It is the usual drugs bust,more pretend than earnest for both Lestrade and Sherlock. A ritual to reassure the DI that he´s in charge and remind Sherlock that he acts childish. The inspector never expects to find something. In a strange way, he trusts his consultant, no matter how much they are disagreeing sometimes.
Lestrade nearly chokes on Mrs Hudson´s coffee when Sally lifts the item sceptically in front of him.
The DI knows the wooden box very well. Dark, with complex carvings and a polished surface, giving it an air of mystery and distance. It fits to Sherlock.
The first time Lestrade had looked under the polished surface, it had contained a strange-looking syringe made of glass and copper, seemingly Victorian era. Lestrade, (who had not been Detective Inspector yet back then), had found the object strangely beautiful.
Of course this did not mean that he approved of Sherlock using it to inject a wide variety of drugs into his body.
He was not able to get Sherlock away from his habit back then. Knowing that all he would achieve by putting the genius under pressure would be losing his trust, his reprimands were hesitant, cautious. Sherlock was countering with sarcasm and insults.
But the contents of the box had been replaced by sterile one way syringes when Lestrade opened it next time.
It took years, a promotion to Detective Inspector and the promise to let him work at every case he wanted to, to motivate Sherlock enough to even consider quitting.
It was an odd arrangement; the aspiring copper and the genius drug addict who regularly slept on his couch. It may have been detrimental for Lestrade´s career if anyone had found out, but Lestrade did not consider turning Sherlock away.
Lestrade never forgot how often Sherlock failed, fell back into his old habits. How he frequently found the consultant passed out on his couch, high as a kite, when he got home from work.
The Inspector had held a trembling Sherlock, combing fingers soothingly through dark curls slick with sweat, so often he´d stopped counting.
Lestrade had been angry and disappointed numerous times, but when Sherlock fell and scattered, the inspector had always been there to pick up the pieces.
There are still faint traces of scratch marks on his forearms as a reminder how hard both of them fought.
Sherlock gets hectic and tries to snatch the box away from Sally when she attempts to open it.
Lestrade is filled with dread. The faint scars on his forearms seem to burn. "Hand it over to me," he demands in a hoarse voice. He fights the memories that rise when he looks at the box, takes it out of Sally´s hands carefully. Sherlock doesn´t say anything when Lestrade slowly lifts the lid.
The whole squad practically tries to crawl into the box to get a better look at the contents. Lestrade does not like it. He does not want to see Anderson´s gleeful I-knew-it-face or John´s disappointed eyes.
"Out of here. All of you.", he orders. He motions for Sherlock to stay, while the others file out reluctantly.
Sherlock almost looks ashamed. Lestrade is ignoring it, along with the urge to punch his consulting detective. He opens the lid completely. Slowly, he takes out the contents one after another and puts them on the table.
A snapshot of John, taken at pub night. A uniformed soldier (That is John, too, the DI realizes. The Photo looks like it has been taken from a confidential file.) A shot of Lestrade, laughing, taken at the yarders´ Christmas party. John, walking down the street next to Sherlock, laughing. The grainy quality suggests the pic was taken by a surveillance camera. A picture of a very young Lestrade, seemingly cut out of a college yearbook. Lestrade, looking stressed on a newspaper photo. Lestrade, standing in the background of a crime scene , smoking (This shot is snatched from the file of his latest case, he realizes.) John, wearing an extraordinary ugly jumper, taken at the private Christmas party at Baker Street last year. Lestrade and Sherlock, leaning against a wall, obviously arguing .
When the box is empty, the Detective Inspector still has not found any drugs. He has found a very different kind of shot instead. There are lots of John pictures, but even more of himself. Lestrade tired, Lestrade angry, Lestrade smiling.
The inspector faces the consultant, perplexed, disbelieving. Sherlock does not look ashamed any more when he meets Lestrade´s eyes.
"Isn´t it obvious?
When I met you, with all the effort you put in getting me off the drugs, you and the cases you offered became my substitute. If I ever feel like I need a shot again, I only have to open this box to remind myself what I would lose if I did.
I have not forgotten." Sherlock slowly, clumsily, moves his pale hand over Lestrade´s arm, tracing every single scar he made all those years ago. He does not say anything more, and they both carefully start to put the photos back into the box.