“Yes, thank you, Prime Minister. Oh yes, you have my complete faith. I trust you won’t let anything fall through the cracks.” Mycroft smirked as he slowly placed the phone on its receiver. “This time.” Mycroft sighed, giving a subtle side-eye to the jar of mints on his desk. Surely an hour of haggling and haranguing had burned at least ten calories?
Quickly retracting his errant hand from the top of the jar, Mycroft settled into an innocuous, almost innocent position as the oak door swung forward and Anthea entered. They were, after all, dieting together – it wouldn’t do to brag about his extraordinary calorie-burning activities.
“Anthea; impeccable timing as usual. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
With a somber look, Anthea gently pushed the door shut again, and made her way over to Mycroft’s desk. Suddenly concerned, Mycroft leaned towards her, a feeling of calculated fear creeping slowly onto his shoulders, behind his neck, into his ears –
“We’ve lost Lestrade.”
Lost. The fear spread throughout Mycroft, cotton in his ears and nose and mouth, and he felt he couldn’t hear, couldn’t speak – couldn’t breathe. Fighting through the sensations, he gasped out a word. “Lost?” His mind had gone to the worst, and his eyes begged Anthea to say something, anything to make it right.
Anthea’s eyes grew large in response, and she bit her lip – a nervous habit, not one of grief, Mycroft noted dully.
“The surveillance we put on him, sir. The tails lost him, and he hasn’t been picked up by CCTV or any of our normal ins.”
Mycroft shook his head slowly, dislodging the fluff that smothered his senses. “But you said lost?”
“Well yes, by all accounts, he’s nowhere on the map.”
“But he’s alive – don’t answer that. He must be.” Mycroft stood quickly, twisting his ring roughly across his finger, striding across the office to page his agents. Sliding a palm up and down his face, Mycroft desperately groped for control, composure – dignity.
Turning once again to face Anthea, his tone was stoic and purposeful. “Very well. The RZ agents are on their way to this office as we speak. Please meet them, inform them of the situation, and follow protocol for missing persons of level 10 importance.”
Equally calm, Anthea nodded her head, and turned to exit the office. At the door, she looked back at Mycroft and asked “And you?”
Already drawing his jacket across his shoulders, and lifting his umbrella from its stand, Mycroft did not spare his assistant even a glance – “I’m going to Sherlock.”
* * *
As Mycroft stepped out of the car, thoughts raced around his head in a confusing mass of anxiety – Sherlock could solve anything, surely, and he would be impervious to the strange sense of panic that gripped Mycroft’s heart. Sherlock would be the one to see clearly, he would have Greg home, safe, and warm in the blink of an eye – unless….
Unless it was as Mycroft feared, unless it was Moriarty who had abducted Greg for information on Sherlock or, even worse – for some sick revenge, for yet another ‘game’ – Mycroft tried to swallow, but found he couldn’t. The sooner he got to Sherlock, the better.
Sliding his key into the door, Mycroft paused a moment, just to remind himself. One, two, three, four… and exhale. Mycroft pushed the door open, leaving it ajar. Abandoning all sense of decorum, he ran up the stairs, knocking harshly on Sherlock’s door, before jamming yet another key in the lock, and swinging the door open. “Sherlock!”
Casting about, it took only seconds for Mycroft to know no one was home. Where could they be? Mycroft knew there had been no cases in the last twenty-four hours, no plane or train tickets had been booked, no – no – no ….
Steadying himself against the wall, and breathing harshly, Mycroft turned around, preparing himself to face his chauffeur yet again. Pulling out his phone, he rang Anthea.
“Is there word?” he asked gravely.
“No, Mycroft.” He hated the sympathy in Anthea’s voice. “We’re doing all we can. I have men on his records – credit cards, phones, and still on alert at CCTV stations and the Yard. It seems he just went off the grid at fifteen hundred.”
“And Sherlock? Doctor Watson?”
“I’ve been in touch. They want to meet you at the Detective Inspector’s flat in fifteen.”
Ending the call, Mycroft let out a long, low breath, and tapped out a message to Sherlock.
I will be there shortly. Collect all evidence you can in my absence. Suspected activity from Moriarty’s corner.
Barely a minute later, Mycroft’s phone chimed.
It is not Moriarty. You are a true and proper dimwit. Be up at Lestrade’s immediately. SH
Mycroft tore his eyes from his phone, and gazed out at the bleak London weather, trying to decipher buildings and streets through the rain streaking the car windows. After what felt like eons, they came to a stop.
Pushing himself out of the car and opening his umbrella, Mycroft felt at once unreal and hyperaware. Sherlock didn’t believe it was Moriarty – but the CCTV, the records, the surveillance –
Taking a breath, Mycroft unlocked the door and started up the stairs, his legs, lungs, and head strangely free of protests, instead full of adrenaline, full of the need to get there, now.
When he came to Greg’s door, Mycroft felt an assurance come to rest in his chest, settling in between the fear and concern – he knew that what lay beyond the door would answer all his questions.
Trying the handle, he found the flat unlocked. Not a good sign. Resisting the urge to throw open the door and demand answers from the thin air, Mycroft crept slowly into the room – the room that was blacker than night.
A quick glance told him that sheets had been tacked over the windows, the artificial darkness had been crafted for some purpose - to take his Greg? But why?
As Mycroft stepped further into the room, he was startled by the lighting of what seemed like a hundred candles, tiny beams of light that cast small shadows about the sitting room, that framed a figure on the floor – not lying, as he had feared, but kneeling.
* * *
Greg gazed up at Mycroft from the strangely appropriate ring of fire. “Wotcher, Mycroft.”
“I – Greg! I thought…”
“Oh, I know.” Greg laughed, still supporting himself on one knee, still giving Mycroft that boyish grin.
Mycroft was beyond flustered. “You thought it was funny to nearly give me a heart attack? To have me running all over London, thinking that Moriarty had you captured somewhere?”
To Greg’s credit, he seemed not one bit cowed by Mycroft’s words – though guilt for the trouble he had caused was written bright red across his cheeks. “I’m sorry. I had to disappear for just a few hours. Even Sherlock didn’t expect you would react so strongly – to be a Level 10 of importance within twenty short minutes – I admit, you have flattered me too deeply for words.”
Mycroft balked. “Sherlock!?”
Greg rolled his eyes. “I had to have help disappearing, obviously. Rewiring CCTV, taking out your insane tails. I’m good, Mycroft, but not that good. I didn’t mean for it to cause such a fuss, I just had to run a measly errand. Now do you mind if I get on – my knee’s killing me here.”
“Get… on?” Greg had to admit it was worth all the trouble to see Mycroft struck so close to dumb. But it was about to get even better.
“Mycroft Holmes – I disappeared on you today, and for that I apologize – but three hours of disappearance is all I ever want to come between us – and only with the excuse of cooking up an elaborate surprise -” Greg paused to wink. “for the rest of our lives.” He reached to the floor, picking up the velvet box Mycroft had – stunningly – failed to notice. “Will you marry me?”
* * *
Later that night, the newly engaged couple lay in bed, smiling gently at each other. Lestrade ran his hand over Mycroft’s new left hand ring, fingers tracing the smooth platinum band as their lips pressed together. Anthea’s text tone beeped from somewhere deep in the sheets, and Mycroft tossed the phone to the carpet, to join the other souvenirs from the night’s festivities – three dozen candle stubs, an empty bottle of lube, and a singed, now-useless umbrella that Mycroft hadn’t bothered to save.
“What if there’s a war on?” Greg asked cheekily.
“Well then God save the queen.”