"Look out, sir!" Clarke shoved the younger man out of the way seconds before the bullet whizzed by. Both men collided rather forcefully with the hard ground, enough to knock the wind out of them. "I thought you said we were trying not to get shot." He gasped as they both lurched to their feet.
Inspector Lestrade almost smiled as they ducked behind a pile of lumber. "Now we know where they're holed up." He grunted. "Where's the bloody backup?" He muttered under his breath."Holmes would never let me hear the end of this." He shook his head as he considered the situation.
"They know we're out here," he continued quietly, as if to himself, "but they don't know how many of us there are. If they have any brains at all they'll make a break for it." Lestrade swore; he'd been after this lot for nearly a year now, and now they were slipping away because the reinforcements he'd sent for were slow in coming.
They stayed where they were. Though neither constable nor inspector considered themselves fighters they could handle themselves well enough if it came down to it, and they probably would have been a fair match against the four men Lestrade was hunting.
The inspector would not go in without backup. He would wait, and his quarry would probably slip away. Clarke knew this as well as any man down at the Yard, even if he did not understand it.
He probably never would, either. Lestrade never explained himself to anyone.
Then again, Lestrade also did not take interest in specific constables either. "When I first joined the force," Lestrade murmured to Clarke in what was nearly a whisper as they waited, "my senior partner nearly got the two of us and three bystanders killed when he wouldn't wait for the backup to arrive." The inspector scowled, and Clarke guessed the rest of the story. The rookies always received the blame when something went wrong, and it never did any good to protest the matter either.
"I spent my first week crawling through the sewers because no one else wanted to." Clarke offered with a shrug, his voice just as low as the inspector's.
Lestrade became aware that they were not alone a split second before Clarke did. The inspector swore as the constable turned and tackled their would-be attacker in one fluid motion.
The two went down and their assailant called for help. A moment later the two Yarders were involved in precisely the kind of altercation they had been trying to avoid, but threw themselves into the fight with a will all the same.
Clarke resisted the urge to groan and roll his eyes as the cavalry arrived in time to stare at the winded constable and inspector and gape at their subdued quarry.
"Took your time getting here, didn't you?" Lestrade demanded as he got to his feet. "Take this lot back to Scotland Yard." He ordered before some hapless constable could be foolish enough no to recognize a rhetorical question when Lestrade slapped him with it.
The inspector brushed off his clothes, straightened his tie, and looked for Clarke, who was trying to remember who it was that had told him that Lestrade insisted on waiting for backup because he was afraid of a fight as he took inventory of himself. He was pleased to find that all of him was still there.
"You all right, sir?" Clarke asked the inspector. Lestrade didn't answer, which suggested that he was fine but not entirely happy about it. "Same time tomorrow night, then?" He quipped, eliciting a barely audible groan from the inspector.
Disclaimer: Sherlock Holmes and the boys at Scotland Yard do not belong to me.