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Jealous Guy (2/4)

BBC Sherlock

Rating 15 (swearing, slash)

Spoilers: None for series 2 (and not compatible with it).

Written for a prompt (no 69) at the Mystrade Fanworks Festival

Summary: Sherlock is dead and John, Mycroft and Lestrade are all suffering

Betaed by Thesmallhobbit - many thanks.

Part 1


You might not love me anymore

In the first few months after Sherlock’s death, Lestrade’s main concern about John is that he doesn’t accidentally or deliberately kill himself.  Mycroft phones from Switzerland a few days after he’s got there, begging him somehow to get leave from the Met to come and look after John.

“They haven’t yet found a body, so he won’t accept that Sherlock is dead. Insists he could have escaped from the waterfall somehow and so he's scouring the mountains. And I have to go off to Jeddah tonight. I’ve got a team on hand that can protect John from Moran or any others of Moriarty’s network, but he needs someone he can talk to.”

And what do you need? It’s typical of Mycroft, Lestrade thinks, that he’s preoccupied with complex organisational matters and doesn’t want to discuss his own feelings about his brother’s death. But no point in trying to raise that now. Concentrate on someone whom he might be able to help.

***

Lestrade spends three weeks out in Switzerland, listening to John’s increasingly frantic suggestions about where Sherlock might be. Because John knows as well as Lestrade does that every day with no word of Sherlock makes it less likely that he’s survived, that he’s somehow escaped Moriarty’s trap. But John wasn’t there at the end – a youth from the hotel who’d been acting as their guide had been trapped by a rock fall and he’d been trying to administer first aid. He didn’t see Sherlock die, so he’s telling himself it didn’t happen, Lestrade thinks. Or maybe he can’t face the guilt at not having been there, not having protected Sherlock.

Even when they come back to London, Lestrade knows John hasn’t really accepted Sherlock’s death. Oh, he doesn’t talk about him being alive anymore, but there’s still something deeply wrong, twisted-up inside John’s mind. It’s hard for anyone to get over a violent death like that and it’s only now that Lestrade suddenly realises that Sherlock was good for John. That beneath John’s calm sense there’s a man with a record of psychological problems and a family history of addiction. It’s up to him and the rest of John’s friends to make sure that John isn’t Moriarty’s last victim.

So he and Mycroft are always dropping in at 221B, where John is still living, stubbornly refusing to clear away Sherlock’s possessions. And John often turns up at their flat in Chelsea, sometimes at strange hours of the night. Mycroft and Lestrade would both rather sit and listen to John at 2 a.m. then have him wandering the streets of London in a depressed and desperate state.

It’s only gradually that Lestrade notices that it’s more and more often Mycroft that John comes to see. There are reasons for that, of course. It’s Mycroft that John can ask about Sherlock’s past, and Lestrade realises sometimes how little he actually knew about Sherlock, even after all their years working together. And there are old cases that John doesn’t feel able to tell Lestrade about – though you would have thought the silly sod would realise by now that Lestrade knows almost all the illegal things John’s done over the last couple of years.

It’s also Mycroft John turns to when there’s another reported sighting of Sherlock and John’s hopes get raised again that he’s alive. Lestrade’s selfishly glad that he doesn’t have to be the one dealing with him at that point. It’s hard enough as it is to know how to cope with John sometimes, especially when there’s a big case on.

***

The first time he gets a strange case after Sherlock’s death, he texts John almost automatically: Man been found dead with huge red leech beside him. Want to come and see? Greg. Ten minutes later a reply comes:

No point. The police don’t consult amateurs. JHW.

It’s a sensible answer, of course; he’d have a hell of a time explaining to his bosses why John should be brought in on cases. But it means that John’s not just lost Sherlock, but a whole side of his life. He’s got some kind of teaching work at Barts’ now – Mike Stamford found him that – but it can’t possibly be the same thrill as running after Sherlock. Lestrade wonders sometimes if John would like to be helping the police again, and is just too stubborn to ask, or whether it would be too painful to him to do so. Because what could make the gaping hole left by Sherlock more obvious than when everyone is standing round at a crime scene, baffled by what’s happened?

***

Perhaps it’s not surprising that John and Mycroft have grown close; they’re the two people whose lives have the biggest Sherlock-shaped hole of all. Indeed Lestrade can't help hoping that Mycroft comforting John might end up helping Mycroft as well. There are times when he wonders if it isn’t Mycroft’s repressed reaction to Sherlock’s death that’s really strange, not John’s shattered grief. That his calm facade conceals something too terrifying for him to express yet.

It’s when Mycroft comes back from China in August that Lestrade starts to feel things are going badly wrong. Mycroft has been evasive about why he needs to spend two weeks visiting Tibet, and Lestrade suspects that this is part of some particularly complicated and devious negotiation with the Chinese government. But his main worry is that Mycroft will have a terrible time, because he isn’t really happy anywhere off the beaten track; he’s the world’s worst traveller once you get anywhere with suspect plumbing.

Still, Mycroft is home safely, if looking jetlagged, and then John turns up that evening and insists he needs to talk to Mycroft. Alone. Which ends in some kind of shouting match and John storming off.

“What’s up with him?” Lestrade asks.

“It’s not important,” Mycroft says wearily. “He’s still upset about Sherlock, that’s all.” He won’t say anything more and Lestrade’s cross with him about that, and with John for hassling Mycroft and with himself for not being able to help either of them straighten themselves out. But maybe it’s just because they’re all tired and out of sorts, and things will seem better in a day or two.

***

When Lestrade gets home the next evening he finds a message on their answer phone from John asking Mycroft to call him. He phones John immediately, because he’s getting worried that he’s near some kind of complete meltdown. But John actually sounds a bit better than he has for a while, a trace of the old decisiveness in his voice.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Lestrade asks. “I think Mycroft’s going to be snowed under catching up with work for the next couple of days. Anthea texted earlier to say he thought he wouldn’t be home till at least ten tonight.”

“Thanks, Greg, but it’s him I really need to talk to,” John says. “Might try him at his office. But he doesn’t seem to be answering my messages.”

“OK. But if you do need any help, let me know,” he replies and hangs up. He feels oddly disconcerted. He's the one who used to be John’s friend, and now he feels almost superfluous. Oh God, why has everything got so screwed up?

John phones a couple of times again that week, asking for Mycroft and Lestrade starts to realise that for some reason Mycroft is avoiding him.

“You need to go round to Baker Street and talk to John,” he tells him. “Whatever is going on, please just sort it out.”

Mycroft gets that stiffened look to his spine that he always gets whenever anyone tries giving him orders. “He’s being quite unreasonable.”

“So make him see sense,” Lestrade replies. “You’re two grown men. You can work things out between you.”

***

As Lestrade expects, Mycroft does go and see John, having waited just long enough to prove that it’s an entirely autonomous decision on his part and not connected to Lestrade’s suggestion. He comes back and tells Lestrade that the situation has been dealt with, and doesn’t say what situation or how. They don’t seem to be talking to each other properly anymore; the walls that have always been around Mycroft at times seem to be being reinforced. Their bodies still come together, but their minds rarely seem to.

Mycroft’s frantically busy with this month’s financial crisis; Lestrade once again wishes they’d somehow thought to get together in the boom years, not in the middle of this never-ending recession. He invites John over for Sunday lunch the week after as much to provide some conversation that isn’t about interest rates as to check that John is still OK.

And John is OK, definitely more alert, less...dead than he has been for months. He’s almost the old John Watson that Lestrade used to know. Except for the fact that he keeps looking at Mycroft and then looking away. And that Mycroft is tense and uncomfortable and definitely not looking at John. And when Lestrade comes back into the dining room with the dessert – he’s finally worked out how to make apple crumble, which Mycroft loves – he hears John’s slightly too loud voice says: “We have to tell–” and then cutting off.

Mycroft promptly starts to discuss the merits of the Bramley versus the Norfolk Biffin in a way that’s far from his normal gracious steering of the conversation and Lestrade knows that something is definitely up.

***

He shouldn’t be suspicious, he tells himself firmly over the next few weeks. In fact, what there is to be suspicious about? John and Mycroft are close friends, that's all, and if John comes round quite often to see them that’s nothing new. And it’s not as if Lestrade has come home to find the pair of them naked in bed, or even as if there’s some unmistakable electric sexual charge between them.   Mycroft seems stressed more than anything, as if for once he’s got some problem that’s not easily soluble. And John is very quiet, although with the look of dogged persistence that says he’s made a plan and he’s sticking to it. But there is a secret between them and it’s something big. Something they’re desperately trying to conceal from him, in particular.

But then, there are innocent reasons for that. Maybe they’re planning some kind of surprise birthday party for him (though given it’s seven months to his birthday, it would be a major surprise). Or Mycroft’s trying to organise getting John some new and terribly hush-hush job. Or it’s just that Mycroft’s decided to run a marathon and wants John’s advice on getting fit. Lestrade has no justification for the way he starts to worry about their closeness, for the occasional urge to check Mycroft’s e-mail or ask John what is going on. He resists the urges, of course, worried that he’s getting paranoid in his old age. If only he was feeling happier, but he feels weighed down more and more by the sense that he’s getting old and that things are not going to improve. The sinking sensation that things are never going to go back to the golden days. The days when Sherlock was around to make his life hell and solve his insoluble cases.

And then he comes home one evening to find that Mycroft is arranging to go off to the south of France for a few days. Taking John with him.

“Montpellier Rugby Club’s star three-quarter has gone missing before a key match,” Mycroft announces, “and the fear is that an international betting syndicate may be involved. My department has been heavily involved in tracing such syndicates in the past, so President Sarkozy has specifically asked me to investigate.”

“You and John?” Lestrade demands.

“He knows about rugby and he can carry out any legwork required. And I need a man I can trust to keep an eye on my back.”

“Hasn’t MI5 got any rugger buggers of its own?” Lestrade demands.

“If you want to tell me how to carry out my own job,” Mycroft says haughtily, “feel free to. That is, if you’re also happy to receive critiques of your handling of your own team.”

“Fine,” Lestrade says and just about restrains himself from slamming the door as he retreats into the kitchen. He tells himself that this can’t be what it looks like, that this must just be a cover story for some super-secret operation. Not an excuse for Mycroft and John to...he is not even thinking that. He does not think that, he does not believe that.

***

Even if on the balance of probabilities there’s something dodgy going on, Lestrade tells himself on the first sleepless night after Mycroft’s departure, he can’t be sure beyond all reasonable doubt. Mycroft sounded entirely normal when he phoned in the evening. Too normal, perhaps? Is it possible to sound too normal? Is Mycroft normal in the first place?

He is worrying unnecessarily, he tells himself, but when he phones Mycroft that evening, his phone is switched off. As he dials John’s number, Lestrade tells himself that he just wants to make sure Mycroft is all right.

“Mycroft’s gone off to the opera,” John says, “so that’s why you can’t get hold of him.”

“I thought you were tracking down kidnappers?”

“Well, actually we found the missing player fairly easily. He...hadn’t been kidnapped, but his wife was dying, so he’d gone off to be with her.”

“Without telling anyone?”

“Erm, she was...she was an illegal immigrant. He didn’t want the authorities to know about her.”

John is a hopeless liar, always has been. For a moment, Lestrade is tempted to ask him directly what is going on. But if he does that, if he knows, he has to make a decision, and he’s not ready for that.

“So you can come back now?” he says instead.

“The thing is, Mycroft thinks that it’s not really worth changing our flights, be more trouble and expense than if we just stayed here till Thursday. We’re not expected back at work till then, so...might as well take advantage of the opportunity.”

Yes, Lestrade thinks bleakly, but all he says is: “Glad to know you’ve got the case wrapped up. Let Mycroft know I’ve phoned, will you? Bye.”

His hand is shaking as he ends the call, and he wants to throw the phone at the wall. What does he do? What the fuck does he do now?


Part 3

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
2ndskin
Jan. 10th, 2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
Finally able to deal with the Mystrade anxiety and Sherlock death, so ready to read this! You're building the tension nicely here! *mops brow, sweating from worry*
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )