From Thy Pedestal
By Alone Dreaming
Rating: PG-13 for language
Characters: Lestrade, Sherlock, Mycroft, Donovan
Warnings: Eh, lots of thoughts, no resolutions, an utter lack of John, big spoilers for 1x03.
Disclaimer: I don't own it. If I did, it would premiere in the States.
Author's Note: A sequel of sorts to both "Easy Decisions" and "Anomalies" but can rather stand alone, too. I'd suggest reading the other two first as it won't hurt but you can probably push through this without the knowledge. Enjoy.
Five years earlier, no one debated Detective Inspector Lestrade's intelligence. He had, after all, graduated at the top of his class, risen quickly through the ranks, and had proved on multiple counts that any criminal to cross his path would find a swift and poor ending. The word 'prodigy' once left the mouth of one of his superiors, the word 'genius' the mouth of one his mentors, and five years ago, Detective Inspector Lestrade almost believed it. Then Sherlock Holmes turned up, disdainful, cold, and brilliant, his mind connecting plots, incidences, ideas without even a second's pause, his logic always ten steps ahead of everyone in the room including Lestrade.
Flash forward to five years later, and Lestrade wondered, as he slipped from the car, rumpled, exhausted, if anyone still believed he had any talent for this business at all. Five years of having a pale, reptilian face turned up at him, having the words, "No, no, how can't you see it?" yelled at him, had downed his confidence considerably, and while he still did his own solving, he ruefully acknowledged that most of his biggest cases closed due to Sherlock's interference. No, not interference, he corrected himself, pulling at his face and attempting to clear his blurred vision, his help. Even as his reputation crumbled before him, he could not deny that Sherlock had made a huge difference; nor could he deny his begrudging gratitude.
In fact, to the public, in the open, he had never once let his crushed pride shown. To his wife, at night, in bed, he'd let out a frustrated rant or two about his career and his hopes and his dreams and his damnable self-esteem. With her curled against his side, he'd fussed about it, fussed about how much he loathed Sherlock's appearance or the necessity to call him in or his stupid little text messages of "Wrong" or "Try again" or "Really, DI?" And then, often, she'd prop herself up on her elbow with an amused smile on her lips, her fingers tracing the side of his face and say,
"Well, love, thank goodness you were never in for the splendor or it would be a disappointment, indeed."
That phrase got him through most of his days as he bowed to Sherlock's whims and conclusions and wrote into his reports that one Mister Sherlock Holmes found that evidence or followed this lead which inevitably led to the solution. He joined the police force to do good, one of those starry eyed dreamers who idealistically sought justice and peace and perfection. Even after he grew a bit jaded and saw that half of the system was politics and scandal, he still wanted the best for the people, still didn't care if his actions brought down his own image as long as there was one less murderer or rapist or thief on the streets. Yes, his self-worth took a hit, and yes, his ego had deflated steadily under the continual blows, but his goal never stopped being achieved.
"Humility," his mother's voice echoed in his head as he approached the burning building surrounded by emergency vehicles and officers. "Humility is your best friend in life. Stay humble and then no one will have to topple you from a pedestal."
He hadn't believed her as a child but found the merit in the phrase as he grew older. It applied to everyone he'd ever known, from his teachers to his underlings to his wife to his siblings to his friends. It applied to people he didn't know and, somehow, made them all equal. All the same, it didn't feel right as he approached the ambulance where Sherlock Holmes sat hunched up, a paramedic tending to the side of his head. He looked every bit of a Greek god who fell from Olympus, curls matted, pale structured features grayish and bruised; for the first time since Lestrade met him, his eyes fixed hard on the ground and he did not say a word.
Before he could speak, a hand settled on his shoulder and turned his attention to an equally tall and imperious looking individual. Mycroft Holmes, he identified, pulling back just enough to remove the other's hand from him. He'd met Mycroft once or twice when the elder Holmes had turned up on a crime scene or when he dropped by Sherlock's apartments. He wore the same, long suffering expression that Sherlock wore when he felt everyone was working at idiocy but there was a definite gentleness about his eyes that Lestrade did not associate with Sherlock. Socialization, he decided, though he didn't dare voice it; unlike Sherlock, who didn't have a bit of social graces, Mycroft Holmes had adapted his overabundance of intelligence so that he could interact with other people. He'd learned how to express emotions, to let his face reveal things (whether they were true or not, Lestrade could not decide) and had therefore become a leader.
"A word, sir," Mycroft requested, politely. "I believe we have much to speak on."
Lestrade frowned. "In a minute, Mister Holmes, I'm afraid I need to catch up on everything that's happening first."
Mycroft smiled, that same smile that Sherlock gave Lestrade, that awful, crocodile grin that wasn't broad but was just as deadly. "I am certain I can provide any knowledge you're missing in a more accurate fashion than your lackeys." Before Lestrade could debate that, tell him that he needed far more than "This is what happened" and much more of "This is what we're doing to solve it", Mycroft continued, "But most importantly, I need you and your men to… edit what all has happened here. Rest assured, it is done legally and for the safety of all involved."
Lestrade felt his expression change and he tucked his hands into his coat pockets. Underneath the coat, he had on a hastily acquired set of jeans and old t-shirt. The call from Donovan had pulled him unexpectedly from his house, and he'd been lucky to even find these clothes in his haste to get out the door. Standing with a particularly fine dresser (and because he normally took great care in how he dressed while at work), he felt particularly out of place. Before him was a man who gave orders, orders to be obeyed regardless of regulations, morality, or standard. A man such as himself, in his jeans and his shirt and his coat, listened and acted, didn't question or revolt.
Then he remembered that regardless of his garb, Mycroft's authority, and his nature to bow to the whims of a Holmes, he was a Detective Inspector, and he had no reason to comply with the commands of a civilian.
"I won't leave out anything imperative to solving my case, Mister Holmes," he informed. "If Sherlock's done something illegal—"
"If Sherlock had done something illegal here, I would not confront an honest man and ask for a lie," Mycroft interrupted. "Rest assured I am not requesting anything illegal of you. I am merely asking you to put into your report that my brother did not survive this blast. As of tomorrow, he will be put into a protective program so that we do not have incidences like this happening again."
"Dead?" Lestrade repeated, incredulous. "Dead? Mister Holmes? Why on Earth would I report him dead? How on Earth do you intend on—"
"For the sake of your safety and your family's safety—"
"You will not threaten my family."
The heat of their discussion started to draw attention. Donovan noticed and approached from his left and Sherlock's head tilted up to catch his brother's eye. The staring contest Lestrade had engaged Mycroft in ended abruptly as the elder Holmes broke away and went to his brother's side. Donovan reached him, her face somber, and he tore himself away from the family scene in order to listen. He barely knew what was going on here—though it obviously related to Sherlock's mysterious stalker—and he needed information desperately.
"Everything, quickly with as many details and as few words as possible," he commanded, marveling silently at how much he sounded like Sherlock in that moment. Before he met him, he'd allow a stumbling, lengthy reply and would pick out his own facts. Now-a-days, efficiency and laziness had overtaken him.
"The Bomber struck again," Donovan stated, needlessly. "We were called in to look into it. From what we've gathered, the freak and his dog were in there when it blew. Probably another vest, boss, from what we can tell."
The freak and dog comment struck him as unnecessary and forced him to take a deep breath to control his annoyance. A little ways away, the Holmes brothers successfully avoided such a tactic. Sherlock was on his feet, gesticulating wildly, while Mycroft stood before him, interrupting, loudly, every few seconds. Completely incomprehensible, too, Lestrade noted, for they weren't speaking English or German, and he had no talent for languages beyond those two.
"French," Donovan offered, following his gaze. "They're speaking French."
Lestrade avoided responding to it. "Any casualties?"
"Three bodies, burned to a crisp. Not getting any prints off but we'll do dentals, if possible," she answered. "Snipers, judging by the weapons we've found near them."
It struck him then, that there was something missing from the entirety of this. Later, he thought it might've been subconscious; Sherlock might've said the name right then too as he threw his arms up in the air in frustration while the paramedic stood next to the pair of Holmes's , looking rather lost about what she should do. All the same, he noticed that there was a lack of a presence, rather like when someone changes his or her hairstyle, or corrects his or her teeth. He blinked past Donovan, then around himself, then over at Sherlock and the unhurried ambulance.
"Where's John Watson?" he asked, his voice sharper than he intended.
Donovan's voice changed but so slightly that someone who didn't know her wouldn't have noticed. "Bart's. Shot in the back."
It explained Sherlock's features, the tightness around his eyes as he listened to Mycroft who spoke in low, soothing tones. The tapping foot, the hands jammed in his pockets, the pursed lips; none of those were normal Sherlock at all. Lestrade could not think of a time that he'd seen such intense emotional reactions from the self-appointed detective unless they were part of a disguise. Nor could he ever—even in those disguises—recall a moment where Sherlock looked so utterly desperate and lost. Mycroft reached out to touch Sherlock's shoulder but Sherlock inched away, back hunched slightly, eyes averted.
Lestrade broke away, back to Donovan again, running a hand over his face. Utter exhaustion, thy name is civilian consultants, he thought, wanting nothing more than his bed and his wife and a silent, peaceful night. "All right, Donovan, let's get this scene under control."
"Yes, sir," she answered, taking it as dismissal and disappearing into the thrumming crowd. Already, people were crowding about, peering at the destroyed pool and whispering to each other. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of an effeminate and ruffled looking man staring at the diminishing flames, his eyes dancing with a private fire. A second glance revealed nothing at all and he brushed it off. Instead, he chose to confront the Holmes brothers who were now speaking softly, Sherlock leaning against the ambulance, Mycroft erect, calculating.
"He said the plural you, Mycroft," Sherlock said, voice hoarse.
"John is only a threat with you, Sherlock," Mycroft replied. "If you are gone, he will be safe. I will personally see to it. It is the only logical route available to you."
"So, you're suggesting I give up and let him win, then?" Sherlock's hand twirled a strand of his hair. "You are suggesting that I leave John to the wolves."
He planted himself at five feet, surprised that the two of them hadn't commented yet, and said, "What's going on here, Sherlock?"
"I believe that my brother has decided to leave," Mycroft answered. "Am I correct, Sherlock?"
Sherlock studied his feet, bare, scraped, bruised. His expression, before utterly devoid of normal composure, slowly morphed back into the mask that Lestrade knew. The slightest twitch turned his lips, not enough to be fully evident, but Lestrade knew people. Before, he thought that had made him a good detective, that understanding motive could get him through even though he lacked the eye for minute details. He was wrong, of course, but it did give him an edge. He saw what this all meant immediately, realized what was about to happen, and carefully composed himself for it. Sherlock straightened, slightly unsteady in his motions, his face sagging underneath what appeared to be oppressive weariness.
"My brother's right," he said, clearly his throat as his words caught. "The safest thing for everyone is if I disappear." He attempted to move away from the ambulance only to start a slow descent down towards the ground. Lestrade leapt forward on cue, touching Holmes for the first time, wrapping his arms about his middle and preventing him from hitting the dirty pavement. Mycroft started as well, while the paramedic threw her arms in the air.
"Sherlock," Mycroft began, and Lestrade felt no guilt over the concern in his voice.
"Just… fetch whatever car you intend on whisking me away in, would you?" Sherlock whispered, leaning far more heavily against Lestrade than was necessary. "Lestrade will keep me under careful watch until then."
Lestrade could not meet Mycroft's eye. "On my honor, Mister Holmes."
He did not see Mycroft leave, could not dare to look over because he could not school himself well-enough to beat the likes of these two. However, a moment later, Sherlock jerked him forward, close, too close to be comfortable, and hissed, "Tell him when he wakes up that the bargain remains and to not listen for people talk, they do little else."
He did not get a chance to ask for clarification because Mycroft returned a minute later, removing Sherlock from him and leading him to an all black car with tinted windows. His insistence that he needed a statement fell upon deaf ears and his only lead drove away into the night, leaving him with a whole load of bloody issue and the promise of several sleepless nights. But that was what happened when gods fell, he reasoned, telling Donovan to get a hold of John's sister's number so he could give her a call. When someone such as he fell, it made the news and the word 'dirty' was thrown about. When someone such as Sherlock fell, the world burned.