Chapter 1: When Alone on New Years
Gregory Lestrade and his wife have been on the rocks for a bit, so she left him alone this New Years Eve. With everyone else around him so close to their special or not-so-special someone, Greg decides to text someone he thinks also doesn't have anyone for New Years.
Main Storyline: December 31, 2004
Nothing good ever came out of the words ‘We need some time apart’. Of course, it only usually came out of one person’s mouth, but it made that person feel better about themselves thinking they were speaking for both people at once. In this case, the person being spoken for was a man who had spent the last few years trying to delicately balance some kind of home life and advancing his career as DI.
But, really, what was Greg going to say? ‘Lisa, it’s a few days before New Years.’ ‘Lisa, I’m doing my best to spend more time with you.’ ‘Lisa, I know you’re not just going to your mother’s, or Marge’s, or whatever other female relation you’re going to feed me.’ Any of those would have started another fight, another round of his wife’s tears and another round of Greg feeling like a dick. It wasn’t exactly unexpected at least. To say they had been on the rocks for a little was putting it mildly. So, he just accepted it, supported the decision, went along with the ‘It’s only for a little while’ and didn’t leave Lisa with a reason to be mad while she was off doing… whatever.
It all ultimately led him to where he was now, in a pub with some of the people at the office, a bit more than a few drinks in him and the telly on some random channel with a couple of reporters talking about the coming new year. With any luck at all, it’d be better than this one, that was sure.
The dim light of the pub reflected off the top of his whiskey-laden drink as he glanced down to it, Greg’s eyes straying away from the group in front of him. At the moment, Anderson was setting up for a joke, one that Lestrade could half hear as his attention was pulled to his own thoughts. There was no telling what Lisa was doing right now, and it was very nearly an unconscious gesture that he pulled out his cell phone and glanced at the screen. No messages.
“And he said, ‘Oy! Mind the cat down there, no need to be rough,’” Anderson finished his joke with a drunken laugh, everyone else joining him. Yeah, Greg missed it, but he managed a little bit of a laugh regardless before finishing the last little bit of his drink and making eye contact with a bartender with a little nod for another drink. Ten minutes till the time, might as well try to beat the rush.
“Come on Greg, cheer up a little, you obviously need more whiskey,” Anderson had shouted right next to him with a drunken slur, hand on the DI’s shoulder and leaning against him heavily. Greg grinned a little, giving a bit of a laugh as he used his hand to grab Anderson’s shirt at his shoulder and straighten him up.
“Don’t worry, I’m workin’ on that, you just try to keep standing till the bell rings, yeah,” Greg responded in a light hearted way, never minding when people got arseholed as long as they didn’t get violent. You got used to it if you did the seedier pubs, which is what his stupid, twenty year old self did for a bit. Maybe it’s one reason he went grey early in life.
Anderson laughed again, nodding as he swayed, essentially being kept up straight only by the hand tightly fisted in his shirt. Then, he had to go and wave his arm, shouting at the bartender for more drinks. Well shit, now he’d never get his own drink. Greg gave a little sigh of disappointment as he carefully let go of Anderson’s shirt when he stumbled toward his wife, throwing his arm around her and miraculously not crashing both of them to the ground as his wife laughed and struggled to keep them both up.
The DI glanced back up at the telly, running a hand through his grey hair in an effort to keep himself from checking the phone again. His head was pleasantly light and he was leaning a little on the bar itself, one of the three people from the department to have a seat at the stools. It was enough to keep him relatively cheery, but there was a slowly growing sinking sensation.
Ten minutes to go til the new year, til first year kisses were exchanged in hopes of another year of a happy relationship. He and Lisa did that last year at one of her work parties and, well, look how that turned out. Again, his hand seemed to have a mind of its own, and when he came out of his thoughts, he was staring at the notification window on his phone. Nothing.
Greg sighed one more time and gave up, sliding his thumb across the lock bar and typing in his pass. He’d at least text her, let her know he was thinking about her. His thumb slid over to the address book, scrolled down to “My Better Half”, but he paused. His soft eyes were staring softly down at the name of the entry, wondering what she was doing now. Was she also drunk, laughing with her arm around someone else for the night? Someone she’d been seeing? A replacement?
Greg made a very soft, frustrated sound as he put the phone down on the bar, hand going for his glass and bringing it to his lips only to be smacked softly on the lips by cold ice. He put it back down in disappointment, hand automatically going back to his phone to at least hold something. He didn’t like not fixing the problem’s he came across, but without a drink and without a proper drive to text Lisa, he couldn’t work toward fixing anything.
Eight minutes, by the time displayed at the top. Well, he’d text someone then. No idea who, but not someone with their own someone to kiss at the stroke of midnight. Names flew past as he scrolled down: Mum and dad, Aunt Bettie who had Uncle Billy, his brother James was with his wife in Cardiff, most of the people from work who were here with him. Hell, even Sally had found some bloke to flirt at for the evening. Sherlock; hah, just what he needed, a display of the “powers of deduction” on a New Years Eve text. John; he could just see Sherlock grabbing the phone before John.
More names scrolled past, some acquaintances he’d only seen once or twice, work contacts mostly. Then, he flicked back up through the list, bottom to top this time. Hit the top, and frowned a little more as he started his third scroll through when his eyes stopped on a name he skipped over twice. Mycroft Holmes.
Well, it wasn’t like he actually called Mycroft too often, at least not socially. They were both in the business of looking over the younger Holmes, for their own reasons obviously. He knew Sherlock was a great man, damn sharp and useful so long as an eye was kept on him. For Mycroft, well, he could only guess it was out of some kind of obligation, sticking with family and all that.
It was usually Mycroft who started the text conversations, pointing out when Sherlock was getting himself into trouble and where he could be stopped to make sure he wasn’t getting in over his head. Or, getting someone else, like John, in over his head. He didn’t know too much beyond that, though he did guess he wasn’t attached to anyone. Maybe there were just certain jobs were you can’t get attached to someone while you’re in them.
Greg grinned a little sadly as it was probably the case for himself as well. He’d never think in a million years that he could guess what goes through the mind of Mycroft Holmes, but he was still human. A human who, Sherlock had joked, was the British government itself, but still human. He clicked the name, turned his phone over, and started typing.
How’s your new years eve Mr. Holmes? - GL
Sometimes, socialization was unfortunately necessary. There were appearances to keep up after all, and one does not hold a position in the British government without a bit of pomp and circumstance. That was where Mycroft Holmes found himself now, chatting cordially within a group consisting of the ambassador of France, the Prime Minister and the President of the Supreme Court. The ambassador was currently talking about a trip to Spain he had the pleasure of going on. Eye contact, body turned at appropriate angle, polite smile, small nods of encouragement every now and again, keywords: Salamanca, Anaya Palace, general approval of the location, cafe, coffee, croissant, disapproval of coffee. No, Mycroft wasn’t really listening.
He didn’t enjoy saying that his brother and himself were very much alike, but even he couldn’t deny the similarities. Yes, Mycroft got bored, but he got bored with people, not with situations. Whereas Sherlock has been known to take a gun to his own wall, Mycroft personally knew himself to have an occasional vitriolic commentary running in his head if he wasn’t interested. For example, how difficult to please the French ambassador was with anything he ate if it didn’t come from his own country, how completely unashamed he was to give his culinary taste to whom ever would listen while having not the palette nor the wit to find his way around a proper filet mignon and Cabernet Sauvignon. Well, of course, you can’t put all of the blame on him, he is French.
However, pseudo-listen he did, keeping the urge to look at the time down under wraps as that would give away his impatience. By the look of the couples gathering together that he could catch from his peripheral, it couldn’t be too long now. With the fresh tray of champagne just starting to go around and work its way around, roughly around ten minutes. No, he wouldn’t attempt an exact guess, ‘roughly ten minutes’ served his purposes well enough and he was not his brother.
A slight elevation in pitch, excitement, the end of a punch line. There were the beginnings of a laugh in the expression, so when it came, Mycroft gave his own warm but polite laugh in response. Then, there was a vibration coming from his waist coat during the blissful pause in the conversation. It gave Mycroft an opening to take a quick glance at it. ‘-trade’
Detective Inspector Lestrade. Damn it, Sherlock, tonight of all times? Mycroft looked up with an apologetic upturn of the eyebrows, nothing too extreme, just enough to express his regret that he must get this message. He exchanged hand shakes and then pulled himself away from the group. He didn’t always have to be so forced with his display of emotions; unlike what some may say, he had emotions. He simply learned how to display them at the appropriate level, unlike his brother. But, the learned talent also served well in situations like these.
Deft fingers slid the mobile out of his pocket, thumb tapping the appropriate buttons and finally on the notification of the text. The contents of which made him frown a little, pausing as he carefully slid through the crowd, heading for the edge of it. Not about his brother, as Detective Inspector Lestrade wasn’t a man to beat around the bush in an immediate crisis. However, it was none the less a text seven minutes before midnight. Perhaps it was something else. Mycroft slid the front of his mobile out.
Well enough, Detective Lestrade. Is there something the matter? - MH
Greg was almost surprised when his phone beeped softly, and he would have missed it if it hadn’t also vibrated. He glanced back down from the telly, thumbing away the lock and notification. Honestly, he had no idea what Mycroft was doing, maybe at some kind of big, official party. Like with the Prime Minister, or something.
…Shit. And here he was texting him in the middle of it. Greg cursed softly, blaming the alcohol and the situation as his thumbs tapped the screen.
No nothing. Sorry. Just
Well, what was it just? Sounds pretty damn silly even in his own head and he deleted the word, thinking some more.
No nothing. Sorry. Probably pulled you away from something important. - GL
Mycroft looked down at the phone in his hand when it vibrated, turning the screen on. Well, this was certainly curious, and his brows furrowed a little because of it. Nonetheless, he couldn’t help a very small, quiet chuckle as he slid the phone open again.
No need to apologize. With all honesty and respect, you have no idea how welcome your text is in pulling me aside for a bit. How is your New Years, detective? - MH
As the champagne tray came by, Mycroft slid his phone closed and took a flute with a smile and a nod.
Greg was staring at the screen as it rest on the bar, hand sliding through his hair, a little worried that he had annoyed a Holmes brother. That wasn’t a good thing, no matter what brother you were talking to. Instead, when the message came, the DI laughed softly as he dropped his worry, picking up the phone.
Who knew I had great timing. It could be better but I’m managong. - GL
Managing sorry. - GL
Just as Mycroft was reading the first text, the second one came through and he chuckled softly again. He took a small sip of his champagne before placing it on a small table to the side of him. He glanced up briefly, again noting the people gathering into couples and then the time. Five minutes.
I am sorry to hear, but I do hope you are managing responsibly. Are you nearly ready for the countdown? - MH
Greg rubbed his head while he lifted the phone into view, now not even putting it down. Damn drunk grammar; Mycroft was probably the only man he knew who actually texted in proper English, much less on New Years Eve. And actually typed more than a single word like ‘Boring.’
I’m on the force, always manage responsibly. Nothing to get ready for. Wife
…Well, what is his wife doing right now.
I’m on the force, always manage responsibly. Nothing to get ready for. Wife out with her friends, I’m just at the pub. - GL
Hm. So Detective Lestrade is still having marital problems and therefor texts him instead of anyone else? Well, he must be a few drinks in then. He was not necessarily adverse to small talk with the detective, though the need to do so had never occurred to him.
Well, that makes two of us, Lestrade. At least we have one another to talk to, yes? - MH
Greg was looking down at his phone when a small clink on the bar made him look up. His new drink. The tender was already off making more drinks, but he smiled anyway. Well, things were looking up a little bit.
Call me Greg Mr. Holmes. And yeah at least
Call me Greg Mr. Holmes. I’m just glad I’ve got good timing. - GL
There was a voice from across the room, calling for everyone to look out the windows at the impeccable view of Big Ben that would be counting down the seconds. Mycroft made his way to a spot with a good view but off to the side as much as possible. Wives were setting down glasses, sliding their hands into their husband’s, saying a few final words before joining in in an excited but contained countdown from the members. He looked down at the phone, sliding up the screen, typing.
Thank you Greg
Mycroft tried to hit the period, but paused. He always hated nicknames, and even on a first name basis, just leaving Greg sounded so… unprofessional, rude.
Thank you Gregory. - MH
People started chanting the seconds loudly, the whole bar joining in. Greg looked around at a pat on the back; Anderson trying to draw attention to the screen. Yeah, a little slow there mate. In fifteen seconds, it didn’t matter who was around, thousands of people would be focused on just them and whoever lips were locked onto theirs. And millions of texts would be sent out in an instant, making it almost impossible to get through. He wanted to send one more text, just one before the clock hit.
Happy New Years, Mr. H
An excited scream was all he had before a rough slam into his back jarred him forward with an ‘oomf’ as he was knocked into the edge of the bar, phone clattering onto the top. ” ‘ey, what’s this then?!” Greg called in frustration over the chanting, looking behind him as a very drunk woman apparently tried to run for her girlfriend, missed, and knocked into Greg instead. She called a half assed apology over her shoulder as she was hugged tight and Greg looked back at the telly.
3. 2. 1.
Greg cursed under his breath as he picked up the phone and quickly tried to finish it.
Happy New Years, Mr. Holmes. - GL
Send. There was no way in bloody Hell that message was going to make it in the mess of texts that were now going around. He had a small shot a few seconds before, but on the dot? No way. Greg sighed in frustration underneath the sound of noise makers, where it didn’t matter that he’d come with a group, he might as well have been sitting alone in his living room.
But, Mycroft is no ordinary man. The usual rules of technology simply didn’t apply to him as they did the common folk. Of course he was set up to receive, and send, text messages on a priority. Didn’t matter what was going on, thousands or millions of texts at once, those from and to his phone would go through first. And as the small, professional quartet started up Auld Lang Syne, his phone vibrated.
A click of a button, a tap of the notification and he smiled a little.
Please, Mycroft. And happy New Years to you too, Gregory. - MH
Chapter 2: Cyrano and de Valvert
A look back at Mycroft's fencing days and a special man who plays at being his 'archenemy'. Chapter for Philomenia. <3
For your audio pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9as8K8SktY
Mycroft Storyline: January 24, 1989
At six in the morning, every weekday morning, the sound of metal tapping against metal, feet moving along the lane and The Beatles (“A Hard Days Night” at the moment) filled the 221B gym room at Oxford university. The fencing club was one of the oldest fencing clubs in Great Britain, and its members were as exclusive, and accomplished, as the school itself was known to be. Ten pairs of young men in full fencing suits jabbed, parried and shuffled as the rays of early morning started to drift inside. A couple more were on the sides for now, helmets under their arms and talking as a third, much older man by the name of Ackworth carefully patrolled along the edges. Suddenly one of the young men at the end shouted after a touch.
Ackworth frowned and shouted over the groups still going at it, “Holmes, start practicing to not be rude now, don’t want those Tabs holding anything over us next week.”
The younger man who had the touch at the far end of the room lifted his hand up to the mask, wrenching it off quick and easy with a soft grunt. “Yes sir,” Mycroft Holmes called back with just a tad too much military in it, revealing just a little dash of the cheekiness in it.
Mycroft’s dark brown hair, just a little shaggier than normal and in need of a trim soon, was plastered to his head with sweat. Mycroft panted as he tried to catch his breath, blue eyes looking to the man across from him as Holmes pushed the back of his hand across his forehead. “You were a little slow Geoffrey, was it intentional or are you just getting on in years?”
Geoffrey pulled off the helmet in turn, also panting and a bit sweaty as he walked a little closer, meeting Mycroft’s small smirk with a raised eyebrow of his own. “Settle down brat, I’m not done with you today yet.” Geoffrey was honestly only twenty-one but Mycroft, easily the youngest man in the varsity group at age eighteen, had taken to calling him some array of things referencing his apparent old age.
“Finish this round, take a break,” Ackworth called over the general noise, some of the groups that were just getting done heading to the side of the room to grab some water. Mycroft turned to do the same when there was a hand suddenly ruffling and making a mess of his already mussed hair. “Careful Mycroft, you’re starting to look like the commonwealth.”
The Holmes “brat” gave Geoffery a look as he swatted at his hand, trying to fix his hair. “You tumble on stage like a jester and you’re calling me commonwealth?” Geoffery was, in reality, at Oxford for law. However, anyone who knew Geoffery knew that was not where his heart lie. It was on stage, playing characters penned by Shakespeare, Rostand and other great play writers of the ages. And he was brilliant at it.
Geoffery grinned, deciding to play up the fool act a little, stepping in front of Mycroft and taking a small jump to play the rimshot with his feet, spreading his arms in presentation like a clown at the last ‘bum’, doing jazz hands with his one free hand and really just shaking his practice epee in the other. Mycroft stopped in his tracks, recoiled a little in mock disbelief with his eyebrows raised.
“Cyrano de Bergerac has gone to your head, Geoffery,” and he used his epee to wack his side a little, trying to pass by the older man. It was his latest role, Cyrano de Bergerac, that he had been practicing for lately. The spot was almost guaranteed to him as there were not many who could match Geoffery in sheer… magnetism when he was on stage. Though having such a role made him more childish than normal, and apparently Geoffery wasn’t having any of Mycroft getting past him without annoyance as he started to take stabs at his padded chest.
“Hey, hey, hey. Hey. Hey!” Mycroft repeated in slightly increasing volume, getting his epee out and parrying the strike by about the forth time. Mycroft tried to strike back a few times, but he was eventually pushed back to near the middle of the lane as he defended himself, looking a bit annoyed when Geoffery looked pleased at being able to push him back. “Idiot.”
Geoffery just grinned wider as he slipped into role and gave a sweeping bow, “Oh, delighted to meet you! And I am Cyrano Savinien Hercule de Bergerac.” A small pause and Geoffery, as himself with no sign of letting him pass, continued, “You probably don’t even know the words, hm?”
Mycroft rolled his eyes exasperated and said the next line pointedly, “Buffoon,” then added, “I have taken French Literature, Geoffery.”
As if suddenly smacked on his arm, Geoffery hissed and grabbed it, “Aie!”
Mycroft frowned, eyebrows furrowed for a few seconds before he groaned in exasperation and gave another roll of his eyes. “Ugh, I hate you Geoffery.” After this point, there would be no getting Geoffery to act normal.
“It must be moved—it’s getting stiff! This is what happens when it’s been unused for too long,” Geoffery began reciting Cyrano’s lines perfectly as Mycroft decided not to play his game as much as possible, crossing his arms with the epee jutting out to the side. At the same time, there was a small bit of him that couldn’t help starting to get pulled into this little game.
“What is the matter with you,” Mycroft said flatly the next line, though meaning it to apply to the current situation as well, giving Geoffery a look that said ‘Really?’.
“The cramp! I have a cramp in my sword!” There was a long pause after that with Geoffery grinning rakishly at Mycroft, who still did not look amused. He tried not following the script.
“I am not doing this.”
“Geoffery, I want my break.”
“…UGH,” Mycroft groaned loud and annoyed, again saying the next line flatly as he prepared his epee. “So be it.”
Geoffery came alive again as he acted, like a movie that had paused, “You shall feel a charming little stroke!”
“Actor,” Mycroft said contemptuously where the line was supposed to be ‘Poet.’
“Yes, an actor, Sir! And to demonstrate my skills as such, I will compose a ballade as we fight.”
“A ballade.” It was supposed to be a question, though with the amount of flat sarcasm dripping off of Mycroft’s voice, it wasn’t clear.
“Do you not know what a ballade is,” ‘Cyrano’ asked the ‘de Valvert’ in front of him; of course Mycroft knew what a ballad was with as much time as he spent waiting in the theatre doing homework.
“I’ve had French Literature,” Mycroft commented flatly, again deviating from the script.
“Know then that the ballade should contain three eight-versed couplets-,”
Mycroft glared at Geoffery.
“And an envoi of four lines-,”
“I’ll make one as we fight, and on the last line, I shall thrust my sword home.”
“No,” Mycroft said the line flatly where the play dictated it as more disbelieving; Mycroft just made it sound like another rejection of this game.
“No?” Geoffery grandly presented the next lines, being careful to keep his sword out in front, “Ballade of the duel between de Bergerac and a fool—here in the Hotel Burgundy!”
“I’m going to kill you, Geoffery.”
“That is the title,” Geoffery continued with a wink, which is when Mycroft made an attempt at a point to Geoffery’s chest in order to make him let him have his break. When the younger man was frustrated, he wasn’t nearly as good at fencing as he should have been, so it was almost like magic when Geoffery parried and got the point at Mycroft’s chest instead. Which caused more glaring from the younger man.
“Wait while I choose my lines,” he continued, in character, keeping Mycroft at bay with the epee. Mycroft simply smacked the side of his sword against the older man’s, removing it from his chest so he could back up. Mycroft tossed his mask aside, slid his foot back and raised his off hand in the air, preparing for the fighting that would inevitably come.
“Ah, I have them now,” Geoffery recited, looking all too eager to fence Mycroft while acting the lines of the great Cyrano de Bergerac. Actual fencing was far different from stage fencing, so this was going to be a nice treat.
“I lightly doff my hat down low,” Geoffery simply tossed his mask into the air near the wall.
“And, freeing hand and heel,
“My heavy cloak away I throw,” the mask made a hollow bang behind him. Everyone else was off the mats by now and was watching to see how this would play out.
“And I draw my polished steel.” Geoffery slid into a similar stance, though he tucked his off hand behind his back.
“Graceful as Phoebus, round I wheel,
With swiftness and skill alike.”
Geoffery had started to circle around Mycroft, who looked surprised for only a moment before they began to move. Sidestepping wasn’t commonly used at competitions, but apparently this had now become part show, part spar.
” ‘Careful now,’ I say with zeal,
For at the end of the refrain I shall strike!”
The older man lunged forward to attempt a strike, which Mycroft easily batted away. Now the spar was on, and as the record started to play “Any Time At All”, it was actually Mycroft’s voice that suddenly spoke over the music, no longer flat and with a bit of mocking tone, stealing the words away from Geoffrey.
“Better for you had you lain low.
Where shall I hit you? In the heel?”
A quick side step and a missed jab from Mycroft.
“Or how about the heart, my worthless foe?”
On the attack, Mycroft attempted it but was parried.
“Or in the hip, and make you kneel?”
Mycroft grinned at that, starting to have some fun finally as he attempted a jab at the lower body, which the older man was stepped back from. Geoffery took the opportunity to steal back his line with zeal.
“Oh, for the music of clashing steel!
Where shall I land my spike?”
Mycroft was on the defensive now, stepping back, to the side, parry parry, shuffle.
“’Twill be in the belly the stroke I steal,
When, at the end of the refrain I shall strike!”
Geoffery’s epee scraped the belly of Mycroft’s padding, but there was no stopping; slashes didn’t count in epee, but it was a taunt. It was clearly not a mistake, simply a show that Geoffery wanted to finish his lines before ending it. Mycroft hated Geoffery sometimes, and therefore stole his lines from him again.
“Oh, for a word that rhymes with “o”!
You wriggle, so white, my eel!”
Mycroft was now fighting aggressively, far more aggressively than he usually did or should; he was far better at sitting back and allowing his opponent to make a mistake.
“Your face is as pale as fresh snow, As I parry the point of your ste-“
Mycroft had indeed parried and attempted to take the point at the older man’s chest, and he indeed thought he had it before Geoffery sidestepped at the last second. And with that, Geoffery took the lines back.
“Oh there, a thrust you hoped I’d feel!
But alas, you missed, little tyke!
Now we’re nearing the close of this deal. Watch out! At the end of the refrain I strike!”
Geoffery couldn’t help but laugh as the sparring heated up, and even Mycroft was grinning. They both knew, at the next lines were where Cyrano took the win for the duel. And apparently, it was Geoffery who thought he could claim it as he spoke the refrain.
“And now I shall make you kneel.
Pray for your soul if you like!”
Oh, no you don’t Geoffery. Mycroft followed with a few more aggressive attacks, refusing to have him take the win in this. And that was his undoing. Mycroft was able to get him in a tight spot, and nearly had the point before Geoffery went impossibly low, letting the thrust go high over his shoulder as he lunged.
The tip of the epee bent as it was pressed against the padding, right over Mycroft’s heart. He had froze, looking down at the older man who was nearly on the floor, a big grin on his face as he finished the lines with the little breath he had left.
“And your fate I seal,
As at the end of the refrain, I strike.”
Applause filled the room as the other college students clapped for the amusing performance. Mycroft was looking down his nose at Geoffery, who still hadn’t moved, the barest of grins on both of their faces as they panted. The “brat” was glad he was already flushed from the exercise as from down there Geoffery quietly asked under cover of applause, “Biology study later, Mycroft?”
There was a small quirk of his eyebrow, but no hesitation. “Yes please.”
Chapter 3: Stars Come Out at Dawn
The night was long and fun working in the only place Greg and his band could call home. To relax, Queen Starina takes the 'boys' out on a small picnic.
Greg Timeline: June 24, 1987
For your audio pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzexP58si0w
The sun was slowly creeping up into the sky, starting to chase away the dark blue of night and the tiny pinpoints of stars like they were in a race. Well, the sun was eventually going to win, but that didn't mean it was time for the fun to stop, just for it to wind down a bit. It was spur of the moment, like most things the group did, literally a 'Good job boys, let's have a picnic!' and five people were packed into a truck, two in the cab and the rest in the boot.
Fingers gently plucked at guitar strings, but with the sound of the rushing wind, it couldn't be heard anyway until the truck started to slow. They stopped at a particular hill whenever they wanted a picnic, though it barely qualified as a hill as there was only a couple tens of yards of space between the drop off and the freeway. Still, it was a fantastic view of the sunrise and only a bit of traffic could be heard when you got to it at the early-arse time they did.
The truck pulled onto the side of the highway as it slowed down, gravel crunching under the old-as-shit tires, springs squeaking as it came to a gentle stop. With some notes from "The Battle of Evermore" finally being able to ring through the air, Pat was the first to roll up to her feet, grabbing the edge of the truck boot side and haul herself out with an easy hop, hands already going to brush her long blond hair back and fix her flannel shirt.
Shaun, or 'Starina', was already opening the door to the cab for himself and Mike to slide out of, and the next guy to get up in the boot was Jack. That's when Greg stopped playing Led Zeppelin and offered a hand to the slimmer man with a smile. Jack still had some blue eye shadow on, but with the night at its end, it could use a bit of touch up. If Greg was honest, the blue really brought out the green in his eyes, but then Jack was always damn good with make up.
Jack smiled and even gave a small giggle as he took his hand and threw a leg over, "Such a gentleman, Greg." Greg shrugged the arm of the hand that held his guitar by the neck, grinning as he adjusted his occupied arm to help Jack handle the slide down.
"Or I'm just hungry and you're slow if I don't help," Greg joked, which earned him a light smack on the arm as he laughed, putting his now free hand on the edge and sliding out of the truck himself. The body of his electric guitar bumped softly against the truck and Greg cursed softly even though it was already nicked and scratched to Hell. Years of playing with these guys at The Birdcage had put it through some abuse, but damn if it didn't still sound amazing.
"Alright! Come come, let's get together over here, little further now," Shaun was calling in his usual high voice, his real falsetto usually being reserved for when he was in a dress. Right now, the queen was in a plain t shirt, purple headscarf to hide his unmade hair, jeans and sandals. He was an old queen, in his forties if you worked hard enough to find out; he usually said late twenties which is a lie no one would believe.
Being nearly double the age of most of the band that played for his bath house, he commonly took the role of mother to all of them, paying them an okay amount, making sure they had safe places to sleep if they needed it, making food for them sometimes. Like now, after a nice night of playing for the bar on the second floor and making some money in the process. Shaun pushed ahead about forty feet from the highway, nearly to the edge when he looked around the spot, plastic bag filled with sandwiches swinging as he turned in a circle, then settled down.
They took their usual spots in a half circle: Jack to the left of, and very close to, Shaun. Pat sighed as she flopped down to the left of Jack a foot or two away. Greg sat cross legged with his guitar in his lap, reaching down to pull the leather jacket that was old and a little too big for him out from under his arse. As for Mike, the oldest under Shaun at the age of twenty, sat about a foot to the right of Greg.
"Jack, honey, fix your make up dear. Queens have a reputation to uphold," Shaun gently chastised as he went digging in the plastic bag. Jack looked confused and tried to wipe in all the usual places before Pat told him to turn around, her thumbs being rough enough to push his eyebrows into odd angles as she tried to salvage the make up. As for Mike, he leaned over to put his shoulder right against Greg's, bringing a hand over to pluck at random guitar strings, "C'mon Greg, I heard ya. 'The queen of light took her bow, and then she turned to go," he prompted, his voice obviously tired from singing all night, but damn if it didn't just add to the effect his naturally deep and lightly gravelly voice had.
Greg couldn't keep a grin off of his face as he looked to Mike, fingers moving to catch up and start plucking for the dark haired and dark eyed man leaning so close to him. Mike's lopsided smile was worth a million quid to Greg, and the fact that he got it out of him with a few notes never ceased to amaze him. Yeah, he'd probably play for him for eternity, he admitted it. Course, he wasn't about to say something so sappy right now.
"No no, come on boys! Play something a bit more pop-ish! Something more recent! "This Charming Man"; your voice is suited to that more, Mike." said the forty year old queen to the nineteen and twenty year old. He was handing a sandwich off to Pat first, who paused long enough in make up fixing to put the sandwich on her knee as Greg looked back to Mike with a raised eyebrow, plucking paused.
"We've been doin' more pop than anything else tonight," Greg said none to softly to Mike, who shook his head and was just a tad louder.
"Why're we listening to this old queen," an insulted 'Excuse me' could be heard on the other side of Greg, "You've got the guitar, I've got the voice, an' we're off the clock, so 'The prince of peace embraced the gloom and walked the night alone.'"
Greg almost started playing again before he was tapped briskly on the shoulder, and he turned his head, opening his mouth to say something before he found a sandwich stuffed into there. "You're listening to 'this old queen' because this queen is the one with the food," He said with a small flick of his hand at Mike who would apparently be served last as he started to unwrap Jack's sandwich.
Greg, who still had the sandwich between his teeth, looked back to Mike, " 'een's 'ot a 'oint. 'ere's 'ood." Mike gave him a mock disappointed look, leaning away from him with an eyebrow raised.
"Greg Lestrade, there's a name fer guys like you, and that's whore," Mike said with a chuckle in his voice, a few bits of shaggy black hair invading the space in front of his eyes. Deep brown, chestnut eyes and- well, probably should stop there.
Greg's eyebrows furrowed, "'Oy! Ah 'ot a whore! 'is isn' 'oney, i's 'ood!"
Shaun's hand rested on Greg's shoulder, "Of course you're not a whore, you're much too handsome and talented and gentlemanly for that, unlike that man over there." Shaun nodded in Mike's direction, then crossed his arms across his chest with a huff. Mike leaned over, putting an elbow on Greg's shoulder to which Greg responded by leaning forward, bringing the sandwich to his hand and taking a bite while simultaneously staying out of the way of the two.
"You're gonna hold my sandwich hostage, huh," Mike asked with an exasperated sigh. Shaun, who was looking away, simply flicked his hand a few times then.
" "This Charming Man", do it and I'll think about feeding you," came Shaun's answer. Mike sighed, looked to Greg, then got off of his guitarist.
"Alright, c'mon Greg, let's get it over with so we can get on with somethin' else," Mike sighed before Greg nodded, putting his ham, cheese and mayo sandwich on his knee and started plucking the muted strings of his guitar. Honestly, Mike's voice was more suited to The Smiths than Led Zeppelin, not that it stopped any of them from playing whatever the Hell they wanted. When they played, it really was half request and half their choice.
A punctured bicycle
On a hillside desolate
Will nature make a man of me yet ?
When in this charming car
This charming man
A song about a low-class kid, poor like the four of them, with a bike that has a punctured tire. An older guy, a charming man, stops in his expensive car and offers him a lift.
Greg's eyes started to wander a little, over the hill, to the sky, to his sandwich... that was currently being held up in front of him by Mike. Greg grinned as he played and Mike sang, leaning in to take a bite of it. Off to the side, Pat started patting her lap to the drum part of the song as Jack started saying a 'bumbumbum' to the bass of the song.
Why pamper life's complexity
When the leather runs smooth
On the passenger seat
I would go out tonight
But I haven't got a stitch to wear
This man said "It's gruesome that someone so handsome should care"
Along the way, the young man and the gentleman start flirting back and forth, though the young man is a bit shy at first. The gentleman, the charming man, plays it off anyway, knows how it is and knows he has to direct things here.
Shaun suddenly seemed to be in a better mood, lip synching to the song, posing and moving his hips and hands like he were on stage. Sometimes he'll get up on stage and perform certain numbers, though playing Doctor Frankenfurter every other week at the bath house's stage was what he was known for. Mike reached over, taking Greg's chin and turning his face back to face his with a grin, singing a whole octave lower than the song itself which just made Greg shiver and skip a couple of guitar notes before catching up.
Ah! A jumped-up pantry boy
Who never knew his place
He said "return the ring"
He knows so much about these things
He knows so much about these things
The sun was rising fast now, brightening the day and signaling that it was nearly time to head to bed. Maybe after a bit of recreational time, but the plan would be the usual: head back to the bath house, go to that one room flat Greg, Mike and Pat shared, smoke something and then sneak off to have some quick fun before actually sleeping. Then, they'd repeat it all again.
Maybe it wasn't much, and some might say they're wasting their lives. Greg and Pat had gotten their GCE-O, but that was more than he could say for Mike and Jack was still /in/ school. He just wasn't allowed to go back to his parent's, not until he had ditched the make up, which wasn't going to happen. Pat just broke up with her girlfriend; usually she stayed with whoever she was dating at the time. As for Mike, well, he was old enough to not be bothered with being on his own, about a year older than Greg himself. And it wasn't that he didn't get along with his own family all the time, there would just always be that eventual fight whenever they got together.
Not a single person on that hill, watching the sun wake up, really fit in anywhere except for at the bath house. And all that implied, good and bad.
I would go out tonight
But I haven't got a stitch to wear
This man said "it's gruesome
That someone so handsome should care"
La, la-la, la-la, la-la, this charming man
Oh, la-la, la-la, la-la, this charming man
Chapter 4: The Parking Garage Waltz
Gregory mentions in passing that he will be expected to waltz at his niece's party and Mycroft seems willing to give him a crash course in exactly that.
Main Story Time: January 11, 2005
For your audio pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2F-tIN3LS-4
It was a few days after New Year's day, and that meant it was time to get back to work. No rest for the wicked and everything, and that meant Detective Inspector Lestrade wouldn't be getting any rest. No, not even after he was done clocking out today because his niece was having her sweet sixteen. Gregory had always cared for the few nieces and nephews he had considering he didn't have any kids of his own, fulfilling the role of that cooler-than-your-parents uncle that everyone had.
Leanne was a good kid, not too wild but your average sixteen year old with just a bit more intelligence. So, she wanted a posh kind of party, obviously with all the dresses and the suits, dancing, usual stuff. She also mentioned something about waltzing, and Hell, he was sure Leanne didn't even know /how/ to waltz. He didn't bloody well know how to, that was for sure.
But, now wasn't the time to worry about it, he'd just make a fool out of himself and get a few laughs out of it. Right now, he had to finish up this last bit of paperwork, file it, pack up his office, clock out and shut down. So, he put the run of the mill descriptors in an open and shut case, tossed it in a manilla folder, shoved things either into a basket or in piles on the sides of his desks, tapped a few keys on the program open on his screen, then just held down the computer power button and hit the light switch as he walked out.
Honestly, he was on time for now, a little ahead of schedule and with any luck, that wouldn't change. He headed across the office, meeting some surprised faces because of his getting out on time, telling Sally to call him if something big came up as he went past. He took the elevator down to where he could get to the parking garage, opened the metal doors and glanced to the right... then again as his brain caught up with what he saw.
Mycroft Holmes was there, standing near a black car and speaking with a woman who looked entirely too engrossed with her phone. He also glanced up when the door banged closed and met Gregory's eyes, giving a polite smile. Gregory couldn't help but wince a little as he stopped walking, "Bloody Hell, don't tell me this is a business call."
By 'business call' he meant something that was going to keep him working inside, something that he was going to have to do extra, something he'd have to explain to the elder Holmes brother. Of course, when Mycroft shook his head, he was relieved, "No, I am not here on business. At least, my business has already been completed. Feeling better after New Year's eve, Gregory?"
Gregory paused, blinking a little, could tell that the elder Holmes brother, Mycroft, had made sure to use his first name as they had both agreed to do over text. Damn, 'agreed' made it sound weird and like a business agreement, he was just officially on first name basis with Mycroft. Gregory grinned, giving a small shrug, "Yeah, I guess. I think Lisa's ready to come back and give it a second try soon. Speakin' of which, just wanted to say, thanks for puttin' up with me over New Year's."
He was about to say more, but Mycroft put up his hand, shaking his head with a slight upturn of the corners of his mouth. "Please Gregory. I am glad to have had a distraction from certain events of the evening. You would be surprised how incredibly dull the Prime Minister and the French Ambassador are in polite conversation."
Gregory's eyes widened and he blinked a little. You mean he really /did/ interrupt this man during a conversation with the Prime Minister? He opened his mouth a little, shook his head, "Bloody Hell, Mycroft, I'm-," and he cut himself off, looking to Mycroft who was giving him a look with a smile that said 'Don't', and Gregory laughed, warm and open, shaking his head. "Alright, alright I get it. Guess you could just call me up any time ya need me to interrupt the Prime Minister then; why stop a good thing?"
Mycroft chuckled softly, giving a small nod, "Be careful Gregory, I will keep it in mind." He took a breath, the smile still on his face, "Where might you be off to where you would get out of work on time for it?" Even Mycroft knew that this wasn't normal for Gregory and, well, it shouldn't be surprising he does with how much power he could have.
Gregory gave a small shrug, looking at his watch, "Niece's sweet sixteen," he gave a soft chuckle with an eyebrow as he looked back up, "Complete with /waltzing/ which'll be hilarious, 'cause I'm pretty sure no one there can waltz, including me."
Mycroft's eyebrows furrowed a little as he tipped his head in what looked a little like surprise. Then his eyes flicked to Gregory's watch, then back to Gregory. "...Gregory, do you have five minutes to spare?"
Of course, there was only one reason he could be asking that, one logical reason. Sometimes Gregory wondered if Mycroft was just a bit more like Sherlock than he thought. Mycroft wondered no such thing. Gregory's eyebrow raised as he grinned, hands sliding into pockets, "So I can make a fool outta myself around you?"
"Oh, the only fool making would be whatever is necessary in your brief introduction to waltzing," he said almost with a mischievous look in his eyes as he handed his own phone to the woman still on the Blackberry, "Khachaturian's Masquerade Waltz when I say, if you please." The woman just nodded once as she took it, glancing over to Mycroft's phone as she started to flick through it. Then, he looked back to Gregory, "Are you amenable to this?"
Gregory gave a shrug, still grinning, "Starting to look like I don't have a choice here." Mycroft walked over then, stopping a couple of steps away.
"This, I assure you, is one thing you have a choice in."
As opposed to when Mycroft has him watch Sherlock, give him reports, keep an eye on him. Maybe those weren't so much as a non-option as they would happen regardless of who was doing them. Gregory gave a shrug, "Sure, why not. You said five minutes?"
Mycroft nodded, hand going to his pocket and pulling out a pocket watch that he checked briefly before closing it. "Starting right now." Mycroft took a small bow, just a slightly cheeky smile on his face at Gregory's brief confusion, before he stepped forward to close the gap.
"We will first be practicing with myself as the male figure, you as the woman's in order to help you establish the steps. A woman's hands go here, and here," he placed one of Gregory's hands on his shoulder and the other he took with his right hand. "When you are dancing with another, your hands will be as mine are." He placed one hand on Gregory's shoulder blade and the other was still grasping Gregory's.
"I hope nobody walks in here," Gregory said with an eyebrow and a small huff before Mycroft smiled a little more, speaking as if he didn't see the problem at all.
"What of it? There is nothing wrong with two men waltzing in a parking garage." He emphasized 'parking garage' as if it were certainly not something he would frequent, such as cafes. "Now, this is a very basic waltz, and it appears no one at this gathering of yours will be looking at foot work, so you will be impressive all the same. A simple waltz step can be broken into three parts, in which there is a step forward, a step to the side and then you bring your foot back to the other."
"So, I will step forward with my left, you step back with your right," Mycroft moved as he talked, watching Gregory's foot move back and his own move forward. "And now, I will bring my other foot forward and to the right, you will bring your other foot back and to the left, so you essentially end up," he moved as he spoke, doing the steps, "with your feet roughly a foot apart from one another. From there, your weight will be on the foot you just moved, so you bring your other," he moved his foot again. "To meet it."
"I mirror you," Gregory said as a statement instead of a question, to which Mycroft nodded.
"Now, you step forward this time and follow the same concept," he once more matched his movements to his words. "You step forward, I back. You bring your foot forward and to the right, I my left. And now, pick up your other foot and meet it. And you have now done two waltz steps."
"No turning," Gregory asked with an eyebrow.
"The turning comes on top of the step. Essentially, you are turning when you step to the right or left, always turn to the left and always face each side of a room one at a time; you are doing only one forth of a turn every complete waltz step. Let us work on that."
He matched his movements and words once more. "Step back. Now as you're stepping left, start the turn toward the wall on your left. No, not quite that much, think of a one-eigth turn right now. Good, like that. Now, as you bring your feet together, finish the turn so that you are facing the wall. Very good. Now, step forward with the right, and stepping left, start looking for the wall on the left. Good, now complete the turn. Yes."
They did one complete turn like that, Gregory's eyes looking at his feet sometimes, then the wall, then up to Mycroft and back and forth. He didn't seem nervous per se, just maybe a little uncomfortable and awkward. But, he was following along. Then, Mycroft switched his hands, placing Gregory's on his shoulder blade and moving his own to the front of Gregory's shoulder.
"Now, you will lead off, and you are doing the exact same concept. You step forward with the left, now ri- ah- good," Mycroft confirmed his completed step with a smile and Gregory just shrugged a little with a grin.
"It's not that hard when you're breaking it down like that." To that, Mycroft nodded as he smiled, then looked to the woman. "If you please, Catherine dear." She clicked a button on the screen and Khachaturian's Masquerade waltz started to play through the small, external speaker, reverberating off the concrete walls. "Now comes the test Gregory."
Gregory was able to pick up the beat easily and his eyes widened a little as he looked up the small height to Mycroft's eyes. This was... a bit faster than they were going. He chuckled, "Yeah, a test."
Mycroft simply gave a small nod, and after the introduction, they began dancing. Gregory seemed a little mechanical, but Mycroft had indeed seen far worse. He was also keeping wonderful beat. "Have you had any musical training in the past, Gregory?"
Gregory looked from his feet to Mycroft and tripped just a tiny bit. He came back and refused to lose the step. Damn, that was tricky, must have been intentional; he'd never seen anyone waltz with their eyes down. He grinned, "Well, I wouldn't exactly call it 'trained', but I played the guitar way back when. Still do sometimes."
Mycroft's eyebrows raised, "Truly? What are you able to play, if you do not mind me asking? And step a tad wider-- there." Mycroft was adjusting his own steps to match, and now they went back to being a little more as they should. Naturally, Mycroft started to do tiny pushes and pulls with his finger tips.
"Lots of seventies and eighties stuff, all different kinds. Lots of The Beatles," Gregory was trying to peek down, but he immediately started to pick up the tiny, miniscule presses against his shoulder and hand, Mycroft was giving him cues. Wasn't the guy in the dance supposed to do that? Well, not like he /could/ if he wanted to.
"The Beatles," Mycroft softly exclaimed, eyebrows up.
"Yeah, you listen to them too?" Anyone who was human listened to some Beatles at least, but Mycroft wasn't exactly... well, he could come across as inhuman sometimes.
Mycroft chuckled glancing away briefly before meeting his eyes once more. "It is an old, guilty pleasure I have."
"Guilty? Not a damn thing guilty about listening to The Beatles, Mycroft."
Mycroft glanced away to his phone in the woman's hand then back, "Oh, wait, dramatic pause right here-...," and he trailed off as he used his tiny cues to pause the dancing where there was indeed a dramatic slow down. Then he continued dancing. It was easy to follow with the gentle presses.
"You're giving me cues, Mycroft."
Mycroft's eyebrow went up, "You can tell?"
Gregory gave a small shrug, "I'm an inspector. I'm good at noticing small things."
"And most people are not, Gregory," Mycroft said, a note of impression in his voice. Truly, he'd been told many times that he kept his cues light and under the radar, perfect for the other dancer to simply enjoy themselves while being directed.
Then there came the bridge of the song, and once more Mycroft said, "Pause here, do smaller steps, more delicate steps. There. There we are; it's good to follow the music. Of course, one needs to know the music; might I suggest listening to a radio station, the one at 100.9? You will get waltzes every so often."
"Yeah, sure. I'll listen to it on the way over."
"It would help you in adding flair."
Gregroy gave another raised eyebrow, "No, no learning flair. I'm /fine/ with the basics."
"Nonesense," Mycroft simply said as the song kicked back into its usual swing and they sped up, perhaps making even larger circles and steps. "Truly, it is simple. You only have to do one thing, Gregory."
Gregpry was looking at his feet again, really pushing himself to count before he looked up. "Oh yeah, and what's that?"
"Lift your left hand above your shoulder when we are turning," Mycroft said with a small smile as Gregory looked back at him. It can't be that easy. But, he lifted it anyway, and smooth as anything, Mycroft spun under it, not a small feat as he was a few inches taller and had to work with Gregory not knowing it was coming. Gregory faltered a little, but only until Mycroft's hand came back to his own.
"There. That is simply a cue for the woman to give a small turn under your arm."
"Yeah, not a single person there is going to know that though."
Mycroft shrugged a little, "One can hope. And what is important is that you know now. Ready for more?"
"Damn it Mycroft, you're really trying hard to trip me here, huh?"
Mycroft just smiled and started giving a small cue to lift his hand in time to particularly strong beats in the music signified by cymbals, turning under. A step, spin. A step, spin. A step, spin. And finally, there was a rise in the music.
"Here is the finale. Are you ready?"
Gregory was almost at the limit of his beginner's luck. But Hell, if he didn't use his chances to fuck up something in things like this, it might just happen when it mattered. "Alright, just be ready for my foot on your shoe."
"I have more trust in your beginner's abilities than that, Gregory. Wider steps now," Mycroft said over the music, following with his own increased steps now. The turns were more dramatic, more showy and Gregory was taking extra steps to keep up until he really forced himself to step wider.
"There we are, very good. Now, here comes the final few notes. Let go of my hand," Mycroft said and Gregory did as told. For the final note Mycroft did most of the turning as he pulled away, right arm out as his left slid down the length of Gregory's arm to catch his right hand. Gregory didn't know what to do, but he did stop, right hand naturally grabbing Mycroft's left. And they finished with Gregory's weight even on his feet, arm at his side while Mycroft's free hand was spread wide, right foot out at a point to the side and a smile on his face. "Very good, Gregory."
Then, there was the sound of one person clapping across the parking garage. Sally Donovan. "Bravo, you two should go out on a date sometime, dancing like that." Gregory just rolled his eyes, taking his hand back when Mycroft had properly righted himself, folding his arms, "Yeah, real funny, hope you're not on the clock, you don't get paid to watch me dance."
Sally just shrugged and headed back through the metal doors, apparently not wanting Gregory to assign extra paperwork. When she was gone Gregory sighed, scratching his head. Mycroft seemed more reserved now, hands folded in front of him as he looked to Gregory, "Apologies. I would have stopped if I had noticed her."
Gregory looked up and waved his hand a little, "Nah, I don't give two shits what they see." Though, he had gotten a bit defensive about it. Maybe it was a throw back. He took a breath, "Well, thanks for the lesson. Pretty sure I'm gonna impress someone tonight, even if it's not with the present in the world..."
Immediately, Gregory stopped, eyes widening before, "/Fuck!/ Oh, bloody Hell, I can remember work stuff no problem, but a present for my niece's sixteenth? 'Course bloody not." Gregory sighed as he shook his head, going for his car again, "Not even going to have time," then he turned, raising a hand, "Sorry Mycroft, gotta go, sure I'll see ya around."
Mycroft simply nodded with a polite smile, watching Gregory open his car door. Then, he turned to his assistant, taking his phone back. "I believe I need some help in this," Mycroft began.
Gregory had already explained that he'd have to get Leanne's present later, tomorrow really. She wasn't really too heartbroken about it, not with the night she's been having. She wasn't going to get many presents except what her friends would get her, and they'd be small things. When given the choice, she chose to have a big party instead of big presents.
So, when it was time to open the presents, Gregory was kind of to the back of the crowd, hanging next to his older brother James and his wife. Then, from over the talking of about thirty of her friends, Leanne called out, "Uncle Greg, you liar!"
Gregory looked up and around some people, seeing that she was lifting a box, wrapped up in a way he'd never be able to do in a million years, with a tag that clearly said 'From Uncle Greg'.
He definitely looked confused, but Leanne wasn't even looking as she tore the wrapping paper as it had no card to it. And the she did... what must have been a squeal. A bit more neck craning and Gregory's eyes went wide. Apparently, Uncle Gregory could afford to give his favourite (only) niece a photo iPod. A sixty gig from the look of the numbers on the box.
"Oh my ~God! Uncle Greg, thank you!"
Leanne came bounding over, in heels no less, and threw her arms around his neck, hugging tight. "Well... hah, yeah. Happy birthday," Gregory answered, a little strained as he looked at the box.
...Oh. Oh, that bastard. Really, he'd have to find a way to pay him back, cause there's no way he's just going to let Mycroft get something like this for a sixteen year old he never met. Well, he appreciated the sentiment, really, but it was obviously to cover Gregory's ass. Of course, he could see Mycroft playing dumb, saying he had no idea how such a present got there with Gregory's name on it.
Ohh that... brilliant bastard.
Finally, she let go and went back to her friends, pointing at the box, everyone telling her to open it. From behind him, his brother leaned in, nodding to it with an approving look, "Finally getting paid for that overtime, huh?"
Gregory looked back with a grin, "Yeah. Yeah, that's what that is."