Mycroft sighed as he turned the key in the door and entered the stairway of 221 Baker Street. He was on his way to visit Sherlock – to seek his assistance actually in a rather delicate matter involving a murdered government official and some embarrassing extramarital affairs.
He disliked asking his brother’s help, especially as his brother consistently refused his services, but it was a matter that had needed to be put to rest sometime yesterday and he himself had no taste for intrigue and crime solving.
His umbrella clinked off each step as he made his way up the stairs and into the flat. The place seemed as dingy as ever, all the more so as John had been away for the past couple of days at a medical conference in Italy. The table was buried under piles of test tubes and what Mycroft horribly suspected were toes. There was a smell of rotting fruit emanating from the kitchen and Mycroft rubbed his nose with his handkerchief.
Sherlock lay stretched out on the sofa in his usual state of undress, a short silken dressing gown, his face turned away from the door leaving only his dark curls visible. Mycroft waited patiently for acknowledgement but none came. Finally, he was forced to clear his throat.
“Sherlock,” he said. As per usual, it had not taken long for the Sherlock related annoyance beginning to creep in.
He was met with silence.
“Sherlock,” he said, raising his voice slightly. This was as loud as he would deign to go. He abhorred shouting.
This time he was met with a grunt. Then more silence.
He walked towards the sofa and poked Sherlock in the coccyx with the pointy end of his umbrella. His brother shot up immediately, curls standing up in shocks, and with a scowl directed at him.
“Fuck off, Mycroft,” he moaned, wrapping his dressing gown tighter around himself and leaning back against the arm of the sofa.
“Delightful to see you, brother of mine,” he said. Really, he wished that just once Sherlock would cease to be so trying. He thought fondly of the days of Sherlock’s childhood when he had thought the world of his big brother. Those days were so far gone now that it nearly seemed his imagination.
“Let me guess,” said Sherlock, fixing his brother a bored expression, “you want my help. You’re too lazy to get off your fat arse and want me to do it instead. So I’ll say it again dear brother… fuck off.”
Mycroft clenched his teeth in response. His patience was wearing thin.
“Must you always be so difficult,” he asked, “though I suppose with John away you’re good for nothing but pining around the house like a lovesick puppy.” It was a low blow, he knew, but he could never seem to restrain himself around his brother. Of course baiting Sherlock was a dangerous business.
“Lovesick? Me? Unlikely.” scoffed Sherlock, standing up and coming to stand directly in front of Mycroft. He looked him right in the eyes and said,
“I wouldn’t bother with Lestrade you know… I suspect he has better options than a fat forty-year-old virgin.”
Years of experience had taught him to ignore his brother’s taunts, but it was difficult when he had a knack for hitting the truth.
“Just go away, go home to your fancy flat in Knightbridge, go be the British Government, or just go off and die somewhere, it’s not like anyone would miss you,” said Sherlock, flopping back onto the couch and curling into himself with a moan.
Mycroft said nothing in reply. There really was nothing he could say. If he spoke he was afraid of the words that would emerge from his mouth. He tried to swallow the lump that had been forming in his throat. He swiveled around and strode out of 221b – a retreat, but he would not allow Sherlock to see that his words had affected him.
Seconds later he was on the kerb of Baker Street clutching the end of his end of his umbrella so hard he started to get a pain in his knuckles. He was about to phone for his driver when he saw a familiar face making his way up the street. Gregory Lestrade. Briefly, he considered ducking away but it was too late, the other man had already seen him, and besides he wasn’t the sort to exert himself.
“Evening, Lestrade,” he said as normally as he could manage.
“Hey,” said the other man in reply, “Sherlock up there? He’s been texting me all day.”
Lestrade handed Mycroft his phone. In his inbox were thirty-three texts of ‘I’M BORED. BRING WORK.’”
“Yes, he’s there,” said Mycroft, a bit shortly.
“You ok?” asked Lestrade, “You seem a bit… out of sorts.”
“Perfectly fine,” he replied. He noticed he had maintained the death grip on his umbrella throughout and loosened it accordingly.
“Sherlock being a prick?” asked Lestrade knowingly.
Resignedly, Mycroft nodded. The man had been around Sherlock long enough to understand his moods.
“Must have been bad, you’re a difficult one to ruffle,” remarked Lestrade.
“Yes, quite,” said Mycroft. He didn’t offer any further explanation.
There was silence then. Mycroft felt himself being struck with the urge to tell Lestrade what Sherlock had said – which was just ridiculous because him being hurt by anything Sherlock came out with was just silly and really, Sherlock had been right, Lestrade did have better things to occupy his time than listening to him. However, he found himself saying, “He told me he’d be happier if I were dead.”
Lestrade frowned. “He doesn’t mean it,” he said.
“I’m not so sure,” said Mycroft, sighing. “Our relationship has been on a continuously downward trend since I left for university. At this point, I’m not sure if I died in the morning he’d bother to show for the funeral.” Or anyone else for that matter (well besides the likes of David Cameron of course). He left that unsaid.
Lestrade nodded. He then turned away , made his way towards the entranceway to the flat, and sat on the steps outside. He patted the empty space next to himself and Mycroft slid down next to him.
“I’m willing to wager that if you were shot right now, Sherlock would at least attempt CPR on you.” Mycroft had to smile at the pathetic attempt at a joke.
“You’ve done a lot for Sherlock. I know he recognizes that, even if he doesn’t want to.”
Lestrade put his arm on Mycroft’s elbow and squeezed it. He could feel the residual tingle traveling all the way up his arm to his neck.
“I’m sorry, I’m not usually like this,” said Mycroft.
“You’re not morose. You’re talking. Talking is good for the soul. And even for politicians.” Lestrade elbowed him gently and grinned.
Mycroft suppressed another smile. They sat in silence for a few more moments.
“I was wondering if you’d like to go out to dinner sometime?” asked Lestrade.
“Sometime? How quickly you forget,” joked Mycroft.
“I meant out out. Out for dinner. You know… a date.”
Lestrade ran a hand through his graying hair.
Mycroft felt a flush starting beneath his collar and started experiencing what he was pretty sure were palpitations (though he was not completely sure as they were not something he had ever suffered from in the past). What followed was an uncomfortable silence wherein Mycroft was unable to choke out a response and Lestrade looked on expectantly, his face continuing to fall the longer the silence stretched.
Finally Lestrade stood up and said, “Look, sorry I obviously –“
Mycroft realized that Lestrade was about to leave unless he did something and so he blurted out, “Sorry I- yes. Yes.”
Lestrade stopped mid sentence.
“Yes?” he asked carefully, a grin beginning to form on his face.
Mycroft blushed even harder. This simply could not be happening. He hadn’t been out on a date since university. He wasn’t really the sort for dating. Still, he nodded.
“Great, so I’ll give you a ring later on in the week, yeah?’ said Lestrade.
They stared at each other until Lestrade said, “I’d best be getting up to Sherlock before he goes completely mental. Got some cold cases.”
“Right,” said Mycroft, standing up as well.
Lestrade reached for his hand and gave it a squeeze. “See you later,” he said and turned around and headed up the stairs of 221b.
Mycroft let his hand drop down awkwardly to his side. Date. He had a date with Lestrade. The prospect both thrilled and terrified him. He was rubbish at dating - any dates he had gone on in university had ended in disaster. His only hope would be to treat it like one of his usual business affairs where he always felt completely in control. Surely, that was the logical option.