In honour of Sherlock's and John's 221B Baker Street, this is a 221b ficlet (221 words, the last beginning with "b").
This takes place during events depicted in the second-series Sherlock episode "The Reichenbach Fall."
Even the King
"And then, even the King began to wonder."
- Jim Moriarty's "The Story of Sir Boast-A-Lot," as told to Sherlock Holmes, "The Reichenbach Fall"
"Only a fool never doubts."
- King Arthur to Sir Lancelot, Camelot
He'd come to terms with the fact he wasn't infallible years ago, and he'd swallowed a great deal of black coffee and cigarette smoke and personal pride since then.
To Lestrade's mind, that was the beginning of… if not wisdom, then pragmatism: the humility to ask for help, to seek out others' insights when they might prove useful.
Any honest detective second-guessed himself.
Added to that, Lestrade had Sherlock's repeated word - and the Chief Superintendent's as well - that he was an idiot, didn't he?
When the objections first appeared, of course he wondered.
He was duty-bound to do so.
Never mind that the thought burned like ashes and bile. Never mind that discovering he'd been not only a dupe but an accessory to some murderous charade would break him, as surely as superiors' reprimands and a wife's betrayal and the daily sight of violent death hadn't done.
He stared down "what ifs," scrutinising his recollections of past cases, imploring the facts to speak clearly for themselves.
They vindicated him and his loyalty. Swiftly. No, he hadn't been mistaken.
Not about Sherlock, at least.
But the team Lestrade had assembled, the colleagues he'd respected, the very institutions he'd long served, all so readily manipulated, twisted: they were another matter entirely.
As for the promise of justice…
Oh, he doubted.
Vital Stats: Originally written in April 2012.