Gregory Lestrade has a crescent shaped scar on his left palm, the size of a coat button.
Greg met Tammy Winston seven months before at a pub, a year after his divorce was finalized. Anderson convinced him to ask the pretty red-head to dance. Two pints later, Greg stumbled over to her and stammered out a request for a dance. She laughed and held out her hand.
They danced until after midnight, and went back to Greg's flat.
They officially started dating the next morning.
Tammy likes to go for walks in the park every Monday. Greg goes into work later that day so they can spend a few hours circling around the park, holding hands and basking in the sunlight. One memorable Monday, it's rainy and miserable, but Greg insists they go all the same.
Tammy brings an umbrella and they huddle together under it, trying to stay dry. Greg laughs at the little moue of distaste on Tammy's face, and after a moment she joins in. She presses her face into his shoulder and stands on her tiptoes to press a kiss against his neck.
Then, laughing, she grabs the umbrella and skips away, leaving Greg to get soaked. He laughs and follows her, catching up quickly, and pulls her into his arms and twirls her around. Tammy squeals with laughter. Her red hair is plastered to her face in seconds. A few seconds later they're kissing.
It's a perfect morning.
Tammy likes to read. She isn't much for classic literature though she loves Pride and Prejudice and can quote Mr. Darcy's first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet line-for-line. She loves science fiction novels and autobiographies. She has a dry wit that Greg appreciates, and she has a large repertoire of dirty jokes. Her favourite food is clams. She loves horror films and delights in showing Greg some of her all-time favourite ones.
They stay up for too late watching old films.
She doesn't like to hear about Greg's work, though, so after a few weeks he stops mentioning his job. She doesn't like how late he stays out because of his work, so he makes an effort not to put in so many hours. It quickly becomes apparent that he can't help his job's odd hours, and so he stops explaining to Tammy why he can't leave early.
Greg's job and the hours he puts in is their first major argument.
“You're going to wear that?” Tammy asks on a Monday morning, three weeks after she moved in. She sneers and looks at the yellow polo shirt Greg is wearing.
“Yeah.” Greg says. “I thought we were going for a walk around the park?”
“I told you to dress casually.” She puts her hands on her hips and gives him another critical once-over. “That simply won't do. I'll have to dress you myself.”
Greg is uncertain, but he relents under the hard-eyed stare Tammy is giving him. Tammy drags him into the bedroom, and pulls out a plain white polo, and a black scarf that looks like something pilfered from Sherlock's wardrobe.
“I don't like scarfs, you know that.” Greg protests after he's changed into the white polo.
Tammy scoffs and stands on her tiptoes and ties the scarf around his neck anyway. “You could do with a little class, yeah?” She taps Greg's cheek with enough force that it feels more like a slap.
Tammy looks Greg over, but she still doesn't look pleased. “There. Now you look almost presentable.”
“I won't embarrass you now.” Greg says, jokingly. He has no reason to. He's in shape for his job, even if his stomach is softening a tiny bit because of his age.
Tammy opens the door, and she teases. “You already do.” She motions for Greg to follow her out the door. He does, with a sinking feeling in his gut. But he wants to work things out with Tammy, and so he doesn't complain as he follows her out the door.
The next morning, Greg rouses and finds a note on the pillow beside him:
Went for a jog.
Left you some clothes to wear, so you won't look like a slob. There's also a healthy, bagged lunch for you in the fridge. Make sure you eat it instead of the greasy takeaway you usually get. You've been putting on weight. I don't want to be seen in public with an overweight slob.
Greg's hands shake as he pulls on the pinstripe dress pants Tammy laid out, the crisp, ironed navy dress shirt, along with a matching suit jacket. There's even a matching navy scarf. He feels like he's choking as he loops the scarf around his neck.
He looks at his reflection in the mirror and frowns. “I look like bloody Sherlock.”
He forgets his lunch.
“Very classy, Sir.” Sally says when she catches sight of him that afternoon. He mumbles his thanks. “I have to ask, though, are you trying to imitate our favorite freak?”
Greg laughs without any humour. “Of course not. The girlfriend picked it out.”
Sally grins. “Ah, you're at that stage, are you? Letting your girl dress you? 'For you know it, she'll be your wife.”
Greg shoos Sally out, and tries to ignore the way his heart clenches at the thought of marrying Tammy.
It's too soon, Greg thinks desperately. I'm not ready to ask her to marry me. We've only been together for a few months. We're still getting to know each other.
When Greg gets back to his flat that night, there's not one gram of food in his house. All of the cupboards are empty, and so is the fridge. Even the rotten pear that's been sitting on the counter for a week is gone.
Don't get anything to eat. The note taped to the fridge says. I'll know.
Tammy comes back a few hours later with bags from Tesco filled with healthy food. She wraps her arms around Greg's shoulders, and kisses him sweetly. Her nails dig into his shoulders.
“I'm just looking out for you, love,” She croons. “I want my Detective Inspector to be healthy, and loose some of that fat.”
He looses twelve pounds that month, and his clothes are baggy and hang off his frame. Tammy throws out any new clothes he tries to buy. She continues to lay clothes out for him, and make him lunch.
Greg tells himself he likes being the centre of her attention, that he'll grow to love her like he did his ex-wife, before everything went south. Tammy's only doing all of this because she cares.
He's been so lonely since his divorce. Tammy's the first woman he's been interested in since his wife. It feels nice to be with someone again. It's nice to kiss someone, to hold someone. Tammy makes his world a little bit brighter, and he's thankful for her presence in his life.
If he needs to work a little bit harder to make Tammy happy, then so be it. He wants to be with Tammy, and if he needs to make some sacrifices for her, than he's more than happy to do so.
Four months into their relationship, Tammy gets drunk off white wine. The whole time they've been dating, Greg has never seen Tammy drink once. He'd thought it would be nice to surprise her with the wine.
It turns out not only does she have a problem with alcohol, Tammy is also a mean drunk.
“You look positively disgusting, Gregory,” Tammy slurs. Her nails dig into his right cheek as she turns his head to the left and then the right. “I don't know what I'm going to do with you.”
“You don't seem to mind dressing me.” Greg snaps. He's had a little bit too much wine himself.
His cheek stings with the force of Tammy's slap. “You don't talk back to me!” Greg staggers to his feet and steps away from his girlfriend.
“You're fat and lazy! I don't know why I put up with you!” Tammy shrieks. She lobs the wineglass at his head. Greg ducks. Bits of glass breaks under his feet as he moves away from her. She's in front of him suddenly, her fists pounding against his chest.
“You don't respect me! All you care about is work!” She cries. “I hate you! I hate you!”
Greg catches hold of her flailing hands and restrains them. All he gets for his trouble is a viscous kick to his shin, and a bite to his arm that bleeds for close to ten minutes.
The next morning, Greg kicks Tammy out.
“Interesting.” Sherlock Holmes says later that morning. He's looking at Greg and not at the body of a gentleman in his early thirties missing his kidney and liver. That sets off warning bells in Greg's head, telling him to be prepared for Sherlock verbally dissecting him.
“What is?” Greg asks. He tries, and fails, to keep the impatience out of his voice.
“You broke up with your girlfriend.”
“And how did you come to that conclusion?” Greg asks tiredly.
“Your clothes are not meticulously ironed, your hair's not neatly combed, and you're not wearing those hideous scarfs.” Sherlock opens his mouth, ready to continue, but Greg interrupts him before Sherlock gathers more steam.
“Yeah, yeah, you're brilliant, we all know that. Can you get back to the dead body?”
Sherlock huffs. “That's boring. It was obviously the baker.”
Greg splutters. “How on Earth did you figure that out?”
Sherlock presses his hand lightly against Lestrade's chest. Greg has to bite the inside of his cheek to keep the wince off his face, and for one second, Sherlock's eyes are dark and knowing. The next moment, Sherlock is launching into a long speech about how the baker has connections to black-market dealings.
Life goes on.
Five days later, Tammy's back. She begged forgiveness. She'd kissed him and ran her hands over Greg's body with such reverence, that he'd caved and taken her back. She's sweet and pliant in bed that night. The unpleasantness from five nights ago is a distant memory.
Two days later, he's wearing the clothes she's picked out for him, and he's back to eating the lunches she's prepared for him.
He doesn't say anything when she belittles him, because he knows she's only doing it because she cares. It doesn't matter because Greg loves her.
He loses another five pounds that month.
Work's been slow, and Lestrade hasn't seen Sherlock or John Watson in over a month. There's been no interesting cases, and so there's been no need to call in the world's only consulting detective. He's taken to hiding at work because things back at the flat are so bad.
Tammy's been drunk every night. She either ignores him when he gets home or starts screaming about how she never sees him anymore. It's okay, though, Greg can deal.
“I love her.” He whispers to himself. It feels a lot like he's saying it to remind himself.
Six months into the relationship, Lestrade is almost shot while chasing down a banker who's kidnapped a teenage girl. John Watson saves his life by pulling him out of the way and shoves him against a brick wall. Then he's off and running after Sherlock and the banker while Lestrade pants against the wall.
He's light-headed with a combination of adrenaline and hunger. His hand shakes alarmingly as he runs his fingers through his hair. He takes a deep breath and exhales before he's running off after John's retreating back.
Later, while John chats up one of the Met's newest female officers, Sherlock swoops in and leans beside Greg. His eyes are burning with the excitement of the chase, though his hand is gentle as he hesitantly touches Greg's shoulder.
“Are you all right?” Sherlock asks. His words are rushed, as if he isn't sure if he should speak them or not.
“Yeah, I am. John's quick thinking saved me from a bullet to the brain.” Greg laughs in an attempt to bring some humour to the otherwise dark situation.
Sherlock turns burning eyes to Greg's. He seems to vibrate with restrained energy. “That's not what I meant.”
“What are you—“ The inspector's words are cut off when Sherlock's lips press unexpectedly against his. For one brief, perfect moment, time stands still. Sherlock's tongue swipes against his lips before drawing away. His teeth nip against Lestrade's, and the inspector gasps, and then the moment's over. Sherlock's pulling away.
“Be careful.” Sherlock says urgently, cryptically, and then he's flouncing away with his great coat trailing behind him.
Greg feels as if his whole world's tipped on its side and nothing makes sense anymore.
He doesn't make it back to his flat until after seven am that morning. He's exhausted, though his brain's buzzing with activity. His mind keeps switching between Sherlock kissing him and John pulling him out of danger of being shot. His skin tingles pleasantly.
Tammy is waiting at the tiny kitchen table. She slams down the book she's reading. Greg takes off his coat, and starts to unwind his scarf, but thinks better of it when Tammy's eyes narrow.
“Where were you?” She thunders. She barrels on before Greg can even speak. “I rang you three times! I've been worried about you!”
Greg takes out his mobile and checks for any missed calls. “You didn't ring. There's no missed messages.”
There's only a whistle of air as a warning. Greg barely manages to duck the cereal bowl flung at his head. The spoon whacks him on the arm with a dull thud of pain. Then Tammy's in front of him, her small, delicate hands wrapping around his arms.
She's screaming in his face, her anger giving her the strength to slam his body twice against the wall. He refuses to fight back, worried he'd hurt her if he tried to shove her off. His ears are ringing when she finally steps back. She slaps him once on the cheek, hard.
“No one likes a liar, Gregory.” She hands him four Paracetamol, and glares at him until he downs the medicine. She leads him over to the couch. He rests his aching body down on the couch. He's just dosing off when he feels something soft press against his face, cutting off his air supply. He panics, thrashing his arms out wildly. He hears Tammy let out a small, muffled cry of pain, and then suddenly the pillow that'd been covering his face is gone.
Her face is pale and she leans forward and kisses him hard enough on the lips to draw blood. Greg pushes her away from him, and leans away from Tammy's touch.
“I'm only looking out for you, Gregory.” She croons. She walks away.
When Greg wakes up later that night, there's no food in his flat and there's another note telling him not to get anything to eat. He's so hungry that he gets a grinder from the shop down the street.
In retaliation, Tammy confiscates all his money and cards. She leaves him nothing but his police badge. He doesn't even have the money to call a cab to go anywhere, and he's too humiliated to call a friend for help.
Greg doesn't eat for two days.
He's too beaten down to care.
By month seven, Greg barely even notices when he's hungry. He agrees with everything Tammy says to him. He's a loser, he's ugly, he's fat, he's worthless.
He's just thankful that Tammy is willing to waste her time with a loser like him.
He loves her.
Greg has another confusing encounter with Sherlock Holmes the night he finally breaks up with Tammy Winston.
Sherlock barges into his office with his usual lack of regard for little things like privacy. Things are awkward and strained enough between Sherlock and Lestrade, so much so that even Anderson's commented on it. The four times Greg's seen the detective since their confusing kiss, he's alternated between staring at Sherlock, or avoiding the younger man as much as possible.
“What do you want?” Lestrade asks. He's not being polite, yeah, but his head's spinning and he's really tired. Tammy kept him up most of last night, yelling at him about not spending enough time with her.
Sherlock hovers over Lestrade, where the inspector is sitting in his chair. His silence is grating on the last of Greg's nerves. He's also uncomfortable with the way Sherlock's eyes are running over Greg's face.
“I have to wonder if you care about yourself, Greg.” Sherlock muses.
“Oi, we're on a first name basis now, Sherlock?”
The detective continues as if Lestrade never spoke. “You're losing weight, I can see it, though it frankly doesn't surprise me no one on your team has noticed. They're all imbeciles.” He smiles without a trace of humour when Greg freezes. “So I have to wonder, if the reason why you're putting up with her, is because you simply don't care. And that's unacceptable.”
“I don't know what you're playing at, Sherlock—“
“I am worried, you stupid, stupid man.” Sherlock says, and then he's turning on his heel and slamming the door shut behind him. Greg's left behind, stunned and bewildered that someone, namely Sherlock Holmes cares enough to tell him he's worried.
As beaten down as Greg Lestrade may be, he still has a spark of intelligence and life that Tammy cannot beat out of him. He has a job that he loves (Even though he's too stupid to be a Detective Inspector, like Tammy's told him on more than one occasion), and he has friends (Though Tammy barely lets him see them outside of those he works with).
It's like Sherlock's words jolted something inside of him, and Greg finally sees that he's trapped in an abusive relationship. Tammy's trying to kill his will, but Greg's not going to put up with her words or physical abuse anymore. He's done. He wants his life back.
He breaks up with Tammy once and for all later that night. It's one of the hardest things he's ever had to do, but Sherlock's words (“I am worried, you stupid, stupid man."), said in that laconic voice, gets him through it.
Once Tammy realizes Greg is serious about breaking up, she stabs him with a fork in retaliation. It's only the very real threat of being arrested that has Tammy scurrying from the flat.
A few days later, he sells what she's left behind.
Sherlock offers to track her down. Greg declines Sherlock's offer. He never wants to think about her again.
It takes longer for Greg to recover from Tammy's abuse than he thought it would. His eating habits are all fucked up, and the first week after Tammy's gone, Greg wakes up each night in a cold sweat. He can feel her hands on his skin and hear her voice in his ears.
Mycroft Holmes ambushes him ten days after the break-up and deposits him at a therapists office. It's such a Holmes thing to do, the kidnapping that is, and the clumsy attempt at caring warms his heart more than it should.
Of course Mycroft Holmes knew about Tammy and what she was doing to him. He asks Mycroft on the ride home from his second therapy session why he didn't intervene.
“You needed to care enough about yourself to want the help.”
The therapy helps.
Three months after Greg kicks Tammy out, he and Sherlock begin dating. Nothing much changes except they have fantastic sex, and Sherlock invades his flat more nights than not when John's staying at Sarah's. The detective hogs all the covers, and eats his food, and plays his violin at all hours of the night.
Sherlock helps in other ways too: he runs his fingers through Greg's hair when he wakes up from a nightmare, he kisses the scar on Lestrade's palm, he makes sure Greg eats, and he never, ever calls Greg by his full first-name.
Six months after Greg kicks Tammy out, and nearly three months after Greg and Sherlock are officially dating, Tammy is brought into lock-up. Sherlock is sitting on Greg's desk being a nuisance as usual, watching Greg pace the room when Sally brings Greg the news.
“What's the charge?” Greg asks. Sherlock's in front of him, his tall, lean body forcing his against the wall. He almost seems to be trying to shield Greg both from Sally and the news.
“She tried to murder her boyfriend.” Sherlock stiffens in front of him. Sally tilts her head, confused. “She's asking for you.”
“No.” Sherlock's voice is furious. He turns to Lestrade and gently cups Greg's face. The room seems to be tilting alarmingly. He forces himself to concentrate on Sherlock's voice. “You don't have to see her.”
“Lestrade?” Sally asks hesitantly. “What's wrong?”
“Go!” Sherlock says, his voice laced with venom. “You're just in the way.”
Lestrade is too stunned to chastise Sherlock for being rude, yet again. He sits when the detective pushes him gently onto his seat. Sherlock crouches in front of him and the honest concern on Sherlock's face, concern directed towards Greg, is humbling to see.
He knows, realistically, that Sherlock cares. Sherlock wouldn't be in a relationship with him if he found Greg too tedious or boring to deal with on a weekly basis. It's still nice to see the evidence that Sherlock cares written plainly on his face.
“I think I need to see her.” Greg whispers.
“Why?” Sherlock asks. He sounds confused. “She hurt you.”
“I need to see her for what she really is. And I need her to see that I’ve moved on, and I’m happy, and that she can't hurt me anymore.”
“Do you want me to come?” Sherlock asks, hesitant, like he doesn't think his presence will be welcome.
“Please.” Greg clasps Sherlock's hand and squeezes tightly before Sherlock steps back reluctantly.
“You've put on weight, Gregory,” Are the first words Tammy Winston says when he stops in front of her cell. Sherlock's a warm, solid weight to his left. Sally Donovan hovers anxiously over his shoulder. She's obviously confused at the venom in Tammy's voice, but she keeps her face blank and professional all the same.
“Yes I have, I've been eating more lately.” Greg responds calmly. He sees Sally start out of the corner of his eye.
“Your clothes are disgusting, too. You look so dumpy. Your life is sorely lacking without me there.” She sneers.
“I'm actually quite happy, thank you.” Greg is surprised how calm he is when facing down the woman who nearly destroyed his life for seven months.
“You don't mean that.” Tammy snaps. “You can't function without me.”
“Actually, I can,” Greg says calmly. He motions to Sherlock and smiles warmly. “I've moved on.”
“You're a faggot!” Tammy cusses. Her outburst takes everyone by surprise.
After a long, tense moment where Sally keeps glancing indecisively at the door, Tammy is suddenly pressing against the bars, her small, dainty hand clutching at him through the bars. Sherlock inhales sharply and pulls Greg away from her with a gentle but persistent grip on his shoulder. Tammy frowns.
“I want you to get me out of here, Gregory,” Tammy pleads. She smiles prettily. “The charges are false and grossly exaggerated.”
Greg looks towards Sally for an explanation. In his haste to talk to Tammy, he'd completely forgotten to either ask or look at what Tammy had been thrown in prison for. All he knew was she'd allegedly tried to murder her boyfriend.
“She threw her boyfriend from their second-story flat. Next door neighbors heard them arguing. The woman next door opened the flat door just in time to see Tammy shove Benjamin Close through the glass window.”
Greg whistled. “I think you're where you deserve to be, Tammy.”
She snarls and starts cussing at Lestrade. Sherlock pulls Greg from the room, Sally close behind. She shakes her head in disgust.
“She's one bad apple, yeah?” Sally asks.
“That's what I put up with for nearly five months. She wasn't like that when we first started dating.” Lestrade responds, absently.
“You saved yourself.” Sherlock says firmly.
Greg shakes his head in the negative. “Only after months of verbal and physical abuse.” Greg exhales shakily. “She starved me, dressed me in clothes she thought were attractive. I let her hit me. Christ, I even put up with her belittling me. I'm pathetic.”
Sally hugs him. Greg realizes with a start that she's crying into his shoulder. “I'm sorry, Sir, that I never realized anything was wrong. I'm so sorry that you thought you deserved what she said and did to you.”
Greg pats her back. His heart clenches painfully thinking about Tammy and what she's done to him. At the same time, he's so fucking thankful for Sally and her support. Sally finally pulls away and wipes her eyes with the back of her hand.
“She never tried to kill you though, right?”
Greg thinks of Tammy slamming his head back against the wall, and the pills. He thinks of the pillow she'd pressed against his face when he'd been weak and fuzzy from the medicine. He can still see her pale face and feel her teeth biting into his lip as she'd kissed him after she'd taken the pillow away.
He realizes now, sitting here with Sherlock and Sally, just how fucking lucky he'd really been that she hadn't killed him.
“I'm sorry too,” Sherlock says sincerely. For one moment he looks like he wants to put his arms around Greg, but he visibly pulls himself together and instead settles for resting his hand on Lestrade's shoulder.
“What are you sorry for?” Greg mumbles. Sally watches Sherlock curiously through red-rimmed eyes.
Sherlock exhales sharply before he speaks, his pale face ashen. “I saw the signs of abuse but I didn't try to do anything. I could have helped and instead I stayed my hands. This is partially my fault.” Sherlock closes his eyes in obvious pain. “She could have killed you.”
Greg pulls Sherlock forward and kisses Sherlock softly. The detective gasps against his lips and kisses back before settling back on his heels. Greg meets Sally's eyes and smiles weakly.
“I'm free now. I'm healing. I'm seeing a therapist too, you know that, Sherlock.”
Sherlock nods fiercely. “All the same, I want John to look you over. You haven't been to a doctor since you broke up with her.”
Greg nods his agreement.
“And,” Sherlock continues, “I'll call Mycroft. I should have done that from the beginning. My brother will make sure she never sees the outside of a prison again.”
“You do that, Freak.” Sally encourages. Greg watches with amusement as Sally and Sherlock bicker amongst themselves, Sherlock's hand resting on Greg's leg. He feels a weight he hadn't known he'd been carrying lift from his shoulders.
Life continues on, and this time, Greg knows for sure, he'll be all right.