Sherlock ambushed Lestrade the next day on his way to work with Peter and Mal. He seemed very understanding of the whole situation and even responded to Sherlock's insisting that he leave immediately with a wry 'good morning to you too, Sherlock'. Nevertheless, Sherlock won out in the end and Peter told Lestrade that he would take Mal and meet up with him at the garage.
That left Lestrade and Sherlock standing in the middle of the street with children milling about trying to get to school.
Sherlock raised an eyebrow with an unimpressed 'Really? Not criminals, not spies, ...school children, Lestrade.' look. He cleared his throat, opened his mouth noiselessly, and closed it. "I need a work contact in the NSY." he said ruefully as if he had just admitted something embarrassing and walked away. He had said everything he needed to say.
Don't misunderstand, Lestrade would take the condensed version anyday. Knowing Sherlock, he could've ranted on for days on how he deduced that Lestrade was bored out of his mind with his present situation by the scruff on his left shoe, or how he was itching for cases if the state of his right jeans pocket was anything to go by.
Lestrade shook his head and continued on his way. Yes, he was glad that Sherlock kept it short. Eight words short. Lestrade stopped walking. Sherlock hardly ever passed up the chance to flaunt his knowledge or to show off his deductive abilities unless John or Mycroft gave him great incentive.
Lestrade snorted, shook his head, and continued walking.
John was next in making his bid. Though, in his defense, Lestrade helped him to it. They met up for lunch later in the day to talk and catch up. Lestrade innocently asked him how the other coppers at the Yard were holding up.
John gave him a look that said he knew what Lestrade was doing and performed accordingly. "They're good. Actually, it was Inspector Dimmock who helped out in arresting Sebastian Moran." John smiled. "Donovan was there, too."
Lestrade let out a chuckle. "Did they take the news of Sherlock being alive well?"
"Oh yes!" John laughed. "Apparently, Sherlock showed up at Inspector Dimmock's flat earlier, before he showed up at Baker Street, and took care of things. The poor bloke stared, fainted, woke up, and after that, everything was alright."
"Good old Dimmock!" Lestrade laughed. "And Donovan?"
"Threatened to arrest Sherlock for breaking the Laws of Nature." John deadpanned.
Grins broke out on their faces and they both fell into fits of laughter.
John calmed his giggles down first and sent Lestrade a pointed look. "I think they really do miss you, though, Sherlock too." Lestrade raised his eyebrow. "Yep. He threw a fit, blew up at Mycroft, and demanded you be rounded up and herded back into your office immediately."
Lestrade snorted. "Right."
"I think he would never admit it to you face, but it is true." John shrugged. "I've got witnesses."
"Have you come close to making up your mind, Gregory?" Mycroft asked that evening when he stopped by the house for tea.
John and Sherlock were out exploring rumors of a haunted house with Peter, Maisie, and Paul. Eva was out taking Darren for a walk. Beatrice was in the kitchen preparing dinner.
"Um, dunno, yet." Lestrade shrugged back, taking a gulp of his tea. "Sherlock and John have put up fair arguments as to why I should return to London, Sherlock especially, what did you do to him?"
Mycroft smiled enigmatically. "Trade secret."
A beat. Then, Lestrade put his cup down. "Is this the moment where you make your own suggestions?" he asked.
Mycroft shook his head. "Like I've told you, Gregory, I will stand by your choice." His phone chimed in his pocket and he pulled it out to read a text. He rolled his eyes. "Excuse me, it seems that I must cut my visit short. I turn my eyes away for five minutes and Whitehall is in shambles." he huffed in exasperation. He stood up to leave and Lestrade walked him to the door. "And, Gregory, do make up your mind quickly, our current abode in the hotel down the road does not have a roof big enough to house both me and my brother." he warned with a long-suffering sigh.
"Of course." Lestrade chuckled. "Should I walk you back? Or can you find your own way?"
"I believe I can manage on my own, thank you, though, for your kind offer." Mycroft replied.
Lestrade shrugged "Alright then, evening, Mycroft."
"Good evening, Gregory." Mycroft smiled back politely.
Lestrade returned to the sitting room, gathered all the used dishes onto a tray and carried them very carefully into the kitchen. He sniffed. Beatrice was making shepherd's pie. Yum.
Beatrice spared him a glance as he carefully placed his load of dishes in the sink and began washing. "Has Mycroft gone home?" she asked.
"Yep." Lestrade nodded absently as he scrubbed a teacup with a soapy sponge.
"I like that young man, Mycroft." Beatrice remarked. "Such good manners, makes you wonder how Sherlock turned out his polar opposite."
Lestrade laughed. "Oh, they're not so different when you get to know them. Same love of theatrics, gigantic brains, the meddling... Mycroft is the British Government, did Sherlock tell you?" Lestrade asked. "He has power over practically every electronic within the country and then some. The insane bastard."
Beatrice leaned against the kitchen counter and watched her son's back thoughtfully. "Sounds like a horribly complicated man."
"He's an onion." was Lestrade's quick and endearing reply. Then he snorted out a laugh. "Sorry, inside joke."
"How did you two meet?" was Beatrice's next question.
Lestrade paused, pulled his hands out of the sink and wiped them on a dish towel as he turned to look at his mother suspiciously. This was beginning to sound like that time Beatrice found out about Lestrade's first date as a boy and had interrogated him about the girl in question. "Through Sherlock." he replied warily, Beatrice raised her eyebrow. "Mycroft kidnapped me, I pickpocketed him, he got me fired from my job, and I helped Sherlock break into Thames House in retaliation... that about sums up first impressions."
Beatrice's other eyebrow rose. "Interesting." she said flatly, "My son helped a then-drug addict break into MI5."
"Don't worry, Mum," Lestrade said in his most trustworthy tone, "I signed the Official Secrets Act."
"How exciting." Beatrice drawled in a dry tone that was all Lestrade. "Are you going back? To London, I mean." she asked him.
Lestrade shrugged. "I don't know yet."
Silence overtook them for a few prolonged moments. "I think you should." Beatrice said finally.
"Really? Do you really think so?" Lestrade asked back. "I mean, I thought you would be the one hoping hardest that I didn't."
"Don't misunderstand me." Beatrice told him, pushing off the counter and placing both hands gently on the sides of her son's face. "Of course I want you all to myself like any self-respecting doting parent, and I worry about all the danger you are constantly in, being a law enforcer." She sighed and placed a soft kiss on his forehead. "But never doubt that what I want for you - more than success, more than security - is for you to be happy with your life."
"I am, Mum." Lestrade insisted.
"No, what you are is happy with someone else's life; Maisie has a wonderful husband, Eva has a healthy and beautiful child, and Peter and Paul are very lucky men." Beatrice sent him a stern look. "Now stop bumming off their happinesses, and go find your own." She winked at him. "Don't think you can hide evidence of your ongoing investigations from me, young man, you are a copper, and I despair that you will always be." She smiled, giving his cheek one last pat before removing her hands from his face. "And whatever you decide, Gregory, I am proud of you."
"Speaking of which, I need to get rid of the evidence of the investigation, I feel like some of the stuff in there is stuff I'm not actually supposed to have clearance to." Lestrade smiled and rolled his eyes. "And I'm not gone yet, Mum."
"Not yet, no." Beatrice hummed in agreement. "But still... mother's intuition." She tapped her temple with a thin, elegant finger and a knowing look.
Lestrade decided that there was something strangely admirable about a mother who knew more about what her son wanted than he did.
That night, Lestrade stopped by Paul and Eva's house and was somehow coerced into reading Darren a bedtime story. As per usual, Darren fell asleep halfway through the story and Lestrade closed the story book.
He pulled Darren's covers up over his tiny blue Donald Duck clad shoulders and tucked a corner under the boy's chin. Then he patted the boy's head and dropped a goodnight kiss into his bird's nest-smelling hair. "Ah, I'm going to miss you, kiddo. But don't worry, I'll be sure to visit for Christmases and birthdays, and Halloweens because I'm an awesome Godfather like that." he assured the sleeping boy. "Sleep tight, Darren."
He stood up and turned to see the boy's parents standing in the open doorway.
"Be safe, Greg." they said.
The next morning, Lestrade showed up at the hotel where the Holmes siblings and John were residing temporarily. The same day, he put in his resignation at work. That night, Maisie had a fit like she hadn't had since she was six, of course, it lasted all of five minutes before she shrugged and made him promise to visit. She was a bordering bi-polar like that.
A week later, he was walking through the threshold of his previous flat in London, reclaiming his home.
He dropped his duffle bag in the sitting room and threw himself onto his new-old couch. A few minutes later, he got up and made himself a cup of tea. Not a surface was dusty even after three years, and not a thing out of place.
Which, to a normal person, would seem odd considering the fact that Lestrade had been quite certain he had packed everything up in a storage facility when he moved to Dorset. But, he was not a normal person. He sent a 'thank you' text to Mycroft.
Three days after that, he was back in Scotland Yard with the box of personal belongings that he had packed when he was dismissed but had never really gotten around to unpacking until now.
He went in search of Dimmock and found the DI snoozing at his desk, slouched in his chair, feet propped up on his desk. Lestrade glanced at his watch. Dimmock was sleeping on the job. This called for punishment.
He picked up a paperweight from Dimmock's desk and dropped it lightly on the sleeping man's belly. Dimmock wheezed out a breath with a slight twitch to his eyebrows but did not wake. Lestrade stifled immature giggles.
He gingerly removed the paperweight and carefully replaced it with the small desk lamp from Dimmock's desk. Dimmock continued snoring. Oh God, this is childish, I should not be doing this. Lestrade thought to himself as he balanced an open casefile on top of the lamp like a slanted roof. He sensed Donovan walk up beside him and stood back as she gingerly piled an inverted and empty newspaper cone from a nearby fish-and-chips stand on the top of the tower.
Lestrade gave the Tower-of-Copper's-Desk-Paraphernalia the last touch of a banana peel. Evidence of Dimmock's late-morning snack. One of the other officers walked by, giving them strange looks so Donovan hung last night's styrofoam coffee cup on the banana peel to hide it.
They stumbled back, giggling quietly like children. "God, how has he not woken up yet?" Lestrade wondered aloud in amazement.
As if in reply, Dimmock let out an embarassing snort mid-snore and the tower wobbled. Donovan couldn't stifle a shrill laugh quick enough and Dimmock began stirring.
"Mgh, what the f-...!" Dimmock let out a startled cry and there was a loud crash, the two guilty cops immediately dashed off in opposite directions.
Lestrade poked his head out of his office door and didn't even try to conceal his laughter as Dimmock stared at him in bafflement. He closed the door on Dimmock's indignant shouts just as his phone began ringing.
He pulled it out and saw Mycroft's ID. "Hello?"
"How are you faring, Detective Inspector Lestrade?" Mycroft's voice smiled warmly.
Lestrade glanced at the security camera and smiled as he watched Dimmock struggle to pick up all his fallen things. "Not sure yet, Mycroft." he admitted. "But I think I'm going to be alright."
"I am glad to hear so."