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.
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.
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.
“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?”
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.
“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’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.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.