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fic: For Else He Is Nowhere

Title: For Else He Is Nowhere
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Pairing: Sherlock/Lestrade
Rating: R
Warnings: none
Wordcount: ~950
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine.
Summary: “It's a literary reference, you ignorant sod,” Lestrade says. “Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Gray. No, don't tell me. You deleted it.”
In which Sherlock discovers an old photograph and Lestrade discovers something more unexpected.
A/N: written for bwblack's lovely prompt for Fall Back Into Sherlock at the sherlockmas comm on LiveJournal, though too late to be included in the fest. The prompt was "Lestrade/Any: 'No Spring nor Summer Beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face.'" Many thanks to blooms84 for beta encouragement.

For Else He Is Nowhere

The photograph must be thirty years old, if not more. Lestrade's in his cricket whites, lounging on the edge of the pitch and looking up at the camera. He's wearing that expression Denny, the cricket club captain, called “your Shut Up And Fuck Me look”. He doesn't think Denny took this, though he can't remember now who did.

Forgotten he still had this. Trust bloody Sherlock to turn it up, poking around in things that aren't any of his sodding business as usual. If he weren't such a brilliant shag –

Don't kid yourself, Lestrade. You'd still want the bastard even if he was a lot less good in bed. Still need him, too.

Lestrade sighs. “I wish you wouldn't keep going through my stuff, you nosy git.”

Sherlock pays no attention. Typical.

“Pretty, weren't you?” he says.

“Yeah, well,” Lestrade says, wincing. “Sadly I don't have a portrait in the attic.”

“You're babbling again, Lestrade,” Sherlock says. “You don't even have an attic.”

This is true: Lestrade has a first-floor flat. But really not the point.

“It's a literary reference, you ignorant sod,” Lestrade says. “Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Gray. No, don't tell me. You deleted it.”

Sherlock shrugs. “So?”

“So Dorian Gray is a beautiful young man who never looks any older. But he has a portrait of himself in the attic that gets old and ugly and shows all of his sins.”

“Boring,” Sherlock says.

“How would you know?” Lestrade says. “Since you've probably never even read it.”

“The idea is boring,” Sherlock says tetchily. “Why would you want a portrait like that?”

It's all very well for Sherlock. He looks much the same as when Lestrade first met him. Less mad, obviously, because of not being off his face on drugs any more, and a bit less skinny, for the same reason. But still, if anyone's got a portrait in the attic, it's probably him.

Whereas Lestrade knows he looks his bloody age. The last five years of it in particular.

“Proud of your handiwork, are you?” he says. “Most of this”– he gestures at his grey hair – “is your fault, you know.”

Sherlock smirks and says “That's idle speculation and profoundly unscientific.”

“Oh yeah?” Lestrade says. “Well I know who I'm blaming for it – oh for crying out loud, Sherlock, do you have to look so bloody smug?”

Sherlock's look changes from smug to puzzled; then to sceptical. “You don't really mean you'd rather look like that?” He waves a hand languidly at the photograph.

Lestrade looks at the photograph and then at Sherlock again.

“Of course I'd rather look like that, you pillock,” he says.


Lestrade stares at him. “Why?”

“Yes, that's what I said, are you going deaf now as well as stupid?”

“Fuck off, Sherlock. If I want a conversation consisting entirely of insults I can ring Dimmock.”

“You exaggerate,” Sherlock complains.

Bloody nerve.

“And you are being stupid if you think you looked better like that,” he adds.

Lestrade can't quite get his head round this. Sounds as if Sherlock is saying something nice, though in a characteristically rude Sherlockish way. Obviously this can't really be happening.

“Sherlock, I know what I look like now.”

And he does, despite his best attempts to dodge the mirror in the mornings. Grey hair that once was dark; lines around the eyes and the mouth; heavier in the face and thicker around the waist. Bit of a paunch if he doesn't watch what he eats and drinks. Going a bit soft round the edges, all told.

It's on the tip of his tongue to say something sarcastic like Didn't know you had a fetish for wrinkles. But the look on Sherlock's face stops him in his tracks.

It's – well, soft is the word that comes to mind.

If there's one thing he knows about Sherlock, it's that he doesn't do soft.

One thing he thought he knew about Sherlock.

“Oh well,” he says. “No accounting for tastes. D'you want to go to bed?”

Sherlock nods. He looks – shy, almost. Tentative and a bit vulnerable.

Just when you think nothing he does could surprise you any more –

“Come on, then,” Lestrade says gruffly, pulling him up off the sofa. “Last one to get undressed has to sleep in the wet patch.”

Which is nonsense: they both know who'll be sleeping in the wet patch and it won't be Sherlock. It never is.

Sherlock can be loud in bed. To put it mildly. (“Christ, Sherlock, are you going for the Guinness Book of Records or something?” Lestrade had asked after one particularly memorable session. “Because I don't think they have a category for that.”)

But this is one of the other times, where there's no sound from Sherlock but his ragged breathing and a soft surprised “Oh!” as he comes.

Afterwards, they lie there, Sherlock's dark curls tickling Lestrade's chin as he strokes Sherlock's back. Sherlock mutters something against his chest that Lestrade doesn't quite catch.

“Mm?” Lestrade says drowsily.

“I said, I like you like this,” Sherlock says.

Lestrade thinks about saying Yes, I'd worked that out, you prat, but it seems a bit ungrateful. He decides it's probably best to say nothing.

Moments like this with Sherlock don't come often, and when they do...

He feels like he's watching some strange animal step into a clearing in the forest (been watching too much David Attenborough again, his mind jeers). It's not Sherlock, though god knows there are times Lestrade thinks he's barely human. More, it's the sense of the moment itself as some sort of shy wild creature. So he lies quiet and still for as long as he can, not wanting to make any sudden moves or sounds to frighten this untamed thing away.


Donne's poem, "The Autumnal", from which the prompt and the fic title are both taken, is here.

additional inspiration was provided by [profile] julie_izumi's icon of Rupert Graves as Scudder.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/55923.html with comment count unavailable comments.


( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 7th, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
*wipes tear

This is beautiful. I don't usually read Sherlock/Lestrade (because I'm apparently insane about OTPs... *sigh), but good ones are, well, wonderful! The intimacy contrasted with Sherlock's characteristic aloofness is perfect here, as is Lestrade's recognition of the precious moment he's holding in his hand. There's a lot said here beneath the surface, unspoken. You've shown it so well. Gorgeous.
Oct. 7th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I'm so glad you liked it, especially as you don't usually read S/L! it seemed an unusual moment for them, and one I couldn't resist writing even when I'd missed the fest deadline.
(no subject) - shefa - Oct. 7th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fengirl88 - Oct. 7th, 2011 09:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 7th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC)
So Lestrade's a bit soft round the edges, but Sherlock's unexpectedly soft inside...

I love the idea that Lestrade distinguishes the moment as a shy wild creature, rather than Sherlock himself - something that's created between them, perhaps.

But it does occur to me that Sherlock has been around since Wilde's time, so maybe there is something in his attic after all.
Oct. 7th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
yes, indeed...

thank you very much - I'm really glad you liked this, and particularly the idea of the moment itself as a wild creature. I wondered if that was too much, but it refused to go away and when that happens I don't argue.

*sporfles at your suggestion about Sherlock's attic*
Oct. 7th, 2011 09:33 pm (UTC)
This was quite lovely - moments between them that are that delicate could so easily shatter. Well done.
Oct. 7th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! *beams*

I'm so pleased you liked this - it refused to stay unwritten even when the prompt had already been filled with a lovely Mystrade story by zjofierose and I'd missed the fest deadline...
Oct. 7th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
Oh god. You know, I almost filled that beautiful prompt, then bloody RL took over and I focused on Morgan's Poe prompt instead. I'm so consoled someone else dedicated themselves to the task, and it was you, and with L/S!

Very subtle and moving, both Greg's insecurity and Sherlock's persistency. And I too love the final metaphor - the sense of fragile epiphany it conveys. Beautiful.
Oct. 7th, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
thank you so much - I dithered about writing it, because I was trying to finish my XMFC WIP of Doom, and then I found that zjofierose had already done a lovely Mystrade fill for bwblack's gorgeous prompt, so I told myself sternly that I was not going to write this. but I couldn't resist, and it just had to be S/L... I'm so glad you liked it!
Oct. 7th, 2011 10:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, brilliant! More of your fab Sherlock-Lestrade! Now with extra Scudder. Delicious.

And there's definitely a hive Sherlock-Lestrade mind; I've just written

“Hm. Well, see this?” Lestrade ran a hand through his greying hair. “You put each and every one of ’em there, sunshine.”


Incremental, that was probably the word, decided Lestrade, or like training a wild animal, like they did on those nature shows.

Oct. 7th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! very glad you liked this. *beams*

extra Scudder is always a good thing, in my view, and julie_izumi's icon is an inspiration in itself...

*sporfles at the S/L hive-mind* ("the bees, the bees made me do it...")
Oct. 7th, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... Third S/L fic today. Apparently the hive mind is a buzzin'
But this THIS... So quietly lovely.
Oct. 7th, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! there can never be too much S/L... *grins*

very glad you liked it!
Oct. 7th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
this is beautiful.
Oct. 7th, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC)
thank you very much! *beams*
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 7th, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
thank you!
Oct. 8th, 2011 12:48 am (UTC)
This was so lovely and well-written. I'm glad you decided to write it anyway.

I'm reading less Sherlock lately, and generally consider non-angsty post-John S/L less plausible than, say, L/J, but your name is one that will tempt me to click on a story anyway.
Oct. 8th, 2011 04:31 am (UTC)
thank you very much - that's a lovely comment! I'm glad I wrote it too, and very pleased you enjoyed it.

I'm not sure where John is in all this - I suppose it could be read as pre-John, rather than as belonging to the same 'verse as e.g. Prince Charming or Because The Night...
Oct. 8th, 2011 02:45 am (UTC)
God. So lovely. Beautiful.
Oct. 8th, 2011 04:32 am (UTC)
thank you very much! *glows*

so pleased you liked it.
Oct. 8th, 2011 03:01 am (UTC)
It's so sweet that Sherlock thinks Lestrade is more attractive now than he was 30 years ago, especially as Lestrade doesn't believe him at first and only realizes it's true when he sees Sherlock's expression looking softer. I also think it's great that Lestrade make a reference to The Picture of Dorian Gray and winces at the word "pretty". *g*
Oct. 8th, 2011 04:34 am (UTC)
well I agree with Sherlock on this, of course, and not just because of the prompt! RG is lovely at all ages, but as Lestrade now... *happy sigh*

thank you very much - I'm so pleased you liked it.
Oct. 8th, 2011 04:15 am (UTC)
Oct. 8th, 2011 04:34 am (UTC)
thank you!
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 8th, 2011 11:48 am (UTC)
thank you!
Oct. 8th, 2011 09:54 am (UTC)
This is really lovely :)

I really love the way you portrayed their relationship!
Oct. 8th, 2011 11:49 am (UTC)
thank you very much - so glad you liked it!
Oct. 8th, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
Ah, this was lovely. It's true, some people seem to grow into their looks, or at least remain just as attractive but in a different way (if that makes any sense at all).

Really liked this :)
Oct. 8th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - so glad you liked it! *beams*

RG is certainly one of those people so I imagine Lestrade is as well...
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( 44 comments — Leave a comment )


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