‘I am terribly sorry’ Mycroft’s well-enunciated and awfully apologetic voice filtered through the phone. ‘Something’s come up, I’m sure you understand what it’s like. I’ll call you later in the week if that’s amenable to you’.
Lestrade sighed as he clicked off his voicemail function. He felt like throwing his phone at the wall in a fit of teenage pique. It seemed like it was too much to find a night for them to see each other, and he was starting to wonder what the point of it all was. If you didn’t see each other, surely you might as well move on? Greg really liked Mycroft, so much he feared he was becoming a tad besotted with the man. However Greg wasn’t particularly patient when it came to dating. After two disastrous long-term relationships, a wasted 2 year excuse of a marriage and the odd one-night stand he was beginning to feel every one of his 46 years. Was it too much to ask for to be happy and wanted in a relationship? He had dated commitment-phobe Ian who had strung him along for 5 years, citing they were ‘having fun, so why ruin it?’. Next came baby-crazy Tom who cooed over baby grows on their first date. Greg hadn’t felt ready to be a father so that hadn’t lasted long. His marriage was a pathetic attempt for middle-aged stability. It may be a bit sad to want to be married and in love at his age, but that’s what he wanted, needed. And how could he find this for himself when he felt like he was having a relationship with Mycroft’s voicemail.
It had been a long, dreary day at work where the more interesting cases had gone to the young and keen new detectives and Lestrade had been forced to look over their paperwork and ‘keep an eye on them’. It had made him very grouchy and his team had noted this and kept well away from him. Sally had dropped off a coffee earlier, but had retreated with her arms touching her shoulders in the universal gesture for ‘Don’t shoot’ when he had growled at her to leave him alone. She seemed brighter though, possibly due to the rumours about Anderson being moved up North due to a mistake over an evidence file. Sally had confessed to him one night, over a few too many, that she and Richard didn’t really get on that well and it was just a physical thing.
Sally had rested her head on her arms, tilting her head and peering at him. ‘You know when you’ve had a fucking terrible day and you know that tomorrow will be the same? All you want is someone to touch you, look at you and make you feel bigger than yourself, just for a minute?’ She had sighed, her curls dropping in front of her eyes. ‘Well he’s convenient and there and willing.’
Lestrade had attempted a paternal pat to her head. Sally’s eyes narrowed.
‘I’m not asking for sympathy. I know I can find a better bloke, but when do we have the bloody time?’
Lestrade nodded in agreement, scratching his hand over his stubbly jaw.
‘I haven’t seen you with anyone lately’ she began, eyes twinkling. ‘What happened to Hank?’
‘His name wasn’t Hank’ Lestrade reminded her, not for the first time.
‘Should have been. He was very USA’ Sally mimed twirling a flag.
‘He was from Washington, and there’s nothing wrong with being patriotic…’
‘Remember his car horn!’ Sally came alive, darting up in her seat and grinning, ‘the American national anthem’.
‘Fine’ Lestrade sighed, taking a much needed sip of his pint. ‘He was a bit much’
Sally raised a dark eyebrow at him, scrunching up her mouth.
‘Okay, too much’ Lestrade agreed.
Lestrade’s afternoon consisted of an awkward conversation with his father, who seemed to be only clinging onto life to see his potential grandchildren. He didn’t have the heart to remind him that his two children were far off, himself a gay policeman who would be lucky to get adoption at his age; and his sister who was seemingly trying to break John Watson’s Three Continent record. He might as well buy his Dad a puppy and break it to him gently.
He finished his paperwork, dumping it messily in his tray and pretending not to see the last form he had neglected to do properly. He scraped a hand through his hair and stretching his shoulders, swaying in his seat.
His phone beeped.
‘And I cannot do this weekend. I have to go to a work function. Apologies’.
Greg swore under his breath and tried to ignore the rush of disappointment. He knew Mycroft was lying. It wasn’t a work function, it was Mycroft’s cousin’s wedding. He knew because John had talked about nothing else after Sherlock had asked him to come, and he had had to sit through numerous suit fittings; trying to avoid seeing Sherlock’s amorous pawing. He had laughed though, to see John so flustered and his wide eyes at his reflection.
‘It’s too much’ John said, looking at his reflection in the mirror to speak to Sherlock.
‘Don’t be stupid, John’ Sherlock told him, admiring him.
‘I’m not the one getting married!’ John laughed, straightening his lapels. The suit was a beautiful dove grey, with a blue silk shirt and tie. It surprised Greg at how handsome John looked. His eyes looked very blue and the seamstresses had cast him many covetous glances - to Sherlock's annoyance.
‘Maybe someday you will’ Lestrade joked, raising an eyebrow.
Instead of what he had expected, John’s embarrassed dismissal and Sherlock’s indifference, he was presented with a flushed Sherlock and a endearingly shy John.
‘Maybe’ Sherlock murmured quietly, shooting a quick glance up at John.
Lestrade texted John.
‘Is that wedding thing still on this weekend?’
John replied quickly. ‘Yes, Sherlock is wanting to buy them a pet. Why?’
‘What sort of pet? Mycroft is pretending he has work’.
This time he had to wait for the reply. He wasn’t surprised, he reckoned John would feel sorry for him and not know what to say.
‘A tortoise. Don’t ask. Oh, that’s odd’.
‘But not surprising. Thinking of moving on’.
‘Really? Want me to ask Sherlock?’
‘No, please don’t. Thanks mate’.
With his mind made-up Lestrade send a quick text to Mycroft.
‘I know you have work, but need to see you tonight, it’s important’.
‘Certainly. Will 9:15pm do?’
‘Fine. Will see you at yours then’.
Mycroft flattened his tie with a steady hand as he placed his phone down. It was difficult trying to explain yourself in a foreign tongue when a misunderstanding could have serious repercussions.
Anthea shoved herself through the ajar door, lacking her usual grace. Her pretty face folded into an expression of discomfort as the door whacked her shoulder.
‘Please, let me’ Mycroft told her, politely raising from his seat and offering to help him.
‘It’s Mr Lestrade’s, Sir’ she reminded him. ‘The clearance came through today. You’re good to go, as it were’ she winked.
Mycroft willed himself not to blush. Anthea flicked through one of the files. She raised an eyebrow. Mycroft took the file from her and gently batted her head with it. ‘Hush, we all had an awkward phase’.
‘I didn’t’ she shrugged. Mycroft figured she was probably right. How irritating. He had braces and a fascination with bow-ties at 14; and Mummy had the photos to prove it. He carefully moved all the folders back into the box and ran a reverent hand over the top of it.
‘Been a long time coming?’ Anthea questioned, quietly.
Mycroft sighed, moving round the desk and settling into his chair. ‘It feels like it’ he confessed. ‘It’s bad enough that I desire entering into a relationship with my job, showing a weakness is never a good idea-‘
Anthea interrupted him with a frown. ‘But, it’s not really a weakness’
‘It’s someone to target’ Mycroft told her wearily. ‘So the least I could do for myself, and more importantly him – was to wait for the security clearance so he could have the highest level of security and safety’.
‘How romantic’ Anthea teased, taking Mycroft’s mobile off his desk to charge it.
‘In its own way, it kind of is.’ Mycroft told her. ‘This is a huge risk for me, inviting him to the wedding. I’ve never felt this way’. Mycroft finished talking somewhat awkwardly. Anthea paused at the door, grinning at him. Mycroft’s phone suddenly beeped. ‘He’s here’ she winked at him, before slipping through the door.
Lestrade steadied himself as he passed Anthea with a tight smile. God, this never got any easier. His well-practiced opening lines failed him when he saw Mycroft, perched nervously on the corner of his desk.
‘Hello’ he began self-consciously.
Mycroft nodded to him, and with a sense of great anticipation lifted up a folder and opened his mouth to speak.
‘Mycroft, please can we talk?’ Lestrade interrupted, heart pounding.
Mycroft smiled at him. ‘Of course’
They settled themselves into their respective chairs and spent a moment listening to the rain pattering against the winder pane.
‘Mycroft’ Lestrade ventured, feeling a bit nauseated.
Mycroft looked up, his blue eyes suddenly cautious.
‘I think perhaps we should calm things down a bit’ Lestrade fiddled with the corner of his suit jacket. ‘You never see me, I never see you, and I think – well I think I need more in a relationship’.
Mycroft just stared at him, something flickered in his eyes but it vanished before Lestrade could identify it.
‘I did not realise you felt so strongly’ Mycroft murmured.
‘I do’ Lestrade couldn’t bear to look at him, so he fixed his gaze on the grandfather clock in the corner of the small office. ‘We both have such tricky jobs, and that hasn’t helped with the…physical side of our dates’.
Mycroft went red and tension and discomfort practically radiated from him.
Silence fell and they both sat there, completely unable to speak further.
‘I am sorry it didn’t work out’ Lestrade spoke very quietly, standing up and holding up his hand before seemingly thinking better of it, and turning and walking out the room.
Mycroft dropped his head down onto the desk and didn’t talk or move for a very long time. Anthea found Lestrade’s files the next morning, thrown in the bin.
Violet Holmes had always liked a drink or two. You didn’t need to be Sherlock to figure that out. Sherry at Christmas, a Baileys at Easter and red wine ‘for the heart’ throughout the year. Her Nephew’s wedding was hereby a good occasion to indulge in her passion for champagne. She needed it after seeing her sister’s smug smile. She had almost expected the old battle-axe to scream ‘2 nil!’ after the I-Do’s. Her elder sister was never shy about showing off her children’s romantic entanglements. Violet supposed that with one being an ex-stripper librarian and the other being a thrice divorced man; her sister felt the need to promote the more conventional aspects of their lives. Both married, a tick in the box, both secure and loved.
It had been quite a nice day. Could have been made even better if she had had something of her own to crow about. Yes, you couldn’t separate Sherlock and his John with a crowbar; but there was no ring, no invitations and no grandchildren. Although, she mused, head resting on her arm; Sherlock had never been in love before. Also, John had lovely manners and had even kissed her hand when meeting her. The way Sherlock had looked at him after doing so had made her heart clench; he had looked so much like her darling husband in that moment. She had barely managed a nod to John before having to take a moment to herself. A decade and he still had the ability to floor her, it never faded, not really.
She shifted in her seat and saw Mycroft, propped up at the bar. Now, it may surprise a few but she had worried more about his future, than Sherlock’s. Sherlock didn’t need someone to make his life complete, of course he had wanted it, protests and notions of being above it all aside; but Mycroft had needed it. She had seen it even when he was a boy, with his neat and tidy haircut, very certain ideas about growing-up and his innocent hopefulness in being like his Mother and Father. Sherlock had raced about the house, croaking frog in one hand, curls a hopeless mess; and Mycroft had faithfully followed after him, making sure he was safe and happy. Mycroft needed to care and protect, had always wanted it desperately. When her husband had passed away, it was Mycroft who arrived home first and had wordlessly let her sob into his shoulder. She knew Mycroft could take it, could handle that. But what worried her then, and what worried her still is his ability to be loved himself. ‘Love is a verb’ she used to chide him. ‘You have to let people love you’. Mycroft had laughed at her earnest face, but she knew he ignored her pleas. He was happy to keep everyone at a distance, his best friend was technically his employee, he watched Sherlock through CCTV instead of talking to him; and his last relationship had ended when he had had an affair and Mycroft had just ignored it until the relationship became toxic.
It was hard to watch him, impossible to ignore the look on his face when he saw John awkwardly twirling a laughing Sherlock on the dancefloor. When they had met in the foyer of the hotel earlier she had seen him collect himself before he walked through the door, and she realised that his plans had fallen through. Anthea, darling that she was, had told her that her son may have a plus one to the event; and she had been giddy. When he had strode through the foyer, arms wide to embrace her and fixed smile in place; she could have wept for him. ‘Oh Mycroft’ she whispered into his shoulder, too soft for him to hear, ‘You’d be so easy to love’.
Greg’s day had been terrible. He had sat at home, completely despondent and unsure of himself. He kept looking at the clock going ‘Time for the reception’, ‘Cutting the cake’. Although he knew Mycroft never would have invited him, it still stung. John was able to have the one he wanted, Sherlock had done everything in his power to convince John that he was serious about him. He remembered John’s bright eyes telling him it all.
‘Then he said he had never felt like this… and I thought he meant because of his ankle’ John grinned into his drink, looking up at Greg as he talked. ‘So I took his sock and shoe off, to look at it and he just stood there, slightly off-balanced and he just looked at me with this confused face’.
Greg found himself smiling back at John, whose enthusiasm and joy was infectious.
‘So I asked him where it hurt and he said his bloody heart as I was being so clueless’.
Greg laughed and rolled his eyes. ‘Then he kissed me’ John concluded, eyes going soft. ‘And I just knew’.
He busied himself fussing around with cleaning the flat and flicking around the TV channels. After the 6th advert in seemingly an hour he decided he needed to get out of the flat. He grabbed his jacket and decided to go for a beer
The sky was bright, the sunshine making him wince. He got to the front of the line and smiled at the man, ordering a pint.
‘Sure handsome’ the man smirked.
Greg would always regret his next action. He actually looked behind him.
‘I meant you’ the man laughed. ‘I think you need this, mate’
Greg went bright red and mumbled something at the man before hightailing it to a table with his drink. Hopefully the cricket on the huge TV on the wall would take his mind off everything.
John was debating on visiting the free bar again, another benefit to dating a Holmes seemed to be their weddings – expansive, expensive and like that of a minor Royal. Perhaps they were minor royals, who knew? Sherlock was uncharacteristically clingy and soft. John would like to think it was the romance of the occasion rubbing off onto him, but it was more likely a combination of spritzers and Sherlock’s second cousin giving John the eye. Whilst spinning them around the floor, Sherlock kept up a monologue cataloguing his roomful of relatives.
‘Amanda, once married a former Conservative leader. Found him in her underwear. We don’t mention it anymore…Quentin on the other hand embraces all of that, he designs for La Perla. His mother was dreadfully cross until she realised the discounts. Lucien over there, no don’t look too closely, he has a thing for military men. He used to steal my action men when we were young, let’s just say I never wanted them back’. John smiled into Sherlock’s luxuriously-made shoulder and continued to listen. Sherlock had paused for a moment.
‘John, you know something about my brother and Lestrade.’ His voice was very quiet. ‘Can you, won’t you tell me?’
John sucked in a breath. ‘I can’t say too much. Not that that really matters with you, you can figure it out surely?’
Sherlock inclined his head in recognition of the compliment. ‘I can understand my brother’s motives, he is never one to set his cap for someone. But Lestrade, I think he broke it off – otherwise Mycroft would be happy sulking at home. This is a brittle show of defiance, that he is fine about it all.’
John sighed. ‘I know, he isn’t happy, is he? But from what I was told, Lestrade wanted more.’
Sherlock frowned, ‘But Mycroft would never refuse him anything. He’s been mooning over him for years’.
John laughed lowly. ‘I don’t think so, they only got together a month or so ago, and never saw each other that much’.
‘John’ Sherlock looked at him very intently, light eyes very earnest. ‘Even if we didn’t see each other ever again after a month or so since we met, I know how I would feel. It wouldn’t change anything’.
John felt the need to clutch Sherlock close to him, the man always so endearingly clueless on how lovely and dear his way of talking was.
‘But you need to show it’ John reminded him, pressing a kiss to Sherlock’s cheek. ‘Otherwise people don’t know. We can’t all deduce our partners affections by the stain on their elbow’.
Sherlock rolled his eyes to the heavens. ‘I know’ he said, crossly. ‘But surely Lestrade saw how important he was to him, he called him and saw him often’.
‘What, once a week tops!’ John scoffed.
Sherlock looked disappointed in John’s reaction. ‘John, he’s the British government’ he stressed, ‘he can’t pop out for a date in Pizza Express. He’s very important’. He looked pained to be even saying such kind words about his brother. ‘He has to schedule things in great detail and even the fact he was willing to embark on a relationship – it speaks volumes’.
John was lost in thought. He had never thought about it like that. He could see it when it came to him and Sherlock; had learnt to accept Sherlock for who he was. He never wanted to be tutting behind Sherlock’s back as he worked on experiments, or moaning at him for not taking out the bins. Part of loving someone was loving all of them, not trying to mould their rough edges smooth.
‘I didn’t think of it like that’ he admitted. ‘I don’t think Lestrade realised how he felt’.
‘Obviously’ Sherlock drawled, turning abruptly and dipping John into a spin. John laughed delightedly and hung on for dear life.
‘Mind if I joined you?’ Lestrade looked up in surprise at the unexpected voice.
‘Oh sure’ he said, recognising the barman from before and shifting over to make room.
‘Haven’t seen you in here before’ the man rested his drink on the bar mat. Then he made a face, ‘Sorry, that sounds like a pick-up’.
Lestrade grinned in spite of himself. Finally, someone as inept as himself.
‘Nah, it’s alright. I live round the corner. I usually drink near work though’.
‘Whereabouts?’ The man asked, interested.
‘Scotland Yard’ Lestrade replied. This either went two ways, a diatribe about taxpayers and waste of time coppers or a wink and a mention of handcuffs.
‘Ah, no’ the man laughed easily. ‘Now you’ve ruined it. I am obsessed with crime dramas. Don’t ruin the dream by telling me you work in HR?’.
Lestrade came to the strange realisation that he was being flirted with.
‘No, I deal with murders. I’m a DI’.
The man raised his eyebrows, impressed. ‘Wow, that’s pretty high up. I better show my manners.’ He offered a hand. ‘Leon’.
‘Greg’ Lestrade offered.
‘Nice to meet you Greg’ Leon smirked, white and even teeth flashing. ‘I use to work in vice, if you know what I mean…’
Lestrade spluttered out his beer. ‘What?!’ he squeaked out, wiping his mouth inelegantly.
Leon grinned at him, offering a whack to his back. ‘Kidding. I just served you your pint, remember?’
Wondering how he did earn his last promotion, Lestrade flushed. ‘Of course’ he replied. ‘Been a long day, you know?’
‘Nope’ Leon disagreed, stretching up in his seat. ‘Only got up 4 hours ago, night shift’.
‘I never sleep’ Lestrade admitted. ‘Christ, now I sound old’.
‘I had hoped it was more for salacious reasons’ Leon cocked his head and studied Lestrade’s face.
‘No, more a murder at 3am reasons. And having to run about the Docklands with a mad detective, his boyfriend and a lack of coffee…it’s a lot’.
‘Mad detective?’ Leon clicked his fingers. ‘I know why you are familiar now. Sherlock Holmes right? I love that guy, it’s like from a movie or something’.
‘You are getting the edited version’ Lestrade found himself relaxing. ‘He’s a bloody nightmare’.
Leon winced. ‘Oh well, someone that pretty has to have a downside, right?’
‘Pretty? He looks like an insomniac vampire’ Lestrade quipped, fiddling with his phone before sticking it back in his pocket.
‘Hey, I can’t resist a pretty face.’ Leon winked before looking up and noticing the time. ‘Better close up.’ Lestrade nodded in agreement and offers his hand. Leon shook it, firm and confident. He is just at the door before Leon speaks again.
‘Hey, don’t be a stranger’ he reminded him, before disappearing from view.
Mycroft wandered aimlessly up and down the aisles of his local supermarket, feeling utterly like a cliché with his meal-for-one and bottle of wine. He might as well have a sign saying ‘Lonely’ he figured, or be ringing a bell.
Feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable he turned to find a till, and his eyes widened upon seeing a familiar sight, Greg frowning to read the back of something because he hadn’t put his glasses on.
Mycroft tried to calm down, his heart flipping and he suddenly felt like he wanted to run. Debating just throwing the basket at the till and running, arms flailing, he instead smoothly turned the other way.
His back to the voice, Mycroft closed his eyes and swore, quietly. He waited until Greg was in front of to open his eyes. He smiled tightly.
‘Hello Detective Inspector’
Greg frowned. ‘Don’t be…its Greg. You know that. Or Lestrade, y’know; my alter ego’.
Mycroft affected a state of bland politeness. ‘Of course, excuse me’ he tried to sidestep Greg.
Greg stopped him with a hand to his arm, as he shuffled his basket to his other hand. ‘So, how’ve you been? Didn’t expect to see you in here’.
Mycroft felt himself grow brittle and tight. ‘I am human’ he began, ‘I shop like everyone else. Sometimes I even sing in the shower. I am fine, please excuse me; business dinner’ he lied and attempted to escape with a calm nod.
Greg stood in his way again. ‘I didn’t mean it like that’ he spoke softly. ‘I just thought you were more Waitrose’ he tried a smile.
Mycroft felt tired. This was tiring and he just wanted to be alone at home where he could crawl into some comfier clothes, stick on something infantile on the television and eat coffee ice-cream. Perhaps open the wine, check his email.
‘Waitrose doesn’t have this wine’ he offered Greg the bottle to look at. ‘It’s rather good’.
Greg squinted at the label. ‘Oh you know I don’t know anything about wine’ he grinned amicably. ‘I honestly will drink anything in a glass.’
‘I remember from Squisito’ Mycroft smiled fondly at the memory. Greg had accidently ordered the orange sorbet from the desert menu as his drink of choice. The waiter had made a face, but had dutifully brought it over. The memory of Greg’s embarrassed face as he sipped on an icy sorbet throughout his steak had made many a meeting more pleasant for Mycroft.
‘I remember too’ Greg rubbed a hand over his jaw. Awkward silence fell for a moment.
‘I better go’ Mycroft gestured to his basket. ‘Wouldn’t want to...be late’ he finished awkwardly.
Greg nodded his head in agreement. ‘Of course, you are very busy’. He remained still, peering up at Mycroft’s face.
‘Awfully’ Mycroft added, finding his feet still rooted to the spot. He could faintly smell Greg’s aftershave.
John watched, mouth agape as Lestrade threw himself around the room, muttering under his breath and kicking the floorboards.
Sherlock had returned home two minutes ago, seen Lestrade’s face and marched off into his room, to ‘think’. John wished he could retreat, but he supposed this was part of being a man – you couldn’t ever just talk about something. He remembered his Mum and her mates, always in the kitchen chatting about how they felt, cigarette smoke billowing underneath the door; as John and his dad watched the football in silence. Lestrade hadn’t even mentioned an wanting to chat when he rang and asked to come over, had just muttered something about coming to check details of a case.
‘Um, Lestrade?’ he offered. Lestrade looked at him, almost as if he had forgotten John was there.
‘His bloody brother’ Lestrade supplied, flinging an arm into the air.
John raised an eyebrow.
‘I was in Tesco’s and he was there. Looking all perfect and composed in his suit. It hasn’t bothered him, has it? He didn’t even seem happy or sad to see me. Like I was some acquaintance from work.’ Lestrade stopped paced and just stared at the fridge.
John sucked in a breath. Ouch.
‘I am sure he felt as awkward as you did’ he offered.
Lestrade uncharitably rolled his eyes. ‘Sure, with his dinner dates. He’s crushed over losing me’.
‘But surely you don’t want him to feel bad?’ John felt like the devil’s advocate, and wished Sherlock would come back into the room.
‘I don’t’ Lestrade murmured. ‘But I wanted him to feel something’. He collapsed onto the chair next to John and John felt a huge rush of sympathy for him.
‘I just wanted him to look like I had mattered’ Lestrade continued, voice low. ‘I am so sick of always being second best. I was second best to Mycroft’s work, my parents preferred my elder brother and even-‘ Lestrade broke off with a wince.
John’s interest was piqued. ‘What?’
Lestrade was going red, the tips of his ears stained scarlet. ‘I can’t say, sorry’.
John chuckled. ‘C’mon, I have to know now’.
‘You asked for it.’ Lestrade pivoted in his seat and took a deep breath. ‘When I first met you, I had…a bit of a crush…’
John felt himself blush. ‘Oh’ he replied lamely.
‘Only a two week thing, but still’ Lestrade offered him a weak smile. ‘Can’t resist an army doctor, y’know’.
With that, both men collapsed into laughter.
‘Oh fuck off’ John whacked Lestrade’s shoulder. ‘It’s not because you’re not attractive or interesting. Sherlock is just…well y’know. Sherlock’.
‘I know’ Lestrade replied softly.
‘You are very good-looking’ John continued, feeling guilty. He really had had no idea. ‘Your eyes are lovely and I like your voice’.
Suddenly a dark head appeared from behind the kitchen sliding door. ‘Not soundproofed you know’ a deep voice intoned.
John made a face. ‘Shut-up Sherlock’ he shouted back. ‘He’s going through some stuff’.
‘I like your eyes too, Inspector’ Sherlock called back teasingly, ‘Honestly Lestrade, you’re a catch’.
Lestrade stuck his head in his hands. Why did he think going to 221b was a good idea anyway?
Anthea is just debating on tea or coffee when she wanders into the kitchen in need of a break. It had been a slow morning, a slow week actually. Mycroft had been very firm and business-like and she had missed their friendly banter and their walks around London discussing current events, or occasionally, anything that was on their mind.
Mycroft was sitting beside the window, hand flicking the paper beside him. She stood in the doorway, unsure of whenever to go in or leave him to his thoughts.
‘How do you know when you’ve made a mistake?’
Mycroft’s voice was low and somehow very stern. Anthea perched against the kitchen table.
‘When you can’t go back and change it’ she hummed, ‘and you know as well as I do, a lot can be changed despite uninterested parties’.
Mycroft huffed an ironic sort of laugh.
Anthea busied herself making a cup of coffee, eyes flicking over to Mycroft who had remained utterly stationary. She added a splash of milk and turned back to face him.
‘Anthea’ Mycroft began speaking again, sounding very hesitant. It made her feel wary of his inevitable question. Mycroft rarely was hesitant.
‘I know you are my colleague’ Anthea inwardly preened at this. ‘And we do not enter into discussions that are overly intimate or personal. But may I ask you something?’
Anthea saw the quiet desperation in his eyes. ‘Of course’. She sat down gracefully next to him.
‘What have you given up for this job?’ he asked.
Anthea thought about it. She felt like answering blithely, ‘my sleep’ or ‘people knowing my actual name’; but she knew he deserved more. She had actually given up a lot. Being Mycroft’s PA was an incredibly important job, so vital and confidential that she suspected she would never ascend any higher; because she knew too much. She couldn’t work for anyone else, and wouldn’t want to, to be honest. The only possibly promotion would be up, and she knew that would have been a result of Mycroft’s own death, equally unthinkable and impossible.
So she was honest.
‘Mark’ she replied softly.
Mycroft raised an eyebrow.
‘No, you didn’t know him. It was just before I was picked to work for you. He was…’ Anthea laughed bitterly, feeling like she wanted to reach out and snatch his name back out of the open air. ‘God its clichéd, but he was wonderful. He made me laugh and actually wanted to be with me…’ she trailed off. It was intoxicating, letting herself remember things she usually kept locked up tight.
‘What happened?’ Mycroft’s voice brought her out of her memories. She had almost forgotten he was there, she was so lost in remembering the time Mark had paid for her father’s funeral when she had run out of money.
‘I went through the screening process, and they found out’ she was blunt. ‘They went to him and offered him money to break-up with me, a test they called it. He found it incredibly offensive; told them to shove it’ she laughed.
Mycroft smiled, reaching his hand out as if to take her own, before thinking twice and just resting it alongside.
‘So I thought it was all fine, we had won. Later that year I went abroad to assist a client.’ Mycroft nodded in recognition. He remembered being told he was being assigned someone new; and they were finishing a previous job.
‘And it all seemed to go okay, I wasn’t let into what was happening but I figured out it was to do with a possible coup’ Anthea tapped her fingers against the polished wood aimlessly. ‘And we were trying to negotiate, charm them. My boss was quite good, he was able to get him to trust us. But then one night, the leader came into my room and-‘ Anthea stopped tapping. ‘Tried to-and I pushed him off and there was a brief argument…and then he just went’. We left the next day, his assistant telling me his boss was only joking and everything was sighed and dealt with’.
Mycroft suddenly felt like he knew what she was going to say.
‘I came home, called up the stairs, like in all those silly films. And I ran up and he was there. Just like he was asleep. He looked so peaceful. I had seen that face a thousand times before, just before he woke-up. I almost felt like he was going to shake himself into being, or turn to me and laugh, it all a practical joke. And I didn’t cry or move or call for anyone. I just took off my jacket, got into bed and rested my head on his shoulder and slept.’
Mycroft took an inward breath and took her hand. It was cold.
‘There was an investigation, it got dealt with’ she murmured.
Mycroft stroked her hand. ‘I didn’t know’ he promised her.
‘I didn’t want you to look on me as weak’ she told him, ‘I am capable, even more so now he’s gone’. Her face shifted, as if she couldn’t believe what she just said.
Mycroft felt like he just had to ask her, there would be no other time apart from this cold, winter’s morning in his office kitchen.
‘Would you go back and change it?’
Anthea turned to him, her dark eyes beautiful and glassy.
‘I would love to say that I moved on, that this job fulfils me. That working for my country gives me a strength and a sense of my power and worth. Thousands of people would – and have I expect- kill for this job. I can eat when I what, get to steal the whole bed, I don’t have to wash his awful football t-shirts, I can be whatever I want, go anywhere, sleep with anyone.’ She paused. ‘And every single day I would give it all up to have him. Anything.’
Mycroft had absolutely nothing to say to her. He had a lump in his throat and he felt like all his fight had gone out of him. As she got up to leave, her coffee now cold, he muttered out a pathetic ‘take tomorrow off, please’.
She turned to him, a kind smile painted on her face. ‘No need, Mycroft. I have nothing to escape to’.
Greg was woken-up appallingly early by the irritating tinkle of his phone. Checking the number he swore blindly into the receiver, rubbing his eyes.
‘How rude, little brother’ his sister called gaily. ‘You should be bright and breezy!’
‘He’s left then’ he comments drily.
‘How cheeky of you…well yeah’, Jennifer’s laugh streams down the line and makes him smile.
‘I hope you were responsible’
‘He was a doctor, so I hope so’.
‘He told you he was a doctor, not the same thing’
‘It is, really. He had a stethoscope’.
Greg really didn’t need to know all of this. Especially at 8am.
‘Anyway’ Jennifer coughed. ‘How is your love life going?’
‘But what about the brother of the bloke that helps you?’
‘That was a non-starter, never saw him’
‘I thought you liked him’ Jennifer sounded surprised.
‘I do’ Greg found himself protesting.
‘Oh do instead of did. Interesting’.
‘Have only seen him once since, I expect he’s moved on’
‘If he’s always busy, I doubt it. What does he do?’
‘Very high-up in politics’
Jennifer whistled. ‘Get you. Trading up’
‘Well it’s over now.’
Jennifer’s fucking terrible rendition of ‘It ain’t over till it’s over’ sealed the deal and he cut her off, grinning as he shoved the phone onto the bedside table and closed his eyes.
Sherlock was sulking over John’s derisive comment about his mind palace when Lestrade finally showed-up. John made a face and Sherlock swivelled to give him his full attention.
‘Whats that face for?’
‘Look at him, he looks bloody awful’.
Sherlock looked appraisingly at the man. He had lost approximately 5 pounds which was quite notable when you consider Lestrade was a poor cook and depended on take-outs and supermarket meals. It meant he wasn’t eating out of appetite. He hadn’t shaved – was telling people he was trying out a beard instead of the truth that he was lazy and moody. He gave off an aura of being highly low mood, coupled with sleeplessness...
‘He looks sad’ John’s words halted his thoughts. And John was right, as simple and childish as it sounded Lestrade just looked sad.
‘Mycroft’ Sherlock spoke into John’s temple, words hot against the other man’s skin before breaking apart and going over to talk to him about the victim's ex-wife.
The case was eventually wrapped up, Sherlock had twirled and gestured and extrapolated; John had found yet more synonyms for amazing and the Yard were left with the none small task of collecting evidence, statements and actually turning Sherlock’s genius into workable results.
John was trying to persuade Sherlock into eating out with him, and it looked like it was working. Sherlock was slowing getting closer and closer to John with every passing second, light eyes tracking his face, soft and appraising.
Lestrade waved his hand in farewell as they both departed, he guessed for the bedroom before dining.
He turned, rubbing a tired hand over his hair before yawning and debating going back to the office for a bit before starting for home, that way he could try to begin some of the paperwork before he forgotten half of what Sherlock had said tomorrow morning. His eyes widened as he saw a sleek black car appear round the corner, a dark-haired women open the door and the tall, impeccably suited man step out.
Lestrade felt his head spin as Mycroft got closer and closer. It had been a while since he had actually seen him, but he had thought about him so much that it was genuinely odd to see him. He looked taller, and slightly older and tired. Of course it made sense that Mycroft would be tired, but despite working 14 hour days, he rarely did look in need of a good meal and a nap. It made Lestrade want to look after him, which was a new and surprising feeling.
‘Hello’ Mycroft spoke quietly, offering a hand.
Lestrade stared at him for a moment, then shook his head and with a little laugh shook his hand.
‘Miles away’ he said, feeling like he was 14 again.
‘Can I help you with anything?’ he offered politely, keeping one eye on Sherlock in the distance as he could see the dark coat flapping in the wind, it looked like Sherlock was having a tantrum.
Mycroft squinted at him, then turned to look at his brother. ‘Oh, quite’ he intoned. ‘No, I came on personal business’.
Greg raised an eyebrow. ‘O-Okay’.
Mycroft shifted on the spot, looking uncomfortable. ‘I wondered if perhaps we could continue our acquaintance?’
Greg felt a sharp spike of hope. He felt his mouth curl up into a smile.
As Mycroft launched into a speech about missing their friendship, wanting someone to watch Cricket with and the important of getting past awkwardness; Greg felt the hope fade as quick as the smile. Christ, he was an idiot. He ended their, well whatever it was, and now he felt like he had been dumped himself.
‘Sure, so dinner sometime or the cinema?’ he offered, moving from foot to foot and hoping he could escape soon.
‘Perhaps Wednesday?’ Mycroft questioned, flicking a rogue piece of lint on his tie.
‘It’s a date!’ said Greg , then froze, eyes wide. ‘I mean, y’know, not like…just friends-’
Mycroft held his hands up. ‘I understand, relax please Greg. I’ll be in contact’.
And Greg stood in the middle of the muddy crime scene and stared after the car, wondering why everything was always so difficult.
‘Sherlock is being a baby. Says you have to come and get his notes. Sorry. John’
Lestrade winced. Thank-you Sherlock, he really wanted a trek across London at 10pm because the man was too shagged out to provide proper documentation. He shrugged on his coat and dialled for a cab.
John opened the door with a yawn and a smug, tired smile.
‘I don’t want to hear about it’ Lestrade teased, pushing past him and catching sight of Sherlock lazing on the couch.
‘You don’t look happier’ Sherlock told him, eyes narrowing. ‘Despite Mycroft trekking across the Thames to speak to you…so Mycroft is still deciding to behave like a toddler?’
Lestrade laughed as an ironic chuckle of ‘toddler’ floated in from the kitchen. Sherlock huffed.
‘We’re fine, going to be mates’ Lestrade replied, taking a seat.
John sidled back in, with a plate of toast. He shoved a piece into Sherlock’s mouth, kissing his cheek.
‘The old friends phase eh?’ John questioned, kicking off his slippers.
‘It won’t work’ Sherlock spoke through a mouthful of crumbs.
Lestrade frowned at him. Couldn’t Sherlock ever be considerate, or even less combative?
‘It will be fine, it will take time. We have things in common, and got on before. It will be less complicated’.
‘It won’t’ Sherlock sat up and fixed him a harsh glare. ‘Lestrade, it won’t. It will be just as painful and everytime you see then you will remember. Wait until they find someone new, that will be torture’.
‘I am so tired of your advice’ Lestrade told him, clenching his jaw. ‘You and your brother are two very different people, you can’t just predict everything’.
‘No, but I know him. And this is his pattern. Relationships don’t work out, no-one gets close to him. He broaches the idea of being friends’. Sherlock throws his arms up at the seemingly ridiculous notion of being friends with an ex, ‘and surprise, surprise – that falls flat’.
‘What do I do Sherlock?’ Greg hissed, standing up and feeling angry, true rage for the first time in ages. ‘Just don’t see him? Ignore him?’
‘I believe you chose to do that anyway. ’ Sherlock flounced out of the room, dressing gown floating behind him as the bathroom door slammed closed.
Awkward silence fell. John nervously looked at his toast, shocked at Sherlock being protective over him brother; and Lestrade trying to reign his temper back in.
‘God’ Lestrade sighed. ‘I better go. Thank god you are like me, eh? I know I can depend on you to understand me’. He was halfway to the front door before John spoke.
‘Actually, I agree with him’.
Lestrade closed his eyes. ‘Are you kidding me?’ He turned to face John.
‘Hear me out’ John patted the chair and Lestrade went and sat back down.
‘Short, tough version’ John warned him. ‘Us being friends, Sherlock and I? Fucking awful. I ached every single day, just looking at him, being near him, hearing him talk’.
Lestrade felt a rush of sympathy for John, remembering a time when Sherlock had been even more prickly and aloof and John had been sad and lonely. They had wandered round the flat, furtively staring at each other, going on sort-of dates and Sherlock had loathed every one of John’s girlfriends.
‘But you live together’ he replied lamely.
John rolled his eyes irritably, as if Lestrade was a particularly annoying child.
‘So when you see him…it’s just fine?’
‘It will be weird for a while’ Lestrade countered. Inwardly, he knew exactly what John was getting at.
‘Well, you’re a stronger man than I am’ John yawned, eyes wide. ‘Sorry, how rude.’
‘No, you go to bed’ Lestrade smiled at him, patting his shoulder. ‘You’re a real mate, doctor’
John rolled his eyes. ‘Sure I am. But think about what I said.’
Lestrade nodded, closing the door behind him quietly.
It was a rainy, chilly morning when Lestrade finally gave in and embraced the awkwardness. Exes could be friends, right?
‘You do know you have to call me if we are going to go out’ he texted to Mycroft, hesitating over ‘going out’ and deciding to leave it. His phone beeped promptly.
‘Sorry, I would say work is busy, but that’s a poor excuse. Cinema? MH’
‘What on earth would you watch at the cinema?’
‘I don’t mind most films. MH.’
‘So if I said the new Jennifer Aniston?’
‘A man has his limits, Greg. MH’
Lestrade put his phone down on the desk and returned to his internet search; telling himself to wipe the giddy smile from his face.
Mycroft looked amusingly out of place in the Odeon foyer, his umbrella idly flicking away a kernel of popcorn from his immaculately polished brogues.
‘Hey’ Lestrade called, wandering over, hands deep in his pockets. He didn’t know whenever to offer his hand or go for a hug so he just nodded, lamely.
‘Evening’ Mycroft smiled and then bit his bottom lip as silence petered out.
‘You look very nice’ Lestrade told him, then winced as the words slipped from his mouth.
Mycroft looked surprised, glancing down at himself. ‘Oh, thank-you. Its new’.
They headed into the movie, a mindless thriller. It was that or a Disney movie.
They settled into their seats, Mycroft looking forlornly at the amount of legroom he was afforded. A couple smirking their way into the back row passed them and Lestrade smiled at Mycroft.
‘Bet they won’t be able to recount the movie?’ he quipped, thumbing behind them.
Mycroft looked puzzled. ‘It’s not very advanced, Greg’.
Lestrade laughed, ‘No, the back row’ he raised his eyebrows. ‘Y’know’.
Mycroft’s eyes filled with recognition. ‘Oh, yes’ his cheeks flushed. ‘I wouldn’t know’.
Charmed by Mycroft’s honestly Lestrade leaned into him confidingly, ‘Year 8. Madeline Harris. Some bloody awful movie with Jean Claude Van Damm. I went to kiss her and she turned at the wrong time. I never get the blood out of that shirt’.
Mycroft’s eyes lit-up and he grinned, surprisingly boyishly.
‘Which was particularly annoying because it was my brothers shirt, and he killed me’.
‘And Miss Madeline?’ Mycroft checked, teasingly.
‘She didn’t like my moves, went for an older man; Year 10’.
‘Ah’ Mycroft nodded sagely. ‘Happens to the best of us’.
They fell silent as the cinema fell into darkness. The film was of course, poor and predictable and this was Lestrade’s downfall; all he could concentrate on was Mycroft’s neck, smooth and soft-looking, lit up by the occasional flash of light from the screen. Mycroft had asked him a question about one of the actors, breath hot in his ear, intimate and close and Lestrade had closed his eyes to stop himself sighing, or worse, leaning in himself.
He jumped when Mycroft tapped his knee. ‘I think I’ve had enough of this’ he confessed. ‘May I be terribly rude?’
‘Oh Christ, thanks’ Lestrade intoned, gathering his jacket and making a sharp exit.
They fell out of the cinema, both giggling at feeling like outlaws.
‘His accent!’ Lestrade held onto the door, trying to control himself. ‘He sounded like a cockney Australian’
Mycroft nodded in agreement. ‘And the way that SWAT team was run, appalling’.
Lestrade checked his watch. ‘And only an hour, god it felt like double that’
‘And then some’ Mycroft added, gesturing towards the exit. They both nodded politely to the Odeon employee and headed into the night, Lestrade pausing only to slip his jacket on.
‘So’ he said, when they came to the station. ‘This was fun, I mean, even despite the movie’.
Mycroft ducked his head, smiling. ‘I think we might be a little old for the cinema’.
Lestrade was aghast. ‘Never! I will have you snogging in the back row before too long!’
They both went still at realising what he had just said.
‘I know what you meant’ Mycroft quickly said, holding up a hand.
Lestrade pushed a hand through his hair. ‘Did you want to try dinner next? I mean, I know you are hardly ever free, but-‘
Mycroft interrupted him. ‘Actually, I’ve changed some of my schedule. I had a talk with Anthea and my doctor and they want me to relax’ he made a face indicating how he felt about relaxing instead of working 24/7.
‘So no more 3am calls to Italy?’ Lestrade checked. He remembered the one time he had slept over at Mycroft’s, and he had woken, dazed and bleary-eyed to Mycroft sitting bold upright, speaking in flawless Italian. It had been quite attractive.
‘Hopefully not. They want me to…’ Mycroft paused, thinking, ‘Live a balanced life.’
‘I think that’s good’ Lestrade told him.
Mycroft coughed awkwardly. ‘Perhaps I have you to thank, Greg. You, well you made me realised my lifestyle wasn’t enticing to future partner, and I don’t want to get to 80 without ever getting married, or doing anything apart from work’.
Lestrade froze, feeling like he had fallen out of time. Why was this happening now? Why was he only the catalyst for this, not reaping the benefits? He forced a smile onto his face. ‘I think that’s good’ he repeated. As if by magic, Mycroft’s car appeared alongside the curb, the door opening soundlessly.
Mycroft stared at him for a moment, eyes searching his face. ‘I hope so’ he replied, ‘I can’t have Sherlock being the only Holmes perfecting domestic bliss…well his own version of it. Goodnight Greg’. He smiled, self-effacingly and got into the car.
Remembering the time last week when he came into 221b to find a crushed toe hanging from the ceiling, an odd smell of chlorine and the hoarse shout from above of ‘Ride me John, for fucks sake’ – Lestrade had to agree.
Anthea found Mycroft idly sitting at the kitchen counter, grasping a glass of orange juice and flicking it side to side so the liquid sloshed like waves.
‘Sir?’ she asked, surprised to see his face so unguarded and soft. Even in his own home he always seemed so buttoned-up and ready for anything. He never sloped around the house in pyjama’s, or took a cheeky day off sick. She remembered a past associate’s quiet mutterings to her, ‘He’s like a robot, that one. Just keeps going, controlling, moving.’ At the time she had ignored him but had later contemplated it. In a way it was true, Mycroft at work was always firmly in control and seemingly unfeeling. But she knew better; she knew that often the most in control were the most afraid, afraid of losing that precious control. Once that faded, or shattered; it was hard to repair it. Mycroft felt like everyone else, but she fathomed he felt more deeply that most at times. She had seemed his face, his raw panic when Sherlock had his overdose and she knew that he would do anything for his family.
Mycroft looked up, eyes focusing on her. ‘Yes?’
‘I just wondered if you were okay’ she replied, awkwardly. She balanced herself leaning onto the countertop and contemplated coffee. She was trying to cut down, but Mycroft’s machine was a steel wonderment.
‘I have a most dangerous thing, Anthea’ Mycroft told her confidingly, taking a sip from his glass.
She quirked an eyebrow.
‘Hope’ Mycroft smiled, a small, secretive smile before disappearing from the kitchen.
Lestrade was in his local newsagents, firmly telling himself not to buy any cigarettes when he felt a tap to his shoulder.
‘Oh it is you’ Leon smiled at him, his 6ft plus frame making Lestrade feel quite short.
‘Hi’ Lestrade replied, waving a hand aimlessly.
Leon cast a gaze over his paper. He raised an eyebrow at the Daily Sport.
Lestrade laughed. ‘Case’
‘That’s what they all say’ Leon winked and held-up his own purchases; skittles, Disney Princesses magazine and a lollipop.
‘I like Ariel’ Lestrade told him.
‘The mermaid thing eh?’ Leon checked, both men stepping forward as the queue lurched forwards.
‘Nah, did you see Prince Eric? I know he’s animated, but still’
Leon grinned. ‘Yeah, I’m more a Flynn Rider guy. I like dark eyes’ he added meaningfully.
Conversation paused for a moment, and Lestrade scuffed his shoe one the dirty floor.
‘My niece’ Leon explained, ‘looking after her for the day, she’s next door looking at a puppy. I reckon I may own a dog by the end of today’.
Lestrade winced, remembering Alice’s pouts for a hamster. ‘Don’t go there, the parents will kill you, she’ll want it at home’.
‘My brother won’t mind, but his wife’s a bit of a neat freak’ Leon told Lestrade, opening the packet of skittles and popping one into his mouth. ‘I hoped the magazine would distract her for a bit, my film collection is more Jason Statham than Princess Jasmine’.
‘I should hope so’ Lestrade chucked, telling himself Leon was just being friendly, and the only reason he was moving closer was because the shop was small.
‘Next please’ the harassed shop-owner called and Lestrade grimaced, pivoting his heel to place his purchases on the counter.
The woman looked disgusted at his choice of reading material, and scanned it like it was infectious.
‘It’s not for me’ he offered, but she looked at him sceptically, passing him his change.
Lestrade made sure he kept the receipt, no way was he spending his own money on girls with their boobs out.
‘See you’ he told Leon, holding up his carrier bag to show him that he had hidden the paper.
Leon laughed, and extended his arm towards him. Lestrade looked down at it stupidly, noting the scrawled letters and numbers before realising what it was.
‘My number’ Leon told him with a flirty smile, ‘In case you ever feel like playing mermaids’.
Lestrade left the shop holding the card and the bag, feeling like he had finally taken a step forward in his life. He knew what he wanted now.
This is the end, thank-you so much to everyone who was read, kudos'd and commented. I've loved writing this. xxx
Sherlock texted him seconds after he arrived at home, frantically trying to find the shower gel and wondering if his best shirt had been laundered. All he asked for was Mycroft's home address and today's work schedule but he got Sherlock's usual charm and deductions.
‘I may not like the chubby lump, but I give my permission. SH’
This was followed by a quick beep noting the house's address. Another beep sounded.
‘John is grinning inanely and doing a little dance. He thinks 'this is it'. Its irritating. SH’
And again, Lestrade could barely hear the beep over the shower.
‘Apparently I am being a killjoy. Just because I don’t like the idea of you seducing my brother. SH’
‘Or anyone, to be frank. SH’.
Lestrade read them all, towelling his hair and feeling like he could scream from nervousness.
He felt like this was the bit in the movies, when the romantic lead – young romantic lead he reminded himself with a petulant frown – dashed to the airport to catch their beloved before they vanished into the unknown. But it wasn’t like that, he wasn’t twenty anymore and didn’t do rushed confessions. It had taken him months to realise how he felt about Mycroft, and even that was after he had told the man he didn’t want to be with him anymore. It was a Wednesday morning and he had one damp sock on and felt unsure of whenever Mycroft would melt into his arms, smile politely or be embarrassed. He didn’t mind if it was all three; as long as he was able to tell him.
Before leaving the house he texted back Sherlock, grabbed his overnight bag (forever an optimist) and flung closed the door.
‘Who’s to say I’ll be the seducer? Lestrade’.
This didn’t happen in the movies. He had rushed to the door, tried to smooth his hair before knocking politely. After 10 minutes of solid knocking Anthea answered, her usual bland politeness fading into wide-eyed surprise.
Lestrade smiled hopefully. ‘Is he…?’
‘He’s at a meeting’ Anthea told him, stepping off the porch closer to Lestrade.
‘Oh’ Lestrade replied, unsure of what to do or say now. Anthea took pity on him.
‘I would say this is more than my job’s worth…’ she smirked, ‘but it’s not. He’s at Odette’s.’
She flicked her hair back and stared at him. ‘Are you going to go, or are you joining me for my spa afternoon?’
Lestrade snorted. Who knew she was so amusing? ‘I hope you don’t get in trouble for telling me. I would to the old ‘I was just walking by’ but I’m a rubbish actor’.
Anthea continued to look at him, as if she was unable to understand why he was wasting both of their time.
‘You’re cleared anyway on him’ she bit her lip. ‘For a while now’
‘Really?’ Lestrade was shocked, surely he wasn’t important enough to Mycroft…Oh.
Anthea nodded and huffed a laugh, moving closer to him she squinted at him before undoing the top two buttons of his shirt. Satisfied, she moved back and gestured at him to get going.
Lestrade shouldn’t have been surprised to see the black car waiting for him, but he still was.
He arrived at the beautiful restaurant 20 minutes later, out of breath and trying to calm his heartbeat down. He felt dizzy. This was one of those moments wasn’t it? This could go awfully wrong.
‘I’m looking for Mr Holmes’ he told the maître d'. The man looked surprised, but gamely led him through the restaurant to the conservatory. Lestrade tried to look like he belonged, and he tried to straighten his collar.
He saw the back of a lady wearing a purple jacket and Mycroft’s shocked face.
‘Greg’ Mycroft stood up abruptly, knocking over a teaspoon onto the floor. The resulting clang rang through the room.
‘Mycroft’ Lestrade was uncertain on how to begin. He was glad the room was relatively empty. He glanced down at Mycroft’s companion.
‘I am so sorry, may I borrow him for a moment?’
She looked up, observing him critically. ‘You can, but bear in mind, my son is a busy man’.
Lestrade gaped. He bit his lip, then held out his hand. ‘I am happy to meet you Mrs Holmes’.
‘Charmed. Sherlock and John speak well of you. We missed you at the wedding’ she replied archly, holding out her own hand. ‘Now sit and tell me; what are you intentions towards my boy?’
Mycroft coughed, giving her a quelling look. ‘Mother, you can stop joking around now. Please, decide your desert. I am sure the Detective Inspector will only take a minute of my time’.
Mrs Holmes snorted, but let them go.
‘What are you doing here?’
In the light of the garden Mycroft’s eyes were just beautiful, the swirl of blue and green making him want to get closer, just to check the shade. Mycroft looked uncomfortable, perched on the bench, hands clasped primly in his lap. He had a tiny smear of shaving foam behind his ear, and that simple fact made it easy for Lestrade to start talking.
‘I was so wrong to think you, well we, weren’t worth fighting for.’ He spoke all in a rush, eyes fixed on Mycroft, hands moving from scratching his jaw to resting on his thighs.
Mycroft nodded, slowly. He reached out and took one of Lestrade’s hands in his own, sliding along the bench to get closer. He spoke quietly, as if he was imparting a great secret. ‘When I was young I spent all my days waiting to fall in love. I thought I’ll just wait, the right person will come along. They didn’t. So I waited. Then I thought the right person would accept me. The way I live, the way I am. But you didn’t.’
Unsure of whenever to feel joyful about hearing Mycroft call him the right person, or to feel awful about letting Mycroft down, Lestrade squeezed his hand. He was about to open his mouth to apologise when Mycroft continued to talk.
‘But it’s not right to accept only seeing someone once a week. The person who would have had me for that wouldn’t be worth it, don’t you see? If you…if you love someone you want better for them as well as yourself. And not just in a desperate, clichéd way to see each other constantly, but to know that they are thinking of you, wanting to be with you. I didn’t give you that, I let you think you were marginalised, filling a gap. And you weren’t, you were becoming something far greater and I didn’t realise until it was too late. I didn’t want to be friends, but it seemed impossible to tell you that. And when we went to the cinema, I just knew it was too late for me to ever move on. I find it so hard to show how I feel. And I’ve never been particularly physically demonstrative’ Mycroft trailed off, his cheeks flushing pink.
‘It’s not your fault’ Lestrade told him firmly ‘I could have been clearer. I just assumed you saw me as a fling or something, or maybe even a friend and I didn’t think I could do that, not with you. So maybe I am just as cowardly as you think you were, both stupid men afraid of saying how they feel because, Christ, it might actually mean something.’
Both men stared at each other, quite unable to believe what was happening. Mycroft broke the silence.
‘Greg. I think I’m in love with you. Would you like to be my partner?’
Lestrade felt like laughing, crying and cheering all at once. He just nodded.
‘I need actual words’ Mycroft commented wryly.
Lestrade rolled his eyes. ‘Mycroft. Partners sounds like tennis, but yeah, I feel the same’.
Mycroft raised an eyebrow. ‘Nothing else to say?’
Lestrade learned closer to him, pressing a shy kiss to his mouth. ‘Not with your Mother hiding behind that hydrangea’.