Mycroft Holmes placed Gregory Lestrade under surveillance over six years ago. For most of those years, Mycroft had let his ‘people’ do the so-called dirty work. Tailing him at all hours, noting whom he was with and the outcome of his many cases. However, Mycroft had recently decided to do some of his own reconnaissance. It was not because his ‘people’ were anything but thorough. Of course they were. Those that did not live up to expectations were no longer employed. Mycroft trusted his information, but there is some knowledge that can only be gained through personal inquest.
Mycroft had long ago seen one specific page in the file on Gregory Lestrade that interested him greatly. It stated that, unless circumstances – often work - would not allow it, he attended mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral every Sunday at 11:30am. The Choral Liturgy. Knowing this information to be true, Mycroft penciled the 11:30am service into his schedule for the following week.
He strolled into the magnificent building at precisely 12:20. Of course, he did not feel the need to attend the liturgy. His upbringing had not been religious – as if Mummy would let her sons cling to a belief founded without solid proof. That was practically a sin in the Holmes household. Snapping back from his childhood reverie, Mycroft could see that the service was almost over. The crowds were large, obviously filled with tourists and people making a sort of pilgrimage to the holy site. He skillfully scanned the crowd as he had countless times before, although he usually saved this refined skill to search for wanted criminals or diplomatic hostages. He paced around the back wall of the cathedral, listening to an organist perform a rather beautiful rendition of the Adagio and Allegro in F by Mozart. One glance at a discarded program informed him that this was the final part of the service. A few dozen people were already standing to leave, forgetting to appreciate the music specially composed for great venues like this and instead walking back out into the rainy London afternoon.
Mycroft did not fail to spot the familiar graying hair that could belong to none other than Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade. The hair was once, he knows from historical photographic references, jet black. However, like many middle-aged men in jobs that caused hardly anything but stress, it was slowly shifting to a distinguished grey. Mycroft took special notice of the slightly noticeable shock of white at each temple. Distinguished, indeed. He determined long ago that Gregory Lestrade would have the perfect appearance for a politician, but he understands how the man works (to a certain extent) – it is something he would never pursue, and perhaps that time for wishful thinking has passed.
He watched steadily for the final few minutes of the service. The man is turned toward the organist, to his left. The various clergy and ushers milling about do not distract him. Mycroft cannot help but wonder how Gregory has kept his faith despite working for the Metropolitan Police Service for so many years. He knows that such a thought should never pass his lips – not ‘politically correct’ enough for the public to hear. Yet, it has been statistically proven in various reports over the years that many officers turn away from their respective faiths after seeing the horrors on the battlefield of London. And, make no mistake, it is a battlefield. The loss of faith is, in fact, a natural response for many. Gregory would be an obvious candidate for such an end result. He sees, on average, three murders a week. His arrest rate is about average with the city standard, but many are never solved. Instead, they are stored away as cold cases, often times never looked at again. Mycroft has seen notes in Gregory’s psychological evaluation file that state this fact bothers him greatly - more than any other aspect of his job. The file also mentions that Gregory has been held hostage on two occasions. His supervising officer was shot in the line of duty. His marriage fell apart after only five years. The divorce papers state irreconcilable differences. Mycroft translates this to mean something along the lines of working late hours, insufficient pay, and probably even mood swings caused by seeing one too many murders.
Gregory Lestrade honestly and continually surprises Mycroft. Statistics say he should have failed long ago. Mycroft yearns to understand what keeps him going. Why is he so motivated?
It occurs to Mycroft that he might be addicted to knowing the truth, like his hopeless brother. Perhaps he is smitten, like the loyal doctor. It could be a bit of both, but more than anything, Mycroft wants to put the pieces of the puzzle together. He wants to set the finished product on his coffee table – to show it off to his visitors. Look at my accomplishment. I have broken an enigma! He banishes these thoughts and again focuses his concentration on the man sitting three rows from the front.
The organist has finished. There is polite clapping from the remaining congregation. People stand to depart, some genuflecting as they pass the altar and others simply heading for the great doors. Greg does not stand immediately. Instead, he kneels down. Those around him exit, leaving him bowed next to one other person.
He is kneeling in prayer with his daughter. The file contains ample information about her, too. Named Marya, after a grandmother on the maternal side. Ten years old. Raised by both parents until the age of four. They now share custody. They are extremely civil. Ex-wife has remarried, but still approves of Gregory being a part of her life. Encourages it, actually. It has proved difficult for Gregory to balance his jobs - being a Detective Inspector and a father, yet he manages.
Statistics are easily excused when an outlier is considered. Marya is, obviously, an outlier. It is entirely possible that Gregory has kept his faith alive in tough times for his daughter’s sake. In fact, if Mycroft were a betting man, he would place his money on this. Gregory looks down to the slight girl with a tousled mop next to him. He murmurs something to her. She glances up and nods. She is looking at him with a child’s gaze. Even from this distance, Mycroft can see that it practically screams unconditional love. Gregory, too, looks at her proudly – as only a father can.
They both make their final sign of the cross and stand. Marya brushes the knees of her stockings and then grabs her father’s hand as they file out of their seats. As they cross in front of the altar, Marya genuflects deeply. Mycroft sees her look up at him with a frown. He bows to the altar with a chuckle. He reaches for her hand and they walk toward the exit, swinging their hands between them as the go. Mycroft smiles to himself. While walking to another exit, he cannot help but think about his never-ending puzzle.
One never truly breaks an enigma.