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October, 2005

Mycroft entered his St. James street flat with a smile and a spring in his step. It had been a good day. That is, until he spotted Sherlock draped over the chaise lounge in the reception room like some limp rag left behind by the maid. Tut. High again. Obviously. It was a blow to both Mycroft's confidence and ego to see his brother so obviously out of control.

Mummy would be so disappointed.

"I see my attempts to get you to eat better were entirely in vain," he said managing to keep his tone to mild disapproval. "Honestly, just once a week couldn't you choose something healthy? You look like you are going to starve."

Sherlock's eyes opened for a languid glance. His reaction time was much, much slower than it should have been. "You look well fed. As always."

Mycroft's lips twitched. "What happened to the employee I sent to feed you."

Sherlock opened his mouth a bit and showed the tips of his sharp canines. "He was boringly sober."

"What did you do to him?" Mycroft put a touch of warning in his voice.

Sherlock shrugged and closed his eyes. "He's not sober anymore."

Mycroft touched his forehead. Sometimes it seemed like Sherlock was trying to get Mycroft to throw him out of his flat. If that would work to get his brother to walk the straight and narrow he would have done it, but more likely Sherlock would simply delight in the prospect of an all he could eat buffet of homeless trash and drug addicts, not a one of which had the least bit of vitality to spare in their blood.

Vampires can die! he wanted to scream, but his sense of decorum stopped him at a deep frown.

"So what did you poison my employee with, Sherlock? From the look on your face it wasn't cocaine this time. LSD? You haven't stooped to alcohol have you?"

"Ketamine." He smiled blissfully.

Mycroft rolled his eyes. "Of course. You realize in this state I could put you in a box and you wouldn't be able to fight me." Mycroft shook his head with frustration. "A month of sobriety might do the trick."

Sherlock's eyes snapped open. "You wouldn't." He gave a look of intense hurt. "Please, don't Mycroft. I swear I will never drug one of your minions again. I'll drink only the purest, soberest, most upstanding virgin blood. I'll feed on exclusively on nuns!"

Mycroft pursed his lips just the smallest amount. Sherlock could be such a ham at times.

"Tell you what, I won't if you can tell me who my dinner guest was. You should be able to figure it out." He turned around slowly. "There, I made it easier."

Sherlock sat up and rubbed his neck. "Very well. You positively reek of hospital disinfectant. Your elbow brushed against the lip of a chlorine bottle. The coat's ruined, by the way. So you fed in a cleaning closet at Barts – and how very low rent of you."


"You have a ridiculous amount of respect for institutions and their rules, so you wouldn't have interfered with anyone actually on duty. So patients or their guests. The smell of illness turns your stomach, so that leaves out the general ward. You have no interest in psychoactives, so that leaves out the lunatics. Maternity ward, then."

Mycroft raised an eyebrow. Sherlock stood up and walked, slightly unsteadily towards him, scanning him. Mycroft raised his arms to give him a better view.

"Definitely, ah, your clothes really are ruined, there's the tiny smear of miconeum on your arse," Sherlock frowned, "You aren't eating babies are you?"

"With my arse?"

"No, of course not. New mothers –no, too monitored." Sherlock's eyes widened. "Ah -- New fathers. Little inexperienced in the art of nappies, little more experienced in the art of passion."

"That took you far too long," said Mycroft.

"You realize, it's more than a little perverse seducing a demonstratively heterosexual man while the mother of his child lies exhausted from her labor just down the hall." He threw himself back on the chaise lounge. "That's awfully Freudian of you, Mycroft."

"Not Freudian, I believe the word you were looking for is 'jealous'. And yes, I am quite envious. Humans find procreation so very easy."

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Back looking for a mate then. At a hospital maternity ward? Really?"

"I smelled one, Sherlock." Mycroft's eyes fixed on the view out the window. "Only for a moment as I was passing the emergency room. There's one out there." He walked over to the lounge and pushed Sherlock's legs out of the way so he could sit. "I'm almost three hundred years old, Sherlock. I was made to be a patriarch. There are vampires half my age with progeny already. Vampires half my worth. I will never be a true lord without a mate and progeny. It cripples me both socially and practically."

"Spare me your midlife crisis. It's old. And by old, it's been, what, two centuries you've been harping on this?"

"I don't know how you can be so calm," said Mycroft. "You are almost as old as I am. Surely you must have occasionally longed for a mate?"

"Oh, yes, because it sounds so terribly wonderful," said Sherlock dryly. He waved a languid hand about. "Here, have a human – a special human mind you, not one you can pick, because they are so extremely rare – whose soul has a such vitality that it can assist a vampire siring children."

"You missed the part where their blood is addictively rapturous."

"I also missed the part where withdrawals can kill. Do you really wish to be saddled with this human, who most likely is both dull and homely, tending to its pedestrian needs, extending it's life as long as possible, simply for some druglike hit? Just dose one of your thralls with Ketamine the way I did. That's the rational way to go."

"They are employees, Sherlock. And do you really think of Mummy that way?"

Sherlock shook his head. "Mummy is special. But whoever you smelled in the parking lot of Barts is not Mummy."

Mycroft nodded. It most definitely wasn't. Mummy was special, not just because she was the one who helped spark Sherlock's and his existence as vampires, but because before that, she had given birth to them in the ordinary, human way. She'd refused to outlive her children and had convinced her vampire mate to turn them. A decision Mycroft vowed to never let her regret.

Sherlock was right. This potential mate could very well be the dullest, least attractive human in all of London. But it didn't matter. He must have the person. Must.

Searching the hospital for his elusive mate was a priority, but there were more important problems to deal with first. Sherlock's penchant for rubbish blood was one thing, using his powers to get one of Mycroft's assistants high was quite another. After considering the matter he decided an ultimatum was in order.

"You want me to what?" asked Sherlock dully. He hadn't even managed to make it to the chaise lounge this morning, deciding instead that the floor of the hall was a good enough place to "converse with the all", or whatever his drug addled mind wanted to call it.

"Get a hobby, Sherlock," said Mycroft reasonably. "I'm going to be out of the flat for the next few days, attempting, and I imagine succeeding, in acquiring the new Ambassador to India. When I return, I'd love to see that you've found something to spend your time on that doesn't involve tormenting my valuable employees."

"Employees? Thralls," said Sherlock without bothering to look. "And I only do it because I'm bored. You could try being interesting. You once were."

"Employees, I give them a paycheck twice a month, and never mind my methods of recruitment." Mycroft crossed his hands over his chest. "I realize that you are bored. I'm busy. And there is so much you could be doing with your time. Since you refuse to help me, why don't you look in the wanted ads in the paper. There has to be a job you could take. If you fade any more you will die. Carpe diem, brother."

"I see. Employees. I will make sure to tell that under-aged prodigy you stole last month from Durham that she's free to go back to school any time she wishes to quit." Sherlock gave him a wry look. "Oh, wait, no she isn't. You've just to put your mind to her and she'll come to you like the brainwashed sot she is. Will you ever let her remember her real name?"

"Anthea has very special skills. When I have a mate she'll be the first of my progeny."

"Oh, so that's why this whole mate thing came up. And here I thought it might be something interesting, but no, it's all just part of this scheme to rule the world." Sherlock had the nerve to level an annoyed look at him. "You realize the purpose of thralls is to have a stable food source, not a group of loyal lackeys who will monitor the CCTV system for you. You are perverting the vampire way of life with your megalomania."

"Says the vampire who can't stand right now," Mycroft mentioned. He sighed. "So much for your vow last night. Did you leave the maid in your room? And was it Ketamine again?"

"Mmm. I'm not completely bored of it yet. It does make time go faster."

"Get a job, Sherlock. Something non-drug related. And start eating sober food. Or I'll box you. I'm serious. Perhaps a year will work better."

Mycroft had just finished with the new Ambassador to India when his mobile rang. He laid the man back on the couch, readjusted his clothes a bit to make him look more proper and then checked to see what message he'd been given. The man grunted slightly and licked his lips perhaps in longing for a last taste.

Sherlock arrested. At MET. Intervene? -- A

Mycroft sighed. He disliked texting, but in the presence of a new thrall discretion made sense. What offense?

Trespassing at crime scene. Orders? --A

Mycroft thought for a second. Nothing. I'll handle. Come to me.

The Ambassador seemed to come to himself, blinking his eyes and sitting up. He looked around then over to where Mycroft stood, now safely out of any intimate space. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm a bit run down from packing, I'm afraid. Was I able to answer your questions, Mr. Holmes?"

Mycroft gave him a fond smile and savored the lingering taste of his blood. "You answered them all magnificently." He gave a little nod of his head. "But I'm afraid I've just been called away."

"Well, please do call again," said the Ambassador rising and holding out a hand for a polite shake.

"Oh, I will," said Mycroft.

Anthea was really too young for the job of personal assistant, barely sixteen and looking not a day older, but her mind was sharp and agile and her comfort with the latest technology essential for coordinating all the balls he currently had in the air. She was his equal in multitasking, which was, in fact, such a rare talent that he'd gone through some rather irregular hoops to acquire her. Including having her change her name to shed her extraordinarily large and persistent family.

Now she sat next to him, simultaneously tracking three different emerging situations and casually checking with the Yard's system to find out any updates on Sherlock's situation.


"Nothing. He wasn't booked, he hasn't been released. He seems to be in limbo."

How had he gotten caught in the first place? Mycroft wondered. He should have been able to fade into a dark corner or perhaps give the illusion that he belonged wherever he was poking about. But then perhaps the terrible diet he was on finally caught up. If Sherlock didn't have the vitality to glamour people, he'd be stuck falling back on his interpersonal skills. Which were simply awful.

"Who is in charge?"

"Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade," said Anthea. "He's new, less than three months in position. From Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Serious Crimes Unit. Bit of a promotion coming to the Yard. He seems competent."

The driver pulled up to the front entrance of the MET and Mycroft stepped out, then waited while the driver pulled away with Anthea. Though no one had her listed as missing, it wouldn't do to have the Yard wondering if she were truant. Best keep her out of sight.

The smell hit him the moment he left the street. Enticing with just an edge to it that sent slightly painful shivers through his body. The trail was muddied, all over the lobby as if the person had paced the place.

Which should he do first – hunt the mate or find his errant brother? It was an almost painful decision. Sherlock might truly be in trouble, the mate, on the other hand, might vanish. Though now he had two points of data. The person visited both hospitals and police stations.

"May I help you sir," asked a harried looking receptionist.

"I'm looking for a DI Lestrade. I believe he works in the building." Or with luck, he might come across the mate in his searches. Was this how dogs felt when they sensed a bitch in heat? Horrifying thought.

"Oh yes, third floor, left. Is he expecting you?" She looked at her computer screen.

"Yes," Mycroft lied and willed her to look at him. The moment their eyes met she was caught. Her pupils dilated a little and the expression on her face eased, as if she'd fallen into a pleasant daydream.

She pressed a button and Mycroft heard a little buzz. "You may go back. He's expecting you."

The smell grew stronger the closer he got. Whoever it was shed excess vitality with careless abandon. The poor human was practically begging for a vampire to come and feed, relieve him or her (Mycroft still could get no sense of gender) of the burden. By some luck it seemed that whoever it was in the same area as the man who had his brother.

Mycroft suddenly stopped in his tracks – what if Sherlock got to this person first? Surely Sherlock would be smelling the same thing. And even if he claimed no interest in mating – how could he resist?

He continued, slower, steeling himself for a storm. He passed through a warren of desks, each populated with its own little official, all smart in their uniforms. They cast brief assessing looks his way, but his impeccable suit was enough to tell them that dealing with him was above their pay grade.

By the coveted windowed wall was a glassed in office. The door was closed, but through it he saw the back of Sherlock's head, curls combed for once, and his thin arm dangling to the side making some sort of gesture as he spoke to an attractive looking man behind the desk.

Mycroft held still a moment.

DI Lestrade wasn't young, but he had a handsome face and a vigor to his bearing. His eyes were sharp in a way that suggested intelligence, and there was a trace of humor to the set of his lips, that suggested he was flexible. Where most unglamoured humans took a more or less instant hate of Sherlock, he seemed, for lack of a better word, mildly amused. Certainly receptive to whatever proposal had Sherlock gesticulating so madly.

But there was also no mistaking what he was. DI Lestrade was his mate. The smell, the look, everything about him made it blindingly obvious. His mate, the one he'd searched for two centuries to find. The one who would put his meticulous plans into motion, help build Mycroft's army of progeny to build a better place for all.

And he was with Sherlock.

And he liked Sherlock.

Greg didn't know whether to tear out his hair or thank the man. Or maybe just laugh, because the situation was so utterly mad. People like Sherlock Holmes simply didn't exist in real life. But the hidden video camera had been found, its contents had been processed, and the murderer been quite thoroughly outted. Case solved before the blood at the crime scene had even dried. And it was in large part due to the very keen eye of random trespasser.

Sherlock sat expressively slumped over his chair and awarded him with a mild appraising glance. "You don't seem to think my offer is genuine."

"Mr. Holmes," he said. "Your offer is tempting, but impossible. What I mean by that is you have a real talent for observation, an almost terrifying one actually, but there are procedures that we have to follow. I can't authorize payment to an outside consultant without there being something tangible to justify his expertise. A resume, a degree, references at least."

Sherlock simply glanced at the ceiling, "I'm not asking for payment. The challenge is it's own reward as far as I'm concerned. I simply want to help solve your cases."

"And that – the simple matter is, I can't do that. It would never stand up in court." Lestrade ran his hand over his hair. "I mean, look at you, I don't think I've ever seen a less convincing expert. Your clothes are impeccable, but your body language takes casual to a whole new level. And the way you glare and make these absurd and intrusive statements about people's personal lives – things you can't possibly know. It's rude and severely undercuts your credibility. From my experience, Judges seldom have a sense of humor about such things."

"We can work around it," said Sherlock. "Your men and women will gather the evidence and testify in court, I shall simply tell you where to look and what to look for. I can be an anonymous tip." He straightened up a bit. "And what makes you think my personal observations are wrong?"

"Because you can't possibly know that Anderson's marriage is troubled. He hadn't even said a word to you."

"Tell, me, Lestrade, do you require a verbal confession of all your criminals to know if they did indeed commit the crime? I'm perfectly capable of sorting clues. As you've seen."

Greg sighed. "Trust me, those clues you found were … bloody fantastic. Because of them, I might actually get to go home to my family at a reasonable time tonight. But your background -- well honestly, if I didn't know for sure that you didn't commit the murder, I would be looking at you as a suspect. You seem, forgive the bluntness, rather shady."

Sherlock's eyes widened momentarily. "Oh, is that the trouble? You think I might be embellishing with lies simply to impress you, as if what I did at the crime scene were not enough. Well, how about this conclusion: you lied to me just a moment ago. You have no intentions of going home to see your family tonight, or tomorrow night, regardless of what help I've given you on this case. You should, in fact, go ahead and remove that ring from your finger, your marriage is irreparably broken."

Greg's mouth opened. "And how the hell would you know anything about that." Was this man a stalker?.

"It's obvious," said Sherlock, gesturing around. "Your daughters' pictures are all over your desk, but the only picture you have of your wife is on the credenza behind you. And it is a group picture with your daughters in it. Your clothes – that shirt is what passes as fashionable among those of the lower middle class. It cost about double what a very similar, non-designer shirt would have cost, whilst not being appreciably more durable or better fitting. You, with your sense of practicality, would never have bought it for yourself, but your wife, who from her picture is extremely appearance conscious, used to do your shopping. This would be a years-long source of friction between the two of you."

"My shirt tells you that my wife is a spendthrift."

"I'm not done," said Sherlock. "You've been separated for several months. That shirt is now stained at the collar and frayed at the cuffs, your wife would never have allowed such a thing. The wrinkles are caused by inexpert ironing; You are still learning your new domestic duties. Maintaining two residences has stressed your finances to the point where you can't afford to buy new shirts. The instant noodle container in your bin attests that even feeding yourself has become difficult. This is not conducive to reconciliation. Nor has switching jobs to be farther away. Though you largely blame your wife for the break up, in fact it is you who sought to add distance."

"Who said anything about me switching jobs?" Greg asked. His stomach had bottomed out.

"Everything!" cried Sherlock. "Look at this office! You haven't even finished unpacking it. There hasn't been time for dust to accumulate around the books. The vinyl chair you are sitting on is still outgassing. And then there is the fact that your people haven't become comfortable enough around you to confide in their domestic problems. They are all still very much on their most polite behavior. I'd put you at this job at between one to three months."

Greg didn't say anything for a moment. What the hell was there to say to such a thing? Ruefully, he let a smile form on his face. This Sherlock was a character, but a damn useful one. As painful as it was to hear his dirty laundry aired, dirty laundry was what much of his investigations were built on, and one who could air it, with such accuracy and so little to go on…

"Very well. I suppose I could call on you for a second eye when I come across a crime that seems difficult. You do seem to be able to pull a picture of someone from disparate and seemingly trivial details."

"And the matter of the trespassing?"

"Has been dropped." Greg leaned back. "I've retroactively given you permission. Now come up with a title I can call you by so I don't have to introduce you to those beneath me as 'some bloke I know'."

The door opened. An impressively well dressed man stepped in. Greg was momentarily stunned. Though his appearance wasn't beyond an ordinary handsomeness, he had an almost devastating charisma radiating off of him. Everything about him, from the expression to the way he walked suggested that he not only belonged in the room, but that Greg should stand and snap to attention.

Greg did half of that: He stood. Then his eyes narrowed as defensive instincts, honed from years of dealing with con artists, clicked into place. He sensed a want behind the man's eyes and recognized the sensation of being spotted as a mark.

"May I help you, sir," he said, politely, but pointedly, ignoring the sudden race of his heart.

"You are DI Lestrade? Gregory Lestrade?" The man said it as if it were an introduction rather than a question. "My name is Mycroft Holmes." He held out his hand for shaking.

Greg took it, felt the warm hand enclose around his and press firmly. The moment lasted a bit longer than it should have and by then Greg's breathing had hitched. He found his throat dry and an electric thrill of excitement race through his skin. He felt very much like a man meeting an idol, but for the life of him, he'd never seen this person before.

"Holmes," said Greg numbly. "Oh, Holmes!" His eyes flashed over to Sherlock. "Relative of yours?"

"My brother." Sherlock's eyes had traveled from Mycroft to Greg and back in a swift flicker. Then a look of knowing made his face nearly glow. Greg expected Sherlock to explain what fantastic conclusion he'd come to, but one sharp look from Mycroft shut his mouth. Sherlock leaned back instead with a smug my lips are sealed look.

Greg frowned, but before he could wonder any more on it, Mycroft seemed to command his attention once more.

"It's come to my attention that Sherlock has been causing the Yard some problems."

"He trespassed onto a crime scene," said Greg guardedly. "And how would you know that? He hasn't left my side and I didn't see him make any phone calls."

"Nothing escapes my brother," said Sherlock dryly. "He plans on taking over the world, you know. I'd be careful of him, if I were you."

"Sherlock," the word was mild, but the warning obvious. "Detective Inspector, I'm here to bail my brother out if such is necessary."

"No," said Greg and his mind seemed to click on the situation. Relief swelled. Of course, the older brother was going to talk me out of charging him! That's the scam. "As it happens, he was invaluable to me and my team. He helped catch a murderer before the news had a chance to sensationalize it, which in my business is always a win. So no, you don't need to worry about the matter. It's settled."

Mycroft seemed relieved, but his eyes remained glued on Greg. He hardly glanced at Sherlock, even when he addressed him. "I see, well, in that case, well done Sherlock. Why don't you head on home, I'll talk to you about this later."

Sherlock stood up. "Last chance to run," he murmured as he swooped out the door. Greg wasn't sure whether it was himself or Mycroft he was speaking to.

He shook his head and almost sat down when he realized that Mycroft wasn't leaving. Doing a doubletake he straightened up again and stared. "Is there some other matter I can help you with?"

"I very much appreciate you letting my brother off the hook like that." The ingratiating tone seemed lap at him, like a wave.

"It was minor," replied Greg. "… Is there more?" Mycroft had seated himself where Sherlock had been a moment before.

"I would like to show my appreciation." Mycroft's eyes seemed to bore into his. For a second Greg felt like he was being reeled in, like a fish. Those eyes seemed hypnotic, suggesting that whatever Mycroft said should be believed, agreed with. Greg got the oddest feeling that he should walk around his desk and go to the man right now.

What the hell?

He shook his head, breaking eye contact. "There really is no need of that," he took refuge in looking around his desk for something to occupy him with, finding the current murder file he flipped it open and made a pretense at reading the evidence within. "Bribes are rather looked down upon in my field, Mr. Holmes. You understand."

"But it wouldn't be a bribe, seeing as you've already let Sherlock go."

"Appearance of impropriety is as bad as actual impropriety." He looked up very briefly with a little smile, then quickly looked down again. "However your message is taken. You can go. I'm quite busy."

Look at him, look at him, look at him. Greg shook his head denying that little voice pounding at him.

"Well, then, allow me to be a bit more forthright with you. I would like very much to take you to dinner."

Surprise brought Greg's eyes up. "Are you asking me out?" Mistake, they were caught immediately by Mycroft's. Greg felt that reeled in sensation again.


Say yes, said the inner voice.

"Well, I'm flattered," Greg hedged, and wrenched his mind off the seductive track it seemed to be on. "But it appears that you don't share Sherlock's skill in observation." He lifted his hand, showing off his wedding band. "Or else you would have noticed I'm both straight and already taken." Never had he felt more relieved that he'd kept the damn thing on.

Mycroft sighed. "Oh come now, it's blindingly obvious you are separated and well on your way to being divorced. You're fridge at home is empty and you are hungry and broke. You're far too proud to ask for charity from your coworkers, but you don't need to put on a front around me." He leaned forward. "I'm quite wealthy. Come dine with me, I promise it won't be any more than that. A meal. Some pleasant company."

Agree. Agree.

"No," said Greg, his voice coming out in a strangled burst. "Please leave now, Mr. Holmes."

"I insist," persisted Mycroft with a hint of pain in his voice.

"And I insist that you leave now," said Greg. "And I'll also point out that not only does 'no' mean 'no', but when you are propositioning a high ranking police officer in the middle of the bloody MET, 'no' means 'no' backed up by jail time if you continue to pursue this." He glared at the man.

Mycroft looked simply stunned, as if he couldn't imagine being turned down. "But you want to go out with me. You need me as much as I need you!"

And he did, he really, really did, for some ridiculous reason, but his pride had closed like a fist around his middle. "I'm not ready to date yet. And when I do, it will not be with a complete stranger – a man -- who barges uninvited into my office and demands that I go out with him."

Mycroft's face blanched. "Your forgiveness," he said finally. "I pushed too hard." He slowly stood up and then walked away, giving one last, confused glance back.

Greg collapsed forward, his heart pounding. Of all the ways the day could have panned out, this was certainly the weirdest. Donovan quickly entered and gave a look at him. "Are you alright, sir?"

"I think I just dodged a bloody bullet."

"He turned me down, Sherlock!" Mycroft crossed the floor of the reception room and sat down with a humph in Sherlock's favorite spot. "He turned me down – and I know that he was feeling as much need for me as I for him. I felt the connection. What on Earth did you say to him to prejudice him against me? What did you do?"

"I never even mentioned you," said Sherlock.

"You made a bond with him – you pursued him. It has to be some sort of confusion. Are you taking him as your mate after our discussion?" Rage began to boil.

"Me?" Sherlock wrinkled his nose. "Never. I don't want a mate, Mycroft. You are more than welcome to him. I fancy he turned you down because you are a megalomaniacal man who simply assumes that everyone will do his bidding. Not all heterosexual men are eager to meet you in the closet for a walk on the wild side."

"But this one should have. Because he's my bloody mate."

"Did you glamour him?"

"As hard as I could," said Mycroft. "I pulled out all the stops, he should have been sitting in my lap, showing me his throat."

"But he didn't."

"He threw it off!" Mycroft shook his head. "I had him, and then he was gone. It was like he could resist me some how."

Sherlock looked positively gleeful. "Oh goodness, you are actually going to have woo him. No shortcuts for you. How that must stick in your fat, lazy craw."

Mycroft covered his face. "What should I do? How do I woo a man like him?"

"I'm really not the person to advise you in this matter, being that I think you are perfectly mad to want a mate in the first place. Not that Lestrade isn't bad considering."

"Hands off of him," growled Mycroft.

"For what it's worth, he threw off the glamour I tried to put on him as well. I didn't intend on getting caught at the crime scene. I merely wished to solve the crime, but Lestrade saw through my attempts to muddle his mind. I found that talking to him as something of an equal and proving my worth actually endeared me to him." Sherlock looked thoughtful. "I like him better this way. He's not a sheep."

Mycroft glared with jealousy.

"Alright. You want some real advice? Talk to Mummy," suggested Sherlock. "She knows what it's like to have a vampire suddenly breathing down her neck. Perhaps she can give you tips. And there, who says I never help you out."

"You know," said Mummy, as she bent to prune a rose, "Your sire was a late bloomer as well. He didn't meet me until he was much your age." She snipped off the thorns and handed it to him. "For the dear young thing you left in the car," she mentioned.

Mycroft took the offering, then held out a hand to help her stand up. Though she looked no more than mid-forties, she was getting a bit fragile with age. "It's lovely."

"Do you think she'd like to have tea?" asked Mummy.

"She's quite comfortable where she is, and it would be a distraction. There are several situations that need my attention, and she is my best proxy."

Mummy pursed her lips delicately. "I'm quite glad you finally met someone, Mycroft. I've been hoping for a daughter for many years. Will you bring her by to meet me soon?"

"It's a him, actually," said Mycroft.

"Ah," her face fell just a bit. "I had hoped, but one can't help who one falls for."

"There's always Sherlock," said Mycroft, contritely.

"Oh no," she laughed lightly. "My two sons, so alike, and yet so opposite. You've always played both sides of the fence, Mycroft, and Sherlock never seemed to play either. But if he ever did choose to play, I'm certain we both know on which side it would be. I've read somewhere that it was quite statistically unlikely to have two gay sons, but then my life has been a statistical anomaly, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised." She patted his arm. "It's quite alright, Mycroft. I've lived without a daughter for over three hundred years. I'm sure I'll manage without. I'm very happy for you, and I look forward to seeing the man who you've bonded with."

"Well at the very least," said Mycroft, "I can give you a granddaughter."

Mummy glanced at the car parked in the drive. "You mean her? Oh Mycroft. Don't be so eager. Let the poor dear grow up." She drew him over to a marble bench and sat down. "Tell me about this man, then."

Mycroft sat next to her and clutched her hand. "Well that's the problem. I'm not even sure there will be a man. I've always been under the impression that when I met a mate, things would simply click between us. But it's not that way at all."

"What happened?"

"He rejected me. Just like that. Ordered me away. And I tried glamouring him, but it didn't work at all."

Mummy laughed again. "Of course the glamour didn't work, Mycroft. He's to be your partner, not your thrall. Your Sire could never glamour me either, as well he shouldn't. Mates are there to provide balance to your life. To be a check – a way to keep you grounded. They are someone whom you can trust implicitly, to be your voice of reason, your confidante – not simply a rubber stamp for your own thoughts and wishes."

"You mean, he can veto my plans?" Mycroft had never considered this.

"He can stymie you as well as aide, as you've apparently just seen." Mummy patted his hands. "But it is a good thing, because if he's saying no to you, it means you need to hear no."

Mycroft hung his head. "But what if everything I want and dream is something he'll say no to?"

"It's unlikely. But sometimes a vampire isn't even aware of what he truly wants and dreams. Look at your Sire. He had mad plans when we first got together of raising an army of vampires and going to war against some rival he had. Well, I put a stop to that. I made him wait twenty-five years before I helped him turn you and your brother. By then, of course, he'd found a better way to resolve the feud. Instead of rampaging vampires as far as the eye could see, we just had the two. And you Sire went on to be the highly respected patriarch he is today, binding the clans through diplomacy rather than war and attrition."

Mycroft clenched his teeth then with effort released. "So, what do I do then?"

"Woo him. Not through force. We both know that he's already compatible with you. He's attracted to you as well. The two of you will be quite happy together, once you've worked things out. My advice is to find out what it is that he values and show him that you can provide that."

"I'll do that. Thank you, Mummy."

She tilted her head. "I know it seems frightening to have your life placed into the hands of a complete stranger. Remember, though, that it's just as frightening to him to suddenly be the center of attention of a being so powerful and unfettered."

Mycroft said nothing.

"Now," said Mummy standing once more. "Do please tell that darling child in the car to come out and have tea. She maybe a thrall, but she's not a tool. Treat her with respect and you won't have to glamour her loyalty. Remember she is human, just like your mate and your mother."

Mycroft nodded, both relieved and suitably chastened.

The next day was a paperwork day for Greg. No new cases, time to dot Is and cross Ts, talk to prosecutors, and what not. He almost kept to his official hours, walking home in the dark to give his legs a stretch and save money. The flat looked exactly the same as he left it that morning.

But it wasn't. His first clue that there had been an intruder was when he opened the fridge, expecting to see a half a pint of milk, a bottle of beer, and a nice squash he'd found marked down two days before. He was poor, but he tried his best to avoid crap food. One can't live on instant noodles and potatoes, not and be expected to occasionally chase the baddies.

The squash was gone. In its place was half of Tesco's. Every drawer was full. There were fresh vegetables and not just the cheapest. There was steak and chicken and sausage, cold cuts and rashers of bacon. There were eggs, and cheese, and fruit. Milk and beer and a bottle of white wine. All of it was the highest quality, none of it spoiled, or bruised, or old.

Greg stood in front of the fridge for a full minute staring. Then he closed the door. He'd heard that starving people sometimes hallucinate food, but he hadn't thought himself that hungry. He opened the door again, expecting it to be some trick, but no, there it all was.

Had Lydia come by and done the shopping?

He dismissed the idea. The last time Lydia called it was to get him to pay a bill he couldn't afford and damn well shouldn't have to pay for. The house should sell just fine without new carpet in the den and if she really thought it necessary she could pay for it herself. She did have a job after all. No, after that she wouldn't have a fit of compassion and come all the way to London to fill his larder.

His mates at work? He was pretty sure they didn't know the extent of his financial troubles. And if they had, they'd never mentioned it.

Greg looked around to see if there were any other differences. Superficially everything seemed normal. His living area was still a mess. Nothing had been stolen – not that there was anything worth stealing. He had no telly, his laptop came and went with him, he had no art or jewelry. But a thief would not have given him food either.

Ah—there! Something had been stolen. His correspondence was missing. All his bills were gone. Identity thief? It seemed a long strange way to go for that.

The final change was in his bedroom and Greg knew what was happening. In his closet, hanging neatly on new wooden hangers was an entire wardrobe. Beautiful crisp new shirts, trousers in a bland rainbow of brown. In the drawers were designer jeans. All his size. Thousands of pounds worth of clothes, all of it tasteful, none of it cheap, and though all were brand new, none had tags.

Has to be, thought Greg numbly.

He hadn't forgotten Mycroft Holmes – how could he? Even if the man hadn't made a pass at him, he'd still have been memorable. The handsomeness, the charisma, the way Greg had felt helplessly drawn to him. It had only lasted a couple of minutes, but his mind seemed to go back over them obsessively. A day was not enough time to let that go. Still, he had thought (hoped) that his very clear message had gotten through.

Apparently not. And apparently trespassing went in the family.

Greg sat on his bed and began texting. Tell your brother I won't prosecute if he gives me my clothes and letters back.

Greg then ran his hand through his hair. So this is how it felt to be stalked. He'd handled cases before but he'd never been on the receiving end of it. He felt alarmingly vulnerable and exposed.

Bills have been taken care of. He'll return the paper copy – SH

Greg's thumbs worked the tiny keyboard furiously. I don't need Mycroft to pay my bills.

He disagrees.

Then the mobile rang, he put it up to his ear. "Sherlock," Greg said, "Please tell him to back off. I'm not flattered, I'm creeped out. And I will prosecute if he continues."

"I'm very sorry," came Mycroft's voice. "It wasn't my intention to be creepy. I just wished to help you."

"By breaking into my flat?"

"Nothing was broken."

"Stealing my clothes?"

"They were worn out. I gave you better clothes. You're wife is correct, appearances are important. A stained and threadbare shirt does not inspire trust or respect, both of which are the main currency of your job."

"Why are you doing this?" Greg asked. "Why me? I'm a middle aged man you met for two minutes yesterday."

Mycroft sighed. "I've been searching for you for very, very long time, Gregory. I know that I come on strong. It's my nature. But I don't mean you any harm. I simply want to help you."

"Help me?"

"I could have given you a car or jewelry, but I know you value practicality. So I have seen to it that your basic needs are met. You're rent is paid for the next six months. Your wardrobe is updated. The food should last a week—but I will see to it you have more after that."

"I don't want your charity," said Greg. Especially not if you are going to break in my house to give it to me. "I want you to leave me alone."

There was a hesitation. "I can't do that."

Greg felt a thrill of terror in his middle. "Why not."

"Because I need you, Gregory. Didn't you feel it? The connection we shared? Don't you feel it even now?"

The horror of it was that he did. Something inside felt bound to Mycroft. "What the hell is going on."

"We are meant to be together," said Mycroft.

Oh god, that was so cheesy. "Like lifemates or something."

"Yes!" there was relief in his voice. "Exactly, Gregory."

"And that gives you the right to break into my home so that you could fill it with what you think I need?"

There was a longer pause. "It would be far easier if you simply gave me permission. For that matter, you could live with me, and there would be no need at all for me to trespass."

"I don't know you, Mycroft. But there is going too fast, and then there is this. Please, for the love of Pete, back off." I should be arresting him, thought Greg. Why am I hesitating. "Give me some space to think." And that sounded like an invitation to push more.

"Please forgive me, I… I'm at a loss here, Gregory." The voice sounded distinctly pained. "I've never done this before. It's terribly new to me, and I'm not used to dealing with new things. I seem to be continually misstepping."

Greg felt his heart soften a bit. The man sounded almost pathetic and not in the slick way of a scam artist. He'd remembered the way Sherlock had looked when he'd caught him on the scene. Surprised, confused, confounded. But then he'd gone on to be absolutely bloody brilliant. Maybe he was judging too harshly too soon.

One of Greg's strongest skills had always been empathy. He could assess motive, past and future behavior by putting his mind into that of the perpetrator. Now he did the same for Mycroft and found that there was no evil intent in what he did. The man had, in his own fumbling way, assessed exactly what areas had been worrying Greg and had dealt with them in the most efficient way possible.

If not for social norms, he would probably have been quite happy to be relieved of what had been an extremely stressing situation. But damn it, there were social norms, and for good reason.

"Listen," said Greg finally. "I understand what you are trying to do. But you really need to back off a bit and let me have a chance to know you. We can't all just glance at a man and know everything there is about him."

"Ah!" Mycroft's voice was happy. "You wish to know about me! That can be arranged. I shall have that information to you by tomorrow."

The line went dead and Greg slumped forward. What have I done now.

The next day a prim young man in a suit delivered a package to his office at the MET. Greg stood next to his desk and signed for it, wondering what on earth was in the unmarked manila envelope and why it couldn't have gone through the normal interoffice delivery system.

With some trepidation, he opened it at his desk and up ended it. This better not be full of anthrax, or I'll be very embarrassed.

A small, unlabeled flash drive slid out into his palm.

Or computer viruses, either.

He opened his laptop and put it in. There was a single file on the drive and in the file was a single document, labeled mycroft.holmes.pdf.

Greg relaxed. Oh, it's just him, giving me his resume or some such.

He shook his head. Now how had that come to be? Somewhere in the space of three days he'd gone from thinking of Mycroft as being some mysterious and terrifying stranger to thinking of him as a – well as a mysterious and terrifying acquaintance.

Greg tugged his collar a bit. For some reason his neck itched at the thought of Mycroft. Then he looked at the sleeve of the pinstripe blue Windsor shirt he wore. It was one of the many that had appeared in the closet. He wouldn't have worn it if he had any other choice, but the man had made off with all his old clothes, even the dirty ones and the one he knew was carelessly wadded under his bed. Meanwhile Greg's bank account was every bit as tapped out this morning as it had been the morning before. It was wear Mycroft's clothes or nothing.

Everyone in the office had noticed his change in attire, he'd received compliments all day long over his taste and how well the shirt looked on him. Donovan had been the only one slightly suspicious about it, but she hadn't said anything other than to compliment him on finding a shirt that really suited him.

He did have to admit that the shirt fit him well enough to have been tailored. How had Mycroft known his measurements?

He opened the document. Mycroft's "get to know me" appeared on the screen. Apparently the man must have spent all night writing, because the thing wasn't just long, it was a positive novel. It even had chapters. Laid out in sensible language was everything from his preferences in music to a screed on political philosophy wherein he examined the flaws and strengths of all the major parties. Greg found himself scanning page after page instead of doing his real work, all while the gape on his face increased.

Well, he had asked to know the man. And now he did. The impression off the screen was a strong sense of self-confidence thrown into sudden disarray. Mycroft knew what he wanted in such uncertain terms. Not only did he know his preferences, but he was comfortable enough in them that he willingly experimented outside of them as an altruistic gesture to others. There was an entire chapter on his sexual capabilities written in such graphic terms and sensual language that it made Greg blush. There were several chapters on domestic issues. Mycroft had a reason for everything, down to his color choices. Every nuance of aesthetics came with accompanying analysis of not only how it pleased himself, but how it was perceived by other people.

It was clear that for Mycroft manipulating others was as natural and thoughtless as breathing. So why had he been so damnably clumsy and rushed about it with Greg?

There was a clue about that as well. For the information dump this was, there were three glaring gaps. Nothing was said about Mycroft's childhood or family. There was nothing about his jobs, current or past. And despite the pornographic chapter, there was nothing at all about past romantic relationships. Perhaps the man had simply indulged in one night stands all this time. Or maybe he was Bluebeard.

It was surprisingly unhelpful in making Greg decide if he wanted to get involved with the his would be suitor. On one hand, there were many areas where Greg found he respected and agreed with Mycroft. Philosophy, religion, ethical choices all seemed to be in alignment. And Mycroft was certainly interesting. His intelligence was breathtaking. His insight fascinating. Greg would have leaped to the idea of having a dinner conversation with him.

On the other hand, Mycoft was a man. More over he was a man who wanted to do at least some of the things in that sex chapter to Greg. The images that conjured were beyond disturbing. Greg didn't like to think of himself as being bigoted, but he'd been pretty uninterested in men for the bulk of his life. And yet, now he could not only see himself in Mycroft's bed – he could picture it vividly. And part of him was fascinated by the idea – yeah, that was unnerving.

But even that wasn't the real worry. What terrified him was even more primal and practical.

Greg had pulled his share of domestic abuse cases – enough to recognize the warning flags. The sudden intense interest. The rather successful attempt at controlling his wardrobe. The demand to move quickly into a deeper relationship. Everything about that screamed of abuser. He could picture Mycroft eating up all his time, attempting to isolate him from family and friends who might help him. He could see him insisting that Greg quit his job. Finally, when he was well and truly penned in, would come the beatings.

And everything about Mycroft suggested that leaving him would be a lot more difficult than leaving Lydia, mother of his children and wife of twelve years. And that hadn't been easy at all.

Gregory Lestrade was far too straight, far too seasoned both in life and the ways of crime, to fall for this. I should nip this off now.

There was a call to his mobile from Mycroft's number. "Did you have enough time to read my file?"

"Skimmed," said Greg, tensely.

"Will you go out with me tonight?" His voice was soft and pleading and something in Greg ached to appease it.

Say yes, say yes, say yes, cooed the treacherous inner voice.

The hell, no! Tell him to bugger off! screamed his reason.

"I'm sorry, very busy!" Greg's voice was tight and high. " – Perhaps tomorrow. Yes. Well." Greg hung up before Mycroft could reply.

He ran a hand through his short hair and glared unseeingly at his desk. "I'm such a fucking coward."

"He refused! Again! What does he want?"

"For some stranger to stop bothering him perhaps?" Sherlock was, astonishingly enough, sober. He sat at the table in the reception room, tapping away at a brand new laptop. "By the way, I'm thinking of starting a website where I explain my methods of deduction. Lestrade thinks that documentation will lend me an air of professionalism. He'll have something he can refer other people to, so they don't question my consulting. I'm thinking of calling it The Science of Deduction."

Mycroft didn't give a damn about Sherlock's consulting. He grabbed the nearest thing, which happened to be a throw pillow, and tossed it with all his might. It made a very unsatisfying thud against the window.

Sherlock looked up. "Histrionics are so unbecoming, I thought you were better than that," he remarked dryly.

"I'm not a stranger! I poured my soul out into that letter I sent him." He rounded on Sherlock. "Tell me what I should do."

"As if I would know!" Sherlock shook his head. "I did my best when I sent you to Mummy."

"But you know him! He talks to you. He helps you! How were you able to ingratiate yourself to him when I've been completely lacking in luck."

"Simple. I'm not asking him to bend over his desk for me." Sherlock shrugged. "He's coming out of a bad relationship. Maybe give him a week or two to adjust to the idea of your existence. Not that I really know, it's just a thought."

"I can't give him a week or two," said Mycroft. "I'm hungry. Desperately hungry."

Sherlocks eyes sharpened. "You are! You poor fat thing, you. You are starving. Why don't you just go visit Bart's maternity ward again. Or nibble on that Anthea you love so much. Tide yourself over."

"Don't you think I've tried?" asked Mycroft. "I can't do it. Their blood tastes like rubbish to me. It's not what I want. I want his."

"Then take his," suggested Sherlock. "Don't ask, just climb into his bedroom window while he sleeps and take it. You are far stronger than he is."

Mycroft paled. "I'm not going to rape my mate."

"Oh, horrors the idea," said Sherlock looking back down at the laptop screen. "As though what you've been doing to your thralls all these years is so much more consensual."

"This isn't funny," said Mycroft, sitting heavily on Sherlock's chaise lounge. "I'm going to die if he doesn't give in. I can barely think."

"This is precisely why I don't want to find a mate," said Sherlock. "I'm very sorry for your problem, but what can I say. I'm glad it's not me."

Mycroft was up off the lounge and to Sherlock's chair in an instant. He grabbed the collar of Sherlock's shirt and dragging him to his feet. With one hand he slammed the lid of the computer down. "You are going to help me. Or, God help me, I will box you."

"Always with the threats," said Sherlock steadily, he grabbed Mycroft's hand and pulled it away. "But I'm not high right now. I think you've lost your advantage. Brother."

Mycroft collapsed, kneeling on the ground before Sherlock looking utterly defeated and pathetic. "Please, Sherlock. He likes you. Be my advocate just this once?"

"What do you think I can do?"

"Talk to him. Convince him I need him."

"I see. Why?"

Mycroft looked up, panicked. "Because we are brothers. We are blood twice over. Mummy would be horrified if I died and you simply sat back and did nothing."

Sherlock's face went blank. He said nothing for a long minute. "All right."

Mycroft's heart leapt. "You'll do it?"

"Yes. I'll do it. My own way."


"Tonight. But only because I don't want Mummy upset and I rather dislike seeing you grovel. It's undignified." Sherlock paused and waited while Mycroft stood up and straightened his clothes.

"But in return, Mycroft," he continued. "No more threats of boxing. It may seem like a simple punishment to you, and God only knows it's common enough. But it's terrifying to me. I don't care how much of your blood you'd force down my gullet before you drove the nails in, the long sleep of the coffin is torture. It's not just hunger of the body, my mind needs to be fed as well."

"Agreed," said Mycroft swiftly. "And thank you. I can't tell you how much--"

"Then don't. I haven't done anything yet."

Mycroft simply nodded.

It was midnight when Greg heard the buzzer ring out in his flat. Sitting up in bed, he rubbed his face and blearily glanced at the LED display on his clock. Goddamn it.

He grabbed a robe (hooded, cotton, understated grey on black, soft as clouds and probably insanely expensive, but Greg hadn't dared look it up for fear of having his suspicions confirmed) and hurried to the intercom. "Yes?"

"Let me in."

It was Sherlock's voice.

"Have you any idea of the time?" Greg asked.

"Does that really matter to a police detective?"

Greg shook his head. "No." He hit the button to let Sherlock into the building. "Come on up." A moment later he opened the door to the gangly man. Sherlock's eyes scanned his room in one quick sweep, then settled on him.

"Well Mycroft does have an eye for aesthetics. Boss designs, yes? You look well. He'll be happy you are wearing his gift."

Greg scratched his head. "Not much choice in that, since he's stolen all my other clothes. But you aren't here to talk about your brother are you?"

Sherlock stopped in his visual perusal to settle his eyes on Greg. He said nothing.

Greg ran his hand over his face. "You are. Argh." He wandered over to a chair, tossed the post off the seat and collapsed heavily into it.

"This is insane, you know," he said. "Utterly mad. I mean, I could understand it if I were some beautiful young thing, some twenty-something stud. Or even an attractive older woman. But I'm none of that. I'm coming up hard on forty, Sherlock, and I look every year of it. What little of my life isn't taken up by my job, is wound up with my wife and family. I'm not normally attracted to men. So, why is your brother so damnably obsessed with me? Is he playing with me? Is this some sort of a game?"

Sherlock sat down on the chair opposite, never minding the clutter. "Not a game. Far from it. My brother needs you."

"Oh, Bull - shit!" Greg shouted. "Bullshit. He doesn't need me. No one truly needs anyone. It's want. Why does he want me? And, more over, how can I make him stop wanting me."

"Is that what you truly want?" Sherlock's voice was soft and low.

"What do you mean, of course it is." No it isn't, I want, I want, I want…

"Continue rejecting him," said Sherlock, his voice growing dark and resonant. Greg shuddered, gripped with the knowledge that if death had a voice, this would be how it sounded. "Put him off, and in another three or four days, you will never be bothered by him again."

Greg tried to shrug away the gloomy atmosphere. "He will give up that easily?'

"Easily? No, I won't say it will be easy. Dying is never easy. Especially not for one as old and in love with life as my brother."

"What do you mean, dying. Who is talking about dying?"

"Reject him for three or four more days, Lestrade and he will die and you will be free."

"What are you talking about?" Greg gripped the arms of his seat. "Why will he die?"

"Because that's what happens to my kind when their mate rejects them."

"Your kind? Your kind?"

Sherlock smiled. It wasn't with kindness or joy or any reason why Greg would ever smile at someone. Greg noticed something different about his teeth. Holy shit!

His heart thudded triple-time. He could feel the blood in his skin as if it were being pulled by some magnet. Greg leapt out of his seat and backed away, looking around his apartment for something to protect himself. His gun – but no, guns weren't effective if lore was to be believed. If only he were more religious. His eyes caught on a magazine dropped callously under the table and he ran for it, grabbing it.

He waved the cover towards Sherlock defensively, the picture of the church, its steeple silhouetted against a bright blue sky, facing the monster. "Stay away from me!"

"Or you'll threaten me with periodical literature?" Sherlock asked.

"The cross, damn it."

"I go to church, Lestrade. Much as I am a terrible atheist, Mycroft, still insists on it for propriety's sake."

Greg tossed the magazine and went for his gun, lore be damned.

"Better," said Sherlock. And then the gun was out of Greg's hand and in Sherlock's. "But no." He pulled the clip out and pocketed it, then tossed the gun on the cushions behind him.

"Christ!" Greg put his hands together in front of his face, praying desperately for divine intervention. "What do you want?"

"I want nothing more than to work with you," said Sherlock. "Exactly as I proposed. My brother needs more."

"You said 'mate.' That doesn't mean 'chum' does it."

"No. It means sexual partner, as well you know."

"Will I become like you?" he asked. He stared at his wrists. "Will he turn me."

"No. Never," said Sherlock. "You'll sustain Mycroft. He will feed on you. Frequently. But it won't harm you. Your body will compensate for it. In time your blood will help him make other vampires, but you won't be turned."

"And if I stop feeding him."

"He'll starve."

"And if I die?" Greg asked.

"He'll die."

"Sounds like he's screwed then." Greg felt weak.

"It does seem dire, but I hope it's not," Sherlock grew pensive. "My brother and I don't always get along, but he is my brother and I don't want him to die. I've probably hurt his chances more than I've helped by speaking to you. Still, I do hope that you'll will at least consider the prospect now that you truly understand what is going on."

Greg closed his eyes.

"Will it hurt?"

Sherlock laughed. "No. God no. It will feel wonderful. Or so I've been told. It will feel like you've found a missing piece of yourself. You'll feel complete."

Greg twisted and looked around the room – at anything other than Sherlock, those teeth. Those eyes.

"Why me?" Greg asked. "Why of all the people in the world did it have to be me?"

"Because, out of all the people in the world, you are his perfect balance. Your soul completes his and brings it into check." Sherlock dropped onto the couch, absentmindedly pulling the gun out from under himself. "And God only knows, Mycroft needs balancing. With you around talking reason into him, telling him 'no' when he needs to hear it, this world may just have a hope. You can make him -- not human-- but at least a bit less of a monster. That's your power. That's your gift. Your ability to say no to him. Savor it. God only knows, I wish I had it."

There was bitterness in Sherlock's words. Greg was overwhelmed. "Vampires. Bloody goddamn vampires."

Sherlock stood up. "Think on it. You have tonight and tomorrow. After that it will become hairy. If you wait too long, it will be the same as a 'no.' But, think on it. For all the bad in Mycroft, there is good as well. And there could be much more with your encouragement."

And then he was gone and the only sign of his passing was the sound of the front door being slammed.

Greg had the next two days "off." Normally he went in anyway, even if he weren't called. He cleared up paperwork which might have built up over the week, made phone calls that weren't convenient at other times. Hours as a detective were more half-hearted suggestions than anything else, and since the separation Greg had little reason not to hang around the MET waiting for something to happen.

This time, though, was different. Today, he needed to think away from people. You have tonight and tomorrow, after that it gets hairy, Sherlock had said. He hadn't really needed to. Greg could feel the urgency of the decision in his own blood. He felt tied to a wire stretched taut across a vast distance. Every minute wound it just a bit tighter.

The night had gone, lost to fitful sleep and dreams of running and escape. Running and being caught and ravished. Even in his sleep he couldn't decide which he preferred. Now it was morning and exhaustion already made his limbs heavy. He was down to mere hours to decide if he wanted to play the part of Van Helsing or Mina.

Greg dressed for the day, once more irritated by the fact that Mycroft had stolen his clothes. It didn't bloody matter that what he left behind fit and looked sharp, the bloody presumption of the thing galled. He had history with some of those clothes. The man hadn't even asked.

But done was done. And being angry didn't help him decide either.

Sighing, Greg headed out the door for a long walk. It had rained an hour or two before and the pavement still was dark with damp. The air had a clamminess about it that seemed to cling to Greg's cheeks. The smell of petrol irritated his nose. For some reason his whole body felt a bit achy and heavy, as though he might be coming down with the flu. Digging his hands deeper into the pockets of his jacket, he hunched forward and strode in the direction of Eccleston Square.

Vampires, thought Greg. Well could be worse. Could be zombies. Or ghouls. As undead men went, Mycroft was rather handsome. His hand felt warm enough to the touch. His smile was quite soothing. And then there was that way he sort of wrapped his attention around you, like thick blanket. Not at all corpse-like, that.

There was no denying that part of Greg wanted more of it. More attention, more smiles, more warm touches. He'd been awfully lonely since he'd left Lydia and the kids. He'd felt awfully undesirable and unattractive. For that reason alone it was tempting.

Greg reached the park. The leaves were beginning to turn colors for the fall, the grass was confettied with bright orange and red.

Vampires. Of all the crazy, unbelievable, bizarre things.

All those books had it completely wrong. Creature of the night? He'd seen both Sherlock and Mycroft wandering around in bright sunshine without the least bit of problem with it. They went to church. They certainly didn't look like nosferatu. They didn't appear to be leaving behind corpses wherever they went, so they must not need to kill to eat. There was no evidence either he or Sherlock were any worse than average people. If it weren't for the teeth and the speed and that strange reeling feeling he got when Mycroft stared at him, Greg would scoff at the notion.

But he didn't scoff. He could feel Mycroft's need for him like a palpable tug on him. This wasn't anything like how he felt when he'd fallen in love with Lydia. None of that happy, delicate, head-in-the-clouds feeling. This was like a crush on steroids, full of unrequited need and self-consciousness. This was like being under the influence of some powerful narcotic.

He had to decide. Soon.

Factors. Pro and con. Pro: He'd never have to worry about money or companionship, he'd be set up for life in both cases. Con: Coming out of the closet at nearly 40, how awkward! Pro: Those eyes, that smile, those hands. Con: Giving up completely on reuniting with Lydia. For all the bad lately, there'd once been so much good and he missed that. Pro: This feeling inside, this need, will be satisfied. Con: He'd sworn he'd wait until the divorce was final before dating again, and here he was contemplating committing to someone else. It smacked of bigamy.

Pro: It would take away temptation to try and mend a relationship that was eating away at his soul. Lydia knew his weak spots, his insecurities, the currency of his pride, and felt justified in exploiting them to their fullest. And even though he wasn't blameless, it had all become rather unforgivable. They brought out the worst in each other. A clean, certain break was best.

Pro: Mycroft would never physically or emotionally abuse Greg, that part was clear now that he'd read his novel of a resume more thoroughly. He'd negotiate first, bribe second and as a last resort, work around it. And under normal circumstances, when his life wasn't at stake, he had near infinite patience. Even the thing with the clothes had been more of a misaimed attempt to bribe and ingratiate rather than an attempt to control.

Con: There was no going back. This was it. Forever.

Greg bent and collected a damp leaf that had stuck to his shoe. Dead things could look so beautiful. Until they rotted. Greg had a vision of Mycroft, dressed fine, but not moving, not breathing. That incredible intellect, that fascinating mind, stilled. Voice silenced. Forever.

Oh fuck it! Anger flared. Greg suddenly threw the leaf down and headed back towards his flat, his feet moving quicker now.

Pro and con be damned, he couldn't kill Mycroft. Not actively, not by omission. He wasn't that kind of man.

He couldn't do it for the same reason he couldn't stand by and watch a child drown in a pond. The same reason he put on a bulletproof vest and walked into buildings with drug dealers and thugs and lowlifes. It wasn't as if he'd never killed a person before, but he'd never killed one that hadn't been in the active attempt of trying to kill him or a fellow officer. Mycroft wasn't even a criminal. He wasn't even a bad person.

I'm willing to risk my life to save a goddamn criminal from an equally low-lifed rival, I can sacrifice some blood for Mycroft.

And the rest? The sex, the clothes, the everything else. That can be negotiated.

There were eighty-four unanswered messages on Mycroft's phone. Althea sat at the table in the sitting room, typing away at a laptop, looking gawky and thin and harried. She wasn't wearing make up today. She had a bottle of caffeine pills in arms reach and a coffee cup next to her elbow. Sherlock sat across the table from her, typing away at his computer, still as sober as a judge. Off to the side, Mycroft simply lay still and stared unseeing at the ceiling, utterly unhelpful to anyone.

Sherlock slapped his hands down to either side of his computer causing Anthea to jump. How could he concentrate on building his website with this going on?

"Should I go and see him again?" he asked.

"No," said Mycroft.

"What can I do?"

"Nothing. It has to be his decision. He has all the facts."

"Then you do something," said Sherlock. "Watching you fade is… annoying! Fight for your mate. Argue with him. Convince him. Don't just lie there like a sorry lump because he rejects you."

A small smile tweaked at Mycroft's lips. "Are you concerned for me? It's been a long time since you showed you care."

Sherlock rolled his eyes and went back to programming the background for his site. "I should be happy. Either way this turns out, I'll be free of your obsessive smothering."

"Now that's the brother I love," said Mycroft with a sigh.

Mycroft's phone rang with a special tone and Sherlock let out a sigh of relief. Anthea looked over, excited. Mycroft sat up.

It rang again and he snatched the phone off the end table and flipped it open. He suddenly had more energy than he had in days. His voice was rushed and clipped, nearly breathless. "I've been hoping you'd call. Have you made a decision? I'll be right over."

Without saying a word to either of them, Mycroft was up and across the room. He grabbed his coat, his fingers already on the speed dial for his chauffer. A moment later the door banged closed behind him.

"Will he be back soon?" Anthea asked, looking a bit lost.

"Let's hope not." Sherlock slouched back in his seat, relieved that the oppressive cloud of worry had dissipated.

I'm never going through that. He vowed to himself. </i>Never.</i>

Greg waited. He tried sitting at his sofa, but he couldn't. There were springs in his knees that seemed to want to keep him up and pacing. Time had slowed down. It was two minutes since he'd called.

He went to the bathroom and looked at his face. He finger combed his windblown hair back into place, stroked his cheeks to check for residual stubble. He resisted the urge to use some of his cologne. Didn't want to make Mycroft think he was too eager, even though it was truly ridiculous how eager he was for this. Now that he was contemplating giving in, the pressure seemed to push him in a more pleasant way. He felt like a teenager preparing for a date. He was even a bit itchy in the groin.

Four minutes since he called. How far away had Mycoft been? He had no idea where the man lived. Somewhere posh, probably. There were a lot of posh spots around the city. How long would it take to get a cab? How bad was traffic?

He should read. He should clean something. Call the office and find out if there had been anything new. But he couldn't. Now that he'd made the decision, he just wanted it done, whatever "it" was.

He wondered if it would hurt to be bitten. Should he roll up his shirt sleeves? Change to something else? Christ. Why was he so damned hot for this.

Let's get this over with! Hurry up!

The chime was a relief. Greg hit his shin against the corner of the coffee table in his hurry to get to the button to release the door. Hobbling painfully, he unlocked the door to his flat. Any moment now.

And then he was there, striding down the hall, calmly. His smile was warm and Greg felt a thrill of something, fear, excitement, lust, move down his belly to his groin. He tried to keep his face professional, allowing only a tight, controlled smile.

"Glad you could come," he said. It was a stupid thing to say under the circumstances.

"I'm glad you've let me." His voice was soothing, like honey.

Greg felt hooked. That sense of being drawn in began. He swallowed and shook his head and it seemed to fall away again. Suddenly his resolve slipped. My God, am I really going through with this?

Mycroft frowned. "Greg. Please."

"Not in the hall," said Greg. "Inside."

Mycroft nodded and followed him inside, closing the door after them. "Are you still unsure?"

For some reason that annoyed Greg. "Of course, I'm unsure. Listen, I'm a brave man, I'm not scared of taking risks, but I'm not a foolish enough to throw my entire future to a man I've barely met. What you want from me – no sane man should accept. It's so permanent. It's so … intimate."

Mycroft nodded. He looked pained. "If I could give you more time, I would. Normally, I'm not so impatient. But for my kind, that is the way this happens. It's sudden, swift and brutal. A true test of our worth. The rewards are great, but so is the punishment for failure." He took a step towards Greg. Greg stepped backwards and Mycroft sighed again. "Perhaps I could have done something different. Perhaps I could have wooed you more aggressively, but I don't think that would have worked."

"No, it wouldn't have," said Greg.

"So I ask you," said Mycroft. "Are you still unsure?"

"Why do you want me so much?" Greg said, ducking the question. "Couldn't you have done better? I'm … old. Set in my ways. I'm a slob. I can't keep a budget. I spend too much time at work. I risk my life – that will be your life, too if Sherlock is to be believed. I'm nowhere near as bright as you. What can I possibly give you that would want?"

"You are quite young in my eyes," said Mycroft, smiling. "And the rest is not as great a problem as you might think. I too am a very busy man. I haven't picked up after myself in centuries – that's what maids are for. I'm quite good with money, so I won't require you to worry about that. And the rest, I think you underestimate yourself."

Mycroft sat down on the couch and held out a hand to him. "Are you ready?" Greg noticed that he'd managed to back himself into a corner, literally. "I can wait if you aren't. A few more minutes, at least."

Greg stood up straight with effort and tugged his shirt straight. "What do I need to do?"

"Stop resisting."

"How do I stop resisting?" That reeled in sensation had started again. He shrugged it away like an annoying gnat.

"That. What you did right there. That's resisting."

"You mean, just do nothing?"

"Exactly, though it won't be nothing. Sometimes letting go is the hardest thing you can do."

Greg nodded. "Okay."

Greg met Mycroft's eyes and he felt the thread between them tauten. Then it was as if he were being drawn closer. The urge to break it off was like an itch, but he resisted. For a moment he felt horribly vulnerable and utterly off balance.

And then something clicked. It was as if all his fears simply stopped. The racing thoughts died to nothing. His doubts and self-conscious inhibitions evaporated into a heady bliss. Desire (for closeness, affection, sex?) blotted out everything thing else. His heart slowed.

Without a single thought, he crossed the floor and walked straight to Mycroft's arms.

It wasn't the most graceful embrace Mycroft had ever engaged in. Greg really didn't know what to do with his elbows and knees. It was clear he was used to holding people much smaller than himself and just didn't have the spatial memory to reach his arms wider, to allow his legs to part enough to encompass a man's knee rather than a woman's.

Nonetheless, it was still the most exquisite embrace Mycroft had ever engaged in. With a shift of his hip and careful hands to the man's side, he managed to reposition him in a more comfortable way, in his lap, straddling him.

His weight felt wonderful. Mycroft arched against the cushions, pushing his own hardness against the cleft of Greg's buttocks. He then reached up a hand to draw Greg's lips down to his. Their first kiss.

Greg tasted of shaving soap and mint toothpaste. He tasted of smooth skin, salt, rainwater dripped from ripe leaves. He smelled of soot and earth and tannins, of the heady rush of endorphins and the tang of pheromones. He smelled virile. Oh yes, quite virile. His kisses were rough, hungry, the rasp of his stubble contrasting with the softness of his lips. He mouthed Mycroft's face with uninhibited passion. Mycroft was more careful in return, giving softer, gentler pecks, parting his lips and letting Greg's tongue inside.

Greg shuddered, breaking off the kiss to arch his own back. His body was eager, oh yes, ready for sex the way it probably hadn't been since the earliest days of his marriage. Now that he'd relinquished his prudery along with his fears, he rutted against Mycroft like a man half his years.

"Almost, not yet," murmured Mycroft. "But soon. Very soon," he promised as Greg let out a small sigh of disappointment.

First there had to be this. Greg wore a long sleeved pullover, with deft little yanks, Mycroft freed the hem and slid it up and off his chest. Greg, understanding, took over and pulled the rest off himself. Except for the brief moment when his face was covered, his eyes were glued to Mycroft's.

Half naked he sat in Mycroft's lap, the muscles of his belly clearly outlined. This was a fit man, Mycroft thought appreciatively. Little fat, much muscle. His nipples were firm with chill or perhaps sexual need. Mycroft touched first one, then the other, appreciating their hardness.

Then he drew the man to him. His warmth was delicious. Mycroft kissed him once under the ear, then ran his tongue down his throat until he felt the pulse point. His teeth ached pleasantly as they extended. Anticipation thrummed, and then a little pressure, pop, and oh… yes…

The first taste was exactly what Mycroft needed. The flavor was like nothing he'd tasted before. It was purer, richer, full of vitality. It seemed to fill the void in Mycroft. He'd barely sipped and already he felt more alive than he had all week. Greg didn't move. Mycroft knew from experience that he was feeling pleasure and satisfaction.

The bond between them seemed to solidify. From the thinnest, most breakable thread it broadened. Following instinct more than any plan, Mycroft withdrew from his partner, running his tongue over his lips to catch the last bit of flavor before turning to his own hand and biting deeply into the palm.

Greg stirred a little, leaning back, a look of confusion warring with need on his face. Then Mycroft covered his mouth with his hand, forcing the dripping palm between his lips. He felt the man tentatively suck, then fall into drinking as hard as he could.

This is how one made a thrall, but the bond didn't feel like a thrall's to Mycroft. It felt almost as if he were the one sinking into thralldom. It should have frightened him, but it didn't. It felt right. Like he'd been yearning for someone to lay ownership on him for a long time.

He grabbed Greg's hand and bit at the wrist this time, completing the circuit. Drank. Fed. Savored. Bliss.

Urges could not be ignored. After a few moments, Mycroft pulled his hand away and lifted Greg as if he was a child, setting him on his feet. Greg was lost to his own feelings and didn't resist as he pulled the man into his bedroom. Understanding glowed in his eyes. Greg didn't have to be urged to remove the rest of his clothes and to lie ready on the bed. Mycroft cursed that fashion made his own clothes so complicated, but soon they were off as well.

Greg's eyes were wide, taking him in. It was damn flattering to see such unabashed desire and appreciation. It was a relief as well, because Mycroft hadn't at all been sure that Greg found him attractive in a physical sense. It was nice to see that he did. Another day, he might have let him continue, but Mycroft had better things for Greg to be doing than simply caressing him with his gaze.

There were hands, after all, hands that should be touching him, there, yes, and there. There were no words between them, there didn't need to be, Greg understood exactly what Mycroft wanted.

Taste there, yes. Bite now. Greg's teeth were blunt but the force was hard enough to breach the skin of Mycroft's shoulder. The pain was heady and sweet – a tang to make the pleasure more exquisite. Mycroft himself was finding new places to sink his teeth. The wrist, the hand, elbow. He drew back and watched with fascination as Greg's skin healed before his eyes. Yes, the bond was in full force now.

One day this bond between them would extend Greg's life. Decades would have no hold over him. He'd see the next century looking every bit as youthful and vigorous as he did now, caught in the prime of life. Mature enough to command respect, still at his peak in body and mind, oh yes. So hard, and slim and tight. In every way perfect.

Greg let out a soft mew of need and Mycroft at last drew his hand down the hard length of his cock. He grasped it, felt it pulse, hot and heavy against his palm. Greg's belly tightened and he let out a gasp and then gave into his first orgasm of the night.

It was all right that this one was quick, Mycroft thought. Others would be slower. And there would be others, now that Mycroft's blood surged in Greg's veins. The refractory period in mates was quite short.

In the mean time there were more places to bite: ankle, knee, groin. A taste in each place. Greg gasped and watched his own skin repair itself. "More," he said. "Again."

Mycroft obliged, neck again, but other side. Shoulder. Nipples. And now it was time to fuck again. Mycroft hadn't come yet and the vitality in him yearned to be spent. He brought out the lubricant he'd hidden days ago between the mattress and the headboard. It had been there since the day Mycroft had invaded his house, but Greg stared as amazed as if he'd produced a rabbit from a hat.

"Yes," Greg nodded to Mycroft's unspoken question. "Anything. Everything."

Mycroft understood. He was drunk on need himself. It took self-control not to try to do everything at once. He settled for Greg's erection in his mouth. He'd been salivating for it. It was hot and tasted of cum and precum. Mycroft savored the texture, running his tongue over the veins and ridges, the foreskin, the glans. Meanwhile he parted Greg's legs with his hand and worked him there as well, rubbing the muscle with lube-slickened fingers, feeling the band soften and spread, yielding to his ministrations. Going at last deeper to finger him.

Greg cried out. Bucking his hips a little in frustration. Mycroft backed off with his mouth for fear of bringing on his second orgasm too quickly. Instead he pulled the man's legs farther apart and lifted his hips. Greg simply nodded as he fitted himself between them and pressed.

This was the real consummation. Everything up to this point had been foreplay. The band between them tightened with every thrust and Mycroft knew when he came that they would be as close as they'd ever be to each other.

Greg flexed in time with his thrusts, making each movement deeper and harder. He grunted and writhed a bit, but his eyes never left Mycroft's face. It seems as if he were drinking in the spectacle visually as much as physically. Mycroft smiled with enjoyment, drawing it out, why make it too quick when it felt this good? Why let it end at all? But Greg grew impatient speaking up at last. "Come on, fuck me, faster. It's almost there."

Mycroft knew what he meant. Their souls had started to merge. That sense of ultimate completion was close. It was pure masochism not to reach for it right now, to hover on the edge, so close and yet not quite there. Finally, Mycroft's willpower failed, he took Greg harder, faster, until something low in him broke loose. He grabbed Greg's cock and jacked it as he came, spilling deep inside of the man. Greg for his own part seemed only a beat behind. His belly was covered for the second time.

That was it. There was no question that Greg would reject him now. They were fitted together like puzzle pieces, body and soul. Cuddling the man to him Mycroft breathed a sigh of relief. They'd rest now, for a few minutes at least.

And then they'd begin again.

Greg went to work two days later wondering how the hell he was able to even walk straight. Mycroft had worked his way through just about every position in that pornographic chapter, including the few that Greg had actually scoffed at. And yet, for all the gymnastics, he didn't have a bruise or a sore ligament anywhere on his body.

There weren't even bite marks, which was amazing because Mycroft must have bitten every square inch of him sometime during those two sweaty days. He barely even fed. He just seemed to like the act of biting Greg. For what it was worth, Greg had done his darnedest to reciprocate. Despite that, Mycroft had left the bed similarly unmarked.


The best part of it was that none of the things he'd feared had come to pass after all. Mycroft being a man was not a problem. Most definitively it wasn't. It was odd in a way. Greg looked at a few other men who he knew in an objective sense were handsome, and none of them did a thing for him – but Mycroft? Mycroft turned him on more than anyone else in the world. Any fear that he wouldn't enjoy having sex with Mycroft was completely out the window.

Nor didn't fear that he'd be powerless in the relationship. Trapped in. Kept. It was quite the opposite actually. He had Mycroft over a barrel. The vampire had to respect his wishes. Or else. He was far more in control of their bond that Mycroft was. As hard and strong as it was right now, he was absolutely sure he could break it any time he needed to.

Actually Mycroft should be thankful that Greg wasn't a real bastard.

He didn't care that he'd failed with Lydia. That was done and had no yen left to resurrect the relationship. The ring was off his finger and put away among other old mementos. He did care about his kids, but he was pretty sure with Mycroft's lawyers behind him that he'd be able to work out something that would be fair to everyone. He didn't even have to be a bastard there.

He could give Lydia that carpeting for the den. Hell, he could give her the entire house. Mycroft had plenty of money and was not going to leave him.

Yes. This was good not having to worry. He might not know the future but at least he was secure that it would be exciting in a good way rather than a bad one.

Others picked up on his good mood. The eyes in the office settled on him with good humor and curiosity.

Donovan assessed him with an appraising eye and a conspiratorial smile. "You are looking healthy," she said. "You really needed that weekend, I can see. Restful?"

Not hardly, but he wasn't going to feed the office rumor mill by saying so. Instead of an answer he gave her a winning smile and her smile widened. For the first time since he'd gotten the position he felt like he'd actually clicked with her.

"Thank you, Sally," he said. "I had a great weekend. And now, I need some work. Anyone seen that Murray case?" he called out to the room.

He then turned around and headed to his desk. He leaned back in his chair, feeling like the King of the goddamn Mountain.