It was Lestrade who gave Sherlock the idea of becoming the consulting detective. Sherlock Holmes became the world's only consulting detective a few years later.
Thank you for reading. Reviews or comments are very welcome.
My thanks goes to AreYouReady for thorough beta reading.
Swirling… He was drawn into a whirlpool. He felt like throwing up. He flailed his arms to grab onto something for support, but he found nothing. Feeling dizzy, Sherlock opened his eyes only to close again because he was right in the middle of the glaring bright light. He must be in heaven, but then why was his leg hurt so much? He stirred a little and regretted it instantly, because his head started spinning and his chest began to hurt. Someone's footsteps neared.
He opened his eyes, groaning because he recognized the voice. It was his brother: this definitely wasn't heaven. It was a hospital. Fragments of last night's memories came back: an ex-professional wrestler, a chase to an empty building, the second floor and… The white ceiling was too bright and pained his eyes. He closed them, expecting the usual preaching, but there was only silence. His brother must've left the room to call a nurse because there was someone else's hand checking on his tubes and pulling down a window shade. A woman's voice asked him gently,
"How do you feel?"
His mouth was parched. Soon his brother put a cup to his mouth and he took a few sips of lukewarm water.
"You'll be fine. You're lucky to have just one broken leg and cracked collarbone."
"What time is it?"
Sherlock asked, wondering how his brother was here. Mycroft had to fly to Brussels for an NATO conference...today. He wasn't supposed to be here right now. The nurse answered.
"It's 8:15 in the morning."
"When can he go home? Ms. Hales?"
His brother asked hoarsely: his voice was mixed with relief and annoyance. He must've changed his flight schedule last night.
"You have to talk about it with Dr. Williams. He'll be here in about an hour. He's in surgery now."
The nurse left the room after talking about his condition with Mycroft, and Sherlock closed his eyes, although he was well aware that pretending to sleep would be useless.
"Sherlock. I know you are wide awake."
The younger Holmes sighed and opened his eyes. Mycroft's face had changed back to his usual unreadable mask. Sherlock opened his mouth to explain, but his brother hissed,
"You don't need to explain. I've just read the police report. What the hell were you thinking when you decided to chase a retired professional wrestler who was twice as heavy as you?"
"That the police, as usual, would lose him. Was the suspect appre…"
"Sherlock Holmes. Shut up and listen. I order you to move back to the Manor."
Sherlock forgot his question and snapped at his brother.
"You can't order me! I've moved out."
"Your bank account barely has a penny left in it, you have no job, and you're lying in a hospital with a broken leg and a cracked collarbone. You don't have a choice."
Sherlock shot a defiant glare at his brother, but he had to admit it: he had to move there for the time being. He had paid his monthly rent six months in advance on his current flat, and in two weeks he would have to pay again. He would have to win a lottery to pay the bills.
"Over the past six months, you've been in and out of jobs that I recommended. Some of the employers refused to hire you after a few days; the other lucky ones gladly agreed to accept your resignation. With your intelligence, you should've done better, Sherlock."
"Office work in a trade association? Assistant to a professor? I don't have to work my brain cells for such trivia."
"Trivia! Sherlock, they are jobs, jobs that bestow you with financial independence."
Sherlock grunted, rolling his eyes.
"I expected you to at least stay on with Professor Oaks"
"He was the worst!"
"You blew up his lab! You would've gone to jail without the urgent government funding to his project that I managed to procure."
The voices got loud enough that a nurse peeked inside the room. Mycroft cleared his throat and lowered his voice.
"You've never stayed in one job more than one workweek. That is five days!"
"It's not my fault that I've seen the skeletons in my employers' closets."
"There it goes again. How many times have I told you to shut your mouth when you notice things like that?"
"That's the way I am! I can't help it!"
Mycroft's voice rose again.
"Jesus! Grow up. You're not a child anymore."
Sherlock turned his face away from his brother, pouting.
"People should know that an ugly truth is better than a pretty lie."
"You won't be able to support yourself with that attitude!"
Their argument stopped thanks to Dr. Williams, who'd just walked in. The doctor knew the older brother could pull some rather important strings, so he was very friendly; with a smile on his face, Dr. Williams told that Sherlock could go home in a week, though weeks of rehabilitation would follow. Mycroft asked the doctor if Sherlock could be alone for the next three days because of his work schedule. The doctor answered there would be no problem given the skillful and caring hospital staff around, but Mycroft was not reassured. Before the doctor was able to get out, he had to assure the older Holmes a few times that Sherlock would be perfectly fine by himself.
Three days later, Sherlock was almost crazy from boredom. Nurses avoided him unless it was extremely necessary; a first-year named Miss Susan burst into tears when Sherlock narrated the history of her love life in the presence of Dr. Williams, and ended up taking several days of leave. This morning, Dr. Williams dared to contact Mycroft Holmes and asked politely for him to either move Sherlock to a different hospital or release him as soon as possible. Mycroft ended up agreeing to the latter: Sherlock was going home the next day.
Sherlock said when he heard a knock on the door. A man in his mid-thirties walked in with a bunch of white chrysanthemums. Sherlock recognized the man though he didn't know his name. The visitor was the Inspector who had arrived at the scene first and called the ambulance. The suspect had grabbed Sherlock's jacket when he was cornered near a balcony, and they fell together from the second floor to the ground. Thankfully they had been over flowerbed with several-inch-deep mulch on the surface. The impact, however, knocked Sherlock out right away. The last thing he had seen was the officer's face and the two pips on his epaulettes that marked his status as an Inspector.
Mycroft had left soon after Dr. Williams to attend the NATO conference, but he had visited him the previous day for five minutes. However, he didn't give Sherlock any chance to question him. Instead, he delivered a three-minute stern warning on his attitude towards the hospital staff, especially nurses, and notified him that he just had talked with Sherlock's landlord, terminated the flat contract, and had had all of Sherlock's possessions moved back to the Manor. Sherlock was dying to get an update on the investigation, so his face brightened considerably when he saw the inspector.
"Hey, are you okay?"
"What happened to…"
"The suspect barely got a scratch because he fell on top of you. With his size, you're lucky it wasn't much worse."
"We got him. Every word you said was right. Sergeant Furgerson kept talking about your brilliance. As you said, the suspect had stolen the shoes of Daniels and put them on when he murdered the victim. The footprints on the mud were too deep for a person like Daniels who barely weighs 60 kilograms."
"And the fingernails?"
"Yes, the suspect must have cut his fingernails and the victim's after the victim died, but there was one tiny nail piece was stuck inside the clipper. It's on its way to the lab for processing, but we think the DNA will be positive."
Sherlock's face turned triumphant, but his grin turned into a pout at the next words of the Inspector.
"I'm here because I wanted to say thank you… and to warn you, young lad. You really shouldn't have implied the relationship between the Chief Inspector and Sergeant Janice."
"It wasn't only me who noticed it. Almost everyone knew it."
"Yes, we do, and we normally turn a blind eye to such things. It's called privacy."
However, the Inspector was smiling despite his words. He chuckled, remembering the look on the face of his boss.
"You really shouldn't have said it loud in front of the reporters. We managed to hush them for now and my boss certainly is not going to sue you for libel. Consider yourself lucky."
He held out the flowers.
"Next time, watch your tongue. Well, the flowers are for you. I just bought them in the flower shop downstairs."
The inspector found an empty vase, put the chrysanthemums in and poured some water. He spilled a little, so he had to take out his handkerchief to dry his hand off. Then, the man sat down on a chair and looked at Sherlock intently.
"Well, I'm Greg Lestrade."
"And I am Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Lestrade. Thank you for a few days ago."
"I was lucky to be nearby. How do you feel Mr. Holmes?"
"Manageable. Sherlock, please. I think they will send me home tomorrow."
"I just overheard nurses talking about you when I asked your room number. You're famous, here."
"They said it wasn't the kitten. It was the old lady next door who hated cats."
"Ah, Ms. Hales. She's a nurse here. Her neighbor was threatening her to get rid of the cat… So the cat gets to stay!"
Sherlock realized the Inspector's eyes locked on his face. Feeling rather awkward, he said.
"Ms. Hales must be very happy. Thank you for the flowers. Are they white chrysanthemums? As far as I know, some Asian countries use the white chrysanthemum for funerals."
"Uh… I thought they are pretty."
"And the flower shop downstairs is giving 50% discount on these flowers."
Lestrade stuttered at this.
"How...how do you know? You are bed-ridden."
"I just noticed that there are many more visitors with the chrysanthemums today. I overheard Mr. Cho, an old man with a broken rib in the next room, scolding his niece for bringing chrysanthemums like for a funeral, and the niece's excuse was the half-price tag."
Lestrade's face was reddened with embarrassment.
"Don't worry. I don't care about the flower's meaning or the price. Waste of money for a few days of a pleasure to the eyes. Flowers wither away quickly. I don't understand why people are so crazy about them."
Sherlock grinned at the Inspector, but Lestrade wasn't listening. He suddenly asked,
"Do you do the thing often?"
"Guessing things… Like the fingernails, footprints, the flowers, and the cat…"
"It's not guessing. It's called deduction. It's a type of science that uses your brain cells, Inspector."
"Are you right most of the time? I mean your guesses…"
"My deductions have never been wrong."
"How is that possible?"
"It's simple, Inspector. I observe the obvious things while other people miss them."
"Observe? You mean you just look at stuff?"
Sherlock shook his head and answered impatiently.
"There is a mile-width difference between observing and looking. I observe, and then it's just connect-the-dots work based on logic. Would you let me do it to you?"
Lestrade nodded. It was better that he didn't know what would follow. Sherlock's eyes fleeted across the Inspector for a minute, and then he started with a mischievous grin.
"You haven't gone home for two nights at least…because you had a row with your wife and you had too much work to finish. You visited me on your way back home; you made up with your wife obviously; you are about to take her somewhere nice tonight, an upscale restaurant. You lost your wedding ring recently, that's why your wife was mad at you. She must have found it somewhere in your house yesterday or today, and she wants to bury the hatchet."
Lestrade's mouth dropped open. He stared at the young man for a full minute, trying to process what he had just heard. Sherlock grinned when the Inspector managed to ask how.
"Well, you're wearing the same shirt for three days based on the lines that dirt and grease have made on your shirt collar; the bags beneath your eyes mean you're tired: you must've slept on sofa or something, not your own bed. You're not wearing a wedding ring this moment, but the band mark around your finger means you have been wearing the ring for years. You must have lost your ring recently, and that must have been the reason why you and your wife had a row. A note fell from your pocket when you took out your handkerchief to dry your hands minutes ago. It was the business card of a Michelin-starred restaurant. So, you're trying to make it up to your wife."
Lestrade eyes widened; he managed to choke out a few words.
"Wow, I don't know what to say, young man. Have you graduated from college?"
"Yes, a year ago."
"And you are now working for..."
"Uh, not yet. I haven't found the thing that I'd love to do..."
"Well, it's regrettable that there is no job that can use your keen eyes and deductive skills."
Sherlock suddenly took an intake of breath.
"I just got an idea...about what I…"
"You have a visitor, Sherlock," said a nurse.
Lestrade jumped while Sherlock frowned.
Mycroft walked into the room, brandishing his umbrella as usual. Lestrade stood up, half-frozen from the cold emanating from the man. Mycroft must have heard quite a lot of the conversation because his face was livid. Lestrade stuttered, in a hurry,
"I think I have to go. Thank you for your help, Sherlock. I hope you get well soon."
He put his hand inside his pocket and took out one business card.
"Here is my card. Stay in touch."
Lestrade left. In his hurry, he didn't see the young man's twinkling eyes. Mycroft growled at his brother, sitting on the chair.
"What are you thinking, Sherlock? Whatever that was, the answer is no!"
Sherlock glanced at his older brother and said nonchalantly.
"You don't know what I'm thinking."
"I know. Don't you dare risk your life again. You will go home tomorrow, recover nicely, learn minimal social skills, and get a job, a safe job that doesn't involve police. Do you understand?"
"We'll see. By the way, have you put on weight? Were the restaurants in Brussels so good? You're dragging at least one and half extra pounds. Anyway, why were you so rude to the Inspector? You even didn't introduce yourself to…"
"Shut up. I know who he is - Inspector Lestrade. I'll talk to him tomorrow."
"No, you won't. He did nothing but save me from trouble. He was the one who called the ambulance."
The next day, in the car heading to the Manor, Sherlock Holmes wasn't listening to his brother's proposed regime of things-that-will-make-you-get-better. He was grinning because he had realized what job he had to have: the one he'd just created for himself - a consulting detective for Scotland Yard. He tapped his front pocket, which held Lestrade's business card. When Mycroft stopped talking and glared suspiciously, he shrugged and put on an innocent smile.