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The match is on (2/2)

BBC Sherlock

Rating 15 (bad language, implicit slash, unsportsmanlike behaviour)

Note: possible spoilers for 'Maurice' and 'Murder Must Advertise', from both of which parts of this story have been blatantly nicked.

Special thanks to my beta kalypso_v for sorting out my spelling, scoring, and cricketing metaphors.

Lestrade is helping Sherlock investigate a string of country-house robberies. By playing in a cricket match with a load of bankers.

Part 1

"It's ten to two," Hugh Durham announced, as he stood on the pitch. "Where the hell is Sherlock? And John, for that matter? I said everybody here for 1.45 pm sharp."
"Here they come," Lestrade said, as two figures in white emerged from the house and came slowly towards them. The taller one, it became obvious after a while, was being propped up by his shorter companion.
"Sorry about this," Sherlock said, smiling, as he limped up to Durham. "Crocked my ankle just now, can't play."
"How did that happen?" Durham asked, not that sympathetically.
"Fell off the billiard table trying to make a shot," Sherlock replied. "When I was playing with John."
John gave the embarrassed smile of a straight man who everyone was now convinced had been shagging Sherlock senseless in the billiard room. "The ankle's probably not sprained, but I don't think Sherlock should risk any further damage. He'd be better off going back to the house and putting his foot up."
"Oh, he can put it up here," Hugh said hastily. "Come and sit down beside Mr Brotherhood, Sherlock, and we'll make sure you're comfortable here. Rose, looks like you're playing after all."
Not going according to Sherlock's plan, thought Lestrade, but nothing he could do at the moment. Durham was already striding off for the toss.
By the end of the village eleven's 40 overs, they'd made 167 for eight, and Lestrade knew it was just a question of how humiliatingly his team were going to lose. It hadn't helped that Durham had the man-management skills of Geoff Boycott, and that no-one had explained to some of their bowlers the concept of a good length. But it went deeper than that. The Durham Invitation XI were a bunch of middle-aged men who sat at desks for sixty hours a week, and they were up against a team of bloody-minded and horny-handed sons of toil. The class warrior deep within Lestrade felt delighted. And he'd taken one decent catch as well, a swirler at deep extra cover.
But as he headed back to the pavilion for tea, he saw that Sherlock was still there, stuck between some old buffer and Durham's wife Anne, and practically gibbering from frustration.
"Remarkably fine catch," said the old bloke, hopping up nimbly to shake Lestrade's hand. "I'm Brotherhood, by the way. It's Rose, isn't it?"
"Greg Rose."
"Two fine cricketing names. Did you ever see Greg Chappell play? I remember the first time I ever saw him, at the WACA in Perth in '74/'75. Made a half-century, I think, and Doug Walters got a ton. They slaughtered us on the second day and we never got back in the match."
He was the kind of spectator who could quote statistics for hours. No wonder Sherlock was going spare, Lestrade thought. Better give him a chance to escape.
"Are you OK, Sherlock?" he asked.
"I need, um, I need the toilet," Sherlock announced, "Stomach playing up." Anne Durham looked alarmed as Sherlock limped off hurriedly. Perhaps she was worrying that she'd served dodgy mayonnaise. Mr Brotherhood just smiled at the prospect of a new conversational target for sixty years of cricketing reminiscences and turned back to Lestrade.
Even though Lestrade was playing at number six, he didn't have too long after tea to hear Mr Brotherhood expound on the glories of the three different Cowdreys he'd watched. In a horrendously short time, the villager's demon bowler had reduced them to 27 for four, and he was going out to join Durham at the crease.
"I think a bit of consolidation's called for," Durham announced, "so let's take it steady till we've seen Simmonds off."
That suited Lestrade. He didn't know how long it took Sherlock to break into three people's bedrooms – he didn't want to know – but being bowled out in 15 overs was not going to help. And Durham wasn't actually a bad bat, if prone to hog the strike. They got safely, if rather slowly, up to 60 for four, and Simmonds, who had got increasingly erratic, was taken off.
"We need to pick up the pace now, Rose," Durham said. "But don't try slogging, it's safer if we get them in ones and twos."
Easier said than done, thought Lestrade. The villagers' fielding was pretty sloppy, but neither Durham nor he were kids any more, and twenty-five years of smoking hadn't done his lungs any good. Still, the bowling was quite easy to pick off. They could make a decent stab at this, at least.
Then Durham flicked a ball to the leg side. "Yes," he called, and Lestrade set off for the run. But suddenly, Durham yelled: "Wait, no, sorry", and he was scuttling back to his crease, while Lestrade, stranded mid-pitch, tried to go into reverse, only to have the ball whizz pass him and the bowler flick off the bails.
"Howzat!" went up from the whole village team, and as he walked back to the pavilion Hugh Durham gave him a cheerily apologetic "Sorry, Rose!" that nearly had Lestrade showing him what else you could do with a stump. Instead, he stalked back to the pavilion and met John, grinning slightly nervously, coming out to bat.
Why was John going in at seven? Oh, he and Delagardie must have swapped. Probably made sense that John should be sacrificed to Durham's inability to judge a run, rather than anyone who could actually bat. They were up to 78 for five off 23 overs, and if John made it to double figures Lestrade would be surprised.
He switched on his phone, but there was nothing from Sherlock. Nothing he could do about that; all he could do was sit and watch the match, accompanied by Mr Brotherhood's rather acidic commentary.
"What do they teach them at school nowadays?" Brotherhood demanded, as John played another agricultural shot.
"I don't think your doctor friend's doing too badly under the circumstances, really," Delagardie said, looking across at Lestrade, smiling. "I mean he can't bat, but he's game."
"John, Dr Watson's ex-army," Lestrade said. "Good man to have with you in a tight spot."
"Well we've certainly got that," Brotherhood announced. "The village have got their quickie, Simmonds, I think he is, back on. Wonder what Durham's tactic will be now?"
Durham's tactic, it turned out, was attempting to hit out at the other end and getting caught at cover. 110 for six in the 30th over, and their chances were getting ever slimmer. Still, they might well last the full 40 overs, because Delagardie was obviously a decent, if uninspired player.  He blocked Simmonds' first couple of balls soundly; if he could at least do a Boycott for a while yet, it'd give Sherlock time to finish his investigations. The pitch was getting bumpy by now and Simmonds' third delivery rose wickedly from a patch of bare earth and hit Delagardie violently on the elbow.  Lestrade winced in sympathy.
Another bumper followed, and Delagardie, opening up wrathful shoulders, strode out of the crease and whacked it for four. The next he clouted to leg for two, nearly braining square leg. Simmonds, unnerved, sent down a ridiculously wide wide. Delagardie smiled and then snicked the last ball of the over to leg for a single to keep the strike. 118 for six.
My god, he's good, thought Lestrade; fifty more off ten overs might just be possible. He wondered whether it was the bump on his elbow that had made Delagardie start channelling Keven Pietersen. Or maybe even Ian Bell. This wasn't just power, this was the kind of skill that had taken hours of practice, all now brought to bear on the controlled demolition of the villagers' pretensions at cricket.
"Oh well played," Brotherhood announced as Delagardie cut another ball neatly between two fielders. "Hugh, why didn't you send what's-his-name in higher than number eight? He and Rose are the only cricketers among the whole damn lot of you."
Lestrade's phone started to vibrate and he strode away rapidly to check the text in private:
Delagardie's our man. I've found diagrams of the security system wiring for this house and half a dozen others. Arrest him. SH
He texted back rapidly: Will do. GL and then carefully sat back down. He hadn't said when he was going to arrest Delagardie, and it'd probably provoke a riot if he did so right now. Because the score was mounting, and the target was still reachable, and Simmonds was being taken off.
And then John, the silly prat, got himself LBW to the spinner, and the next man in was immediately out, idiotically trying to slog his first ball. 142 for eight, and Delagardie had four overs and two wickets left to get 26 runs, on a deteriorating pitch. He got thirteen off the first over, surrounded by close fielders and driving everything drivable straight down the pitch. A couple of fours from the next, but he didn't manage to keep the strike, and Gilbert, the number ten, only lasted two balls. 163 for nine, five runs needed and ten balls left.
Simcox – Durham's butler – was in now, looking like a man whose playing days should have been firmly ended about 1985. But at least he managed to block his first two balls. He tried to block the third one and it somehow went up vertically in the air. For a moment that seemed like hours, Lestrade and the other spectators saw the spinning ball – first slip's outstretched hand – then it dropped, missed by a hair.
"I'm going to scream," Anne Durham announced. Simcox was wiping his forehead. The bowler looked unnerved as well and the last delivery of the over went down short and rather wide.
"Leave it alone!" Brotherhood shrieked. "Leave it alone, you numbskull!"
Simcox made a wild swipe, missed completely and almost stepped on his wicket trying to get back into his crease.
"Howzat!" yelled the keeper, sweeping the bails off with demented optimism.
"Not out!"
"The nincompoop! The fat-headed thick-witted booby!" yelled Mr Brotherhood, dancing with fury. "Might have thrown the match away. That man's a fool. A fool, I tell you."
That had been a maiden, so one over left, still five runs to get and Delagardie with the strike. They'd do it yet, thought Lestrade. The first ball came skimming down towards the batsman and he whacked it. It soared away splendidly, struck the pavilion roof with a noise like a crack of thunder, rattled down its galvanised iron sheets, and broke a beer bottle. Delagardie 49 not out and the match was won.
Delagardie lolloped back to the pavilion to be met by Lestrade, and – showing a remarkable turn of speed – Mr Brotherhood.
"Beautifully played sir, beautifully played," Brotherhood announced. "But didn't I see you play for Oxford in 1985?"
Delagardie shook his head.
"Peter Delagardie –" Lestrade announced, reaching for his handcuffs, and then abruptly realising he didn't have them on him.
"Delagardie?" said Brotherhood, in puzzlement, "I don't recognise the name. But you have a late cut that’s extremely characteristic. I’m sure I saw you play at Lord's in 1985, when you made 112."
"Peter Delagardie," Lestrade repeated more determinedly, "I arrest you on suspicion of theft. You do not have to say anything –"
"But I thought the name was Bredon," Brotherhood interjected. "De’ath Bredon of Balliol –"
"I prefer it pronounced Death," Delagardie said, and then abruptly played a rather fine pull shot that sent his bat crashing agonisingly into Lestrade’s stomach. As he doubled up, swearing, Delagardie dropped the bat and ran off. Let him get to the cars and he might yet escape, thought Lestrade, and tried to make his protesting body move forward.
"Stop him!" he croaked, but everybody just stood around stupefied, and, fuck it, Delagardie might just get away. And then the fleeing man crashed to the ground, as a ball hit him smack behind the knee. Several of the players had finally caught on, and were charging up to Delagardie, grabbing him, hauling him back towards Lestrade. He looked round, to see who the hell had managed that throw, and saw a small, rumpled figure in whites looking particularly innocuous.
"Said I couldn’t bat," John said cheerily. "Never said I couldn’t field."
It was another lovely night and Lestrade was still feeling pissed off, as he stood outside the house and tried to make himself appreciate the stars and nature, and that kind of crap. Wished he'd been able to bugger off as soon as Delagardie had been caught. But, of course, Hugh Durham knew the Chief Constable of Wiltshire, so Lestrade had to hang around till he turned up, along with a super from the local CID. The super had been almost as pissed off as Lestrade, because he'd thought this was the start of a turf-war with the Met, and it taken Lestrade a long time to smooth him over. By the time he'd done that, Sherlock and John had long since gone off to the pub for the post-match celebrations, and it hadn't seemed worth trying to get back to London on his own. Nothing much to get back to, anyhow.
Sod it, why the fuck should he be gloomy? He'd caught a villain, and they'd won the match. But his muscles ached from his earlier exertions, and the Durham Invitation XI were just a load of fraudsters and wankers. And just being here, breathing in the smug country air – too much scent of lilac and not enough of hot pavements – left him edgy. Well that, and not having a cigarette to smoke.
"OK for bloody Sherlock," he found himself muttering.
"I see you're calling to me," said a deep voice behind him. Behind him and above him. What the fuck? Lestrade slewed round and looked up and there he was. The pale form of Sherlock standing on the roof above him. He'd ended up standing near the same spot as last night, beneath Sherlock's bedroom, and didn't his subconscious have some explaining to do about that?
And now Sherlock was climbing down, no, sliding down a ladder that had been left conveniently propped up against his window.
"Why's that there?" asked Lestrade, when Sherlock's feet touched the ground, wincing slightly from whatever he'd really done to his ankle. "Invitation to a burglar, that is."
"One of Durham's staff was supposed to be going up on the roof to clean the gutters," Sherlock said. "But he's probably buggered off to find a girl instead. They're a careless lot."
"I thought you were down at the pub," Lestrade said.
"I've had enough of that," Sherlock said. "John's still there, explaining the rules of cricket. Very tedious."
"John doesn't know the bloody rules of cricket. Oh," he added, as it dawned on him. "Is she blonde?"
"And Lithuanian. I don't think it matters if John's hazy on the finer points of the LBW law."
"No, he's probably more interested in getting his leg over. I know, it's an obvious one. But I'm tired, and fed up."
"And I'm bored, and you're fractionally less tedious than Durham's friends," Sherlock said. "It turns out Bredon is a cousin of Delagardie. The black sheep of the family, but regularly used by Delagardie as a stand-in for the more tedious engagements of his social calendar. The family's so in-bred nobody spotted the difference, but then Bredon must have decided that he wanted to make rather more from his opportunity to mingle with the rich and clueless." He paused, and then added abruptly:
"You know the prize bit of idiocy? Hugh's pals couldn't decide whether to admire Bredon's audacity, or be annoyed that he'd let the side down. Then one of the villagers tried to claim that the match result shouldn't stand and they just laughed at him. God, there's nothing more depressing than a bunch of money-grabbing Englishmen yammering about fair play."
There was an edge to his voice that was worryingly familiar to Lestrade. The case had been solved too easily, Sherlock had missed out on chasing Delagardie, and John wasn't around to fulfil his normal role as Sherlock's minder. All adding up to the dangerous state in which Sherlock got stupidly reckless. He needed some distraction, before his attention turned to drugs or guns or jumping from tall buildings. Because the thing was that Sherlock might not like cricket but he loved games. Mainly because there were extra rules to break. Time for Lestrade to encourage him to break a few more, perhaps, make use of one of the few advantages that he had over Sherlock. Sherlock might know everything about crime and criminals, but Lestrade knew more about the law.
"So what do you reckon the villagers should do?" he asked casually. "Just sit back and take it? Probably all they're up to really, these yokels."
"What they should do," Sherlock said, with a sneer, "is burn down Durham's pavilion, that'd show him. No, actually, burn down Pendersleigh, except it's probably too damp to burn."
Gotcha, thought Lestrade, and said, grinning:  "Sherlock Holmes, I am arresting you under Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006, for the offence of the encouragement of terrorism." He still didn't have any handcuffs on him, so he simply twisted Sherlock's left arm lightly behind his back. Barely painful, and an easy hold to break, but Sherlock was already too preoccupied to struggle.
"How...you can't arrest me for that!" he yelled, caught between fury and hilarity.
"Yes I can," said Lestrade. "You have published a statement that is likely to be understood by some member of the public – me – as a direct encouragement to the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism. Got you bang to rights this time, Sherlock."
"An act of terrorism?" Sherlock was starting to laugh now.
"As defined in Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000," Lestrade replied triumphantly. "An action which involves serious damage to property – burning a house down definitely counts – designed to intimidate a section of the public – Durham and his pals – and made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause."
"I was thinking more that it would be enjoyable to watch Durham have his house burned down," Sherlock said. "Not strictly an ideological cause."
"Fair enough. In that case, you may not be a terrorist, but I still have reasonable grounds for suspecting that you may be in possession of a stolen article, the reasonable grounds being that you told me earlier you were planning to break into someone's bedroom. Therefore I am entitled to search you under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Section 1."
There was a look on Sherlock's face now that said he was just bored enough to go along with Lestrade's game.
"I thought you weren't allowed to search me if I was on someone else's property with their permission," he said, casually.
"True, but you do not have express or implied permission to enter the stable block, where I am currently residing. So if I were to find you there, I would be justified in searching you."
"Better search me carefully, if I end up in your bedroom," said Sherlock, smirking, "there was a Saudi terrorist a few years ago who hid a bomb in his rectum."
It was working, thank God. "I'm making the jokes round here, sunshine," Lestrade retorted. "So let's go somewhere quiet and then I can give you a thorough examination."
He started to push Sherlock gently towards the stable block, and then added, "Oh, and I'll also explain to you, you ignoramus, the real difference between tennis and cricket."
"What's that?" asked Sherlock, twisting to stare at Lestrade over his shoulder.
"Easy," said Lestrade, as his hands dropped from Sherlock's wrist, and moved down his body. "Tennis starts with love. With cricket, though, if you want to score, you have to remember to keep your eye on the balls."


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 1st, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, just PERFECT. BEST S/L I may have read, GLORIOUS dynamics.
Sep. 1st, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
(And Death Bredon of Balliol, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!)
Sep. 3rd, 2011 08:00 am (UTC)
Thanks for the appreciative comments. I am not sure my original plot made any sense whatsoever, as Kalypso pointed out. Although when I tried to explain Murder Must Advertise to Kalypso, it sounded pretty cracky as well: Wimsey is posing as his black sheep cousin Bredon, who supposedly goes round pretending to be Wimsey (!?!) So I'm sure there's a more effective way to rob country houses than Death Bredon tries. And I probably really should have got Raffles somewhere in there as well, but the crack levels were already sky-high. (I'm still not quite sure how I ended up writing a fic in which discussion of Acts of Parliament get used as foreplay).
Sep. 1st, 2011 11:30 pm (UTC)
wonderful - I loved what you did with the two original cricket matches here, and the twist on Bredon/Delagardie.

and the ladder! *squees happily*
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )