As he expected, Sherlock stormed into the pub. The petulance was obvious in his voice. Sibling relationship was certainly an unfathomable mystery that puzzled the Holmes brains.
"Oh, this is Mycroft, isn't it?"
Automatically Greg answered,
Lestrade knew his answer didn't sound convincing. Sherlock wasn't even listening. He shot away his deduction and it was true. A call from Mycroft Holmes cut short his holidays and now he was waiting for his beer in the place he had never heard of until yesterday.
"Of course it is! One mention of Baskerville and he sends down my handler to…to spy on me incognito. Is that why you're calling yourself Greg?"
The good doctor cut in.
"That's his name."
Lestrade felt surprisingly annoyed to know that the detective still hadn't memorized his name. The detective frowned,
Lestrade turned away to pick up his pint from the bar and answered in accusatory tone.
"Yes – if you'd ever bothered to find out. Look, I'm not your handler and I don't just do what your brother tells me."
Lestrade had just finished consulting with local police and took a walk around the village. The cemetery near the old church was peaceful. He sat down on one of the ancient tombstones and inhaled deeply the air of the country. The village wasn't bad. Beer tasted perfect. Village people were friendly. A night at the pub with local police officers.. They seemed to look forward to listening to a story about his job with more high-profile cases. If Sherlock wouldn't get into any more troubles, then Grimpenn Village could be a nice alternative to spend the rest of his holidays.
Lestrade sighed when he remembered the call from Mycroft the previous night. Sherlock was right: Lestrade was a handler.
Greg Lestrade had met Mycroft twice so far. About ten years ago, Sherlock was assisting the police "by accident", and recklessly chased a suspect into an abandoned building. The suspect and Sherlock fell from second floor to the flower bed, and Lestrade was the one who called in the ambulance. A few days later, Lestrade visited Sherlock in a hospital to check on him and thank him for fulfilling a civic duty, i.e. tip-off for the police investigation. Sherlock was a brilliant young man with a genius brain. The next morning a sleek black sedan pulled over by his side. He remembered him shuddering after getting out of the car. It was almost summer, but the air felt strangely chilly. Mycroft Holmes politely introduced himself and appreciated his help in rescuing his brother, yet Lestrade could feel that the real purpose of the meeting was rather to distance Sherlock from police cases. A bit of overreaction, he thought. Lestrade was well aware of police procedure and there would be no way that he would seek out the help of Sherlock Holmes. Consultant did exist, yet mostly they were retired police officers or professionals in specific fields.
It was about five years ago that Mycroft walked into his life again. To cut short, Mycroft needed Lestrade's help. Sherlock needed to work as a consulting detective to keep his brain stimulated enough and to stay clean from drugs. He wasn't exactly an addict; his brain just couldn't tolerate boredom, according to his older brother. Sherlock was to return to London from a rehabilitation center in Florida. Lestrade objected at first in stutters. "Consultants for the police are usually retired officers or professionals in certain fields. Uh, we don't like outsiders. Also the budget thing. Consultants have to get paid. The budget...we always want more but get less."
Mycroft's face frowned in realization of two things. He could've given his brother the clearance already if only Sherlock hadn't been a recovering drug user. Also the police budget was a complicated matter anytime. After a moment of silence, the older Holmes made a tempting offer. Sherlock could work his cases on a pro-bono basis.
"Sherlock will help you crack some difficult cases. My brother has, shall we say, extraordinary deductive skills and keen eyes."
Lestrade unknowingly nodded in agreement as he remembered how Sherlock had deduced the little domestic between him and his wife. Mycroft continued,
"You'll be a star detective in the Yard. I can see a faster promotion and a glittering career in the way. I heard the competition to Chief Inspector in CID is unprecedentedly tough."
Lestrade's face was a mixture of expectation and hesitation. Mycroft finished the meeting with a smile,
"Well, just think it over, would you?"
Lestrade stayed up that night, racking his brain to think of a way to get a clearance for Sherlock. The risk was high: all the cases that involved Sherlock could be invalidated. However, the reward was too good to refuse. The next morning, he called Mycroft Holmes that he would test Sherlock for a couple of cases before making a decision. Mycroft didn't object.
Sherlock didn't disappoint Lestrade. A couple of cases led to another case and the next. After a few months, Sergeant Donovan raised the issue of allowing an unauthorized civilian in criminal investigations. Lestrade shrugged it off and told her that he could use any resource to make the streets of London safer for the citizens. That silenced her for the time being. What Lestrade demanded from Sherlock was that he had to wear gloves at least at crime scenes, which the sleuth obliged with a grimace. As the older Holmes had predicted, Lestrade was on the fast track and had become the envy of other colleagues.
It had been working well until John's blog caught attention of the public. Lestrade couldn't ask John to stop blogging as he knew John's blog attracted private clients who provided income to the detective and the doctor: the police wasn't paying for Sherlock's assistance. Lestrade just hoped that the newly acquired fame of the detective wouldn't wreak a havoc in his career.
Soon Lestrade sensed that it would be impossible to keep a secret of Sherlock's involvement. The detective was taking too many high-profile cases. Sherlock became a Reichenbach hero. When Sherlock provided a tip to whereabouts of Peter Ricoletti, Lestrade persuaded Sherlock to appear for a press conference in the Yard. He wanted to define Sherlock's role as a critical tipper in the investigation, nothing more.
Then, all the hell broke loose. The children were kidnapped, and Sherlock became a fugitive and took his own life.
Greg knew Mycroft had pulled strings to minimize the damage. The *IPCC did show a surprising leniency and Lestrade could get back to his work in a few months. While he was staying at home, he thought again and again.
If only I had declined Mycroft's offer years ago, then Sherlock wouldn't be dead. I should've listened to Donovan when she first raised the issue. Sherlock might have ended up as a drug addict but he would be alive.
He also felt sorry about his poor treatment of his officers like Anderson and Donovan. The glorious prospect of his successful career had blinded him and he had catered to the whims of the detective.
What the two did was right as police officers. Sherlock cracked the kidnapping case too easily from footprint samples, which was enough to raise a suspicion. They went to his boss, Gregson, when he refused to take their words seriously. They acted even when it was clear to damage their careers, too. Given the hierarchical nature of the police, the two would've shunned from other fellow DIs. He had ruined not only his own career but also their careers, too. He remembered Sally avoiding his eyes at the news of the suicide. Days ago, DI Dimmock called to tell him that most cases of Lestrade were proven accurate and valid. That was a small consolation.
Three years later, Sherlock returned. Lestrade was rejoiced, finally free from the guilt that had tied a knot in his stomach. Weeks after his death, John and Greg had a drink together and the doctor told him why Sherlock had to jump. He was so saddened to know it too late that the detective had regarded him as one of his friends.
Lestrade welcomed Sherlock with open arms. The detective moved back to Baker street. According to Mrs. Hudson and John, the sleuth had changed considerably; at least he seemed to save his words and consider others' feelings before hurling his thorny words. After a couple of months, John called him. He could see an old trait of impatience and insensitivity surface again. Sherlock shot the wall again so there were twin smileys on the wall. After the call, Lestrade started to feel uneasy for a good reason. This time, he had to say "no more" to Mycroft. That night right in front of his flat was a black sedan waiting for him.
"This is my club. The name's Diogenes. This is a good place to talk with friends."
The door closed behind him. With a crooked smile, the older Holmes asked the DI to sit down. The fire was dying at the fireplace. The lamp glowed in bright orange. Mycroft poured two glasses of whiskey while Lestrade wiped off sweats from his forehead.
AN: Will Mycroft be able to get Sherlock an official clearance as a consulting detective for the Yard after his return? I hope so:-) Thanks for reading.
All the characters are fictional.
*IPCC: Independent Police Complaints Commission.
* In the story, "An Idea", Lestrade met Mycroft in the hospital first, but he almost ran away from the room without a proper introduction. So they met "officially" the following day:-)