"It's influenza." I announced. I was not ready for the reaction of Gregson's fellow Yarders as I confirmed his illness.
"Aw, come on!" Bradstreet all but roared. Jones let out a growl.
"Gregson!" It was almost a whine that was coming from Hopkins lips.
Gregson looked absolutely miserable as his fellow Inspectors reacted with annoyance and outrage. Hopkins had thrown his hands in the air, and Jones had buried his head in his hands. Bradstreet looked as if he were considering murder.
Lestrade was sighing, and quickly scribbling a note on a piece of paper. "It's not his fault." He reminded the others absently and he leaned out the door to have someone carry the note to its proper destination. "He didn't know."
"How could he not know?" Bradstreet demanded. "He admitted just now he'd been sick in his stomach half the night. He knows the symptoms as well as anyone else."
Hopkins looked as if he had lost his best friend. "And he's been all over us today, chances are we've all picked it up already." He pointed out mournfully.
I paled. The last thing the Yard needed was a handful of Inspectors sick with influenza. Especially this handful.
Jones growled. "And don't pretend your wife isn't going to mind you going home and risking making the kids sick, either." He challeged the calm Inspector.
Lestrade shrugged. "The kids already have it." He said. "My wife threw me out of the house two days ago."
"Great," Bradstreet complained, "then you've probably been walking around exposing us to it too."
Lestrade shook his head. "I hadn't been home since the night before the first came down with it." He replied impatiently. "Gregson and I were doing some research."
Ordinarily, such a statement would have led to an uproar and a demand for clarification. In the face of the current calamity, the Inspectors let it slide.
"So you were probably with him when he came down with it." Jones accused. "Which is just as bad. Have you been sick to your stomach?"
Lestrade met Jones' accusing glare evenly. "I was throwing up half the night, yes." He admitted. "But I doubt very much Gregson could be blamed." He turned to Gregson. "What did you get into after we finished that case?"
"A pint." Gregson snapped. "I was hoping to pass out and not have to think about it, but my wife dragged me out to help her do some charity work."
"With the poor?" I asked. Gregson nodded. "That was probably what did it." A lot of people who did charity were catching the disease from the people they worked with.
Bradstreet was still grumbling. "But you were up half the night, Gregson. And it's been going around. How could you not think-"
"I thought the day's events were getting to me." Gregson snapped. "I didn't occur to me that it would be influenza."
"What kind of case," Hopkins wanted to know, "would leave you sick half the night? Or Lestrade, for that matter?"
Both men shuddered. "We were chasing vampires." Gregson finally gave in. "An alleged coven of vampires!"
Bradstreet snorted. "Are you serious? Somebody sent you two chasing vampires?"
"They were vampires." Gregson insisted, horror in his eyes. "Blood-drinkers, anyway. I doubt even Holmes would've stood up to the sight."
"Which reminds me," Lestrade cut in, his voice strained, "stay away from that bunch in the cells. Don't even get within arm's reach."
They were starting to get concerned looks from the others when a constable entered the room, followed by a woman who I quickly recognized as Lestrade's wife. "Got your message." She informed him, offering him a bottle of something. "If you do get sick, come home when you get off duty." He nodded, and thanked her, and she was gone.
"Is that what I think it is?" Hopkins was eyeing the bottle, half wary and half hopeful. Lestrade nodded. Bradstreet muffled an oath.
"That has to be the most repulsive stuff I've ever been subjected to." He declared. "I'll get some cups."
Jones shrugged. "We're almost off duty anyway." He said philosophically.
I was afraid to ask. "Er-what is in that bottle, Lestrade?" The man in question shrugged.
Hopkins tried not to laugh. "Nobody wants to know what half the stuff the Inspector's wife uses is." He informed me. "All we know is that Lestrade was the only one who made it through last winter without getting even so much as a cough."
Gregson mutely nodded in affirmation as Bradstreet returned and passed out the cups. "Will you be joining us, Doctor?" He asked.
"Better not, if you have other people to see to today." Lestrade warned.
"I'd better decline then." I said with some relief. "But thanks for the offer."
"He just wants you to share the misery." Jones informed me as Lestrade poured out the contents of the bottle into the Inspectors' cups.
They downed the mixture, whatever it was, swiftly. Hopkins immediately set to spluttering and coughing while Jones and Bradstreet gagged and Gregson fought to keep his down. Lestrade merely watched them suffer as he poured out his own measure-
And downed it without so much as blinking. He also took a second cup before offering me the rest of the bottle.
"For your curiosity." He offered. "But I don't want to know anything about it."
I accepted the bottle reluctantly, and caught a whiff of the Inspector's breath. I nearly staggered where I stood. "Thank you." I managed.
"You could give Holmes some," Gregson suggested hopefully, " wouldn't want him to get sick."
Bradstreet snorted. "Right." After a moment, "Are we staying here, or hiding somewhere where they're less likely to try to call us on duty while we're out of our skulls?" He wanted to know. His mood was already improving.
"I'm going home." Gregson informed them. "I don't care what you lot do."
"Unless we went with you." Bradstreet suggested. "Then you'd probably care."
Gregson's eyes widened. "You lot are not coming home with me." He all but snarled.
Disclaimer: Sherlock Holmes and all involved does not belong to me.