A Case Of Identity : Part One - Legwork (Sherlock/Lestrade)
Pairings: Sherlock/Lestrade (although this part's entirely gen and complete in itself if you don't want to see it as pre-slash)
Summary: Sherlock's exhausted after a case; Lestrade looks after him.
AN: Prequel to Cryptic. I made the mistake of wondering how they'd reached that point, and it appears to have turned into a complete monster. Er, oops?
Part Two: Deduction
Part Three: Analysis
Part Four: Hypothesis
Part Five: Verdict
It had been a hard case, and a frustrating one. By the end of it, Lestrade felt like he'd been living on instant coffee and stale sandwiches for months, and had a permanent crick in his neck from snatching sleep on the sofa in his office instead of wasting time going home to bed.
Sherlock, he suspected, hadn't actually slept at all, for at least three days - possibly longer. He'd watched the shadows darken under his eyes, the hair get more and more mussed as impatient fingers were torn through it, and placed mug after mug of tea in front of him himself, because if he couldn't convince the man to eat then at least he could keep him hydrated.
(He'd asked Donovan to fetch the first cup, and was faintly thankful that looks couldn't kill. He'd made the rest himself and when she muttered darkly that it wasn't a good use of his time had snapped back that keeping Sherlock awake was about the most useful thing any of them could be doing.)
He wondered vaguely if it was possible for a bin to get nicotine poisoning from the number of discarded patches they'd amassed between them, and then decided if he was wondering that then it really was time to get some proper rest.
The offices were gradually emptying, the lights turned off over the evidence wall, the silence suddenly loud when the unheard noise of twenty-odd computers suddenly wasn't there in the background any more.
He massaged the back of his neck wearily and went to fetch his coat. Came to a sudden halt in the doorway of his office, frowning at the sight that met his eyes.
Sherlock, slumped in Lestrade's chair, head resting on his arms on the desk.
"Sherlock?" He moved in, quietly, not wanting to make him jump. "Come on mate, time to go." He rested a hand on Sherlock's shoulder when he didn't move, shook him gently. "Sherlock. You can't stay here. Come on, I'll take you home."
Sherlock gave a grunt that might have been acknowledgement and might not. Lestrade rolled his eyes and pulled him up into a sitting position. Sherlock blinked blearily at him, and Lestrade was shaken to see how fast he'd gone downhill in the last half an hour.
"Are you alright?" he asked, concern in his voice.
Sherlock managed a ragged nod, but his eyes were unfocussed and his hands were shaking. "It's just the comedown," he said hoarsely. "I tend to crash a bit after a long stint. It's just the reaction hitting me, nothing to - nothing to worry about." He tried to get up, and stumbled against the desk before Lestrade reached out and grabbed him by the arm.
"Shit," he muttered, feeling a stab of guilt that he'd wilfully ignored Sherlock's state for so long because he'd needed him awake and working.
"I'm fine," Sherlock mumbled, waving an uncoordinated hand in the air.
"You are not fine, you idiot." Lestrade got an arm round him and helped him awkwardly towards the door. Despite his tall frame he hardly seemed to weigh a thing and Lestrade wondered not for the first time how the hell he kept going when he never seemed to eat.
In the outer office, Donovan was at her desk packing things into her bag and looked up as they walked past.
"Have you broken him sir? I'll give you an alibi if you want to dump the body."
"Goodnight, sergeant," Lestrade sighed.
"Freak probably runs on clockwork, try sticking a key up his arse," she called after them, but Lestrade didn't bother dignifying it with a reply and the doors banged shut on their exit.
In the carpark beneath the building, Lestrade almost had to lift Sherlock into the passenger seat of his car, and then had to duck in a second time to pull the seatbelt round him.
Sherlock roused himself enough to look vaguely affronted.
"What do you mean what's this? It's a seatbelt." Lestrade made a face and slid into the driver's seat.
"Don't like 'em."
"Well - tough."
"...'s why I like taxis," Sherlock objected sleepily.
"Well you should bloody wear one in them too. Maddest bloody drivers in the city," Lestrade muttered, starting the engine and feeling faintly guilty that he probably wasn't in any fit state to be driving himself.
"Never know when you need to made a quick exit," Sherlock smirked, head lolling sideways as if it was too heavy to hold up any longer.
The next time Lestrade looked over, having manoeuvred out of the garage and onto the street, he discovered Sherlock was fast asleep.
It was late, late enough for the streets to be sufficiently empty that Lestrade was grateful he didn't need eyes in the back of his head, given he was having enough trouble focussing on what was in front.
He pulled up in front of Sherlock's flat and turned to find he was still dead to the world.
"Sherlock. Oi, sleeping beauty, wake up!" He shook Sherlock's shoulder, and then when he didn't respond leaned closer, irritably. "Sherlock!" he bellowed at the unresponsive figure, "Stop pissing about!"
Still nothing. Frowning, Lestrade lifted his wrist and took Sherlock's pulse, found it strong but erratic. He was no doctor, but knew full well Sherlock had spent too many days on nothing but caffeine and nicotine. Not exactly nourishing.
Further shaking proved just as fruitless, and Lestrade sighed. "Well I'm not bloody kissing you. Probably turn into a frog." He peered up at the first floor window he knew belonged to Sherlock's flat and wondered if he was capable of bodily hauling the man up there. And, more to the point, capable of abandoning him there in this state.
Had a brief uncharitable moment of wishing he'd got someone else to take Sherlock home, and thus made him someone else's problem.
Thumped the steering wheel tiredly. "Damn it. Damn it!"
Started the car again, heading this time towards home. At least his building had a bloody lift.
Staggering into his flat with a still virtually comatose Sherlock draped over his shoulder, Lestrade kicked the front door shut and manhandled him through to the bedroom. Let him sag to the bed with a grunt of relief and lifted his feet until Sherlock was lying flat on the covers, closer to unconscious than asleep.
Groaning with the effort, Lestrade stripped Sherlock of his coat and shoes, pulled back the duvet and rolled him unceremoniously over until he was in the bed rather than on it. Looked down at him tiredly, too worn out to really think straight any more. The flat only had one bed, and now Sherlock was in it. But, it was a double, and the chances were Sherlock wasn't going to wake up any time soon. And Lestrade was too tired to be fussy.
He stripped off slowly, pulling on a faded t-shirt over his boxers and crawled into the vacant side of the bed. Was asleep before he knew it.
Sherlock's eyes flew open and he stared rigidly at the ceiling for a moment, trying to work out where he was. Not his own bed, clearly, from the feel of the mattress and bedclothes, and the plasterwork on the ceiling. The pattern of light was different too, and the sound of the traffic was further away, so, on a higher floor than the first. Probably the third.
He sat up and immediately regretted it as his head swam sickeningly, and lights crawled across his vision like a wriggling firework. Blinked until his vision cleared, looking around the unfamiliar room. Clearly a single man's room, and probably one who didn't spend a lot of time in it.
So - all coupled with his last clear memory being of Lestrade's office, that presumably meant -
There was a movement of the edge of his vision and he looked round to find the man leaning in the doorway watching him.
"You're awake then."
"Easy to see how you made Inspector." Sherlock winced as his head throbbed in apparently karmic rebuke. He took in Lestrade's clothes - sweatshirt and jeans - and cocked an eyebrow. "Dress-down Friday?"
"As a matter of fact, it's Sunday," replied Lestrade with more than a touch of smugness. He came into the room and set a pint glass of water down on the table by the bed. "Drink that."
Sherlock was staring at him in shock. "Sunday? Impossible. You're lying, you must be."
"Lying? I'm a policeman, we're not allowed to." Lestrade grinned and sat on the edge of the bed, enjoying Sherlock's discomfiture rather too much.
Sherlock snorted. "Well apart from the obvious and intended fallacy of that statement, if you're not then - " he looked shaken. "I've been here three days?"
"Yep. Sleeping like a baby. A snoring, restless, occasionally whimpering baby."
"I do not whimper!" Sherlock glared and then frowned. "Or snore, for that matter."
Lestrade looked at him and felt a twinge of self-reproach at throwing the whimpering thing at him. He'd spent three days coaxing the occasionally semi-conscious Sherlock to take in water and soup, and watching him while he slept, twisting restlessly when he wasn't lying like the dead. Wondered if he'd had nightmares.
"You do so snore. Like sleeping next to a bloody tractor," he said gruffly instead.
Sherlock looked from him to the rumpled sheets, taking in for the first time that he apparently hadn't been alone in the bed. Looked alarmed.
"We - didn't - ?"
"What?" Lestrade laughed. "No, no, of course not. I generally prefer my victims to be conscious." He heaved himself to his feet and nodded at the water. "Go on, drink that, then I'll get you something to eat before you pass out again."
Sherlock looked down at himself. "What the hell am I wearing?"
"Well, yes, obviously. Yours? They're hideous."
"That's why I don't wear them. They were a present. That and they're too big."
"Guessing that relationship didn't last," muttered Sherlock and Lestrade shot him a sharp look.
"Anyone ever bought you pyjamas? No? Thought not."
"You undressed me?" Sherlock sounded faintly appalled.
"You'd have preferred I left you in the same clothes since Thursday would you?"
Sherlock opened his mouth to retort, then thought better of it. "No, obviously. I'm - very - grateful." He choked out the latter words stiffly and Lestrade shook his head.
"Yeah, you sound it. Fool to myself, aren't I?"
"I didn't ask to be brought home like a stray puppy." Sherlock picked up the water and drank thirstily while Lestrade stood over him, hands in pockets, wondering why despite everything he still felt protective towards this overgrown tousled ingrate, when by all reasonable standards (or at least Sergeant Donovan's) he should want to throttle him.
Sherlock set the glass down carefully, needing both hands to steady it on the table. Rubbed a hand over his chin and made a face. "God, I need a shave."
"My bathroom is at your disposal," Lestrade bowed mockingly, as something else filtered into Sherlock's consciousness, and his eyes widened.
"And a wee. God, I - " he scrambled out of the bed as the need became too urgent to ignore and promptly went down on his knees as his legs gave way.
"Upsadaisy." Lestrade grabbed him by the arm and helped him up, supported him out to the bathroom.
Sherlock shot him a look. "I can manage from here, thanks."
"If I let you go now you'll probably crack your head on the sink out of spite. You think I've never seen someone take a piss before? Never took you for a prude Sherlock."
Hissing in annoyance, Sherlock nonetheless proceeded to take care of the now uncomfortably pressing business, and if he was secretly thankful for Lestrade's steadying arm round him he gave no indication.
When he was done, Lestrade closed the toilet lid and lowered Sherlock carefully onto it. Fetched his shaving kit from the bathroom cabinet and held it out. Sherlock reached out to take it, and blinked in surprise when it was suddenly withdrawn again. Lestrade was looking at Sherlock's still shaking hands in disgust.
"Jeez. You'll cut yourself to ribbons."
"I can't stay like this!" Sherlock objected. "It feels like I'm being attacked by a bathmat. And it itches."
"Oh, for - come here." Lestrade laid the kit on the side of the bath and proceeded to fill the sink with water.
To his surprise, Sherlock sat quite still and docile while he shaved him, and he wondered if he was still suffering the effects of his collapse. Concentrated carefully on the unfamiliar angles of shaving someone else and tried not to be put off by the fact Sherlock's intent gaze was fixed unwaveringly on him as he did so.
"There you go. Better?" He stepped back and assessed his handiwork critically. Sherlock rinsed his face and then smoothed his fingers over his skin.
"Thank you," he said simply, taking Lestrade by surprise for the second time, having been expecting to be told he'd missed a bit, or had an inferior razor, or possibly what he'd had for lunch based on the fact he had tin-opener's-wrist.
"No problem," he said, finally, cleaning the razor and putting things away. Sherlock watched him move about with interest.
"You're very neat," he commented.
Lestrade, who'd once had occasion to venture into Sherlock's bathroom, gave a brief smile. "Not especially. Just not pathologically messy like some people I could mention."
"I know where everything is." Sherlock yawned, widely. "Anyway, tidiness is for dull people."
Lestrade's smile widened. "I knew you being polite was too good to last."
"Does this mean you're going to evict me?" Sherlock followed him out of the room, thankful to find he could stand on his own once more.
Lestrade waved him over to the couch. "You're not going anywhere until you've had something to eat."
"Is he paying you to do this?" Sherlock asked, and studied the blank stare he got in return with considerable interest.
"No, he's not is he? Interesting."
"Who's paying me? To do what?"
"Just - my, er, family. Can be rather - interfering, at times."
Lestrade frowned. "Funny. I never thought of you as having a family."
"Yes, well." Sherlock went to peer out of the window at the street below. "If you're lucky you'll never have to meet any of them."
"Do they say the same about you?"
Sherlock looked round, and laughed. "Probably. Oh, probably." He wandered back and sprawled out on the couch. "Did you say something about food?" He smiled up at Lestrade, hopefully.
"Honestly, how do you survive, on your own?" Lestrade retreated into the flat's small kitchen, shaking his head. "You need a housekeeper you do."
When he looked back in to determine the reason for the lack of withering reply, he found Sherlock fast asleep again.
Managed to resist fetching him a blanket for almost a whole thirty seconds.