School Bag

“You called about a case,” I said, and sat down. Lack of sleep, coffee with two shots, hasn’t left his desk all day, changed his shirt, he’s been home but not to sleep. Forgot his deodorant – his wife is back, but not happy. Definitely needs a new patch. Undoubtedly, he was stuck on a totally pointless fact.

“I just don’t get why they left the kid alone in the house.” Ah. Yes. Not only pointless, but absurd. Lestrade was in fine form tonight. Everything about his body, his mind was so talkative. The clicking of his jaw, the grinding of his teeth, his eyebrows, the way he frowned, how he flexed his shoulders when he was feeling smug, the number of ways in which he would shake his head. His body was…noisy, and occasionally rude. Interrupted my process on more than one occasion.

He glanced about, and I could tell that he felt it was no longer his domain. He was going to ask me a question, about going to the pub. An invitation. I would decline.

“Want to go down to the pub for a pint?”

“No.”

He stopped, looked hurt, then miffed. “Well there’s no reason to–” He’s had an idea. “I had an idea. Come with me.”

The two of us walk not-quite abreast on the pavement, because if you have ever walked beside Lestrade you’ll notice that his shoulders are very…pushy. He’s the man who, after a few drinks, will elbow you after he’s told a joke. To see if you got it. I light a cigarette while we walk. I need peace. We arrive at a Chinese restaurant. I would be surprised it was open this late, if I had not already observed that stayed open till 2am.

“This place stays open till 2am, you know.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Well of course you bloody do. Here. Sit.”

While he’s ordering the food, he asks me what I would like to eat.

“I don’t need anything. I’m fine.” I need peace. I need quiet. I need someone who’s more likely to chew with their mouth closed and drop things on their shirts. Every time he looks down and sees a new stain he says, How’d that get there? Like it wasn’t bloody obvious.

“But you don’t look well, Sherlock.”

“Neither do you.”

“You have to eat, please. Here. Have these.” He nudges a steam basket with dumplings. “If you don’t, your body will just keep eating itself. Your bones will start breaking prematurely because of early on-set osteoporosis.”

He doesn’t realise that I don’t care that I’m probably the worst I’ve ever been. My face is nothing but cheekbones and a jaw.

“Have you been calling that free health line again?”

“Yes. And so I should because I’m bloody concerned about you.”

“They only have registered nurses on those phones anyway. Totally pointless,” I replied. So, he had wanted to get out of Scotland Yard, and now he was trying to rope me into eating, too.

“You need a doctor,” he said with ernest.

“Maybe I do.”

His pager makes a noise, and he excuses himself to use a phone booth. He left his phone in his jacket pocket at the Yard. I have to time what I’m about to do perfectly. I picked up the chopsticks and bit into the dumplings rapidly, only half-heartedly chewing my food, because I hate chewing. It’s so repetitive, and mundane and continuous. I eat, and eat, and try not to think about how the soy is too salty or how much blood will have to leave my brain in order to digest this meal. He’s gone for quite some time, and I binge. When Lestrade returns, the baskets have all been replaced with new ones of the same type. Had he been observant he would have noticed that the dumplings I ate would have gone cold had I left one – these ones are steaming. But he doesn’t.

“You need to eat, Sherlock.”

“Show me a photo of the victim.” He does. A young boy, biological fluid all over his shirt. Items found on the body. None.

“Have they found his school bag yet?”

“No.”

“This is a homicide, not just a suspicious death. His shoes are on the wrong feet. That happens when someone who is facing you. These shoes were put on after death, his feet have been bound by climbing cord, the arson of the house was for a life and house insurance policy that was only guaranteed if the father was the benefactor. The mother and father of the boy are separated, and the boy would be coming of age in a few years, the house is in the mother’s name and the father would soon be cut off from accessing any funds whatsoever.” Generally I love divulging the science behind the deduction. Tonight I can’t be bothered.

“But…but the guy called 999?”

“To make sure it was all going to plan.”

“You’re clever, you know that?”

Obviously.

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