Lestrade opened his eyes and oriented himself. Low lights. Thin mattress. Safety webbing. Dead shift bunk. He mentally walked through the steps that had gotten him there.
They'd been trying to outrun Conundrum fighters when the emergency lift had stalled out. He'd had to ride out the dash in the damned thing with the gravs underperforming. Still, they'd made it into neutral space undamaged, and he'd made it out of the lift in one, admittedly battered and bruised, piece.
He'd sacked out while Marquardson put more distance between them and the enemy. Looking at the ship's time, he realized he'd taken more than the quick kip he'd intended.
"Balls," he cursed softly, rising from the narrow bunk and feeling every muscle in his body protest. He opened the door to the bridge, demanding, "Sit rep?"
"Evening, Commander," answered Marquardson from the pilot station. "Have a good rest?"
"Fine. Don't make me ask twice."
He swore she smiled, but she always had been fearless. "We're only 200 clicks out from Lost Comet Base. ETA, twenty minutes."
"Any signs of pursuit?"
"No. Our dash was clean. That's why I let you sleep as long as I did."
He knew she'd have woken him if necessary. That wasn't his beef. He just didn't like checking out for prolonged periods when he was in the field. "Oracle?"
"Doc reported in that the download was completed and the data secured with back-up about an hour ago."
"Good." He didn't care to be too positive about anything that point. That sort of thinking was the fate-tempting kind, and this mission had had more than its share of universal ass-kicking. "You're relieved. I can take us the rest of the way in."
"I don't mind. We're nearly there. Why don't you clean yourself up and get ready to face the darlings? They're sure to want a full report from the officer in charge, and you look a mess."
"Thank you, Captain," he said dryly. "I'll take that under advisement." Which meant, 'Like hell I'm cleaning up for those desk jockeys. They can see what those of us in the field go through.'
"Suit yourself." She said it without judgement or malice, and then added, "But you're not sleeping in my bunk until you've had a proper shower and a shave."
This close to home, he felt all right letting down his guard just a hair's breadth. He leaned over her shoulder and growled softly into her ear. "You're worth it. They're not."
She didn't glance away from her instruments, but he heard the answering purr in her tone. "Good to know I still rate."
"I trust you'll land us safely before you see to personal matters."
Lestrade jumped at the unexpected interruption and unfamiliar voice. It was rare for Oracle to have the capacity for speech around him. Usually when they met, Oracle's brain was too full of data to allow it, and by the time he'd completed his download, they were either already home or Lestrade was otherwise occupied.
"Oracle. What are you doing on the bridge?"
"Yearning for a view, actually. I rarely have the chance to see Lost Comet from above."
A panel light flashed as the external comm chimed. A staticky voice came through, "Baker Street, this is Lost Comet Base. Do you read?"
"Lost Comet, Baker Street. You're broken but I hear you. This is Sable One responding. Go ahead."
"Prepare to rendezvous with cruiser Scotland Yard. The base is under quarantine. Repeat, base in quarantine. Rendezvous with cruiser Scotland Yard."
"Is Oracle secure?"
She glanced over her shoulder at the tall, thin, pale man beside Lestrade. "Oracle and the data are secure. Preparing for rendezvous."
"Understood. Lost Comet out."
"Well," said Marquardson. "Looks like the fun's not over yet."
"Great," muttered Lestrade. Why could nothing on this mission go according to plan?
Greg woke slowly from the dream, for once not forced into wakefulness by discomfort, pain, or an annoyed lover. That was a nice change. It would be nicer not to keep revisiting the bizarre place, but he'd take the small win that he got.
He lay there, staring at the shadowed ceiling, trying to find a commonality among each occurrence that might lead him to discover what triggered it.
The first time had been the result of that appalling lutefisk curry John had gotten him to eat. The second was that blow to the head when he'd slipped on the ice chasing down that thief. The third had again been caused by dodgy food, although nothing so exotic. Only Sophie's sister's shepherd's pie, with a shocking amount of Tabasco inside and potatoes like wallpaper paste on top.
Tonight it had been his own damned fault. He'd let John Watson get the better of him again. Not with a bet this time. He'd learned that lesson. But with a challenge.
Ah. And there it was. The unpleasantness made itself known and he rose, shuffling quickly to the bathroom to vomit into the toilet. He hadn't gotten whiskey drunk or even lager drunk. He'd gotten fucking tropical drink drunk. How many piņa coladas and mai tais had he downed? He'd lost count. He took some small consolation in the certainty that it had at least been more than John had had before literally falling into Sherlock's arms.
Greg almost laughed, but it turned into another gut-wrenching heave as his stomach expelled rum, coconut, assorted fruit juices, and far too many maraschino cherries.
It wasn't fair. He'd won the challenge, but he would bet cash money that John had gotten the better end of the deal. He sat back and gulped in air. Maybe not. He had a hard time imagining Sherlock as the supportive, hold-you-up-while-you-puke sort.
"Feeling better, John?" Sherlock asked, handing his kneeling lover a damp flannel to wipe his face.
"Yeah. Thanks." He traded the cloth for the cup of cold water that Sherlock passed him next.
"I trust you won't challenge Lestrade to a drinking contest again?"
"It seemed like a good idea at the time."
"That's because you were already half-drunk when you suggested it."
"That explains why I lost." John sipped the water, swishing it about his mouth and spitting it out before taking a proper drink. "I had the weirdest dream. Something about a space ship."
"You can tell me all about it tomorrow," lied Sherlock, taking the cup and helping John to his feet. He reached out a long hand to flush the toilet, clearing all the fascinating tropical contents away. "Now clean up and come back to bed."
John wasn't really listening. "You were in it. So was Greg. Can't remember much else."
Sherlock left him leaning against the bathroom counter. "I'll be in bed, John. Please brush your teeth before rejoining me there."
"Right," John answered distractedly, then muttered, "Oracle? Huh. Whatever."
This isn't John's first visit to Lestrade's cracktastic dream world. You can read about it in methylviolet10b's fabulous holiday fic Lit Up Like a Candle.