He was so small.
Having an apprentice was never on his agenda, it had barely even crossed his mind. There was a time once when he thought maybe a child would be nice, someone to follow after him and learn from him. But in his heart he knew there were far better masters than he in temple. The Jedi's future would thrive far more if he weren't one of the selected few to guide it.
Sherlock had fallen asleep in the chair. He hadn't let Lestrade bathe him and had insisted it could be done himself. It had taken all of two minutes and forty three seconds. The boy had come rushing out, dressed in his new padawan's uniform and shivered with cold. He hadn't realized he would be allowed a long, warm bath. Lestrade should have bathed the child himself.
Mistake number two at this point.
Sherlock had been given to him only that morning, they were still making each other's acquaintance. Lestrade drummed his fingers anxiously on the arm rests of the sofa, he centered his gaze on his unfurnished mantel piece. There were some masters who proudly displayed relics, saber pieces, Qui Gon was particular to plants, some had their padawan's achievements. Lestrade found none of them worthy, his fingers moved slowly to his pocket.
He strode to the mantel piece and lay Sherlock's reed pipes in the center. The first of many priceless collections Sherlock would deem worthy enough to go on the mantel. Lestrade smiled as he traced the reed pipes delicately.
"Master?" a childish voice said behind him. "Will you be retiring soon?"
So formal for someone so young.
Lestrade turned slowly, in time to see Sherlock slide out of his chair and clasp his hands together behind his back. The knight frowned. "No, Curly. I am not yet tired," he said carefully.
Sherlock's dark head dipped lower, a flicker of annoyance shifted in the Force. Lestrade quirked an eyebrow as the boy nodded, but did not move. Why would Lestrade's alertness cause the child-?
"Would you like to retire for the evening, Sherlock?" Lestrade chuckled softly.
He was given a dubious glare. "I have to wait for you," he said shortly.
Amused by such logic Lestrade tilted his head. "Why?"
It was the first time his padawan visibly floundered before him. Sherlock took a deep, steadying breath. "You are my master," Sherlock explained carefully.
"Does this mean I am to dictate when you sleep?" Lestrade asked gently.
His new padawan nodded, another twist of annoyance shot through the Force. This boy would be a handful.
"Well then," Lestrade stroked his chin mockingly, "Padawan Holmes, from now on whenever you feel tired or have the desire to sleep, you will do so. Promptly and without need of my consent, unless the situation is dire."
His protégé was undeniably cute when at a loss for words. Lestrade smirked and then lightly, very lightly said, "You may go to bed, Sherlock."
It nearly killed him to see how close to tears the little boy was. Sherlock stood with his back ramrod straight, his eyes watering so profusely it must have bleared his vision. Sherlock wiped at them with embarrassment. "Thank you, Master."
Sherlock scrambled back to his place in the chair and curled into a small ball. His master frowned at the sight. Surely it wasn't comfortable? Yet the lad hadn't even asked where his room was, nor had he asked for a blanket. Lestrade very gently nudged him with the Force until those icy blue eyes turned to him.
"Would you like to go to your room, little one," he prompted gently.
He was completely unprepared for the sheer look of terror he received. Sherlock curled even tighter inwardly, as if trying to shield his vital areas. "But I was being good!" the boy all but shouted. "I didn't mean to fall asleep before, you could have woken me up! I was trying to be good!"
Alarmed Lestrade stepped towards Sherlock in order to soothe him, but the child only quailed harder. His protests became quieter and less aggressive as Lestrade knelt in front of him, Sherlock shook his head. "I was being really good," he whispered.
"Of course you were," Lestrade said confused. "You've done nothing wrong, Sherlock. You said you were tired?"
"You said I could say it!" Sherlock screamed.
"Sherlock," Lestrade said firmly, his padawan stilled. "Come here." He pulled the child into his arms before he could protest. Sherlock was completely rigid as Lestrade carried him into the small padawan's quarters. Carefully, he set Sherlock on the bed and stepped back. Sherlock sniffled.
"You said I could sleep," he whined.
"On your bed, in your room," Lestrade said gently. "Under blankets to keep you warm, and under my protection. No one's going to hurt you here, I promise you."
Sherlock looked curious. "Bed?"
It was Lestrade's turn to flounder. "You know, a bed. The squishy thing you're sitting on."
Sherlock bounced a bit experimentally. "But…"
Lestrade sat next to him carefully. "But?"
"It's not allowed," Sherlock said quietly. "My people…bastards can't have beds."
Lestrade lifted his arm experimentally and waited until Sherlock scooted closer to him. Lestrade refrained from pulling the boy in closer. "You are a Jedi now, Sherlock. We are your people. You may always sleep in a bed if you are tired."
"But what if you're not home?" Sherlock asked worriedly.
Lestrade's heart nearly broke at the little boy's confusion. No longer able to control it, he hoisted Sherlock into his arms and let the child arrange himself until he was comfortable. Lestrade pressed a firm kiss into the dark locks. "When you are hungry you will eat. When you are tired you will sleep. No one will tell you differently, I promise you."
Sherlock was nuzzling him carefully. "It won't last," he said tiredly.
Lestrade rocked the child instinctively, until Sherlock was once again asleep in his arms. The small head was tucked delicately under his chin, soft curls tickled his nose softly. How could anyone harm something so small? Sherlock, at one point, must have been trusting and adoring. How could someone abuse that?
Lestrade arranged Sherlock in his arms and fell into a deep sleep with the boy held close.
He awoke only one of Sherlock's knobby knees struck him in the stomach.
Groaning softly he shifted slightly to give his new companion more room, but was surprised when a finger poked him carefully on the chest. Startled he opened his eyes to find a sharp, icy gaze on him, not a cruel gaze, but almost enquiring. Lestrade pushed himself up on his elbow to look down at the boy. Sherlock trembled a bit beneath him.
"You alright, kid?" he asked softly.
"I'm…" his voice trailed off slowly. Lestrade gently carded a hand through his soft curls and lightly tugged, hoping to encourage Sherlock to speak openly. "Hungry," the boy murmured.
Lestrade sighed and collapsed heavily back onto the pillows, peeking sideways at Sherlock through the open space under his arm. "I suppose I can manage breakfast for us then."
Using the flat of his palms, he pushed himself out of bed and padded into the kitchen. Luckily for both of them, his cupboards had been restocked two nights previous. Lestrade maneuvered through the different pantries Molly had stocked for him, glancing around from something a child may like to eat. Sherlock cleared his throat lightly.
"Master?" he asked quietly.
Lestrade turned to the soft voice with a gentle smile, Sherlock flushed a deep scarlet at the kind gesture. Lestrade took some sweetened nectar juice from the fridge and poured it into a cup for his new padawan. Stunned Sherlock stared at the bright green liquid in his hands.
"What makes it so green?" he inquired immediately. "Is the water dyed? Is it a fungus?"
"It's juice, young one," Lestrade said curiously. He was given a dubious glance as Sherlock sniffed the contents. Fumbling a bit, Lestrade attempted to explain the purpose of juice. "You know, sugar. It tastes nice?"
Sherlock looked slightly tickled. "I've never had anything but water before," he said as he took a small sip. His small eyes widened in delight at the sweetened drink, and he gulped swiftly. Lestrade took out the pitcher to pour his new padawan more, Sherlock beamed.
Lestrade listened to the noisy slurps of Sherlock's happy drinking and set to frying several eggs, bacon, and put some of the sticky pastries in the oven. It wasn't long before his quarters smelt like a favored diner, Sherlock's eyes widened a bit as he hovered at Lestrade's elbow. The knight lifted the boy and set him on the counter so Sherlock could watch the progression of the food. The boy's stomach growled fiercely.
Lestrade set an egg, a side of meat, and a pastry on a plate and placed it gently in Sherlock's lap. They would have to invest in a table to sit around, but for now Sherlock stayed on the counter and Lestrade stayed at his side. The knight fixed his own plate: three eggs, four sides of meat, and two pastries. He leant lazily next to Sherlock, preparing to devour his own plate. Sherlock seemed to be waiting for something.
"Eat, Curly," Lestrade said lightly. "And you will tell me if you want more, yes?"
"You must start first, Master," Sherlock explained carefully. "I will eat when you are finished."
"Nonsense," Lestrade barked, tearing into his first strip of meat. "It will be cold by then."
Sherlock blushed. "It isn't proper," he muttered.
Lestrade belched in response and held up one of his own pastry to the boy's lips. Nervously, as though Lestrade would take it away at the last minute, Sherlock took a small bite. Glee spread over the boy's face and effectively warmed the master's heart. Lestrade kissed his temple lightly and smirked. "Now eat your own," he winked, "this one's mine."
It was all the prompting Sherlock needed, and he ate with the appetite of a thousand padawans. Lestrade happily refilled his learner's plate when asked and considered it a great improvement over Sherlock's little nibbling of food. Sherlock managed to slip back into sleep after his meal as his master began working on the dishes. The boy lay spread out over the sofa, limbs inelegantly tangled beneath Lestrade's robe as he snored softly.
At last the boy looked completely at ease.
Lestrade felt a growing sense of pride in himself as he completed the dishes, perhaps he wouldn't fail at this after all. Eventually a routine would need to be set, but for now Sherlock would be allowed to eat and take rest whenever he desired. Lestrade had a bad feeling he would be able to deny the padawan nothing as he grew up.
There was a harsh wrapping at his door that caused Sherlock to stir in his slumber, but thankfully the little boy remained asleep. Lestrade slid his hand over the control panel and allowed the door to spring open. A hand wrenched him by his collar from his home and pulled him into the hallway. Lestrade was dragged, none to gracefully, away from his door.
"Master," Lestrade hissed as his captor pulled him into a different living quarters, Lestrade's former home. He was shoved roughly onto a pure white sofa that had been the bane of his existence as a boy as it was often his place of punishment. And one time he had spilled a purple nectar over it and had been without supper for a week.
His master sat across from in a flourish of robes and ran a hand through his thinning grey hair. Master Chief. The other Jedi literally referred to his master by two alpha titles to convey his power. Lestrade wrung his hands out before him, as nervous as he had been as a child. His master leaned forward once he managed to gather his bearings.
"You will take the wretched thing back," he spat at once.
Lestrade nearly snarled. "Kriff you," the knight snapped back one without any thought. He rose before his mind could register his actions. He found himself, surprisingly, unaffected by his former master's opinion and had very little desire to hear more. Sherlock was going nowhere, this made conversation with his master fruitless. The older man rose making them nose to nose with each other.
"You're a bloody idiot, Lestrade," the revered elder growled, taking Lestrade by the collar as though he were eleven years old once more and in need of discipline. "A Sith? A Sith to carry on my lineage? My legacy? Correct this at once!" Lestrade shoved away the old man's restraining hand and was followed into the hallway. "Don't you dare turn your back on me, young man. Apprentice!"
Lestrade spun on his heel, furious at his master's words. His attempts to push away the rage and release it into the living Force were failing miserably. "Sherlock is my padawan. Not you, not the council, not the Sith master himself, will take this child away from unless he willingly consents to it." Lestrade shook with his lividness. How dare his master attempt to lecture him. How dare the older man try to say anything about having a padawan when the man had barely raised Lestrade at all. "Yoda approves," Lestrade hissed, managing to squeeze in a final insult before slamming the door in the older man's face.
"'Aster?" Sherlock slurred as he sat up uneasily. Lestrade's face softened at once as Sherlock reached for him blindly.
As the knight took the boy carefully in his arms, he swore to the living Force that only death would separate him from his padawan.