It’s a picture John sends him the day he’s packed up his office, mobile beeping twice and barely noticeable over the cacophony of the pub, the clink and smash of glasses and silverware, shouting and laughter and somewhere, a crying woman.
He studies the picture for a moment, face screwed up a bit, and types back, nice picture. It isn’t but a minute later before John replies.
Look closer, Greg.
So he does.
With a finger, Lestrade pulls the chunks of bitten melting ice from his mouth and tosses them back in his glass of gin and tonic, and holds his mobile up closer, twisting on his stool to find the light. There it is, in the corner next to the light pole, bolder and cleaner than the graffiti over which it’s painted. His name catches his eye first, and above it the words no one at Scotland Yard had dared utter during the past three months - during paperwork, and overturned cases, the thick-aired moment of complete and utter silence of every detective at every cubicle when he’d left his office that afternoon and walked with a ramrod spine to the door of the DCI, tossed his warrant card on his desk and left.
He jabs the “send” button on his phone, already shoving back his glass and the water-soaked napkin under it streaking across the bar. “What the hell is that?” he demands the second after John picks up.
“I’ve never seen one like that before. Only - only the ones for him.” John is breathless, excitement tampered down respectably, but there all the same.
“Why the hell would anyone…” Lestrade can’t even complete the sentence, running a hand across his face. Why would anyone trust me?, he’s dangerously close to saying. He’s seen the dripping wet declarations of faith in Sherlock dashed across the city, along the walls by the Thames, around the corner from 221B, even a street away from the Yard - different artists, different signatures, different colors. Not just one person, he and John had admired one day, but a dozen, unseen believers.
“London still trusts you because you believed in him too. Because you’re the best of a bad lot.”