"You've been crying."
"No I haven’t." Mycroft wiped his eyes on the back of his sleeve and scrambled to his feet with a sniffle. Around him, water dripped from the trees, landing on his collar. He'd come out here, deep into the woods, to avoid the shouts, the thundering feet, the horrible silences that seemed to ebb and flow about the house. He'd come out here to stop being so afraid. Or at least, he'd come out here to avoid being found when somebody realized he was missing.
"'s okay if you have," the other boy said. "I used to cry sometimes, too." He shoved his hands in the pockets of his denims and grinned at Mycroft. "You all right?" he asked.
"But you don't now." It wasn't a question. Mycroft stared at him, not answering the boy's own. Where Mycroft was wearing slacks, a neat shirt (only untucked at the back; he'd attend to that before he went in the house), his tie, and a jumper, the boy was wearing dirty denims and, despite the January chill, a thin black t-shirt with a prism and rainbow on it. His feet were clad in equally dirty trainers.
"Naw, not since…" The boy looked away suddenly, frowning as if he didn't want to talk about it. Mycroft took a deep breath.
"I'm Mycroft," he offered, extending his hand and standing up very straight, just as Father had taught him.
"You're an odd one," the boy said and held out his hand. "I'm Greg."
The boys smiled at each other as they shook hands. Water dripped from the trees and Greg shivered a bit.
"Are you cold? I'm seven and three-quarters," Mycroft said, by way of encouraging conversation. "How old are you?" he asked, remembering that Mummy always said that it was polite to ask other people about themselves. Father usually added that they would always tell you things they didn't mean to when you did that.
"I'm almost nine," Greg said. "I'm going to have a birthday soon."
"That's nice," replied Mycroft. "Will you have cake and ice cream?"
"Maybe." Greg shrugged. "We don't get cake a lot. I have a lot of brothers and sisters, and Mum says…" He trailed off again.
There was a pause.
"I have one brother," Mycroft said suddenly. "I didn't before. But he was born last night."
"Is that why you were crying?" Greg asked.
"I wasn't crying," Mycroft said instantly.
Greg looked at him for a long moment.
"It's okay if you do, you know," he said.
"Not in front of other people. My father says," Mycroft countered.
"Me dad says the same thing," Greg said.
"My father…" Mycroft corrected him.
Greg smiled suddenly.
"My father, then. Hey, do you want to see something?" he asked. "It's a right treat."
"What is it?" Mycroft frowned.
Greg grinned and turned, pushing through a thicket. "C'mon," he said. "It's a secret. It's safe, though. Nothing scary. I mean, you don't have to be scared – but when you're little…"
"I'm not scared," Mycroft insisted, following through the damp undergrowth. "And I'm not that little."
"No, right, of course not," Greg tossed over his shoulder. "Come on, then!"
"I'm neither of those things," Mycroft muttered to himself, pushing after Greg.
The secret turned out to be a small cave in the forest.
"I've never been this far into the woods," Mycroft confessed, hanging back as Greg pressed into the opening through the curtain of vines.
"It's okay," Greg said. "It's safe – I found it a while back. I come here to… think, I guess. It's awful loud at my house. I got four brothers and sisters."
"Older or younger?"
"Both. I got two older brothers and one sister. An' the Cissy's younger than me."
Inside the cave it was cooler than outside, and dark. Greg fumbled a bit and a torch flashed. Mycroft shivered and wished for his coat – but he'd run out of the house so fast…
"I got some Tizer here. An' some apples. Help yourself," he said as Mycroft hung back by the opening.
"This would be a good place for pirate treasure," Mycroft said, looking around.
Greg laughed, not unkindly. "It is, isn't it?" he agreed. "I've never found any, though."
"We could look now," Mycroft offered. "And maybe it'll keep us warm. It's cold today."
"Yeah, we could, couldn't we?" Greg grinned at him and Mycroft grinned back, happy for the first time since… well, since Father had told him about Sherlock and informed him that he'd have to be the man of the house for a while, as he was going away.
Mycroft had squared his shoulders and tried to look brave, but all he could think was, "Father's leaving me to take care of that."
Sherlock, Mycroft could already tell from his mother's wan face as he peeped into her bedroom, was going to be a trial.
But here, in the dim light of the cave, searching for pirate treasure with his new friend, all of that seemed to fall away.
Mycroft was only slightly late for dinner that evening and didn't earn the scolding he'd thought he would for his tardiness.
The grubby trouser knees, on the other hand, earned him three days' worth of polishing the silver with Mrs Ross.
But, Mycroft decided as he rubbed the silver with the smelly rag and listened to Mrs Ross complain about her son-in-law, three days of silver polishing was more than worth it for a few hours' worth of pirate treasure. He resolved to find out where in the village Greg lived.
"What happened?" Mycroft asked a few weeks later when they met again in the cave. Greg was wrapped up in a parka this time, three sizes too big for him, and sporting a huge black eye.
"Aw, Gary got one on me," Greg confessed, prodding at his swelling eye. "We was playing and…"
"We were playing," Mycroft corrected.
"Did it hurt?" Mycroft asked.
Greg nodded. "Yeah."
Greg shrugged. "Me dad says…"
"My father says…"
"G'wan… My father, then. He says it's good for me. Says I need to be a man and stand up. That me sisters, my sisters, are gonna need me to look after them."
Greg, it turned out, lived in the Hove Road, a rundown section of town closest to the Industrial Estate – in a cramped terraced house with his brothers and sisters. His mum, Mycroft discovered, served lunches in the local high school cafeteria and Greg's father hung on to his janitorial job at Hoffner-Morton paper company by the skin of his teeth. Mrs Ross had told Mycroft that Mr Lestrade (Greg's dad) was a heavy drinker, but that considering "all them things that man's seen… it's no wonder."
Mycroft hadn't pried further – but had pieced together as best he could that Greg's dad was not particularly happy with his lot in life.
"Mummy and Father say I must look after Sherlock," Mycroft answered. "But he's so…"
"Yeah," Greg agreed. "Little brothers are like that."
It made Mycroft a bit sad, actually – not that his family was always happy (Sherlock had certainly seen to much of that) – but his mummy and father tried to put on appearances, especially mummy, although she never sang anymore.
"It's nice though," Mycroft added. "To have a friend who understands."
"What, you mean me?" Greg laughed. He sobered quickly though, when he saw Mycroft's injured expression. "Yeah… it is, innit?"
"Isn't it," Mycroft corrected.
"That, too," Greg agreed.
From that time on, everything was different for Mycroft.
Greg went to the local comprehensive, while Mycroft was tutored at home preparatory to going off to school, but every afternoon, Mycroft managed to slip away and meet Greg at the edge of the wood. From there, they would wander through the wood – making up games, talking, chasing one another – even, one day, climbing trees. And even though Mycroft knew he had to go away to school soon, it was nice to know that there'd be someone other than his family to come back to.
Not that he disliked his family – Sherlock followed him around now, always watching with those huge eyes, and Mycroft often wanted so much to protect him, just as Father had said he should – but Greg was different. Greg understood things. And Greg taught him things: how to fight, how to laugh, how to run, how to kick a football, and how to have a friend.
"I have to go to school," Mycroft told him at the end of their third summer. Mycroft was eleven; Greg had just turned twelve. "They're sending me away."
"I know," Greg said. "'s okay, though, you'll learn stuff."
"And you'll get away from Sherlock for a while, too."
"Yeah," Greg agreed. "But I can write to you. And send you things. And you can tell me what them posh blokes do."
"Those posh blokes."
"Right." The silence stretched between them. It would be different, Mycroft knew. And he hated it.
"But I'll be here when you get back," Greg suddenly said. "And you can show me the proper way to take a wazz, okay?"
Mycroft laughed and Greg laughed and suddenly everything was okay again.
Greg wasn't the world's best correspondent, but at least, unlike Sherlock, his letters weren't peppered with demands regarding the sharing of textbooks and complaints about Mrs Ross and Mummy.
Mycroft kept up the correspondence dutifully, writing to Greg every weekend about his studies (interesting), the other boys (cruel, but sometimes useful), and how he did rather well at football, but rugby suited him better.
When Greg did write to him, he told Mycroft about his brothers and sisters, about who was fighting with whom at school – and how Greg had to sort them out most of the time, about how he really liked motorbikes, about how his father lost his job and he (Greg) had got a part-time one with the local mechanic to help his family out. The letters were often blotted and badly spelled, but Mycroft treasured every one of them.
On the way home, that first year, Mycroft worried the entire trip that Greg wouldn't be there to meet him, that he'd changed, that… they wouldn't be friends anymore.
He needn't have worried. Within five minutes of reaching the outskirts of the village, he saw Greg pelting towards him with a football in his hands.
"C'mon Mycroft!" Greg shouted. "Before Gary notices I nicked his ball!"
Mycroft started laughing and ran after his friend.
Other things had changed, though. Sherlock didn't talk to him anymore. That in and of itself should have been a relief – Mycroft had been worrying about how to give Sherlock the slip when he and Greg wanted to get away – but Sherlock had only followed them once, and Mycroft had marched him straight back home.
"I don't care," Sherlock had shouted. "I have better things to do than follow you around. Father was looking for you. It's not my fault."
"Inga keeps following me," Mycroft said, sitting bolt upright on Greg's bed, his hands folded. "She's supposed to be watching Sherlock."
"She likes you. She wants to kiss you, though why is anybody's guess – you look a right prat in your uniform. They really make you wear that at school? Ooh, how 'bout this one? Clapton. Brilliant. Old, though."
Mycroft wrinkled his nose. He'd come home for the Easter holidays and had run into Greg in town – a fortunate occurrence; arranging times for them to meet outside of Mycroft and Greg's school and work schedule was, as they grew older, growing difficult.
Mycroft was thrilled, then, when Greg (who was home one miraculous afternoon from his job at the mechanic's) had invited him to his house for a few hours' peace from Sherlock's terrorizing of the house – which of course Mycroft was supposed to referee when he was home and father was not.
"Whatever you prefer. I know she wants to kiss me. She keeps trying to touch me; her nostrils flare when she sees me. And yes, they make us wear it – and notice I'm not wearing it now."
"Are you gonna let her?" Greg looked up and brushed the fall of hair away from his forehead. Mycroft tried not to stare at Greg's hands. To cover, he sniffed. There was something about Greg this year – something Mycroft hadn't noticed before. Something he couldn't quite identify, and it bothered him.
"She's the help. And she's seventeen. She told Mummy she was twenty, but she's lying," Mycroft finished stiffly.
"So, it's okay, then – you're sixteen," Greg said. "And you've kissed girls before."
Mycroft was silent. What would be the best way to tell Greg that kissing girls, kissing anybody, wasn't really his area of expertise?
What, you don't kiss the help?" Greg grinned, breaking the silence.
"No. It's not done."
"Then what about all those movies?"
Mycroft smiled slightly.
"Just movies – it can be dangerous – they can sue, Mummy says." Mycroft paused. "And anyway," he continued. "I don't think I like… her." There. That was safe enough. This term had been one of some rather uncomfortable discoveries for Mycroft. He'd hoped… no, he knew he couldn't tell Greg about them, but he'd hoped that one day…
Greg scratched his head and turned back to the collection. He put the record on the turntable and Eric Clapton informed them that there was a "white room with dark curtains."
"What are they teaching you in that posh school, anyway?" Greg asked.
"Not… not kissing. Well, there are the village girls, but…" Mycroft wrinkled his nose.
"Fat an' spotty?"
Mycroft shrugged, trying to think of rugby and the Classics chapters he was supposed to be revising instead of sneaking off to visit Greg.
"I guess I'm not… there are other boys who do… but that's not…" Mycroft frowned at the tatty wallpaper in Greg's room.
"Boys who kiss other boys?" Greg asked, looking up from the messy pile of cassettes and records on the floor, suddenly very still.
"Yeah. Yes. But they're not… not very clever. It's more about the power among them. Who's the grind and who's…"
"Yeah. I know," Greg interrupted. "They're doin' it because they think they can get something from 'em. They do that here, too."
Mycroft nodded. "It's rather disgusting actually."
"So, you don't like kissing at all?" Greg stood.
"I wouldn't know," Mycroft confessed. "I've never kissed a girl, and the boys at school who kiss other boys aren't the sort I'd want to be associated with."
"So you'd like to kiss boys, then…" Greg was rubbing the back of his neck and staring at him. "I don' know if you're interested… nah, it's a stupid idea."
Mycroft looked at him blankly. Surely Greg wasn't suggesting… His heart froze in his chest. It was the best thing, the worst thing. Mycroft felt as if he'd forgotten how to breathe.
"You want me to kiss you?" he asked.
"God, you're spooky when you do that," Greg said. "You pick the thoughts right outta my head, like. But yeah. If you don't like kissing girls. Or… want to practice. It's okay if… Never mind."
"It's… it's okay."
Greg sat suddenly on the bed.
"Have you," Mycroft asked. "Have you ever kissed anyone?"
"Yeah. It weren't like I thought kissing you'd be like," Greg said with an embarrassed smile.
"Wasn't. And you've thought about kissing me?" Mycroft turned. He was close to Greg, close enough to smell the motor oil and petrol. Close enough to see his eyelashes, to think irrelevantly about how long they were, close enough to yearn to press his lips to Gregory's cheekbones.
"Yeah." It was a whisper.
"What happens?" Mycroft asked. He knew full well – he'd seen Inga doing it to the gardener's boy. He'd even seen Mummy and Father once. He'd watched from under his covers as Patton and Hicks had…
"Well, you start out close. Like this."
"Like this." He scooted closer to Greg. Their thighs touched and Mycroft felt as if an electric shock pulsed through him.
"An' then you lean over, like. And your lips go…"
Greg was kissing him.
Greg's lips were warm and chapped and a little damp from where he'd licked them. Mycroft pressed against Greg, trying to reciprocate when Greg suddenly opened his mouth and licked Mycroft's lips.
Mycroft opened his mouth reflexively and Greg thrust his tongue into it.
It wasn't very refined. More sloppy than anything else, but Greg felt good. Mycroft tried again to reciprocate as his brain began to short circuit and he pressed against him, flicking his tongue into Greg's mouth.
He was rewarded with a groan, and suddenly Greg was attacking his mouth, grasping his head with greedy hands, pulling him closer and closer. Greg's mouth was hot and demanding, and Mycroft felt like he was drowning – lips, teeth, and oh, God, tongue and it was too much and not enough, and why was the idea of kissing Greg, of putting his mouth on other places on Greg, of having Greg's hand on his cock, why were these images raging through his head, and please, don't stop, because he didn't want it to stop, ever and ever and oh, God, he was hard and Greg would never be close enough.
Downstairs a door slammed and shrill female voices floated up the stairs.
Mycroft and Greg flung themselves apart – Greg crashed to the floor and the music collection and Mycroft stayed on the bed, folding his hands in his lap, trying to cover his erection.
Mycroft noticed that Greg was flushed and uncomfortable.
"I should go…" Footsteps were pounding on the stairs.
"Yeah… erm… I'll… Here, take the window. Cissy'll find you and you know what she's like…"
"Yes. Quite. Goodbye."
Mycroft hurried to the window. Undignified as it was, it was the safest way in and out of Greg's house.
Mycroft spent the rest of his holiday week holed up in his room, trying to make sense of those frenzied minutes. Even Mummy noticed his absence and tried to talk to him through the door.
But there were things he couldn't tell even Mummy.
They met evening before Mycroft was due to go back to school, in the rain behind the garage. Greg had crept to Mycroft's house and thrown rocks at his window.
"Rough evening?" Mycroft asked him as they huddled against the wall, only slightly protected by the overhanging eaves. Greg scrubbed at his hair and lit a cigarette, pressing against the wall to protect the flame. "You shouldn't smoke those," Mycroft said.
"Yeah, well… yeah. Here." Greg shoved the cigarette at him.
Mycroft grinned and accepted it, taking a drag.
"Rough evening?" he asked again, handing back the cigarette.
Greg looked at him and laughed shortly.
"He's drinking again?"
"Yeah. An' taking it out on Cissy, too. Mum's pretending it ain't happening. I… I couldn’t stand it no more. Snuck Cissy and Pam round to Olly's place. Olly's a good girl, her best friend an' all. Her parents'll look after them all right. But it’ll only be so long until Da realizes what we done…"
"What about your mother?"
Greg shrugged. "I can't… she don't listen to me when Da's like that. An' says that… yeah. I tried, Mycroft, but she won't… she won't listen."
In the dim light, Mycroft could see what looked like tears on Greg's face. He'd never seen his friend cry before, and saying "I'm sorry" seemed so… inadequate.
"Have you called Gary?" he asked instead. Greg took another drag on the cigarette.
"Yeah. But he won't come home. An' we still don't know where Stan is. Alice won't come home neither – not with her bein' so close to havin' the baby. I don't know… I just…"
"Stay with me. Mummy and Father won't mind."
"Yeah, I reckon they would. They don't like you 'sociating with me."
"Gregory, it's… it's fine. They don't have to know."
"What you on about? 'course they'd know."
"No, actually, they wouldn't. Come with me," Mycroft said and pulled the cigarette out of his hand, took a drag and tossed it away. "They'll blame it on James – the gardener. Come on."
He grabbed Greg's hand and pulled him around the garage and into the darkened building.
"Up here." Greg followed him up the narrow stairs.
"It used to be the chauffeur's quarters," Mycroft explained as they reached the head of the stairs. He flipped on the light. "I had Mr Ross put an old sofa up here, and it's where I come to read when my brother's being… loud. There's a blanket and a kettle. You can stay here, undetected, for as long as you need…" He was talking too fast as he and Greg found themselves on the sofa, sitting much too close to one another.
"This is right cozy," Greg observed. "Thanks."
"You're welcome," Mycroft replied. "It's… my pleasure."
"You're an odd one, Mycroft Holmes," Greg said.
"Yes, well…" Greg was too close. He was too close to Greg. He could smell the cigarette smoke, the lingering scent of lager – if Greg was drinking, too…
"Yeah…" Greg closed the distance and brought his lips to Mycroft's.
It was too much, not enough, and everything perfect and right and wrong all at the same time as Mycroft clutched at him, kissing him back, reclining as Greg pushed him back against the sofa and straddled his hips.
"Gregory…" Mycroft groaned. "Gregory…"
I'm writing this because I don't know how else to tell you. I think I may be a coward not to tell you this to your face, at home, in our cave, above the garage where we spent that last night…
What we did will always mean But I think that it's best if I tell you this way because, the truth is, Gregory, I'm not coming home again.
They've offered me a place at Keeble College for the summer term. It's a special program – private tutelage, actually. After that, I plan to stay on and continue my studies. My Classics Master says it's a rare opportunity and that I should take them up on it. My History Master is also very encouraging.
I've also been made another offer regarding my future, but I can't talk about it. But if I could, Gregory, I would tell you.
My brother will be leaving for school soon, and with Father's new posting to Helsinki, they will be selling the house. But you may already know that. In any event, I think it highly unlikely I will be returning.
There are other reasons, too. Reasons regarding my future. It is time, once I begin my term at Oxford, that I being to break my path and
I'm so sorry, Gregory, more sorry than you could possibly know therefore I will be finding a suitable wife and career. If we lived in a different world I'm sure you see the necessity in this – you may never hear the name Mycroft Holmes on the BBC, but it is my ambition, Gregory, to be more than Father believes I am able to be, to outshine even him.
Please know that I do this not because I dislike you, or even never wish to see you again.
If it were possible I would admit that I may actually love you, Gregory But I will always remember you and wish that things may one day be different and wish you the best of luck in whatever you endeavor to be. Love
The day that Gregory Lestrade quits smoking is pouring down rain. The weather in and of itself would be unremarkable, except for the fact that it is the reason Greg stops.
He is standing, soaking, in the bucketing down rain, staring at Mycroft Holmes in stunned disbelief. Behind him, Sherlock Holmes is slumped in a corner of his squad car, bleeding from the nose and glaring at the two of them.
"Mycroft?" he asks him.
"I'm sorry, Detective Inspector Lestrade, have we met?" Holmes asks him.
"I… what? Of course we've met. What are you…?" Greg trails off as Holmes fixes him with a politely perplexed look.
"I can assure you, Detective Inspector," Holmes continues, "that I would recall if we had ever met, and I am positive that…"
"Yeah, never mind." There are more important things to worry about right now, Greg tells himself – mostly revolving around the junkie in the back of his squad car, who had burst in on his crime scene, raving about a footprint, and had started a fistfight with a witness that had ended only when Donovan and Lestrade managed to drag them apart as the witness pulled a knife.
A knife that just happened to be the murder weapon.
"Of course you have to arrest my brother," Holmes is saying. "He did interfere with police business, and, if I'm not mistaken, assaulted an officer?" Holmes directs a meaningful look to Anderson, who is sitting on the back of an ambulance with a bag of ice held to his face. "And of course, there is the possibility that he is under the influence of an illegal substance, but it's only a possibility."
"Yeah, well… it's just not his day then, is it?" Greg asks belligerently, fishing in his pocket for his cigarettes and lighter.
"Indeed, it appears not. Well, good afternoon, Detective Inspector. I shall leave you to your duties."
Greg stuffs a cigarette into his mouth and attempts to operate the lighter as Holmes tips his umbrella ever so slightly forward, causing a deluge of rainwater to wash over Greg's hands, extinguishing the meager flame and soaking the packet of cigarettes. Before Greg can protest, Holmes has moved away, stepping neatly into a black car, his umbrella retrieved by a young woman in a dark suit. The bastard is completely dry, of course.
And of course, Greg's cigarettes are completely and utterly soaked. Just as he is.
"Getting in out of the wet, Detective Inspector?" drawls Sherlock from the car. "Or are you courting pneumonia?"
"Shut up," Greg snarls at him, hurling himself into the driver's seat and starting the car. "Do I need remind you that you've been warned? I'd use that right to remain silent if I was you."
A gusty sigh from the back seat.
"If I were you, Inspector. Not was."
Greg jerks the car into traffic and, in a moment of sheer frustration, flips on the lights and siren. Fucking Holmes brothers. One of them is higher than a fucking kite, and in the back of his car in handcuffs, and the other one is pretending he'd never seen Greg before. Which is, to say the least, strange. But it's hurtful, more than anything else, to have the first man you've ever loved – and your first shag (come to think if it) – pretend not to know you. Okay, granted, Greg reasons, he did send you that God-awful breakup letter, but surely after twenty years – or has it been more – he'd at least fucking acknowledge your existence.
And of course both wankers correct your grammar.
"Lestrade!" Sherlock's alarmed shout jerks him back to the present, and he clutches the wheel, avoiding a head-on collision with a bus by a hair.
"And I'm the one that's supposed to be impaired," Sherlock grumbles from the backseat, where he's been thrown painfully (Greg hopes) against the window.
"Shut your face," Greg growls, clenching the steering wheel and trying to concentrate on the afternoon traffic and the rain and whatever it was that just happened.
Because whatever he once was, Mycroft Holmes is now a complete twat.
When Greg finally gets home that evening, he realizes he's out of cigarettes, the last packet he'd bought being the one that Mycroft deliberately (Greg's sure of it) soaked during their encounter that afternoon.
It's still bucketing down outside, too.
Greg debates the merits of getting even more wet (if that were possible – was possible – he's fucked if he knows) to go to the shops to pick more cigarettes, or trying to dry off and go to bed.
It's times like these that he wishes he drank.
Bed and crap television wins out over cigarettes, and the next morning, he buys nicotine patches instead.
Which don't really help with the misery, but do calm the cravings a bit.
And that is how it goes.
He doesn’t see Mycroft again, or dare to talk to Sherlock about him. He can't imagine that Sherlock would know about their relationship, or even care. He tries to remember what Sherlock was like, and can't really; he'd been kept in the house so much, and Mycroft… well, Mycroft hadn't ever really let Greg into the house – only the garage that one time, and…
Greg shakes his head and takes another gulp of now ice-cold coffee. People don't die of broken hearts, he reminds himself.
Even fewer people actually have their hearts broken.
And Greg's pretty sure that his isn't broken.
Because you don't get a broken heart after just one not-even-shag.
And part of Greg knows that it was never really about the kissing or the groping or that one night in the loft of the garage so much as it was about the years of friendship that had come before that.
But that's just the way things are sometimes, Greg reasons as he stares at the television and wishes for his cigarettes.
And, after the initial shock and disappointment, life goes on. Only now, it's the younger Holmes brother, the noisy one, the one Greg had always avoided when they were kids, the one Greg barely knew at all, barging in on his cases, sending him embarrassing texts during press conferences, and generally getting in the way.
Most of the time though, as far as Greg can tell, though, he is clean. Which Greg puts down to Mycroft's influence.
And fuck it all if Sherlock's not actually right most of the time.
It's a bit of a crapshoot, really, Greg thinks as he readies his notes, whether or not Sherlock's going to camp himself out in Greg's office, begging for an in on the case, or wait for Greg to come to him.
Serial suicides, one would think, would lead Sherlock right to Greg's door.
As it is, Greg's content enough to brave this press conference without the great consulting detective's aid. He's moving, and Greg was pretty definite about not offering to help.
So Greg can do his pre-press conference attack of nerves in peace.
He really hates these things.
Really hates them.
Mostly because they have the potential to go so dramatically wrong – in the office sweepstake of "who is most misquoted by the Daily Mirror" Greg is the safest of safe bets, to the point that he's on the verge of being disqualified from the running.
Unsurprisingly, the press conference is a disaster.
Mostly because of Sherlock. Who seems to be able to text and move house at the same time.
But you know where to find me isn't exactly wrong, either.
"You've got to stop him doing that," Donovan complains. "He's making us look like idiots."
It doesn't help that Greg already feels like an idiot. A desperate idiot, most days.
The advent of John Watson is just another blip to Greg at first – Sherlock's new flat mate (or boyfriend; whatever it is, Greg can't really be arsed to sort it out), but then of course he has to shoot the cabbie and throw all of Greg's night – which was bad enough as it was, haring after Sherlock and that fucking phone – truly into chaos.
As Sherlock cottons on to just who fired the shot (almost at the same time that Greg does – he may be a desperate idiot, but he's not stupid), Greg decides to just give it up as a bad job.
"Go home," he tells Sherlock. "Come in and make a statement in the morning."
Sherlock bounds away, stuffing the orange blanket into the back of a convenient squad car and practically grabbing Watson's hand.
It's then, as Greg is chuckling and shaking his head – at least with Sherlock, life isn't boring – that he sees the two men stop suddenly at the black car that's pulled up just outside of the police cordon.
He watches as Mycroft gets out and greets Sherlock and Watson, as Sherlock sneers at him and flounces off with Watson on his heels.
He watches as Mycroft turns to get back into the car.
He watches Mycroft stop and stare directly at him.
Well, this is an interesting development, Greg thinks. What now? He is determined not to quail under that level stare – they must've taught him that at his posh Oxford college; he certainly didn't know how to do that when they was (Greg thinks the word deliberately) kids.
And then Donovan comes up to him, and the spell is broken.
Greg's dreams that night are of rain and cigarettes and stolen kisses, and the feel of Mycroft's hands on his chest and groin – memories still fresh even after over twenty years. He wakes up hard and absolutely disgusted with himself because he's fucking pining after something that never actually existed in the first place.
"You keep telling yourself that, sunshine," he grumbles at himself in the mirror around his toothbrush.
The next time they see each other, it's in the hospital after the explosion at the pool.
Greg is beyond exhausted, beyond filthy, beyond devastated.
The only way the situation could have been worse, he thinks, is if John and Sherlock hadn't managed to survive – although survive is only a technical term right now. The doctors won't say, and probably don't even know, what their chances are.
And it's not like Greg's got the clearance to go beyond the waiting room.
In the corner, a small television flickers – a newscast, mostly about the tension in Korea regarding an election – and the whole place smells of disinfectant and stale coffee.
He knows he should just go back to the Yard and start trying to untangle the mess of paperwork, or at least find some place to take a shower – if he goes home, he'll fall asleep, he thinks, and he can't afford to do that.
So he sits and stares at the floor, at his dusty shoes and torn trousers, at his hands, filthy and cracked, at the bandages on his knuckles from the slabs of concrete he was trying to move, at the gritty linoleum floor, the perfectly wrong shades of yellow and green.
And he waits.
Outside, he hears the click-click-click of expensive shoes. Not heels, he thinks, but a man's dress shoe. The footsteps stop at the door to the waiting room. Greg doesn't look up until he hears, "You should go home, Detective Inspector. There's nothing else you can do here."
Greg squeezes his eyes shut – even his eyelids are gritty.
"I'll stay here, thanks," he says, opening his eyes and scrubbing at his hair with both hands. Bits of dust and concrete shower down, some falling into his collar and dribbling down his shirt.
"As the common parlance goes, Detective Inspector," Holmes says, "you look 'done in.' You should get some rest."
Greg looks up. If anyone looks done in, it's Mycroft Holmes. His face is grey, his whole body seeming to radiate tension and anger.
"No," Greg says. "I'll wait."
"There is nothing I can do to stop you, of course," Holmes says. "But I do think it would be advisable for you to get a few hours of sleep."
"I can kip right here, thanks," Greg replies. "And you can stop trying to get rid of me, Mycroft. I'm ain't that easily budged."
"I'm not that easily moved, Detective Inspector," Holmes corrects. "Or intimidated, or pushed about."
"Yeah, well, I don't exactly miss my walking grammar textbook, do I?" Greg demands. "At least you seem to remember that part, even if you can't be arsed to remember the name of the first person that ever…" He stops short. Now is certainly not the time.
"I'm terribly sorry, Detective Inspector, but you seem to be under the misapprehension that I know you beyond your professional capacity," Holmes says.
"No," Greg says, lurching to his feet. "I'm sorry, I…" He's lost. Lost the battle to stay awake, lost the ability to summon up any kind of authority or fight. And apparently lost the ability to stand upright as well. He trips and stumbles into Holmes, who reflexively catches him.
And they stand, pressed together in the doorway of a tiny waiting room in a London hospital. Greg, getting dirt and grit and blood all over Holmes' expensive suit, and Holmes…
Greg dares to look at him.
Holmes is staring at him, and the look is unreadable.
"You don't remember at all, do you?" Greg whispers, straightening up. Holmes, he notices, doesn't let go. He resists the urge to lean their foreheads together. "Don't remember the cave, the river, the wood, the time we accidentally killed old Mrs Stevens' chicken, the time I kissed…" He trails off, staring at his lips. He looks up.
Holmes is looking straight into his eyes.
"I… apologize," he says.
And it clicks back into place: the letter from twenty years ago, the deliberate avoidance when Sherlock was working with him, the cars, the career, the assistant. Mycroft Holmes has goals, and damned if some jumped-up detective inspector from nowhere with an alcoholic, abusive father and more siblings than he can count, who just happens to also be his first shag, is going to get in his way.
Anger wells in Greg's chest, and he pushes himself away, stumbling down the corridor, knocking into the trolley of linens, practically falling over himself to flee.
Because if that's what it's going to be like, he doesn't want to experience the shame and humiliation of being deliberately forgotten.
Sherlock lives, of course. And so does John – Greg's probably more thankful for that than for Sherlock's survival. Because really, the two of them are fucking peas in a pod, as his mum used to say – although without the profanity. Usually.
And, after a while, life goes on. Sherlock steals his cases, texts him embarrassing messages in public, gets into trouble. John tags along, tells Sherlock off when he's being outrageously rude, and gets them out of trouble. Occasionally, he gets in trouble, too, but it's fairly infrequent.
And Greg thinks that he's being watched.
His first thought is, "Oh fuck, not now!"
His second is, "Why now?"
Because the only person who would be watching him would be Mycroft, right?
Greg shakes his head and tells his ego to stow it. He's under enough strain as it is; he doesn't need to start displaying signs of narcissism on top of that.
Until one day – at a crime scene, of course; couldn't be one of those occasions when Mrs Hudson's asked him to Sunday lunch – Sherlock asks him,
"Why are you under my brother's surveillance?"
Greg stares at him.
"My brother. Why is he watching you? What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything!" Greg exclaims indignantly.
"Well, you must have done something, because he's watching us right now and it's interfering with my methods."
"What methods?" Greg can't help but demand sarcastically. "Your methods involve fannying about my crime scenes and…"
"Girls!" John comes loping over.
Greg snaps his mouth shut and Sherlock spins away with something that sounds suspiciously like "you wouldn't be gagging for my help if you didn’t like it." Which is way too much innuendo for Greg to take without wanting to belt him one, and the conversation dies there.
It's not until a few weeks later, after the murder has been solved and Sherlock's managed to push Greg into the Thames – and Greg comes down with a stonking cold as a result – that Mycroft resurfaces in Greg's life.
And this time, it's Greg's own damn fault.
His head feels like it's full of sand, and his nose won't stop running like a bloody sieve as he bounds (okay, staggers) up the stairs to 221B to beg – no, demand – no, request – no, it is begging for Sherlock's help. If the man's going to send him emails with pdfs attached, explaining in gruesome detail just how a man can be bludgeoned half to death and then asphyxiated by choking on his own phone, then he can bloody well come down to the Yard with his documentation and show it to Anderson instead of putting Greg off his morning coffee and limp, cold, unappetizing, still-tasting-of-the-plastic-wrapper, microwaved cinnamon bun.
What he finds in the sitting room of 221B almost makes it preferable to confront the nasty pdfs in the quiet comfort of his own office.
"Ah, Lestrade! I knew you'd come by eventually. Shall we go down to Bart's?" Sherlock drawls from a chair. He is stretched out, cradling his violin on his lap, absently plucking the strings and staring fixedly at the ceiling. He is studiously ignoring his brother, who sits bolt upright in the facing chair, glaring. John is standing by the window, looking as if he'd rather be somewhere else – preferably with sunshine and no Holmes brothers. Where, frankly, Greg would rather be, too.
"No, we are not going down to Bart's. You are going to take your bloody pdfs and shove them up your…"
"I think I should be leaving," Mycroft Holmes interrupts. "If Detective Inspector Lestrade has an argument to settle with you, Sherlock, I shall allow him to do so. Please consider my offer before it becomes an order, yes?" He rises as if to go. "Excuse me, Detective Inspector," he says.
"Why are you pretending you don't know him?" Sherlock suddenly asks, not shifting his gaze from the ceiling.
There's a sudden silence in the sitting room – the rain outside sounds very loud.
"I beg your pardon?" Mycroft asks, turning to his brother.
"You heard me. Why are you pretending you don't know him? I remember him. I recognized him the first time I saw him. When he arrested me. You were there, Mycroft. Why were you so determined to pretend he was a complete stranger?"
"You can't tell me you deleted it. You haven't deleted a single piece of information since you were born, probably. God knows what rubbish you have stowed up there in that massive brain of yours. Goes with the body, really."
"Sherlock!" This time it's from John.
Greg stands, rooted to the spot. This isn't happening. There is no way that in any sort of world, dream or reality, this is happening.
Which makes what he does next completely unbelievable.
"Yeah, Mycroft, why?" Greg asks.
Mycroft swivels his gaze back to him and for a moment, a brief piercing moment, there's an expression of helplessness and pain and fear on his face – an animal trapped. And the mask slips back into place.
But not fast enough for Sherlock to miss, apparently.
"Why don't you tell us, Mycroft? Is it possibly because you're so embarrassed that your first shag was him? The village chav? Did you know that after you left for school, he was arrested for a bit of breaking and entering at the garage? Nothing was ever proven, of course, but there was enough… talk. And of course the fights… but you knew about them."
"Sherlock," John warns him.
"This has nothing to do with you," Greg snaps – although whether he's shouting at Sherlock or John, he's not sure. Both, probably. "What happened when I was younger is…"
"Did you?" asks Mycroft.
"Did I what?"
"The fights… I'd heard that you'd been in trouble, but…"
"Yeah, well, they was picking on Cissy at her school. After Dad got arrested an' all. And when they found out what Dad was doing to her. And then Mum… I had to do something, Mycroft. I couldn't let her go through that without knowing that there was somebody who'd protect her."
"And Pam?" Mycroft asked, his voice soft. Greg remembered suddenly that Mycroft had been there when Pam was born, had been the one to call the ambulance and ride with Greg and his mum to the hospital. That Mycroft had been the first one to hold her. That as soon as she'd learned to walk, Pam had followed Mycroft around, wanting him to read to her, to sweep her up into his arms, to tell him her secrets.
"Pam knew. But Dad never… not her. They, they took him away before he could… But he'd done it to Alice, too, so it was only a matter of time before... But Pam was… was safe." Greg can't look at him.
"I was the one what called them, wasn't I?" Greg demanded. "After you left… what else…"
"Gregory," Mycroft's voice is a whisper. "I'm… I didn't… I didn't know."
"Well, you wasn't supposed to, was you?" Greg demands, anger flaring. "You went off to your posh school and your posh college and your posh life and could pretend that none of it mattered, that none of it was real, couldn't you?"
"It wasn't like that, Gregory," Mycroft protests. "I had… I had to do… what I did. I had to prove that I wasn't…"
"A fat fool?" Sherlock interjects. "That's what father used to call you. You certainly proved him wrong, at least about the fool part."
"SHERLOCK!" John shouts. "Okay, that's it, we're leaving." He strides over to the chair and pulls Sherlock up to his feet. "Whatever happened between Greg and Mycroft when they were kids is off limits to you."
"Oh, John," Sherlock complains, collapsing like a rag doll into John's arms.
"Don't you 'oh, John' me," John grunts, struggling to keep him upright. "We're going out."
"I'm not even dressed," whinges Sherlock. "I'll catch cold!"
But John shoves him into his coat and bundles him down the stairs, outlandish slippers, dressing gown and all. Greg hopes he will catch cold.
The silence in the flat is palpable.
Greg realizes that he's still practically nose-to-nose with Mycroft.
"So," he says.
"Just so," Mycroft replies.
"You want to explain, then?" Greg asks.
"Perhaps we should sit."
"I prefer to stand, thank you."
"Indeed." Neither man budges. "I suppose you deserve an explanation."
"Yeah, you think?"
"It was simply a case of ambition, Gregory. Of pride; of some sort of Freudian complex wherein I had to disprove my father's evaluation of my abilities, or lack thereof."
"You weren't chubby," Greg says.
"No. I suppose not. But I was a fool, Gregory. Maybe not stupid in terms of academics, but in the ways of men and women… in the ways of evaluating those around me. I missed so many obvious clues; my father always berated me for being so blind, so unobservant to the obvious. He told me I would never amount to much in that regard if I didn't learn what came to Sherlock so easily.
"When it came time for me to begin to choose my path, that spring, when I went back to school, a man came to lecture. He took me aside and asked me questions, told me that I could have a remarkable future in the British government, that I could achieve great things." Mycroft takes a breath. Greg hasn't looked up from the floor. His head aches and his nose is running.
He sniffs, a horrible, rattling sound in the silence of the flat.
"And so I accepted. I knew that it meant I'd never be able to see you again. That I'd have to put on the mantle of an ambitious young man, doing all the right things, knowing all the right people, saying exactly the right words, marrying exactly the right woman.
"I told myself that it was worth the sacrifice, that I would prove to the world – to my father really – what I truly could be, that he was wrong about me. That I could be, as Sherlock claims, the most dangerous person you'll ever meet."
"Yeah, well," Greg grunts, wiping his nose on the back of his hand. He can't see the moue of disgust on Mycroft's face. He doesn't have to. "Wait… marry the right woman?"
"Indeed. It was expected."
"But you're… you and I…" Greg can't believe it. Okay, yeah, he'd experimented a bit with girlfriends, but really, it wasn't the same, and he'd always preferred…
"Yes." Mycroft's voice drops again and Greg looks up. Mycroft is watching him carefully. "It was part of the charade, Gregory, part of the game."
"So, what you did… none of it was real? Your marriage – you're married?" Greg demands.
"Not anymore." Mycroft looks away, his hand tightening on the handle of his umbrella. "She died two years and seven months ago. Cancer. We were married for fifteen years, but it was a marriage of… We were both aware of each other's… shortcomings."
"Oh, so fancying blokes is a shortcoming?" Greg demands. It occurs to him that he should be offering condolences, but it's… it's too hollow, too… too much.
"You misunderstand, Gregory. When I speak of shortcomings, I speak of my selfishness, my own desire to 'make good.' Ann married me for my skills, not as a lover, but as a politician, and for my money. I married Ann for her family connections, her access to the echelons of power that I could not reach based on my own origins. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement."
"So, you didn't…"
"I have long since held, Gregory, that love is merely an illusion."
"Oh." It is all Greg can think to say. There's no sense in denying it, no sense in arguing with him, even if Greg thinks he knows better, or at least differently.
Silence falls between them again, but the hostility that Greg felt seems to be ebbing away.
"Did you… do you have a partner?" Mycroft asks suddenly, as if groping for conversation.
"Partner? No… not since Patrick moved out five years ago," Greg says. "Some people just aren't meant to be with coppers. And Patrick… was one of them. Said he thought I'd married my work, for all the attention I paid him." He grins slightly, remembering Sherlock's declarations of similar celibacy.
"Yes, your lifestyle and choice of profession does not seem to be conducive to long-term relationships," Mycroft agrees.
"You could… say that…" Greg licks his lips as Mycroft meets his eyes again. It occurs to him that they haven't actually moved from that very spot for… he doesn't know how long.
But something's changed. Even Greg can feel it.
It's not the resurgence of the old camaraderie, the rediscovered friendship. Greg's not sure if that can ever come back; it's something different. Something Greg would put down to sexual tension, if it was anybody other than Mycroft Holmes standing in front of him.
"So, you… you remember… all of it?" Greg asks him suddenly.
"Yes," Mycroft says. "Gregory, I do. And I wish…"
"Yeah, I got your letter. I didn't believe it at first, but…"
"At the time it was true. Every word – but Gregory, what I didn't know was…"
Later on, Greg will not be able to believe that he actually had the nerve to do what he's just done, that he actually stepped closer to Mycroft and pressed his lips to his.
Mycroft doesn't respond for a moment, and for a terrible instant, Greg thinks he's got it wrong.
But just like the first time, in Greg's bedroom, with Eric Clapton blaring in the background, Mycroft seems to surrender to him, kissing him back, opening his mouth under Greg's, allowing Greg's tongue to penetrate him, licking and sucking and biting and soothing. Mycroft groans and presses closer to him, the umbrella clattering to the floor as he attacks Greg's mouth, pulling them impossibly closer.
It's as if Greg's seventeen again, and giddy with hormones and excitement and newly smoked cigarettes.
What starts as them clinging together as if they're drowning ends suddenly as the door to the flat bangs open and Sherlock, followed closely by John, barges in.
"Oh, Christ, Mycroft!" Sherlock exclaims. "Get out of here! If you're going to shag my copper, do it in your own posh townhouse, not in my sitting room."
They spring apart and Greg starts to sneeze, his cold making a sudden reappearance. Mycroft is flushed and glassy-eyed, his lips damp and swollen.
"I should…" Greg sniffles loudly. "I should go. Sorry… I'll… Sherlock, send those – achoo! – pdfs to Anderson, not me. And come round on Monday and I'll – achoo! – do something…"
And he turns and flees from the scene, back downstairs, back into the rain.
It's still raining when Greg sees Mycroft again. Greg thinks it's never going to stop raining, actually.
He's clearing up the remains of a crime scene, consulting with Donovan, making sure that Sherlock's keeping a safe distance from Anderson, the usual rigmarole, wondering if the curry he bought three days ago and ate half of is still good, when Mycroft's car pulls up and he gets out, sheltered by his umbrella, of course. Greg wonders if the man ever doesn't have his umbrella with him.
"Excuse me," he says to Donovan.
"Inspector," Mycroft greets him.
"Oh, so we're back to that again, are we?" Greg asks.
"Would you… Gregory, I apologize. I thought that, as we were in public…"
"Look, Mycroft," Greg interrupts. "I don't know where you and I stand. I don't know what we can and can't do. But I do know that if you want to… what do you want, anyway?"
"I…" Mycroft looks around for his brother, but thankfully it seems that Sherlock and John have buggered off somewhere. "I wanted to ask you, Insp- Gregory, if you would care to have dinner with me this evening."
Greg is suddenly aware that his team is staring at them.
"This doesn't mean that you're forgiven for… what you did," Greg says, bunching his fists and hunching his shoulders against the rain. "But I would very much like to have dinner with you."
"Very well then," Mycroft replies with a nod. He steps closer, offering Gregory the shelter of his umbrella. "I will await you, as soon as you are finished here."
This close, Greg can smell his aftershave, or perhaps it's just the feeling of Mycroft so close to him that makes him dizzy.
"Donovan can finish," Greg says. "I'm ready."
Mycroft smiles at him and hesitates for only a moment before he leans forward and gives Greg a chaste kiss on the lips.
"Just so," he says.
Greg smiles and sits back, his crash helmet crooked in his elbow. He strokes the petrol tank of the bike, watching as Mycroft stares at his hand.
Oh, that's interesting.
"You know what it is Mycroft." Greg shifts a bit as Mycroft licks his lips.
Very interesting indeed.
"While I agreed to 'spend an afternoon in the country, incognito' as you so oddly put it, I do not recall agreeing to ride on that." Mycroft's words are definitely not meshing with the look on his face. If Greg's not wrong, he's turned on. And in truth, Mycroft doesn't look that terrible, himself.
He was, Greg remembers, not chubby per se but he definitely didn’t ever lean to the emaciated look that Sherlock (and their father, come to think of it) cultivated. He was ordinary, from what Greg recalls.
And he still looks ordinary: quiet brown hair, longish nose, not somebody you'd look twice at – a man who works in the city or in government. Mycroft certainly fills the description of a minor government official. Of course, today he's wearing denims and a collared shirt and a jumper – the minor government official on a day off – but Greg can see how he carries himself even now, the sense of controlled power, confidence that the boy had lacked but the man has in spades.
And it's a fucking turn on.
As much as Mycroft seems to be turned on by the bike.
"Gregory, I've never…"
"Yeah, you have actually," Greg corrects him. "The time I got me old bike running and we took it down through the fields out behind…"
Mycroft smiles. A wide grin.
"I remember," he says. "And you used my tie to secure the handlebars."
"And they fell off anyway," Greg says.
"And we ended up in the ditch."
Mycroft begins to laugh.
"Mrs Ross was furious with me – so was Mummy. I managed to explain away the tie, but the tear on my trousers…"
"So, you game?" he asks, stroking the petrol tank. "This one goes a bit faster, and I don't need your tie this time."
Mycroft walks down the steps from his townhouse and holds out his hands for the crash helmet.
"Nice," Greg says as Mycroft slings himself over the back of the bike. The engine roars beneath them and Greg thrills as Mycroft's arms creep around him. "Hang on!" he shouts over the engines and they're off.
As usual, it's exhilarating and freeing and perfect as they zip through traffic, heading towards the open countryside. It still takes too long, Greg thinks, to get out of London, but this time, he doesn't seem to mind the delay as he feels the warmth and weight of Mycroft against him.
He could ride like this for days and never get tired of it.
And that is how it goes.
It's not perfect, of course. Mycroft has his days where he's aloof and preoccupied – sending texts to Greg that read: I apologize, I'm unavoidably detained –MH. Greg learns from John that when Mycroft texts, there usually is something serious going on. Greg doesn't take it personally, God knows, his professional life is complicated enough, especially when he's on rota.
But it does give him the creeps, just a little bit, when Mycroft texts him one afternoon with: I am unavoidably detained and will not be able to meet you for dinner. Please also, if possible, leave Scotland Yard before 17.30 this afternoon.
Greg gets caught up in his work that afternoon and forgets about the second half of the text until 17.25 when he glances up at the clock.
Perhaps he should…
"Donovan, let's wrap this up," he calls out, grabbing his coat.
"Sir, it's only…" Donovan protests.
"It's Friday, Donovan," Greg says, hurrying to the door. "No point in delaying the weekend any longer."
Donovan shrugs and returns to her desk to retrieve her purse.
"Plans this weekend?" he asks her in lift.
"Going round to Mum's," she replies.
"Yeah, she's got a new hip – Shaz and I are trading off weekends with her."
The small talk continues as they descend to the car park. Greg glances at his watch. 17.34.
Surely Mycroft didn't mean…
No, of course not. Greg gets into his battered car – most of his spare cash he spends on his bike, and that's not always practical for his work commute.
As he drives out of the car park, he hears a loud buzz and a crash.
And the lights flicker.
What the hell was that?
As he reaches the street, the entire city is plunged into darkness.
As he's sitting in traffic, waiting, his phone buzzes. Are you home? –MH
No, I'm bloody stuck in traffic, he texts back.
Oh, dear. Gregory, I did try to warn you. I am so sorry for the inconvenience. –MH
Greg bangs his head against the headrest.
An hour later, somebody knocks on his window – Mycroft's very spooky assistant, who, as far as Greg knows, doesn't actually have a name.
"Mr Holmes thought you might need this," she says, as Greg rolls the window down. She is standing in the middle of a traffic jam in a tight black dress and heels, immersed in her Blackberry as if it's the most natural thing in the world. From her free hand, is dangling a takeaway bag redolent with a wonderful smell.
She hands the bag to Greg, not even looking at him, and turns away, weaving back through the traffic in her impossibly high heels, reading her Blackberry.
Greg's phone buzzes.
I trust my assistant has found you? Please enjoy your dinner. I did include enough for two. –MH
There's a knock on the window, the passenger side this time, and Greg pops the locks on the car. Because standing in traffic in his suit, with his umbrella (of course) is Mycroft – also as if it's the most natural thing in the world.
"Bloody hell," Greg remarks as Mycroft slides into the car and tucks away his mobile. "You don't do things by halves, do you?"
Mycroft smiles in the darkness.
"It was unavoidable," he says. "I do, however, have a few minutes for an early dinner with you."
"Oh, ta very much," Greg grumbles. But there's no heat in it as he opens the bag and pulls out the fragrant bundles of food: gyros, spanakopita, pita and tzatziki sauce.
It takes Greg another three hours to get home, but those thirty that he spends with Mycroft make the trip at least bearable.
It is very late, or rather, very early, when Greg staggers home. He's exhausted and dispirited. Another vicious murder in a string of them, the press corps clamoring for answers, Sherlock making himself obnoxious, and it all makes him late for the date he'd arranged after a great deal of mutual finagling with schedules between him and Mycroft.
He was supposed to cook. But when the fourth body had been discovered, and all had gone to hell, he'd texted Mycroft, regretfully canceling.
It was the first time Greg had volunteered to cook, to bring Mycroft to his home. It was also the date that Greg had pinned his hopes on. He and Mycroft had been dancing around The Issue (Greg always saw it in capital letters) for over two months now, and Greg's tired of it: if Mycroft won't make the first move (other than some amazing snogging in the privacy of Mycroft's office or once in the stairwell of 221B Baker Street), then Greg will.
And tonight was supposed to be that night.
So, when Greg unlocks his flat and leans against the door in his darkened sitting room, he's more than a little surprised to smell something fabulous coming from his kitchen.
Something that smells like chops and potatoes.
He's even more surprised to see Mycroft Holmes stretched out on his sofa, fast asleep.
His mouth is hanging slightly open, one hand thrown over his eyes, the other trailing on the carpet. His shoes are off, his jacket and waistcoat draped over a chair.
Greg smiles and toes off his own shoes, walking quietly to the sofa. It's too much of a temptation as he kneels silently beside the sleeping Mycroft and runs his hands gently over his legs.
Mycroft stirs slightly but does not waken.
Greg wonders if he should just let sleeping Mycrofts lie. But then, Mycroft murmurs his name. And damn it, Greg's gagging for a shag.
Emboldened, Greg moves his hands higher, finding his cock. It twitches and hardens beneath his hand, and Greg smiles. Gently, oh so gently and carefully, he loosens Mycroft's belt and flies, easing his hand into his pants. Mycroft groans.
Greg looks up and sees that Mycroft is awake, watching him. There is an intensity in this gaze that makes Greg want to hesitate. But he's come this far…
Greg slides Mycroft's cock out of his y-fronts and strokes it, never breaking his gaze. Mycroft licks his lips, and Greg knows it's only a matter of time before he can make him crack. Still holding Mycroft's eyes, Greg licks his lips and brings his mouth to Mycroft's cock.
"Oh, Gregory," Mycroft moans, head dropping back as Greg eases the y-fronts and trousers down Mycroft's hips and legs, working to get a better angle as he runs his mouth down the other man's cock, sucking, licking, scraping his teeth against the hardness.
Mycroft tastes of sweat and musk and soap, and it's intoxicating. Greg inhales deeply, suppressing his gag reflex as he tries to take as much of him as he can.
Greg's hard, too, and he brings his free hand to himself, the other one stroking and teasing Mycroft.
"GREGORY," Mycroft cries as Greg runs his tongue up his shaft and then back down to tease his balls.
"What are you doing here?" Greg mumbles, between licks and sucks.
"Waiting… waiting for you, but… I didn't expect…"
"Not good?" Greg asks, sitting back on his haunches. He's hard, painfully so and he shifts, trying to relieve the pressure.
"No, very – oh God… very good," Mycroft whimpers as Greg undoes his trousers and pulls out his own cock.
"Do you remember?" Greg asks.
"The first time we…"
"The only time we…"
"Yes," breathes Mycroft. "Oh, God, yes."
"And now, do you want…"
"Please what?" Greg asks. He knows, but he wants to hear Mycroft say it.
"Let us continue," Mycroft whispers and Greg bursts out laughing. Only Mycroft would say something like that as an invitation to further intimacies.
Fortunately Mycroft understands the joke and joins in the laughter.
And then he reaches down and kisses Greg.
And there's no more laughing – just tongues and teeth and lips, and oh, Christ, Greg thinks, I don't ever, ever want to stop this.
They're in Greg's bed, and Greg is fairly certain that it is possible to die of pleasure. Mycroft's legs are wrapped around his waist, and Greg's easing slowly in and out of him, biting his lips, trying to keep from just slamming into Mycroft and fucking him senseless. It had been twenty or so years – certainly he can show a little restraint the first time he's actually inside him.
"Gregory, please," Mycroft moans. His shirt is still on, his tie half-undone, his cock hard and leaking precum, his head thrown back. He looks utterly debauched.
"Gregory, please, please, please, just fuck me," Mycroft begs. And it's that, the sound of Mycroft begging him, that makes Greg groan as he snaps his hips forward, bringing his hand to Mycroft's cock, jerking him, stroking him to the tempo of his thrusts.
He comes with a stuttered "fuck" as Mycroft throws his head back and comes all over Greg's hand and his own chest.
It's messy and hot and sweaty and fucking perfect, as far as Greg's concerned.
Later, in the shower, Greg leans against Mycroft, running his hands up and down his back, the hot water beating down on them. He's half asleep, but not willing to surrender, not yet.
"This isn't… we haven't resolved," he murmurs against Mycroft's neck.
"No," Mycroft agrees, pressing a kiss into the side of Greg's head. "But I think you'll agree, it's a beginning."
Greg smiles and pulls him closer, kissing and biting down on the exposed skin. Mycroft gasps his name, and Greg can feel him getting hard again. Impressive, really, because Greg's getting hard again, too.
"An excellent beginning," Greg agrees.
The night is waning. Greg knows he has to work in the morning. But for the moment, with the rain outside, dripping against the tiny bathroom window, and the heat of the shower enveloping him and Mycroft, the smell of shampoo and soap and sex pervading the air, it's perfect.
The issues of shagging the British government and the brother of Sherlock Holmes fall aside for the moment and are washed down the shower drain, as Greg relaxes into Mycroft's embrace, leaning back slightly for a deep kiss that seems to last forever as Mycroft's arms tighten around him, pressing him ever closer.