Disclaimer – You recognise it, I don't own it.
Sirupate landed lightly on his feet.
"TC." Sirupate nodded.
"Siru." John smiled tightly, "How much can I move?"
"I wouldn't advise moving at all." Sirupate shook his head, "If they have any sense at all, the bomb has a secondary trigger. And I'm betting on pressure."
"What about the lasers?" John asked, "Can you disable them?"
Sirupate had taken the outer shell of one of the lasers off, to examine the wiring.
"Not without lots of time. They've rigged a secondary trigger here. One of these stops working and the bomb goes off. Looks like I'm doing this at the source."
"If there's a risk that it's going to go off, you get out of here." John instructed, "Understand? I'm not having anyone die for me again."
"Look, TC," Sirupate retorted, "You've got your professional pride. I've got mine. No team-mate of mine is dying from a bomb explosion on my watch."
"Siru." John sighed, "Please."
"Just hold on in there." Sirupate moved slowly round the web of lasers, "I shouldn't be too long. Tell me about your Detective. I only really heard the rumours."
"You're trying to distract me." John muttered, as Sirupate started to weave his way through the lasers.
"Is it working?" Sirupate grinned wildly.
"No." John replied softly, "Because I just keep thinking about what he's been doing… About what he might do if I don't make it."
"Then tell me about anything." Sirupate suggested, "What do you reckon Radar's little girls are going to do next? You sorted anything for their birthday?"
"They're growing up so fast." John smiled, "Hard to believe they are those tiny little scraps I delivered."
As John continued to talk about the three little girls, Sirupate reached John's side. Careful not to break a single beam, he sank down first to his knees, then turning onto his back to get a better look.
Unlike many bomb disposal experts, Sirupate was used to working not only without the bulky bomb-suit, but also without the traditional equipment. He far favoured using his kukri and karda.
His hands were perfectly steady as he traced the wiring and started work on disarming the bomb.
Lestrade was trying very hard to be patient. But it wasn't helped by how relaxed the rest of the group were. He wanted to yell at them. To remind them what was at risk should something go wrong.
He couldn't pace, it wasn't how he coped. He was just leaning against the wall, clenching and unclenching his hands.
After about five minutes of watching the poker-playing, origami-folding, computer-programing people, he was about ready to scream.
Fortunately that was the point where Ben and Stone took him by the elbows and physically moved him out of the building.
"What are you doing?" Lestrade demanded as he shook them off.
"You aren't helping the atmosphere." Ben stated.
"Indeed, old chap." Stone nodded, "The tension is high enough without you losing your temper."
"Tension?" Lestrade stared at them, "I saw no tension. I saw people who didn't seem to care that one of the best men I know is potentially moments away from dying. And his only protection is an ill-equipped bomb-disposal technician!"
"I will allow you that insult," Ben's voice was low and terse, "Because you do not know us. I would sooner trust my children's lives into Siru's hands equipped with only his kukri and karda than any other technician with every tool at their disposal."
"And while my men may not seem tense to you, Detective Inspector," Stone took over, "There are many ways to deal with tense atmosphere. We have developed methods which are unlikely to develop into unnecessary shouting or fighting. Methods that do not increase tension. Your presence and anxiety are throwing my men off balance. That is not acceptable."
"So you will stay out here until the situation is resolved." Ben was firm.
"You can't do that." Lestrade protested.
"We can and we will." Stone's voice was like granite, "We know this is not easy for you, Detective Inspector. However TC was ours before he was ever yours. We know what formed the man you know now. Know more about him than you can ever comprehend. We would not risk that for anything."
"He is our Captain." A new voice joined in.
Lestrade turned to face the speaker, it was another member of the unit, accompanied by Sherlock. Which was much to Lestrade's relief, at least Sherlock wasn't running around unaccompanied, which was when he did his most mischief, nor was Lestrade any longer alone among the military.
"Our Guardian in the fight." The speaker continued, "Our friend. Our Medic. My Captain of the Three Continents Division… My Captain. Alan A-Dale, at your service. Is TC still inside?"
"The Inspector was disrupting the atmosphere." Ben shrugged, "Unintentionally, but…"
"We can't have that." Alan nodded, "He's staying out here too."
"I am not!" Sherlock protested.
"Do I have to hogtie you?" Alan got in Sherlock's face, "You can do no good in there. You're no help in there. All your brain won't help TC. You did what we needed you to do. You found him. Everything after that… It's our plan. He's our Medic. Our Captain."
"Our Doctor." Ben agreed, "Our TC."
"Our Friend," Stone nodded, "We will not risk him. And your presences could be detrimental."
"They could also be beneficial." Sherlock countered.
"Extremely doubtful." Ben retorted, "Considering that TC made the Inspector here, promise not to let you see his body if anything went wrong. I would wager that if there was a single chance that you would be harmed, TC would set the bomb off before you got close enough."
"He's a self-sacrificing, noble idiot that way." Alan stated.
"You dare say that about John?" Sherlock and Lestrade snarled almost in unison.
"Yes." Alan nodded almost proudly, "Because he is. He's the guy who could have escaped on his own… But stopped to rescue others. He's the guy that runs out into the middle of a battlefield to save people, when anyone with any sense would be running away. He's the guy that is of the few who can claim, rightfully so, not to be scared of dying. He doesn't want to, but he's not scared of it. He's a foolish, stupid, reckless, idiot of a man."
"Listing my flaws are you, Alan?"
All five men turned to face the building. John was standing in the doorway, leaning on Legolas' shoulder as he rubbed his leg. Legolas was clearly preventing him from falling over.
The other men were right behind them. Only stopping due to the blocked door, but they were all clearly grinning.
"No," Alan smirked, "Your merits."
John moved out of the entrance, Legolas still helping him, allowing the rest of the Unit to emerge. Lestrade noticed that Siru was juggling two knives and what looked like some bomb parts and a lump of something (probably explosive)… And Lestrade quickly shut down that line of enquiry. He didn't want to know, he decided. He just didn't.
"Last I checked 'idiot' was not a virtue." John retorted, "Good to see you, Greg. Life been treating you well?"
"Nothing to complain about." Lestrade replied.
This was the TC he remembered. From that day. John, but with an edge. A lurking, hidden threat.
"Good grief!" John looked at Lestrade's hand, "You guys seriously gave him the Old Clanker? You kidnapped a Detective Inspector? What were you thinking? Were you even thinking at all?"
"'e got into the car of 'is own free will, sir." Parker pointed out.
"And thanks to Poppins that still classifies as kidnapping." John countered, "Someone get him a proper phone… And how many cars is Poppins currently chasing?"
"Depends." Ben shrugged, "Possibly two. He might not have twigged our switch. But Anarchy has the Old Girls' Network keeping him busy… And the Magic Gang have hit the streets. Probably, by now. They were visiting Their Ancestral Home first."
"Oh good," John nodded, "I know they've been trying to do so for a while… I'm fine, Sherlock. My legs are just stiff. No need for another madcap chase. Could she have found a more uncomfortable chair?"
Lestrade hadn't failed to notice Sherlock's unusual (for him) actions. He had made several aborted movements towards John. It was clear that while the Genius hadn't believed the Detective Inspector that John had changed, the Genius had learnt the truth. And wasn't sure how to treat this new John.
Lestrade was feeling both slightly vindicated at being right when Sherlock was wrong, and grief that what had seemed an unassailable friendship, at one point, was so fractured.
He was also cautious, because he didn't know how to treat this John either… This TC.
"I rather doubt your comfort was at the forefront of her mind at the time." Sherlock replied after a long pause.
"What took you so bloody long?" John sighed, even as he stretched his legs.
"She did not make contact for a long while." Sherlock stated, "And there were no solid clues as to your location in the video."
"She was careful." John agreed, "Tell me you have her?"
"She's being shipped to the Cousins." Ben declared, "In a week. I'm to go with. Seems that with our capturing of her pieces she was gathering more and more work from our main foe. I think you can guess who wants a word."
"I could almost feel sorry for her." John muttered, "Storm's not always nice."
"No," Ben smirked, "He's not. Not when you're an enemy. And particularly not when you hurt someone he cares for."
"Are you alright, John?" Sherlock managed to ask.
"I need sleep, a shower, food and drink, non-alcoholic. Preferably not in that order." John replied, "But I've been worse. As Alan knows."
"Cura te ipsum." Alan nodded quickly.
John turned and started to walk away from the group.
"John?" Sherlock called out nervously.
"I said I'm hungry." John glanced over his shoulder, "Chinese, Sherlock?"
Lestrade saw the grin blossom over Sherlock's face, only moments before he bounded up to his customary place at John's side.
"I don't want Chinese." Sherlock stated, "What about Angelo's?"
"He always thinks we're on a date." John countered, "But if you want Italian I know a really nice place not too far from here… I think. Alan, Ben, you coming? Stone, you'd best make sure the boys get home safe."
"Of course, old chap." Stone smiled, "And seeing as you have agreed to take a pair of Knights with you, I won't feel too discomforted about you going off alone."
"Thanks." John retorted, "But I'm a big boy, Stone. I'm verbally signing myself off on Medical Leave for the rest of the day. Doctor's Orders. Lestrade, you're going to be left behind. Do keep up."
Lestrade startled by the words, quickly moved to stand on Sherlock's other side. Ben and Alan were on the other side of John to Sherlock.
"I'll need you to sign your Medical Leave paperwork later." Stone reminded, "Enjoy yourself, old boy. I'll organise the drop off of the minions and the paperwork at the Yard as well."
"We'll have to pick up Mrs Hudson," John stated, "Else we'll never hear the end of it."
"John," Sherlock spoke softly, "Are you coming back to Baker Street?"
"I don't know." John shrugged, "And I'm not going to think about it. Not now. That's for tomorrow. Today, I'm going out for a good meal with my good friends."
And yes, I know this isn't a very satisfactory conclusion. But TC decided that this was where the story was ending, and I wasn't going to argue with him. Sequels/Prequels may be coming. But don't hold your breath. My writing style and pattern and habbit are very irregular.
I write stories because I can't draw. I have all these images in my head that I cannot reproduce. So I try and describe them with words. If anyone else would like to try to translate what I have written into what they think I saw in my head, they have my permission. I only ask that I be notified of it, so that I may look and go "OOoooh!".
Thank you to all my lovely reviewers:
SherlockandJohn221B – Thank you.
Johnsarmylady – Well, Lestrade didn't get his position simply by riding coattails.
Hjohn302 – Like Lestrade is going to be a push over.
Msmhtp – This good enough for you?
Beloved Daughter – I manage quite well with Photoshop. Got my one and only A in Art because of it.
IzzyDelta – Hope you're not dead yet.
Min23 – I know there's a lot of them. They just kept coming. But taking into account that the Joes had, by my reckoning, over a hundred named members and a veritable platoon of unnamed Greenshirts. I think I can get away with my smallish group. I don't think they'll number more than 100. And some of them are part timers. As for the loyalty? Well, when a guy saves your life there's usually some loyalty there. And TC was the first medic that lasted more than a month with the group.
Izara Sprightly of Redmont – Lestrade needs some love.
Daughter of Jehova – Nope. Moriarty would not be pleased. But that's the way the cookie crumbles.
Rose O' Sharon – Your knees? Oww. My sympathies.
Lady Juse – Sometimes it isn't about keeping the promise. It's about making it and trying to keep it.
Sunstarunicorn – Thanks. Writing OCs has always been a difficulty of mine. So it's good to hear I'm improving.
Photo100 – Lestrade seems to be easy to write. One part exasperation, one part confusion, one part stubbornness… Pretty much things I'm used to seeing.
GabrielsDoubt – Two different units. Sherlock's with Alan.
Keltic Cat – Wow! Would it help if I gave you permission to store a copy of this for your own personal reference?
CynicalInkSlinger – I don't know what's going to happen to TC and the Tommies. None of them have decided.
Steely Charm – Thank you. Your review is now going into the list of those to read when I've had a bad day.
Pyro-Neko-Isis – You're welcome.