Author's note: Sorry folks, for some reason I thought I'd already posted this chapter and finished this up. I didn't mean to keep you all hanging. A thousand apologies.
For a moment I thought Lestrade would throw Holmes off of him, but my friend held fast and admonished the Inspector to be still as I examined the man's leg. I winced as I examined it; his leg was broken.
I explained to Holmes the nature of the injury and that I need to set the bone, for both his and Lestrade's benefit. Holmes braced himself, and Lestrade tensed, and I set to work.
Lestrade somehow managed to bite back a scream, and went limp as I commented with false cheer, "Now that wasn't so bad, was it?" and noted that I wasn't fooling anyone.
He didn't bother moving as I then examined his foot, but lay there gasping for breath. Holmes remained in position, just in case, but he needn't have bothered. Lestrade's breath caught as I examined his foot for any new breaks, but that was all, and I was relieved to find that while his foot was badly bruised and swollen there were no new fractures to be found.
I was horrified to realize that Holmes earlier' remark had been true. Whoever had originally broken his foot had done it a little at a time, applying enough pressure each time to cause the bone to fracture, and in such a way that when the bones healed, they would indeed heal crooked.
Lestrade had been lucky. A few more fractures would have been all it would have taken to cause enough permanent damage to interfere with his chosen profession, and if that second raid had not prevented the job on his foot from being finished, the man would have been left lame.
As it was, he would need to stay off of it for a while if he wanted to avoid further injury. Fortunately, he wouldn't be able to be up for some time anyway, thanks to his leg.
Holmes crawled off Lestrade as I finished applying a hasty splint, and the Inspector let me help him up again. Holmes roused Gregson and dragged him to his feet and headed for the street in hopes of flagging down a cab as morning dawned.
Gregson lost what little color he had left when we entered the sitting room at Baker Street and his wife nearly tackled him. Nonetheless, he wrapped his arms around her and didn't mention the pain she was causing by flinging her own arms around his chest and back and holding him in a grip that seemed meant to ward off death.
Elisabeth watched me maneuver her husband through the door and over to the couch where she had been sitting with the other woman before our arrival. She was quiet as Lestrade all but fell onto the couch with a hiss, and when he leaned back she carefully maneuvered his injured left leg so his foot rested in her lap.
The man's jaw clenched with the effort not to cry out, and Elisabeth was still. When his jaw finally relaxed, she carefully worked at removing his shoe.
Jones looked more awake as he joined us at Baker Street and tried to figure out what had happened tonight. It took almost three hours for Holmes and I to explain everything; Jones had not been aware of anything having to do with this smuggling gang, and Lestrade and Gregson were in no condition to give any input of their own.
By the end of the week the worst of the gang had been rounded up, and Gregson's voice had recovered enough for him to join Lestrade and testify in court. Those captured were convicted, and sentenced, and Gregson and Lestrade celebrated by nearly passing out together in the hallway after the trial had finally come to a close.
Both men ended up needing time off, though Gregson would probably be able to return before Lestrade was even capable of standing on his own two feet again. When this looked as if it might cause trouble with the Superintendent, Inspector Hopkins opened his mouth and spent fifteen minutes listing every time one of the two men had been called in when off duty or injured or ill in the past year alone, and threatened to continue on to the next year before Bradstreet groaned and pointed out that the other Inspectors would be perfectly able, and willing, to pick up the slack.
In the end Superintendent Marshall retreated with the proclamation that the two should take as much time as they needed for a complete recovery, but even as Hopkins and Bradstreet grinned triumphantly I wondered how long it would last.
Scotland Yard was not a place that allowed its employees to remain idle for long.
Disclaimer: Sherlock Holmes and the boys do not belong to me.