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A Promising Start (Sherlock)

Title: A Promising Start
Author: Morgan Stuart
Fandom: Sherlock
Disclaimer: This universe does not belong to me; I'm just an appreciative visitor. I make no profit from this fan work.
Description: She could learn a great deal from this man: what not to do, of course, but also what to do.
Historian's Note: This takes place approximately three years prior to the events depicted in the Sherlock episode "A Study in Pink."
Author's Note: This is comprised of two parts, each a 221b ficlet (221 words, the last beginning with "b").
Chinese Translation: available here and here by freya_fsc




PART 1: A 221b Ficlet

She sat in his office, waiting. Apparently the workday began when he felt like it.

Promising start, this.

A few minutes later he appeared in a weary whirlwind, rumpled and stubbled and laden with hard-copy files. She realised he must've been at the office for hours already that morning. Perhaps he'd never made it home.

"Sorry I'm late." He deposited his armload onto the desk and scrubbed fingers through his hair, bringing new chaos to old disorder. "Glad you're here."

"Thanks, Sir."

"Don't thank me yet." A rueful, sideways grin. "Give you the bad news first, shall I?"

No pause for a reply. "I'm proud of my team. We do good work. But on the toughest cases, when time's of the essence, I sometimes bring in a consulting detective. My methods aren't always—"

Appreciated? Wise? Legal?

"—popular. My call. My responsibility."

So that's why he's DI Lestrade, not DCI, at his age.

"I'm good at questioning suspects and witnesses, talking to victims' families. But I'm rubbish at press conferences."

With a face like that?

"Your record's impressive. I'll rely on your PR expertise."

Huh.

He stifled a yawn. "God, I need a cuppa."

Here it comes...

"Be right back." Already he was halfway to the door. "Fancy tea? Coffee?"

Sally Donovan smiled.

Promising start, after all.

"Coffee, please. Black."


PART 2: A 221b Ficlet

"There may be jokes, at first." Lestrade sipped his coffee, then grimaced.

"Jokes?"

"'Middle-aged, lonely DI needs a new sergeant, and lookit, she's a beautiful young thing. How convenient.'

"I don't foresee you getting any less attractive or me any less alone," he continued without apology or, apparently, self-pity. "I can ignore 'em if you can."

Frankness was a trait Sally valued. She repaid it in kind.

"There'll be other talk, too," she countered. "'Whose arse is he trying to kiss, requesting a woman, and a black one, at that? Playing some political angle. Only explanation.'"

"People can be right bastards."

This startled a laugh from her.

"Your answer to that," he said, "is doing your job, letting your record speak for itself."

"And yours?"

"I need someone at my right hand I can rely on." No hesitation. "I researched the candidates. Did the only thing I could, didn't I? I asked for the best."

He means it.

The higher-ups might've had issues with Lestrade and his decisions, but rumour had it that his team members, past and present, considered any slights against him to be instant fighting words.

She could learn a great deal from this man: what not to do, of course, but also what to do.

"I'm honoured to join your team, Sir."

Let 'em talk, the bastards.


THE END

Vital Stats: Originally written in November 2011.

Originally written for this prompt at sherlockbbc_fic.

Comments

( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
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thesmallhobbit
Nov. 7th, 2011 07:04 pm (UTC)
This is lovely, seeing Lestrade from Donovan's point of view. I particularly like the way he challenges her pre-conceptions from the beginning.
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm really tickled that you liked it.

I particularly like the way he challenges her pre-conceptions from the beginning.

I'm so glad this worked for you. I loved imagining that he would turn all of her (somewhat understandable) assumptions about him upside down and win her loyalty in the process.

Thanks for your kind words!
(Deleted comment)
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed these ficlets!

Thank you for telling me what lines you liked most. That's so helpful! I'm smitten by the idea of Lestrade drawing fire from his superiors but fierce loyalty from his team. I tend to think that a lot of Donovan's hostility toward Sherlock comes from her protectiveness of Lestrade.

I appreciate your reading and commenting very much.
maggie_conagher
Nov. 7th, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
Most 221B's leave me feeling a bit unfulfilled but these were perfect, little snapshots, moments of getting acquainted. So vivid that I felt like I had watched them instead of read them.

This is a different voice for you, versatile you.

Thank you!
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:18 am (UTC)
I am so thrilled by your kind words. I'm really pleased these ficlets seemed vivid and visual to you!

As you noted, I'm experimenting in style. *blushes* It means a lot to hear that this worked. You're so kind and supportive, and I appreciate it more than you can know. Thank you!
shaindyl
Nov. 7th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
These were great. I especially loved the line "new chaos to old disorder". And I'm glad to see that Sally isn't blind to the man in front of her ("...with a face like that?" *snerk*) And I loved how she expected him to ask her to get the tea/coffee and ended up doing it himself. You nailed both characterisations here - the world-weary DI on the one hand and the up-and-coming but defensive young sargeant on the other. Great work and thanks for posting!
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 11:56 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you liked these! It's great to know what worked, so I appreciate your pointing out specific lines and ideas.

I'm glad to see that Sally isn't blind to the man in front of her

LOL! Who could miss that much gorgeousness? *wink*

I'm especially tickled that the bit with the tea/coffee worked for you. I had fun imagining him undoing all her expectations, one by one, without even knowing it.

You nailed both characterisations here - the world-weary DI on the one hand and the up-and-coming but defensive young sargeant on the other.

This absolutely makes my day! Your lovely descriptions of them here capture exactly what I was shooting for. This makes me so happy! You've put a huge grin on my face. Thank for reading and for your kind and encouraging comments. They mean a lot to me.
cookiefleck
Nov. 7th, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
Very interesting idea on your part to consider what their first meeting would have been like. Always a hint of sadness in your Lestrade, and he wears it well.
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 11:59 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you! I saw the prompt and I couldn't resist it. I'm glad to hear that Lestrade works for you here. I loved the idea of seeing his practicality and world-weariness through Donovan's eyes, especially as he undoes all of her expectations. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it.
(Deleted comment)
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 11:59 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! I'm delighted that you like her, and that this fits for your headcanon. :D Thank you so much, my dear!
hardboiledbaby
Nov. 7th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
Always so excited to see a new story from you, and, as always, you do not disappoint. Lovely fleshing out of these characters. :)
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a lovely thing to say! You've put a huge smile on my face. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
monkeybard
Nov. 7th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
That was a lovely snack of ficcage with beautiful insights and characterisations.
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:02 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy you liked these two little ficlets! And I'm thrilled the characterisations worked for you. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Your kind words are most appreciated!
eanor
Nov. 7th, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, I liked this a lot! Especially loved the first one where all Sally's prejudices are turned upside down! :) What a great start for those two, I can really envision this in the series!
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you for this! I'm so glad the scenario seems fitting to you. I'm especially happy that you liked the first ficlet, in particular; I had fun imagining him undoing all of her expectations, one by one, without even being aware of it.

I really appreciate your reading and commenting! Thanks.
brighteyed_jill
Nov. 7th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC)
Oh my goodness I love your Lestrade so much. I love how honest he is: straightforward about his weaknesses, frank about possible roadblocks, and perfectly comfortable with sharing the reasons he chose Sally. Seeing Sally's expectations be subverted is great.
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:17 pm (UTC)
I'm thrilled you like this take on Lestrade. In the show he seems so honest and straightforward, even when this doesn't put him in the best light (I'm thinking of his agreement with Sherlock, that he does need him, "God help me," or his "Because I'm desperate, that's why"), so I hoped to capture some of that. I'm particularly tickled that Sally's assumptions about him, and the way he unknowingly undoes them all, one by one, worked for you. I had fun with that. :)

I really appreciate your kind words, my friend! Thank you so much.
goldvermilion87
Nov. 7th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
I love it!

And this phrase--"bringing new chaos to old disorder"--Brilliant!
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
I'm so tickled that you liked this!

And this phrase--"bringing new chaos to old disorder"--Brilliant!

Aw, thank you! :) I appreciate it very much.
litlover12
Nov. 7th, 2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
Very nice!
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I appreciate it.
dimity_blue
Nov. 8th, 2011 12:30 am (UTC)
Ooh, I like these! I like Lestrade anyway, and I think there's a lot more to Sally than we've seen. I really like how Sally kept on being a little bit wrong about Lestrade. :oD

Thanks for sharing!
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:26 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked these! I love Lestrade, too, and I agree with you that there's much more to Sally that meets the eye. I'm especially pleased that you liked how Lestrade kept subverting her expectations here. I really appreciate your kind words! Thanks so much for reading.
methylviolet10b
Nov. 8th, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
You know I adore your Lestrade, and this view into the beginning of his working relationship with Donovan, the man he was then, the woman she was, the wariness and wearyness and humor - it's just fantastic. Stellar. My only complaint is that there isn't more. ;-) Brava!
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so tickled that you liked this! I'm really happy that their rapport and characterizations here seemed right to you. :) Thank you for your kind words, my friend!
(no subject) - methylviolet10b - Nov. 10th, 2011 01:24 am (UTC) - Expand
noirrosaleen
Nov. 8th, 2011 02:17 am (UTC)

This is going to sound slightly ridiculous, but -

Earlier I had a mini-meltdown over my stats class (I am Not Doing Well, for many reasons), and I hopped on my LJ app to see if there was anything new. I saw this - saw YOU wrote it, thought twice - and read it anyway.

I was pleasantly surprised to get warm fuzzies instead of an excuse for my tears. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

(This does not excuse you from future heart-breaking expectations. I AM ALWAYS ON MY GUARD, SHAN YU. Oh, and I'm wearing my Blue Sun shirt today. ^_^)

morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, bless your heart! *hugs you, curses your stats class, and admires your Blue Sun shirt* Thank you for taking a chance on my story, despite my track record, even when you were feeling low. I'm so, so happy that it gave you warm fuzzies when it counted!

This does not excuse you from future heart-breaking expectations. I AM ALWAYS ON MY GUARD, SHAN YU.

*cackles* Fair enough, my friend!

Thanks so much for this. I hope you're feeling better now. As always, I greatly appreciate your feedback! *more hugs*

(Deleted comment)
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:38 pm (UTC)
LOL! Excellent point!

Thank you so much for reading. I'm glad you liked these little ficlets. I really appreciate your kind words!
innie_darling
Nov. 8th, 2011 04:32 am (UTC)
I've thought about it, and realized I could not actually love this any more than I already do.
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)
You have absolutely made my day. Thank you so much! I'm delighted that you liked this.
capt_facepalm
Nov. 8th, 2011 12:23 pm (UTC)
I have long maintained that the secondary characters are one of the best tools for exploring the major characters. And you, dear author, are among the best at doing just that! Well done!
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a lovely thing to say! I'm thrilled that you think so. (And I agree wholeheartedly about the usefulness of secondary characters as tools for "getting at" the major ones.) I really appreciate your kind words. You've made my day! Thank you.
mazaher
Nov. 8th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks! Lestrade at his best (...but is there a time in your stories when he isn't?) and great Donovan. (You know, she often reminds me of Jamie Lee Curtis in Bigelow's Blue Steel, 1990). She deserves Lestrade's support, and it's so good to see them working together. Such bosses are dishearteningly rare in the so-called RL, whatever the line of work.
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 01:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you liked this! I agree wholeheartedly: such bosses are rare and to be appreciated wherever they're found. Sally has good reason to be loyal to him and protective of him (the latter of which I think is at the heart of some of her animosity toward Sherlock). I hadn't made the connection with Blue Steel. Excellent point!

Thank you so much for your kind words!
rusty_armour
Nov. 9th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
Words alone cannot convey how much I love these ficlets! You've done an excellent job capturing both voices, especially Lestrade's. I really like the way you work in little details about their characters that were hinted at in "A Study in Pink," such as Lestrade being rubbish at press conferences. *g*

It's great the way Lestrade is able to surprise and impress Donovan, though I think she gets some great lines in there as well. I admire this exchange in particular:

"There'll be other talk, too," she countered. "'Whose arse is he trying to kiss, requesting a woman, and a black one, at that? Playing some political angle. Only explanation.'"

"People can be right bastards."

This startled a laugh from her.

"Your answer to that," he said, "is doing your job, letting your record speak for itself."


With these scenes you really get a sense of how this partnership was built. There was obviously respect and equality there from the very beginning.
morganstuart
Nov. 9th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
I'm so delighted you enjoyed these! I'm really happy the characterisations/voices and details seem fitting to you.

I'm particularly happy that you liked that exchange about how Donovan expects people to talk. As much as Lestrade anticipates naysayers thinking he's an unprofessional lech, she anticipates them thinking of her a "diversity hire" in the old "gentlemen's club" of the Met. I'm so pleased that their honesty here conveys the respect and equality I was hoping to get across. I find their dynamic really interesting and refreshing (especially how she seems in the first series to be more protective of him than he is of himself), and I hope we see more of it in the second series.

Thank you again for your kind and encouraging words. You've made my day!
amedia
Nov. 10th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
First, I shall be a lemming and cite my favorite line, which seems to've been everyone's: bringing new chaos to old disorder. That is just such a wonderful summary of Lestrade's job, isn't it? He comes by that weariness honestly.

I got so into it that I forgot it was a 221 ficlet and I was disappointed when it ENDED! And it really ended; it didn't just stop, which is part of the challenge of writing ficlets. Its little life was indeed well-rounded with a coffee.

Then I was so happy because I had also forgotten that it was *two* ficlets, and I had a second yummy tidbit to savor! I really liked how the two of them connected on the level of frankness; it fit not only the individual characters, but the way they relate to each other.
morganstuart
Nov. 10th, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
I'm so tickled you like that line! I do see it as something of a summary of his job, LOL! "He comes by his weariness honestly," indeed!

It's lovely to hear you actually forgot it was a 221b, and that it had a "sequel" ficlet. It means a lot that you were able to get "into it," as it were.

I'm especially pleased that the frankness issue worked to connect them both. In the second ficlet I was smitten by the idea that they might break the ice and connect by admitting the idiotic things people might say and confirming that the two of them knew better.

it fit not only the individual characters, but the way they relate to each other.

Oh, this makes my day! Thank you so much. I really appreciate your reading and leaving such lovely feedback!
marysutherland
Nov. 12th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
Really beautiful little pieces, conveying so much character in such a short space, and making their close working relationship seem so plausible. I particularly liked Lestrade making the coffee and Sally's bluntness about how people would see her appointment as tokenism. You get a strong sense of them both as tough and practical people.
morganstuart
Nov. 13th, 2011 12:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much for this! I'm so happy you liked the characterizations here.

I particularly liked Lestrade making the coffee and Sally's bluntness about how people would see her appointment as tokenism.

I'm so glad both of these worked! I like the idea of Lestrade subverting her expectations without even being aware he was doing so, and I liked the idea that frankness (Sally's just as much as Lestrade's) would be one of the things that bound them.

You get a strong sense of them both as tough and practical people.

This absolutely makes my day! That's what I was hoping to convey. I'm delighted, and I really appreciate your kind words. Thank you.
mariole
Nov. 13th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
This was completely charming. I love talented, professional people acting like talented, professional people. Well done!
morganstuart
Nov. 14th, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm so happy you enjoyed it!

I love talented, professional people acting like talented, professional people.

I do too, and I'm really pleased they both came across this way here. Thank you for your kind words! They're most appreciated.
cuddles_and_jam
Nov. 13th, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
Their mutual respect and admiration is lovely. :) And possibly canon, although the show will probably never give us quite so much detail. Definitely headcanon, anyhow.
morganstuart
Nov. 14th, 2011 02:15 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! I love the glimpses of protectiveness we see in the series from Donovan toward Lestrade, and I like to think that started early in their relationship. I had fun imagining how he might subvert all of her expectations without even knowing he was doing so.

although the show will probably never give us quite so much detail

Alas, I fear you're probably right!

I'm so glad to hear this fits with your headcanon. :) I really appreciate your kind words. Thanks so much for reading.
supermusicmad
Nov. 14th, 2011 03:46 am (UTC)
Oddly, there seems to be very little Lestrade/Donovan interaction around. This little glimpse into the beginnings of their relationship is fascinating, and I'd love to see more. :)
morganstuart
Nov. 15th, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad this little glimpse worked for you. I agree: I'd love to see more about the Lestrade-Donovan dynamic, too! I love the glimpses in the series that we get of her protectiveness of him, and her defensiveness on his behalf. I hope there will be more insights into their relationship in the next series.

Thanks again for your lovely feedback. You're the best!
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