In the rich fantasy life that thrived beneath his placid, no-nonsense-please exterior, Mycroft Holmes had been seducing Greg Lestrade for years. Often, the only way Mycroft survived the tedium of flights to Singapore or his mother’s weekly phone calls complaining about Sherlock was to close his eyes and add a new chapter to the Book of Gregory.
Were it copied out on paper instead of nestled in his cerebral cortex, the BoG would rival War and Peace in length and Penthouse Forum in laughable dialogue and plotlines. But dialogue and plot were really beside the point. The point was quite simply to have D. I. Lestrade--the inconveniently straight and married D. I. Lestrade-- in fiction, if never in fact.
Mycroft had imagined dozens of scenarios. In every season. In every venue.
Springtime: Wordlessly. Gregory’s wrists bound by Mycroft’s most expensive red silk neck tie. A silent tryst except perhaps for the squeak of sweaty skin on the leather sofa in the reading room at the Diogenes Club.
Summer: Al fresco. On the plush lawn just south of Mummy’s rose garden. It was a little bothersome that the grass stains would probably never come out of their trousers, and the risk of insect bites and rashes was certainly a concern, but the rewards far outweighed the risks. Mycroft erased and rewrote this chapter several times to delete swarms of bees and Sherlock’s face. Both kept appearing at the worst possible moments--summoned by some corner of Mycroft’s subconscious he preferred to leave unexamined.
Autumn: In the rain. A kiss and a grope under Mycroft’s umbrella late at night. Greg growling obscene demands. A fast and furious encounter in Mycroft’s speeding car, with the lights of the city dancing past the windows. Mycroft could think of no better use for that backseat. Nor for his own backside.
Winter: In Mycroft’s home library. This was tricky. The D.I. had never visited Mycroft’s home, nor seemed interested in anything more than professional meetings in their respective offices. But after some elaborate plotting to bring the policeman to his door in the middle of a cold, snowy night, this chapter concluded with Gregory Lestrade’s naked limbs stretched long, muscles taut. The red Persian beneath his silver hair. And oh, he was looking thoroughly satisfied. The story ended with a whispered, “Thank you, Mycroft—thank you.”
Alas, fiction was fiction, and fact was fact.
The facts, as far as Mycroft could ascertain, were these:
- Lestrade was straight.
- Lestrade was married.
- Lestrade viewed Mycroft as nothing more than Sherlock’s brother and a meddlesome government official. Someone who demanded special favors related to Sherlock, which the D.I. frequently, but not always, granted.
Mycroft wished he could be counted among Lestrade’s small group of friends, but over the years settled for becoming a colleague of sorts.
Mycroft had never, in all the time spent dreaming of Lestrade, believed there could be a real first kiss, a real episode of fellatio on a backbench of the House of Commons, or real cries of ecstasy in a tent pitched beneath a full moon in the shadow of Mt Kilimanjaro.
(A/N: Yes, Dear Reader, the BoG included—for the sake of variety-- occasional International Adventures in khaki safari costumes and pornographic historical fiction in curly white wigs. Mycroft, not given to enormous leaps of imagination, usually appeared as a smartly dressed emissary of the Empire, with Lestrade as a sassy, shirtless native.)
When the Inspector’s on-again, off-again marriage dissolved in a rather sad and semi-public way over the Christmas holiday, Mycroft assumed there would be a queue of women waiting to ease the D.I.’s pain. But he couldn’t help being a bit surprised when the rebound occurred at Mrs. Hudson’s annual New Year’s Eve party.
The man didn’t take much time licking his wounds, did he? Despite being so eminently lickable.
He was already taking up with someone new? Well, not really new in any sense of the word, was she? Sally Donovan had been around the block and back again, from what Mycroft could gather. Hmpf.
Still trying to get back in Mrs. Hudson’s good graces after the infamous “Shut up” incident, Mycroft was attending the party despite his profoundly unfestive mood. He was nursing a glass of sherry in the corner of 221A, and allowing himself what Anthea called a “pity party.” And why shouldn’t he feel a little sorry for himself? There they were for the world to see: Lestrade and Sgt. Donovan together, leaning in close to whisper God-knows-w hat in each other’s ears. Sneaking brief glances at Mycroft and giggling again. Making jokes at his expense, no doubt. How maddening.
Mycroft glanced at his watch. Good. Almost time. He’d instructed Carlos to arrive with the car no later than 11:30 so he wouldn’t have to endure the sloppy fuss of midnight kisses. As he looked up, he saw Mark Dimmock stroll in. D.I. Dimmock hugged Mrs. Hudson and shook hands with John. In the next instant Sally was at his side, then at his front, then all over him. Mycroft blinked. What was that trollop playing at? Was she going after both Dimmock and Lestrade?
Before the next tick of the clock, Greg Lestrade miraculously appeared at Mycroft’s elbow, smiling and then wrapping an arm amiably around his shoulder.
No need to read anything into that, Mycroft told himself. Mrs. Hudson’s flat was tightly packed now, and Lestrade was high on rum punch and holiday spirit. At the same time, Mycroft realized he was feeling sweaty and itchy as a result of the collective body heat and his heavy wool waistcoat and jacket. It appeared that Gregory too was not just metaphorically hot. Mycroft felt the D.I.'s arm pull away from his shoulder as Lestrade shifted awkwardly, handing his drink to Mycroft so he could undo a second button on his shirt. Mycroft allowed himself 3 seconds to stare at a tuft of dark hair and the glistening suggestion of perspiration on his companion’s collarbone.
“Hey, Myc, want to escape this sauna for a few minutes? I’ve got something I want to ask you. I need some advice.”
Mycroft’s pulse hammered, but he maintained his affectation of Zen serenity. He knew Lestrade was teasing him. The D.I. thought he was winding Mycroft up by calling him Myc, but in fact, Mycroft thrilled at the endearment and the intimacy it suggested. Still, Gregory expected him to frown, so he did, before replying, “What do you have in mind?”
Lestrade grinned. “Come on--follow me.” He took his own glass and Mycroft’s from Mycroft’s hands, prompting a shiver as Mycroft felt sweaty fingers brush against his knuckles. Still grinning, Lestrade deposited the glasses in the sink, grabbed a tea towel nearby, and filled it with a dozen of the biscuits and truffles Mrs. Hudson had arranged so prettily on the dining table. He also pulled a bottle of champagne from the refrigerator. He handed the nibbles to Mycroft for safekeeping, while the bottle was secreted neatly under the D.I.’s own jacket.
Mycroft followed Lestrade out the door and up the stairs towards 221B, assuming--and cursing the notion under his breath--that they were going to visit Sherlock, who had refused to join the festivities until his new ferrets had run successfully through the obstacle course he’d created in the sitting room. But to Mycroft’s surprise and relief, they continued up the second set of stairs to John’s room.
Lestrade walked across the room, pulled back the curtains, and opened the window, letting a chilly, refreshing breeze glide over Mycroft’s flushed face and neck.
“Mmm. Feels good, doesn’t it?”
Mycroft nodded warily. He was puzzled, but intrigued. “What in heaven’s name are you doing, Inspector?”
“Fire escape. We’re going out of this window and up to the roof. I was here a few months back when Sid Paget was giving John and me some lessons in setting up telephoto lenses and remote-controlled cameras for surveillance. He set up his “˜classroom” on the roof. It’s a damn fine view of this part of the city from here, even without a zoom lens—you’ll like it.”
Fearful quickly replaced intrigued. Mycroft Holmes did not wander aimlessly about on rooftops. He did not climb icy fire escapes in the middle of winter. In fact, he did not climb fire escapes at all. Even more to the point, he did not climb outdoors anywhere, anytime. Full stop.
Mycroft adamantly refused to do legwork because he considered himself to be pathologically clumsy. And he was afraid of heights. Sherlock could leap from roof to roof, scramble over fences, chase criminals into the tree canopy or down into the sewers. Mycroft preferred to take the lift or a limousine whenever possible. He did not run, trot, or gallop. He walked deliberately, umbrella always at the ready to provide balance if he stumbled. Now he peered out the window, watching Lestrade’s delectable bum disappear up the black iron steps in the moonlight.
No lift here and no limousine.
He sank down onto John’s bed. His umbrella was downstairs, along with his overcoat. He felt naked. His weakness was exposed. Here was a chance for a little moment and he was unable to seize it. Not romance, of course, but a moment of companionship, a sip of champagne and a chance to talk alone, as . . . he dared to think the word . . . as friends.
But Mycroft couldn’t see how he could possibly climb the twenty-two steps (he’d counted them as Lestrade’s grubby shoes marched up each one) without looking down at the pavement below, tripping over his shoelaces, losing his balance, hyperventilating, and . . . Oh bother.
Mycroft exhaled a faint, sad sigh of resignation just as John Watson flung open the door and stumbled into the room with Mike Stamford close on his heels.
“Mycroft bloody Holmes--what the hell are you doing in my room?”