After just seven days of flatsharing with his firstborn, Lestrade was ready to kill her.
Hayley had inherited her father's dark eyes, but the rest of her had come unfiltered from Julie, including her attitude. There had been six months of "no honestly I'm fine nothing's wrong"-style sulking on Julie's part before she'd finally blown up at her husband over not having her "needs met" and announcing that she'd taken matters elsewhere instead. Hayley had been highly strung and combatant since toddlerhood, and it drove her father up the wall. His first notion that she'd turned vegetarian, for example, was after she'd glowered silently over her dinner every night for a solid week and then finally, when he'd asked her if something was wrong, burst into tears.
"Well bloody hell, don't cry about it," he told her. Though he knew she wasn't really crying over being served a portion of meat. The poor kid had been through a lot in eighteen months. "There's no need to cry. I mean, I've never lived with a vegetarian before..." Lestrade had a well-developed contempt for the practice, which he was not about to share with his daughter. "But we'll manage. Gimme that." He leaned across the table to snaffle a rasher of bacon off her plate.
"Dad! That's disgusting!"
"Au contraire, Peanut." Lestrade had been calling his firstborn "Peanut" since he'd seen the first ultrasound image of her, back when she really had looked like a peanut, and he wasn't about to stop anytime soon. "It's delicious. And I can't help it if I'm going to be one of those coppers who inevitably has a heart attack at the end of the series for a bit of drama. Somebody's got to be."
"Well our name is Lestrade."
"But we haven't been French since the Huguenots resettled!"
Lestrade loved his children even when they were pissing him off, but he had to admit that he loved Hayley most when she was pedantically bitching about things like the Huguenot resettlement.
"It may surprise you to learn that I actually don't go back as far as the Huguenot resettlement, I can barely remember the Sixties," he protested in fake-injured tones. Then, after a pause, "so. How's Conor?"
Conor was Julie's least favourite person in the world, and the reason why Hayley had condoms. He'd been over to Hayley's new abode twice now, albeit under "Hayley's Dad"'s rules.
"I was just curious, that's all."
There was no need to rehash the conversation he'd had with Hayley on the day that she moved in - that he wasn't at all happy with her sleeping with Conor, but he was aware that he couldn't effectively stop them. He had, however, reminded her that he was connected to every police officer in London, and that toilet blocks and children's playgrounds after dark were filthy and dangerous and a great way to get arrested for public indecency. Hayley had told him it wasn't actually like that - not yet - a girl had to have these things, just in case. Not really knowing whether to believe her or not, he'd left it there. They weren't allowed in the house unsupervised, anyway, and he'd played "heavy parent" to perfection every time he'd seen Conor so far. Obviously either his "heavy parent" routine had worked so well he'd scared the kid off for good (no loss), or Conor had made it into Hayley's bad books for something recently. Lestrade didn't have the energy or inclination just then to find out what.
"Listen," he said, changing his tone. "I have the weekend after next off. Both days. Pick the best day for you and we'll go to the zoo."
The last time he'd taken Hayley to the zoo she'd been six.
"The zoo? Matthew would hate it."
"Good for Matthew, then. I was thinking just us, actually. You like animals - well, you like them well enough not to eat them." Hayley smiled. "And, I dunno, I thought it sounded like fun. We'll work out some sort of cue for me to pretend I don't know you when your friends walk past, and I promise I won't write my name and phone number on your arm in case you get lost like I did the last time I took you to the zoo."
"Yes. And you bloody got lost while Matthew was throwing a tantrum because the lions weren't as exciting as he'd hoped. Unfortunately, they brought you back."
"Ohhh, now I remember. I'd made a bid for freedom," Hayley shot back. "Yeah, okay. Zoo. Okay."
"Great. So tell me, Peanut, what exactly does a vegetarian eat, besides steamed broccoli and tofu? Because just so's you know, tofu is permanently banned in this house, where we both eat real food."
"Fine, tofu. But when child protective services knock on the door wanting to know why I'm starving you, don't act all surprised."
"Dad, you're such an idiot."
"Yeah, well, you know what they say about apples falling from trees." She'd finished eating. He rose, picked up her plate and his, and stacked them neatly. "Does your mum let you drink coffee?" he suddenly asked her.
"Great. Two flat whites are coming right up." He patted her shoulder as he passed by her; it was the closest he'd come to hugging either of his children in years. Suddenly, he wondered what Matthew was doing and how he was coping without Hayley and with, presumably, some dickhead Julie was dating living at the house. Not that he'd really tell his Dad if something was wrong; knowing him, he'd be even less inclined to open up than Hayley.
And that was the worrying thing.
It wasn't until his next access visit that he was able to see for himself what was going on, though. Normally Julie dropped the kids off, but she was still not "speaking to" Hayley, so preferred of all things that Matthew be picked up from the house.
Greg Lestrade was no Sherlock Holmes, but seconds after walking in the door, it was pretty obvious that Julie had, at the very least, had a houseguest the night before. And of course, he wasn't going to bring that up. Not without a lawyer present. Not without some kind of referee present. It was ridiculous that he and Julie were actually fighting more now that they were divorced than they ever did while they were married.
"Matthew!" Julie hollered up the stairs. "Your dad's here, hurry up!"
Profound silence from the second level.
"I'll get him," Lestrade muttered. Then, seeing the look on her face, "he's my son, and I used to live here, I think I can be trusted to go up the stairs on my own."
He climbed the stairs and tapped on the door of Matthew's bedroom. When there was no answer to this, or to his voice, he gently opened the door. Matthew was at his easel, and barely reacted to him as he came in.
"Hey, mate," Lestrade said. "Did you forget you were coming out with me and Hayley?"
Matthew, without taking his eyes off his painting, shook his head. "No, I didn't forget," he said. "But I need to finish this."
It was a stupid question. This was Matthew. When he took it into his head to do something, it had to be done Right Now and he refused to engage with anything else until it was finished.
"Five minutes, Dad." Matthew still hadn't looked at him.
"Okay." Lestrade paused and looked over the painting Matthew was finishing off. It was remarkable - and very, very disturbing. A middle-aged man in a bathtub, his modesty oddly covered by a blanket. Who wears a blanket in the bath? He was struggling like hell, and that was fair enough too because beside him, a woman was in the process of stabbing him. Blood and water splashed about in painfully realistic detail. The woman's expression was a thing from nightmares. And in the background of the painting, in the doorway, there was the shadowy figure of a hollow-eyed, frightened young woman with long, dark hair.
"What's this, Matthew?"
"The Murder of Agamemnon."
"The which of who?"
"Agamemnon. You know about the Trojan war?"
"With the wooden horse?"
"Yeah, that one. Well after King Agamemnon came home with Cassandra..." he pointed to the figure of the young girl. "His wife Clytemnestra found out that he'd sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia to the gods, so they'd have favourable winds to get the fleet to Troy faster. So she murdered him in the bath." He paused. "And then she killed Cassandra, too."
"Didn't this happen thousands of years ago? That's a modern bathroom, and Clytewhatever is wearing jeans and a watch."
"The Renaissance painters used to paint ancient scenes with people who were in modern dress. For the time period, anyway."
Lestrade was trying to decide whether the fact that it was "culture" made it any less disturbing. The painting was itself great. A masterpiece, maybe. But it was still a painting, from a thirteen year old, that depicted a shocking murder.
"Well, okay. Still dumb to kill someone wearing a watch like that."
"Because watches are notorious for getting water and blood and other evidence inside the face of them. Anyway. You should probably not tell me any more, kid, you might put me in an awkward career position." He spoke lightly, but was still uneasy. He wondered, briefly, what Sherlock would think of this. In some ways Sherlock and Matthew had been very similar. There were some things Lestrade felt he could only not kill Sherlock for, because he had loads of experience not killing Matthew for it.
Matthew put the brush down and turned to him for the first time. He was smiling. "Okay, I'm finished. Let's go."
"Clean up first. You look like an explosion in a paint factory."