zebee: (quizzical)
[personal profile] zebee
Summary: Mycroft wants an agent.  Lestrade has his own priorities.  The irresistable force meets the immovable object... but is the object unbreakable as well?

Timeline: before A Study in Pink

Rating: PG-13
Warning: Strong Language

Type: Gen

Word Count: 3800

Part One: First Encounter
Part Two: The first time he saw the car
Interlude in a Blue Suit


This piece would be considerably worse without the creative talents of elfbert who dug me (and Mycroft) out of a hole and who has a nice line in bad language.
-------------------------------------------
 There were 7 shots from last night that were definitely Sherlock, 12 that probably were, and 24 that were definitely not.

There shouldn't have been that many definites. The tail shouldn't have been able to pick him up again and track him to that winebar in the Tottenham Court Road, it was as though Sherlock didn't really care about shaking the tail, as though dodging it was just habit and not desire. Or he'd been too focused on something else.

The footage outside the winebar was clear enough, it was Sherlock, he wasn't even disguising his walk. At least he didn't come out the same door he went in, and he wasn't picked up again until Montague St, but the timing said he had gone straight home.

CCTV footage is too grainy to pick up expressions or much at all really, but the more experienced of his operatives said Sherlock looked a bit jittery, a bit nervous on the way in. The Montague St man didn't corroborate that, but he wasn't as good.

Mycroft looked again at the pictures and the reports. Studied the dates and times of Sherlock's movements that they knew about.

And didn't like the conclusion he came to.

A Sherlock who was becoming more erratic in his behaviour. And eating less. Who was getting worse and worse at evading the surveillance. Who was regularly going to an area of the city frequented by City high fliers and fancy creative types, not his preferred sort of criminal at
all.

Sherlock was always cyclical, Mycroft understood that quite well. After all he suffered from it himself, he was just a lot better at controlling it. But Sherlock's cycle was changing. Instead of sleeping for a while then going out for a day or two he was inside more often. And when he went out, it was more often an evening, and usually he lost his tail somewhere around the Square Mile. Rather than say down at the docks.

Which meant that whatever he was doing on those regular trips every few evenings leading to him staying in most of the next day or two was in the City.

He wanted to go and see for himself, to confront his brother and have it out with him. But the relationship was too fragile for that. The last time he'd had a confrontation with Sherlock was when the boy was experimenting in the seedier parts of Soho. And that had not ended well.

He needed someone who knew Sherlock and knew about this sort of problem. Who could be relied upon to help and keep quiet. And who Sherlock might just listen to.

Mycroft turned back to his laptop and set the wheels in motion.

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

The summer heat had gone from enjoyable to annoying some considerable time ago. Lestrade, like most of his team, spent as much time in the airconditioning at work as possible. It was inadequate but better than the outside world.

The tube was unbearable, he had taken to getting off a couple of stops early and walking the rest of the way home. Get a bit of exercise and postpone the unpleasantness of his baking flat.

He varied the route a little each day, watching people and houses and feeling the city around him, letting his manor seep into his soul. He was even walking like a beat copper again: the slow even twenty mile pace.

The connection to his beat days was so strong his first thought on seeing the black Merc coming slowly towards him was Sexual Offences Act 1985 solicitation from a vehicle. But that was banished quickly when he recognised the driver.

He stopped, feeling his heart thump with sudden fight-or-flight shock but tamped it down. They knew where he lived after all. If they had done nothing since, they weren't going to do a driveby now.

So he waited for the car to approach and stop, not even bothering to check his mobile. Feeling angry and annoyed with himself for doing it:that posh bastard had said "Sit! Stay" and like a good little dog he did.

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

While he waited for the car to arrive Mycroft pondered his approach. The man tended towards the standoffish in his dealings with Mycroft, careful of who he was talking to, aware of rank. Polite and correct, very used to dealing with senior officers with their own agenda.

He had helped Sherlock without being asked, but then he had been involved in that once Sherlock had flashed the stolen ID. He'd had to clear that up. He was stll using Sherlock, although not often, but hadn't apparently suspected anything wrong with the boy... He was an experienced policeman, he must have seen something! Which means he didn't want to get involved.

He must be made to get involved.

He owned a 2 bedroom flat in a reasonable area, bought before the worst of the price inflation but the mortgage and maintenance was clearly difficult even on the top level inspector's salary.

Mycroft smiled.


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


When the car pulled up into the warehouse, there was no Mycroft Holmes. There was no expensive PA either, the car had been empty when he got in. The weightlifter driver opened the door said "this way please sir" and shepherded him into a lift, along a corridor, and into an office.

There the man was behind the desk, all snooty and superior. Just like being called on the carpet by the Superintendent because your team haven't filed some useless report or other on time, and that makes him look bad. Because paperwork trumps policework every time.

"Thank you Davies, that will be all. Sit down please inspector, it is time we had another talk."

Lestrade sat down, wary, wondering what the hell this was about. Nothing good, he was sure.

"So Inspector. I understand you have had a lot of work recently. But you haven't passed any of it on to Sherlock. Haven't seen him much at all. Now why is that?"

He wanted to say all sort of things about just what work a CID murder team got in the middle of a heatwave, the stink and the shattering banality of it all and how Sherlock bloody Holmes wasn't interested in anything but himself, and would Mycroft bloody Holmes stop banging on about him... But no way was any of that going to show in his face.

"The heat means a lot of work for the Yard Mr Holmes, but none of it is of the sort that Sherlock is good at."

"I did ask you to keep an eye on him".

"I have operational priorities Mr Holmes. I can't neglect them."

"Ah yes. Your priorities. I think you should change them Inspector. In fact you will change them."

Lestrade sighed, back to this again. Man wouldn't take no for an answer, well if he was going to want the Yard on his brother's case he could damn well go through channels. He obviously could when he wanted to so let him do the work to get the team off far too many domestics and drug shootings.

"My DCI is the one who sets those Mr Holmes, you should talk to him".

"Oh I don't think I need to do that do I? After all, Sherlock is valuable to you. It can't be too difficult to change your priorities. To... shall we say... protect your resources?"

Well Sherlock was useful now and then, but despite what television would have you believe fancy crimes were the exception not the rule. When they happened they got the airtime it's true but this plonker wanted them to drop it all for the one time in a hundred? Not likely.

Then the bombshell.

"And I will make it very worth your while. After all now they've stopped paying overtime to Inspectors that mortgage is quite a burden isn't it."

Lestrade felt his jaw drop. He wasn't a stranger to offers to make it worth his while, he'd been in the job more than 20 years and he'd been offered things from cold drinks (which he took) to Cup Final tickets (which he hadn't taken but damn he would have liked to.) Usually people were a little less blatant in their attempt to fall foul of the Prevention of Corruption Act. But then the Holmes brothers tended to just do what they wanted.

Holmes leaned forward, that horrible smile on his face making the moment that little bit nastier. "A little bit of re-focusing and you don't need to worry about that mortgage again. You could even put air-conditioning in."

What the hell was it that made Holmes think he was bent? This posh bastard pushed him from pillar to post anyway, what the hell was going on, why this all of a sudden?

"I am a serving policeman Mr Holmes. My job is to protect members of the public, and I do so. What I Do. Not. Do. is take bribes."

Holmes's face didn't shift, he was utterly sure of himself. The underling will do as he's told. Because underlings were grubby little sub-humans that smile said, who will beg for treats.


"Come Inspector. Your sentiments do you credit but let us be realistic. I need you to spend time and energy on Sherlock, including making sure he doesn't get into any more trouble with your fellow police. It's quite reasonable you should want... some form of compensation for your time. I'm not averse to such an arrangement. Providing of course I get value for money."

Lestrade just stared at him, unable to believe what he'd just heard. Feeling the anger boil to the surface, insult piling on insult for weeks, for months as he'd been pushed about by this.. this....

He leapt to his feet all caution forgotten.


"Listen, you posh smarmy bastard. I'm not in the job for the pension, I'm in it to make a fucking difference - and I do, I get scum off the streets. And Sherlock might be an unmitigated arse sometimes but he understands that it's not the money, it's knowing that people can walk around this city a little bit safer, knowing that you might have saved someone's life by catching some murdering bastard. "

He was right in Holmes's face, ready to swing and hit the man to drive his point home, ready to grab him by the thousand quid lapels and fucking nut him.

"I'm not bent, I won't be swayed by your dirty money. Fuck you - fuck you for thinking you can buy me. I'm not fucking stupid – one little favour, one helping hand and then you've got me by the balls - with that hanging over me there's no way I'll ever be able to say no again. Well you can take your slimy ideas and shove them up your arse - I'm not fucking interested."

That was when the brawny arm was around his neck, his right arm twisted in a vicious lock and he was hauled bodily back nearly losing his footing.

Mycroft took a moment to recover from his surprise. Davies had Lestrade off balance and held in what looked like a painfully efficient hold, that arm would be sore for some time. The man was showing no signs though, his anger presumably protecting him.

Mycroft pondered letting him hurt for a while but that would be counter-productive. The man needed to realise who was in charge but there were better ways than crippling him.

"You can let him go now Davies, thank you."

The man regained his balance, shrugged his coat back into place, his eyes never leaving Mycroft. There was anger in them and a certain stubborn pride, that was all well and good, but not for what was wanted now.

"You will do as I ask Inspector. The money is already in your account after all".

Lestrade felt as though time had stopped. As though all the world had stopped.

He stood there as emotions washed over him. Disbelief. Fear. Uncertainty. Until he was empty of emotion. There should be anger, righteous anger but it had all vanished. He had no more anger left.

Once bent always bent, and in the end it didn't matter if you were bent or it was just everyone thought you were.

Holmes had just bought a detective inspector, whether he wanted to be bought or not.

There was only one possible answer. He had never felt this numb in his life. Never felt this numb. But there really was only one possible answer.

Someone else said, as though the world still turned "I see. And you'll tell Internal Affairs the moment I step out of line."

Feeling distance as if in a dream he reached the miles across to the far side of the desk to the pen (expensive) and paper (ditto, why was he noticing these things?) there, pulled them towards him and did the only thing he could.

"Well tell them when you like. And give them this while you are at it"

Mycroft Holmes leant forward to take the paper, unfolded it, and read the few lines.

Commissioner for Metropolitan Police
New Scotland Yard

Sir,

I hereby tender my resignation from the Metropolitan Police effective immediately,

G Lestrade


Mycroft looked up sharply at Lestrade. Who was looking back. Exhausted, drained but determined. This wasn't a bluff, he'd made his decision and would live with the consequences .

Mycroft turned the paper over in his hands, realising with sudden urgency that Lestrade wasn't the only one who would have to live with the consequences.

Without this man at the Yard one of Sherlock's major outlets was gone. And quite probably his brother would know what had happened and that would cause an even greater rift.

"That... will not be necessary Inspector."

But Lestrade had turned and was heading for the door. Maybe hadn't even heard. Mycroft waved Davies away as Lestrade walked out of the office like an automaton, he would be easy enough to find and this required thinking about.

Lestrade left the office he could no longer bear to be in, some part of his mind noting with mild interest that the bodyguard had been called off.

Office buildings are all alike there's the lift - and with the only piece of luck he'd had that night it didn't need a keycard.

He got himself out into the night air and looked around. He did not, of course, know where he was. They'd headed South and East from Euston Rd he thought, so North and West it is. Summer, so no clouds, but London so no stars either. He lifted his head to sniff the breeze and listen for traffic. Main-ish road over there, so head for it.

He followed the sound of the trucks and tried very hard not to think about what he'd done, what had happened. Who would take a possibly bent copper? And how far did that man's writ run? Wouldn't put it past Holmes to make sure he couldn't even get a job in McDonalds!

Lestrade kept walking, his head going round and round, navigating by instinct and the sound of traffic and the smell of the river. Along highways and back streets, vaguely North, vaguely West, the same few thoughts in his mind, trying to walk them out of his head.

He bought some cigs from a convenience store, patches be damned. If a man couldn't have a cigarette on the night he threw himself under a bloody bus when could he?

He was tired. Tired in body, tired in soul. He wanted to lay him down to rest but he didn't know the safe places for the rough sleepers and didn't want to risk being rolled for his wallet as he slept. He'd need to know soon enough, but right now he would keep walking.

It was well past 3am when he finally hauled himself up the stairs to his flat.

His body remembered the motions of checking the letterbox on the way into the building, the angle to take to avoid the broken floor tile, the last little wriggle of the key in the lock because the fit was too loose.

He walked into his flat and into a nightmare.

On the living room table was his resignation letter, leaning up against a bottle of very expensive single malt. And sitting quite at home on his sofa was Mycroft Holmes. Reading one of his books. The one from the bedside table.

Lestrade stood there, too tired to move, too tired to be afraid. He didn't bother looking for the bodyguard, or the assistant. Too tired to care.

No hiding place, no home, nowhere safe. Not any more, not ever again.

"I expected you home somewhat earlier Inspector"

Lestrade said nothing. There was nothing to say. If Posh Bastard Holmes was annoyed at waiting for a couple of hours in a baking hot flat then there was nothing Lestrade could do to soothe him. Lestrade wouldn't have been surprised if the bodyguard stepped out to drive the point home, but instead Holmes spoke again.

"No, there is no bodyguard, no PA. No security, no cameras. I wanted to meet with you on your own ground. Without all the trappings."

That didn't matter. They'd be around soon enough.

Holmes fidgeted a bit, a small part of Lestrade's brain had enough energy to notice that.

"I.... must apologise Inspector".

More of his brain woke up.

"My only defence is that I spend too much time in Whitehall. I had forgotten there are honest men in the world. I deal every day with the greedy, the ambitious, the stupid. When I meet a competent honest man I don't realise until it is too late"

Lestrade slumped against the wall. He so wanted to find his bed and oblivion, not listen to this jack-in-office justify himself.

"The money has been removed from your account - as has any trace of it ever being there. I'm sure you'll check that for yourself, but I promise you it's true. You don't even have to keep the single malt, if you don't wish to, although it is a particularly well aged specimen. I thought we could both do with a drink...but like I say, that was some hours ago."

Lestrade closed his eyes for a moment then opened them to look straight into Holmes's, unconsciously straightening his back.

"You might have removed the money but you can put it back any time you please. Look, I know you want to own me because you think I can manage Sherlock. But if you own me, that puts my team in danger and I can't allow that. The decisions have to go their way, every time."

He searched Holmes's face, willing him to understand, but saw nothing and slumped back against the wall. "I'll be putting that letter in in the morning."

"And after that Inspector?"

Lestrade wondered what the man would call him when he wasn't an Inspector. "You there" probably.

"I will do what I can. Yes I know you can probably stop me working in this country or even have me knocked on the head and chucked in the river. Do what you want, I'm past caring."

And he was. He had not slept for... what was it, 20 hours? More? He'd walked across London, he'd thrown more than 20 years of his life away, and he was still talking to the self-satisfied bastard who had ruined him with a tap on his keyboard.

"I do have an immense amount of power, Inspector, you're correct. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say I hold in my hands the lives of millions of people. I can influence decisions all over the globe. That, Inspector, is what makes it so very hard for me to admit that when it comes to Sherlock, I'm utterly bereft of any form of power. There is nothing I can do or say to him to make him change his ways. Indeed, my influence usually has exactly the opposite effect."

"Lucky Sherlock" thought Lestrade, "he should bottle it, I'd buy some"

"So your brother doesn't listen to you. Welcome to the real world. Why should it matter? You can pull him out of any hot water he gets into. "

"Not any hot water Inspector. I can protect him from physical danger, but the only way to protect him from himself is to lock him up in an institution. "

Lestrade was finding it harder and harder to stay upright. To stay even vaguely focused.

Holmes stood up "You are too tired to think straight Inspector. So I'll leave you to your bed. Please understand that you are in no danger from me over this, nor is your team. My word on it, even though you won't think that worth anything"

Lestrade was able to jerk himself away from the very comfortable wall as Holmes passed by, to make sure he wasn't in the way of this nightmare leaving the flat.

He did make it all the way to his bed before he lost consciousness.

In the morning, the bottle of whiskey was still there. Sitting on top of what looked like an evidence file.

Lestrade looked at both of them with loathing. He held the bottle with the tips of his fingers as he stowed it in the deep recesses of the least-used kitchen cupboard along with the rice cooker and the lidless plastic containers.  He washed his hands before he organised breakfast.

He couldn't help looking at the evidence file though. He was, God help him, apparently still a policeman, and evidence files were his natural prey.

He looked at the pictures and the surveillance reports, compared times and dates, closed the file and pondered.

So that's what had the posh bastard upset. He thought Sherlock was using. Which he might be, although on that Wednesday and that let's see... yes, that Sunday Lestrade hadn't noticed anything amiss, and why weren't those meetings in the file?

And why the hell couldn't the man have just come right out and bloody well asked?

He finished off his coffee, checking the time. Time to get dressed and head off, because if there was fallout from this mess best to know it now.


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

Mycroft Holmes watched the footage from the tiny camera with interest.  4 minutes and 35 seconds, which was only around four times the amount of time it had taken Mycroft to reach a conclusion from the evidence presented. Given the man was operating on little sleep and much aggravation that was impressive.

Now to see what he did with the information.

Mycroft shut down the laptop and tidied the file in front of him, placing the resignation letter inside. Such a thing might come in handy one day.

Part Four: Well of Courage
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