Burden

by Maureen S. O'Brien
This story takes place during "The Adventure of the Deranged Detective"
She smelt like sweat and smoke. Her hair was limp and bedraggled, and her uniform stained. He looked down at the woman he carried and knew that if she could speak, she would complain about these small things and never mention what caused them.
But Beth Lestrade was not herself today. Not at all.
He bit down on the anger and disgust that rose within him. Someone had taken the inspector's mind and used it as a plaything. She had been used to destroy the evidence she herself had gathered, used with a recklessness that threatened to destroy her as well. He would love to see that person hang, but for once New Scotland Yard's sentence of mind alteration through crypnosis would not horrify him even a little. This blackguard deserved whatever he got, and Holmes intended to dish him out a full helping.
"I can take her," Watson offered quietly as he scanned Lestrade with one wave of his robotic hand.
Holmes did not bother to reply. There was no need. She was no featherweight, but he was stronger than he looked. She burdened his conscience more than his arms. She had already been put into danger twice by the blackguard controlling her mind. Now it seemed obvious that the next step must involve putting her back into his reach. He did not like the idea at all.
But he did not like seeing her so still. He liked even less to remember her face twisted into a grimace of unthinking hate, or her grace put into service leaping across gulfs that would horrify anyone but a madwoman. The person who did this to her must be caught, no matter the cost, and she would be the first to say so.
But it would be better if he could divert attention away from her onto himself. A plan was forming in his mind, and it gave the actor in him dark pleasure. Yes, the player would become a plaything himself, and his own cleverness would carry him into Holmes' clutches. There would be a little danger involved, but better a little danger than this waiting!
He pushed back the anger again, and boxed it next to the fear that the damage to her was permanent. He would not think about his aunt who had been...put away, nor the horrors of the asylums in his day. Instead, he allowed himself a little longer to think of how she had responded to her own name and fought for freedom. She was still in there. Surely she could be brought back to herself.
Strange that he had not known how much he would miss her restlessness. Strange that so great a presence in his life could weigh so few stone.
The lift doors opened and he followed Watson inside. "Chief Grayson's office," he told the lift, and it obeyed.
His eyes never left her face.

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