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Only Learning the Game (Sherlock)

Title: Only Learning the Game
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: At the end of a difficult day, Lestrade turns to a friend who was buried years before the DI was born.
Author's Note: In anticipation of a truly noteworthy date, 7 September 2011, I offer this prequel to the story I originally wrote for the occasion, "The Day the Music Lived." This is a 221b ficlet (221 words, the last beginning with "b").
Historian's Note: Events depicted occur approximately one year before those described in "The Day the Music Lived."
Warnings (Highlight to Read): Non-explicit description of murders and their crime scene

"Hearts that are broken, and love that's untrue..."

The crime scene gave up its secrets without need for a consulting detective. As Sherlock might've said, any idiot could read the story there.

A classic one: love, infidelity, jealousy, murder-suicide.

Lestrade felt his usual weary regret for the tragic deaths, but the memory of the couple wouldn't haunt him.

Their seven-year-old nephew, the collateral damage of this most private war, was quite another matter.

God, so young.

Not like Lestrade, grey and worn.

He lingered to watch the little body loaded for its journey to the morgue.

Somehow Donovan procured both coffee and a cigarette, which she pressed into Lestrade's hands without comment or judgment. She understood.

That night, after staring into the fridge for mindless minutes, he decided to forego the leftover takeaway. In shirtsleeves and bare feet, he poured himself whisky and reached for his guitar.

Facing the reality of a slain child never grew any easier. He didn't want to know who or what he'd be, if it ever did.

"C'mon, Buddy." A plea for comfort to a benevolent ghost. "You and me."

Lestrade's fingers found the chords, familiar as a homecoming.

His rasping voice offered up lyrics, half-spoken and half-sighed, like a confession.

"Feeling so sad, and you're all alone and blue..."


Illustration: Tremendous thanks to the fabulous ~ha-liona, who created this beauty, and to my lovely friend dna-the-authoress, who requested it.

Lestrade - Request by ~ha-liona on deviantART

Notes: The title and lyrics come from "Learning the Game," as written and performed by Buddy Holly.

Read the sequel story: "The Day the Music Lived."

Vital Stats: Originally written in September 2011.


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 2nd, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC)
I think you've singlehandedly convinced me of Buddy Holly-loving Lestrade with this and "The Day the Music Lived". It just fits somehow, along with my conviction that he also loves the blues. You have such a melancholy tone here, and it works beautifully.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 10:18 am (UTC)
Oh, this makes my weekend! Thank you so much. I'm so tickled. I can easily imagine Lestrade loving the blues, as well. (Buddy Holly did, so that makes it all one seamless 'verse!)

You have such a melancholy tone here, and it works beautifully.

Thank you. This means a lot to me. I'm so pleased that tone came across in the writing.

I really appreciate your kind words! Thank you.
Sep. 2nd, 2011 02:33 pm (UTC)
Lovely, as always.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 10:19 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you, my friend!
Sep. 2nd, 2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
*weeps weeps weeps*
Poor Lestrade, has seen so much, has so little to comfort him!
Sep. 3rd, 2011 10:21 am (UTC)
Aw! *hugs you and passes the tissues*

Poor Lestrade indeed. But there is a silver lining: in the sequel, he ends up as one of Mrs Hudson's "misfit toys," thanks to John. So there is comfort to be had. (And I think Donovan watches out for him as best she can, too.)

Still, it has to be an incredibly difficult job, what he does. *hugs him and you*

As always, thank you for reading, my friend.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 3rd, 2011 12:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm sorry! *hugs*

There is a happy ending, of a sort: in the sequel, after all, he ends up as one of Mrs Hudson's "misfit toys," thanks to John. So he's not without comfort. And I think Donovan does her best to watch out for him, as well.

It must be a very difficult job our DI has, though, even so....

Thank you so much. As always, I really appreciate your reading and commenting.
Sep. 2nd, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
This is so moving that I'm fighting back the tears! Very nicely written! One of my favourite parts was Donovan offering Lestrade a coffee and cigarette without comment or judgment. Of course, it's great to catch a glimpse of Lestrade on his guitar communing with Buddy Holly after learning about his passion in The Day the Music Lived.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 12:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you found this to be moving! Thanks so much. I'm especially pleased that Donovan's quiet concern/kindness toward him seemed fitting.

Since the big event (Buddy Holly's 75th) is coming up this week, I just had to give this 'verse one more go. It was fun to write around the lyrics in this format. I'm glad you like the idea of Lestrade and his guitar.

Thanks for your lovely, encouraging feedback. I appreciate it so much!
Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
You Sherlocked again! Eeep!

Awww, poor Lestrade, the weight of the world on his shoulders, feeling grey and worn. And we do turn to our favorites for solace, be it a well-loved book or, in this case, Buddy Holly. It wasn't said, but I also feel he took comfort from Sally's silent presence.

Very dear piece. I am glad you are enjoying the 221b format. Just go where the muse blows...
Sep. 3rd, 2011 12:53 pm (UTC)
Yes, I did! *rolls eyes and blushes* I've actually been sitting on this a while. I realized I posted my Buddy Holly tribute two months early (that's back when I thought the next series would be out this month, and I didn't want to conflict with the new canon), so I wanted to add a little prequel now, just to celebrate at a more appropriate time (since Holly's 75th birthday is this week). I also had fun trying to integrate song lyrics into this 221b format.

I'm so, so glad you liked this and its tone. I wholly agree that we turn to our favorites for solace. And I also think you're quite right that, in this case, Sally's quiet concern/compassion and understanding helped Lestrade a great deal.

Thanks so much for your ongoing encouragement! You leave such lovely feedback, and I appreciate more than I can ever say.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
A drop of light in the shadows. That is what I see music bringing. And Buddy does it like very few others. Lestrades' grasp on hope is tenuous, but you write it so perfectly here.
Sep. 3rd, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
A drop of light in the shadows. That is what I see music bringing. And Buddy does it like very few others.

Oh, so beautifully put! This is just how I see it, as well.

Lestrades' grasp on hope is tenuous, but you write it so perfectly here.

Thank you. I'm so glad the mood seemed appropriate to you. I really appreciate your kind words!
Sep. 4th, 2011 07:43 am (UTC)
This is lovely. Donovan doing what she can and then Lestrade finding some solace in Buddy Holly. And it sets up the sequel so well. In both cases I like the fact that Lestrade is still affected by what he sees and that he isn't hardened.

Thank you also for introducing me to 221b fics.
Sep. 4th, 2011 10:28 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! I'm so glad you think this provides the proper platform for the sequel story, and that Donovan's quiet support seems fitting.

I'm especially glad that you like Lestrade's characterization. It struck me in "The Great Game" how strongly Lestrade reacts to Moriarty's use of the victims, and especially the child: despite his many years on the job, he appears to be very empathetic, and especially tender/affected where children are concerned (which also fits with his paternal nature). So I extrapolated from that. I'm really glad this worked for you.

I'm planning to shift back to a longer story or two, but I've really enjoyed playing with the 221b format. It really makes you focus and pay attention to every word! A great exercise. I think it's a very clever development of this fandom, and I'm glad to pass along the love for it! :)

I truly appreciate your kindness in reading and commenting. Thank you so much.
Sep. 4th, 2011 02:01 pm (UTC)
:'( *sniff* so sad, and yet I love this just as much as the sequel!

Cube ♥
Sep. 4th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you so much! I'm so glad you like it, despite it's sadness. *hugs*

It's lovely of you to read and comment. I really appreciate it.
Nov. 13th, 2011 10:14 pm (UTC)
""C'mon, Buddy." A plea for comfort from a benevolant ghost. "You and me.""

Just - GUH. Lestrade finding comfort from the horrors of his day job in his music is instant and irreversable headcanon. Congratulations.
Nov. 14th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad!!! I posted "The Day the Music Lived" very early, because I was afraid by the big day (7 Sept.) for Lestrade, the new series would be out (and might override the story's timeline). Then, when I realised I still had a chance to make one more tribute, I decided on this little ficlet, to set the stage for what we learn about Lestrade in "Music Lived." I also was taken with the idea of using lyrics in a 221b (a masochistic choice, as it leaves one with even fewer words - ACK!).

It means a lot to know this seems in character to you. I'm so pleased it's your headcanon now! I'm honoured! :)

Of course, I blame Rupert Graves for admitting in interviews that he plays the guitar. LOL.

Thank you so much for this.
Jul. 24th, 2012 02:43 am (UTC)
Portrait of a very special man--and of the many real-life examples of his type. May they all be blessed with solace and peace.
Jul. 25th, 2012 11:59 am (UTC)
May they all be blessed with solace and peace.

Oh, well said indeed. *nods emphatically*

Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate it tremendously!
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )