I ficced it. Don’t hate me. There’s a character death, in case you hadn’t already guessed.
The familiar, aching, ringing silence of a sharp blow to the head. Lestrade blinks his eyes open, his lids moving sluggishly. He tries to raise his hands to his head, to check for blood, but he can’t.
I’ve been paralysed, he thinks. He tries to moves his legs. Nothing.
He realises he is sitting, and thinks that it’s an odd position for him to have been injured in. Car crash, maybe? He strains his ears, listening for the approaching wail of sirens, the hiss of damaged engines, the shouts of people.
After a few moments, the silence resolves itself. It becomes diluted with gentle sounds. The rustle of fabric and the gentle tap of footsteps cut through with the sound of a child crying.
It is the crying child that catches his attention. He forces his head up, struggles to keep his eyes open. Somewhere, a child is hurt. And it sounds like his child. It sounds like Adam.
His eyes play tricks just like his ears did. For a while, everything is blurry, darker at the edges. He does not know if he is in darkness, or if he is going blind. He does not know which scares him more. Seconds that could be minutes or even hours pass, and figures swim into view. Seated figure in dark clothes. Man in suit, with the glint of a diamond tie pin. Standing figure in dark clothes, gun in hand, pressed against the neck of a child.
Lestrade doesn’t realise it is his child until the boy speaks.
“Daddy,” he whimpers, and Lestrade’s world falls apart. His mind does not clear as such, but focuses on one thing: get to Adam. Help Adam. He tries to push himself to his feet, finally comprehends that he is not paralysed, but restrained. He fights against his fetters, shoulders wrenching and restraints biting fiercely into his wrists and his ankles. The chair he sits in shrieks jarringly against a concrete floor, but he cannot break free.
He struggles and struggles until the pain in his joints is unbearable, and then he struggles some more. Because that’s his son. That’s his child. Eventually, a soft laugh distracts him.
“There’s a voicemail on your phone, you know,” comes a voice. Teasingly familiar, lightly mocking, a childish, sing-song voice that only serves to increase Lestrade’s fear. “Actually, there’s several. All from your wife. Hysterical, crying. Begging you to find her son. Your son.” Lestrade belatedly identifies the speaker as the suited the man. He stares. Perhaps he should shout, or cry, or scream, but all he can do is stare. Keep breathing. Will the nightmare to leave him. Why can he only stare?
“It’s been a long time since you heard her beg, hasn’t it, Inspector? You were always the one who begged. Pleaded. On your knees, like you were praying.” The man’s voice descends from its mocking tone and becomes a hiss, words spat out at Lestrade like bullets.
Still he stares, and wishes he could do something.
The man gazes steadily at him, a smirk on his face. He does not look like a monster. Greg Lestrade knows, from many years of experience that he often wishes he didn’t have, that this does not mean he isn’t one. A man’s face can hide all sorts of evils. But no matter how genial his features and friendly his words, his eyes will show something in their hidden murk. This man’s eyes are cold, and calculating, and mostly empty, devoid of humanity. They are the scariest thing that Lestrade has ever seen. Like looking in the mirror for the devil and finding him staring back.
Lestrade turns his head away, unable to face those eyes. His eyes fall on the coat of the seated figure, and his stomach swoops low.
“No,” he whispers, “God, no.” It is familiar, that coat. The heavy dark wool, the high collar still turned up despite the situation.
Sherlock is tied, much as he his, breathing shallow and a line of blood painting a violent path down his pale face. His eyes – clear and bright and as vulnerable as the day they’d met – are fixed in his direction. One pupil is blown, huge and round, and Lestrade guesses that he’s concussed. He strains once more, pulling his wrists apart desperately, not stopping even when he feels sharp plastic part his skin, the warm slickness of his own blood running down his fingers.
“Well then, Detective Inspector,” says the man, pulling Lestrade’s rank out in a long, slow drawl, “today we have a game of choices.” He saunters closer to Adam, lifts his chin with a finger. “The boy you raised from birth,” he asks, then drops Adam’s chin and glances over at Sherlock. “Or the boy you raised from the sewer?” Lestrade struggles with the words falling upon his ears, rejects them entirely, shakes his head as though trying to force them away.
“Which son do you choose?” asks the man, hands in pockets and a smile on his face. Lestrade pulls his wrists again, twists and bucks like a startled horse, heedless of the pain and the blood and the noise.
“Stop it,” he demands, “Stop it!”
The man chuckles once more.
“Their lives are in your hands, you know. All you have to do is choose. Say a name. I’ve only got one bullet.” Tears of frustration and terror and panic are welling up in Lestrade’s eyes, and he’s powerless to stop them falling.
“Please, Jesus Christ. Just let them go, just – what do you want from me?” He turns once more, focuses on his son, whose terror is plain. His head is turned, shrinking as far as he possibly can from the cold metal of the barrel pressed against his neck. He’s still crying.
“It’s going to be okay, Adam,” he chokes out, his voice betraying him with trembling doubts. “You’re alright. You’re going to be alright.” The man ruffles his hand through Adam’s blonde hair, almost affectionately. Lestrade feels sick.
“Daddy’s always right, eh Adam?” he says, although his eyes never leave Lestrade’s face. His hand falls from Adam’s head, and he takes a few steps forward. Casually, as though at a party.
“It’s a simple game, Detective. I know you can’t be a stupid man, not at your rank. Then again, you’ve always had help…” The man looks pointedly at Sherlock, who doesn’t respond. Lestrade tears his eyes from his son, glances at Sherlock. His gaze is still fixed. Lestrade can’t tell whether Sherlock is staring at him or through him, whether he’s lucid. Sitting in the chair is not the man he knows now. It’s the man who used to wander the streets in the rain, shaking, standing at the police tape and mumbling, always mumbling, pupils wide and skin clammy. The man he saved.
“Still, time is ticking onwards and there’s a bullet waiting. One, or the other. Your choice. Just say a name.” Lestrade opens his mouth, closes it again. He finds he can’t swallow because his throat is too try, and he can’t breathe because the air is suddenly heavy.
“No,” he murmurs. “No.” The man shrugs, half-heartedly.
“Thought you might say that. So let’s have a new rule. Next time you say no, both of them die.” He’s grinning.
“Why?” Lestrade manages to grind out. “Why are you doing this?” The man frowns, then tuts. He shakes his head as though disappointed.
“Boring question, Detective. Boring answer. Because. Why not?” Lestrade’s head drops, and suddenly all he can hear are his son’s sobs and the roar of blood in his ears and the gentle tap of the blood running off his fingers and dripping onto the floor and how did he ever think this room was quiet? It’s a cacophony of sound and he can’t bear it but there’s nowhere to go, nowhere to hide.
“Come now, Detective. A choice must be made. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.” Lestrade looks up, into the eyes of his son.
For his birthday, he’d asked for a badge.
“I want to be like Daddy,” he’d said. “I want to do what Daddy does.”
He looks at Sherlock, meets the unfocused gaze of the man who was a son to him in all but blood.
At his worst, he’d held Lestrade’s badge, tightly like a talisman.
“I want people to listen to me,” he’d said, as he’d shaken feverishly, struggling to live without the drugs. “I can help. I want to do what you do.”
The man is still speaking, counting down and cajoling and teasing and really, Lestrade doesn’t know who he’s trying to break here. Or if he even cares.
“Me,” he murmurs, eventually.
Silence returns, crystallises sharply in the air.
“Neither of them. God, let them go. Just take me instead,” he says, his voice quiet. He hears his son cry out, start sobbing with renewed vigour. From the corner of his eye, he sees Sherlock move – a tiny movement that might have been a shake of the head. He can’t look at either of them anymore.
The man raises an eyebrow, then shrugs a shoulder.
“How very predictable.” He removes a hand from a pocket, gestures at someone behind Lestrade. “The selfish choice, if you ask me, forcing two sons to watch their father die, but -” time seems to slow.
Lestrade has always been perfectly willing to give his life for either of them. His son, the boy he read to at bed time and taught to play football and carried on his shoulders. His son in all but blood, the man he saved from the gutters of London and who has saved so many lives himself.
He never thought the situation would call for it literally.
He feels the muzzle of a gun against the back of his head, knows he has mere seconds before the trigger is pulled. Not enough time to say goodbye. Enough time for a glance. Only one. It’s not a conscious choice. His eyes are full of apology, of regret, of love as they focus on the eyes staring back at him.
The bullet is quiet.
Sherlock looks on, silent, helpless, as his father’s face folds open like a flowering rose the colour of scarlet blood.
Adam is screaming, crying, struggling.
Would it have been worse, a part of Sherlock wonders somewhere in his mind, if his father had looked back?
He had not chosen which son would die. But he had still chosen a son.