Characters: Lestrade, John, Sherlock, Jasmine (OC), dæmons
Warnings/Triggers: recovery from a serious wound, lots of swearing, some references to sexual content in relation to a case
Word Count 3,879
Summary: Lestrade sets about cheering up a glum John in the hospital.
Author's notes: Third part of the Visit Series following after Sherlock and Molly's visits.
Knowledge of His Dark Materials is not required. All that's necessary to know is that, in this world, humans' souls live outside of their bodies in the form of animals. There's an excellent primer here.
For reference: Subira (a dwarf mongoose), Tzophiya (a grey lourie), Leala (an otterhound), Benvolio (a river otter).
No one had told Lestrade the amount of paperwork that was involved in being a police officer. None of the coppers on telly ever did paperwork, yet Lestrade thought he spent more time writing about how he'd apprehended a criminal than actually apprehending criminals. He put it off as long as possible, which is how he always ended up having to spend a full day writing reports and signing off on cases.
“It's almost five o'clock,” Leala said. “You said you'd stop at five. You wanted to visit John. You'll miss visiting hours.”
Lestrade reached down and ruffled the fur on her head, trying to soothe some of the desperation out of her voice. “Five more minutes and I'll be done,” he said. “Then I'll go.”
Leala got up and paced restlessly around his desk until he finished his report and printed it out, adding it to the huge pile there. He'd file in them in the morning; he really did want to get over to see John today. He hadn't been since John was properly awake. He didn't want to tax him or get in the way. Sherlock was visiting every day, that had to be enough to tire John out.
“Maybe he'd like to see a fresh face,” Leala had suggested that morning.
John was out of ECU now and in a private room. Lestrade didn't know who was paying for that, but Leala thought probably one of the Holmes brothers. Probably Mycroft. He seemed to like to stick his nose in and throw money or weight around, and Lestrade supposed sometimes he might do it to someone's benefit and not just to be annoying.
“Someone's singing,” Leala said, as they headed down the corridors.
“Yeah,” Lestrade said. “It's nice.”
The voice grew louder as they approached John's room, but it was a female voice, so it wasn't John doing the singing. The door was open, but the curtain was drawn around John's bed, and all Lestrade could see was someone's otter dæmon doing 1960's back-up dancing to the Motown song being sung. Lestrade and Leala watched and listened for a few moments before Lestrade tapped on the door sill.
The singing stopped and the curtain was pulled back by a beautiful woman with a bright, friendly face and an impressively intricate rope of plaits hanging down her back.
“Friend or foe?” she asked John.
“Friend,” John said. He was sweaty and flushed; whatever they'd been doing while she was singing seemed to have been vigorous. “Hey, Greg.”
“'Lo,” Lestrade said. “Am I interrupting? I can come back...”
“No, we're almost done,” the woman said. “Come on in.”
“This is Jasmine,” John said. “She's my PT. Jazz, this is DI Greg Lestrade, he works with Sherlock and me at Scotland Yard when we do cases with the police.”
“Oh, yes,” Jasmine said, with a nod. “Hello. This is Benvolio.” She gestured downwards to the otter who had darted forward to greet them.
“This is Leala,” Lestrade said.
He put his hand in Jasmine’s offered hand and Leala put her paw in Benvolio's offered paw.
“Was that you singing?” Lestrade asked.
Jasmine gave a modest nod. “John puts up with my singing because he's a good sport.”
“Nothing to put up with from what I've heard,” Lestrade said, “You've got great pipes.”
She smiled, making dimples appear in her cheeks. Benvolio looked up at her, proud. “Thank you. I'm a big believer of music as therapy,” she said. “Music releases endorphins, which helps with pain. I'd like to do some brain wave therapies as well, eventually. Theta and Alpha waves help produce serotonin and endorphins, so if you play music at the right number of hertz, the brain will adapt its waves to respond. Benvolio really likes it, he says it helps him relax, and I think if dæmons are in good health, it helps the health of the human, too.” Her cheeks pinked. “Sorry. I should have stopped at thank you.”
“Nah, nothing wrong with being passionate,” Lestrade said, actually finding it rather becoming. Leala gave Benvolio a friendly tail-wag. “Sounds pretty neat. Not sure I understand, but it sounds good.”
She smiled again. “John lets me experiment on him a little, so I'm trying some things out.”
“Yeah, well, John works with Sherlock Holmes,” Lestrade said. “He's probably used to being experimented on.”
“Yeah,” John said, and Subira gave a fervent nod. “Fuck, I didn't even think of it like that. I'm a professional guinea pig. Nothing you've asked me to do comes even close to what I've done before. S'probably weirder than I think it is.”
“It's been a great chance for me,” Jasmine said. “I appreciate it. A lot of my patients are reluctant to try alternative medicine.”
“The placebo effect is a real thing,” John said. “Even if it's just my own mind making me better, it works.”
“That's it as well, mind over matter,” Jasmine said, enthusiastically. Benvolio bounced on his toes with pleasure. “Sometimes just making people happier is enough to get them over a hurdle. That's why I like my job.” She did seem to like her job, her face was lit up with it. “I'll let you two catch up and ease off a little today. Just keep doing what you're doing, it's going really well.”
John gave a lazy salute.
Jasmine turned to Lestrade and touched his arm briefly. “It was nice to meet you.”
“You too,” Lestrade said.
She and John bid farewell, and Benvolio did an odd sort of bow to both Subira and Leala, before skipping after her into the hall. Lestrade and Leala turned to watch her go.
“I like her,” Leala said, her tail wagging. “She's nice.”
“Yeah,” Lestrade agreed. “She's not bad.” He turned back to John, who had his eyebrows raised suggestively. “What?”
“I think you've pulled, mate,” John said. Subira looked smug.
Lestrade barked a laugh. “Nah,” he said. “You're on too much medication.”
John let it drop, but his face was still amused. Lestrade looked down to Leala, who didn't seem to know what to think. Lestrade elected to move on, going over to the chair by John's bed and taking a seat. Leala put her paws up on the railing to greet Subira, who meandered over and patted her head.
“So, how's it going?” Lestrade asked. “You look like crap still, but not as crap.”
“Yeah, that's a good summation,” John said. “I feel like crap, but not as crap. S'mostly just...tired. That's not even the right word, but tired. All over tired. I'm sick of it. I'm just laying about, I should be up doing something.”
“I know it's not the same thing at all,” Lestrade said. “But back when I was a beat cop, I got in a scuffle with a junkie. Biggest bloody bloke I'd ever seen. He threw me into a door and the handle went right into my spine. I ruptured a disk. Leala couldn't walk for about five minutes afterwards. It all healed up all right, but it took a few months, and the pain was pretty bad. I remember being that sort of tired. All over tired. It took time, but I got back on my feet. You will, too.”
John and Subira both had faces contorted in sympathy. “S'nice to know it won't last forever, I guess,” he said.
“Nah, you'll be up and about soon enough,” Lestrade said. He felt Leala's furry head brush under his fingers and gave her a pat as she turned in a circle and laid with her chin on his foot. “And there's no pressure on you. You have the time to get well. No job to be forced back to or worry about supporting a family. You have a great opportunity to take your time and get proper healed up.”
John nodded. “Okay, yeah,” he said. “Thank you for putting my woes in perspective. I probably needed to hear that. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself today.” Subira nodded, apparently in agreement that he had.
“No, go and feel sorry for yourself,” Lestrade said. “You're entitled to that. I won't judge. I was just saying you shouldn't worry about the time it's taking. Just take the time.”
“Okay, Dad,” John said.
Lestrade grinned. “I sound more like my mum, actually,” he said. He opened his coat and reached into his inside pockets. “I brought you something for tea, by the way. I figured you must be sick of hospital food by now.”
John looked over, bemused, and Subira peered through the bed railing to look. “What did you bring?”
“I was gonna bring beer,” he said. “Because I'm a copper, it's not like they could kick me out. But Leala reminded me that painkillers and alcohol don't mix, so I've had to go virgin.” He pulled out a bottle of ginger beer and put it on the rolling table near John's bed and then added another bottle, this one of root beer.
John leaned over a little to look at Lestrade's coat. “Where did you put that?”
“I have deep pockets,” Lestrade said.
“Never shows when it's your round at the pub,” John quipped.
“Ohhh!” Leala crowed.
“Fuck off,” Lestrade said, laughing. He nudged Leala with his toe and she giggled. “I brought Frazzles, too. And Quavers.” He added those to the table. “And a Yorkie bar. And a Double Decker. And some gum.”
John let out a low whistle. “You're like a drug dealer for crap food.”
“Law enforcement isn't a lucrative career, I have to make some extra money somehow,” Lestrade said. He nodded toward the telly. “You have that hooked up?”
“Yeah,” John said. “But I accidentally got invested in Hollyoaks and Subira's trying to get me to do something else with my life, so I haven't had it on much.”
“There's a match on, that's different,” Lestrade said.
“Well, I can take a hint,” John said. He reached out and pulled the telly over on the system that attached to the wall. “You're just here for my TV license.”
“Hey, I brought snacks,” Lestrade said.
John reached for the bottle of ginger beer, wincing a little. Subira helped push it over to him and he opened it up. He aimed the telly so Lestrade could see as well, and Lestrade stretched his legs out to rest in the railing of the bed.
“Thanks,” John said.
“No worries,” Lestrade said.
Leala couldn't see from the floor, so she hopped up on his lap, laying down along his legs. She took up a lot of space, but she wasn't heavy. He just had to dodge her tail wags when something exciting happened in the match. John insisted Lestrade have some of what he'd brought, and he rested the root beer bottle on her back between sips.
“So, what's new with you?” John asked, during a lull in the play.
“Oh, nothing much,” Lestrade said. “Same old. Work. Sleep. Too much of one, not enough of the other.”
“Yeah, you're never at work, you need to get on that,” John joked. He reached for the Quavers, but couldn't get to them, so Lestrade tossed the bag over. “Sherlock behaving himself?”
“Pretty much,” Lestrade said. “He was worked up there for a while, but I think he's settled down now. No worse than usual, anyway. Leala's been riding herd on Tzophiya. Just like the old days. We have some experience. He's only made one person cry and she's new, so that's basically a rite of passage.”
“And she really is pretty rubbish,” Leala muttered.
“I'll be glad when you're back—proper glad—but I think I'm holding things down all right in the meantime,” Lestrade went on. “S'more Gregson who's getting the brunt of it. She's got your case; they took me off because of the personal connection.”
“Yeah, Sherlock's been moaning about that,” John said. “Apparently you're an idiot, but she's a real idiot.”
“Toby's a great copper,” Lestrade said. Leala gave a soft snort; she and Emeyli didn't get on. “She's just...a bit of an attention seeker. S'probably why they don't like each other. Too much ego in the room. You have to accept that when Sherlock's there, you're going to be the bloke in the corner. And that's fine with me. But Toby likes to be the one at the press conference giving the facts and fielding the questions.”
“And when Sherlock is there, everyone wants him to answer them,” John said, with a nod. “I can see how that would be a conflict.”
“Anyway, if it can't be me working on the case, I'd want it to be Gregson,” Lestrade said. “She'll make sure it all gets sorted. There's not much to it, anyway. There are enough witnesses for a cricket team and we already have the shooter in custody. He pleaded no contest at the arraignment. She's just taken over the case you lot were working on at the time, trying to add on the rest of the charges to the attempted murder. Still don't know why he decided to shoot you.”
“He was scared,” John said. “I don't blame him. No, that's not true. I do fucking blame him. I blame the hell out of him. And he's an actual murderer in addition to the attempted one, so I don't feel bad for him. But I don't think he thought much about it beforehand. It wasn't personal. We were closing in, he had a gun, he panicked, I was in the way. If it hadn't been me it would have been Sherlock or someone else.” His fingers wriggled in his lap. Subira nuzzled them until they stopped. “I'd like to see him in jail, but I don't have a vendetta.”
“He'll be in there, one way or another,” Lestrade said.
Leala let out an excited bark at one of the players on the telly, and all conversation was stalled as John and Lestrade yelled at the horrific football being played.
“He's open, fucking pass it, you numpty!” John said. “His dæmon is right there.”
Subira danced about angrily on the bed, and Leala nearly fell off Lestrade's lap as she sat up to yell at the dæmons for not encouraging the players to pass properly.
They attracted the attention of a stern nurse whose owl dæmon gave Leala and Subira such disapproving looks that Leala put her ears back and her nose between Lestrade's shins.
“Dr Watson, do remember this is a hospital,” the nurse said, with a sniff. “Not a pub.”
“Sorry, Penny,” John said. “We'll keep it down.”
“I wish they'd disconnect that channel, it's nothing but trouble,” Penny said. Her owl shook his head. She gave John a wink. “What's the score?”
“None all around,” John said.
“I'll never get a doctor to do anything for me tonight,” she said, with a sigh. “Enjoy yourself, love.” She gave Lestrade a look. “Quietly.”
“Yes, ma'am,” Lestrade said.
Leala and Subira both burst into giggles after she left, like unsettled dæmons who had been scolded, and that made John and Lestrade join in.
“I don't think I pulled there,” Lestrade said.
This made John laugh properly. “Okay, I have to stop now. It hurts,” he said, panting. Subira patted his stomach in a massaging motion. “Fuck. Thanks. I haven't had this much fun in a while.”
“No worries,” Lestrade said. “Glad to help.”
John settled back against his pillow and returned his eyes to the football match. “God, did Harringer dive again? His dæmon's a better actress than Tzophiya.”
They managed to keep quiet enough not to bother Nurse Penny and her owl until someone made such a low move on the field that everyone in the room burst out in anger.
“Fuck, she just bit her tail! Did you see that?!” John said. “No fucking dæmon-to-dæmon contact on the field, mate.”
“That's bang out of order!” Leala said, indignantly. “S'one thing to accidentally bump up against them, but that was deliberate! She went right for her!”
“He better be bloody carded,” Lestrade said.
Subira squeaked with revulsion.
A figure loomed in the doorway, but it wasn't Nurse Penny. It was Sherlock. Tzophiya must have flown in ahead of him, as she was now sitting on top of the telly and no one had noticed. Lestrade hated the way she crept into places without Sherlock. It was unsettling.
Sherlock took a look at the screen, the empty fizzy drink bottles, the crisp packets, the chocolate bars, and gave a little smirk.
“I'm supposed to be the terrible influence,” he said to Lestrade.
“S'okay, I got it covered tonight,” Lestrade said. He glanced down at his watch. It was nearly seven. “But you can take over, I should get home.” Leala hopped off his lap, and he stood up, shaking his legs out from having them up so long.
“You shouldn’t, you're coming with me,” Sherlock announced. “I need you.”
Leala let out a soft groan.
“How'd you know I was here?” Lestrade asked.
“You weren't at work, you weren't at home,” Sherlock said. “You aren't currently seeing anyone or attracted to anyone likely to lead to a romance, so you weren't on a date. You have your phone off, so you weren't at the pub--you wouldn't care about anyone bothering you there. It was either here or your sister's and you go there on Fridays, not Wednesdays. I used my brain.”
Tzophiya fluttered her feathers snootily.
“You have no life,” Leala noted to Lestrade.
“I know,” Lestrade said, a bit glum. Leala nosed his shin and grinned.
“You do know that when I turn my mobile off, it means I'm off-duty?” Lestrade said to Sherlock. “Which means I'm not working. Which means anything I do isn't official until it's officially a case.”
“I need you to grant me access to cold case files,” Sherlock said. “Why did you change your password?”
“Because you kept accessing cold case files?” Lestrade said.
“Exactly,” Sherlock said. “I was using it, you shouldn't have changed it. You've obviously used a random one because none of your typical ones is working. They won't let into the records building without ID. John can't be a diversion unless he comes and bleeds in front of the building, so I'll have to do it the legal way.”
“Oh shit, am I missing a chance to be arrested?” John said, in mock regret. Subira put a paw to her forehead, dramatically. “Damn. I'm so sorry not to be available for that.”
“Hurry up!” Sherlock said to Lestrade. Tzophiya flew back to his shoulder and then flew over his head to the other shoulder and back, anxious to leave. Sherlock nodded to John. “Hello.”
“Hey,” John said.
“How are you?” Sherlock asked.
“M'okay,” John said.
Lestrade made it to the door with Leala.
“Bye,” Sherlock said.
“See ya,” John said. Subira gave a wave.
Sherlock slipped out into the hallway. Tzophiya waved a wing before flying after him.
“Nice to see you,” Lestrade said to John. “I hope you feel less tired soon.”
“Yeah, me too,” John said. “Thanks for coming.”
“No worries,” Lestrade said. “Just rest. Rest and get better and don't worry about...whatever you're worried about. We're holding things down.”
John looked a little sad. “That's what I'm worried about.”
Leala nudged Lestrade's leg. “He needs to know he's missed,” she said. “Don't make it seem like you're fine without him.”
“I'll be glad to get you back when you're ready,” Lestrade added, quickly. “Sherlock, too. He's yelling at everyone for not being you. It'll be good to have Holmes and Watson back on the case again.”
Subira perked up a little and poked John in the arm. He gave a smile. “Yeah, it will.”
Lestrade bid his goodbyes and caught up with a pacing Sherlock in the hall, Tzophiya keeping herself orientated to glare at them as Sherlock moved around. He went for the lifts as soon as Lestrade was in range.
Jasmine was coming out of a patient's room and gave Lestrade a smile and wave. Lestrade returned it, trying to make a non-verbal apology for breezing past her by pointing to Sherlock. Apparently, it was enough, as she gave an understanding nod back. Leala barely had her tail in the lift before Sherlock pressed the button to close the doors.
“How is he?” he asked, abruptly.
“Good, I'd say,” Lestrade said. “Maybe a bit sad.”
Sherlock nodded. “I'm not as good at this part, where he's better but not well,” he said. “It's not as much a physical problem. That's resolving. I don't know how to do the...cheering up part.”
“I reckon he's worried you're going to get sick of him being ill,” Lestrade said. “And find a new friend to be your sidekick.”
Sherlock's nose wrinkled up. “I wouldn't do that,” he said. “I'd never find another person I like as much as him. I thought we were friends, shouldn't he trust me not to do that?” Tzophiya was indignant.
“He feels useless, so he thinks everyone else thinks he's useless,” Lestrade said, drawing from his own experience. “It's not about you, it's about him.”
“He is useless at the moment,” Sherlock said.
“Don't tell him that,” Lestrade said.
Sherlock quirked an eyebrow. “I do know that much."
“I'd find something for him to do,” Lestrade advised. “Even if it's just looking up something on the Internet. He's probably a bit bored, too.”
Tzophiya perked up at that and murmured something to Sherlock, who brightened up as well.
“Uh-oh,” Leala muttered.
Lestrade agreed. He wasn't sure he'd actually helped John or merely given Sherlock a terrible idea. It was a fine line between Sherlock helping and Sherlock causing havoc.
“So, what are you so desperate to look up?” Lestrade said.
“A cold case,” Sherlock said. He held up his mobile so Tzophiya could review while he was speaking. “A young woman died of anaphylaxis and no one could figure out what caused the reaction. It was classified as natural causes, but the examiner was suspicious. The woman had an allergy to tree nuts, but she hadn't consumed any. None were found in her system and it's extremely rare to have a reaction to airborne particles.”
“And?” Lestrade asked.
“The same thing has happened recently, under very similar circumstances,” Sherlock said. “I was asked to look into the death by the family. They were suspicious.”
“And?” Lestrade said, again, with a little more impatience.
“She had sex with her boyfriend,” Sherlock said. “I think his semen killed her.”
Lestrade and Leala looked at one another and then back at Sherlock. “Mate, I know you don't know a lot about sex—” Lestrade began.
“Brazil nut allergens can be transmitted through semen,” Sherlock interrupted. “And cause anaphylaxis. I want to look into the cold case and see if there was any sexual activity before the death of the other girl.” He smiled happily and looked at his mobile with Tzophiya.
“Is he trying to say they were shagged to death?” Leala asked.
“Yeah, I think so,” Lestrade said.
Leala sighed. “That's going to be a lot of paperwork.”