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ETA Summary: Lestrade is overworked and Sherlock just makes it worse. Mycroft isn't helping.

Warning: strong language (although not by Australian standards)

Type: Gen

Part two of A Reliable Man, a series of connected stories.  

Part One: First Encounter

See the end for glossary

ETA: minor edit for Elfbert's very welcome Londonpicking
==================================

The first time Lestrade saw the car was when it picked him up outside the house of a witness he'd been interviewing. He was eying the sky wondering if he should have brought his raincoat when a text arrived: "Car will pick you up now. MH"

After a moment to remember who MH might be he checked the number against the card in his wallet and wondered just what "now" meant. And pick him up from where?

He couldn't believe it when a big black car stopped right next to him and the door opened before he had put away his phone.

Which chimed again "Into the car Inspector - MH"

He was still staring at that when the woman inside said "Come on Inspector, we can't stop here for long"

She was right, double yellows large as life. Feeling like he'd been hit on the head with a gold plated brick he climbed in, buckled up, and the car pulled away smoothly and quietly. Expensive suspension and a lot of weight if it could do that on these roads. Islington Council, breeding potholes since 1963.

The woman across the seat from him (30s, slim, expensive business suit, good legs and knew it, hundred quid haircut, someone's very expensive PA) didn't look up from her Blackberry even when he spoke.

"Where are we going? What's this all about?" Given the phone number checked it wasn't your average kidnapping, so what was it?

"Your questions will be answered soon Inspector" she said, still typing away, may as well have had "don't bother me little man" in glowing letters abover her head.

It didn't really surprise him, high class City types tended to view coppers as about the level of a toilet cleaner: important when you need them, but you don't want to be around when they visit. Hired help should be seen and not heard. He'd get nothing out of her unless he had her in an interview room and maybe not even then because there'd be a five hundred quid an hour brief in the room with her, and they'd just be exhibiting a perfect 10 performance of synchronised sneering.

He bowed to the inevitable and putting his head back allowed his exhaustion to catch up with him

Work came in waves.  Some days you'd be easy with time to relax and joke and eat sitting down. Other days you'd be out till sparrowfart and only sitting down to spend hours on the phone talking to people who were uninterested and unhelpful if they weren't just plain unpleasant. To say nothing of the whole mess with Sherlock and the shoes.

Sherlock would have been able to tell you the exact route they took and where they were going, deeply tinted windows and excellent soundproofing not withstanding. Lestrade was paying enough attention to know they were heading vaguely southward towards the river, but there are only so many interviews with covertly hostile witnesses, battles with overtly hostile computers, and cups of sullenly vicious Met coffee that a man can take before he decides a carnapping by the Secret Service to an unknown destination is a perfect excuse to close his eyes and relax.

He didn't open them until the car came to a smooth silent halt. He could see through the windscreen a large well lit underground warehouse and a large well dressed man leaning on an umbrella.

"Welcome Inspector, so glad you could make it. Now tell me why my brother was in the cells overnight and left with obvious bruises."

Well yes. He should have known that's what this was about. The flu had gone through the whole floor, everyone from the newest DC to DCI McClellan who had been in the Met since the Ripper's day had to take on extra cases, he had just about all of Gregson's on his plate, there was no way he had been up to nursemaiding Sherlock.

The problem was that Sherlock had done what Sherlock was so good at doing: getting up multiple people's noses so far they'd needed sniffer dogs to find him.

What he wanted to say was "Your bloody idiot of a brother damn near caused a religious riot in one of the most dangerous places in London and if there was any justice in the world he'd still be rotting in Brick Lane holding cells or better still getting a taste of the real deal on
remand in Brixton or Wandsworth."

He had no idea where he was, that driver looked like he didn't so much lift weights as toss them carelessly, and the posh bastard had had a very iffy expression on his face when he had said "bruised".

So what he said was "He was in the cells because he caused an affray. He was in the cells overnight because he refused to produce identification and when he finally did, it had my name on it ."

Silence.

Lestrade ran his hand through his hair, and barreled on. There was no way to be polite about this.

"Look. He went to a mosque during Friday prayers, and went through all the shoes outside, examining them and tossing them into a pile in the mud when he was done. He was in the middle of it when prayers ended and the congregation came out. They took exception, he called them all stupid and then the fight began. He's lucky the Imam in Nelson St is a moderate so he called the cops instead of letting them get on with it. Sherlock gave as good as he got, but he'd have had more than a few bruises if the panda hadn't been just round the corner."

Mycroft closed his eyes for a moment. Good Lord he seemed to think it was as damn stupid as everyone else did! But then the last time Shadwell had flared up it had burned for two days, even the Secret Service wouldn't like that.

"When they contacted me about the ID, I went down there and was able to get him out and take him home. If he shows his face there again it won't be as easy."

Not that it had been easy then. It was only that nothing had been damaged or stolen, just a bit muddy, and any  assault orcharges would not get past the CPS because they'd degenerate into he-said-she-said and both sides claiming self defence that had allowed him to call in a favour from Tommy Darton (whose manor it was) who he knew from his Southwark days .

Promising Tommy that yes he would take that fucking ponce out and bang some sense into his fucking head he'd got Sherlock out of the cell and into the car and had yelled at him all the way to Montague St.

Not that it had done any good. As far as Sherlock was concerned "It was an experiment" was all the explanation anyone needed. He'd wanted to examine the wear pattern on the shoes and that was that.

About the only consolation (aside from the magnificent black eye) was the fact that despite the lying-on-his-back-hands-steepled-I-know-who-you-are-without-opening-my-eyes act when Lestrade came to fetch him, being in the cells overnight seemed to have knocked a bit of the arrogance off him. At least he'd only made token protests in the car and had gone up to his flat when told. He was looking a bit pale and shaky once he was there, reaction probably. Lestrade had told him to eat something already and gone back to the Yard and his foot long interview list.

Mycroft gave that horrible little smile. "I would have preferred if you had got there earlier Inspector"

Lestrade would have preferred not to have got there at all, as the git would have been out in a few days anyway and that would be a few days without avalanches of texts that were either whiny or cryptic.

"Sherlock has been helpful to me, and I do try to return the favour but operational requirements have to come first".

There, chew on that Mr Permananet Undersecretary Spook or whatever you are. I have a real job, which is not babysitting your little brother.

Mycroft looked at him for a long moment, umbrella swinging gently in his hand. He didn't look the violent type, he probably had minions for that, but that thing could still give you a bit of a jolt if it hit you.

The silence stretched, then Mycroft seemed to make up his mind. "Well I'm glad you did what you could Inspector, but please do keep my request in mind". And then with a little Royal Wave he strolled off stage left, calling over his shoulder "The car will take you back to
the Yard".

Lestrade pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers and sighed. The man had more people skills than his brother, but so did most cockroaches. Called up here, given a C minus and told to do better next time, what a way to make friends and influence people. But then this man didn't need friends, he had power.

On the other hand... with all that power, he still needed a copper to get his brother out of chokey, which must piss him right off. Hence all this because he had to say "thank you" but couldn't do it without a show of power to get some self respect back in the face of said copper.

That cheered Lestrade right up and he sauntered back to the car, smiled at the Blackberry and its assistant and slid into his seat. "The Yard if you would" he said and sat back to enjoy the ride.


Next: Interlude in a Blue Suit

====================

DC: detective constable

panda: police car, used to be black and white in a time when all carswere solid tinted, the name stuck


I have never been to London, so I do what I can with google maps. I have no idea if there is a mosque in Nelson St in Shadwell and the two day riot there is a figment of my imagination. I don't even know if Brick Lane police station *has* holding cells. I apologise to Islington Council (if there is one) for any implication that they encourage potholes to do the dirty.
.


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