"Good morning," greeted a deep voice as a tall, dark-haired man ducked under the yellow tape decorating the crime scene. "Sally, Philip." Sherlock waited a moment, but all he received in reply were suspiciously narrowed eyes, so he simply gave a polite nod and stepped into the house.
"Sherlock?" There was a call from the bedroom. "In here…"
Lestrade winced as the words left his mouth, bracing himself for a tirade about how utterly obvious his location was, as, given the style of wallpaper, there was no way the victim would have been found anywhere but the fourth bedroom, and why on earth were those idiotic officers mucking around in the entrance, taking photos and throwing off the molecular arrangement of dust on the furniture. This lecture, shockingly, never came.
Instead, a couple of benign-looking men, casually dressed, sauntered into the room. Lestrade had to look twice to be sure that one of them was Sherlock.
The taller man stopped short at the sight of the corpse. "Good heavens," he said, with a shudder, and Lestrade contemplated banging his head against a wall to clear his ears. "That's dreadful—horrifying, what people do to one another—John, are you all right?"
John regarded his flatmate with the sort of look one gives a ticking time bomb disguised as a fluffy kitten. (The metaphor, unfortunately, didn't stem from Lestrade's imagination; Moriarty had been in a particularly sadistic mood that day.)
John's tone conveyed Lestrade's puzzlement perfectly.
"Fine, I'm…fine, why wouldn't I be?"
Sherlock's gaze lingered for a moment on John's shoulder before dropping to the bullet-pocked corpse again, but he evidently decided not to press the matter, for the next moment he said delicately, "Well, Greg, I appreciate your calling me in, but actually this looks rather straightforward—would you like me to—oh!"
This last in response to Lestrade dropping his cell phone with a loud bang. Sherlock tugged his brown jacket out of the way as he bent to pick it up. Wincing, the detective handed the device back with a broken screen, saying "Bad luck, mate…"
Too astonished to say thank you, Lestrade slipped his phone into his pocket with trembling fingers before it could come to any more harm. Sherlock dropped his eyes to the body again, muttering, "Poor bloke." He looked up to see John Watson staring at him.
"What is it, John?"
"Just…stop this. I can't take it anymore."
"You mean," asked Lestrade weakly, "this isn't some sort of joke you two have…"
"Joke?" John interrupted. "Him? Not likely."
"Now, don't be like that," interjected Sherlock, looking mildly indignant. "I've got a sense of humor too, you know. For example I enjoy a good romantic comedy as much as anyone…"
He trailed off as John let out a hysterical noise halfway between a hiccup and a giggle, and Lestrade staggered and leaned against the wall. Sherlock regarded them with concern in his grey eyes.
"Are you two quite all right?"
Greg made a strangled noise in the back of his throat and gestured at the body, reasoning that the sooner they were all out of here, the better for his sanity. Sherlock looked as though he were about to say something, but thought better of it and cleared his throat.
"Anyway, as I was saying. Your team has done some good work, Greg, in the evidence they're collecting in the front room, but it's a bit unnecessary…you can see here, from the marks on his shoes…"
Lestrade got through the next twenty minutes by smiling and nodding. When he finally collapsed into the seat of the car, it was with an air of exhausted relief. Watching Sherlock amble away, arms swinging at his sides, Lestrade rubbed at his temples and let the tension drain slowly from his shoulders. He didn't notice Sally slide into the driver's seat until a voice at his shoulder said, "Coffee?"
"Maybe something a bit stronger," Lestrade answered wearily, passing a hand over his eyes. Down the street, Sherlock had thrown back his head to laugh at something Dr. Watson had said, clapping him on the shoulder.
Sally nodded in agreement and revved the engine.