"John, I'm sorry, I really am." Lestrade said over the phone to John. "But we've got our orders now. We're on our way." He hung up on John's incredulous protests and turned to follow Donovan and Anderson.

He nearly walked straight into Dimmock. He jerked back with a yelp, pressing his hand over his chest. "Damn it, Dimmock! Make some noise when you walk, you could've killed me!"

Dimmock looked at the phone in his hand grimly. "Lestrade, you do understand that if I had been anybody but myself, you could've been fired, or worse, thrown in jail for that call." Lestrade's shoulders slumped under the weight of the legitimate threat but his expression was unapologetic. Dimmock sighed. "Just be more careful next time."

Because he knew there would always be a next time. Lestrade would never not back Sherlock up.

Lestrade slipped his phone into his pocket and raked his fingers through his hair as he glanced at Anderson and Donovan's retreating backs in the distance. "I feel like a fucking spook." he blew out a nervous breath.

"Funny, I'd always wanted to be a spy when I was a kid." Dimmock joked to make light of the situation.

Lestrade rolled his eyes slightly. "Just find those cases." Dimmock nodded.

"Sherlock Holmes, I am arresting you on suspicion of abduction and kidnapping." Lestrade said tonelessly as if reading from a really, really bad script.

Sherlock looked over at John when the other man protested. "It's alright, John."

"He's not resist-... No, it's not alright!" Lestrade was half-inclined to agree with John there. He could feel Sherlock's gaze on him and it made fire ants crawl under his skin so he consentrated on John's growing panic. "This is ridiculous!"

Somehow, Lestrade realized his tongue had been trapped between his teeth, a nervous habit he thought he had trained himself out of. He stopped it. "Get him downstairs now." John's resistance sparked again when Sherlock was led out of the flat.

"You know you don't have-..." John started.

"Don't try to interfere, or I'll arrest you too." Lestrade snapped at him. He was exhausted, angry, and concerned but, he realized, he shouldn't have taken that out on John. But it was too late to take it back now.

John paused and let his eyes slide closed with a sigh of resignation.

Lestrade was out by the cars when he heard the commotion. John was shoved against a police vehicle beside Sherlock and cuffed also. The Superintendant was wobbling out of the flat after him with a handkerchief to his nose.

Lestrade was just about starting toward them. "Hey, what-...!" Donovan joined his side meekly.

"He punched the Super." she said quietly before he could ask.

Lestrade looked from the bleeding Superintendant, to John just in time to hear Sherlock speak to him. "Joining me?" he sounded amused.

"Yeah." John blew out a huffed breath. "Apparently, it's against the law to chin the Superintendant."

Lestrade almost laughed. He bit back the urge to say; "Well, bloody good for him!"

"Alright, load up." he said instead, to Donovan. "We're not doing any good here." He wanted to go back and see how Dimmock was faring on his super-spy mission.

"Ladies and gentlemen, if you will all please get on your knees!" Sherlock shouted suddenly and he whirled around.

Sherlock was pointing a policeman's gun at them. An arrest, Lestrade could deal with. Getting Sherlock out of police custody? That wasn't too uncommon either. But handling an escape attempt?

Lestrade groaned and threw his hands up exasperation. Trust Sherlock to make things very, very difficult. He had no doubt that Donovan's attention was halved between Sherlock's escape and his own lack of shock at Sherlock's actions.

This situation reminded him of that one case on Boxing Day a few years before John came into the picture... Oh, no. Not again...

Everybody else was too shocked to move. Sherlock raised the gun and discharged it into the sky twice. John yelled in protest at the noise. "Lower your guns!" Sherlock shouted.

Alright, damage control. Best not let them kill Sherlock for his idiocy. Lestrade decided to take the initiative despite the fact that it was technically the Superintendant's job... by the way the man was cowering from the shots, he didn't look like he would mind Lestrade taking control.

He waved his arms in the international 'put it down' gesture. "Do as he says!"

The two fugitives backed away slowly. "J-just so you're aware," John was saying "the gun is his idea." Lestrade's eyebrows quirked a little. The gun was Sherlock's doing, but the escaping part? The poor man was with Sherlock all the way... he just had a few weak protests about the gun. "I-I'm just - uh - you know..." he trailed off.

Sherlock exchanged gun hands and pointed the barrel at John's head. "My hostage!" he declared.

Lestrade had to think there was something wrong with John's brain if Sherlock pointing a gun at his head made him relax the tenseness out of his shoulders and let out a sigh of relief. Or maybe it was the psychological relief in knowing that Sherlock was taking control of the situation. "Yes! Hostage! That works-... that works!"

Still-... gun. Head. Trust. That there? Is true love.

The two rounded the corner and Sherlock broke out into a run, John followed dutifully.

Lestrade had half a mind to just let them go.

And then the Superintendant was shrieking into his ear to pursue. Lestrade just shrugged his shoulders and followed orders. He flipped open his notebook and began scribbing down addresses.

"What's that, Sir?" Donovan asked him as they reentered their car.

"A list of Sherlock's previous addresses. Who knows, he might go back. Familiar grounds and all." he told her. For anybody who knew Sherlock more than just as 'a freak', it would be glaringly obvious that there would be no logical reason for Sherlock to return to addresses he no longer lived at.

But still, the Superintendant didn't know that, and disappointingly, neither did Donovan. So they decided to check his leads out. It was good that Sherlock got kicked out of so many flats. There were alot of places to waste police time on and would thin them out considerably throughout the city.

If he happened to catch a glimpse of Sherlock and John pressing into the shadows of a back alley as he passed, he didn't mention anything to Donovan.

"You're sure you want to go through with this?" Dimmock was asking when the two of them were locked securely in Dimmock's office. Lestrade's office was the object of too much nosey glances at the moment.

On Dimmock's desk was a mountain of files. Some new, some old. All solved by Sherlock. Lestrade felt a brief swell of pride in his chest. "Yeah, lets do this."

Dimmock searched out his gaze. "You could get fired for this, you know."

Lestrade let out a sad sigh. "I know. But I knew the consequences when I let Sherlock in on cases. It's my responsibility."

Dimmock shook his head. "You know, I don't understand your loyalty to Holmes."

Lestrade smiled reminiscently. "No, neither did Mycroft." He frowned a little. "And neither did Donovan. ... I think John's the only one who didn't have anything to say about it." Then, he turned and buried his nose in one of the files.

Dimmock watched him for a moment. For the first time in a long time he thought about the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a story he hadn't thought about since he was a boy.

He compared Sherlock, who caught criminals, to the Pied Piper who cleaned up the streets of Hamelin of its rat infestation. He glanced at the newspapers already beginning to slander Sherlock's name and compared it with the greedy Mayor of Hamelin who refused to pay the Pied Piper what he owed him and drove him out. He thought of John, Molly, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade as the children who followed the Pied Piper into lands unknown.

Never to return. Always following the music of Sherlock's pipe. Sherlock would lead them away to where Dimmock could not follow.

He could not keep up with them. He'd go back home to the small, stupid town of Hamelin and he'd tell everybody about what had happened. He was the child following closely enough to realize and understand the magnificence that was Sherlock Holmes, but not close enough to join their merry band. He could not follow.

Anderson would be the deaf child, seeing but not believing. Only following so far as the forensic evidence Sherlock found led him. Donovan would be the blind child, hearing but unwilling to see. Following only so far as Lestrade orders her to.

"And I would be the sad, lame child." he murmured under his breath.

Lestrade didn't hear him, didn't even look up from his casefile. Perhaps the music of Sherlock's pipe was already too loud in his ears.

A/N: For anybody who may be confused, when Dimmock says he doesn't understand Lestrade's loyalty to Sherlock and Lestrade tells him that neither Mycroft nor Donovan did either, he was referring to things they said to him in chapters 13 and 20 respectively.