AN: Hello! So, this is number 5 in the Sherlock whump series. While there will be whumpage in this one, there will also be lots of yummy mummy Lestrade comfort, because frankly, the DI only comes close to being as adorable as he is when he's protective of Sherlock as when he's embarrassed and loved up with Mycroft in the very best Mystrade stories. Hopefully, I can do the really sweet, awkward nature of their (Sherlock and Lestrade's, platonic) relationship some justice.

This is AU, before both series 1 and 2. It's a bit tricky writing Sherlock without John, and before he's been changed, but hopefully you'll be nice and I won't do too badly. Also, the case will be largely irrelevant to the story, and not taken from Conan Doyle's originals. I'd love to but I've just not read enough (yet) to do it. So, yeah, the criminal's probably not going to be all that brilliant, but bear with me and remember that's not where the emphasis is supposed to lie here! Also SPOILERS FOR SERIES 2 EPISODE 3 THE REICHENBACH FALL.

This turned out a little angstier than I thought it would, but I thought the ending fit (for now). Hopefully you like it.


DISCLAIMER: I don't own Sherlock (amazing that, isn't it?), the franchise belongs to writers and organizations various over the ages. The original being Conan-Doyle, the re-make I'm playing with being the BBC, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. I do own all my original ideas and characters. Do not steal.


Sherlock had been working with Lestrade for two years when the DI suggested he help a certain Detective Inspector Gregson on a particularly complicated case. By now, Lestrade was more than aware of the 'Consulting Detective's love for apparently inexplicable mysteries. He'd also learnt exactly what happened when London's psychopaths decided to be a bit less nefariously brilliant; namely that Sherlock tumbled down a rapid slope to boredom, which almost inevitably resulted in his falling off the wagon and back into drugs, or doing inappropriate things with illegal firearms, like spending a few hours shooting out bulbs in lamp posts from various distances and seeing how long he could lead Scotland Yard on a merry chase.

In spite of this, and Sherlock's propensity to call him an idiot, dullard, dimwit, fool, and thick, Lestrade had found himself growing fond of the detective. Just a little. Because yes, he had a strange love of crime scenes and corpses and yes, he was almost unbearably arrogant and loved to belittle others and apparently had no sense of social propriety, but. But, he did have a shy vulnerability about him, a way of behaving sometimes that was almost (and he'd never let anyone hear him say it) endearing. Like the time when Sherlock had not only been bored, but also, Lestrade imagined, lonely, after a series of cases Greg had been more than capable of solving himself, though perhaps not as quickly as Holmes would have. Which was fine, until Sherlock started following him, everywhere. Actually, Lestrade wouldn't have caught on except that one night when he was at the pub with his mates, one of them saw Sherlock and started hitting on him. He didn't think he'd ever seen the detective so out of his depth, and after 'rescuing' him had taken him back home and made him a cup of tea and realized that apart from him, Molly Hooper at the morgue (he wasn't sure she counted), a woman called Mrs. Hudson and possibly one other who frequently travelled in black, expensive cars (and Greg still wasn't sure that wasn't just his imagination) Sherlock didn't have…anyone. No one at all. He spent his whole life alone. From then on, even if Lestrade could solve a case by himself, he'd let Sherlock know. Keep him in the loop. And put up with the insults. Besides this, Sherlock really was brilliant, a great man as he was happy and proud to tell anyone who'd listen. So Lestrade liked him. And maybe Sherlock didn't like him back. Maybe he did. It was almost impossible to tell, but when this particular apparently complicated, absurd case came up, Sherlock was the first person he got in touch with.

Stupidly, Lestrade thought he'd been doing his friend a favour.

When Sherlock arrived at the crime scene, he was almost tingling with excitement, adrenalin really. Finally, finally something interesting had come along. And though he still wouldn't admit it to anyone, he had come to find the work a thousand times more addictive and fulfilling and absorbing than the drugs had ever been.

Ignoring a policeman telling him he wasn't supposed to be there, Sherlock ducked under the tape and went straight to the crime scene. He paused at the door to the kitchen, tilting his head to the side and unwilling to step into the room until he'd taken everything in. The deceased, a woman, middle aged, smoker, a teacher of some sort? Was lying on the kitchen table. Well, most of her was. Her head was missing. Sherlock stepped into the room and began to examine the body. It took him less than a minute to discern that the woman had not died of the decapitation, or blood loss. In face, she'd died earlier of a heart attack. The decapitation itself was messy, clearly not done by someone with the strength necessary, though certainly the nerves, they'd persisted in spite of three, no four unsuccessful chops, it looked more like the result of a fit of temper. Almost like a child, or teenager? The same one who'd poisoned her? Because clearly the heart attack had been a result of poison over a gradual period, probably from the biscuits on the shelf. He'd have to wait for results to tell which poison. But no, the decapitator probably wasn't the original murderer, two very different methods – one cold and planned and not getting their hands dirty (so someone concerned with appearances) the other impulsive, violent and messy, childish.

Things got even more interesting when Sherlock discovered that the head had been removed by neither the original murderer nor the decapitator, and for one reason or another, someone else, a man by the scuff marks and therefore size of the feet, had stolen the head. Again, why? Protecting the child? Most likely- getting rid of the head would get rid of the DNA evidence. Which meant the weapon used to sever the head was probably gone as well. So what bound the teacher, the child and the man together, and who was the original murderer, and why did she do it? (Suspected female, the biscuits were a very feminine touch.)

Resolved to find the teenager first, almost certain that they would be a pupil at the school where the teacher had worked and lead him to the man protecting the boy, who in all probability would lead him to the original killer (because there had to be some sort of link, far too much passion involved regards the decapitation for it to have been detached in any way.) Sherlock was stopped on his way out by the DI on the case.

His first thought was a disappointed (though he'd never admit it) acknowledgement of this man being Not-Lestrade. The rest was child's play. Divorced. Alcoholic. Mildly overweight, trying to lose it, unsuccessful, ditto with his problem with alcoholism. Not a smoker, his only success in fighting addiction, though the tremble in his fingers in spite of the nicotine patch just under his cuff spoke volumes about his resolve and the way it was quite resolutely crumbling. Middle aged, balding, though he was trying to hide it poorly, so looking for someone to replace the wife, probably in some hopeless wish they'll save him. Wait – no, not save him, make him feel better about himself. The strain in his muscles, the curl of his fits, the redness in his face not only from the poison of the alcohol, Sherlock knew he was irritating, often worked to make himself so, but he'd not even opened his mouth yet and Lestrade would have let this man know he was coming, so he's short tempered, apparently violently so, and has control and power issues. He's looking for someone to dominate and belittle so he can make himself feel better about the various areas in which he has failed so spectacularly regarding himself, his professional responsibilities and his self control.

Summary: pathetic little man. Dull.

Sherlock didn't bother to hide his contempt, realizing quite quickly that whether he did or not, this man, Detective Inspector Gregson he believed, would find something to get angry about. Gregson glared, piggy little brown eyes squinting into his directly. He was, unusually, just about as tall as Sherlock himself, and more stockily built, though the image of his muscle was somewhat dampened by the round little belly straining against his sloppily tucked in shirt (un-ironed, stained on the collar, cuffs and stomach, messy eater, poor hygiene.) Sherlock barely prevented himself from wrinkling his nose, realizing this would probably aggravate the other man further than necessary. Now who said he couldn't be bearable from time to time?

"What the hell are you doing on my crime scene? Do you have any idea the evidence you may have destroyed? The damage you might have done to my case?" The voice was deep and hoarse, but Sherlock couldn't help associating a petulant ten year old with the words Gregson used.

He rolled his eyes, unable and unwilling to bite back his instinctive reply. "If I had damaged any evidence or indeed the case I would have a far better idea about it than you. As it is, unlike your men, I'm quite capable of examining a crime scene without replicating the destructive capabilities of an agitated herd of African Elephants."

The punch in the face was relatively unexpected. Though he knew Gregson had it in him, he hadn't really expected it on a crime scene, against a detective who he could accuse of little more than possibly hurting his feelings and stepping on his proud little toes. It was new, certainly, thought Sherlock, taking a handkerchief from his pocket and tilting his head back to reduce the blood flowing from his now broken nose. With his other gloved hand, he re-set his nose with a practiced movement. After all, this was hardly the first time he'd been punched in the face. Gregson surprised him again, however, by going further than his first attack, grabbing his wrist in a vicious grip and twisting it behind his back, yanking it further than was necessary, a fact of which Sherlock was perfectly aware as he felt his muscle stretch to the point of tearing. He hissed in a breath through his teeth, and spat angrily, "now what?" He was not at all impressed or afraid of Gregson's antics, but while he may indeed be masochistic, he didn't much enjoy being under the power of a police officer. He wanted to be released. Immediately.

"So, what did you find out, psychopath?"

Sherlock flinched mentally but kept his body still, not bothering to correct the policeman, while he detested the incorrect label, he didn't feel saying anything would help his situation much. Instead he ground out, "the decapitation wasn't done by the murderer. Cause of death was poison, administered over a long period of time. Probably very little trace in the bloodstream, so have forensics red flag anything unusual. Decapitation was done by a teenage boy, after the death in a fit of rage. The head and weapon used were then removed by a man with size 12 feet who wanted to protect the child, probably his father. If we go to the school where she worked and kick up a fuss it should smoke one or both of them out, and they should lead us to the murderer who is almost inevitably connected to the teenager in some way considering the violent passion of his mutilation of the corpse and the time span between the teacher's death and his attack."

Finally, Gregson let him go, and Sherlock straightened, glaring at him and rolling his shoulder. Gregson chuckled in a way Sherlock expected he thought was belittling which in fact the consulting detective found simply pathetic. "Awful lot of shoulds and assumptions in that. They told me you were good. Alright, we'll go to the school."

Again, Sherlock didn't see the punch coming until it rocked into his stomach, winding him. Not all that bothered by the pain, he felt instead a flash of irritation at the fact that this was the second time in barely five minutes that he'd failed to read this man and protect himself. It really wasn't on. Gregson, in the mean time, was trying to be threatening. It was a shame that Sherlock couldn't and wouldn't find it in himself to care, the man really did put a lot of effort into fisting a hand into his hair and trying to glower into Holmes' eyes. Apparently, he didn't realize that his breath was what had the most powerful effect on Sherlock, what with it's stench of sour alcohol and testament to the fact that Gregson did not, apparently, consider the brushing of one's teeth to be a necessary hygienic requirement.

"Now come along, be a good boy and co-operate, and I'll only bruise you where no one can see."

Sherlock blinked at him in disbelief, still pinching his bleeding nose. Gregson caught his look and laughed. "Don't you remember ? You tripped, fell flat on your face! And don't you forget it." The DI shook him, hard by his hair, rolling a wave of nausea in Sherlock's gut as it jostled his nose. The human body, Sherlock decided, was really a most inconvenient form of organic transport. He ignored Gregson, waiting for him to let go, then straightening and walking out of the room. He decided to comply with his demands. It didn't really bother him if a police man was trying to bully him, and he found the concept of someone he knew finding out he'd been caught off guard by this pig of a man a far more humiliating prospect than saying he'd merely fallen. Besides, the faster they finished the case, the less time he'd have to spend with the stinking little man. For now, Sherlock would survive.

Naturally, he didn't see any reason to contact Mycroft or Lestrade. Self preservation had never really been one of his priorities.

They'd not been at the school long before they smoked out the first person involved in the crime, namely, the man protecting the teenager with the size twelve feet. Sherlock had never seen someone hide their guilt in a less subtle manner, and found the whole affair excessively dull. The man, one Luke Highman, was married, secretly bisexual, and had been having affair with the teacher and another man. He had one son, presumably the teenager he was protecting. He knew what his son had done, and knew the murderer. He'd been at the crime scene, suggested by the rather incriminating speck of blood on the cuff of his right sleeve and the blonde hair caught on one of the zips of his coat pockets, (photographs showed the victim had blonde hair, and unless he'd been treated by his wife just before he headed out, unlikely considering the poor state of his marriage indicated by his wedding ring and the bags under his eyes, it was entirely possible that a hair from the head had caught there when he took it.) Overall, Sherlock was disappointed. Though he'd shown some intelligence in his removal of the head and the weapon, apparently that was where his creativity ended.

They took the hair and sent it off for DNA examination, Gregson taking Highman into custody on suspicion of aiding and abetting a murder. Sherlock rolled his eyes and wondered what Highman had done with the head.

The interview of Highman's son, Peter, was, conversely, fascinating. It became clear after a few minutes, when he realized that Sherlock was entirely aware (or at least 85% suspicious, though he'd not let the boy know he lacked any concrete evidence) of his crime, that he was a thoroughbred little psychopath, far more so than Sherlock had ever been. He confessed to having developed an obsession with his teacher, though Sherlock had deduced as much on catching her scent on his skin, suggesting far closer contact than was required for the decapitation and, on asking the boy for his mother's mobile number, catching a glimpse of a quick, grainy shot of the deceased. The boy then elaborated that his mother was, indeed, the killer, that he found her use of gradual poisoning boring, if of some merit for its low risk of having been detected, that he decided to up the game and incriminate her by attacking the body, having calculated the day his obsession would die. He explained dispassionately that his father had been with the teacher before marrying his mother, and on discovering that they had been continuing an affair behind her back, she had sunk into a cold sort of anger that had resulted in her planned murder. The mother was not, apparently, aware of the other man, who was called Michael and worked in a spar two blocks away from their house. In fact, Peter obligingly unraveled the whole case for them, on tape, in exchange for Sherlock's promise to tell him how he performed his deductions.

Once Peter had finished however, Sherlock simply smiled and shook his head, unperturbed by the boy's rapid twist into furious anger. Instead, he steepled his fingers, sitting back as the boy was restrained and cuffed. A criminal in the making as clever as Peter Highman did not need any help or advantage against others, and Sherlock was not about to give them to him.

Once it had all been wrapped up, the appropriate statements and evidence acquired and the family of criminals arrested on various counts, DI Gregson requested that Sherlock stay behind. Reluctantly, Sherlock agreed and Gregson dismissed his other men. They were in the staff room of Peter's school, a cheap affair, chilly and hollow.

Sherlock treated Gregson to his best you're-an-idiot-and-I-really-can't-be-bothered-to-pretend-I-care-right-now look, and drawled, "yes?"

This time, he saw the punch coming and ducked out of the way. It was only halfway through his dodge that he realized it had been a feint, something he had not given Gregson the credit or intellect to have been able to employ in a fight. A cracking right hook smacked into his rib cage, and though Sherlock knew his ribs weren't broken, he couldn't rule out a hairline fracture. He grimaced, knees buckling when his shins were kicked out from underneath him and hissing in a breath as Gregson grabbed his hair and yanked his head back too far, wrenching on his neck painfully.

"Don't underestimate me Holmes." And indeed Sherlock had, and did not intend on making the same mistake again. Gregson, it seemed, had history and experience with violence and taking control of unwilling victims. Sherlock was starting to suspect his wife hadn't just divorced him for his alcoholism. Gregson whipped his gun from his belt, smacking Sherlock's temple with the butt hard enough to disorient him, and Sherlock felt rather than saw the world spin, his temporary dizziness punctuated by bright, fiery bursts of pain as Gregson kicked his chest and stomach, though nowhere that would be easily seen. Sherlock supposed he was expected to explain away the likely bruise on his temple as part of his 'fall'.

A few minutes later, when Gregson had apparently got bored, or at least decided to let Sherlock get his breath back, the attack ceased. Sherlock rolled onto his back, taking a few deep breaths through his mouth before sitting up. Two broken ribs, one fractured, no internal bleeding, he was relatively certain, though he was lucky for it. Heavy bruising but that was irrelevant. He could deal with injuries of this degree at home, and would prefer to do so. The idea that a man like Gregson had done this still rankled with him more than he'd care to admit.

"So, how did you know?" Gregson was a little out of breath, his face red and beaded with sweat from the exertion, but his tone was otherwise casual as he sat in one of the cheap polyester chairs.

Sherlock wanted to say, even an idiot would have noticed had they observed. He wanted to say, stab in the dark, lucky wasn't it, in his most drippingly sarcastic voice. He wanted to say, psychopath's anonymous, it's this great forum where we all hang out, I remembered Pete's post from a few days ago, after all, we psychopaths have to find some way to spend the rest of our time when we're not out extorting, maiming, manipulating and murdering. He didn't. Much as he hated to admit it, and he really, really truly did detest it, he was…not afraid, but healthily wary of setting Gregson off again. So instead he said, in as calm and patient a tone as he could muster, "the decapitation had clearly been done by someone who didn't have the strength to sever the head cleanly, shown by the messy cuts and evidence of four previous attempts. It suggested a weakness of limbs, so likely a woman or child, more likely statistically to be a teenage boy thanks to the impulsive violence of the act, and also the fact that the decapitator persisted in spite of what clearly became a messy job. A woman would generally be more squeamish about the whole affair. It was obviously not the murderer. Why bother slowly poisoning her if they were just going to turn around and kill her like this? No, the acts were performed by separate persons. There were scuff marks on the floor which, on measurement, proved to belong to size 12 boots, likely a mans, unlikely the decapitator, a man with that size feet would be tall and probably have the strength to sever the head easily. Also unlikely the original murderer, they wouldn't be so stupid as to visit the scene of the crime, had clearly gone to a lot of effort to be utterly separate. So someone else, someone else who took the head – why would the decapitator bother? They were clearly not trying to reduce the mess. The man took the head and weapon to get rid of evidence that would incriminate the decapitator, so he cares for whoever it is, is probably the father. Most likely place we'd find the teenager would be at the school where the teacher worked, and when we turned up we'd smoke out the father who'd panic because he'd think we were on the trail of the boy. Any questions?"

Gregson smiled, a slow, admiring smile which Sherlock found he detested as much as he did everything else about the man. "You really are very good. With you helping me, I'll be getting a raise at least in no time."

Sherlock raised his eyebrows so high he was sure they'd start climbing into his hairline. "You seriously think I'm going to work with you again? After this?"

The DI stood slowly, crossing the distance between them in three strides and stepping so that he was toe to toe with Sherlock. The consulting detective bristled but remained perfectly still, posture ramrod straight. "Yes, yes I do, because while I may not be as brilliant as you – don't look so surprised, I'd be an idiot not to admit it – I'm not, actually stupid. Your weakness right now is that you're proud as a peacock. There's no bloody way you're letting anyone find out that little old me got one over on you, and your well being means far less to you than your reputation, otherwise you wouldn't be half as reckless as you are. So I took the liberty of taking a little video of our encounter just now. One word from you, one refusal, and this thing goes viral. A fan of yours has promised to help me with it, and don't you even think about doubting I'd go through with it, because you know I would." Sherlock did know. He also knew that it would be child's play to pick the phone Gregson was waving in his face from his pocket, delete the video and leave all this behind him, no matter how clever the DI thought he was. Gregson caught his look however, and Sherlock was rewarded for his observations by a sharp, sudden blow to his ribs. Three ribs broken now, and counting.

"Don't even think about taking my phone Holmes. It'll just make me beat you, and you have no idea how much I want to right now. Besides, your fan already has a copy of it, and is apparently as all seeing as Mycroft, whoever the bloody hell that is. If you take the phone, he'll know and the video will go out."

Sherlock straightened, eyes narrowing. If this 'fan' knew about Mycroft then they were an enemy to be reckoned with, far more so than Gregson. Clearly, this was something of a game to them, and they were just playing with him, dropping in the reference to Mycroft to let him know how irrelevant this little domestic was. Straightening as best he could, Sherlock nodded once. "I understand. I'm sure you'll be in touch." He made to leave, and Gregson let him go with no more than a quick, sudden cuff to the head. Sherlock grit his teeth, but didn't give the man the satisfaction of his turning around.

Gregson was irritating, and violent, but it couldn't be all that bad, and currently his pride took priority over his physical wellbeing. He'd been bullied before and survived just fine. He could deal with this.

Five months later, Sherlock's ribs had been broken multiple times, as had his fingers and toes. Both his arms had been dislocated a few times, and his scarf had been used to strangle him into suitably submissive weakness repeatedly. He'd been to hospital for internal bleeding once, putting it down to a brush with a criminal, his 'fan' apparently having created a convenient blind spot in Mycroft's system which allowed him to lie successfully to his brother. Sherlock was almost constantly covered in bruises old and new on his torso, legs and upper arms, but he made an effort to keep them concealed, and considering he lived alone anyway, it wasn't particularly difficult. He was on a case with Gregson every other week, and Lestrade, poor, naive Lestrade, actually thought he and the other DI were sort of friends. Gregson took to this illusion easily, apparently being buddy-buddy with Sherlock while making sure to nudge all the right bruises and sore spots to keep him co-operating. Four videos had been taken since their first encounter, but Sherlock was starting to find something other than pride preventing him from asking for help.

If he had been anyone other than who he was, he'd have said it was fear. If he'd been even remotely comfortable with confessing that he may, in fact, be human, he might have acknowledged that near constant abuse at the hands of one of his colleagues and the very small group of people with whom he interacted consistently was, in fact, quite deeply psychologically damaging, let alone the physical effects. Sherlock being Sherlock decided to tell himself he was fine. And if he gradually ate less and less, and if the drugs looked more tempting every day (though he resisted, mostly because he felt giving in to his urges would be another victory to Gregson) and he became even more withdrawn then he had been before, then he didn't see any reason to be bothered by it. And no one really knew him or saw him often enough to notice. Or at least, that was what Sherlock thought.

It was towards the end of the fifth month that something of an anomaly occurred in Sherlock's life. Namely that a handful of higher ups at Scotland Yard demanded Lestrade and Gregson to work together on a case involving a series of murders connected to a drug dealer and his gang who'd been terrorizing certain parts of London for nearly two years, and who, until now, they had had no hard evidence against with which to take him down. Separately, both Detectives requested Sherlock's help. Sherlock turned up at the time Lestrade had asked he would rather than on Gregson's demand, and treated his bully to a glare of defiance when the man got to the crime scene to find he and Lestrade already there.

Lestrade caught the look, glancing between the two of them and seeming somewhat crestfallen. "Oh, you two fallen out?"

Instantly Gregson grinned, and Sherlock found himself wanting to scream at Lestrade for being taken in by the act even as he played along with a smile of his own.

"Fallen out? Nah, not at all! We just had a bet about who would get here first. Apparently Sherlock beat me."

It was a fairly reasonable explanation, and Lestrade nodded and laughed as Gregson got out his wallet and handed Sherlock a fiver, which he took somewhat reluctantly, knowing he would be repaid in kind for his defiance and giving it back when he and Gregson were alone.

"Fair enough. Now me, I've got to be honest, I'd never make the mistake of going up against Sherlock in a bet when it comes to making my way through London. This guy knows shortcuts that defy all probability." Lestrade said it kindly, and Sherlock blinked at the compliment, feeling oddly flattered. In contrast to Gregson's treatment, he'd come to appreciate Lestrade's patience and admiration more and more, and this was just another moment to add to the list.

"Anyway, Sherlock's already figured out a profile of the murderer, took him about a minute, you know how he is, and our best lead is apparently this." He held up a playing card, the kind children would buy at supermarket checkouts, with a red stamp illustrating handcuffs on the back. "Sherlock found it on the body, and I've got to admit, it's a bit far fetched but I believe him." Sherlock grinned, gratified, and Lestrade, surprised at the rare display of positive emotion, smiled right back. Gregson interrupted, a tad impatiently though Lestrade didn't seem to notice.

"Alright, yes yes, he's brilliant and everything, now shouldn't we be following our lead?"

They were about halfway through the case, on a stakeout of a block of flats, when Gregson and Sherlock were left alone. Throughout the case, Lestrade had unconsciously monopolized Sherlock's accompany (encouraged by the consulting detective's seeking him out) and apparently Gregson was getting a little testy without his handy human punching bag. In fact, that was an understatement. The moment Lestrade left the van in which the three of them had been set up in, promising to be back in five minutes and going to the public toilets just round the corner, Gregson had dragged Sherlock out of the van and proceeded to beat him senseless. He didn't bother disorienting the consulting detective with a blow to the head: first, it would be obvious, and second, he didn't need to any more. Sherlock didn't have the heart to fight, and something in him took his willpower somewhere far away whenever Gregson turned on him with that look in his eyes. Now, he just let it happen, accepting the kicks and punches, dully cataloguing yet another broken rib, coughing reflexively when Gregson winded him, wincing when the man's (steel toe-capped, that was new) boot met with his shin, he was pretty sure a fragment splintered from the bone, though he couldn't be sure. He didn't need to be told to hand the fiver back, he did so automatically and Gregson laughed.

"Look at you, all obedient. You're broken in good and proper now, aren't you?" He reached out to pat Sherlock's hair, missing the flash of defiance in the consulting detective's eyes that said while he may be bruised he was most certainly not broken, thankyou very much. But Sherlock didn't say anything. Gregson rolled his eyes.

"Come on, say something, you used to be so much fun, I could always get a rise from you."

Sherlock just studied the garage over Gregson's shoulder silently, noting various cracks in the paint and tyre tracks leading up to it, eliminating it as a possible hideout for the gang they were after. His scarf tightening round his neck in a throttling hold that was all too familiar brought him back to reality. Sherlock's hands went instinctively to his neck, as they always did. He was unable to get a purchase on the fabric, he never could, and instead he stared, hopeless and desperate and irrationally fearful into Gregson's savage expression as his air source was cut away. Gregson held on for thirty seconds longer than usual, and Sherlock felt his vision starting to blur and darken around the edges when Gregson finally let go. He doubled over, gasping, clutching at his throat, ripping the scarf away as he tried desperately to get his breath back, greedily sucking in the sweet, sweet air. He hadn't had long to recover, not nearly long enough, when an all too familiar hand wound its way into his hair, yanking him upright.

"Now then, Lestrade might like you now, but don't you forget that if he found out how pathetic you really are, he'd leave you in a heartbeat. Don't forget whose in charge here. I still haven't punished you for your little stunt earlier, and don't think I'm not going to, but anything else and I'll show you exactly how many ways your fan has taught me to break your fingers in the most excruciating way possible." As Gregson spoke, he took Sherlock's hand in a grotesquely tender gesture, and Sherlock couldn't stop it trembling. He remembered the first time Gregson had done this, breaking all the fingers on his right hand. He'd not been able to play his violin for a little over two months, and he'd felt horridly handicapped, gagged almost without his usual outlet. That and Gregson was not at all above using Sherlock's injuries to his advantage. It had been torturous.

Gregson smiled when Sherlock shivered and pushed him roughly back towards the van doors. They got in a few minutes before Lestrade got back.

Lestrade noticed the way Sherlock shook when Gregson got close in a sudden movement, but the consulting detective merely gave him an imperious look and informed him that he could not be held responsible for his body's propensity to react to temperature. It was cold, and anyway, right after they spotted one of their suspects with a backpack meeting someone else and were leaping out of the van and into the chase. Lestrade didn't see any reason to press Sherlock further, and promptly forgot about it.

It was only, to his shame, after they had caught all the higher ups and more and wrapped up the case that Lestrade cottoned on. And even then, he wouldn't have if not for a text from an unknown number. He'd been walking away from the garage where they'd caught the leader in a showdown that had ended without any casualties, thank God. Gregson and Sherlock were still there, but he'd needed to call Sally and make sure she'd got started on the paperwork. He hung up on her, tired of listening to her lip, and that was when he got the message.

Go check the garage and stop being so oblivious Detective Inspector. I'm bored of it now.

Sherlock's (sexy) fan xxx

Surprised, suspicious, and not a little curious, Lestrade had headed back to the garage. He'd paused for a moment before using the side door, relieved when it opened easily, though he supposed he shouldn't have been surprised, a gang as powerful as the one that had been using this place wouldn't have made a mistake like letting the door creak every time they came and went, it was hardly subtle.

He kept to the shadows, being as quiet as he could, which, in fact, was almost completely silent. Lestrade, contrary to popular misapprehension, had been a decent policeman before Sherlock had turned up, and was more than capable of being subtle when he needed to be.

He heard a voice, Gregson's he thought, raised a little, and crept closer so he could hear him better, a small blossom of guilt sprouting in his chest at eavesdropping like this. That guilt soon evaporated, however, to be replaced by a cold sense of dread when he heard the man's words.

"Look at you Holmes! For all your intellect, you're pathetic, you know that? Fucking pathetic. Don't like at me like that! You're not better than me." There was a dull thud. Lestrade withdrew his phone from his pocket, making sure it was on silent, and switched on the voice recorder. "You're not!" Another thud. "You're just a sad little freak." Another thud, and then a scuffle. It was followed by Sherlock's voice, in a tone Lestrade had never heard from the man. If he didn't know better, he'd say it was…well, frightened.

"N-no, don't, please, I didn't do anything else. Please, I didn't, don't punish me like this!" Lestrade frowned, wanting to know what was happening but unwilling to break his cover. Currently he was hiding behind a shelf stacked with various guns and drugs, about ten meters away from Sherlock and Gregson. He decided to wait a little longer, find out a little more. It wouldn't do anyone any good to rush in blindly, though it would satisfy the fierce, protective anger starting to burn in his chest.

Gregson laughed. "No, silly man, I thought you were clever? I told you I'd show you the new ways I'd learnt to break them. But just for you, I'll keep it clean and traditional. I still haven't forgiven you for your little stunt, turning up when Lestrade asked and ignoring me. Now then, shall we begin?"

Sherlock was silent, and it made Lestrade more worried for him than anything else had so far. There was another scuffle, then a pause in which Lestrade felt they had to notice him, hear how loudly his heart was beating in his chest.

There was a small, barely noticeable crunch, and then Sherlock shouted in pain and Lestrade broke cover. Gregson was standing over the consulting detective, who was on the ground, his chest heaving in shallow, uneven breaths, his eyes squeezed shut in pain. One of the DI's feet was planted firmly on Sherlock's shoulder. The heel of the other was grinding into his victim's little finger, which was well and truly broken. Sherlock, to his credit, did nothing after his initial shout but breathe, albeit faster than normal.

Gregson would have moved onto the next finger, but it was at this point that Lestrade tackled him to the ground, straddling him and proceeding to punch him in the face, repeatedly, a red mist having descended over his vision. In fact, it was only when Sherlock hesitantly, gently (two words Lestrade had never believed he would associate with the other man) touched his shoulder that Lestrade realized Gregson was unconscious.

Scowling, Lestrade handcuffed the DI (he wouldn't keep that title for long if Greg had anything to say about it) and turned to Sherlock. His face was untouched, though he seemed paler than normal, as if he'd realized something terrible. Concerned, Lestrade promptly forgot about Gregson, focusing on his – friend, damnit, Sherlock was his friend, and he couldn't believe he'd missed this.

"Sherlock, you alright?"

Sherlock nodded, looking thoughtful, eyes resting briefly on Gregson's unconscious form with a look of loathing. His phone went off, and Lestrade waited patiently as he read the messages, dual relief and excitement coming onto the Detective's features, expressions Lestrade found he far preferred to the detached horror that had been there a moment ago.

The first text read thus:

Brother. What is going on? I just received a message saying you have been being beaten by a police officer for 5 months. Reply now or I will investigate further

Mycroft Holmes.

Sherlock rolled his eyes at this and Greg smiled a little. It was the second message that really fascinated the young consulting detective.

Hello sexy! I got bored of Gregson, he really is rather unoriginal, isn't he? Anyway, I told your brother, hope you don't mind, I like pointing out the holes in his precious little surveillance system. The videos are deleted, they're boring too actually, though I like how you always look as bored as I feel, you're good with pain, aren't you?

We should play some time.

Love, your number one fan xxx

Yes, it was slightly menacing and probably from a psychopath, but it was a whole new puzzle and there was no reason for it not to be true. For the first time in five months, Sherlock felt like he could breathe. And then he realized that, actually, he couldn't, because in all the times Gregson had broken his ribs, he had finally succeeded in puncturing a lung.

How could he not have noticed?

The look on Sherlock's face would have been comical, had it not been colored shortly after by the blood that spattered his lips as he started to choke. Instantly, Lestrade leapt to his feet, shouting for assistance and calling an ambulance even as he did so before putting a hand on Sherlock's shoulder and assuring him everything would be alright.

Sherlock fixed him with a look and sucked in a wet, rattling breath. "Yes Lestrade, I know."

Lestrade couldn't help himself, in spite of his worry, he laughed, and Sherlock was glad that this was the image he took with him into unconsciousness.

When Sherlock woke up in hospital (a luxurious, private room, so Mycroft was involved, he thought with an inward groan) he was aware within a second and a half that he was not the only one in the room. Next to him, his shirt rumpled and face lined, sat DI Lestrade, fast asleep in his chair, an empty polystyrene cup of coffee cradled loosely in his right hand (someone probably brought it in for him, he didn't want to leave to throw it away, because…because he wanted to be there when Sherlock woke up. The realization was oddly, slightly uncomfortably touching.) Sherlock felt a faint hint of amusement when Lestrade sighed, muttering something incomprehensible in his sleep.

Deciding against waking up the DI for now, Sherlock went back to assessing his condition. He was breathing through an oxygen mask, which made him scowl, he hated these things. His ribs had been bandaged and he was able to breathe normally, so the surgery on his lung had been performed successfully and the mask was just a precaution. Having ascertained this, Sherlock removed it impatiently with his good hand. His little finger was bandaged, as were his ribs (again). He was wearing a hospital tunic, so they'd probably seen the bruises, and a small shift told him his shin had been bandaged too, so it had been fractured a little, not splintered. He was wired up to a heart monitor, but then that was just another precaution. All in all it was a decent job.

It took Sherlock thirty seconds to get bored. It took him one hundred and fourty five to decide that he was willing to risk a likely uncomfortable and emotional talk with Lestrade. Anything to stave off the tedium.

This in mind, he jabbed the DI as hard as could in the thigh, unable as of yet to sit easily without assistance.

Lestrade jolted awake, blinking rapidly before rubbing his eyes. It took him a moment to figure out what had woken him up, and then he turned to Sherlock, a friendly, relieved smile spreading easily over his features.

"Sherlock! You're awake!"

Sherlock blinked at him. How original. "Excellent deduction Lestrade. Doesn't your wife mind that you're here?"

Lestrade shrugged, setting his coffee cup on Sherlock's bedside table. "Nah, she understood." This was a lie, and Sherlock knew it, and Lestrade knew he knew it. Neither of them commented on it. An awkward silence began to descend, so Lestrade broke it. "Your big brother is not very good at being scary, though he's excellent at being worried. He also seems to have something of a power complex."

A bubble of laughter burst from Sherlock's mouth before he could stop it, jolting his ribs and making his newly patched up lung protest painfully. There was just something about the way Lestrade had said it, something about the utter cluelessness and yet total accuracy of the words that seemed to Sherlock suddenly impossibly comical. Lestrade paused for a moment, apparently deciding whether to be insulted or to just brush it off. Eventually he laughed too, and when they'd both calmed down, he sighed, grinning at himself. "Yeah, stating the obvious?"

"Just a bit." Sherlock chuckled, ignoring the pain and relishing the feeling of laughing, really laughing for the first time in what felt like forever. A comfortable silence fell between them, and after a few more moments Lestrade broke it again.

"So, how long?" He illustrated the question with a vague gesture at Sherlock's body, the bruises under the blankets.

Reminding himself he'd known this would happen when he'd woken the DI, and that it had to happen sometime, Sherlock fixed his eyes on the ceiling and answered, coldly, "5 months." In response, Lestrade swore under his breath.

"Christ Sherlock, why didn't you just say? I'd have helped you out. You know that. Surely you must know that by now." Lestrade sounded upset, angry, and…guilty? Sherlock turned to him, looking him over, backing up his gut feeling with deduction. Yes, guilty. The set of his mouth, the fact he'd even stayed this long…but why?

"You feel guilty." It was a statement, not a question. Lestrade looked at him, eyebrows lifting.


Sherlock frowned, not liking having to ask but seeing no other option. "Why?"

Lestrade was utterly bemused for about five seconds, before he sat back, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck and feeling a wave of affection rise up in him. At that moment, with Sherlock lying wounded in the hospital bed, handsome face contorted in petulant confusion, he seemed more like a child than he ever had, and Lestrade felt a fierce urge to protect him. This was followed not long after by another rush of guilt, that he hadn't protected him. That, in fact, he'd let him be abused for months by one of his co-workers.

"Sherlock, I feel guilty because I feel like I should have protected you. I feel guilty because I introduced the two of you. I feel guilty because I feel like I should have foreseen this and stopped this. I feel guilty for being so blind and letting you get hurt." Seeing Sherlock's still confused expression, Lestrade's heart sank a little but he pressed on. "Look, I know it's hard for you to grasp, and I know you probably don't need my protection, but…you're a great man Sherlock, and I like you. I don't want you to be hurt, because it makes me feel…bad. And I especially don't want you to be hurt if I feel like I could have stopped it. Because, for all your brilliance and your deductions, sometimes…sometimes I think that you get lonely, and I feel like you're my responsibility now, and I don't want to let you down. You see?"

Sherlock rolled his eyes, but Lestrade ignored the gesture because there was a softness in the other man's gaze he didn't think he'd seen before. "Don't try and deduce Lestrade. It doesn't suit you." Lestrade chuckled, still unable to find it in himself to be annoyed at the consulting detective, though he had a feeling it wouldn't last long. He stood, going to throw away his cup and get a fresh coffee, when a light brush of fingers against his hand made him pause and look back. Sherlock was staring resolutely at the ceiling, and his good hand was curled into a fist, but he managed to make himself say, softly, "it wasn't your fault."

Blinking, surprised Sherlock had realized exactly what needed to be said, Lestrade smiled, gently squeezing Sherlock's arm before walking out. "Thanks Sherlock."

DI Gregson disappeared. Literally, he was never seen or heard from again, he vanished from every record Lestrade had the sense to find and peruse, and no one mentioned his name again. Greg realized, quite suddenly, that Mycroft had far more substance behind his power complex than most people did. Sherlock found his horror amusing. One day, after a particularly long and eventually disappointing case (even to Lestrade) he'd turned on the consulting detective and demanded why Sherlock found his fear so funny.

Sherlock had looked him up and down, his thin lips still curled somewhere between a smirk and a smile. "Because Mycroft would only ever bother with you if he thought you'd hurt me, and that's never going to happen, so all your flapping about like a headless chicken is quite ridiculous."

It was at that moment that Lestrade realized Sherlock had just, indirectly, told him that he trusted him. And the DI swore to himself that he would never betray that, because he had a feeling it was something even more rare than he could imagine.

It was this moment that was clearest in his mind when Lestrade was able to evade his co-workers and the press long enough to visit Sherlock's grave. It was this that made him weep.

I had originally planned for this to just end in comfort. But then I thought about the Fall, and, well, I couldn't help myself. Thus end the first batch of whump stories, but don't worry, there's another set in the works, so keep an eye out. Please do drop me a line with some feedback, I really appreciate it.

Thankyou for reading!