Author's note: Yes, I know. This is not either of the stories I'd been promising on my profile, and it isn't set after my version of The Empty House. But Gregson has been patiently waiting for me to finish what I'd started, and post it too, and with minimal pushing and prodding about me getting on with it, and Hopkins and Bradstreet said it would be fine for me to go ahead, and that they could wait, and Holmes and Lestrade are still trying to decide if they're going to forbid me to post the other story, so there you have it. At any rate, I hope you enjoy.
Morning had come, if the fact that my wife was stirring was any indication, which, of course, it was. My wife rose at the same time every day, no matter the time of year or weather or how late she'd been up the night before.
"Morning," I yawned as I rolled out of bed. "Sleep well?"
"How many times did I wake you up?" I asked.
She smiled as she answered, trying to reassure me. "Four times. Did something happen at work yesterday?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary." I replied after a moment's thought.
"There must have been something." Heather mused. "You were only waking up once or twice in the night." She smiled mischievously. "Of course, someone could set an elephant lose down at the Yard and you wouldn't consider it to be anything out of the ordinary." She teased.
"I'm sorry I disturbed you." I told her. I'd been having nightmares steadily since that incident with the smugglers that had gone horribly wrong, and they were bad enough so that I would jerk awake and actually sit upright in bed, gasping for breath, at least according to my wife. I always went right back to sleep, she said, and I myself never actually remembered waking up, or the nightmares themselves.
I didn't doubt, however, that my wife's claim was true. Lestrade and I had spoken of such effects of that case once, and he had revealed that he often had nightmares from it himself.
"Apologize for something you can change." My wife replied, breaking into my thoughts. "I don't expect you to feel guilty for something you can't help."
I caught her and kissed her before she made it out the door and headed downstairs to start breakfast. Then I turned my attention back to getting dressed.
I made the bed when I was finished, and headed downstairs myself. At the bottom of the stairs I stopped to disentangle the leash from the banister, and whistled for the dog.
Reggie came around the corner from the sitting room, his tail wagging. Reggie, or Reginald, as my wife called him, was mostly beagle. He had been given to Heather when he was a pup, a gift from her brother. I didn't care for dogs; I had been trying to find a home for him, somewhere other than with us, when a week after we got him Heather got the news that her brother had been killed in a cab accident. The dog had stayed.
He wasn't bad, though, as far as dogs went, and the little fellow had actually started to grow on me over the past year. He was well mannered, and not bad looking, and certainly worth keeping if it comforted my wife to have him around, even if the responsibilities of walking and washing him had been delegated to me.
We set out on our morning walk, the dog and I, down two blocks, over one, and back around until we reached the house. Once back inside, Reggie licked my hand in thanks as I took off his leash, then trotted off towards the kitchen to pretend he wasn't begging.
I headed upstairs to wake the boy.
He was curled up in his bed, snoring lightly, a ragged teddy bear clutched tightly in his arms.
"Wake up, sleepy head." I called, pulling the covers off my four year old.
"I don't wanna." My son whined.
"Nobody does." I told him. "Now get up before I get you up myself.
"Okay, okay." Toby grumbled. Why Heather had insisted on naming the boy after his father was beyond me, but the woman had insisted. Tobias it was.
"Do you need help dressing?" I asked.
Toby shook his head. "I'm four. I can dress myself. Almost."
"Call me if you need help." I told him. If the boy was this independent now, I wasn't looking forward to him getting older. I waited out in the hall for him to decide he needed help.
Breakfast was ready by the time we were done, and the two of us hurried to the kitchen. When Heather announced that a meal was ready, you came then, right that second, or else.
Breakfast was wonderful, and I told Heather as much. Toby nodded his fervent agreement as he stuffed food into his mouth.
"Chew your food." I reminded my son. "You don't want to choke again." Toby chewed, swallowed, and apologized. "Sorry." He said. "It's just so good!"
"Then chew your food. It'll last longer that way." I told him.
"Yes, Dad." My son replied dutifully, but his plate was already empty. "May I be excused?"
"Yes." Heather said. "Go make your bed."
Toby groaned. "Aww, Mom."
"Do it." She said firmly, and that was the end of it. Toby left the table and trudged off to go make his bead. "Did you make your bed?" Heather turned and eyed me with mock sternness.
"Yes, ma'am." I replied meekly. "May I be excused as well?'
My wife rolled her eyes at me. "Off with you, then." She said. "You've got time to read the paper before you leave.
I retreated to the living room and settled down with a copy of The Strand this morning; Dr. Watson had been at it again. I scanned the story; the Inspectors at the Yard had mercifully been left out of this one. That would be one less thing to worry about today.
I let myself relax and actually read the story; Dr. Watson had a way with words, and when he wasn't making us look like fools down at the Yard I actually found I enjoyed his stories, though I would certainly never tell him as much.
It was time to leave for work when I'd finished. I folded the paper up and set it on the coffee table. "I'm leaving, dear!" I called as I donned my coat and hat.
"Good riddance!" She called back cheerfully. "Dinner will be ready at 5:00!"
I closed the door behind me as I stepped out onto the street and started towards Scotland Yard.
Grace, the widow three blocks down, tried to accuse me of treading on her flowers as if I were still a young boy. I smiled and bid her good morning as I passed. The woman was getting too old to be alone the way she was.
Jones greeted me at the doors of the building. "Read The Strand this morning?" He asked.
"We weren't in it." I assured the man. If Lestrade and I had been less than pleased over A Study In Scarlet, Jones had been positively livid over The Sign of Four. "Don't tell Lestrade." I added as an afterthought.
Jones rolled his eyes. "No chance of that." He said. "You're absolutely unbearable when someone ruins your fun."
"Very funny." I told him. "Is he in yet?"
"Is he ever late?" Jones retorted.
"Only when someone tries to kill him on the way to work, and the last time that happened was years ago." I said with a smirk. Jones shook his head, and we went our separate ways. He disappeared into his office, and I poked my head into Lestrade's.
The man was scowling at one of the notes on the board on the wall behind his desk. "Morning," I greeted him, going for extra cheerful.
He didn't return the greeting. "Does this look like a message board to you?" He demanded irritably.
Someone had left him a note, and instead of leaving it on his desk like anyone with sense would have, had left it pinned to his note board. Even worse, whoever it was had actually moved some of the other pieces of paper attached to the board in the process. Whoever it was, they apparently were not aware of the fact that you never moved anything of Lestrade's. Ever.
"No." I answered his question. "Dr. Watson's been writing again."
Lestrade was still frowning at his note board, trying to remember where the notes that had been moved had been originally pinned. "Do I somehow unintentionally encourage people to leave messages here?" He asked.
"As far as I am aware, no." I replied. "Have you read it?"
Lestrade glanced towards the message on his desk. "It was something that was resolved when I arrived this morning." He said dismissively.
I snorted. "I meant the doctor's story."
Lestrade glanced over at me. "Story?" He asked, puzzled.
I rolled my eyes. "Story, yes. Dr. Watson has had another of his stories published in The Strand. Have you seen it?"
Lestrade just looked at me. "When do I have time to read, Gregson?" He asked.
"So you haven't read it." I allowed myself to smirk. "Then you don't know what it said?"
"I would think that much would be obvious." Lestrade retorted. "Is there a reason I should?"
I chuckled. Then I shrugged. Lestrade shot me a glare.
"Either tell me or go away." He grumbled. "Hopkins doesn't give me this much trouble over the Doctor's stories."
"His loss." I said easily. "You know, you really should read more. It might make you a little bit smarter."
"When?" He demanded sharply. Honestly, I'd never known anyone to so stubbornly insist that they didn't have time to read.
He stared at the last misplaced note in his hand for a moment, and his eyes squeezed shut as he tried desperately to remember where it was supposed to go.
"Of course, I suppose just beating the problem to death has worked pretty well for you so far. Why change what works?" I grinned as he jerked his eyes open and glared at me again; I had broken his concentration. "It was there, by the way." I stepped over to the board and pointed. "I remember you putting it up."
"Thank you." He grunted. "Now will you please leave? I have work to do."
"You have a nice day too." I said brightly as I departed and headed down the hall to my own office.
I settled into the chair behind my desk and straightened the files and forms that tended to amass rather untidily there. I wondered, not for the first time, how Lestrade managed to keep his desk, and office, so neat.
But there was work to do, reports to write, and forms to fill out, so I set the now straightened stack of papers down and started on the first one.
Bradstreet stopped by around midmorning with an extra cup of coffee. I set down the papers, and stood. "Thank you." I said as I accepted the coffee. "Do I look tired?"
"That's Lestrade." Bradstreet reminded me. "Did he get his note board straightened out?"
I nodded. "I don't know what people are thinking."
Bradstreet shrugged. "It's usually the Constables. They work with him, but they don't see as much of him as we Inspectors do, so they don't realize what a bad idea it is to mess with his stuff."
I leaned on the wall and sipped my coffee. "It seems quiet today."
"Don't tell anybody." Bradstreet warned me, a twinkle in his eye. "Wouldn't want anyone to feel they needed to fix that for us."
We finished the coffee, Bradstreet left, and I returned to my paperwork.
Holmes made an appearance at the Yard shortly after one o'clock. He left almost immediately, Lestrade in tow and exchanging the briefest of pleasantries with Dr. Watson as they hurried to keep up with the amateur detective. I went back to my paperwork.
By the end of the day, my desk was actually clean. I sat back and savored the moment; it was a rare occurrence that I was actually left uninterrupted long enough to get much work done at all. It was possible this would not happen again for years.
I left Scotland Yard and headed home.
I had just enough time to walk Reggie before dinner was ready. He was actually waiting for me when I got in. I put his leash on him, and took him outside.
"Hello, Mr. Gregson!" Halfway down the block, the shout rang out.
"Hello, Jimmy." I returned the greeting as I stopped and waited for the fourteen year old to catch up with me. "How is your mother?"
"She's fine." Jimmy replied. "But she thinks that since I'm growing up she suddenly has to start worrying about who I talk to and who I spend time with and what kind of company I keep." He complained. "She says some of the boys I run with aren't good influences."
"Some of them aren't." I warned the boy. "I know he's your friend, Jimmy, but that Wilson boy is trouble."
Jimmy rolled his eyes. "That's what Mom says, but she don't know."
"Doesn't." I corrected.
"Doesn't." Jimmy amended. "But she doesn't know Pete. And she doesn't know Billy, or Richard, or any of the others. She just doesn't like them because they aren't as clean as she thinks they should be."
"Well, I don't know any of your friends personally either." I admitted. "But I do know that one of the other Inspectors lives over there on the same street Pete Wilson lives, and he's wary of the boy."
Jimmy scowled at me. "And he's the police, right? Most of them aren't like you. They see dirt and automatically think 'thief.'"
"Actually, I was under the impression that he was worried because he caught the boy trying to pick his pockets, caught him tormenting somebody's cat the next day, and found him with someone's purse not a week later." I informed Jimmy seriously. "You're old enough and smart enough to choose your own friends, but be careful, or Pete'll get you into trouble."
"Well, maybe." Jimmy said, but he was thinking. He was quite until we reached my front door. "Oh, hey." He said quickly. "You get The Strand, right? I was wondering if I could borrow the new one? There's a new Sherlock Holmes story out."
I chuckled. "I'll bring it with me tomorrow." I promised.
"Thanks." Jimmy said, and promptly took off.
Dinner was ready when I returned. I let the dog loose and went to wash up before I headed to the dinner table.
"Hello, dear." My wife greeted me as I sat down. "Anything interesting happen at work today?"
I thought for a minute before replying. "Not really. Someone's been using Lestrade's note board to post messages again."
"Toby was trying to read today." Heather informed me with a smile. "I came into the living room and found him sitting in your armchair with one of your books open on his lap."
"I was reading." Toby protested.
"You were holding the book upside down." Heather reminded him.
"I can read upside down." Toby informed her.
"Your father can't read upside down, silly. What makes you think you can?"
Toby pouted for a few minutes. "Can you teach me to read, Dad?" He asked as he started eating again.
I smiled down at the boy. "I don't suppose it would do any harm." I told him.
He grinned as widely as if it were Christmas morning. "Now?" He asked, jumping up from the table and heading towards the sitting room.
"Toby!" Heather called after him. "You get back in here and finish your dinner!"
"Yes, Mom." Toby returned and started back on his meal.
"We'll start after dinner, if you wish." I offered, and some of my son's pleasant demeanor returned.
Disclaimer: Sherlock and the boys do not belong to me.