John was alone in Baker Street when his phone rang. He picked it up. “Hi, Greg.”
“Hi, John. I’m sorry I can’t meet you tonight. Would later this week be okay?”
“Yeah, sure. It’s not a problem. I presume something’s come up?”
John put his phone down thoughtfully. It wasn’t the first time Greg had had to cancel a trip to the pub when a case was pressing, but there was something strange about his tone of voice. He picked up his phone again and rang Greg back.
“Are you okay?”
“Sure about that?”
“Well, a bit not good.”
“Greg Lestrade, give me the details!”
“I slipped on some steps and seem to have caught my side on a broken bottle. I’ll be okay in a bit.”
“How much are you bleeding?”
“I’m holding my shirt against the gash and I can’t see much blood.”
“Hell, Greg. Call an ambulance!”
“No ambulance. I’m not going to hospital.”
“Where are your team?”
“It’s my day off, I’m on my own.”
“Right, I’m coming to find you. Where are you?”
“Down by the river. Not far from where we were the other month on the Keating case.”
John grabbed the backpack that contained the kit he had taken to carrying when following Sherlock on a case and ran down the stairs. Once outside he hailed a cab and gave the driver directions.
Ten minutes later the taxi drew up by the pavement and the driver said, “You sure this is the place you wanted?”
“Yeah, I’m meeting a friend.”
“Well I hope she’s worth it,” the driver said with a leer and a wink.
The previous time John had been to this part of the river, an old man had unlocked the gate to let them onto the jetty. This time, without a police presence, there was no-one about. He looked around and vaulted over the railings. In the distance he heard someone shout “Oy, you can’t do that,” so he hurriedly ran down the jetty and jumped onto the shoreline.
He looked along the river and saw some steps, which he concluded were the ones Greg had fallen down. Then he noticed in the corner, where the steps met the concrete supports of the embankment, someone huddled in on themselves.
He strode over. “Right let’s have a look at what you’ve done to yourself.”
Greg continued to hold his side, so John forcefully moved his hands away. “This is going to need stitches.”
“I’m not going to hospital. Can’t you do it for me; you’ve stitched Sherlock up before?”
John sighed. “What are you two like? Okay, just this once. I’ll patch it up for the moment, but don’t blame me if it hurts.”
Greg grunted and let John do what he could to bind the wound. To try to distract his friend John asked him what he was doing down by the river.
“I like to come down here when I get the chance. It’s not that far from my flat and yet it’s normally quiet during the day. Unfortunately it’s not the same at night-time, a number of kids come down here drinking and then leaving bottles around, which is where this came from.” Greg indicated the gash on his side.
“Right. I’ve done what I can for now. You’ll have to come back to Baker Street with me if I’m going to stitch you up.”
John gave Greg a hand to stand up and then put his arm around his waist to help him slowly up the steps and onto the embankment.
He looked in vain for a taxi and was debating what to do when Greg said, “You should be able to get a cab at the tube station. I’ll wait here for you.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not leaving you alone in this condition. If you put your arm around my shoulder I can help you as far as the station.”
By the time they reached the station John was half carrying Greg, so he was relieved to see a taxi waiting there. The journey to Baker Street went smoothly, with John maintaining the pressure on Greg’s side. Once they were back John helped Greg up the stairs and onto the settee and then he found the rest of his medical kit.
“I shall clean the wound thoroughly before I stitch it up, but I’m also going to give you a shot because there’s no telling what you could have come into contact with.”
Greg looked dubious.
“And before you start worrying whether I obtained this legitimately, don’t,” John added. “Mycroft supplied it for when I have to deal with Sherlock.”
“And that’s supposed to reassure me?”
John chuckled and prepared to give the injection. Lestrade looked in the opposite direction.
“Right, that’s done. Do you want me to put the television on whilst I stitch the gash?” John asked.
“Would you mind? You must think I’m a proper wuss.”
“No, I’ve met worse. There was a big bloke when I was in the army. Came to give him one of his jabs and he keeled over, practically knocking out the corporal who was assisting me as he went down. You have a choice: Doctors, Cash in the Attic, or John Wayne.”
“I’ll go for John Wayne.”
So while Greg watched The Sands of Iwo Jima John stitched up his side. Once it was finished John sat down beside him on the settee. Soon afterwards he became aware of Greg’s head resting on his shoulder, as the adrenalin that had kept him going finally left. John watched Sgt Striker battle his way across the Pacific island until he too dozed off.