Characters: Lestrade, Sherlock, Gladstone, John
Warnings/Triggers: swearing, not-very-graphic description and discussion of a violent crime (case-related)
Pairings: John/Sarah (background)
Word Count 2,575
Summary: Lestrade used to do John Watson's job before John Watson came along. Now that John has a newborn, Lestrade finds himself doing it again.
Author's notes: Set in the Abby 'verse, between 'Perfect' and 'Otitis Media'.
Sorry for the radio silence story-wise of late. All my plot bunnies are ADHD, epic, or uncooperative. So, here, have a little random Abby-verse fluff. Originally started to fill in the gap of Abby's first year on earth, and to give Lestrade a bit more to do in this verse.
Once upon a time, Lestrade had worked with a Sherlock Holmes who didn't have a John Watson yet. In fact, Lestrade could have been considered a pre-John Watson John Watson. It wasn't a job he'd disliked, but he was happy to give it over to John Watson when he'd arrived. Especially since he was so good at it.
However, since John Watson had become a father, Lestrade had found himself as a sort of supply John Watson to Sherlock Holmes. And Lestrade very much missed John Watson. Not just because he was good at Sherlock wrangling, but because Sherlock was experiencing a level of the same thing an older sibling experienced when the new baby arrived—jealous and hurt at being made a lower priority. And when Sherlock had feelings, the way he reacted to them was to make the world as angry at him as he was at it. So, in addition to being John Watson, Lestrade was also a perfect target for Sherlock's rage.
“No, that's not it at all, haven't you been listening?!” Sherlock snapped.
“I have, Sherlock, for the past half-hour, and what makes the most sense to me is that the boyfriend did it,” Lestrade said, tiredly. “And that's what makes the most sense to the Superintendent, who is putting a lot of pressure on me to make an arrest, and, surprisingly, 'the house is open plan' is not cutting it as an excuse not to.”
Sherlock stomped a foot, sending Gladstone skittering away. The dog came over to Lestrade for sympathy, and Lestrade rubbed his face.
“The layout of the house makes it easy to get to several exits,” Sherlock said, impatiently. “And yet she didn't run to any of them. She went upstairs. Why? Why go upstairs if someone is threatening you? Why go to the one place you can't get out of? If she was genuinely afraid, she would have gone outside for help. Not to mention the fact that he's been able to dispose of the clothing so thoroughly that we've yet to find it—I've yet to find it—but just tossed the murder weapon in a bin outside the house? Please. He's neither that stupid nor that clever. He's been set-up, I just don't know by whom.”
Lestrade sighed and leaned back in the chair. “Well, in the meantime, I sort of have to arrest the bloke who looks like he did it,” he said. “Otherwise, I'm a crap copper.”
“You are anyway, what difference will it make being wrong in addition to crap?” Sherlock replied. “Listen, give me another half hour. If you arrest the boyfriend, you're just letting the killer off the hook. He'll think he's safe. He'll get rid of evidence. He won't do it while there's a chance he might be caught out. You'll just make it worse!”
Lestrade looked at his watch. “Half hour,” he said. “Starting now.”
Sherlock went back to pacing. Gladstone sat down at Lestrade's feet and hid, until his ears perked up and he made a dash for the stairs, barking.
Sherlock stopped pacing, and cocked his head, looking very much like a dog himself. “John,” he said, matter-of-factly. “John is here.”
“Oh, great,” Lestrade said. “That'll be good.”
“Why?” Sherlock said. “I don't need him. I'm doing fine without him.”
“Just thought you might like to see him,” Lestrade said.
“I don't need to see him,” Sherlock grumbled. He turned his back to the stairs and made a show of being too busy to notice things.
Lestrade rolled his eyes. John trudged upstairs with Gladstone nipping at his heels. He looked like a new father, which was to say 'fucking awful'.
“Hey,” Lestrade said.
“'Lo,” John said. “Been a while.”
“You've had a good excuse,” Lestrade said. “I keep meaning to drop by and meet the baby, but then I worry about coming at a bad time, so, I thought I'd wait a bit longer. Molly's shown me all the pictures, though.”
“We're up all night,” John said. “Drop in whenever, you can't do any harm.”
“She's got a good set of lungs, then?” Lestrade said.
John nodded, grimly. “Every two hours, like clockwork,” he said. “Except sometimes, just to play with our heads, she waits and we think 'oh, maybe we're okay' and then...nope.”
“How's Sarah doing?” Lestrade asked.
“Good. She's tired, and sore, but she's past the baby blues now, and she's coping,” John said. “She kicked me out. We're not used to being home together this much. We do better when we don't see each other as much as this. So, she very politely told me to get out and leave her alone for a while.”
“I thought people in love were supposed to want to spend all their time together?” Sherlock asked.
“Oh, hello,” John said. “I'm fine, thanks, everyone is doing well, it's nice to see you, too.”
Sherlock scowled. “I'm busy,” he said. “I have a case to solve. I did ring you, but both the mobile and land line went straight to voicemail.”
“Oh, fuck,” John said. “We turned everything off in the afternoon yesterday to stop the phone from waking the baby up. Everyone is ringing. The universe has decided to ring. We must not have turned them back on. I should let Sarah—no, I can't let Sarah know because the phones are off. I'm just going to sit down.”
He flopped onto the couch, and Gladstone hopped up and turned in a circle and lay down with his chin on John's knee.
“I know, buddy, I'm sorry,” John said. “We're gonna bring you home soon, I promise. Just when things settle down a bit.” He explained to Lestrade, “we aren't sure how he's going to do with the baby, so we thought we'd keep him here and then desensitize him to the idea. Which reminds me...” he pulled a small sock from his pocket and held it to Gladstone. “There, that smells like her. Do you want to sniff that? Get used to the scent?”
Gladstone stuck his nose on it and sniffed it, then plucked it from John's hand and took it to the corner of the room, where there were other baby things.
“He's building a pile of them,” Sherlock said. “I can't figure out his motive, but every time something new arrives, he puts it over there, and sleeps on it.”
“That's good,” John said. “It means he's getting used to it. Or it smells a bit like us, that's possible, too. Although, he's always collected things, hasn't he?”
“I've curbed him of the habit,” Sherlock said. “You should have done it earlier in his life.”
God, Lestrade thought, they are just like an old married couple. 'Look at what your son has done', 'why is he always my son when he does something bad?'
“What are you grinning about?” Sherlock demanded.
“Nothing, sorry,” Lestrade said.
“Is he okay?” John asked. “He isn't upset?”
“I don't know how you judge his moods,” Sherlock replied. “He hasn't been acting any differently. He asks for food and walks. He's not whining like when Mrs Hudson had her hip surgery and he couldn't find her. I think he's fine.”
“I just don't want him to think he's in exile,” John said. “Or that he's not allowed home.”
“He's a dog, he doesn't understand that,” Sherlock said. “It's no different from any other period of time he stays here.”
“I suppose not,” John said.
“Now, stop fussing, I'm trying to work,” Sherlock said. “If you can't be useful, you can at least shut up about your child. It's all you talk about now.”
“She,” John said. “She's a girl baby, and she has a name. What's her name, Sherlock?”
Sherlock gave him a glare. “I'm working,” he said.
“I know. Tell me her name, and I'll shut up,” John said with a grin. “You haven't even bothered to store it yet, have you?”
“Seriously?” Lestrade said. “Sherlock, she's your best friend's kid. She's two—three weeks old, now.”
Sherlock sighed. “I don't have anything to do with her at the moment,” he said. “It's hardly worth storing her name until I need it. I have to make room for it. I'm still trying to decide what to delete. It's not a stupid name, I know that. It's not one of those stupid names that they spell phonetically—but it's spelled wrong. I saw the announcement you sent, it's spelled wrong. I remember that.”
“It's not spelled wrong, it's spelled to honour Sarah's godmother,” John said.
“What was her name?” Sherlock asked.
John shook his head, not offering any help. Sherlock sighed.
“Annabelle?” he said.
John shook his head.
“Isabelle?” Sherlock tried.
“Nope,” John said. “No bells.”
Sherlock threw his hands up. “This is a stupid game, I have a case to solve and you're wasting my time,” he snapped. “...Charlotte?”
“Close,” John said. “That's her middle name. You were there when we named her.”
“Abigael,” Sherlock said, clicking his fingers in triumph. “Abigael Charlotte.”
John and Lestrade gave him around of applause. Sherlock huffed a reluctant laugh while glaring at them.
“Now, the case,” he said.
“The case,” John said. “Hit me.”
“I don't have time, you should have come at the beginning,” Sherlock said.
“I didn't know when there was a beginning,” John replied.
“That's not my fault, you're impossible to get hold of,” Sherlock replied. “I'm on a time limit, and you've wasted several minutes already. I don't have time fill you in.”
“I'll extend it,” Lestrade said. “I'll give you a few more minutes. Fill John in, I'll wait.”
Sherlock was trying to make a point, and Lestrade wasn't helping. Which is exactly why Lestrade was doing it—Sherlock needed to grow up, not throw strops about perfectly ordinary events like having a kid.
“I suppose you're good at saying stupid things that give me better ideas,” Sherlock said, reluctantly.
“I like 'Conductor of Light' better,” John said. “But cheers all the same.”
Sherlock launched into an explanation of the case. Lestrade had never got used to how different it looked through Sherlock's eyes. Lestrade always approached him with a certain idea in mind of how it had happened or what the motive was or a basic idea of the facts, and Sherlock just spun it all around until it was something completely different. It was as though Sherlock was climbing up over the wall, and Lestrade was using the door—more efficient, but not allowing him to see the view properly.
“But, what if the fight started upstairs?” John said. “Then she couldn't get out, because she'd already be upstairs.”
“That doesn't work either,” Sherlock said. “If you were in the midst of a violent lover's quarrel, would you go down the stairs, go to the kitchen, grab a knife, come up the stairs, go back to the bedroom and then stab your partner? Surely there were more convenient weapons at hand, and even if there weren't, the sorts of murders that happen in the moment are that—in the moment. All the time it would take to get downstairs and back up, he would have reconsidered things.”
“So, you've definitely ruled out the boyfriend,” John said. “Who else has a motive?”
“No one,” Sherlock said. “They were happily committed to one another by all accounts. Sure to be engaged soon. There was no affair happening; it just doesn't make sense. It's a crime of passion, but there's no passion there. It's been made—well made—to look like one.”
“Well, maybe the problem is that they were happy?” John said. “Maybe someone wanted an affair, and was refused?”
“There's no candidates for that,” Sherlock said. “I can't find someone with enough of a motive to want her out of the way.”
“Maybe it's not about her,” John said, with a yawn. “Maybe she was just there.”
Sherlock dismissed that with a wave of his hand. “I've considered that, too,” he said. “You're not helping. You're useless.”
“Mmm,” John agreed.
Sherlock began to pace again. Gladstone rowled softly at John, as though complaining about the state of affairs. John shrugged, apologetically. Lestrade looked down at his watch. The deadline was ticking down.
“Wait!” Sherlock said, suddenly. He pointed to John. “What was the last thing you said?”
“Christ, I have no fucking clue,” John said. “Sorry. I don't remember coming here. I don't know why I'm here. I put my shoes on the wrong feet this morning three times in row.”
“Shut up,” Sherlock said, distractedly. “She was there, that's what you said.” He pointed to Lestrade. “The boyfriend is CEO of Handler Enterprises. He's terrible at it. The company is bleeding funds.”
“Yeah, but that's not a motive,” Lestrade said. “His killing her doesn't improve that at all.”
“No, but his having been presumed to kill her does,” Sherlock said. “Do you see? If he's not there, for a reason like serving a long term prison sentence, who takes over?”
“Bradley,” Lestrade said. “I guess, I don't know. The company isn't relevant to this. It's a personal crime. I mean, its obviously a personal crime. It's a textbook crime of passion.”
“Exactly,” Sherlock said, triumphantly. “It's too perfect. It's too much of a crime of passion. So, it can't be.”
“Start from the beginning, use small words, move chronologically,” Lestrade said.
Sherlock sighed. “The boyfriend is a terrible owner of the company. It's going under—fast. Bradley sees this. He knows he can't get the boyfriend out of his position, and the boyfriend isn't listening to reason. So, he has to do something to save the company. The only way to do it is get rid of the boyfriend—permanently. He can't kill him; he'd be a suspect easily. But he can kill the girlfriend, and make it look like the boyfriend did it. The boyfriend goes to prison—or at least has to sit and wait for trial—lots of time to turn the company around there. In the meantime, Bradley takes over, apologizes for the way it's been run, clearly poor boyfriend was never in his right mind. We vow in the future to run the company right, blah, blah, whatever, easy to smooth over public disgrace. He's the hero; he gets the company, boyfriend is out of the way. It has nothing to do with the girlfriend. She's just there. She's just the means.”
“That's mental,” Lestrade said.
“No, it's brilliant,” Sherlock said.
“It's conjecture,” Lestrade added.
“Not if I find evidence at Bradley's flat,” Sherlock said. “It's enough for a warrant, isnt' it? Well, even if it isn't, I'm sure we can find a way in. Right, John? John?”
John did not respond, because he was asleep, sitting up on the couch. Mouth open, snoring asleep.
“But, I was talking,” Sherlock said, insulted.
“It's not you,” Lestrade soothed. “He's got a kid. Just let him rest.”
“How long do babies not sleep for?” Sherlock asked.
“I don't know, depends,” Lestrade said. “Six months?”
Sherlock looked very sad. Lestrade stood up and patted his shoulder.
“Come on, I'll get you your search warrant,” he said. “We'll go and arrest Bradley. It'll be fun.”
Sherlock brightened, and grabbed his coat, hurrying off down the stairs. Lestrade pulled an afghan from the chair, and put it over John, then quietly tip-toed out.
He could be a supply John Watson for a little bit longer.