August 31st, 2010
|08:22 pm - A Reliable Man. Part Two: The first time he saw the car|
Summary: Lestrade is overworked and Sherlock just makes it worse. Mycroft isn't helping.
Timeline: before A Study in Pink
Warning: strong language (although not by Australian standards)
Part two of A Reliable Man, a series of connected stories. Part One is here
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 ."
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."
Holmes 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.
Holmes 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 Permanant Undersecretary Spook or whatever you are. I have a real job, which is not babysitting your little brother.
Holmes 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 Holmes 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
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 cars were 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.
liking the voice here - nicely done! and the sullenly vicious Met coffee, amongst many other comic touches...
|Date:||August 31st, 2010 12:53 pm (UTC)|| |
Great fic! I loved it, you have a really nice narrative style and a wonderful voice for Lestrade. All his inner thoughts seemed spot on.
The only thing that threw me a little was 'no standing zone'. In London there are 'red routes', which mean absolutely no stopping, as opposed to double yellow lines, which do mean no stopping, but everyone ignores. (Red routes are just double red lines, not yellow, and are on busy London roads where stopping would actually cause some sort of traffic disaster.) I'm afraid I can't tell you exactly wher they occur in Islington, but Googlemaps streetview or satellite would show them, I expect! But that's a tiny Londonpick in a fantastic story.
Thanks for that Elfbert. I admit I sortof thought that "no standing" wasn't correct, but the flow needed something. Edited to hopefully be less jarring.
|Date:||August 31st, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)|| |
No worries. After years of being useless to fandom, by writing for shows which take place in the US, or space or silly places like that, finally I can be useful by knowing about London! XD The story was so good it hardly mattered, though. If you ever need to ask any London/UK questions, I'd be more than happy to help out - however minute the detail! I work in London, so know it pretty well.
Oh excellent! I don't know if I will be quite so geographical in future but I didn't know I was going to be this time either. Sydney no problem, London, problem.
Hmm... travel times. Google maps doesn't really give much help there. I know Dr Johnson apparently walked up to 20 miles a day just getting around the place, I wonder how Lestrade does it. Cars need parking places at the destination, taxis need expense accounts. Do you suppose he hoofs it more then Sherlock does, except to an actual crime scene? Poor bastard probably takes the Tube a lot.
Do Londoners tend to walk everywhere? Or at least in the really central area where Book!Canon has Sherlock, that is Baker St, Montague St near the British Museum, Whitehall, etc?
|Date:||September 1st, 2010 06:44 am (UTC)|| |
It's often the details that would be the simplest if you knew the place which are the hardest to find out when you don't!
Lestrade would have a police car - unmarked, but with lights hidden in the radiator grill in case he needs to use the blues and twos (lights and siren). It would be a pool car, so not his to keep, but his when he needed it. So, with it being official, he would be able to break the parking rules if he were at a crime scene etc. Warrant cards (when Sherlock hasn't stolen it) also entitle police to free travel on the tubes/buses. The tube will almost always be faster than driving, especially at peak times morning and evening, and the buses are handy for places the tube doesn't go. He'd probably walk a bit too - the tube map is very misleading about distances between stations. Londoners definitely walk quite a lot, especially in the centre of town. www.tfl.gov.uk is the london travel website, and will give you the amount of time it takes to get from a to b on a bus/tube/walking, if you tick the right boxes :)
That makes a lot of sense. I imagine parking in central London is pretty difficult, so he'd only take a car when he's heading out a bit further.
Hmm, pity I'm not an action writer, I just had this sudden vision of him pulling over Mycroft's car after a chase....
|Date:||September 1st, 2010 10:12 am (UTC)|| |
I keep having visions of him riding a motorbike (to avoid the traffic) and making people think all sorts of dirty thoughts when he turns up in some nice scuffed up leathers...
I blame RG for his performance in 'Different for Girls' for that thought though!
I fear great minds are thinking alike and for the same reason.
I don't see him doing it that regularly, maybe he goes for a burn on the odd weekend, but if he gets called to some distant site and they don't send a car for him he might take the bike.
It's good you find it realistic, I was hoping for that. Lestrade will need his sense of self preservation later on in the piece....
The man had more people skills than his brother, but so did most cockroaches.
I snorted at this out loud. Thanks God I wasn't talking to a client at the moment, or my reputation of cold bank worker would be ruined...)))
Gorgeous fiction. Really. I'm not a Londoner (I'm not even English, for God's sake!)), but I extremely love the atmosphere of the city within your writing. Wonderfully portrayed, indeed.
I rather liked the cockroach bit myself! I'm glad I'm getting the atmosphere across, thanks heaps for saying so.
That was brilliant!
Poor Lestrade, he's like a babysitter for the terminally unhinged :) he needs a holiday
also, I used to live in Islington and you're completely right about potholes ;)
I'm glad I wasn't defaming Islington council. (Although I don't think I want to know just how they encourage potholes to breed. Just turn the streetlights off? Play romantic music?)
The pot holes are really wallowing spots (something akin to buffalo wallows) used by alien critters that come out at night when all the humans have gone to bed.
Sorry sci-fi fan here.
And we get lots of pot holes in some parts of the city here in the States as well.
Great Lestrade voice and wonderful dense atmosphere!
I hope it wasn't too dense, I do seem to run my sentences on a little! Thanks for the encouragement.
|Date:||September 2nd, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)|| |
Loved it! Loved the power-play between Mycroft and Lestrade.
Glad you liked the way they interact. Writing Mycroft being all superior and Lestrade not buying it is fun.
|Date:||September 2nd, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)|| |
> 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.
Wonderful writing, very evocative of the mood. Nice going! I'm interested (and love Lestrade). Cheers.
I am finding I love Lestrade way more than Sherlock. He's much more my kind of man to write. Need more tough competent Lestrade in this fandom!
I just love how well you've caught Lestrade's inner monologue! (Also loving that this is a 'series of connected stories'!:) )
Looking forward to more...
More is coming, although as things get more complex the speed of writing is slowing down...
|Date:||September 6th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)|| |
Love Mycroft! So...infinitely patient. It's really great!
I love that Lestrade isn't impressed by Mycroft. Oh, he gives him some respect and manages to curb the particularly ill-advised things he wants to say, but he's not going to kowtow. He'll keep an eye on Sherlock as and when, but he's not signing up for babysitting duties. :)
|Date:||October 10th, 2010 12:54 am (UTC)|| |
Midway through this fic and MUCH enjoying this, especially the atmosphere and Lestrade's inner voice! More comments at the end; small detail (which should really have gone at the end of Part 1), it's Savile Row (one L only) and a bespoke suit would "only" set Mycroft back 3,000 quid.
LOVED the "Sir Humphrey" reference!
thanks for that. I'll wait to see if anyone spots any other issues and do one big fix. (I suspect someone can charge him 5000 quid if they try)
|Date:||October 12th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)|| |
Having so much fun reading this! the rough, clipped voice-- has a 1940s Bogart or Cagney movie vibe to it. I loved the entire thing, but especially the last 5 paragraphs. Just that whole: he didn't need friends, he had power--but even with all his power he needed Lestrade thing. Loved.
Your fictitious London makes all too much sense, as does Sherlock's selfish, idiotic behavior. Of course, he has a reason, but it's quite believable that he would not stop to think about other people's needs, unless they were immediately relevant to a case. His own potential murder is too banal a case to count!
Sherlock gives him headeaches! and Mycroft.. ever the zelous brother.. =X and worse the pain! lol
lol, a very Holmesian 'thank you'. Wonderful!