The weather was surprisingly good, given it was almost autumn and it wasn't raining. That, however, was way too little to make Mycroft Holmes happy. He has always been a busy man, but this year was a relly hard one. There was a conference in Berlin that he was meant to take care of. It was a hard work, given that the Empire had colonies in Africa and it would be really easy now to do something wrong. One little mistake and he could be hung, and everything he has ever done for the state couldn't save him.
He was walking through a street. At this time of night there weren't many people and almost no cabs. A shame. He'd like to see someone who wouldn't be talking about politics. There was his brother, yes, but he wouldn't be a good choice. Probably on some overnight crime-solving journey. He didn't really have anyone except that, and sometimes he thought he should at least hire more servants, but it was too dangerous. He didn't trust anyone. Of course, there was this man – he haven't seen them many times, and he despised all theories about this so-called "love at first sight", but he surely did find him attractive. Lestrade, his name was. He was one of Scotland Yard's policemen, and as much as Mycroft would have loved to talk to him a bit, at least see him more he just couldn't. Work. Not to mention it was just stupid of him – finding a man whose job was to make people respect law attractive, while what he felt for him was clearly not so much agreeing with the law.
The walk was relaxing. He couldn't forget about his troubles, but at least he could try. More, he could even get thinner. Sherlock finally wouldn't make fun of him. Not that it was his most important problem right now. He started to swing his umbrella back and forth. A nervous twitch.
The street wasn't really dark, but he hoped to come past it quickly. It was quite busy during a day and not really dangerous, but he has heard about some... suspicious people showing there lately. Yes, he had to take care of it, too. Later. He looked around.
A quite tall man in a dark coat and ragged bowler was standing there, leaning onto a street lamp, the only one on this street that wasn't working. Still, in the light of other lamps - and it wasn't really this dark, yet - Mycroft could see, as well as feel his gaze following the government's moves. However, he could not see any more of his face, hidden behind a collar and a hat.
"Are you looking for someone, sir?" he shouted, an undoubtedly fake smile coming onto his face. Holmes didn't have to look around, there could be only one person this shout was addressed to. Mycroft furrowed his eyebrows. As a politician - more important than the prime minister himself, in fact, Gladstone was just his little pet - he could, of course, understand various types of insinuations; and this one wasn't very sophisticated. Not really a honest one, too.
"I guess I am", said Mycroft, coming a bit closer to the man. He noticed his hair was grey, but it could be just the lamps' light making an illusion.
"Do you have a cigarette?"
Mycroft looked at him blankly, but took out a cigarette case. Silver, shining in the lights of street lamps, with his name engraved on it. He opened it and waited for the man to take it himself, but he just looked Mycroft in the eyes. Holmes took one glove off, took one cigarette, previously rolled, out and handed it to the man with two fingers. The man leaned towards it and took it with his teeth, his lips touching Mycroft's ungloved fingers. He was staring into Holmes' eyes all the time, quite coldly and defiantly.
"Don't you need matches?" asked Mycroft, coldly as well.
"I'm not a cheap man, sir", a faint resemblance of a playful smirk showed on the man's face. "You won't buy me for a cigarette. Even if you have matches as well."
He put his hand into Mycroft's pocket and took out a a box of matches.
"How much, then?" asked Mycroft bluntly. He was so tired of this playing around.
"Oh, it depends on your needs, sir", the man lit the cigarette and gave the box back.
"Surprise me", said Mycroft. He handed him a banknote.
The coated man turned around and went away. Holmes followed him quickly. They finally got to a ghastly, sleazy room on the second floor of an as ghastly building.
"What's your name?", asked Mycroft quitely as he passed through the room's door.
"Technically speaking, you don't have to know my name."
"I'd like to, though. I'm tired of nameless faces."
"You can call me Greg, Greg Lestrade.". The inspector was already standing inside the room, without his hat and coat. The room was dark, lit only by a gas lamp that was standing on a cabinet by the window. Still, Mycroft could see his whole face. Now he knew, he has seen him before somewhere. Of course he had. Lestrade looked quite exasperated. Just wanted to get it over, probably. "Now, will you come, or is your payment for nothing?"
"Inspector Lestrade? From Scotland Yard?" he asked, though, of course, he could recognize the face he adored so stupidly.
Greg appeared shocked for a moment, but soon a nervous smirk showed on his face: "Oh, no, the other Lestrade."
"My brother told me about you."
"Oh. Now I remember seeing you somewhere. Well, I will remember to tell mister Holmes about meeting his brother in such... extraordinary conditions." Lestrade smirked once again.
"If you will, I can easily get the whole London – and certainly Scotland Yard - to know about your second job, Greg." Mycroft was smiling cheerily.
"He killed an innocent lady."
"Your brother. A widow. Two days ago. Shot her right through her head. Claims he had to do it in order to figure out the case."
"If he says so, it's probably true."
"I doubt it. We have no clues."
"I can get him out."
"I have connections."
"I sure hope you don't count me in."
"Still, I do have connections. However..."
"I won't act now. He will figure something out himself, eventually."
Nobody said anything more for a while. Holmes tried not to look and Lestrade. How could he face him now, that he knew both his faces? Now he knew that anonymity was a privilege. Lestrade, instead, as if he wanted to make him angry, stared at him with a blank expression. He sat on the bed in the corner. Mycroft followed him, fully dressed, with both gloves on and an umbrella in is hand and stood just in front of him. Lestrade, expression as blank a before, rose a hand to unbutton Holmes' trousers, but Mycroft caught Greg's hand in the middle of the move.
"Why are you doing this?"
"Well, you have paid me-"
"No, I meant...", he picked the umbrella up and made some undefined moves. "This. Don't you have a wife, a family?"
"Well, that's why I do that."
Lestrade could swear Mycroft's face saddened a little when he heard about his family.
"What?" asked Holmes, confused.
"My wife doesn't want to see me."
"Oh. Is she one of these... feminists? Does she have a lover? That's quite common these days, you see..."
"No, that's my fault. Police officer isn't a dream career, you see. I spend days, often nights at work and still we hardly have enough money to live in a flat in the respectable part of the city. Half of my family is unemployed. I have to take care of them."
"That's why you spend even more time at... work, now?"
Lestrade looked down. His expression was still awfully blank and it horrified Mycroft. He was frozen for a moment, and Greg used it to free his hand and start to get to work, unbuttoning Mycroft's trousers, which confused Holmes even more. Despite everything, he brushed his hand off and looked down at him, concerned.
"Greg, look, I can help-"
"I don't want to be dependent. I don't even know you. It's my family and my matters."
A thought that he would really like Lestrade to do what he has paid for has crossed Mycroft's mind, but he ignored it. Maybe he will regret it. Well, he probably will, given he surely won't see Lestrade again. But he had more important matters to sort.
He put the free hand on Lestrade's shoulder and was slowly moving it to his jawline.
"Will you finally take what you've come for? Because time is running out."
Mycroft was silent. He took his hand away and was just going to leave, but he stopped suddenly and, not turning around, took the cigarette case out of his pocket and tossed it on the bed. Without a word he left, shutting the door behind him.