.
Matt the footballer shook his head and stepped over S, who seemed content to stay where he was – sprawled out across the floor. “Just wanted to surprise you,” he replied, struggling to get Iain’s keys – he’d used the wrong one – out of the door. “Surprise, by the way,” he added disdainfully.
Iain rubbed his face with both hands quickly.
Matt shut the door and dropped Iain’s keys in his lap. “Is this what ‘not sure about anything serious’ means?”
“’M pretty serious,” S mumbled, waving his hand. “Hi.” Iain clapped his hand over S’s mouth quickly.
“Look, Matt, I didn’t know—”
“It’s fine.” It wasn’t – but it was obvious that his sort-of-but-not-really-boyfriend was hammered, and in no condition to have a chat about what was going on. He offered Iain his hand, and tugged him up off the floor.
S calmly patted their feet. “Good effort, guys.”
Matt didn’t help him up.
Iain struggled to explain. “Look, I’m sorry. I really am, but I didn’t know you were coming over, and… hang on.” His face scrunched up as he fought to focus on the thought that had interrupted his apology. “… how did you get into my flat?”
“Borrowed the key from your Mum.” Iain’s eyes widened. “She thinks you need to settle down.”
Iain buried his face in his hands. “I am twenty-five years old,” he moaned.
“I’m twenty-two!” S chirped.
“We can tell, love,” Matt the footballer answered, looking down at him. Iain smiled.
But they still had a bit of an awkward situation at hand. Matt’s surprise supper was getting cold in the kitchen, and S didn’t seem keen on going anywhere. Iain — who wasn’t sobering up quickly enough – just wanted to sit down.
He wanted to sit on the floor with S and his magical hands — and he wanted to sit with Matt the footballer, too.
He looked up and met Matt’s pretty blue eyes. He took a breath before he spoke, but when he did, he said: “I want you to stay.”
Matt’s expression shifted from glum compassion to confusion.
Iain nodded, and reached out for his hands. “Stay. Let’s have supper.”
“What about…” Matt nodded down at S.
Iain didn’t look away. “I want him to stay, too.”
“…are you serious?”
Matt stared. It seemed like ages before he answered – Iain silently hoped he was considering agreeing.
He wasn’t. He absolutely wasn’t. He was trying to digest the fact that he’d just been propositioned for a threesome – something that honestly made his stomach turn a little bit.
But he’d known from the start that Iain wasn’t interested in commitment. The younger man had bluntly said as much after their second date, and Matt couldn’t hold that against him. He’d been hoping to change his mind about that, actually – or at least to bring up the issue over a nice, surprise meal. It was almost comical how badly his plan had backfired.
He slowly, but gently pulled Iain’s hands away. “No,” was his simple answer. Iain’s face fell — Matt patted him on the cheek. “Enjoy the food.”
The young, disappointed detective slumped against the wall as Matt grabbed his coat and blew out the candles. For their own safety, the footballer had said – god forbid they forget and burn the place down while they were ‘sleeping’.
S was snoring on the floor.
Matt left, and Iain quietly locked the door behind him. He was grateful that S had passed out. He should’ve helped him up, he knew, gotten him to bed or something. But he didn’t want to.
He just wasn’t in the mood anymore.
Chapter 24: Untitled
Greg doesn't like being woken up in the middle of the night.
“I swear to God, if you get up one more time.”
Iain rolled his eyes as he slipped out of bed. It was Greg’s fault he’d had so much to drink — he could suffer the consequences. He shielded his eyes as he flipped on the bathroom light, and smiled at the subsequent groan from the bed behind him.
Greg grabbed a pillow and buried his face in it. ”Shut the bloody door, you arse!”
Iain didn’t. He left it wide open as he waltzed into the bathroom. Greg kept up a steady stream of swearing until he walked back out again.
“You’re a—” Iain didn’t even hear the words as he flopped back down beside the older man. They didn’t matter. Only his actions mattered — and however disgruntled he seemed to be, Greg still dragged Iain back under the blankets and wrapped his arms and legs securely around him.
“Just you try and get up now,” Greg muttered, resting his head against Iain’s.
Iain smiled, but didn’t answer him. He had nothing to say, and he certainly wasn’t going to try and push the cantankerous detective off.
Not when being wrapped up in Greg’s arms was his favourite place to be.
Chapter 25: Toast. Repair.
Greg is a dirty, cheating, cheaterface McCheaterson.
“Where did you get that?”
Greg quickly moved his hand behind his back. “Ge’ wha’?” He asked, through an obvious mouthful of food. A couple of crumbs sprinkled down the front of his shirt as he licked his lips.
Iain stood up from the sofa. “You told me the toaster was broken.”
Greg nodded as he backed away slowly. “I’ wa’.”
“You told me you hadn’t gotten it repaired yet.”
The older detective swallowed the bite he’d been chewing and furtively looked for an escape. “I hadn’t.”
Iain moved between him and the door. “And now?”
“It… might be fixed.”
“What’s behind your back, Greg?”
There was a brief pause — Greg looked from Iain, to the kitchen door behind him, to the sofa and coffee table that stood between him and the bedroom. Iain gave him a sharp look, daring him to try and escape.
He had no choice. He ran for it.
“It’sthelastpieceofbread!” He shouted quickly, shoving the toast he’d been smuggling behind his back into his mouth as he leapt over the old, green sofa. Dimmock was too shocked by the damned fool’s gymnastics to try and catch him, and Greg made it all the way to the bedroom door — which he promptly slammed and bolted between them — before he could even react.
Iain was stuck on one side — utterly toastless — as Greg happily crunched his way through his prize. “You’re such a jerk,” the younger man whined.
“And a well-fed one!” Greg replied through the door.
Chapter 26: Bed-Hair
“Here.” Iain offered Greg a comb — but rather than take it, Greg stared quizzically at the younger man’s hand.
He made a face as he asked: “You don’t seriously expect me to brush your hair for you, do you?”
A faint, pink tinge crept across Iain’s face. “No— no! It’s for you, ingrate!”
“I already did mine.”
His blush vanished in a cloud of disbelief as he looked to the cockatoo-esque fluff mounted on Greg’s head.
“Why’re you lookin’ at me like that?”
“Did you actually look in a mirror?”
Greg pursed his lips. “It’s intentional,” he grumbled. “I used to have like this all the time. It’s cool.”
“It’s bloody great,” Greg snapped, as he pinned Iain against the wall and ruffled his hair with both hands.
Chapter 27: Remote Control Car
Blame the Dane. No, really.
Most days he was glad he had his own office. When he had an inbox full to bursting with overdue paperwork, it was nice to be able to shut his door and really tuck into it.
Even if he could see his co-workers laughing through the tinted glass.
Even if he could see Sally’s outline clapping at something just beyond his door.
Obviously none of that bothered him at all, and wasn’t contributing to the increasingly grumpy look on his usually cheerful face.
He sighed heavily and reached for another form. But he didn’t get a chance to read it, as he was interrupted by a sudden, short knock at the door.
“Come in,” he called out gruffly.
No one entered, but the knocking continued.
“I said come in,” he repeated, louder than before.
Still no one, and the knocking seemed even more persistent.
He frowned irritably and stood up, dropping the paperwork back on top of the stack as he walked around the end of his desk. “So help me Christ, if this is some kind of trick—” He wouldn’t have been surprised. He and his team were excessively fond of a good practical joke.
He put on his most disapproving face as he pulled the door open. To his surprise, no one was standing there. He’d been fully prepared to slam the door shut again, just in case one of them had water guns on hand, or something equally malicious.
He didn’t get a chance to complain — as soon as he stepped forward, a remote control car ran over his shoes and halfway up his shins. He could only stare as the little Model T struggled to find traction on his trousers, failed, and toppled over backwards.
The office was silent, except for the sound of the car’s tiny engine revving. Greg looked up again.
Across the room, Dimmock hastily shoved a controller into his detective sergeant’s hands.
Chapter 28: Infidel. Doldrums. Eclectic. Quixotic. Apple. Bench. Leaves. Autumn. Midnight. Eggs. Slippers. Bookshelf. Cactus. Bills. Remote. Watch. Poster. Deceive. Relieve. Test. Jet lag. Office party. Cereal. Creaky floorboard. Grass stains. Coffee ring.
I USED EVERY WORD.
Greg shuffled over to the bookshelf and pulled down an old collection of recipes. It was the only one he had — passed down from his grandmother, to his mum, to him, and although he wasn’t the most domestic man, it had never failed him. Of course, he’d failed it more than once — several pages were marked by a coffee ring, and needed to be rewritten, but he’d just never gotten around to it.
He was saving that particular task for a rainy day — something to do when there was nothing to watch on the telly, and the doldrums set in.
He carried the delicate book back to the kitchen, and hissed as his bare feet met cold tile. It was the same routine every morning, and he honestly should’ve learned his lesson. He’d been living in that flat for ten years or so — he knew every creaky floorboard, but he just hadn’t gotten around to buying himself a pair of slippers.
Some day, he thought. But not just yet.
Today he had a special task in mind — a present for a certain someone who’d been away for weeks and weeks. He carefully turned each page, looking through the eclectic assortment for something very specific — something with apples, and cinnamon, and brown sugar. Something that tasted like autumn, and would remind his inevitably jet lagged love what it was like to be home.
He didn’t have time to test a recipe. It’d been a quixotic decision at best, baking something for Iain’s homecoming — it was just the sort of ridiculous thing he’d do — but last night’s office party had gone well past midnight once they’d relocated to the pub. He’d passed out as soon as he’d gotten home, even though he’d meant to come back early, and now he only had one chance to get it right.
He pushed a stack of bills aside and set the the book down on the table. It took ages to flip through it — some of the pages rustled and cracked like dry leaves, and he was desperate not to cause any more damage than he already had — but eventually he found something suitable.
”Eggs, sugar, flour.” He luckily had all of those things, and the dish — a Dutch apple cake — seemed just right. It was easy, but heart-warming enough to deceive Iain into thinking that he’d laboured tirelessly over the oven to bring it to fruition.
Greg set to work. He had to root around behind boxes of cereal to actually find the flour — it wasn’t something they used very often — and he suspected that if he’d waited another day, the milk might not’ve been fit for man or beast. But he gathered all the ingredients and started mixing anyway.
Iain had spent the last three weeks in a remote desert somewhere in the south-western United States. Or was it the north? Greg paused with a whisk in his hand as he tried to remember. He’d gone wherever there were cactus— cactuses— cacti? those foul, spiked plants, because he’d called Greg one day just to tell him about how his DS had walked straight into one by mistake.
Greg wasn’t sure how anyone could walk into a large, spiky tree on purpose — but then again it was America — the world’s poster child for doing things differently.
He glanced at the clock. If everything had gone smoothly, Iain and Søren were more than halfway back across the Atlantic. But then again, knowing them as he did, it was entirely possible that they’d both passed out on an airport bench in Dallas, DC, Detroit — some distant place where the people sacrilegiously called football ‘soccer’ and deified some infidelic sport in its place — as if they were interchangeable.
Greg scoffed. Grass stains were the only thing the two had in common.
He eyed the clock again as he slid the apple cake into the oven. Time seemed to move so slowly when Iain was away. One hour felt like four — a single day felt like a week. Baking that cake would take a lifetime if he focused on it. He knew he could resign himself to crap telly, or put a record on — anything to distract him from the minutes ticking past bit by bit. But they wouldn’t ever relieve him of the slowness.
Only having Iain in his arms at the end of the day could do that.
Chapter 29: Untitled
It's hard not to be grumpy when your tummy hurts!
Søren looked up as Iain dropped his pen. His boss was making a face — one he was quite familiar with after several years of working with the Englishman. He shook his head, and Iain pulled up the top drawer of his desk with a low groan.
It was empty. Well, not completely empty — just devoid of the antacids he was looking for. His expression shifted from discomfort to a cold glower. “Sally?”
Greg’s DS pushed her chair back, peering around the divider. “Yeah?”
“Was someone in my desk while I was out for lunch?”
“Yeah, I grabbed a couple of antacids. Drank too much coffee,” she admitted sheepishly. Not that Sally actually thought there was such a thing as too much coffee — but sometimes the sixth or seventh cup a day did make her tummy feel a bit dodgy. “But no one else I know of.”
Iain’s jaw clenched. “You took the last ones?”
“What, me?” She asked. “No, there was a handful left, or I’d have replaced them.”
“So where are they now?”
“How should I know? Can’t even bloody see your chair from here, can I?” She retorted, sliding back to her desk. The detective opposite her chuckled.
Iain groaned and put his head in his hands. He was starting to think it’d be best if he kept some of his things — the important ones, like medicine and chocolate — in a safe, rather than a drawer where anyone could get to them. Søren nonchalantly watched him struggle as the pain in his stomach steadily got worse.
Iain stood up abruptly and marched to the water cooler. It wouldn’t help much — but it was better than nothing. He drained an entire cup in one, long gulp. Then another, and another — but the fire still burned, and his stomach felt as sour as ever.
Sally side-eyed him from her desk. She’d have felt guilty if she’d been responsible — but she wasn’t. Whoever was, however, didn’t seem willing to fess up.
Unfortunately for Iain, the grumpiness was starting to get to him. He huffed, and pursed his lips, and paced — he hated feeling like this. But frankly, it wasn’t to be tolerated. So what if he was one of the youngest people there — he was a detective inspector, and he deserved a bit of authority over his own desk, even if he wasn’t often there.
He marched to the front of the room, and turned to face everyone. Just as he opened his mouth to make an announcement, Greg pushed through the double doors behind him.
“There’s a bloody great gale outside,” he spluttered, running his hand through his rain-slicked hair.
Iain made a face.
“What’d I miss?” Greg asked, noting his bitter expression. “Oh, and here—” he added, handing Iain a bag, which contained an unopened bottle of generic antacids. “I took the last ones, so I stepped out to get you a new one. Sorry.”
Chapter 30: Friendship
Greg loves documentaries -- but he's not supposed to watch them without Sally.
“I did it again.”
Sally sighed into her mobile. “One sec,” she answered, pinning the phone against her shoulder. She hastily dog-eared a page in her book to save her place before putting it aside. “Did what?”
On the other end of the line, Greg Lestrade clutched a pillow to his chest as he sank down into his couch.
“Did you know that the polar caps receding actually precedes a massive ice age?”
Sally didn’t answer.
“And all it takes is twenty extra feet of water in the Atlantic to drown parts of the States.”
“Do we really have to go through this again?”
The detective inspector pulled the pillow up to his face. Sally couldn’t see it, but she could feel the embarrassment seeping through the line.
She pulled her feet underneath her and continued. “You promised you wouldn’t watch another nature documentary. This happens every time.”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry,” was Greg’s muffled reply.
“Even if that does happen — if the ocean rises, or whatever — it won’t happen for a long time. And—” Greg protested, but she ignored him and carried on. “And if for whatever freakish reason it does, it won’t happen fast enough that people won’t know about it, remember?”
“Hundreds of thousands of years.”
“No more documentaries.”
“Greg Lestrade, you promise me you won’t watch another one unless I’m there, and we’ve got a tub of chocolate ice cream.”
“Greg, shut up. You’re the only one who thinks that.”
He made a face. “You have no taste. You drink too much coffee.”
“You’re a bloody ex-smoker!”
“That’s not relevant.”
Sally covered her face with one hand, but they both started chuckling. Chuckles turned to laughter, and before they knew it, they were both clutching ribs and struggling to breathe. Sally wiped a tear from her eye as she spoke again.
“Feel better now?”
“Drinks tomorrow?” She asked.
“Yeah. See you.”
She smiled. “Night, Greg.”
Chapter 31: Movie Night, Take One
Movie Night is a tradition.
“So drinks tonight?” Dimmock asked casually, stuffing his hand in his pockets as they walked back to the office.
Sally and Greg immediately shook their heads. “Nope. No. Can’t do it. Got plans!”
Iain tripped over his own feet he was so taken aback by the suddenness of their rejection. Luckily Greg caught him before he could faceplant into the concrete.
“It’s Documentary Night,” the older DI explained apologetically, as though that settled everything.
Iain glanced at Anderson. “Documentary night?” He asked out of the corner of his mouth.
“They get together once a week or so and watch films from National Geographic,” the forensic scientist answered.
“That doesn’t sound so bad.” Anderson shook his head in warning, but Iain ignored it. “Can’t I come?” He asked.
“No.” Was the two detectives’ blunt, incontestable reply.
Iain helplessly looked to Anderson again.
“Trust me, you’re better off.”
“Because—” Anderson lowered his voice, but smirked as he answered, “they split a tub of ice cream between them and sit around crying about asteroids and the ice ages.”
Chapter 32: Movie Night, Take Two
No, seriously -- don't fuck with Movie Night.
“You have to go back to your flat.”
Iain looked up abruptly. Those were not words he’d been expecting to hear from Greg. His mouth hung open as he struggled to find something to say.
Greg stared blankly.
“Right,” Iain answered after a moment. “Yeah, of course.” He cleared his throat. “I’ve been here for ages, haven’t I… I, uhm—” Greg stopped him with a laugh. Iain’s eyes widened.
“No, you bloody tosspot.”
The younger detective flushed.
“Just for tonight.”
Iain slumped down so far in his chair that his glasses slid off the end of his nose. “For the love of— you can’t me like that!”
Greg’s face lit up with delight at the prospect of giving his easily-frightened boyfriend a heart attack. But he generously walked over, scooped up Iain’s glasses and handed them back as he kisses the younger man on the cheek. “You can move in permanently tomorrow, if you like. You just can’t be here tonight.”
It was hard to digest everything he’d said in one go, but Iain struggled to comprehend as he put his glasses back on. “Are you se— wait, why not? What are you doing?”
“Movie night with Sally,” Greg answered, flopping down in the kitchen chair opposite. He leaned back and pushed his feet into Iain’s lap with a boyish grin. Iain snorted.
“I thought you did those at her place?”
“Can’t tonight. Mark’s there for a week.”
“Her brother, Mark?”
“You really go out of your way to keep other people from joining in, don’t you?”
“Nothing is allowed to interfere with movie night,” Greg answered, reaching for an apple from the fruit basket in the centre of the table.
“Except cataclysmic weather.”
Greg nearly toppled off his chair. “That is not a bloody joke!”
Chapter 33: A Bad Date
Sally Donovan does not need you to play Prince Charming.
“Teaching seems like a pretty great gig,” Sally joked. “A whole summer off when the kids are out of school?”
The man opposite her smiled. “It’s not quite that simple, but… yeah, actually. There’s a long stretch of a holiday. And there’s not having to get up so early that you have to mainline caffeine just to keep your eyes open.”
“Oh, I mainline caffeine and sugar whether I need it or not.” The man laughed, and Sally beamed. It was the first time in ages that she’d felt like a date had gone genuinely well. Phillip was a nice bloke — very charming, and polite. Just the sort of person she needed, according to her mates.
“Speaking of drinks,” he added. “I’ll go get us another round, shall I?”
Sally nodded. “But don’t worry about it,” she said quickly, standing up. “I’ll get it.”
As she sauntered up to the bar, she took a deep, deep breath. Sally wasn’t the type to be nervous on dates — she’d been on too many of them. It wasn’t the pub, either — she spent most of her weekends there, albeit in different company. But even she, confident as she was, couldn’t deny the tiny glimmer of satisfaction buzzing around in her head over the evening going to impossibly well.
She liked him. He was a kind, good-looking man, and a far as she could tell, he liked her, too. And the more she thought about it, the wider she smiled.
“Two, please.” The bartender nodded.
A tall, stiff-looking man next to her gave her a slow once-over as he tipped back his drink. A blind mouse wouldn’t have missed the way he leered, and Sally was rather more gifted at noticing things than most people — but she ignored him. She wasn’t about to let some lecherous drunk get in the way of a good evening.
But that drunk had other ideas. He leaned in as he spoke. “Get bored with that berk, sweetheart?” She winced at the overpowering smell of gin on his breath.
She didn’t answer, and her frosty glaring wasn’t enough of a deterrent. “Oi, I’m tryin’a talk to you, gorgeous.”
Phillip looked up from their table.
“Not interested, thanks,” was her terse reply.
She reached for their drinks — the sooner she got away from him, the happier she’d be — but he was relentlessly crude. He grinned at her in a nauseously, completely sauced way, and grabbed her ass. “‘S one a them fer me?” He asked with a heavy slur.
Sally stepped back immediately — disgust written across every feature of her face. It was a struggle not to dump both drinks right down the front of that wretched bastard’s shirt.
She was ready to give him a verbal whipping — but she never got the chance. Phillip leapt up from his chair, grabbed the drunk by the collar of his shirt, and punched him squarely in the face. Sally’s mouth dropped open in shock.
“What the hell are you doing?” She asked, voice sharp. The other patrons turned to face them. Some stood up, and stepped forward — ready to break up the fight, or get involved, if the opportunity presented itself.
Phillip raised his arm again. He was still clinging to the other man’s shirt, even though the drunk was so utterly smashed that he couldn’t even get back on his feet. “You bloody apologise to her!” He snarled threateningly.
“Phillip, stop it!” Sally demanded.” Her date looked over his shoulder at her, shocked that she was addressing him. “Seriously, what the hell do you think you’re doing?”
He dropped the drunk on the floor. “Excuse me?”
Sally dropped both beers back on the bar. She looked absolutely livid.
“I was defending you,” Phillip insisted, eyeing the people watching them. Sally didn’t seem to care about the scene they were making — but he was painfully aware, and increasingly embarrassed. “This tosser assaulted you!”
“Right,” she scoffed. Phillip’s mouth twisted into an offended frown. “I’m a cop,” she said bluntly, grabbing her bag. “You’re a bloody maths teacher. Do you honestly think that I can’t handle something like this myself?” Phillip glared sourly — but she was done. She offered a brief apology to the barman, and walked out.
Men like Phillip could find someone else to stroke their sorry egos. She didn’t want them — and she certainly didn’t bloody need them.
Chapter 34: Obligations
Sally can't find Lestrade -- because he's taking care of a young, brilliant drug addict who doesn't seem to have anyone else.
Greg Lestrade very rarely missed work. It just wasn’t in his nature. But Donovan had been looking for him for ages, and bizarrely — no one had seen him. As a last resort she stuck her head into the Forensics lab downstairs.
“Have you lot seen Lestrade?”
A group of technicians shook their heads but hardly acknowledged her as they fiddled with ridiculous, stupid equipment that she wanted nothing to do with. Only Anderson looked up from his microscope to give her an apologetic smile.
“He picked up a file right before lunch, but hasn’t been back,” he answered.
She rolled her eyes. “Thanks,” she answered dryly, and backed out of the lab.
It wasn’t that she didn’t like Forensics. She just— no, she just hated Forensics. The techies were all tossers, and thought they were better because they had degrees in science and other useless things that didn’t matter to her. As far as she cared, they were all a bunch of geeks who wasted the Met’s valuable time fiddling around on machines and making up new restrictions about how her people — the detectives — were allowed to handle evidence on their own bloody crime scenes.
It was just an irritating mess. Not quite as much as a missing-in-action detective inspector, of course. She pulled out her phone again; Greg was the first person in her speed dial for a number of reasons. But none of those reasons mattered when the jerk refused to pick up his own phone.
She left her third message in two hours, and retreated to her desk to sulk.
Less than ten miles away, Greg’s phone buzzed — but he didn’t hear it. He hadn’t heard it the last three times, and for some reason he’d gotten pretty great at not hearing it all over the last week or so. He wouldn’t have picked it up anyway, but he would have responded to Sally’s voicemails eventually.
If he knew how to access his voicemail.
Sherlock offered to show him once, and — had he been up to the challenge — Greg might have accepted. But the young man made a point not to move very far from his bathroom floor for the last couple of days, and to be perfectly honest, Greg didn’t blame him.
As much as he needed the technical assistance, it seemed like a bad time to ask a man who was constantly heaving what little food he’d eaten into a toilet to help navigate a stupid, shiny phone.
But today, at least, he was determined to get the poor boy onto the couch in the living room, if nothing else. He had bread, for toast, and some chicken broth — and a silent prayer that he’d keep it down. The last thing he wanted was for Sherlock to be so impossibly ill that he’d have to knock him out and cart him to the nearest hospital. Obviously Sherlock refused to go willingly, and as Greg had already learned, the on-his-way-to-being-an-ex-addict was surprisingly strong for a man going through withdrawal.
They’d had more than one tussle over a secret stash, and Lestrade had the bruises to prove it. He’d been gentle with the idiot-boy; Sherlock had not.
And although he might have to wrestle the self-appointed consulting detective off the cold tile floor later, he was content for now to perch on the edge of the bathtub beside him, running a cold cloth over his forehead and brushing back those sweat-soaked, dark curls. It was enough that he was there, with Sherlock, as he struggled to conquer the fever of addiction.
It wasn’t much, and he knew he had other obligations. But it was something he absolutely had to do.
Chapter 35: Untitled
Iain gets in a fight, of sorts.
TW: Use of gay slurs.
“Do you just want to get out of here?” Greg called out, trying to make himself heard over the crowd surrounding them in the too-small-for-sport-night pub. Anderson made a face. From where he was sitting, it seemed like Greg had asked if he wanted to make-out.
He wanted to get the hell out of the pub before someone started throwing punches because some football club he didn’t even know the name of was losing four-nil.
He didn’t much care for sport. And frankly, neither did Sally or Iain -- at least, not as much as Greg, who -- despite his avid love for all things footie-related -- was a bit sick of the whole ordeal himself. The grey-haired Yarder jabbed his thumb in the direction of the door, and they nodded. They frequented the Wenlock often enough that they could pay off their tab next week and the management wouldn’t have cared. They just needed to get out.
Greg stood up, making himself a barrier between the rowdy lads behind him, and Iain and Sally as they quickly slipped past. He had no need to spend an hour at the local station, filling out paperwork because Sally broke a wrist, or four. Iain grabbed his hand and tugged him along as Dan blazed a trail through the mass of bodies ahead of them, and swore uncharacteristically loudly when they finally made it to the door.
All four of them took a deep, relieved breath. What was it about footballers and hygiene?
“What the hell is going on in there?” Sally asked bitterly, ignoring the eyes that followed parts of her that certainly weren’t her face.
The Wenlock Arms -- their favourite haunt -- had sport night and pub quizzes often enough, but it never produced a crowd like that.
“Must be advertising,” Greg answered sourly. “Bloody riffraff.”
Iain and Dan shared a look. Riffraff was Lestrade’s code word for non-locals -- which they both were, as far as the Shoreditch native was concerned. Sally lived less than ten minutes by car from Greg’s flat, and she barely got a pass. Too much modernity in her area, Greg had said.
Sally liked the flash. It was trendy.
But this was neither flash, nor trendy, nor -- anything worthwhile. These were loud, lewd ruffians who cat-called and wolf-whistled and made rude gestures as they fled. If Iain hadn’t been gripping Greg’s hand so tightly, the older man would’ve turned and had a loud, confrontational word with some of the nastier bastards. No matter how grey his hair, no matter how much he growled about tradition and technology -- he was still the same reckless, rebellious teen.
His less rebellious friends had no desire to be crushed by a flying table. They fled the scene, dodging behind a cab to cross the street and put some distance between themselves and the riot-waiting-to-happen behind them.
They were detectives, after all -- not police constables. And they were off-duty. As long as they weren’t near the scene when everything went to hell... all four of them shared a laugh at the thought.
“What now?” Iain asked as they stopped under a street lamp at the corner.
Two men lighting up in the shadows of Shepherdess Walk leered at them. One dark-haired, grisly fellow with a sloppy Irish slur called out: “Run on home to yer Mam, poof.” Greg hardly noticed -- he’d been called far, far worse and insults had a strange tendency to slide off him like water on plastic.
But beside him, Iain’s jaw tightened.
“We’d be better off going home,” Daniel replied. “The whole city sounds like this.” Sirens from half a dozen different cars wailed at varying distances around them.
“London,” Greg retorted with a wide grin. He loved his city.
“Get back to France, twink!” The Irishman answered, cupping his hand to his mouth. Greg snorted.
But they really weren’t talking to him.
The man stepped out of the shadows of the park trees, laughing as he gestured. Iain let go of Greg’s hand.
As a policeman, Iain knew better than to react to a drunk. As a human being, he understood ‘sticks and stones’ and the like. But as a man who was not overly tall, who was moderately intoxicated, and more than capable of making a point that he was not to be put down by anyone -- he blithely ignored the first two instincts and walked towards his antagonist.
He was half a head shorter than the Irishman -- and thinner.
“Iain,” Greg warned quietly.
Iain shot him a quick, not-all-that-apologetic look -- and promptly slammed his fist into the other man’s sour face. Sometimes it was just worth it to deck a bastard that deserved it -- and that one had been oh-so sincerely deserving.
The Irishman stumbled backwards, both hands clutching his face.
It would have been a lie to say Dimmock was only trying to bruise him. In his rage, he was bitterly hoping that his antagonist’s eyes would both be so black by morning, that he couldn’t tell the ground from the sky.
“Bet you wish you were even half as much a twink as me, eh?” He said sarcastically, as the the Irishman dropped to one knee, coughing through blood pouring from his very broken nose.
Behind him, Greg, Sally and Dan grinned like idiots. Iain all but sauntered smugly back to them, leaving the drunk where he’d fallen.
“Decide anything?” He asked, trying to sound casual as he slipped his hand into Greg’s again, and held it tight.
Chapter 36: Vinegar
Donovan, Anderson, and Dimmock are out to lunch. Sally has to run back to the office, but Anderson and Dimmock hang back and have a little chat.
“Bit popular today, aren’t you?” Dimmock asked as Sally’s phone buzzed for the third time in as many minutes. Anderson side-eyed him warily as Iain reached for the vinegar.
Sally made a face. “Just during lunch hour, apparently...” Iain shoved a handful of chips into his mouth while she scrolled through her most recent messages. “Greg: bring me food... plus.” She snorted. “Think he means please? Whatever, he’s not getting any. Bastard stole my bloody muffin this morning.”
“I wondered where he’d gotten it,” Anderson mused. “Break room was empty.”
“Two from my brothers calling me a twat for stealing Mum’s telly.” She wasn’t in the least bit apologetic. If anything, she was smug as she kept scrolling. “You,” she said, glancing at Dan. “And oh-- Iain Dimmock says ‘How dark am I allowed to go when I pair grey and navy?’”
Iain choked on his lunch. “Yeah, alright!” He interrupted, clearing his throat loudly. “That’s enough, thanks!” Anderson snorted into his drink and Sally grinned.
“I’ve gotta go anyway,” she replied, standing up. “I refuse to stay past five even if there’s a bloody jailbreak.”
“Sick of the case already?” Anderson asked.
“What if he uses those puppy eyes he has?” Iain added.
“One-- those eyes only work you on, you weak-willed romantic sod.” Iain flushed and dug into his chips. “And two-- no. Well, yes. But that isn’t it. I’ve got a date tonight.”
Just as quickly as his head went down, Iain looked up again. “Oh?” Anderson smiled but stayed silent.
“Cute bloke down my street.”
“Thought you didn’t date anyone who lived near you?”
“I don’t think you understand what I meant when I said ‘cute’.”
Iain chuckled. “Fair enough. See you then.”
Sally waved... and snatched up Iain’s chips -- “Oi!” -- as she left. Something to satisfy the monster appetite of her boss, and a win-win, because she didn’t have to pay for them. Her wicked smirking was well-earned.
Iain’s shoulders sagged.
Dan pushed his own chips towards the pouting detective. “I don’t want them,” he answered, in response to Iain’s confounded-but-grateful expression. If it’d been anyone else, Dimmock might’ve suspected they’d been tainted with cayenne pepper or something equally nauseous -- but Anderson very rarely got involved in the MIT’s pranks and shenanigans.
Besides. Chips were worth the risk.
Iain spared a glance at Dan’s tray as he stuffed his face. He had the good nature to swallow before he spoke -- but only just. “What’s wrong?” He licked his lips. “You haven’t eaten anything.”
Dan did a brief, little half-smile. “Lestrade’s rubbing off on you.”
Iain’s face flushed. “You live with him and try and maintain a bit of civility. The man eats like a wolf. You either tuck in fast, or you’re out of bloody luck.”
“The swearing, too.”
They both laughed quietly as an indignant, ancient-looking woman hushed them.
“You’re evading,” Dimmock stated.
“This isn’t an interrogation.”
“Oh, please.” Iain made a face that very plainly said: ‘I’m a detective. It’s what I do.’ “Do I have to say it, or will you just tell me?” He dumped a liberal amount of vinegar on his new chips just as Anderson reached for one. The forensics scientist wrinkled his nose and folded his arms on the table.
But he had nothing to say.
Unluckily, Iain did. “It’s Sally, isn’t it?”
Anderson looked over at the shop window.
“Does it bother you that she’s dating other people?”
“Do you have any sense of privacy?”
“I’m a bloody detective.” Another stern look from the biddy in the corner booth.
“You’re all bloody detectives,” Dan muttered. “Isn’t vinegar bad for you?”
“It’s criminal to eat chips without it. Antacids are in my pocket. I won’t tell her.”
Iain rolled his eyes. Yes, he was a little bit in love. Perhaps more than Greg realised -- and probably a bit more than he was willing to reveal to the handsomely obnoxious older man. He suspected that Sally had told Anderson about his earlier romantic declarations, because they both taunted him like a lovesick puppy and it annoyed the everloving fuck out of him.
But he lived with it. They were his friends. And friends shared and hid ridiculous secrets at their leisure. It was only right that Dan, who rarely had anything to say about himself that didn’t involve some kind of geek convention, confess as well.
“He won’t hear it from me, and neither will Sally.” Dan didn’t know it, but Iain was the best at keeping secrets out of the lot of them. Sally and Greg were the bloody gossip hounds. “Does it bother you that Sally sees other men?” He asked again, more deliberately.
And for some time, he was certain Daniel wasn’t going to answer. But he did.
“Am I a terrible if I say yes?”
“No,” Iain replied immediately. Dan’s eyes jumped from the window to Iain. He looked a bit stunned.
Iain shrugged his shoulders. “What do I care? You care for her, don’t you?”
“Goats butt. Birds fly. You care about her. That’s all that matters.”
“Lestrade taught you that one, too. Didn’t he?”
“Shut up. He’s taught me a lot of things. And one is that there are a lot of good people out there, and you’re one of them.” Anderson’s face was stony. “You can be jealous. I know you’d never ask her to stop.”
Dan ran his hand through his hair. He wouldn’t. He absolutely never would.
Iain grinned, taking that as a confirmation of his assumptions. “You’re just human. You can’t help that.”
Dan rolled his eyes and straightened up. “Stop it. Now you’re making me nauseous.”
“That’s just the vinegar.”
Chapter 37: Untitled
Dimmock works too hard.
“Iain, come onnn.” Greg tugged at the kitchen chair, dragging Iain away from the table. “Just come to bed already.”
But the other detective resisted, clinging fiercely to the table itself, hauling it along with him as Greg pulled. “I can’t,” he answered, exasperated. “I have too much work to do.”
“You should’ve done it during the day.” Greg gave in and draped his arms over Iain’s shoulders.
“It is day.”
“It’s past bloody midnight.”
“Here. I’m leaving for Mexico City in two days.”
Greg growled and buried his face in the younger man’s collar. Iain closed his eyes quickly and tried to pick his shattered resolve up off the floor.
“Come to bed,” Greg murmured again, slowly and deliberately, with his mouth pressed against Iain’s ear.
“Paperwork,” Iain whined.
It was so unbelievably tempting. There were a lot of things Iain would have dropped on the spot to run to bed with that foxy, grey-haired man torturously nipping at his neck.
But paperwork wasn’t one of them. Call it ridiculous — maybe even foolish — but he was very committed to doing his job to the best of his ability. (An irony, Greg had said, but Iain chose to ignore it.) His case files were neat, organised, and no amount of begging — or panting — would drag him away.
He took a slow, steadying breath. “Sorry, love,” he answered quietly.
“Good effort, though.”
Chapter 38: Elite
Dimmock wasn't much of a people person when he first started at the Yard.
“So exactly how big is the stick up your arse?”
Iain didn’t even bother looking up. He kept his eyes on his laces as he tied his shoes. “Bigger than your prick, I don’t doubt.”
The little gang of constables that had taken to harassing him over the last few weeks yelled and grunted and shoved each other. Their leader, a tall, thick man with eyes too close together folded his arms over his barrel-like chest.
“Yeah? Bet you probably like it, too. Bet you’re a bloody poof.”
“You should put money on that,” Dimmock answered, standing and tugging his bag out of his locker.
“What’s that poof?” The other men shot each other furtive glances. They weren’t exactly what you’d call stupid… but word games weren’t really their forte.
He rolled his eyes. He knew better than to try and be clever. Shutting the door, he turned to face the men that he fully intended to leave in the dust. “Yes, I am a poof. Yes, I like it up the arse.” His bullies’ mouths fell open slightly. “Was there anything else you wanted?” He asked casually.
They didn’t answer.
“Cheers then.” He smugly walked right through the middle of the group — they parted and flattened themselves against the lockers as he passed — and towards the door.
If they were frightened of him — good. If they shut the hell up and learned a lesson — better. He doubted either would really would be the case, but it didn’t really matter. In less than a month he wouldn’t be a PC anymore. He had every intention of becoming a detective — of being one of the Yard’s elite inspectors, heading up his own MIT. Those men, the ones who thought they could bully him — Christ, he hardly knew their names — would be left to rot in the musty locker rooms, and he honestly couldn’t bring himself to care.
Chapter 39: Think of the Children
Iain doesn't know Greg quite as well as he'd thought.
Iain lounged by the door with a mischievous smirk. He was still in his pyjama bottoms, whereas Greg was dashing around the flat, tripping over untied shoelaces and stuffing a whole slice of toast into his mouth. The grey-haired DI was already late for work, and he knew that on some level, he should have felt guilty about it.
But he didn’t.
He only smiled and held out Greg’s coat. “Supper tonight?” he asked casually, as Greg snatched up his keys and pecked Iain on the cheek. “Something more edible than pub food, if you don’t mind.” He wiped jam off the side of his face with his hand.
“Can’t,” Greg answered, tugging his coat on. The shoelaces could wait. “Promised I’d watch the kids.”
And then he was gone — out the door and rushing off to work.
Iain stared open-mouthed at the empty corridor. “…kids?”
He wasn’t entirely certain how long he stood there, slack jawed and staring helplessly at the opposite wall. Luckily he’d neglected his glasses, or he’d have seen the concerned looks from their neighbours — and inevitably died from the combination shock and shame.
Eventually — and very slowly — he managed to close the door though he didn’t move much farther than that. Kids? What did Greg mean by kids? Whose kids? Where did the kids come from? Whose bloody kids!
Iain staggered the few feet from the hallway to the old sofa and collapsed face first into the excessively squishy cushions. He knew there was a logical explanation. There had to be. It was just a simple communication error. There was no reason at all to panic.
If Greg Lestrade had kids, Iain would have known about it. Actually — the whole of Scotland Yard would have known. A little light bulb clicked on inside his head.
He was up and stumbling towards the kitchen in a matter of seconds — much faster than his brain could process information, at any rate. It wasn’t until he was groping along the table for his mobile that he realised calling Sally Donovan for information might not have been the best idea. As Greg’s best friend, she would know — but she’d also tell Greg that Iain had called. In his experience, confidential conversations were not Sally’s forte.
He flopped down on a chair with a quiet groan.
The obvious, logical, sane solution was to call Greg and ask. Or to just wait until he got home from work and ask then. It’s what any other person would have done. “It’s perfectly normal to be curious,” Iain reminded himself — trying not to think about the fact that he was talking out loud to an empty room.
And in a perfectly normal way, he grabbed his mobile, held it close to his face, and found Anderson’s number. He hit the call button before logic had a chance to intervene.
“Anderson,” the forensics scientist answered.
“Does Lestrade have kids?”
“…no? Who is this?”
“It’s Dimmock. Whose kids would he be babysitting?”
“You’re joking, right?” Anderson asked with a laugh.
If Iain expected a legitimate explanation, it wasn’t forthcoming. The man at the other end of the line snorted and chuckled into the phone for such an obnoxiously long time, that Iain hung up on him. He still didn’t have an answer, but at least the overwhelming urge to panic was subsiding.
He put his head down on the table. “Damn,” he muttered angrily to the wood. “Damn. Damn. Damn.”
The table had nothing to say in response. Iain grumbled.
He was sorely tempted to go back to bed. It seemed like the best option in those circumstances. He could put his fears to rest — literally — for however long it took Greg to get home, and then deal with them accordingly. He didn’t need to call Sally and demand an explanation. He didn’t need to hit redial and beg until Anderson stopped sobbing with mirth long enough to tell him what he was bloody missing.
“Daaamn,” he swore again, his voice rising slightly and taking on a more petulant tone.
If it was that obvious, maybe Sherlock— no, impossible. There were days when Iain was convinced that Sherlock didn’t realise Lestrade’s first name was Greg, and not “Detective Inspector”.
His phone buzzed in his hand. He immediately hoped it was Anderson, but of course it wasn’t. He had to squint to read the actual text from Sally Donovan, but he could tell by the number of exclamation marks alone that she found his ignorance just as hilarious as Anderson had. On some level, Iain was amazed at how quickly the two demons he considered his friends had conferred on the subject — but then again, they were exceptionally gifted at targeting the young, weak, and dying animals in the herd.
At that moment, Iain rather felt like all three — too new to the group to know what the hell was going on, too oblivious to understand what was happening, and more than willing to go toss himself in front of a bus if it meant taking away the embarrassment of everyone else knowing something he clearly didn’t.
Just as he was typing a very blunt “Go to hell.” back, his phone buzzed again — an actual phone call this time, and from the very man whose simple, but spectacularly problematic word choice had started that whole mess.
“Hello?” Iain answered dully, head still resting on the table.
“They’re my sister’s kids,” Greg explained. Iain could hear Sally laughing — he must have been on speakerphone in the car. “Their babysitter’s got swine flu or plague or something.”
“At a crime scene. Got to go.” Just as abruptly as he’d left that morning, Greg hung up.
Iain wearily dragged himself from the table, leaving his mobile behind as he trudged back to bed. As he hauled the blankets back up to his nose, a single thought bounced around inside his head.
Greg had a sister?
Chapter 40: Alarm Clock
Dimmock is a rotten to his partner, Søren, and a terrible alarm clock.
Waking up his partner should not have been that much fun. And to be fair, he shouldn’t have gotten such sick enjoyment out of chucking things at another person’s head.
But he did.
Iain sat with his feet up on the table and a bin filled with ice cubes in his lap. One by one, he tossed them across the room at Søren. It was a rare — exceedingly rare — day when the Danish detective slept later than he did, and Iain was cheerfully taking advantage of it. After he’d checked under Søren’s pillow for a firearm or any hurlable weapon, of course.
The Dane grumbled, but he wasn’t waking up. Maybe the incident with the cactus had been too much.
He picked out a slightly wetter one and aimed carefully. It smacked against the headboard, slid across Dane’s cheek, and landed somewhere around his nose. Iain cheered victoriously! And Dane — feeling icy water begin to pool in his nostrils — woke up with a snort.
Iain shoved the bin under the table and sat up. “About bloody time!”
Søren rubbed his nose and muttered something unintelligible in Danish. After so many years together, Iain was comfortable speaking the language — but Søren seemed to have his own half-growled, vaguely Ital-Germanic variant that made sense to neither him, nor God.
“We should have been at the sheriff’s station an hour ago.”
More growling — but this time Iain picked up several words that seemed… well, threatening would have been a bit too nice. It was something painful, and it involved the needles of a cactus. That’s really all he needed to know.
“Get dressed, grab your badge, and let’s go!” That second cup of coffee had been a terrible idea. It was brewed so strongly in America. Everything here was just so much more. “Søren!” He was barking now. Iain made a mental note to himself: no more American coffee.
The Dane dragged himself up off the hotel bed and ran his hands through his hair. It took him (and said hair) a moment to realise that he’d moved upright, but gravity and balance slowly caught up to him, and he stood up straight. He stared blankly at Iain, who had no fucking right to be so enthusiastic at eight o’clock in the morning.
Iain stared back.
And then he started tapping his foot.
Søren kept staring.
“For mercy’s sake — come on!”
“You can go without me,” Søren reminded him.
Iain stood up abruptly to pace back and forth. He launched into a lecture about how they were a team and they were in this together, and how the police departments they coordinated with expected a punctual, proper pair of Metropolitan detectives. At some point he stopped and put one hand on his hip, but even that didn’t hold for very long.
Søren, meanwhile, tilted his head to the side slightly, looking down at his bed. “Are those ice cubes?” he asked.
Iain snatched his jacket off the back of the chair and hastily turned around. “You can meet me there!” he shouted over his shoulder — and scurried out the door.
Chapter 41: The Man with the Car
Dimmock is trapped at an airport, and a snowpocalypse is about to set in.
Tomorrow he’d leave his bloody mobile in the kitchen. Or inside the refrigerator. Or maybe at the office, where he couldn’t hear that wretched, hateful ringing.
Greg’s hand groped along the bedside table, searching for it in the darkness.
And tomorrow he’d bludgeon to death whichever bastard felt compelled to call him at half past three in the morning, too.
“Lestrade,” he grunted.
“Uhh, hi. Greg? It’s Dimmock. Er— Detective Inspector Dimmock.”
Dimmock coughed. “I’m— I was wondering if you could… help me.”
Greg rolled over, taking the mobile with him. He dragged one hand over his face, and stared up at the ceiling. “What do you need?”
He could hear Dimmock’s sigh of relief on the other end of the line. “I’m, uhh— I’m stuck. Gatwick Airport.” Greg didn’t have to say anything — his silence was perfectly clear. Dimmock continued. “It’s snowing. It’s coming down… fairly hard, and I can’t seem to get a ride back to… well, back to my flat. Uhm.”
“You want me to come get you.”
Greg chewed on his lip. “…allright.”
“You’ll come? Oh god, thank you. I’ll pay you back — money for petrol, a case, whatever you need.”
“Yeah, you will,” Greg answered, and hung up.
Iain fumbled with the receiver as he put it back on the hook, turning to look at the snow steadily mounting around him. “Please drive quickly,” he muttered.
Chapter 42: Just Be Grateful
Lestrade deliberately tries to make Dimmock jealous.
“You gonna be around on Saturday?” Greg buttoned the sleeves on his shirt as he spoke.
Iain straightened his tie in the mirror. “Yeah, not leaving again until Monday. Why?”
“Thought you might like to come to the match.”
The younger detective paused, glancing over his shoulder. “Football?”
Greg smiled and nodded. “‘M going down to the pitch around noon. Match starts a bit after that. And Sally’ll be there, so you wouldn’t be sitting in the stands alone.”
“I am an adult, you know.”
“Are you? Hadn’t noticed,” Greg replied, reaching out and ruffling Iain’s hair. Iain shouted and shoved him off with a grin, backtracking to a safe distance. “Besides,” Greg continued. “Maybe you shouldn’t come.”
Iain tensed. “…why not?”
The look in Greg’s eyes would have put the most mischievous imp to shame. “Wouldn’t want you to get jealous, or anything.”
Iain’s mouth hung open. Greg grinned. “I will see you there,” Iain replied resolutely.
“He’s doing this on purpose, isn’t he?” Iain asked, covering his eyes with one hand. Sally bounced up and down and cheered as Greg hauled someone from the opposing team up out of the mud — still grinning like an idiot boy.
“You know it,” she answered, dropping back into her seat.
On the field, Greg and several of his teammates — all dripping with mud from the morning rain, and covered in grass stains — hugged and grabbed each other, enthusiastically celebrating every goal.
“Christ, it’s bloody footballers gone wild out there.”
Sally grinned. “No, but I’ve seen that. It’s good — you’d like it.”
Iain made a face.
One of Greg’s teammates leapt into Greg’s arms, legs wrapped tightly around the detective’s waist as he cheered. Iain’s jaw tightened.
“So should I keep this to myself,” Sally asked. “Or can I rub it in your face that you’re about to jump over the fence and drag his arse home?”
Iain side-eyed her.
“Yeah, I’d never be able to keep that a secret,” she conceded. “But this is what he wanted, so I suppose it’s a win-win, right?”
Sally reached out and patted him on the back reassuringly. “Just be grateful it’s not rugby.”
“So, you had fun?”
Greg smiled and shut the door to their flat, kicking his shoes off. “Still? I know you don’t like sport, but was it so bad?”
Iain flopped down on the sofa and reached for the remote.
Greg peeled his sweaty socks off and walked up behind him. “I thought you didn’t get jealous?” he asked, kissing the top of Iain’s head.
“I don—… I have nothing to be jealous about.”
“There’s truth in that.”
“You smell terrible.”
“There’s truth in that, too,” Greg answered, straightening up. “See you in a bit.”
He shed the rest of his clothes as he slipped into the bathroom, leaving Iain to sulk on his own in the sitting room. From the couch, the younger detective heard the water running — and Greg singing — and struggled to find a channel that didn’t have some bloody football match, or other miserable game. He flipped, and flipped, and flipped, and nothing.
“For fuck’s sake,” he muttered.
Greg’s singing got louder.
And before he fully understood what he was doing, Iain was up on his feet. He pulled off his shoes, and shirt and pushed into the bathroom. Greg heard the door, and peered around the shower curtain — watching quizzically as Iain tugged at his belt.
“I thought you were mad at me.”
He’d liked to have been, but it was impossible to be even slightly grumpy while Greg’s silver hair was slicked into a mohawk of sorts with foamy shampoo. “Just move over.”
The older man’s face lit up. “You’re joining me?”
Iain didn’t answer. He left the rest of his clothes on the bathroom floor, and stepped into the shower.
Chapter 43: A Prequel to Jealousy
Lestrade's not wearing any pants.
“But don’t you see! This is why we have to find her! She fits the pattern; there’s motive. There’s nothing standing between this woman and death, except for us, obviously, and she’s not at her flat. My network is—”
“Those homeless people you sometimes give money?” Lestrade asked, interrupting. Sherlock stopped pacing. He looked like a phantom in the dull light of Lestrade’s bedroom, swallowed up by the shadow of his long, black coat.
“Yes, and they can’t find her. They’re looking, but it’ll go faster with police support.”
“That’s an interesting change,” Dimmock noted. His arms were draped across Lestrade’s bare shoulders.
“What? What is?”
“You, asking for police support. Definitely going to savour that one.”
Sherlock scoffed indignantly.
“Well, it’s true, Sherlock,” Lestrade replied. “You’re always running off, trying to go about these things your own way.”
“And for once I am asking for help, so would you please get up so that we can prevent a murder. Unless, of course, you’d rather sit there and allow it to happen. What are you waiting for?”
“For you to get the hell out,” Lestrade said bluntly. Sherlock stared. “For god’s sake— I’m not wearing any pants, you idiot. The sooner you get out, the sooner I can bloody get up and help you.”
“Modesty?” Dimmock murmured. “Charming.”
Greg reached up patted his arm. “Just keeping your jealousy in check, love.”
Sherlock’s expression soured as they bantered.
“Out, Sherlock. Now.”
He retreated, and the grey-haired detective inspector kicked the bedroom door shut behind him.
Chapter 44: Beautiful Things
Greg looked up from his desk, keeping his phone pressed tight to his ear. “Excuse me?”
“Come outside,” Sherlock repeated— and hung up.
Greg looked out his office window — stupidly, because the only thing he could see from the third floor was another window, and another high-rise. But he stood up, fetched his keys, and grabbed his coat all the same.
He also called Sherlock back, because ‘outside’ could have meant any of a dozen different exits at New Scotland Yard.
“Right out front,” the self-appointed consulting detective answered. Greg sighed and hurried down the stairs to the street.
Sherlock was waiting for him, as he’d said. But if he’d needed something important, Greg didn’t care— more like, he couldn’t bring himself to care. Parked (very badly) on the street was a sleek, silver car — a car that made Greg’s jaw drop and his clothes inexplicably tight.
“What is it you needed?” Greg asked, almost hoarse. His eyes slowly combed over the bonnet, sliding backwards.
“It’s what you’d call ‘pretty’, isn’t it?”
Greg squawked. “No, Sherlock. That—” He took a deep breath. “That is bloody fucking beautiful.”
Sherlock stepped back and leaned against the door. Greg made a pained noise, reaching out to pull him away. But Sherlock resisted.
“Would you like to drive it?”
Greg’s eyes finally, immediately lifted from the automobile to the man in front of it. “What?”
Sherlock rolled his eyes, held up his hand, and proudly displayed a shiny set of keys.
Greg’s jaw very nearly hit the sidewalk. It took him several minutes to recover, but when he did: “Did you steal this?” He hissed. He wouldn’t have put it past the little brat, as much as he loved him.
A glimmer of laughter flashed in Sherlock’s eyes. “After a fashion. It’s Mycroft’s believe it or not. Useless, since he hates the flash.” Greg winced. “I thought you might like to give it a spin, as they say.”
Greg held up his hand. “Enough with the attempt at sounding normal. You’re better off just… y’know. Being you.” He took the keys, examining them lovingly. “How’d you get it here?”
“I drove it.”
“SHERLOCK.” Several head turned in their direction. Sherlock made a face. But Greg had passed into full-blown policeman mode. “You cannot drive a car without a license. For Christ’s sake, you could kill someone!”
“Get in the god damn car.”
“Driver’s or passenger’s side?” Sherlock asked with a smirk.
“You’re lucky I don’t lock you in the bloody boot and leave you to starve. Passenger’s, you childish ingrate.”
Sherlock pulled open the door behind him and slid into the seat with a grin. Lestrade tried to maintain a stern face, glaring at Sherlock as he rounded the front, but he couldn’t hold on to it.
Not with the two most beautiful things in his world staring him in the face.
Chapter 45: Leather Jacket
No answer, and despite the years of abstinence that stood between him and Sherlock’s drug addiction, he could never fully be rid of the nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Perhaps it was just a reflection of a personal weakness. He’d given up smoking at the same time — just dropped it all cold turkey — in an effort to convince Sherlock to get clean. It had taken a month of bulldog persistence and harassment on his part, but they’d both made it through — both drug and cigarette-free.
Of course, they both piled on the nicotine patches when cases got rough.
And this had been the worst in a very long time. It was the sort of case that he would never have solved without Sherlock’s help — but the kind that would have gotten Sherlock in a world of hurt if he’d tried to tackle the whole thing on his own. Not that he didn’t try — Lestrade had pulled him out of a lake, taken him to the hospital for stitches, and ripped three patches off the younger man’s arms more than once in the last few weeks.
Walking into his flat that evening, he almost expected to see the poor boy curled up in the corner with a needle in the arm, even though the case had finally come to a close. It had just taken that much of a toll — on both of them.
He was pleasantly relieved, therefore, when he found Sherlock unconscious on the sofa, wrapped up in his own leather jacket. A smile crept across his face as he knelt next to the couch. He did a quick check for patches, needles and cigarettes — and found none, much to his delight — before tucking the coat more snugly around Sherlock. He was so thin that the jacket dwarfed him, and made Greg feel all the more like an old, large man next to an angel-faced boy.
But he wasn’t a boy. He was a beautiful, brilliant genius of a man — a man whose gifts routinely left him speechless with admiration, appreciation and love.
Slipping his arms under Sherlock’s light body, he hoisted him up, cradling him comfortably against his chest. The consulting detective didn’t react in the slightest — he was out cold. He’d been up for nearly forty hours by that point, and possibly more. (Greg found it difficult to keep track of Sherlock when the other man was determined to hide his eating and sleeping habits from him.) Regardless, the effort he’d put into the case had taken its toll.
He carried him into the bedroom at the end of the hall, aware of how perfect Sherlock felt in his arms. He gently set him down in his bed, tugging off his shoes and trousers, but leaving the leather coat wrapped tightly around his bony shoulders. Kicking off his own clothes, he slipped in behind him, hauling the down comforter up over them both and closed his eyes.
“Sleep well, love,” he murmured, slipping his arms around the younger man. “You’ve earned it.”
Sherlock — whether in a moment of sudden alertness or just in a fit of sleep, tossed and rolled over, curling up against Greg’s chest. One hand snaked its way out of the leather jacket to rest possessively over Greg’s heart, as if he had said: “Yes, I did. And this, too.”
Chapter 46: Breaking the Habit
“Should all be a piece of cake for you, shouldn’t it?”
Sherlock’s eyes narrowed, but he refused to move. Lestrade was warm — just warm enough to stave off the needy, desperate thoughts.
“With your big brain and all. You should be able to just… talk yourself out of it. Out of wanting…” He faltered. The more he thought about it, the more his lungs ached. The cloudier his mind felt.
Sherlock’s voice was groggy when he spoke up. “It’s just as easy to talk myself into it,” he replied. “To rationalise why a seven percent solution is just what I need.”
Greg rested his head against Sherlock’s. His hand moved up and down the younger man’s arm in what should have been a gesture of comfort — but it wasn’t. It was just restlessness.
His entire body begged for a smoke. His stomach turned. His head ached. His hands wouldn’t stop moving — couldn’t stop jumping around, fiddling with the sheets or Sherlock’s hair — anything they could do to distract him.
Sherlock shifted, nestling his head under Lestrade’s chin. “I couldn’t do this without you, you know.”
Greg exhaled slowly and wrapped both arms tightly around him. “Yeah, you could,” he muttered. “Just gotta find a good enough reason.”
“What’s your reason?”
The corners of his mouth twitched as he kissed the top of Sherlock’s head. “Donno,” he lied. “But I’ll find something.”
Chapter 47: For Science
“Well, if it’s for science,” the detective inspector answered dryly.
Sherlock rolled his eyes and stretched out across Greg’s bed. He took up a surprising amount of space for someone so thin — leaving Greg no alternative but to press closer to him. “Label it however you like: science, curiosity — I don’t care.”
“But that’s my point, Sherlock — it’s not about labels, or any of your analytical funny business. This isn’t detective work.” Greg propped himself up on one elbow and leaned over the younger man. “It’s about emotion, and feeling things, and just… letting something happen.” He moved his right hand to rest on Sherlock’s stomach. “You’re always so caught up in the deductions that you never let yourself feel what’s going on.”
Sherlock’s eyes dropped to where Greg’s fingers were tugging at the light fabric of his shirt. The DI’s hand was mesmerisingly warm — but even that registered as a quantifiable experience. He could estimate the energy transferral, calculate the approximate degrees in Kelvin, Celsius and Farenheit — it flummoxed him to think that there might be anything more to it than the science that Greg was so keen to dismiss.
It wasn’t like he’d never had sex before.
Most people assumed he hadn’t — or were amazed at his lack of interest, rather. And frankly, he might have gone an extended amount of time without it, if it weren’t for his public school. Boys will be boys, the saying went — but he preferred not to dwell on it.
The fact of the matter was — he had, in fact, indulged, and on more than one occasion. People rather seemed to enjoy it, though he never understood why. There was a certain satisfaction to it, some things were enjoyable — but for all his intelligence (perhaps that was the pitfall? but Mycroft seemed to be in the same league as lesser men) he never exhibited the same emotions, or felt any desire to do so.
In all likelihood, he was the freak that so many suggested he might be. But the good-natured, silver fox of a detective inspector didn’t seem to mind. If anything, he seemed just as satisfied having Sherlock curled up on his chest, napping, as he was with the consulting detective’s mouth at work between his legs.
But then — perhaps Greg wasn’t terribly normal, either.
He was too patient, and modest to be normal. He was generous, and forgiving, and all sorts of unquantifiable things that made Sherlock’s skin crawl. He was handsome and good-natured, and so damned different from anything Sherlock had known that the younger man found himself drawn to the detective inspector as though some lopsided form of gravity was at work. He was trapped beneath those warm, wide hands, and he had no desire to get out.
Not even as it drifted slowly down to the buttons on his trousers. One sharp tug, and they were open — Sherlock had yet to understand what sleight of hand allowed such things to happen.
“Everything is detective work,” he answered. “The only variable is how boring I find it.”
“Am I boring you now?” Greg asked, smoothing his hand over the front of Sherlock’s trousers.
Sherlock paused, observing the weight of Greg’s hand, the warmth of his palm, and the glass-eyed expression. He noticed the faint breeze from an open window, the acrid smell of the city wafting into the apartment, and the familiar, but inexplicable comfort at having someone so reassuring nearby. He wasn’t bored — but he wasn’t interested in the way that Greg expected him to be.
“Yes,” he answered.
Chapter 48: The Illusion of Warmth
Sherlock had insisted they keep absolutely still, but the longer they waited, the more it seemed he wasn’t up to the task. His teeth clicked rapidly together and his breath rose in hazy mist over his head. Greg did his best to ignore it, knowing that any interruption on his part — even one to prevent the younger detective from freezing to death — would be met with a glare and a swift jab to the kidneys.
Anyone else — especially anyone who knew him — might have left Sherlock to his own devices, and waited for the frostbite to settle in. Unfortunately for Greg and his kidneys, his compassion wouldn’t let the matter drop.
Shaking his head, he reached for the lever that would open the boot. Almost immediately, Sherlock’s fingers dug into his leg. “Stop,” he hissed, eyes bright with fury that the detective inspector might ruin his plan after so many hours on stake-out.
“Let go,” Greg replied calmly. “I’m getting out.”
Sherlock’s grip tightened. “You’re giving up?”
“No, I’m getting you a blanket before your chattering teeth let the bastards know we’re here.”
Sherlock looked indignant, but let him go. He would never admit to weakness, but even he couldn’t deny that the cold was having an effect on his ability to process information. It wasn’t a personal flaw; it was a human fault. (Although he casually ignored the fact that Greg, despite wearing a much rattier coat than he was, seemed perfectly fine.)
The DI slipped out of the car quietly, making his way around to the boot. A bright orange blanket lay buried beneath two duffel bags, a football and a pillow. Scanning his surroundings, he quickly tugged the blanket free, balled it up tightly and tucked it into his coat. The last thing he needed was Sherlock whining about how the colour was going to attract attention. As softly as he could manage, he pushed the lid down and slipped back into the driver’s side of his car.
“I can’t believe you sleep in your car.”
Greg ignored him, passing the blanket over. He wasn’t in the least bit surprised that Sherlock had worked it out. If anything, he was more concerned by how long it took the bastard to bring it up.
“And this is the same shock blanket, isn’t it?”
Again, Greg said nothing. Since Sherlock seemed determined not to move anything but his own lips, Greg reached over and draped the orange cover over him, tucking it in around him.
“No, not like that. It’ll hamper me.”
“If you don’t shut up, I’ll stuff it down your throat.”
Sherlock pouted, but sat up straight, pulling the blanket off so he could wrap it more effectively over his shoulders. How he hated good intentions — they always got in his way, and they never made sense. He snuggled back into the blanket, looking out at the street they’d been watching for the last four hours. His eyes observed the slightest tremour in the chain link fence some thirty feet away, but there was something else — something new — that bothered him.
His nose twitched as he methodically checked every gap in the alley, every shadow, every possible place where a criminal could be hiding. Nothing — it wasn’t out there, then. It must have been something in the car. Greg hadn’t really moved; he’d shifted his hands to his pockets, but that was obvious — his fingers were cold after touching the metal exteriour of the vehicle.
Sherlock made a mental note to buy him a new pair of gloves.
Narrowing his eyes, he sunk deeper into the warmth of the blanket, wrapping it more securely around his thin body. His nose came into contact with the itchy, coarse fabric, and there — that was it. He sniffed.
The blanket wasn’t warm; he hadn’t generated enough body heat for that. It was something else entirely. It was the scent of the blanket itself. It was oddly pleasant — rustic and summery, giving it the illusion of warmth, but not actually inducing an actual change in temperature. He glanced down briefly, but his eyes were almost useless at providing additional insight. His olfactory sense told him everything he needed to know.
He sniffed again.
It was the aftershave that had caught his attention — the cheap, but effective kind that a man who worked too much might buy. Obviously it was Lestrade’s — the evidence was incontrovertible, and — as he noted when he brought the blanket up over his nose — it was refreshingly familiar.
Greg glanced at him. “Any warmer?” he asked gruffly.
Sherlock’s reply was muffled. “…yes.”