"Who is responsible for this?" I demanded. The whole crime scene had been trampled about. It could not have been much more damaging had a stampede of elephants been through. It was absolutely disgraceful, and the Yard should have known better. Idiots.
Constables cringed. Patterson looked relieved that he hadn't been in charge of securing the crime scene; he had left that up to the other Inspector, wherever he happened to be.
I tried to match footprints with the members of the Yard I knew. There were Patterson's, plain as day. I recognized several of the constables'. There was one set of footprints I couldn't place; the man was short, and his left foot turned inward a bit.
"Who is this?" I looked up, and then back down a bit. There was the man himself.
He was little. His foot didn't seem to bother him, as his wait was evenly distributed. Dark eyed and thin. Married. Very neat, very professional. The man was fully dressed and presentable even though it was the middle of the night. Dedicated to his job. He didn't appear at all resentful of being dragged out of bed and away from his family.
"Sherlock Holmes." I introduced myself. The little man blinked.
"Inspector Lestrade." He replied. "You're the detective Patterson went after?" He asked.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes, and settled for a nod. Did he really need to ask? "I suppose you're the man who allowed this crime scene to be so thoroughly trampled." I said, and the man blinked. "I see Scotland Yard is working at its usual level of efficiency. We'll be lucky to learn anything from what's left."
"And we would be grateful for anything you can tell us." Lestrade replied politely. It surprised me. Usually the Yarders I dealt with were touchy and reacted badly to such statements of the truth. Usually they felt they needed to insult my intelligence and abilities in turn.
I dismissed the incident and went back to investigating the scene. If I were fortunate, I might still learn something here. I combed every inch of the room; there were still several vital clues left undisturbed.
My examination complete, I straightened up and realized that I had had an audience. That Lestrade fellow had been watching me the entire time, from a distance, hands in his pockets. His expression contained the usual confusion the Yard experienced when exposed to my methods, but he also seemed curious.
Patterson was nowhere about, so I brought the information I had found to this Inspector Lestrade's attention, along with what it meant, though I held little hope that it would do any good. Even the Inspectors at the Yard seemed to have a lot of trouble adding everything up correctly.
I paused in my explanation as the man's eyes widened. This one was worse than most; I had barely begun to speak before his brain apparently suffered from an overload. He blinked, and shook his head. "Just a minute." He muttered.
Then he pulled a notebook out of his pocket. "I'm sorry. You were saying?" He asked. I sighed, but decided to humor him and began again even as I doubted he would be able to keep up.
He set to scribbling in his notebook at a fantastic speed, and I wondered if he were actually keeping up with me. A "hold on" confirmed that he had fallen behind; he stopped me three more times so he could catch up before I was finished.
I watched in amusement as he examined the clues thoroughly, one at a time, then consulted his notebook. After spending an interminably long time studying his own notes, his eyes widened and he looked back up at me.
"Patterson!" He shouted. "Get in here!"
Patterson came running in. He stopped, looked around, then shot an annoyed glance at the smaller man. Lestrade didn't appear to notice.
"What?" Patterson demanded.
Lestrade looked to me, then back to Patterson. "This Mr. Holmes you brought with you just solved the case and identified the murderer simply by looking around the room." Patterson nodded, and Lestrade continued. "Why on earth haven't I heard of him before?"
Patterson shrugged. I smirked. "The Yard seems to feel threatened by my assistance, Inspector Lestrade." I offered.
"He's also a plague to work with." Patterson snapped.
Lestrade considered this. "Nonetheless, he would probably have been a help in dealing with that jewel robbery last week."
Now this was interesting. "Are you referring to the diamond necklace that the Lady Theresa's doctor stole during his last visit?" I inquired. Lestrade stared at me.
"Why would you say it was the doctor?" He asked cautiously.
I snorted. "Anyone with half a brain could see that the man was hiding something!" I declared. Then I recalled that this Inspector Lestrade had been working on that case.
Surprisingly, he didn't turn red or appear to get angry. He merely shrugged. "I knew something wasn't right." He muttered to himself. "Can you back that accusation up with facts, Mr. Holmes?" He asked me.
I rolled my eyes. "Of course I can back up the accusation!" I retorted.
He brightened. The man actually brightened. "Would you?" He asked. Then he caught himself. "At a later date, that is. We need to get this mess finished up first."
I blinked. Was the man actually asking for my help? Freely? Perhaps he was only being polite. He did seem to be a very polite individual.
I gave him my address. "Come by at your leisure, and we'll discuss it." I told him. He nodded briskly, and turned his attention back to the task at hand.
Dismissed, I headed home, thinking the entire way.
Patterson was the only member of the Yard who ever asked for my assistance, and that was only rarely and with great reluctance. The rest of them tended to avoid me. A few asked if they might come by again if they needed help in the future, but never did.
This Lestrade probably fell into that last category.
But two days later the landlady showed him up to my rooms, grumbling the whole time. He merely listened to her complaints and nodded and thanked her for her trouble before she let him in my rooms.
The first thing he did was set a note on the table. "For your assistance in apprehending the murder." He said, seeing my surprised look. "Standard fee for when we bring in someone from the outside."
"Oh." I said. "Thank you."
He pretended not to have heard me. "Now about this jewel robbery…"
I waved him to a seat. This was certainly an interesting development.
Disclaimer: Sherlock Holmes does not belong to me.