“So how's Lestrade doing?" Sally asked Molly during a visit in the morgue.
“Well he's still pretty much out of it the most time but the episodes when he is awake and coherent are becoming longer and more frequent.”
Sally nodded “That's good to hear. I mean his body needs the sleep to heal, doesn't it? I'll tell the rest of the team that he's been cleared for social visits.”
“Yes, I'm pretty sure he'll be happy to see you lot.”
“I hope so. How does he take the fact that,” Sally looked down uncomfortably, “you know, the spinal cord injury?”
Molly shrugged her shoulders. “Not sure. I mean it's a pretty big thing to deal with. He hadn't mentioned it the last times I saw him. I think he's trying to push it out of his mind. Ignoring that it happened. If he ever speaks about his injuries he only mentions the ones to his chest and how they trouble him.” She didn't want to tell Sally about the times when Greg had cried. Or when she had seen “better dead” written on his notepad when she returned after a doctor had been doing some tests. That was something utmost personal. “You don't have any contact information of some of his friends by any chance?”
“No sorry,” Sally shook her head. “But he's got a friend who works on a different team. I'm pretty sure he already contacted any common friends. I'll let him know that he can visit Lestrade now.”
“Great, thank you.”
Greg was woken by a knock on his door. He rolled his eyes. What the hell was he supposed to do. He was still not able to talk because of the ventilator and he was hardly able to move so there was no way somebody could disturb him at something. He couldn't even sit up because of that stupid back brace he was forced to wear.
It took ages until the door opened and a smile formed on Greg's face when he saw Peter and Thomas, his best mates, walking towards his bed. He lifted his hand and waved slightly.
“Ah look who's finally awake this time.” Peter said and sat down on one of the chairs.
“What an honor.” Thomas added laughing. Upon seeing Greg's confused face he added: “Well the last times we were here you were pretty much out of it most of the time. Can't even remember it, can you?” They knew each other for over 20 years now so they had every right to banter. Greg made an apologetic face.
“Don't be. You look good. Well not good, but better.” Thomas joked. “How are you feeling?” he asked and got a weak thump up as a reply.
Greg pointed towards the notepad and waited until Thomas had handed him it. "What were you waiting for at the door? Me saying come in?"
"Sorry, force of habit I guess. We were actually discussing if we should go straight in but then thought that we should give you a warning, you know so that we won't burst into something indecent," Peter laughed. "We saw some the nurses," he added making a whistling noise.
Greg forced a smile. "Not much that I can do I'm afraid. Useless down below and too much pain when I try to move my upper body," he wrote.
Peter and Thomas chuckled uncomfortably.
"Anyway, what's new at the Yard?"
"Well, they are desperately trying to find somebody stupid enough to look after the paperwork in the chaos of what you call your system. Not sure if they'll ever find one." Peter said.
Greg jokingly rolled his eyes. "perfect system"
"If it's still the same as back then when we used to be together on the beat I highly doubt it." Thomas joked.
"Not fair, injured."
"No excuse there, mate."
Greg listened to Peter talk about what else was going on at the Yard and in their lives and he could feel the sleep trying to claim him again. He hated it. Why can't he be able to stay awake when somebody visited him without feeling utterly exhausted after a short while. Right now he was at the point even was too exhausted to write down what he wanted to say and had resorted to head and hand movements to communicate.
He must have dozed off because suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder and Thomas saying to him that they were about to leave. Greg opened his eyes again and shook his head. He was bored to death during the times he was awake and nobody was visiting him, so he didn't want them to leave. He raised his head slightly and reached out his hand but his mates mistook it for a gesture to say goodbye and shook it.
"Get your rest so that you'll soon be back with us, okay?" Peter carefully padded his shoulder and Thomas added: "We'll visit you again soon." And with that they left and Greg was alone again. He let his head fall back onto his pillow again and rolled his eyes annoyed.
Greg hated it to be stuck in that hospital bed.
He was told that there was a nice view out of the window in his room over London and the newly built The Shard but because of his injuries he had to lay nearly flat and he hadn't really had the chance yet to enjoy that view.
He still hasn't regained all his feeling in his legs and moving his arms higher than a few inches resulted in unspeakable pain in his chest as he had found out during his first physiotherapy session. Well at least the first he was fully aware of.
It had gotten better with the time but still hurt like hell and it annoyed him to still be so helpless even though his doctors and therapists assured him that he was making good progress.
And most of it all he hated it to be on the ventilator.
At least now he finally was able to speak after some sessions with a speech-language pathologists. They had started with it shortly after Peter and Thomas had visited and it took him some while to get used to it but finally he was able to manage it. That was a little bit of freedom. But even though it was not as annoying as writing down everything he wanted to say it didn't mean that it was easy. Greg was only able to speak when the ventilator pushed the air out of his body, so his speak pattern was off and it took him a lot of effort to keep up conversations.
Shortly after Greg got his speaking valve fitted , John and Sherlock paid him a visit. Greg had the vague suspicion that John had persuaded Sherlock to come along with the promise to talk about the case. Greg didn't mind, at least that made him feel like his old self a little bit.
“How are you, Greg? I see they let you talk now, hope you're not only using it for complaining?” John greeted Greg with a grin.
“...had been...better but then...also worse.” Greg said smirking “'s boring here...no...'m never... complaining... 's like ...a 5....star hol...liday”
“Well I better ask the nurses about that” John said laughing.
The reply was an unidentifiable grunt.
“so...” Greg started, “...what have....you found...out?” The last word was nearly lost in a cough.
“Nothing really, I'm afraid” John answered.
Greg could hear a disapproving grunt from his right. “...wha'?” he asked turning his head to Sherlock.
“Well, first of all we do know that this wasn't a random attack,” Sherlock explained, “Someone ordered Greydon to kill you. He was ordered to date the original victim; who was killed by some junky who got paid for it by the way. Because of that who ever ordered the attack on you could be sure that Greydon would be questioned as a possible person of interest.
“huh?...who?” Lestrade asked puzzled
“That's where we're not quite sure yet” Sherlock admitted.
“I'm trying to get Donovan to let me look into your old cases but she doesn't let me. I want you to think about all your old cases and as soon as you are physically up to it get the ones you think could be connected with this from Donovan, look through them and tell me everything that meets your eye.”
Lestrade nodded, his mind already going through old cases, searching for clues on who would have an interest to kill him.
John and Sherlock stayed for over an hour, talking about old cases and what else was going on. Jon noticed that the hint of sadness the DI had in his eyes he had since the shooting was nearly gone.
After a nurse asked them to leave as the visiting time was over John took Sherlock to the site. “I see what you did there, Sherlock” The Detective gave John an annoyed look. “ You could've got the files easily from Mycroft,” John continued. “And due to the lack of an Officer in front of Lestrade's room I think you already know who did it and didn't care to tell me or Lestrade for that matter.”
“Obviously, “ Sherlock replied. “Our Detective Inspector is feeling depressed because of his current situation and needs something to feel useful again during the time of his recovery. So I got all of Lestrade's old cases from Mycroft, found a guy who had a lot of reasons to go on a revenge trip on Lestrade and had him taken, let's say to custody, by my brother. I couldn't risk to let him get away. He'll remain there until Lestrade helped us to figure it out..again.”
“Sherlock, that's genius! He began to lighten up when we were talking about work stuff and old cases, “ John said. “Allowing him to help us finding the guy and giving him the feeling that we couldn't do it without his help will hopefully keep the depressions at bay.“
John knew that sooner or later Lestrade would figure out what was going on and would become suspicious as to why Sherlock wasn't able to catch the guy by himself. But John hoped that this would rather be later and that Lestrade would appreciate that all of this was to keep him occupied during his recovery and to show him that he'll always be needed.
The doctors said that they would try to get him off the ventilator in a couple of days. Greg was really looking forward to it but until then he had to deal with the fact that even a simple sentence took ages to finish.
He was thinking to tell Molly about it at her next visit but he still vividly remembered the last time the doctors tried to take him off. He had wanted Molly to be with him because he had wanted her to be proud about the progress he made and to show her that they were only steps away to have a real date. Well it turned out to be the wrong choice.
The weaning progress had actually started when they had put him on triggered ventilation after leaving the ICU and the doctors where quite certain that Greg would be able to breath completely on his own after the progress he mad with his speech. So everybody had been quite optimistic.
While the nurse had been removing the ventilator he had reached for Molly's hand.
“All right, Greg, “ the nurse said “ now slowly try to draw in a breath”
Greg had done as he had been told and had experienced a horrible pain in his chest that had brought tears to his eyes. He had stopped the breathing effort at once and his grip on Molly's hand had tightened.
“I know that it hurts, but you need to try to breath as deep as possible. The pain will get better eventually,” the nurse had tried to reassure him
But even after he had tried again he hadn't been able to draw in a deep breath and had felt like he was suffocating and sightly panicked.
Not wanting to be hooked up to that machine again he had chosen to pretend that his breathing was all good after Molly had asked how he was feeling.
He hadn't noticed that what he thought was an optimistic “yes, all perfect” had come out as a strained “ 's a' pfect” and that Molly and the nurse had exchanged worried looks.
“You know it's not a shame to try at a different time. It takes time to get back to regular breathing with lung injuries like yours,” the nurse had said reassuringly while lying a hand on Lestrade's shoulder. “We just keep changing the settings of the ventilator every day to less and less assistance until your lungs are healed to the point where they are able to work completely on their own.”
Lestrade could feel a tear running down his left chin. He shook his head “No! 's good. All fine. Don' need help anymo'”
“No Greg you're not fine” Molly had said, slightly annoyed about his stubbornness. “Your breathing is bloody laboured. I bet that you are not even getting enough oxygen." "And don't try to lie to me, Greg.” Molly had added seeing that Greg was trying to word a denial.“The nurse can check the level in your blood, you know?” Lestrade looked defeated.
Molly had hated herself for the harsh words but she knew that they were needed. Greg being the stubborn idiot that he is would keep on pretending that everything is fine until he would pass out due to the lack of oxygen or even worse stop breathing while at sleep.
Deep inside Greg had known that Molly was right and had given in. The ventilator got hooked up again and the nurse had promised him that they'll give it an other try soon.
“Sorry.” Lestrade had been utterly disappointed. “Thought...that I...was ready,” He had been desperately trying to hide the tears that had threatened to come up again.
“There is nothing to be sorry about” Molly had answered while running a hand soothingly through his razor cut short hair. “Just don't be so stubborn the next time when you know it isn't working at the moment OK? You've come a far way already and episodes like this will only do more harm than good”
“I promise” Greg had said, reaching up to her hand despite the pain in his chest.
With this episode in mind Greg decided that it would be better to try it without Molly. During the last week the nurse had changed the setting of his ventilator to a level where he was nearly breathing on his own. The ventilator only kicked in when the cycle between the breaths became to long or when his oxygen level had dropped during the night, so they decided to give it an other try.
Greg felt a small amount of panic creeping up. What if he still wasn't able to breath independently? Could he manage an other throw back? When the nurse unhooked him from the ventilator Greg decided that it was probably a good move that Molly wasn't here. He would most like do something stupid again, despite his promise to her the last time.
Carefully he took a breath. “Not bad” he thought. It still hurt but not as much as the last time and he was able to get more oxygen with one breath. It was still a long way to the full lung capacity but he didn't had the feeling that he was suffocating.
The nurse looked pleased as well. “That's looking good, Greg. I told you a little time will do wonders,“ she said while checking the monitors. “I'm now going to remove the trach valve and the tube. This might be a little bit uncomfortable but it will be over quickly. I need you to cough as hard as you can on three. Can you do that for me Greg? “
Greg nodded and did as he was told. “Bloody hell, “ he thought, “a little uncomfortable my arse. This felt like my lungs got ripped out” He continued to cough while the nurse threw away the tubes and began dressing his wound.
“I'll get you some ice cubes to sooth your throat” the nurse said. “And the doctor to check if you are up to solid food already.”
“Thanks” Lestrade rasped out.
The prospect of being allowed real food made Lestrade's day even greater. Not only did he got rid of that stupid breathing machine but there was also a change that he would be able to eat again. Everybody who visited him since he got out of the ICU had to put up with his complaining that he really misses to eat actual food. The stuff they feed him with the tube in his stomach didn't make him feel hungry but he misses the taste. And Lestrade was sure that even the normally so boring hospital food would taste like heaven.
But boy was he wrong about that. The doctor gave his permission to have the feeding tube removed as soon as Lestrade was able to sit nearly upright. It took Lestrade a couple of days of painful physiotherapy but finally he was able to sit upright for a short amount of time until it got too painful again.
So when the doctor gave his OK for Lestrade's first meal he proudly send a message to Molly that the dinner in the hospital cafeteria isn't that far away any more because he was now allowed to eat real food and as soon as he was able to sit in an wheelchair he would like to have a mini version of the dinner they had planed on the day he got shot.
When Molly arrived at Greg's room she didn't know whether to laugh or to cry over the picture that greeted her. Greg was sitting in his bed, a plate of some mashed up, colourless food on the bedside table which was now folded out over his lap. With his right hand he held a spoon with which he half-heartedly poke through the meal. His look resembled that of a kid who was sitting in front of a plate full of vegetables. It was a mixture of disappointment and discuss.
“Not quite your taste then, Greg?” Molly greeted him.
Greg looked up “ If it would only taste like something,” he muttered. “I was really looking forward to it and now look what they gave me,” he said, picking some of the stuff up with his spoon and letting it falling down on the plate again.
“Well I think that's all your stomach can handle right now, you sustained a quite severe inj...” Molly started but was interrupted by Greg.
“Yeah, I know. That's what the doctors keep telling me but I still don't think that shredded cardboard is any helpful.” He dropped the spoon with a clatter on the plate.
“You do know that right now you are behaving like the 6 year old nephew of mine when he has to eat his vegetables?” Molly said laughing.
“'m not,” Greg replied only to realize that this was the exact answer a 6 year old would give as well.
“ OK maybe a bit,” he laughed regretting it in instantly as he felt the pain in his chest and stomach getting worse. Lestrade made a mental note that laughing, even though it didn't hurt that bad any more when he was lying down, was not a great idea while sitting up.
“You OK?” Molly asked concerned.
“Yeah, 'm fine” Lestrade said while trying to breath through the pain. It was getting worse but he didn't want to lay down just yet.
Molly noticed the strain in Lestrade's smile and the change in his breathing. “Shouldn't you be lying down now that you have finished eating?” she asked innocently.
“Nah, I'm...'m fine as long as the...the pain doesn't get too much,” Lestrade said, trying to sound as fine as possible. A look in Molly's face who was looking at him with her right eyebrow slightly raised told him that he failed miserably.
“Well OK, maybe you're... you're right,” he said defeated and reached for the remote to put down the headrest to a more comfortable position.
“Well at least I do know now that the view from my room actually is as nice as all of you said. And I can't wait to enjoy it again during my next meal of yesterday's newspapers shredded in some baby food,” Greg said smiling after his pain meds had kicked in and the pain got back to an acceptable level. “Nurse said that they are trying to get me up and into an wheelchair as soon as I can sit long enough without being in too much pain,” Greg added cheerfully.
“Those are great news, Greg. And in no time you will be able to take me out to the dinner you keep promising me for weeks now.” Molly carefully nudged Lestrade's shoulder.
Greg smiled. He would.Now that he was able to sit up this was his next goal. Small steps, as John had told him: “Don't set yourself goals that are just unreachable at the moment. It will make you happier to succeed in small steps than fail at the bigger ones” He had laid them out already. First of all being able to sit in a wheelchair, secondly being able to push himself, thus gaining more independence, then starting to use the loo again, and get rid of that catheter and newly fitted Colostomy bag and after he had achieved all of that he would start concentrating on walking again.
Lestrade wasn't an idiot, he knew that his plan only worked on his good days. Since he got shot he was prone to depressions. Especially when he was alone he kept thinking about his future and what would happen if he doesn't get full mobility back and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Or if he wasn't fit enough to return to his old job. That were the days were he kept pushing his limits, trying to get to his old self as soon as possible or when it was really bad refusing to take part at the physiotherapy session because he could just not see what they should be good for anyhow. He knew that it would only get worse as soon as he was out of the hospital and in an rehabilitation faculty. But he also knew that during the dark times he would always have his friends at his site who will show him his limits or push him when needed without making him feel like an idiot.
“You OK?” Molly asked breaking the silence.
“Right now I am,” Greg answered, “right now I am.”