It would never have worked.

Whatever they had had between them—if anything else had been between them besides—well, he hasn't the slightest idea about the besides—it would never have worked.

Funny that's what he's reminded of when he gets back into the car. He's not the sort to mull over what's dead and done; he wouldn't be a DI if he couldn't let cases go, closed or cold. That's Sherlock's area—the obsessiveness.

Speaking of which—the man's having a fit upstairs, crowing about an early Christmas and the blessedness of four suicides. Bloody typical. He'd walked into Sherlock's flat, Sherlock had demanded "where," they'd had a little chat too close to bickering, and then he'd left without so much as an introduction to the man sitting in... well it was never his sofa. Just happened to sit in it a few times while they worked into the early morning hours on a few gruesome cases. He doesn't regret not having Sherlock's powers of deduction because in all honesty—he doesn't want to know. The poor fellow fit right in with the rest of the rubbish collecting in Sherlock's flat and that, more than anything, was how he'd known he'd be seeing more of the unfortunate sod's face in the future. And Sherlock would, as always, be sure to tell him all the gory details later, whenever it struck him.

Admittedly he was curious what line Sherlock had fed the man to get him to stay at all. Powers of deduction or not, Sherlock Holmes has always been a consummate liar. He has a taste for the overly dramatic; he's vain the same way all sociopaths are vain. And despite his self-declared freakishness and tactless behavior, Sherlock is fast and cocksure, and people are strangely attracted to such oddities—a fact of which Sherlock is keenly aware and takes advantage on a regular basis.

Thus, when Sherlock arrives on scene with the other one, it doesn't surprise him when he's given a sharp "he's with me" and expected to drop the subject. He restrains his reaction when Sherlock sticks his hand out like a magician ("shut up" "I didn't say anything" "you were thinking it—it's annoying"), and when Sherlock proceeds to over exaggerate all his motions for the benefit of the viewing parties. Lestrade lets him put on this show because he clearly has something to prove to the short fellow, who seems to think that Sherlock is trying to make a point to him—the upstanding, boring DI—despite the fact that they'd already worked together for five years and he was already too familiar with Sherlock's MO. He's seen the damn show a thousand times before, knows exactly when Sherlock's done with his examination and knows exactly if he's arrived at a useful conclusion. Which he has. The man looks like the cat that got the canary.

And, of course, Anderson can't resist chipping in his two cents on the matter. 'Rache'—of course she's not German. It's all there, in the looks. Lestrade could never break it down to discrete traits like their resident motor-mouth, but he's got his own way of going about detective work.

He can't resist—it's out of his mouth before he think to stop himself.

"So she's German."

Lestrade learned early on in their relationship that it's safer to play the fool with Sherlock. Sherlock is like a child—contradict him, say something obviously stupid, and he's more likely to give a breathless explanation of his professional opinion in that superior tone of his. Otherwise he stays lost in his head, muttering under his breath.

"Of course she's not."

Sherlock falls for the ploy every time. Or at least lets himself fall for it knowingly every time—he'd figured the trick out soon after Lestrade began to use it, then began to use it himself during interviews.

"She's from out of town though, intended to stay in London for one night, before returning to Cardiff. So far, so obvious."

Agreed, though he hadn't worked out the Cardiff bit. They'll have to corroborate with the credit card data before looking anyone up…

It almost feels as though nothing's happened, it's like old times again with Sherlock running his mouth and fooling around on his mobile when the man—Dr. Watson, as it turns out—interrupts the flow. Sherlock wants the doctor's opinion which is—raises the stakes somehow.

"We have a whole team outside—"

"They won't work with me."

And whose fault was that?

Never mind, there's no point in bringing that mess back up, but allowing this fellow—he doesn't even know what type of doctor he is—there's enough at risk as it is.

"I'm breaking every rule letting you in here."

"Yes. Because you need me."

The words hang between them. Dr. Watson looks at them both, clearly confused but clearly understanding that Sherlock is being a right bastard and pushing all the wrong buttons. Because that's the point—they don't need Sherlock, they haven't needed Sherlock, he's not some sort of essential consultant, everyone learns to pick their battles and content themselves with the clearance rates except, apparently, Sherlock bloody Holmes who had to make a big to do during the press conference in a childish bid for attention when this entire situation between them was Sherlock's fault in the first place. Need him? Need him? The bloody hell they need him.

Sherlock is silent, determined not to say any more than he has to.

Well, there's a first for everything.

And it would never have worked.

It would never, never have worked. Never mind the mass texts, never mind Sherlock was the one who contacted him when everyone on the team would rather that the psychopath consultant detective left them well alone. They had been managing superbly without him. He'd suspected by the second suicide that they were dealing with something repeated, if not serial, and he'd debated whether or not to contact Sherlock and bring him in on the matter.

'Because you need me'—the bastard.

In the end, this was what five years meant to a man like Sherlock Holmes, standing across from him at a crime scene with the weight of words heavy between them. Five years.

It would never have worked, and he refuses to look back.


There's a dead woman in front of them, three other similar deaths, and the distinct possibility that a killer is still at large and waiting to strike for a fifth. There's also a leak in his crime unit—someone must be tipping off the press because otherwise, three seemingly unrelated suicides in random locations around London would not have been particularly newsworthy material. He wouldn't put it past Sherlock or Mycroft to have maneuvered him into this corner. With a fourth, they don't have the time to do it Anderson's way. There's a dead woman in front of him.

There's a dead woman, Jennifer Wilson, who loved the color pink, in front of him.

Damn Sherlock for manipulating him like this. Damn him. Damn himself for letting himself be manipulated. It would never have worked, but when it had worked, they'd been the best team in all Britain.

Everything hangs between them—and he wishes, for a brief second, that implicit within 'you need me' is also the statement 'I need you'—for what, he's no idea. But he knows Sherlock, and there's a dead woman in front of them both who cannot be raised from the dead and deserves a measure of justice.

'Because you need me.'

"Yes I do. God help me."

God help us all.

He absolutely refuses to look back. Out of the bloody question.

The bastard.

Since there's no stopping Sherlock when he wants something, Lestrade gives Watson his blessing, then goes outside under the pretense of giving orders to Anderson. It gives him a few moments to collect himself, pull on his usual detachment. The two of them are whispering over the body when he comes back in and Lestrade keeps his distance. He takes the opportunity to look—really look—at Dr. Watson.

The doctor seems competent enough. Less showy, direct, experienced. John Watson looks like a determined man. Loyal, compassionate—qualities Lestrade thinks he had when he first began this line of work. Former military by the way he holds himself, probably from a solid working class background. He seems familiar with dead bodies, he's got an efficient way of dealing with them. Asks the right questions—no doubt Sherlock picked up on that, else he'd never tolerate Watson's company. A man like him, they'd usually have put in a base hospital or in a medevac copter. But he's wounded, so it seems more likely he had been part of a company. The only question then—Iraq or Afghanistan?

It occurs to him that Sherlock asked the same question, using a different line of reasoning. More empirical, less intuitive. They'd had the argument more times than he cares to remember.

"Yeah. Asphyxiation, probably. Passed out, choked on her own vomit."

Sherlock looks at Lestrade—'he's with me' clear in his eyes. Watson is totally oblivious.

"Can't smell any alcohol on her, could have been a seizure, or possibly drugs."

"You know what it was, you've read the papers."

"Or she's one of the suicides—"

And there's the conclusion Sherlock was looking for. There isn't time for this nonsense.

Two minutes, and Britain's fastest talker is off to the races.

"Victim is in her late thirties, professional person going by her clothes, I'm guessing something in the media going by the frankly alarming shade of pink—"

In retrospect, he's surprised that he and Sherlock lasted as long as they did, given the disagreements that became clearer as time went on. The doctor responds to Sherlock in a completely different manner from Lestrade—the man is almost… encouraging. He assumes his own stupidity and asks Sherlock to explain outright the justification for his answers. Amazingly, Sherlock gives an answer, like a precocious teacher's pet. Watson never challenges Sherlock's rapid-fire conclusions, as though he implicitly believes in Sherlock's system of deductions. The doctor is star-struck, and Lestrade wonders how quickly it will wear off.

"Oh for god's sake, if you're just making this up—"

That was the problem—well, part of the problem. A small part. The luster, the magic of Sherlock's deductive powers no longer worked on Lestrade. He's not sure if that kind of amazement had ever really been there. When they'd met, he and Sherlock had been younger—enthusiastic and brilliant, but still slightly greener behind the ears. He'd been at that point in his career where he was experienced enough to take on the strange and difficult cases, but not so experienced that he'd been hardened to the sight of dead bodies. As for Sherlock—the enterprise had been new enough that Sherlock hadn't been bored by them. Yet.

"It's brilliant!"




He's seen the mistakes Sherlock's made. He'd been there while Sherlock had still been in the process of refining his methodology. Watson has the advantage of seeing Sherlock at the height of his powers, but Lestrade—he knows with the certainty of an eyewitness and a partner that Sherlock Holmes is fallible. Like any method of solving crimes, there are assumptions that Sherlock makes and those assumptions can unhinge the entire line of rationalizations. Sociopath he may be, genius he may be, but he is not superhuman. Sherlock Holmes deduces, concludes, analyzes. He is quick and intelligent.

"Dear god, what is it like in your funny little brains, it must be so boring."

He also lies, he guesses, and he has been wrong. And he will never admit it. Anderson would have been more forgiving if Sherlock had admitted it, but Sherlock hadn't seen why he should. He hadn't been wrong, he'd said. He would—in his own words—rather be dead than wrong. Which was the heart of the matter: it hadn't been Sherlock who'd died. It never was.

This analysis Sherlock spouts—Lestrade compiles, out of habit, a list of doubts that Sherlock wrote off as irrelevant or simply overlooked out of hubris:

Alarming shade of pink does not imply she worked in the media, perhaps the woman liked pink—common among females, matter of personal taste (relevance?). Overattribution of significance to clean jewelry, possible (though sounds unlikely) she forgot to clean the ring. Dry umbrella etc mostly sound, still possible that umbrella not in use because both hands had been occupied (with what). Dampness of suit jacket interesting—shouldn't she have dried off by now? Narrows timeframe—clothes rarely stay wet three hours, especially if she was in the rain for a few minutes. Suitcase, but even more—if this is a murder where's the woman's purse. If suicide or murder, why found with credit cards but not any sort of identification. Serial adulterer possible connection with first suicide/murder? If 'Rachel' and suicide, why did she wait until dying to scratch it out. If 'Rache' and suicide, why German, revenge against whom. If 'Rachel' and murder, why no sign of struggle ingesting poison. If 'Rache' and murder, why German, is she an object of someone else's revenge—serial killer a jealous boyfriend, husband, other.

"Now where is it what have you done with it."

"There wasn't a case."

"Say that again."

"There wasn't a case, there was never any suitcase."

He doesn't bother to point out these possibilities to Sherlock. Sherlock's already chosen his line of investigation—his mind works that way. Examine the base of facts, build a hypothesis, pursue that hypothesis until proven right. It's not deduction, but induction. Besides, five years—Sherlock could probably quote Lestrade's arguments back to him and in the end it amounted to the same thing: Sherlock had been right, by some miracle, and he didn't care about the rest. Anyway, it was Lestrade who'd have to do the write-up.

"Serial killers are always hard, you have to wait for them to make a mistake—"

"We can't just wait."

"No we can't wait, if you look at her, really look! Houston, we have a mistake!"

Strange turn of phrase. When had he started saying that?

In the end, Sherlock gets what he what he came for—the glowing admiration of one Dr. John Watson and the discovery of what he considers a major mistake by the serial killer. Lestrade gets two tips that may or may not lead to anything: the existence of an overnight case and the possibility of 'Rachel.' Sherlock, predictably, goes off to find the case (pink, he'd known the man long enough to follow his disjointed train of thought) and leaves the boring task of finding Rachel's identity and connection to Jennifer Wilson to Lestrade. As always.

They both, as it turns out, forget about Watson. Sherlock running off to chase a suitcase, Lestrade to do his job. It's clear Watson hasn't the foggiest what's happening but that's not Lestrade's problem. He calls in Anderson and the rest of his team. The doctor wobbles downstairs to join Sherlock's mad hunt. He hopes—truly and sincerely—that Dr. Watson can keep up with Sherlock. Sherlock has always denied it, but even sociopaths need friends. Or least a captive audience to impress.

It would never have worked between them. Objectives, points of view—they could never see eye to eye. Sherlock never took kindly to doubt or criticism of his method. Or the incontrovertible proof that he'd been wrong. And the mess of the past besides.

Watson, on the other hand, has a fair chance. Tabula rasa, that sort of thing. Donovan might take it in her head to drop pointed hints, but he trusts her not to give details—it's not her or any of their places to say, after all. Despite everything that happened, he's relieved that Sherlock has someone, and that that someone is by all appearances a good man.

As for him—them—whatever they'd been—it's over.

Unless Sherlock really needs him for a case, he's assigning someone else. Put in a recommendation to promote Dimmock to DI, he's young. Let him deal with the madness that follows Sherlock. The experience will be good for Dimmock, maybe even teach him something useful along the way. And Dimmock won't let Sherlock run roughshod over him without putting up a good fight.

It's settled, then. Another load of paperwork he needs to file. Then of course there's the case. He envies Sherlock's ability to get excited about cases still. To Sherlock, it's simply a grand puzzle. The game, as he was fond of calling it. It's his thrill—it's a mystery, not a crime that includes court appearances, official documentation of evidence, bookings, press releases, weekly meetings with division superiors, training sessions, time clocked at the shooting range, mindless hours sifting through piles of records, knocking on doors to sort out domestic disputes. It's why Sherlock is consultant, and not detective inspector. He hasn't the patience.

Lestrade, as it turns out, hasn't the enthusiasm. Not anymore. He's devoted to his job, it's the bedrock of his existence, but his hair is grey where Sherlock's has remained black.

It really is over. This is the last case he's working—really working—with Sherlock Holmes.

God help him—how had it come to this?