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26 February 2012 @ 10:19 am
DVD Commentary: The Good Samaritan  
Commentary for The Good Samaritan as requested by donutsweeper for the DVD commentary meme.

Title: The Good Samaritan
Characters: Lestrade, John, Sally
Rating: PG-13 ( brief strong language and discussion of gore)
Spoilers: The Reichenbach Fall
Pairings: None, just friendship
Word count: Approx. 2100
Summary: Three months after the events of Reichenbach, Lestrade and John meet up at a crime scene.
Author's notes: Not entirely sure where this came from, really. I just wanted to write a Reichenbach story where people were coping or starting to cope.

Some angst here, but I have tried to keep it to a minimum and leave it on a hopeful note.




{Preface: This idea came out of two thoughts - the first was that we didn't get to see Lestrade's reactions to Sherlock's death in the episode, only Mrs. Hudson and John. That was where this fic started. It evolved as I started to notice that there was a metric ton of post-Reichenbach fic on sherlockbbc and it was all John having a nervous breakdown, John being suicidal, John being depressed, etc. Which just did not work for me. I couldn't see John sitting around doing nothing - at least not after a suitable grieving period. So I decided to write something where he was coping or starting to cope. Then I put the two ideas together.}


Lestrade was cold and wet and looking at the body of a teenage girl. These three things combined to make him extremely cross and he guessed it was evident on his face by the fact that all the other people at the crime scene were avoiding him. They’d done that a lot lately. But he’d been very cross lately.


{I made a lot of changes to the general idea of the story as it evolved, so some of the beginning sections have bits that would have been relevent later, but worked just as well in the new version. It's raining here so I could get John and Lestrade in a car later in the story, because the conversation they were originally going to have wouldn't have been appropriate out in the open. Now it's just an excuse for Lestrade to be grumpy. :-)}

He listened to Anderson’s chatter about the body, taking note of the gunshot wound to her forehead and asking the right questions about time of death and identification. She had a student ID on her, which Lestrade looked at through an evidence bag covered in droplets of water from the heavy rain. He could just about connect the smiling face from the photo to the very dead girl on the ground.

Anderson finished up his lecture and Lestrade ducked under the police tape to see how everyone else was getting on. Donovan approached him with the same sort of sheepish expression she’d worn around him for the past three months.


{My interpretation has Donovan regretting her actions, or at least the consequences of her actions. One of the things I really liked about how they handled it was that it didn't come off as her being a bitch for being a bitch's sake. She was following what seemed like solid leads and was influenced by her dislike of Sherlock, which Moriarty manipulated. I really can't see her expecting or being pleased about Sherlock killing himself. And I thought it would put a strain on her working relationship with Lestrade, sort of like when you've disappointed a parent.}

“The witness who helped the boy is around if you want to talk to him,” she said. He nodded. The victim had a friend with her, who’d been shot but was still alive for the moment, thanks to a good Samaritan’s intervention. Sally hesitated. “It’s Dr. Watson.”

Lestrade felt a little like he’d been punched in the stomach, though he wasn’t sure why. “John?”

She nodded. His mind jumped from thought to thought, wondering if he should be the one to be the one to interview him, or if he should find someone who didn’t know John, if he should consider himself too personally involved, if he should recuse himself altogether, if the higher-ups would be up his arse about it. “Fuck it,” he finally decided. Apparently he said it out loud, judging by the way Donovan’s eyebrows rose. “Where is he?”


{One of my original thoughts was that Lestrade was having to document like hell everything he was doing because he was being watched by the higher-ups and sort of on probation. Eventually I found a way to work around that (which I'll talk about later) but still give the impression that he's not as trusted as he used to be.}

She gestured with her head and he followed her. He really wanted a cigarette.

She stopped several feet short of John, who was crouched with his back to the front of a shop, sheltered from the rain by an awning. Lestrade closed the gap by himself. John was looking down at his knees and Lestrade coughed to let him know he was there.


{This is where the story starts to be massively different than what my original idea was. I actually have two different versions of the story in my folder, or I used to before I completed this version. This is where the two versions split off. In the original version John is terse and tense and cold as a defense mechanism for not wanting to have to deal with the police. I changed my approach to go with my 'coping' theme when I decided to add that element to the story. I decided to go with a more fragile, but managing John.}

“John? You okay?” he asked.

John looked up and stood quickly. “Yes, I’m fine,” he said, a bit too fast to be believed. “I’m good. I’m fine. It’s just been awhile.” He nodded toward where the body was. He cleared his throat. “Sorry. Hello.” Before Lestrade could respond, he spoke again. “Do I have to do this? I wasn’t involved.” This was said as someone who’d clearly been accused of being involved in a lot of things. “I don’t know anything. I just helped out the boy.”

{I thought that John would have been left to deal with a lot of either hostility from those who believed Sherlock was a fake and that John was part of it, or sort of pity from those who believed Sherlock was a fake and John was duped. So I figured either way he'd have had to do a lot of defending.}

“I’d like to ask you a few questions,” Lestrade said. “I can have someone else do it, if you prefer.”

John shrugged a shoulder. “Probably better with you,” he said. His eyes flicked over to Donovan. “Does she have to be here? I can’t...I just...” His voice trailed off and his hand closed into a fist and opened a few times.

{I allowed John to have one moment of hostility toward Sally, who, in his mind at least, is really the one who's to blame. And Sally knows this, so she's keeping back.}.

“No,” Lestrade said simply. “She doesn’t.” He turned and called to Sally, who was still standing far back, looking unsure of herself. “Sergeant, why don’t you go see how the SOCOs are getting on?”

Sally was gone before he finished the order.

“Do you need a sec?” he asked John. The doctor’s eyes were wandering over the crime scene, watching and looking...Lestrade couldn’t decide. Upset? Angry? Panicked?

“I’m fine,” John said, snapping his attention back to Lestrade. “I’d rather get it over with.”

{In the original concept, as part of my 'document everything!' theory, I was going to have Lestrade using a tape recorder and having a constable present as double proof that everything that was said was what actually was said. But once I dropped that idea, I let Lestrade have his notebook and it allowed for a more intimate conversation between the two men.}

Lestrade nodded. He took out his notepad and pen, then took a few steps around John, on the pretense of getting better light to see by. In reality, it forced John to turn to face him, which kept his back to the crime scene. It was a technique Lestrade had learned when dealing with hysterical witnesses over the years. John was hardly hysterical, but he wasn’t himself either and Lestrade could understand why. Being surrounded by the people who had caused your best friend to throw himself off a building wasn’t exactly the most calming environment. In fact, Lestrade was rather impressed John hadn’t punched anyone yet. He was impressed he hadn’t punched Lestrade yet.

{One of the things that I like about the BBC!Lestrade is that he's a good cop. He's no Sherlock Holmes in terms of deducing, but he's capable and experienced and knows when he's in over his head and I wanted to show that he does actually know how to deal with witnesses and is good at his job.}

He fussed over his notebook for a few moments, giving John a chance to get himself together. It didn’t take long. He assumed a casual military stance, his hands clasped behind his back. It was a pose Lestrade had seem him take before, usually when Sherlock was off on something and John was listening to him rant, a still presence to Sherlock’s frantic running around.

{I've said this before, but I love Martin's military posture and movements. I love his little springy march walk and his standing at ease when he's listening and the little military about face he does at Sherlock's grave. I also wanted to show that Lestrade does notice things like how John stands when he's trying to be calm.}

“So, why don’t you walk me through what happened and I’ll ask any questions along the way?” Lestrade suggested.

John nodded and took a deep breath. “I was getting take away,” he said, pointing to the Chinese restaurant across the street. Lestrade could see a bag on the ground that looked to have been dropped and trampled on. “I heard two gunshots as I was leaving.”

{Random useless trivia: Originally John was getting coffee. But then I decided it would probably make it day time and who shoots people in the daylight and why weren't these teenagers in school if it was day time? So I changed to Chinese food.}

“Did you see the shooter?” Lestrade interrupted.

John shook his head. “I ducked,” he said, hunching his shoulders up in demonstration. “Instinct.”

“Yeah, of course,” Lestrade said. “What happened next?”

“There was a couple of moments of silence, then everyone on the street started screaming and then I heard someone calling for help. I ran toward the noise,” John continued. He cracked a tiny smile and added, “instinct. I found the girl and boy there. The boy was the one calling for help. I checked the girl, though she was pretty obviously dead. She didn’t have a pulse. The boy had a wound in his lower right flank. I put pressure on it, and called 999 on my mobile.”

{I have such a love for doctors, so John being a doctor is something I love to play around with. I liked the idea that he couldn't help himself when people were in need of doctoring and went right toward the danger out of habit.}

Lestrade held up a hand to ask him to pause. He had to scribble to keep up with John’s account as he usually had a few moments when the witness would wander off-topic and he could use that time to catch up. John was very precise and to the point and he wasn’t used to that.

{I really wanted to show that John has learned things from his time with Sherlock, that he knows how to observe and how to report and what's important and what isn't. You can see at the beginning of Scandal during the case montage that John's picking up on things before Sherlock has a chance to voice them. I liked the idea that Sherlock has rubbed off on him as much as he's rubbed off on Sherlock.}

“Did the boy say anything?” Lestrade asked, after he’d gotten everything down.

John shook his head again. “Not really. He just asked me to help her. He was a bit hysterical, understandably. I said she didn’t need my help, so he’d sit still long enough for me to take care of him. He passed out shortly after I got there.”

Lestrade nodded. “Anything else you can think of that we should know about?” he asked. John opened his mouth and closed it again. “John?”

“Look, it’s not really my business,” John said, all in a rush. “But...” Lestrade gave him an encouraging look. “I’ve seen a lot of wounds – a lot of headshots. It didn’t look right to me. You know what it does to the back of their head.” Lestrade made a face, but nodded. Despite what they showed on television, head wounds were not pretty little things. “There wasn’t enough blood and brain matter on the scene for that kind of wound. And when I took her pulse, she was colder than she should have been. It might have been the rain and it’s a cold day, but she couldn’t have been dead for more than a minute when I got there and she was cold. I don’t know what that means. I could be wrong. That’s just what I observed.”

He set his jaw as though he were expecting to have to defend himself.

{Yeah, no idea what the significance of any of the things John just said are. One of the joys of short fic is you don't actually have to justify random things like that. It's just a mystery!}

“I’ll look into that. Good eyes,” Lestrade said, noting it down.

“Practice,” John said, a bit sadly.

“Did you notice anyone leaving the scene?” Lestrade asked.

“Everyone was running away, except me,” John said. He thought for a moment. “But...there was a guy in a hoodie. Grey, I couldn’t see the logo. The hood was down and he had brownish hair. Maybe...20ish? Black Converse trainers. He wasn’t moving as fast as the rest. Almost walking.
Didn’t look too perturbed, now that I think about it.”

“Wow,” Lestrade murmured, scribbling again.

“What?” John said.

“Nothing. I’d just forgotten how useful you are,” Lestrade said.

John smiled, the first real smile Lestrade had seen.

They went over the facts again, Lestrade skimming through his notes to make sure he’d gotten everything down correctly. John seemed more relaxed now, a bit more like Lestrade’s mental image of him.

“I heard about the inquiry,” John said, suddenly. “I’m sorry about that.”

{This was how I managed to skirt around the 'on probation' issue. I really thought there would be some consequences for Lestrade after the Sherlock fiasco, but I didn't want him to be too badly hindered by it so I came up with the idea that Lestrade had been under investigation and that Mycroft had stepped in and made sure he wasn't fired. Because we know Sherlock wasn't a fake, but nobody else does and when that sort of thing happens, someone has to get the blame to satisfy the public. So I thought Lestrade would be the easiest scapegoat in that situation.}

“Oh, well,” Lestrade said, trying to shrug it off as though it hadn’t been the most terrifying moment of his career. “It wasn’t your fault. It all worked out in the end, anyway. I managed to produce a list of the cases I’d solved without Sherlock’s help, which as it turns out, is a pretty long one. And a lot of people spoke up for me, even after I told them to keep their bloody heads down.” John smiled, probably knowing full well that Lestrade was more touched than annoyed by the show of support. “And after that didn’t work, a letter came implying that demotion, suspension or any reduction to my duties would not be in their best interest. I gather it was from someone rather important.”

“Must be the same someone who anonymously deposits the exact rent for Baker Street into Mrs. Hudson’s account every month,” John said.

{Like I said, my intention was to imply Mycroft was handling things, either of his own volition or by a request from Sherlock. But it's been fun to see how people have interpreted it differently.}

Lestrade grinned. “How is Mrs. Hudson?” he asked.

“She’s Mrs. Hudson,” John said, with affection. “She’ll outlast us all. It was hard for her, but...I think she’s all right. She keeps the place like a museum. I think it helps her and I can understand that but I can’t...I had to move.”

{In the original ACD The Final Problem and The Empty House, Watson wasn't living at Baker Street any more because he was married. And I couldn't see John sticking around with all the memories. So I moved him out. Mrs. Hudson keeping the place like a museum is a nod to the original Empty House story, where 221b has been left alone as requested by Mycroft. Though in the actual Reichenbach episode, Mrs. Hudson mentions packing up his lab things and maybe sending them to a school. But she could change her mind, I guess, or Mycroft could.}

For some reason the thought of neither Sherlock Holmes or John Watson living in 221b made Lestrade very sad. “And how are you?” he asked.

John shrugged. “I’m okay,” he said.

Lestrade decided not to press that any further.

“Listen, I wanted to thank you,” John said. Lestrade raised his eyebrows in surprise. “I know you tried to help him. I know you did your best.”

{Originally, it was Lestrade who was going to bring up the events in order to apologize and John was going to not want to talk about it and the conversation I had in my head was really long and involved and didn't work. So in the end, I had John bring it up as a sign that he was able to talk about it a little and it also felt a little bit nicer for John to be the one to initiate the mending of fences and for it to be a 'thank you' and not an 'I'm sorry'. We do see Lestrade actively doing his best for Sherlock, warning him about the arrest, taking a REALLY long time to do anything when Sherlock takes John 'hostage' and trying to defend both himself and Sherlock to Sally and Anderson and the Superintendent.}

“It wasn’t enough,” Lestrade said.

“It was something,” John insisted. “And that’s more than a lot of people did.”

Lestrade looked past him to Sally, who was standing across the crime scene, next to Anderson. They were both watching the proceedings, looking anxious. He contemplated trying to defend them, but he couldn’t, because he didn’t fully understand it himself.

“When I first met Sherlock Holmes, he told me my whole life story based entirely on the fact that I had a spanner in my pocket,” he said, instead. John chuckled, softly. “No one will ever convince me he was a fraud.”

{The spanner bit is in reference to a 'Lestrade and Sherlock meet' story I'm sort of maybe working on. So I've just done a nod to a story that doesn't yet exist. Take that Doctor Who!}

John blinked several times and cleared his throat. “Well. Do you have everything you need?”

Lestrade nodded. “Yeah. Thanks for your help. You might have to come in and give an official statement at some point.” John didn’t look pleased at that. “No one will give you any trouble. I’ll make that very clear. Do you need a lift home?”

“I can walk from here, thanks,” John said. “And...thanks.”

Lestrade smiled. “No problem. It was good to see you again.”

“Yeah, you too,” John said.

{Again, my original thought had the conversation much longer but guys don't talk like that and especially John and Lestrade don't talk like that, so I kept it to a minimum, with the feelings implied between the lines rather than outright being said.}

They said goodbye and John hunched up into his coat and walked down the street in the rain, hurrying from shelter to shelter. Lestrade watched him go, feeling something inside him that had been held tense for so many weeks start to relax.

He flipped his notebook closed and put it back in his pocket. If and when the boy woke up, he’d be able to tell them more. But until then, he could ask Anderson why a girl who’d only just died was cold and put out an APB on a boy in a grey hoodie and black Converse trainers.

Sally approached, with caution. “Is he all right?” she asked, and she seemed in earnest.

{I didn't think Sally had any real issues with John. She thinks he's been duped. So I thought she would actually want to know if he was okay and I wanted to give her a moment where she wasn't being bitchy.}

“He’s fine,” Lestrade said.

He thought that was the truth, too. John wasn’t great, but he was okay. In the grand scheme of things, that’s all Lestrade could hope for. And for now, it was enough.

{I had a bitch and a half of a time trying to figure out how to end it. This story sat for days without an ending until I rearranged the last bits and found a way to bring it to a close. I'm pretty happy with it now, but I find endings quite hard in general. And titles. I'm not especially happy with the title, but after I sat and stared at the screen for half an hour without any brilliant ideas, I just went with it.}

{Last bit of a trivia: this is the first time I wrote any sort of lengthy dialogue for John and I fussed over it for a long time. I ended up listening to a lot of Martin's interviews and other work to get the patterns of his speech and try to read the dialogue the way he might. I find John's voice very hard to master for some reason. I think because he's more of an observer. That was the other reason this sat unposted for so long. I was very relieved at the positive feedback I got for it! Thanks for that, readers, and thanks to donutsweeper for letting me to rant about it.}
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donutsweeperdonutsweeper on February 26th, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was FASCINATING to read. I'm glad you made the changes you did, the work so well (not that the things you originally thought about wouldn't have worked, but I do love this version). BBC's Lestrade really is a great copper and I love when people write him like this, so competent and still caring and all.
The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Watson giggleawanderingbard on February 26th, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
Oh good, I'm glad it didn't come off too rambly! The concept-to-finish was really quite a process, so I had a lot to say about it, :-D.

My decision on how to portray John actually came from reading a tvtropes page and a mention of how John's trying to hide his hand tremor from Mike when they meet in the park and I went 'yes, that's the John I want for this'.

I was listening to the Study in Pink commentary and Moffat/Gatiss were talking about how Rupert was the only actor who auditioned who didn't play the part for laughs and that if one day Sherlock didn't show up, they could probably do a very interesting show about Lestrade. He's one of my favourite characters, even if he doesn't show up as much as I would like.
donutsweeperdonutsweeper on February 26th, 2012 10:55 pm (UTC)
I was so glad Lestrade showed up in all the episodes this time! I haven't listened to the commentaries, that's really interesting about Rupert.
The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Watson giggleawanderingbard on February 27th, 2012 03:15 pm (UTC)
The commentaries for Series 1 are actually very entertaining. Mark and Steven are very interesting and funny and there's a mix of interesting behind the scenes facts and them just having a good time messing around, which are the best sort of commentaries. Benedict, Martin and Mark do the The Great Game one and it is equally, if not more entertaining for the same reasons.