~~Tonight, Greg Lestrade realised for the first time that he was completely alone in the world.
Sherlock was dead. John was going to propose to Mary anytime now. Sally had moved into another division, and Anderson had lost his mind. Even Mycroft - lofty, aloof and a general know-it-all had a girlfriend in Anthea. Greg’s only friend now was his beer, and even that was out of reach now, as he sat, drowning in paperwork.
He had been expecting to work through the night when the call came.
“Lestrade - you’ve got a case.”
He was out of the door like a shot, the operator still giving details as he did so.
“We’ve had a call from a little girl - I’ll send over the recording.”
“I don’t want recordings, I want facts!!” He shouted down the phone.
“It’s a murder. Husband has shot his wife, two kids on the scene under threat. It’s still active, sir. The bloke has a gun, and is threatening the little boy. The little girl called the police, and we’ve told her to get out of the firing line. I’ll send her recording, as you may find it useful.”
A police car was waiting outside as Lestrade dashed out of the doors if New Scotland Yard. Sirens blaring, the driver pulled away as the recording reached his phone.
“999, what’s your emergency?”
“Help me - Daddy’s got a gun. He shot Mummy, and now he’s going to get my big brother Noah. Help us!!” the little voice on the phone sounded so fragile - she could only be five years old at the most. The operator did all he could to keep the girl quiet, as he found out what he could from her.
Her voice still ringing in his ears, Lestrade’s car reached the house, and he was out of the door before it had stopped. The rest of the team followed suit. 6 men, fully armed, broke down the door, and followed screams to the scene of the crime. In a dark living room they found the murderer and his victims. A woman lay by the door, blood slowly sinking into the carpet around her. In the centre of the room stood a man, clutching a young boy by the shoulder. He had a gun in his hand, and the barrel at the boy’s ear.
“Drop the gun. We’ve got you surrounded.” Lestrade’s voice was clear and calm, despite his scrambled mind. Lestrade’s men swiftly surrounded the pair, guns trained on the man.
“One more step, mate and I’ll fire. Then his blood’s on your hands.” The man met Lestrade’s gaze, a twisted smile on his lips, and sickening delight dancing in his eyes. The boy squirmed, tears rolling down his cheeks as he tried to break free from his father’s vice-like grip. “Stop it, you little shit.” The man growled, looking down for long enough that Greg could edge closer.
“Stay there, sir.” Sarcasm sang in his tone. “You might have all your fancy men and flashy lights, but when it comes down to it, you’re just a man. Just like me.”
“I don’t threaten children and kill their mothers for fun.” Greg responded, ice in his voice.
“I see you!! You’re gonna try and shoot me first. Well that’s not gonna happen. If I’m gonna die, then so’s he. Like father, like son. And in that case, it had best be like mother like daughter too.” Pointing his gun to the ceiling, the madman fired a single shot, and a muffled scream could be heard, though whether it was of terror or pain, Lestrade could not tell.
“Now then, a few more shots and then we’ll see you all in hell, won’t we Noah? Won’t that be fun? Yes, it will!” Lacing his fingers through the boy’s hair, the man forced his son to nod, before beginning his countdown.
“5…” Guns cocked all around the room.
“Don’t bother, lads.” The man muttered. “He’s going down first. 4…”
“Not if I can do anything about it.” Lestrade replied, forcing his gun out of his belt.
“3… Oh really? Women and children first. Common courtesy, y’kno-” The man’s spiel was cut short by a well-timed shot from Greg. The man sank slowly to the floor, still gripping his son’s head, although the gun now sat at his waist. “Thanks… thanks for that, De… Detective Inspector. Time’s up, sonny boy.” With that, the madman’s pistol fired one last time, the bullet colliding with the boy’s ribs in a resounding crack.
As the two bodies crumpled to the ground, more sirens blared outside. A team of paramedics swarmed in, pushing Lestrade out of the way. “Right then, lads!” he shouted over the racket. “We’re now looking for a young girl of about five. I’ll scout upstairs. If you find her, then stay completely calm. You’ll be the only one she trusts, and so you’ll be escorting her to hospital. Let’s go.”
Turning on his heel, Lestrade stumbled up the stairs, searching the walls for a lightswitch of some sort. There were four rooms upstairs - a bathroom and master bedroom, a blue room that must have been the boy’s, and one more on the end. A pale pink door lay slightly ajar, and this, Lestrade decided, must be her room. Most likely she’d be here.
“Hello?” He called, pushing the door open slowly, dreading what he may find. He could see where the bullet had ripped through the floorboards a few minutes ago, and yet there was no blood, or body. That could be a good sign. Flicking on the light in the room caused a slight stirring, and he spoke again, pushing the door to behind him. “Hello? It’s alright - I’m not going to hurt you. My name’s Greg, and I’m a police officer. It’s safe for you to come out….” Lestrade had no idea what to do. He’d always wanted a child, but his wife was not so keen, to put it mildly. Letting instinct guide him, he looked around the room. Where would a child hide? He asked himself, before seeing the obvious - in the cupboard. Leaving plenty of room for her to bolt, he carefully opened the cupboard door. He saw two little feet snatched out of sight, before spotting the little form cowering away from him. Crouching down, he crept forward, before reaching out a hand to her. “It’s okay, little one. Let’s get you out of there, hey?” Two blue eyes blinked back at him, gleaming in the shadows, yet painfully bloodshot all the same. “Come on.” Greg coaxed, and eventually a cold little hand met his own. Pulling gently, he hauled the girl out of her hiding place. She stumbled as she stood up, and only then did Greg realise just how small she was. How was it possible to be so small?
“Are you hurt?” He asked, and she responded with a small shake to the head. Her bottom lip trembled, and then Greg saw that her whole body was shaking with shock. Acting on impulse, he pulled her into a hug, and before long, she was sobbing on his shoulder, as the pure terror of what had happened hit her full on. Greg soothed her as best he could, and when her sobs subsided, he guided her over to her bed, and sat her down, kneeling to meet her at her level. “Alright then, little one, we’ll get you out of here in a moment, but first I need to know a few things. First, I need to know your name.”
“S-s-saskia.” She whispered, and Greg smiled encouragingly.
“That’s a lovely name. And how old are you, Saskia?”
“I’m five in November.”
“Alright then. Now, what we’re going to do is I’m going to take you downstairs, and then we’ll take you to the hospital, just to check you over and make sure that you really are fine. Would you prefer it if I came with you? I know that hospitals can be quite scary when you’re on your own.”
Saskia nodded. She really was a beautiful little girl, with wide blue eyes and wavy dark blonde hair.
“Alright then. Are you alright to walk downstairs, or shall I carry you? It’s been a shock for you, hasn’t it?”
Again, the little girl nodded, and Greg picked her up, putting her arms around his neck, before making his way down the stairs. One of his men met him there, and Greg brushed him off.
“I’m taking her to the hospital, as agreed. Are you alright to finish up here? Good.”
Without waiting for a response, Greg strode out of the house, and met the final ambulance driver there. “She’s asked that I come with her. Her name’s Saskia, she’s five in a few months, and she’s most likely in shock.”
Saskia clung onto Greg’s hand all the way to the hospital, and even when they took her in for treatment, she was reluctant to let go.
“I’ll be here when you come out, I promise.” Greg told her, as he gently prized her fingers off of his.
His flat was not far from the hospital, and by the time Saskia came out of the treatment room, Greg held a teddy in his hands. “They’ll want to keep you the night, Saskia, so I thought you may want a little company. This is my friend Fred - would you like him to stay with you?”
“Yes please.” She responded shyly, still unsure as how to talk to a police officer.
Greg tucked the teddy under the covers next to her, before saying his goodnights. “I’ll try and drop by in the morning to see how you are, yeah?” He suggested.
“Okay. Night night, Greg.”
Greg didn’t sleep much that night, as he frantically searched the records to find a next of kin for Saskia, or her brother Noah. It was touch and go for him at the moment, and the odds were never going to be in their favour. And so it was, during the night, that little Noah slipped away, at only eight years old. He’d given up his life to save Saskia’s, by drawing their dad away so that Saskia could call the police. Such bravery was shocking within a child, and yet Noah had done this on impulse. There was no doubt in Greg’s mind that if Noah had lived on, he’d have been an amazing man.
The next morning, he was told that Saskia was to be put up for adoption, and when he stepped into the room that had been hers for the night, he was greeted with a small smile. But it didn’t last long, when she realised that she was on her own now. Her big brother and her mum were gone, and because she hadn’t started school yet, she had no friends. Leaving her behind that morning was hellish for Greg - to see the loneliness, the fear, the hopelessness return to her eyes was almost too much for him to bear.
He knew what he would have to do now.
He had always had a spare room in his flat, and, until now, it had just been gathering dust. And, by some odd twist of fate, it was already pink.
Due to his status in the force, and a few quick calls to Mycroft, passing adoption papers through was simple - the state didn’t want to do the extra paperwork of putting her in a care home to start with, and when a willing, trustworthy adopter appeared almost immediately, with the British Government behind him, they were all too happy to speed it through.
Greg dropped in at the hospital one final time, to see Saskia up on her feet, looking nervous.
“I’m sure that the man adopting you will be lovely.” Greg heard her nurse say, before she straightened up to meet her boss. “In fact, Saskia, he’s just arrived. Come and say hello.”
Cautiously, Saskia popped out into the corridor, before ducking away again. She was too scared to look. Soon, Fred’s head was stuck out into the corridor.
“See?” said the nurse, encouragingly, “Teddy thinks it’s alright.
“His name’s Fred!” Came an indignant little voice, and Greg smirked. I used to do that….
Saskia finally slipped out of the door, Fred tucked tightly under her arm. She barely dared to look up as Greg knelt down to her level.
“Fancy coming home with me, Saskia?” Greg asked, and she looked up, her eyes taking on a new light.
“IT’S GREG! I’M GOING TO LIVE WITH GREG!!” She cried, dashing down the corridor and flinging her arms around his neck.
“Yes, yes you are.” Greg laughed, returning her hug. “And we’ll have to get up to all sorts of adventures, won’t we?”
“See, I told you he’d be alright!” The nurse called after her.
“Well I didn’t know that Greg has a big, schmancy surname!”
“What’s wrong with Lestrade?” Greg asked, suddenly defensive.
“It sounds weird without the Greg in front!”
“I suppose it does. But it’s not as weird as one of my friends’ names.”
“What is it?”
“It sounds like Piecroft!” Greg smothered a smirk, before scooping a giggling Saskia up, bear and all, and carried her out to the car, both waving goodbye to the nurse.
That night, after a bedtime story, Saskia snuggled down in her new bed, giving her new dad a hug. “Greg?”
“Am I allowed to… I mean, can I call you Dad?”
“Of course you can! Why ask?”
“Yay! Night night, then, Dad.”
“Goodnight Saskia.” With that, Greg pressed a kiss to her forehead and left. He did stop in to check she was still breathing many, many times that night, and was vaguely startled when he was bounced awake the next morning by a dinky, blonde bombshell.
But Greg didn’t mind. Nope. Not in the slightest.
For the first time ever, he felt needed. Depended upon. Loved.
Life with Saskia would be different, of course.
But, bloody hell, it was going to be fun.