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Mycroft's eyes crept open, protesting at the bright sunlight streaming through the half-opened curtains.  Whoever was operating the jackhammer inside his skull was exceedingly rude, he thought grimly.  He hadn't had a hangover like this since his university days.  He saw the glass of water and two paracetamol tablets sitting on the night table, and gratefully took them.  The cool water helped alleviate the feeling of cotton wool on his tongue, and he hoped the paracetamol would soon quiet the painful pulsing in his head.

Slowly, he looked around the room.  This is not my bedroom.  Where the hell am I?  he thought with alarm.  At least he didn't wake up to a stranger beside him.  Small comfort there.

He realized that not only was he in a stranger’s bed, he was completely nude.  His boxers, socks, and shoes lay on the floor beside the bed, and his suit was hung up neatly on the back of the closed bedroom door.  His wallet and phone lay nearby on the top of the dresser. 

Moving carefully, so he wouldn't jar his aching head more than absolutely necessary, he rose from the bed and walked into the loo.  He saw a pale man with mussed-up hair and blood-shot eyes staring back at him from the mirror.  With a sigh, he splashed cold water on his face and smoothed his hair down as best he could.  The reflection was somewhat improved.  He returned to the bedroom and got dressed.

He listened at the door for a moment, and heard someone lightly humming, and dishes clinking. Someone is here, he thought.  I can only assume it's the resident of this flat, who apparently brought me home last night. 

He had very little memory of the night before, except that he was with Sherlock and a number of his brother's friends, celebrating some occasion.  It was of little consequence now. 

Well, I might as well face her, he thought, and quietly opened the door.  When he saw the figure moving around the small kitchen, he froze.

"Well, good afternoon, Mycroft," Lestrade grinned.  "Tea and toast?  I expect you're a bit under the weather."

"Y-y-yes, please. Thank you, Lestrade," Mycroft stammered, clearly quite perplexed.

A cup of mint tea and a plate of dry toast appeared before Mycroft, as he took a seat at the small table. 

"Lestrade?  So formal!  Last night, I was Gregory.  I prefer that, actually."

"Ok, then... Gregory.  Thank you."

"For the British government, you certainly look confused, mate.  What do you remember about last night?"

"Well, um... I remember meeting Sherlock and John at... I think it was the Criterion Bar?  Several others were there, too - you, of course, and Ms. Hooper...  I remember a glass of perfectly awful sherry, and some greasy fried food... and cake.  Was it someone's birthday?" Mycroft trailed off, rubbing his temples.

"Oh, wow, you don't remember much, do you?  Let me fill in the blanks for you.  Yes, it was a birthday party.  John's.  You had several glasses of that 'perfectly awful' sherry - I think you finished off the bottle, in fact - and chased them with two very large pieces of cake."

Mycroft groaned.  No wonder he felt horrible.

Lestrade suppressed a laugh and continued.  "So, yeah, you were pretty pissed*.  Thank God we were able to keep you away from the karaoke machine, and mostly off the dance floor…  I’m sure that video will end up on YouTube the next time you get on John’s nerves.  It was late, so I assured Anthea I would make sure you slept it off somewhere safe and not face-down in some alley, and sent her home.  Once the party started to wind down, I hailed us a cab.  Luckily, you were still on your feet, so I managed to fold you into the cab and bring you here.  I hadn’t thought to get your address from Sherlock, so I figured you could crash on my couch for the night.  You stumbled in, dropping your clothes all over the place.  I followed you, picking things up, and by the time I caught up with you, I found you starkers, passed out on my bed."

Dear Lord, could this get any worse...

"Don't worry - your honor and mine are still intact.  I threw the blankets over you, and I slept on the couch.  You were pretty lovey-dovey in the cab, though - couldn't keep your hands off me.  Cabbie probably thought we were a couple of newlyweds.”  Lestrade said with a wink.  “I'm flattered, but I prefer my dates a little more sober."

Mycroft held his head in his hands.

"Sherlock says alcohol lowers the inhibitions.  I'd say your inhibitions were in the negative numbers last night.  Hopefully, that's not what it takes to make you act on what you really want," Lestrade leaned in closer.  "Maybe we could get together for dinner sometime, and see where that takes us?"

Mycroft nodded slightly, finally meeting Lestrade’s amused gaze as he sipped his tea.

Today is going to be a long day.  He texted Anthea. 


 

Anthea smiled knowingly as Mycroft slid silently into the back seat of the black sedan.  He sat stone still, eyes closed.  Right now, his hangover must be killing him, she thought.  A single glass of sherry would make my head pound the next day – he’d polished off a whole bottle.  And that sugary cake…

Mycroft broke the silence.  “No.”

“Sir?”

“I slept alone.  Or more precisely, I passed out alone.  All perfectly innocent.”

“I didn’t ask.  Not my business.”

“Yes, but I can hear the question from here.  You’re thinking too loudly.”

Anthea giggled. “Still, not my business.”

“Clear my calendar for this Friday, and make a dinner reservation at Gillray’s for 7 o’clock.  For two.”

Anthea raised an eyebrow.  Lestrade certainly is a handsome devil, she thought.  Mycroft could do worse

Mycroft opened one eye, catching Anthea’s reaction.  “I would like to thank the good Detective Inspector for rescuing me last night.”  His eyes closed.

She nodded.  The remainder of the ride home was blissfully quiet, save Anthea’s fingers tapping her phone.


In his office, Mycroft spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening trying to focus on the stacks of paperwork covering his desk.  Nothing that required a lot of thinking.  The jackhammer in his skull was finally silent, but his thought processes were still a bit fuzzy.  Anthea dutifully kept his water pitcher filled, and brought him some more mint tea to settle his angry stomach.

It’s been ages since I’ve been that drunk, he thought.  Now I remember why – the aftermath is certainly… unpleasant.  Definitely need to avoid that in the future.  Or at least, refrain from drinking entire bottles of bad sherry.

His mobile chirped. 

Feeling any better? GL

Yes, thank you.  Are you free Friday evening? MH

The phone was silent for a few minutes.

I am now.  What do you have in mind? GL

I would like to thank you for last night.  A car will pick you up at your flat at 6:30.  Jacket and tie required. MH

I look forward to it.  GL

Mycroft sat back and let out a deep breath.  Well, the stage is set.  Let’s see where this takes us, indeed.