What Really Happened:
A rain of bullets and small hand-held horns ripped the air the third time Lestrade and Watson came up for the risk of air. By this time, a great deal of screaming was going on. Lestrade paused to wheeze until he could collect something of his old composure; he curled his cupped fingers over his mouth and whistled through them. The strange sound traveled through the air and it was apparently discernible to the other members of the Force. Within minutes the Thames River Police, Stepney (Division K) were swarming over the banks and hauling them out to (comparatively) dry land.
"Migod, Geoff! I thought I heard your whistle!" Lewis was easily identifiable, even to Watson's layman's eyes. A large metal badge for bravery hung about his neck over the collar of his pea-jacket, and he barely fit inside the large cut of his cloth. "Lads!" Lewis turned his head to bark at his constables. "You ever hear anything like that whistle, you come a-paddling! That's Lestrade's personal mark—seeing as how I can't think of anyone else who knows that heathen trick o'whistling in his hands without a grassblade!"
"H…hullo, Matt…" Lestrade said weakly. "What…have I...missed?"
"Lessn' we have!" Inspector Lewis proclaimed. "Who's yer mate, Geoff?"
"Inspector…Matthew…Lewis…meet…Dr. John Watson…Berkshires…" Lestrade gave up on talking at that point, and just spreadeagled against the trapezoid cobble bank.
"How…do you do?" Watson struggled to remember what polite meant at this point. It was a vague and distant memory indeed.
"Berkshires? Allow me to shake your hand sir—Jefferson, kindly pull out your bloody iron and shoot back, thank you!!—excuse me, we're taking care of this for you, if you don't mind taking a breather, we'll get right back…"
Watson decided later he must have fainted. Or something similar. When he awoke there was sticking-plaster on the back of his head and Lestrade was sitting up and cursing at the fact that all of his equipment save his wallet had been lost in the Thames.
"Well if you used' em to fling at the enemy, you needn't worry, Geoff." Lewis pointed out calmly. "Let the tide go back down; I'll wager in a day or two we'll find em rising from the skim off a river-hole!"
"In the meantime, I'm out my badge!" Lestrade protested. He lowered his head into his knees. "Oh, good God…Who…who..who's in charge of sending reports to the superiors involving Conspiracy and illegal assembly and potential cases of treason?" Lestrade rose and clutched at Inspector Lewis' thick lapels with a feverish intensity. "For God's sake, give me a name, man!"
Lewis gulped. "I don't have a name, Goeffrey. Just an address in the Home Office…well, it might be the Foreign Office…for missives, updates, and telegrams."
"WHAT is the address?!" Lestrade was close to shaking the much-large man like a rag doll. After their day, Watson felt he was capable of doing such a thing.
Lewis wordlessly produced a tiny business-card printing on fine linen paper. "Lads!" He raised his voice. "Division K thanks you, and asks you to get yourselves warmed up." A Constable in a pea-jacket produced a gratuitously large jug of something that smelled like the worst distillate from Inspector Bradstreet's (theoretical) secret still.
"Just a moment," Watson protested. "Alcohol doesn't actually prevent the drop in bodily temperatures; it dilates the blood vessels, I know…"
"Hang the bodily temperatures," Inspector Lewis cut in. "We're trying to kill the foreign bodies you two sucked in while you were bathing in Old Man Thames!"
Watson had no argument for that. Being polite, he let Lestrade kill half the bottle first. Fair was fair. This particular brew was a bit of a step down from French white brandy.
"They were in the drink a long time, sir." PC Rains said nervously. "How much should we give'm?"
"We serve it up until they need to sit down," Inspector Lewis said firmly. "The rule was good enou' in my day, it should be good enough in this one."
"What exactly is it?" Lestrade gulped unsteadily.
"Ah, I dunno." Lewis said, disingenuously. "Something the boys picked up. Depends on a live raisin and three parsnips to get it started…do you need a seconds?"
"Ah…no." Lestrade had already vomited a great deal of the river out of his stomach. The green tint to his face was thus rooted in other causes. "John, I do believe it's your turn." His voice, his eyes, his set of jaw, his overall demeanour dared Watson to protest his way out of it.
Watson swallowed hard. "Thank you, Inspector," he said with a gallantry that slid through his teeth.
And he picked up the jug.
"Need…an official dispatcher for this one…" Lestrade breathed. "Favor, Matt. Don't trust a telegram."
Lewis nodded; Watson wondered about the past the two men had shared. "Give us a moment, Geoff." He turned and lifted his head, barking orders. While the doctor was willing to swear that no one attached to the dog-capture or the criminal seizure had actually left the scene, someone must have because less than a quarter-hour later, a slender intense man in a fine black wool suit was kneeling in front of the half-collapsed Lestrade and taking his report in a hurried hand.
"Get that to the Main Office as fast as you can," Lestrade rasped.
"Theft of the Royal Gold is a serious matter,' the man agreed. He had the unmistakable tints of a half-caste Hindoo. "Do you have proof?"
"If you confiscate the dog-skins in that shack across the river…" Lestrade pointed steadily enough, but fumbled slightly at the finer workings of his watch. "Here is a sample of what we pulled out of the pelts…" He dropped the red-gold beads into the outstretched hands. "Also, don't forget…the leader referred to Buddug…that's the WELSH name for Queen Boudica…"
Intelligent, sparkling brown eyes glittered upon the bedraggled men. "We thank you, sirs. I will be certain to submit this report to the first parties who are disposed to empower decisions. It is, of course, your prerogative to choose how much you will tell your own superiors…"
Lestrade merely shrugged. "I'll just tell them I had another accident or somesuch." He said wearily. "They'll believe it if I say it. I'm not the smart one of the lot." He'd drunk just enough alcohol to kill the modesty-filter most Englishmen kept over their mouths.
"Very well," the little brown-skinned man agreed smoothly. "But I suggest you take another drink before you do go to your superiors. The river Thames is not quite on par with the Ganges, but it is considerable in its pollution."
"Yes, it is." Lestrade agreed, glassy-eyed. "Dr. Watson? I believe it's your turn to go for the next drop…"
The Official Story:
"Hold up, just a moment, if you please," The Surreyman had a singular thought. "You didn't explain a few salient points to this story." Baynes observed. "You said you didn't know the identity of the person who pushed you into the Thames, and you didn't explain the part about the dogs."
"Ahem." Watson cleared his throat. "You know," he began carefully, "I really don't feel like discussing that at this particular moment. Do you, Lestrade?"
"No." Lestrade had his head in his hands. "I'd much rather talk about my missing iron, my missing club, my missing bloody whistle, my missing badge. I'll even talk about your missing medical bag before I'm up to talking about sodding canal dogs and common-law husbands of a uniquely illiterate bend."
What Really Happened:
Thanks in part to a massive amount of alcohol that should have been rejected as wallpaper-remover, Lestrade and Watson were less than solidly footed as they made their way across London. Lestrade's depression over the state of his coat was miraculously cured at the recovery of his bowler hat—although Watson didn't know why he even bothered. The hat would need enormous rescue efforts to look like a hat again.
"What…do you think will happen?" Watson cleared his throat. It burned like a raw thing, but at least he could feel it. Strep was always a worry. The Marine police had given him a vile tincture of yellowroot in alcohol and water in an eye-cup so they could flush the impurities out of their eyes and down their Eustachian tubes; it seemed to help, but it had burned like the Devil's own breath the entire time.
"No idea." Lestrade said casually. "We submit our reports to those who observe these kinds of thing, and we let them take it over. If you ask me, we have it easy; all we have to worry about is dodging bullets, rabid mongrels, crazed captains, and mad Amazons. Those poor woodscolts at the Office have to answer to the Higher-ups. I know where I'm comfortable!" He paused and swayed slightly as he peered up, then down, the street. "Bother," he said under his breath. "We're going to have to wait until the slaughterhouse closes; the cabbies won't let us ride with them before that!"
"That would be…" Watson knew better than to consult his water-soaked watch. He thought back to the last time he heard the Bells of Stepney marking the quarter-hour. "That'll be a few hours from now. What are we supposed to do until then?"
"Keep warm." Lestrade grabbed Watson and propelled him toward a familiar looking tavern. "Keep warm, doctor. And always remember to blather about absolutely nothing when you're intoxicated. A few adventures in that example, and no one is going to believe you're capable of spilling state secrets."
"Blather, eh?" Watson was all for the game. "What do you recommend?"
"How many words can one employ when describing a half-mad consulting detective?"
"Not that many," Watson protested, but weakly, as the smaller man demonstrated an appalling strength borne of righteous convictions as he pushed him to the tavern. "Most of the words I found imply a deranged mental state!"
"So?" Lestrade wanted to know. "I fail to see the conflict."
The Official Story:
"Er, I see…" Gregson cleared his throat. "You know, though, I'm looking forward to the report tomorrow, Lestrade."
"I'll keep that in mind, Euclid." Lestrade deliberately used Gregson's nickname in the presence of the strange man. "Now if anyone has no objections, I'm going to go inside and file a few reports before incipient pneumonia sets in with a rampaging case of otitis media." He rose to his feet, wavering slightly, and plodded his way up the steps, one foot placed before the other. Stinking water tracked followed him inside.
Holmes watched him go; small wonder, everyone else was watching too. Watson had his eyes closed and was dozing his exhaustion peacefully against the rails.
What Really Happened:
All things considered, Mycroft had to revise his impression of the day. The men Sherlock had appeared to approve of were skilled, but there was a quality to their intelligence that Mycroft did not at that moment, feel like tolerating. He saw it enough in his little brother; he saw it every day in his office. What he wanted, he now realized, was someone who could recognize their small role in the scheme of things was as important as a large role. These men were gifted in departments and divisions that saw his influence but rarely. He would be foolish to take their attention away from their native skills. Diverting such men from areas would bring him a scolding from the Prime Minister.
Perhaps it was fortuitous and serendipitous that the man who wrote such an enjoyable report to his desk that day was also the same one who staggered, punch-drunk (as well as genuinely drunk) out of the cab and onto the bottom steps of the Yard, with what had to be Dr. Watson in tow. Mycroft would have recognized the man anywhere where from his brother's descriptions. Watson was obviously unable to recognize anything past the first two yards from his face; he soon slumped against the newel-post and began to slip into the sleep of the just; throughout it all, neither he nor Lestrade had betrayed their actions in a governmentally questionable endeavor.
The Official Story:
A large hand tapped his shoulder. "Sherlock," the big man said.
"I believe I've found my liaison."
Holmes was horrified. Temporarily. Mycroft had been wrong perhaps twice in his entire life, and one of those times had yet to be borne out. It was not his place to question the depths of genius. "Are you certain?" He hissed under his breath. "You met Gregson and Baynes; they're much smarter."
"Compared to whom?" Mycroft Holmes wanted to know without any false pride. "I need someone who has the emotional capacity to withstand adversity. Are you saying facing ninety flying cricket-bats by disgruntled suffragists doesn't qualify a man?" And not a single word about the stolen Welsh gold. Quite an admirable bit of story-telling.
Holmes sighed. "I'll leave it to you to speak with him," he said at last. He knew he was washing his hands of the affair, but honestly, if Mycroft needed a go-between for the sundry affairs between the Yard and the Home Office, he could manage it himself.
What Really Happened:
Mycroft smiled to himself. No one even knew who he was; yet. Once he settled to his "partial retirement" he could take on a more public role that would deflect some attention off his successor. But for now…
"I shall leave it to you to see the good doctor home, Sherlock." He suggested. "He looks quite the worse for wear. I only regret I'll not hear the full story of his day…but you will appraise me if he discloses any of the finer details?"
Sherlock sighed, resigned. Shaking their heads, Gregson and Baynes were returning inside from the cold. Gregson struck him as someone who would be useful among the department of organized crime. Baynes would bear some cultivating…yes, the two men were quite promising…
"Pass this on to Lestrade, would you?" Mycroft passed his personal card over to his brother. Sherlock winced again, no doubt thinking of the men who would better suit the particular role being sought, but he knew better than to question his brother's final decision.
Author's Note: Lestrade and Mycroft working together couldn't have been a random happenstance…Mycroft wouldn't blow his own nose without an appointment! So consider all this the "ordinary meeting" in which Mycroft first met Lestrade…