On the Wagon

Tuesday 16th October 2007 12.30am

"I can hardly keep him locked in there." Lestrade's voice is gruff, his arms tightly folded as he paces around the lower cells of Scotland yard, his eyes locked on the closed cell door as if he expects it to lunge at him.

"You must." Mycroft Holmes says with a persuasive calmness and finality that infuriates Lestrade, given the circumstances: given the fact that this is, probably, classed as kidnapping. Of course there are loopholes, there are always loopholes, and indeed any men in Sherlock's condition could legally be detained. But he doesn't like it. And, what he especially detests is that it is all done under the beck and call of a man he has barely met.

Lestrade glances at the cell door again and fidgets. "And how long do you expect me to keep him here?"

"As long as it takes." Mycroft replies. When he is met with a hopeless look Mycroft raises an eyebrow, leaning forwards just slightly on his umbrella. "Do you think that you can handle that? It is quite imperative that he is kept in that cell, until it all leaves his system."

Lestrade swallows. "How long will it take?"

Mycroft, for once, doesn't have an answer. Lestrade regards him, eyes narrowing slightly. "You don't know?"

"I admit that Sherlock can be quite shrewd when it comes to avoiding my observations. I cannot possibly make an estimation if I am unsure as to what he has been using and how long he has had it for." Mycroft replies, the calmness maddening, although Lestrade is alert enough to notice the slight drop of his eyes and subtle roll of his shoulders in a gesture of impotency.

"You don't know." Lestrade repeats, and sighs, walking back to the cell door and pulling open the hatch that allows him to view the inmates. Inside the cell is small and bare but for the green linoleum of the floor, a small bunk and a toilet. The lone occupant seems utterly out of place. He is a thirty-year-old man dressed in an immaculate suit with short, tightly curled dark hair, striking features currently hidden behind hands, the long back arched over as he rests his elbows on his knees, rocking back and forth. Just a few days ago the same man had been at his height, extended in pride and condescending, alert and manic – a little too manic to be sober, Lestrade begins to think- rushing around a crime scene, those silver blue eyes wide, pupils a little blown, rattling off observations of minute details that wove together into a great tapestry that led the way to the conclusion. Sherlock Holmes turned the crime scene into a laboratory, and an art. Yet recently there had been a frenzied speed and presence to it all that seemed a little off. While Sherlock, it had to be said, was an eccentric, Lestrade knew drugs when he saw them. He remembers his disappointment. But his lips had been sealed, for the most part. After all, Sherlock Holmes didn't technically work for him. Or aligned to him. At this point he simply trespassed crime scenes and badgered police officers. Lestrade knows, to his regret, that he can never risk a man with his drug problems on Scotland Yard's employ: one slip and his own reputation would be destroyed. But, he supposes, that is why they are here now. Get rid of the drugs and he has himself a consulting detective that he can legitimately use. He has to admit that he is excited about that.

He closes the hatch and feels Mycroft's eyes on him. He tries to ignore them.

"Do you intend to stay here until he's out?" he says, unable to help the irritability entering his voice. He's tired, he wants to go home and turn on the football and crawl under the covers. He wants to sit in bed and watch the rushing bright colours of the obscure teams that reside on late night Sky Sports until they lull him to sleep.

"Of course." Mycroft says, stretching a little. He studies Lestrade's face and adds. "He's my brother, Detective Inspector. I can't leave him like this."

"And I can't leave you." Lestrade gives a rough sigh. "Not alone with him anyway."

Mycroft doesn't move, but tilts his chin up, the subtlest hint of stubbornness. His eyes, when they meet Lestrade again are not nearly so subtle. It may as well have been Sherlock staring out of them, for all the men shared this same trait. Lestrade sighed again and runs his hand over his greying hair and sags in defeat. "I'll get us some coffee."

Saturday 13th October 2007 10 pm

It was raining again, but Sherlock had been expecting it for some time. While meteorology hardly listed high on his intellectual agenda, it paid to anticipate the rolling clouds that would so quickly and easily wash away a valuable footmark and reduce the scuffs n the soil to slurry. But now, as the rain fell and he rode home, it held no hindrance for him. The case was wrapped up, all the intricate strings of circumstance tied back together, and the police were satisfied. He recalled the look on DI Lestrade's face when he spelt it out to him, indeed he reveled in it: while he had known the inspector for only a few months that look never seemed to wear away from repetition. In truth, Sherlock appreciated such a receptive audience. He had waved away the credit as he often did. He loved the work. 'Stay with me, Lestrade, go where I point you, and I can see you going far.' He confided in him, not without a little flare of ego. Lestrade, he recalled, had regarded him with something like wariness, but nodded in assent. Sherlock was gradually learning that interacting with Scotland Yard was like training a sniffer dog: feed it enough morsels and tend it for long enough and it will drop useful items at your feet. It certainly beat getting arrested for trespassing.

But now the initial euphoria of a solve puzzle was saved, and Sherlock felt himself shrink as he imagined the black emptiness that stretched before him before another case. The uncertainty. The boredom. Reflexively, he lit a cigarette, ignoring the signs in the cab forbidding him, and leant back. The night would last for what seemed like years. He took a long inhale, closing his eyes. Perhaps there was prescription.

When the cab pulled up to the Soho flat he slipped out, picking down an alleyway to reach the back entrance that led to the upper flats of the shop beneath it. He winced from the rain, burying deeper into his scarf and slipped through, kicking aside the junk mail before heading up the concrete steps, unlocking the door to his flat. It was, for all intensive purposes, tiny – all he could afford from his rare, often unpaid work, but it suited him. It was away from Mycroft, away from the family, and was in the thick of London. He shrugged off his coat, changed into his pyjamas, dodged around the books stacked in endless piles on the floor and collapsed into his bed. He lay, trying to think of something, anything else, but felt the familiar itch and coil in his muscles and stomach. He lit another cigarette and tried to turn his mind to a problem: a focus. He tried to find a reason to sleep. He closed his eyes, felt the smoke in his lungs, and exhaled. Sleep eluded him. His brain, still relishing the activity of the past few days, writhed and sparked, endlessly working, endlessly speaking to him, endlessly restless. He tried to convince himself that it would ebb, that he could last a few more hours. He didn't need anything. His mind would calm….

Usually he would wait.

But waiting was harder nowadays. Indeed, what was the point if the outcome was inevitable?

He sighed, opening his eyes again, rolling over to stub out his cigarette and find something more substantial for the craving. It didn't take much preparation nowadays. Within a few minutes he had the solution in a syringe and lay back on his bed, looking up at the damp-stained ceiling again as he tried to find a vein, frustrated by how the gradual scarring made it tougher. He didn't think on it, instead lazily turning his focus to the problem before he felt the satisfying sting as it slipped in. he pressed down on the plunger, bunching his fist and withdrew, waiting. It never took long. He inhaled as the rush of euphoria hit him, his mind slowing down and shifting from the internal to the external, marveling at every tiny sensation. He opened his eyes again and the damp bloomed and shivered, he got the spinning sensation of the countless like strings of bio-organisms that may reside in it, how they meshed together, almost felt like he could see them. But his mind skimmed over the surface of it without diving into proper analysis, and it soon slipped away to something else. His core, the rational brain behind his amplified senses, was sluggish and lethargic – peace. He gave a long exhale, listening to the now amplified hiss of the rain, stretching out on his bed, eyes looking blindly upwards as he felt his heart hammering too quickly in his chest. It made him feel a little dizzy. He liked it.

He stayed this way for some time, groping out to top up whenever he thought that he might crash again. Mixing. Gradually, over time, the details of the old case drifted back to him as if in a dream and he tilted his head, nudging away from them but reveling in the egocentric euphoria of victory nevertheless. He curled up on his side, his ears roaring with the sound of the rain. His body temperature climbed, he was too hot, too damn hot. He sat up, running his hands over his face and looked at the window. The scene of London was alive with lights, the smattering of the rain against the panes blurring them all into a kaleidoscope of color only broken by the rigid black ironwork of the fire escape. He got up, pacing forwards on quivering limbs to force the stiff window open, surprised when he did it with ease. He felt strong. He leant out, feeling the rain on his face, hypersensitive and fresh, yet the rational mind was still quiet and sleeping, and he was caught in the emotional flitting instincts. He took in a great gulp of air. Alive. His body moved and before he could realize what he was doing he was climbing out the window, bare feet on the cold wet fire escape. London and the rain roared around him, and part of him – a skittering giddy part of him- though he could hear music in it. Not the strings of his violin: something else. Singing. He squinted up into the rain, his thin dressing gown billowing around him from the wind, and he gripped the bars of the ladder, climbing up. London was singing. He had to see it. Had to listen.

His heart hammered madly and he climbed, the euphoria dragging him up, nerves tingling, unable to feel the cold of the rain. He was strong, utterly strong, and elated, and free. Something, deep, deep down in the pit of his stomach squirmed and a dark weight settled in it, something smothered telling him it was wrong. He didn't listen. His ears were too full with music. He climbed and climbed and reached the roof, standing to his full height, walking towards the edge. Stretched out before him is all of London, the rain no longer obscuring their dancing colours. Something in him lifts and he smiles, spreading his arms. He can hear the music – the roar or the rain and cars, the thumping of the nightclub bass. Something in him is alive.

Something in his mind is squirming in protest. This isn't him, it hisses.

He inhales and focuses on the skyline. The music and lights carry on forever. He's strong and he's powerful, he's victorious. He can make it. He can reach the end of the music and watch it. He can discover it. He is Sherlock Holmes. He discovers it all. He stepped forwards, the concrete beneath his toes.

He can reach it.

He, Sherlock Holmes, can reach it.

He steps forward, feels the roll of the concrete as it disappears at the edge. The sudden lurch as gravity takes over.


Then, all of a sudden, it snapped away. The black protest leapt back to the forefront of his mind, drowning the colours out with only one desperate thought: Falling. He's falling.

His heart jumped hard enough to tear and his body kicks back into instinct, spinal reflex takes over. His arms windmill and grope and his body twists away from the death below him, he slips and twists, falls for a horrifying second before he hands connect with the edge of the building, concrete scraping across his palms as he clings for his life, body swinging below him. The strength fades, he doesn't feel strong any more. His arms burn with the effort to stop from dropping. He scrapes his toes against the building wall as he tries to claw his way back up, utter terror firing across his nerves to clear his mind. He panted and hauled himself up, snarling in effort, stomach convulsing in horror.

He managed it, pulling himself up and rolling away from the edge, back to safety. He panted, chest burning, muscles burning, utterly traumatized with what he realized he had done. The euphoria was gone, and logic returned – marred by the drugs but still there.

He had almost walked off the edge of a building.

The drugs had almost led him off the edge of a building.

He squeezed his eyes shut, giving a small whimper of relief, and he was enough of himself again to feel ashamed of that pathetic sound. Shakily, no longer trusting his own limbs, he stood up and carefully made his way back to the fire escape, taking his time as he made his way down.

Once he was in his room he let his eyes adjust to the dark and groped out for his phone, climbing back on his bed and curling under the covers. He stared blankly at the screen. Rationally, he knew that he needed help. Logically, it was the best option. But he had no one to call. No one at all. Except his brother. And his pride rejected that outright. He swallowed, turning other options in his mind, looking at the quiet glow of the screen. Then he sighed and typed, sending the message.

[Mycroft Holmes]
[Sent: Sunday 2.24 am]

Need to quit.
Did not anticipate reaction.
Expect assistance if requested.
Tell no one.


Tuesday 16th October 2007 1.57 am

Lestrade has sprawled on one of the cheap canteen style chairs in the corridor outside the cell, his legs up on the table, another cup of black thick coffee in his hand. He can't understand how Mycroft can sit the way he does: placid, straight backed and neutral, even as he listens to what sounds like Sherlock retching up his insides into the cell toilet. He runs his hands over his face and Mycroft doesn't move.

"How can you stand it?" he grumbles.

Mycroft blinks and looks over at him. "Mm?"

"Seeing him like this. I've known him all of…I don't know…8 months? And it's killing me." He admits. "I mean, with all respect, he can be an ass. But…"

He gave a rough sigh and stands up, walking over to peer in again. Mycroft ushers him back, hand brushing over Lestrade's.

"Don't give him attention, he shall only start begging for drugs." He says. "And I should like to preserve his dignity by not giving him the opportunity."

"It's that bad?" Lestrade groans. He then checks himself. "Of course it is. Jesus….How long has he…?"

Mycroft watches Sherlock's door and tilts his chin up. "He disappeared into Europe for quite a long period of time when he was eighteen. I daresay that his first Class A experience was there. The cases have helped him. They truly have. But old habits die hard when one is bored."

"Boredom? You're saying it's boredom?" Lestrade snorts. "He's a bloody idiot if that's just the only-"

"Perhaps we should speak of something else." Mycroft says; face a little hard suddenly, the smooth but commanding tone reminding Lestrade of some sort of jungle cat. Like a jaguar sat with its tail curled about it, surveying a minor creature. It brooked no argument, because that jaguar only chose not to strike because the hapless creature played by its rules. Lestrade notices the change in tone and brings his legs down off the table in a mark of politeness.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't call your brother an idiot. Not my place." He apologizes. Mycroft regards him, expression softening in gratitude at that and nods once. Lestrade drains his coffee and sighs, fishing for another conversation topic. "So what exactly is it that you do?" he asks, tossing the polystyrene cup away.

"I occupy a minor position in the British Government." Mycroft replies with a slight smile.

Lestrade's eyes narrow a little in suspicion. "How slight?"

"Oh very minor." Mycroft says. "A dogsbody, no less." The smile returned and there is a glitter of amusement in the blue eyes that Lestrade finds impossible to turn down.

"Bull." He smirks. "I saw the car you were driving. And that license plate has been changed recently. And most minor civil servants hardly have blacked out windows in the company car, or chauffeurs."

Mycroft tilts his head. "No?"

"And that brolly's dodgy." Lestrade adds with a snort. That, to his satisfaction, actually causes Mycroft's eyebrows to rise and his grip to tighten just slightly at the handle. An admission of guilt that brings a grin to Lestrade's face. "I've been learning a few things from your brother about keeping my eyes open."

Mycroft actually looks pleased, and that almost purring tone in his voice as he goads him on reminds Lestrade of the jaguar again, this time toying ever so gently with its prey. "I should love to hear your theory about the umbrella."

Lestrade leans forwards over the table, commanding Mycroft's attention, and waves a hand as he speaks for emphasis. "Look. I got into this job because when I was a lad, I used to love spy stories. I mean, really went mad for them. You should've seen all the books and magazines I had: I even went as far as to beg my mum and dad for a trench coat one Christmas: they must've thought I was daft. Well, once I read this story of this Russian writer Georgi Markov who defected to Britain. On September 7th 1978, a KGB spy found him and killed him. Do you know how they did it?"

Mycroft remains silent, a hand resting on the umbrella.

Lestrade takes it as a prompt, talking with enthusiasm. "Well, this spy, right? He walks right up behind Markov and jabs him in the thigh with his umbrella. He even apologizes and then just hops into a taxi: gone. Four days later and Markov is look into it, and it turns out that the umbrella has a special tip that has been converted into a silent little gun that shoots a pellet that contains a lethal dose of ricin. Now it just feels like a sting. The umbrella's a perfect weapon. It's gone before anyone knows it's been there." Lestrade pauses and studies Mycroft's face. His face is still blank but for the glitter of amusement, and Lestrade decides to continue. "Now I took a look at your umbrella. The way you hold it all the time is telling. You don't lean it up against a wall or put it n a table. Hell, you don't leave it in your car. If I look down at the tip - and this is guesswork, mind, I don't confess to know every brolly out there - but if I look at the tip it looks thicker. And the metal's different than the usual I see about. Looks a better quality, like harder wearing. I bet my badge that it's got a tiny hole in the bottom. And look at your handle. There's an extra catch. I was looking at it, trying to figure out what that was, 'cos that doesn't open the damn thing. And it's sort of hidden. So I'm sat here, drinking my coffee, and I realize that I'm looking at the same kind of thing that killed Markov. Am I right?"

Mycroft says nothing.

Lestrade leans forward, looking him in the eyes. "I'm right, aren't I?"

Mycroft, finally, smiles. "I don't use it."

"But you could."

"I have the authorization, yes." He admits with a lazy shrug of his shoulders.

Lestrade leans back, eyes wide and mouth a little agape. He finally gives a short laugh. "'Minor position in the government', my arse!"

Mycroft chuckles and hold his hands up in surrender.

"Can I look at it?" Lestrade tries.

"Most certainly not." Mycroft says, not without some affection.

Lestrade shakes his head in disbelief and smiles. He looks back to the cell and hears that the retching has stopped.

Sunday14th October 2007 11am

[To: Sherlock Holmes]
[Sent: Sunday 11 .10am]

But you said that you needed assistance, Sherlock.
I find your attitude to be repulsively childish.

[To: Mycroft Holmes]
[Sent: Sunday 11 .12am]

I said no such thing. Refer to original text message.
Clearly stated 'if requested'.
Have not requested. Obviously.
Therefore no further texts necessary.


[To: Mycroft Holmes]
[Sent: Sunday 11 .24am]
Stop ringing my phone.
I don't care for childish word games. You know what I meant.

[To: Sherlock Holmes]
[Sent: Sunday 11 .30am]

Sherlock, this is a grave mistake. You cannot go cold turkey alone.
Statistically there are better options.

[To: Mycroft Holmes]
[Sent: Sunday 11 .32am]

I have as of yet not asked for your opinion.
Work will occupy me.
Now kindly go back to your diet pills.

[To: Sherlock Holmes]
[Sent: Sunday 11 .37am]

Sherlock. Let me assist you. I implore you.
You are being incredibly pig headed.
You asked me for help. You need me and I know that you are aware of it.

[To: Mycroft Holmes]
[Sent: Sunday 11 .40am]

I would appreciate it if you went back to where you are truly needed.
Licking Mummy's boots, for example.


Sunday14th October 2007 2.46pm

"How did you get this number?" Lestrade said, scowling as he squinted out through the rain to the impatient officers awaiting him.

"Lestrade that isn't important. Do you have anything for me?" he knew it was Sherlock's voice, though he didn't recognize the tone that ran through the sentence like a tightly wound and reverberating string. "Anything at all. A case?"

"Sherlock, you find me, remember? I can't give you cases. Against the rules."

"I am finding you. I'm finding you right now. Do you have anything? Where are you now?"

"Sherlock. I can't. I'm already in trouble for the last stunt you pulled. The way you were… look, far be it from me to judge. At all. But you can't just walk around my crime scene in that condition. Because in the end I'm responsible for you. It's illegal. And my reputation is at stake. I can't have a… well, to be honest if you're high, stay at home." He said, shifting from foot to foot, scowling at a spot in the wall.

"If I had cases then I wouldn't –"

"You had a case. That was a case. You turned up high, Sherlock." He said, trying to keep his voice down.

"The previous effects hadn't worn off completely."

"Yeah. I noticed."

" I'm quitting. I am. Lestrade, if I can simply accompany you for a few cases when it will keep me going. I won't need them."

"No…no. Sherlock. Look, you had a chance, and yes you did a bloody good job but I can't be seen to work with someone like you. Not until you're better. They're breathing down my neck."

"Then bring your cases to me. I can analyze them covertly at my flat. Lestrade I am not predisposed to beg." Sherlock said, voice flaring up in apparent bitter anger.

Lestrade closed his eyes, took a deep breath, counted to ten. "Sherlock. I'm sorry."

He hung up.

Monday 14th October 2007 10.45pm

[To: Mycroft Holmes]
[Sent: Sunday 10.45pm]

Request assistance.
In my flat. Come immediately.

Sherlock held his phone in shaking hands as he sat on the bathroom floor watching as the message sent, trying to ignore the awful weight of failure that felt like it was smothering him. That was what he detested about the drugs, he decided. They opened up the emotions and subdued his logical brain, so it often meant that he had a perfect and atypical escape since he usually operated with emotional impotency. However, when he actually had emotions he active felt when sober, they were amplified beyond belief when under the influence. Right now the guilt of another hit and the crushing frustration of the boredom were determined to bludgeon him into submission. He had thrown all his syringes away, and yet he had scrambled for more cocaine, found a hiding place he couldn't bear to be rid of and snorted it off the toilet lid like a common junkie. He wasn't used to it and he felt the flow of blood from his nose only just start to scab and dry.

He was a mess. He had tried and failed. It had been simple. Should have been simple. But in the dingy flat with no purpose to focus him, and no cases or puzzles…he had slipped. It was just easier this way.

But he couldn't live like this anymore.

He reached out, plucking the skull from its place at the side of the bath and held it in his arms, curling up on the bare tiles and hugging him to his chest, waiting for the effects to pass. Waiting, he knew, for some sort of salvation.

Time to start again.

Tuesday 16th October 2007 4.37 am

Mycroft looks over from his seat to his companion, and gives a small smile. Lestrade is still here, indeed he refuses to leave them, apparently concerned for protocol, apparently more concerned for Sherlock's reputation. Mycroft knows that Lestrade can't afford to have Sherlock appear as anything else but a unblemished genius if he is to be allowed to continue using him, but he also noticed a kinder side to this motivation. Lestrade seems genuinely concerned, and more than once in the night had paced outside the door when Sherlock slipped into worse condition, yet all the time had never gone against Mycroft's wish to open the hatch. Lestrade, Mycroft realized, was the epitome of loyal and that in this day and age, he thought, was rare. Now the detective inspector is sat on his chair, legs sprawled out in front of himself, arms crossed and head lolling to the side as he sleeps. Mycroft is in no hurry to wake him.

He studies the door and then stands up, deftly slipping a light hand into Lestrade pocket and unflinchingly withdrawing the cell key. He steps forward, umbrella handing off his arm, and slips the key in, opening the cell door. As he does he looks to the cell bunk where Sherlock darts his head up to watch him, and he closes the door behind him, walking over to take a seat on the edge of the bunk with him. Sherlock gives a subdued groan and attempts to summon up enough pride to hide his symptoms, but soon gives up, instead laying listlessly on the bed but for the occasional squirm. Mycroft leans over and places a hand to his forehead, and at once decades of bickering and adulthood drop away.

"You're burning up." He states. "That's normal. Body temperature fluctuates. You haven't had any fever-induced hallucinations?"

"No." Sherlock grunts.

"I'll get you some water." Mycroft says gently. "You must try to sleep, if you can. It will pass easier. I do not intend to let you out of here until after lunch tomorrow."

"When I asked for assistance I had rather expect you to assist. Not just lock me up and leave me." Sherlock says bitterly, rolling away from Mycorft's hand and laying on his side.

"It's the best way. Simple and brutal, but effective. Especially for you." Mycroft says. "What doesn't kill you – "

"-makes me angry."

Mycroft gives a little chuckle and pats Sherlock's arm. "Something like that, yes. I'll get you some water."

He gets up to leave, and Sherlock sits up, wincing as his head spins. "Mycroft."


Sherlock hesitates and swallows, fighting over saying it. He gives in. "You won't tell Mummy will you?"

Mycroft's expression softens and he shakes his head. "No. Of course not."

Sherlock nods. Mycroft is sure that he can see gratitude on his face, but it is quickly hidden. "And get me something to do. Something to read. It wouldn't do if you cure the drug addiction but that I exit a madman." Sherlock says.

Mycroft nods and exits, locking the door behind him. He pads quietly past Lestrade and off into the depths of the police station in search of refreshment and reading.

Tuesday 16th October 2007 1 pm

It has been a long day.

Lestrade was working, and busy as always, yet he hasn't been able to help but return to the cells to check up on Sherlock as often as possible. Each time he has found Mycroft sitting like a sentinel at his chair, or occasionally speaking to his brother through the hatch, reading off the initial details of the case files that Lestrade sneaks down for him, as if he is giving Sherlock a pop quiz. It seems to entertain the detective, and Lestrade thinks that he is getting to old for all of this.

After his lunch break he hurries immediately down, ready to receive Mycroft's verdict and release the no doubt incredibly grumpy detective. Once again, the tall elder Holmes brother is stood at the cell door, leaning on his umbrella patiently. They exchange a look and Mycroft nods. Lestrade withdraws his keys and finally unlocks the door.

He glances at Mycroft and then holds a hand up to get him to pause.

"Can I have a word first?"

Mycroft raises an eyebrow and makes a gesture of welcome. "Be my guest."

He steps in. Sherlock is leaning against a wall. He looks haggard, sweaty and tired, but the alertness in his eyes is back and there is a pervasive sense of calm. He is over the worst of it, Lestrade decides, and a weight lifts from his mind.

"How are you feeling?" he asks him.

"Normal." Sherlock replies, and gives no more than that.

Lestrade nods and sighs, slipping his hands in his pockets. "Sherlock…I'd like to apologize. I was gruff with you. I'm not apologizing for what I said, just that I didn't help straight away. Alright?"

Sherlock studies him with his cool eyes and Lestrade is frustrated that he can't pick out what he's thinking. Same old Sherlock. A marked change from the wretched mess that Lestrade brought to his cell. Lestrade sighs and dips his head in a little nod before continuing. "But…if you would let me, I'm prepared to help you now. Look, I know this sort of thing doesn't just end here. I've seen enough drugged up kids to know that you can fall off the wagon easier than anyone expects. So I'm going to give you a reason not to."

Sherlock tilts his head just slightly, interested. Lestrade is pleased he takes the bait.

"If you stay clean." He continues, "Then I am prepared to offer you a Scotland Yard position. An outside subcontractor, as it were. But official, in its way. You'd be free, not directly tied to us, but legitimate. And I'd give you regular work."

Sherlock nods, the blank expression softens just slightly in appreciation, his eyes livening with expectation.

"That sounds agreeable." Sherlock says, deliberately neutral.

Lestrade allows himself a smile and nods. "Brilliant. Now, we're going to need to give you a job title. I can hardly write 'nosey git' on the books…"

Sherlock smirks. Thinks for only a moment and then says. "Consulting Detective."

"So that's what we're calling you?"

Sherlock nods. "Problem?"

"Not at all. Though just know that I'm calling you 'nosey git' in my personal files." Lestrade laughs. Sherlock smiles. "Now sod off before I do you for wasting police time."

Sherlock straightens himself up, smoothes down his suit and, former dignity reclaimed, he sweeps out of the cell to join his brother. Lestrade watches him go.

Sherlock is already off walking. Mycroft walks over and smiles, extending a hand. Lestrade takes it.

"Thank you." Mycroft says, and Lestrade feels like no two words have ever been loaded with as much feeling before. He smiles humbly and nods, giving his hand a firm shake.

"Until next time, Mr. Holmes."

"Mycroft, please Detective Inspector."

Lestrade nods. Releases his hand. "It's Greg."

"Greg." Mycroft smiles, gives the smallest bow of gratitude, and then strode off after his younger brother. "Until next time."