August 7, 2010
"God damn it, Mycroft! I am so bloody tired of this!" Gregory Lestrade shouted, running a hand through his silver hair.
Mycroft let out an almost imperceptible sigh and raised a hand to his temples. They'd had this particular argument enough times over the past two months that he knew the lines by heart. No matter how much the staging changed, the script seemed to remain the same. He wondered despondently if this would be their final performance.
"I understand you are upset, Gregory, but I wish you wouldn't shout," he said with what had been intended as forbearance, but came off as weariness.
"Oh, I'm sure you would," Lestrade snapped, pausing in what had formerly been frenetic pacing to turn back to Mycroft. "You'd love it if everyone in the world sat down and talked everything out like gentlemen."
"You say gentlemen as if it were an expression of vulgarity," Mycroft observed incisively.
"Yeah, well, maybe it is to me. You ever think of that?" Lestrade shot back. "Some of us weren't born and bred on this stiff upper lip nonsense, you know."
Mycroft did know. It was one of the things that he loved best about Gregory - the way he could just say what he was thinking or feeling at any given moment without agonizing over questions of decorum or propriety.
"Yes, well, there is rather a need for this 'stiff upper lip nonsense,' as you have so charmingly christened it, in my line of work, wouldn't you agree?" he said instead, disguising the oh-so-familiar churning sensation in his stomach with a placid smile.
"Don't do that, don't go making it about your job again," Lestrade insisted, his voice shaking with the unvoiced threat. "I'm not asking you to compromise national security, for Christ's sake! I couldn't give a flying fuck what you're doing for the government. But how it's affecting you, if it's killing you from the inside out? That I need to know, Mycroft. Is it really too much to ask?"
Mycroft remained silent. He couldn't bear to tell the man who had been sharing his bed for over half a year how afraid he was that simple, human communication was, in fact, more than he could give.
"I really don't know what gives you the idea that I'm feeling anything of that sort whatsoever," Mycroft said finally, rising from the chair to compulsively straighten the single vase on the mantelpiece.
"Twice this week alone you've gone out with one blue sock and one black; you vacillate between picking at your food and covertly devouring whole bags of crisps in the bathroom when you think I'm not looking; and you haven't slept more than four or five hours a night since mid-June," Lestrade rattled off briskly. "Oh, you lie there perfectly still in the hopes that I won't notice, but even you can't fake REM-cycle breathing, Mycroft."
When Mycroft looked at him in surprise, Lestrade retorted, "I may not be a Holmes, but I'm still a damned good detective. So do me the courtesy to stop pretending that there's nothing wrong."
"I just don't see what any of this has to do with us," Mycroft replied with a little shrug. He knew the second he finished speaking that it was a lie.
"I'm tired of waiting for you to let me in, Mycroft," Lestrade said pointedly, sounding as weary and frustrated as he professed to be. "Either I'm someone you can confide in, or I'm not. Just tell me, and we can both stop wasting our time."
In that moment, Mycroft wanted nothing more than to let it all spill out: the coded memo that had made its way onto his desk two months prior, throwing his normally orderly office into utter chaos; the plane set to crash into the ocean in five months' time; the cold fear that had not ceased clutching at his stomach since the moment that his superiors had commanded him to, "Take care of it, Mycroft," and selected him as the most suitable candidate for the disagreeable role of judge and executioner.
But when he turned so he was staring directly into Lestrade's earnest, brown eyes, Mycroft found himself frozen in place. Too long had he made a habit of grinding down every stray feeling to form a polished, impenetrable shield to let it down again, no matter how much he wanted to. No, Mycroft told himself, there's just too much at stake.
When the silence stretched from seconds into minutes and it became abundantly clear to both of them that Mycroft wasn't going to give Lestrade the answer he wanted to hear, it was Lestrade who spoke first.
"Well," he said, drawing a hand across his brow, "I guess that's that, then. I'll, um, swing by later to pick up my things."
"I am sorry that you feel this is necessary, Gregory," Mycroft said, and though he could hear all too well the hollowness in his voice, found himself unable to alter it to adequately express the sense of loss that was rapidly sweeping over him.
"You're sorry I feel this is necessary?" Lestrade repeated incredulously, shaking his head as he went to shrug on his coat. "I'm leaving you, and that's all you can bring yourself to say to me?"
He made his way toward the door, pausing only to pivot and proclaim forlornly, "It must be true what they say - you really are made of ice." With this parting shot delivered, Lestrade whirled round and strode from the room, wiping a hand across his eyes just a second too soon for it to pass by Mycroft's all-seeing gaze.
Mycroft himself stared after him for several long moments before letting out a single, shuddering breath. He wanted to scream, or weep, or throw his glass into the fire - something, anything. But even with only himself as a witness, Mycroft Holmes was unable to bring himself to do anything more than take a long sip of his scotch and absorb in some despair the sudden silence of his flat, disrupted only by the occasional clink of ice in his glass.