Title: Alone in a Crowded Room
Author: Jessie Blackwood
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/Greg Lestrade & Mary Morstan/John Watson
Fandoms: Sherlock
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are not my characters, they are public domain. Anything that resembles Sherlock BBC belongs of course to Mr Moffat and Mr Gatiss and is theirs alone. The plot is mine. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is otherwise purely coincidental.
Note: This is my take on Sherstrade from Greg's point of view. Written because nobody should be alone at a wedding.
Summary: Greg Lestrade doesn't have a date for John's wedding, there's no 'plus one' where he's concerned. Weddings are sometimes lonely places for single people and Greg is no exception, only now he's divorced, he has to watch a happy couple tying the knot and try to be happy about it. He feels about as happy as Sherlock looks and when Greg sees Sherlock about to make a quick exit, true feelings come to the fore.


They’re a good looking couple, really they are. I couldn’t be more happy for them… No, honestly, I just... Well, you know how it is, you hope it’ll work out for them but you can’t help thinking what if it doesn’t? Marriage didn’t work for me, but then...I can’t ever remembering looking at her like John looks at Mary. I’m honestly glad I came, it was nice of them to invite me, but I hate these things now. These do’s are a couple’s paradise and the singles are all much younger than me and I’m on my own. I’m sitting between Molly and Mrs H, which was nice of them to put me with people I know so I can at least make conversation, but Molly has Tom and Mrs Hudson isn't alone either. I’m kind of the odd man out now. I spend time hoping nobody asks me to dance. I want to, Jesus, I used to love dancing, but not now. I’m a bit past it on the dance floor. Mine was the Punk era, I was the classic rebel, but that’s ancient history.

Sherlock redeemed himself, considering I nearly knocked his bloody block off when he texted me to come help him with his bloody speech right in the middle of an arrest I’ve been waiting years for. Sally still thinks I’m mad and I can’t say I blame her but...I had to go, didn’t I? He could have been in deep shit and if I hadn’t, well, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself. I wasn’t there for him the last time and I don’t intend to make the same mistake again, thank you very much. I don’t think I’ve heard such a...disjointed set of stories, such a backhanded way of expressing how much John means to him with such a perfect outcome. The big git solved a murder and an attempted murder into the bargain and I got an arrest out of it too. John saved a life, on his bloody wedding day for God’s sake. Icing on the cake. But right now, God, Sherlock looks so…lost.

That vow near broke my heart, to hear him so emotional. I’ve had a bit too much to drink, if truth be known. It was all a bit emotional for me too. I only get emotional when something really bad happens, to me personally, or when I’m pissed. I lost it when my dad died, lost it after Sherlock jumped, when we all thought he was really dead, and I nearly lost it again just now when Sherlock made that vow. Oh dear God…

When my wife and I first got together, I thought she was the one, you know? I really loved her, and she loved me, I’m certain. But as time went on, she changed. Maybe we both did, I dunno. Fact is, it happened, people do that. We coasted along for nearly ten years like that before she upped and found herself a younger man, who also had more time for her. We never had kids, although I wanted some. She always had an excuse for me. Eventually I stopped asking. It’s probably for the best that the divorce went through. We’re both free to make a new start… Who am I kidding, at my age?

Sherlock...well, he’s like the son I never had, but it’s a bit more than that. I’m not quite old enough to be his father, and I bloody know it. I was thirteen when he was born. I know kids can be fathers at that age but...no, just no. I was never that much of a rebel. It took me until I was seventeen to even ask a girl out and it wasn’t until I was nearly twenty that I finally lost my virginity. I’ve never labelled myself either. Doesn’t matter to me whether my lover is tall, short, gay, straight, fat, thin, black or white, as long as we’re both enjoying ourselves. Sherlock, he's a beautiful man; those high cheekbones, pale aquamarine eyes, fine bones, angular face, dark floppy curls...hair that was made to run your fingers through. Believe me, I’ve had to stop myself soooo many times. I saw it all those years ago, when I rescued the junkie from himself, gave him something to focus on and believe in. I saw the beauty under the grime, and I vowed then that I would do anything to make sure the light in those eyes didn’t go out. When he was accused of being a fake, of being the criminal, it felt like I’d failed. When he jumped, it felt like part of me died too, but I’m a pragmatic man, and you don’t go through life with a career like mine without learning that life goes on, no matter how much you’d like it to stop for a while and acknowledge someone’s passing, it never does. When he came back and I felt that solid body in my arms, real and warm and vitally alive...I felt so happy, I was floating for days. I think Sally thought I’d gone a bit mental, I was so...nice, to her, to everyone. I think she thought I’d met someone. I had, I suppose, just not in that way, no matter how much I wanted it.

Never helps that the body is a bit of alright as well, despite being a bit thin. Doesn’t eat enough but he keeps what he’s got in good nick now. And yes, I admit, I’ve had my fantasies. Still do, as a matter of fact. I may be edging fifty but I’m not dead, ta very much. There’s still some lead in my pencil, as it were, and you’d have to be dead not to respond to that particular man. As I said, Sherlock Holmes is beautiful.

Alright, I admit it, I’m lonely, I’m old—Christ, I need my specs to see the bloody menu for God’s sake—and I’m just...not really myself right now. I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life. I guess a wedding is always going to throw it into stark relief, isn’t it? Being on your own I mean. I even wondered once if there might be something between Molls and me, but she’s made it clear I’m too old for her. Not in so many words but let’s face it, she’s not exactly moved on from Sherlock, has she? I mean, have you seen the new guy? Tom? A Sherlock look-alike if ever I saw one. Even down to the bloody coat. But I can’t see Tom chasing villains down dark London alleyways and dashing off a few deductions for good measure. Tom is a nice bloke, a predictable creature of habit; he’ll date her, ask her to marry him, and they’ll have a couple of adorable kids within two years, you see if they don’t. Whereas me, I’ll still be here, with my pathetic single life…

Thanks, you big git, for showing me up in front of the whole room… Wait though, Is he leaving? Jesus, he looks so...bereft. Well, not on my watch, he doesn’t. I grab a chair to steady myself and get off after him, quick as I can, which isn’t that quick considering I’ve had a few. I lose him briefly when he collects his coat and then see him leave the side door of the Orangery. He walks swiftly away and the coat billows behind him as he flings it around himself, his armour on again, his shield against the world.

“Sherlock!” He almost doesn’t hear, and I call again. I see his head turn slightly. He’s heard me, the bastard. He’s just considering whether he can claim deafness. “Sherlock, you git. Wait up.”

“I have no intention of staying, Gar…”

“Greg, you pratt.”

Greg," he corrects himself, irritation showing. "I have no intention of staying. I have...things to do. They don’t need me here.”

“They might not, but...I do…” I blurt it out without thinking. Bugger, the alcohol has addled what little cognitive function I have left. “I...I’m sorry, lad. Just ignore me.”


“Because I’m talking bollocks, that’s why…”

“No, I meant...why do you need me? You don’t need me, you don’t need anyone…”

“That’s…” God’s truth, I honestly have to suppress a sob. For fucks sake, I am losing it, big time. “That’s where you’re wrong, Sunshine.” I try to clear my throat, I’ve gone all husky. “I need… plenty of things. I need friends, I need a less stressful job, I need...I need you, you berk. You’re...everything to me…”

“Lestrade, you’re drunk.”

“No shit, Sherlock. Doesn’t take much to work that one out…”

“Lestrade, you are drunk and thus you are not making sense. I suggest you sober up and talk to me in the morning.”

“Sound idea. I’ll make you breakfast then, shall I?”

“Lestrade…” He rolls his eyes in that expressive exasperated way he has.

“Greg, please. Lestrade makes me sound even older…”

“Greg then. If you are suggesting what I think you’re suggesting, then…” Sherlock pauses and regards me with that intense gaze that I always find unsettling. “Greg, I’m flattered but you should know, I consider myself married to my work…”

“Bollocks! That’s bollocks and you know it. Always has been. Just be honest with me, Sherlock. You don’t find me attractive, and that’s it. Fine, that’s...fine. I won’t bother you again.” I know bitterness has crept in to my voice and it’s all I can do not to turn tail and run. I’m useful to him, but that’s obviously where it stops. I turn to go back, although I’m really not looking forward to it. I can almost feel his eyes on my back. “Goodnight then,” I say uselessly. “You fuck off to your empty flat and I’ll bugger off back to my empty flat and we’ll both be empty and alone but at least we’ll know there’s another poor pathetic sod out there exactly like us...” There’s silence. It’s obvious he has no answer for me.


“No, just...let it go, Sherlock.” I’m about to take a step when I feel the hand on my arm and look down to see Sherlock’s pale fingers wrapped around my bicep. I turn to look at him and see a vulnerability I’ve not seen before.

“Greg. I...I don’t find this sort of thing...either easy or welcome. I’m not practiced with sentiment, nor am I able to put what I do feel into words. I know what I feel, just not how to express it adequately.” He chuckles and looks down. “It’s a bit like dyslexia, really. I’m an emotionally dyslexic. I’m not as romantic as John, nor as cold as my brother, but I want you to know, I don’t take this lightly. I understand what it must have taken you to offer yourself like this...but...”

“You want John. I know that. It’s okay, Sherlock. I do understand, you know. I’m not completely emotionally tone deaf.”

“I think that’s my job.” The joke catches me off guard and I chuckle too. He looks childlike, fragile.

“Sherlock, don’t go home alone…”

"Why not? I was alone before John came along, as well you know.”

“Because, this is not a time to be on your own.”

“What’s the alternative? You?” I nod, reaching to cover his hand, which is still on my arm, with my own.

“We don’t need to do anything, you know, like sleeping together. We’re just two people on our own, keeping each other company, stopping each other from jumping off a fucking roof…” I bite my tongue the moment the words are out of my mouth but Sherlock either hasn’t made the connection (like that’s going to happen) or deliberately ignores it.

“Is that what you think I need? Greg, I am not about to leap to my death melodramatically…” He says it wonderingly, as if I’m a child.

“Oh, I’m sorry, you already did that, didn’t you?” I retort, even more bitterly. This time I see him flinch and regret it. “Well, maybe this time it isn’t about you. Have you considered for a moment that I may feel like jumping off a high building, and that I might need someone to stop me, someone to be there for me. Since you died, I’ve divorced. Since I lost you, I’ve changed. I’ve got no one, Sherlock. No one. I never had a John. You’re the nearest I ever got and I lost you when he turned up.” I’ve said far too much. I’m done. This time I take his hand off me and stride back inside.

I can’t face the disco. They’re enjoying themselves too much. I head for the gents, intent on just locking the door and waiting it out, but Sherlock is too good not to find me.


“Go away…”

“Lestrade...Greg,” he says, firmly. “Open this door…”

“Sherlock...I can’t have this conversation right now.”

“Why not?”

“Because, I am actually really using this toilet, you know. In a minute, lad. I’ll come out in a moment or two.” I finish up and flush, make sure nothing it either hanging out, loose or unfastened, and then I emerge, wash my hands and dry them, all without looking at him. I can’t. Because if I do, I’ll lose it again, only this time properly.

“You’re upset.”

“Damn right.”

“Why? I don’t understand…”

“What a pity.”

“Please, Le...Greg, tell me. I am trying to understand but this is…” he closes his eyes and gives a little frustrated headshake. “...like wading through treacle…”

“Spell it out then, shall I?” I turn to face him and he looks up and meets my gaze. He really is so very beautiful and I’ve been hooked on him since I first laid eyes on him, addicted to Sherlock.

“Hm… dilated pupils, elevated heart rate—I can see the pulse in your neck, Greg. So you weren’t lying. You are currently finding my proximity arousing.”

“Lying? No, of course I’m not. Why would I?”

“Because you might be under the mistaken impression that I need anyone.”

“Well, bully for you, Sherlock. Not all of us can switch off our emotions like you.” The door opens and John is standing there, staring at us.

“Okay, so...please tell me you two are okay with each other. Mary saw you practically run in here, Greg…”

“I got taken a bit short, John. You know, that’s what beer does to you.”

“Yeah, I know but you don’t usually dash to the loo with this lanky git on your tail like your arse was on fire. And you can be heard you know. I could hear the raised voices down the bloody corridor. So, at the risk of seeming a bit selfish, you know it is my wedding day and we’ve already solved one attempted murder and saved a man from dying...What the fuck is wrong with you two? I have no wish for my two best mates in all the world to be ripping each other up, today of all days.”

“Ask Greg, John,” Sherlock sounds suddenly tired. “You and he move in a world I can only look in on from outside. Emotions, John, sentiment,” Sherlock explains for John’s benefit when he looks a bit confused. “Greg seems to require some from me, and I have no idea what to do. I’m not sure I can fulfill your needs, Lestrade.”

“Needs? What…?” John’s gaze is puzzled as he looks me over. There’s a knock on the door which makes us all turn.

“John, are you in there? Did you find them?”

“Mary,” John says and opens the door.

“Oh good, you did find them. What’s wrong with them then?” She pushes in, ignoring the fact that we’re in the gents’. I like that woman. She doesn’t give a damn.

“Apparently, Greg’s poured his heart out to my best friend here who seems to be being a bit of a dick about it.”

“What, you? And him?” She waves a finger between me and Sherlock. “Well I never...I thought you’d fallen out, the looks on your faces. So…” She looks at Sherlock and pulls a face. “Oh, please, don’t tell me you’ve rejected him? The man who wears his heart on his sleeve for you?”

“The man who does what? Mary, you’re talking about Gra…”

“GREG!” I bellow. “For God’s own sakes, you never get it right, do you? You just cannot be arsed to care about getting a little thing like my name right, you arsehole!”

“Greg, calm down, love,” Mary pats my arm and turns on Sherlock with a glare that would melt metal. “Sherlock Holmes, you made a vow. Did it mean nothing?”

“What? Wait...I made it for you three...er, two...I said…”

“I know what you said, I was there,” she replies. “Are you honestly telling me it doesn’t encompass all your friends, considering it wasn’t just John you jumped for?” Now she has me frowning. What is she talking about?

“Mary, what on earth…?”

“Has he never told you? Really? Sherlock, you numpty!” Mary manages to slap him none too gently then she turns back to me. “Apparently he jumped because there was a sniper trained on John, another on Mrs Hudson and a third. That one was on you, Greg.”

“Me?” I suddenly feel rather sick.

“Whoops, Greg, you’ve gone a bit pale…” John spins me around and pushes me into one of the toilets, none too soon. Worshipping the porcelain goddess is not my idea of fun. I am not made happier by the fact that I’ve just managed to do it in front of my friends. At least I manage not to mess myself up as well. Shaking, I wipe my mouth and spit. My mouth tastes awful now and my head is pounding. “Sherlock, take him home,” John orders, giving me a quick once over to make sure I’m okay. His care is rather moving, to be truthful. “Yes, to 221b, please,” he insists. “Just so we know you’re both okay. He can sleep in my room, for tonight. Just get him home, he needs to sleep this off and you both need someone with you.” Sherlock looks about ready to say something but John quells him with a stern look and he subsides. So, just for tonight then, I get to share something I might never have again. Make the most of it, Greg old son.

“Sorry,” Mary is contrite but honestly I cannot be angry with her.

“It’s okay, Mary. Honestly. I had no idea. Was a bit of a shock, that’s all. I’m fine.”

She nods and smiles and pats my arm. “You two be kind to each other, you understand me?” I watch her withdraw reluctantly back to the disco where her friends gather round her.

“I’d better go back too.” John is smiling, and I nod and smile back.

“Thanks, John.”

“Just be good to each other, alright? Sherlock, you take care of him, you got that? Or...” John lifts a finger.

“Or what, John?”

“You know what. I know where you live, remember?” Sherlock actually smiles and nods and then John is gone and we are alone.

“Come on then,” Sherlock says to me. “I think we have our marching orders. We can discuss this at home. You get your coat and I’ll call a cab. Yours or mine?”

"Yours, Can't face mine." Sherlock nods, then pulls out his phone and places an order for a cab while I make my shaky way to the cloakroom to find my overcoat. I half expect him to have scarpered when I emerge, but he’s still there, waiting for me, impossibly tall and imposing in that bloody coat. He reaches to place a hand beneath my elbow to guide me out with him, steadying me and supporting. I find I like the touch, and lean into it slightly.

The taxi takes less than ten minutes to arrive and whisks us off to Baker Street. I sit in the warm darkness in the back and gaze out of the window, mulling over what Mary said, that Sherlock jumped not just for John but for me and Mrs Hudson too. It’s a facer, is what it is. I glance across at him to find him watching me. That’s disconcerting too.

“What?” I say, to break the silence.

“Nothing, I just...I was thinking. That’s all.”

“What about?”

“You, me, us…”

“Us? There is no us, Sherlock. It’s not what you want…”

“I’m not sure what I want. I just...never considered it before, that’s all. I didn’t know you felt that way about me.”

“Neither did I. John came first for you, not me. That’s why. Then you go and do...that, and we all thought you were gone. John ups and moves on, finds Mary, who I have to say is one of the most intelligent women I think I’ve ever met, and…” Sherlock mumbles something and I pause. “Pardon?”

“I said, she’s dangerous.”


“She’s a woman, Greg. I never truly trust them, any of them. Women are hard to predict because their actions are based on illogical emotional responses…”

“Say that to her face,” I suggest. He gives me a look that indicates I’m barmy.

“I’m not completely unaware of the response that statement may engender, Lestrade. I am not a complete idiot.” The taxi stops, momentarily pausing our conversation and we get out, Sherlock delving into his pocket to pay for the ride.That is a surprise.

“We should have offered Mrs Hudson a lift…”

“Oh not to worry, Hudders is staying at the hotel.”

“She is?”

“Yes. John and Mary paid for a room for her so she could stay.”

“That was kind.” I follow him upstairs and into the quiet living room. “I can take the couch,” I offer as he walks into the kitchen and flicks the kettle on.

“Nonsense, there’s a perfectly good bed you can use.”


“Mine…” Our words collide in the silence and we both stop and stare.

“What did you say?”

“I think you heard,” Sherlock replies, one corner of that cupid’s bow curving up in a smile.

“What brought this on?”

“Outside of John there are only two other people who are prepared to take my shit and not leave. One is Mrs Hudson and while she insists on making me food and tea, I don’t think I could form a lasting bond with her. You on the other hand, Greg, have not only taken my shit but turned me around. John isn’t the only one who saved me, you know. Mary was right when she told me we were not the first to have captured John Watson’s affections. I would add that he was not the first to capture mine.” He is looking at me with an openness I’ve never seen before. He spreads his hands apart. “This is me, and you’re still here. Therefore I would be an idiot to refuse what you’re offering, but I’m sorry, Greg.”

“What for?”

Sherlock takes a deep breath and huffs it back out. “Doubtless at some point in the future you’ll come to the realisation that you were second best in my affections and that will make you bitter and you’ll leave me.”

“Sherlock, you’re a complete arse sometimes. Is that true? Am I second best?”

“Why wouldn’t you jump to the conclusion that I’m shacking up with you because I can’t have John? You can’t tell me it hasn’t crossed your mind.”

“It has, so I won’t. Maybe I’m willing to take what I can get because it’s you.”

“That makes no sense.”

“Welcome to my world. Emotions don’t make sense. Logic has no place in affairs of the heart. Sorry and all that but love is complex and irrational and...wonderful, amazing, brilliant. Look, I’m willing to give us a try. I can’t not try, at least. If I don’t, then I can never know if it would have worked, you know?” Sherlock nods agreement. “But am I second best?” Some part of me needs to know and to work through or round it, if he says yes.

For a moment, Sherlock gazes at me with a slight frown, his brain working overtime behind those amazing verdigris eyes. “No,” he says, slightly surprised. “You are...different, but not second best. If anything you were the first person who knew me who did not turn tail and run. You saw the worst of me and you saw something…” Sherlock pauses again, contemplating. “What did you see in me, Greg? When you saw just another junkie on a stained couch in a damp-riddled flat, you saw something else, something more. You must have done. What, Greg? What was it?”

I’m a bit nonplussed to say the least. He’s right, of course. I did see more. Much, much more. “I once said to John that you were a great man, and if we were very lucky, one day you might just become a good one.” I smile at his expression. “When I saw you on that couch that night, I saw someone unlike anyone I’d ever seen before. Your eyes, you were beautiful even then. Yes, I saw the worst of you,” I admit gently. “Yet there was a spark there, when you took my arm and you whispered in my ear…”

“Whispered in your ear? What did I say? I...I don’t remember.” He looks a bit worried at that. More than likely stashed away somewhere in the mind palace of his.

“You saw me, you deduced me, even under the influence of that stuff like you were, you knew. 'All lives end,' you said. 'All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage'.”

“Mycroft’s line...a litany he repeated to me so many times I started to believe it.”

“At first I thought you were talking about yourself. Then you started talking about me, about the grief I was clinging on to, but you said you could tell I was compassionate from the way I was handling you. You told me not to let the grief drag me down—the lines around my eyes and dragging on my mouth were all the evidence you needed, you said. Then you told me he was proud of me. I thought you were just coming out with bullshit, but then you said ‘who wouldn’t be proud of a son in the police force?’ When I asked how you knew it was my father, you just smiled. Then you told me later boys typically take their father’s death harder than their mother’s and that you had reached a bit with that one. That made you more human somehow. It set me thinking though, and by that evening, I had raised a glass to him in our local and let it all go. When I saw you again, I asked what you made of the crime scene we were working on. It didn’t take you long to work through it, but it was then that I told you I couldn’t have a junkie on a crime scene. Honestly, you looked like a puppy that had just been kicked but I stuck to the rule. So did you. When you came back four months on, I barely recognised you. But you’d done what I asked. You actually listened to me. Nobody had ever done that before, and I felt great because I’d helped you. Nothing like that feeling, Sherlock.” He seemed to be thinking about what I’d just said. “I just knew there was more to you, something worth saving, I guess.”

“Definitely not second best,” Sherlock says firmly. He reaches to pull me close to him and I wrap my arms around that skinny torso. “John is my guide and compass, but you have always been my advocate, my shield, my defence against the ordinary.”

“Dunno about that but I’ve done my best to see you right.” He regards me from under that floppy dark mess of a fringe and then smiles, radiant and wonderful.

“And the one thing I can rely upon is that you’ll continue to do so,” he says. “That is much more than I could hope for.” A hand, long elegant fingers outstretched, slides into mine, fingers lacing together. He tugs, walking backwards toward his bedroom door.

“Are you sure?” I ask, warily. He nods, silent. “Alright then,” I tell him.

My dad had a saying. When one door closes, another door opens. We kick shut the bedroom door and another opens wide on this new chapter of our lives.