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I.

Lestrade finds My'crostopheles' - or Mycroft, as the daemon prefers to be called - current vessel seated demurely on the stone rim of the pool, tall and slender in a sleekly tailored black suit and a crisp white cuffed shirt, a small, open bag of seeds in his lap. It's open season for the fat, filthy pigeons that swarm Trafalgar Square, but all of them instinctively sense the predator folded under the pressed lapels of the daemon's vessel and give him a wide berth.

The innocuous black umbrella leaning against Mycroft's thigh hums in the second sight as Lestrade stops at a safe distance, and for a moment, Lestrade sees the slim, wicked shape of grigori steel wrapped within its glamour. Anthea is dangerous to Lestrade and his kind no matter what form her master instructs her to take.

"All right. I'm here." Lestrade declares warily, hunched in his trenchcoat with his hands jammed into his pockets, fingers twisted into protection mudras. "What do you want?"

Mycroft smiles benignly at him, white gloved hands balanced on his thighs. "You've been busy, Inspector."

Lestrade stills, gritting his teeth for a moment, before forcing himself to relax. Of course the damned creature would have found out. Heaven thought Lestrade was cunning because Lestrade had survived for over two centuries being the counterbalance in the London territories; Mycroft's territories. Lestrade privately knew that it was only because he was tolerated for reasons unknown to himself. Mycroft was on Earth not because he was banished, or of a low tier - for some reason, the daemon actually enjoyed it.

"Bills to pay," Lestrade offers gruffly. Mycroft's smile widens at this, as though Lestrade has said something amusing. "We can't all of us sod around running entire mortal governments."

"Sadly, no." The daemon doesn't even bother to seem smug. Mycroft has deftly inserted himself into the British Government for centuries, amusing himself with its politics, with its human little problems and dramas, and Lestrade knows that the Silver City finds this a little of a relief. Happily occupied as he is, the so-called Great Tactician spares no time for the Eternal War.

A pigeon settles contentedly on Lestrade's shoulder, cooing, but he ignores it. Animals instinctively like him, despite Lestrade's occasional efforts to gently dissuade them. "So what did you call me out here for, then? There's always the phone, you know," Lestrade adds, a little maliciously, because being an angel didn't mean that he couldn't be spiteful.

Mycroft pulls a face at that. Daemons weren't very good at mortal technology, for some reason; it tended to warp around them. Tapes turning into Queen songs, for one. Telephones connecting into gritty, hoarse static. "You didn't have to obey," the daemon notes slyly, recovering his careful poise in an instant.

"Maybe I just wanted to be polite," Lestrade shoots back, but it's hard to be suave when another pigeon has landed on your other shoulder and a third looks like it's angling to roost on your head. "So?"

"This vessel has a brother," Mycroft concedes, after a moment's pause. "Remarkably intelligent, for a mortal, at least, and surprisingly perceptive. I'm rather fond of it, but I'm afraid that I don't quite have the time to keep an eye on it any longer, and my little helpers aren't much for subtlety."

This surprises Lestrade enough that he goggles. "I'm sorry, what?"

The daemon sighs, as though Lestrade is being purposefully abstruse. "A mortal 'brother'. Quite a clever one, at that, it deduced that its brother was not quite what he seemed, and all at the tender age of five. I've grown quite fond of it. Yes, I'm capable of being fond of things."

"And this concerns me why?" Lestrade makes a manful attempt to catch up.

"Because the little mortal has taken it into its pretty little head that mortal crime and its mundane permutations are fascinating, and as such is quite likely to bumble into your current vocation at some point in the future," Mycroft makes an elegant, dismissive gesture, "I will take it as a personal favour if it does not expire. Enough to overlook Sussex, perhaps." When the daemon smiles this time, there is the faint gleam of white teeth, and in his pockets, Lestrade's fingers are beginning to ache. He had been so careful.

"Suppose I should have known that you'd find out about that sooner or later."

"We all need our hobbies. Yours is an adorable little orphanage filled with Sight-sensitives, mine is a distressingly clever little mortal with no sense of self preservation. Do we have an accord?"

"We do," Lestrade grits out, grudgingly. Besides, technically, looking after mortal souls is part of his job description. And - Lestrade tries not to perk up at this - he has never heard of Mycroft forming any sort of sentimental attachment. Perhaps there's an advantage here.

"Good. You may find it to be somewhat of a handful, but you do seem to be rather good with mortals." The seed pouch disappears into a wisp of gray smoke, and Mycroft slides to his feet, Anthea tucked into the crook of one sleek elbow. "I'm pulling a few strings to find it a suitable minder, but things are going so terribly slowly. You'll do, for now."

"Thanks," Lestrade notes dryly, as the pigeons hastily take flight; Mycroft is approaching, in his soundless stride, and Lestrade fights the urge to take a step back. He won't be intimidated. "What's the kid's name?"

"Sherlock," Mycroft supplies. "Sherlock Holmes."

"Got it," Lestrade nods, then he freezes as the daemon inclines his head and reaches over, patting over his pocket mockingly with the flat of his gloved hand, as though Lestrade's best wards were nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Fear thuds in a dull twist deep in his vessel's gut, but Lestrade merely swallows and holds Mycroft's eyes, defiant, and after a while, the daemon glances away, oddly pleased.

"That little boy's murder in Coventry. The perpetrator is a janitor at his school. Lives in a shared flat in Hackney." Mycroft rattles out an address, looking distant, as though sharing a grocery list. "Give him to the law and send him our way, Inspector."

"No death penalty here," Lestrade notes automatically, though he knows what Mycroft means. A child rapist-murderer won't last long in jail, and his own murderer-rapist-cellmates will have their own souls blackened a little further. Efficient and frustratingly effective.

"Of course, of course." The daemon doesn't even bother to look at him; instead, Mycroft steps forward, and instantly isn't.

Lestrade relaxes, even as the pigeons start to circle again, and fumbles out his phone to call his sergeant.

II.

Three encounters with Mycroft's new 'hobby' later, Lestrade is beginning - just beginning - to wonder if going to the extra effort to relocate the Sussex project was going to be a better use of his patience than dealing with Sherlock Holmes. He's also beginning to suspect that this is a new stage in the technical if highly one-sided war that he's been waging against Mycroft's influence, an opening salvo against his sanity, maybe.

"For an angel," Sherlock grumbles, once his team is out of earshot, circling around the crime scene, "You're so much like the rest of them. Dull. Ploddingly dull. Can't you see what happened? At least my 'brother' has his ways."

Lestrade fights the urge to roll his eyes. Sherlock had deduced what he was seemingly from the moment he had seen Lestrade, although Lestrade had prided himself on his ability to blend in with humans, and things had gone steadily downhill ever since. "Well, what do you make of it, then?"

Sherlock solves the case in three perambulations of the unfinished house, turns up his collar, and sulks outside, smoking as though being alive was an affront, and Lestrade gives the usual orders before joining him outside.

"He likes you, you know," Sherlock notes abruptly, once they're more or less alone again. "Sometimes he talks about you."

Lestrade shudders. "Sometimes cats like to play with mice for a while before they eat them."

"No. I don't think it's really all that," Sherlock observes, after a pause, looking distant, pale and far too young to be traipsing around a crime scene. Not for the first time, Lestrade wonders whether Sherlock was born damaged, or whether it came from a couple of decades or so of association with one of the most powerful daemons that Lestrade has ever met. "You're afraid of him, aren't you? Everyone is."

Lestrade bristles - he still has pride - but Sherlock continues as though he hasn't noticed. "You're afraid of him, but you still defy him. I think that's why he likes you." Sherlock's mouth twists. "Why he continues to pretend at playing house with me." The half-finished cigarette is ground under one well-turned heel, and Sherlock coughs, shoving his hands into his pockets. "See you tomorrow, Inspector."

"Tomorrow?"

"There's one more victim that you haven't found and the murderer's running scared," Sherlock notes impatiently. "Presumably the local police force isn't so hopeless as to be unable to find the new body, since the murderer's territory is so fixedly small and he's running on a schedule."

"So there might be-"

"The victims were all murdered at the same time, Inspector. Pretty maids all in a row," Sherlock glares up at the sky, as though the sun wasn't moving quickly enough over the horizon. "Mary, Mary, quite contrary... I suppose there will be a garden at the bottom of this... hm. Dull, so very dull." With that, Sherlock gads off to find a cab, and Lestrade exhales, pinching at the bridge of his nose.

This is definitely a new form of warfare.

Lestrade smokes in a sullen silence once he's safely out of the house, leaning against the side of the closest panda car and sucking on the cigarette like he wants to swallow it down. He does, however, conscientiously filter the smoke that he breathes out, making it harmless.

"Those things will kill you," Donovan tells him from a safe distance, her expression pale and tight. Sherlock had taken one look at her and had told her that her boyfriend was cheating on her, and then had proceeded to disclose his deductions as to why in rapid fire, and then Lestrade had to step in to keep the peace. Between his own damned officers and a bloody kid. Sherlock couldn't be older than twenty, twenty-two.

That gives him perspective, and sobers him up all over again. Sherlock has survived Mycroft for at least two decades. If he has come out of it with just strange airs and a total lack of social grace, Lestrade supposes that Sherlock has gotten off easy.

"Are you all right?" Lestrade asks instead, sucking in another gritty drag of smoke. He doesn't technically need to breathe, and nicotine has no effect on his system, but the self-destructive, filthy habit is so quintessentially human that he seems to have gotten permanently attached to it, sometime last century.

"Who the fuck was that kid, with all respect, sir?"

"Ah, I said-"

"I know what you said," Donovan has her hands shoved into her coat. "That freak's just a damned kid, he has a posh accent, he's pale like he'd burn under the sun if he stays out too long, and that coat he's wearing probably costs my whole week's wages. Are we babysitting some Lordship's brat?"

Donovan makes a good Sergeant, and she's fiercely loyal, but unfortunately her tendency towards single-mindedness and a singular personality flaw of stating whatever was forefront on her mind would mean that she'd never move past her three chevrons. Lestrade coughs. "This is all meant to be mum, Sergeant."

"I won't tell," Donovan scowls. "But if he don't keep his 'deductions' to himself, he might get into a bit of an accident someday."

Lestrade hides a wince. "Yes. Well. Maybe you might want to let the boys know that it's my hide on the line, if anything happens to Sherlock. Besides," he adds, as Donovan's expression darkens, "He's been helpful, hasn't he?" He sounds plaintive, and he knows it. Donovan sighs.

"He likes looking at dead bodies, Inspector. Really likes it. People like that will go bad, sooner or later."

Sherlock Holmes has lived two decades with Mycroft, and he still wants to side with the angels. That's a bloody good indicator that the kid's trying harder than most, Lestrade thinks, but he nods slowly. "And that's why we'll be watching him, Donovan. Let's head back to the Yard, go through all the Jane Doe records that were been filed recently."

III.

Donovan does put the word out, bless her soul, and although the animosity is obvious between Sherlock and the rest of the Yard who have had the singular bad luck to be exposed to his brain, Sherlock doesn't fall down any convenient flights of steps or walk into walls in dark alleys. Besides, the kid never takes any credit for his deductions and seems to enjoy puzzles for their own sake; Lestrade's solve rate has skyrocketed, and some nights he actually comes close to sending Mycroft a thank-you note. Usually reason overrides.

And then along comes Doctor John Watson, late of Afghanistan, and he seems so perfect a companion for Sherlock that Lestrade strongly suspects the daemon's hand it in, somewhere. Watson has a patience for Sherlock's antics that borders on divine, he's a crack shot, he seems endlessly amazed by Sherlock's brain and he's still medically qualified; guardian, doctor, minder, all at once. Lestrade is vaguely impressed.

About three cases down the road from the Cabbie Murderer, when Lestrade has waved off the forensics team from the old warehouse, Sherlock finishes a hushed argument with Watson with a loud, "And his name isn't Lestrade, it's Lestriel, and he's an angel. Of course it's elementary."

Lestrade tries not to roll his eyes. Here it comes.

Watson stares at him, gaping, then he whirls back on Sherlock. "That's not funny, Sherlock."

"Tell him, Lestriel," Sherlock snaps, and he sets his jaw and jams his hands into his pockets, and Lestrade rolls his eyes, now. He knows what that look means where Sherlock is concerned: if the bloody sod doesn't get his way now, he'll be absolutely recalcitrant and uncooperative, and Lestrade needs the location of the next body now. Behind Watson, the corpse of the sailor has been gutted like a fish, from stomach to neck, and the room is buzzing with the drumming hum of hundreds of flies.

Besides, how the hell had Sherlock found out about his original name? That's bloody unfair, that is.

"Tell me the location first."

"I'm surprised that the Eternal War is in a stalemate," Sherlock bitches at him, so very snide when he has the clear upper hand, "You're worse than humans at this."

"I'm not a bloody archangel, am I?" Lestrade retorts automatically - it's an old argument, this one - but Watson gawps and opens and closes his mouth like a fish.

"All right then," Watson says finally, frowning, "The two of you can stop pulling my leg now, thanks."

"Just show him your wings," Sherlock tells him, and there's a little edge of greed there; Sherlock's been egging him on about this ever since Lestrade had conceded, in a moment of utterly inadvisable indiscretion, that yes, he did have wings, and a halo, thank you very much, just like the propaganda. He'd categorically refused to unfurl them from the ether, because he isn't entirely sure what horrors of scientific curiosity Sherlock might subject them to.

"I don't have to prove anything to either of you. Give me the location, Sherlock."

"We're alone right now," Sherlock points out, jamming his hands into his posh jacket, "Come on, Lestrade."

"I really don't think-" Watson begins politely, but Lestrade cuts him off.

"Location, Sherlock."

"Fine," Sherlock huffs, "Check Whitechapel. The train station. Happy?"

"I'll do the halo," Lestrade notes grudgingly. "Okay?"

"I've seen the halo," Sherlock whines, but Lestrade ignores him, concentrating, and the moment the old brick of the warehouse lights up in hues of pale gold, Watson goes sheet-white, his eyes saucer-wide, open-mouthed.

"Holy..." Watson begins, stops himself just before blasphemy, and flushes. "Oh. My word. You."

Self-conscious now, Lestrade tucks the halo away. Unlike his brothers, he's never been particularly comfortable with human awe and worship. Maybe that's why he's tolerated Sherlock for so long. He's never met a human so utterly unimpressed with his divinity. It's refreshing. "Right then."

"Too easy," Sherlock sulks, working himself up to one of his high dudgeons. "Watson, if only you were less impressionable. I could have seen his wings."

"I'm quite all right, thank you," Watson says faintly. "So you're literally on the side of the angels," he adds, and his quick, high laugh is brittle with hysteria. "Good Lord."

"Don't say that please," Lestrade notes automatically, and Watson blushes.

"Um. Right. Sorry. Err. If you don't mind me asking," Watson adds, "Why are you in the police?"

"I look after London. It seems as good a place to be as any," Lestrade notes evasively, but Sherlock snorts.

"Because angels like order and structure, and because Lestrade here thinks that he can balance my brother's presence by gaining rank in Scotland Yard. Illogical. Obtuse. Ill-advised." Sherlock glowers at Lestrade, as though personally offended by his apparent predictability. "Mycroft's far stronger than you are, isn't he? Why didn't Heaven assign some other angel to London? A better one?"

"Because he's destroyed them all," Lestrade points out mildly, even as Watson flicks his gaze between Sherlock and Lestrade in surprise. "I've lasted the longest. No-one else wants to be assigned to London, not even those in the highest tiers of Heaven. Happy?"

Sherlock scoffs; he's in a fine mood now, the little brat. "You're alive only because Mycroft suffers you to live."

"As you say." Lestrade has long reconciled himself to this. Heaven, too. They have no idea what Mycroft's game was, but there has to be a counterweight in every region, and right now, for London, Lestrade is it. "I work hard."

"Of course you do," Sherlock notes, thick with disdain, and even as Lestrade fights for patience, Watson raises a hand.

"Err. Sherlock... your brother? So, are you a demon?"

"I'm human," Sherlock looks so indignant that Lestrade forgets his anger, a grin pulling up at his lips instead. "Couldn't you tell?"

"Well," Watson says dryly, with a quick glance at Lestrade, and then he smiles warmly. "Uh. I still don't quite understand the whole picture, but thank you for trying, I guess. Inspector. Uh. Sir. Lestri-"

"'Lestrade' is fine, I'm used to it. Using my other name's often just too bloody awkward," Lestrade interrupts, pleased. Watson's fumbling thanks had been gratifying. And he's been trying, for centuries, hanging on where many other angels would have asked for a reassignment.

"So, er," Watson scratches awkwardly at his head, "Does Heaven exist?"

Lestrade sighs, even as Sherlock rolls his eyes. "That's irrelevant to the case, John," Sherlock snaps. "Whitechapel awaits."

Lestrade's never been so thankful for Sherlock's disinterest in the hereafter, as he drags a mildly protesting Watson away. He's never felt particularly comfortable describing Heaven to humans. They're usually disappointed.

IV.

Because Sherlock is impossible to find when he doesn't want to be found, especially for someone at Lestrade's current power level, Lestrade resorts to skulking into Watson's clinic. He'd gotten the address from Watson the last time they'd had some beer after a case, when Sherlock had wandered off somewhere abruptly and abandoned his companion, and they'd taken to reminiscing about Sherlock and the way their own, fucked up lives were starting to revolve around his brand of insanity.

Right now he desperately needs Sherlock's opinion on the Mockingbird case, especially since time was ticking and there's a hostage situation with kids, and Sherlock isn't answering his phone, isn't at home. Short of asking Mycroft, Watson is his last resort.

The pretty receptionist looks impressed when Lestrade shows her his badge and tells her that it's a police emergency, and she lets him follow him into the clinic, ignoring the whispering of the people in the waiting room. Lestrade hates clinics and hospitals. He's always tempted - far too tempted - to try and help. He knows that people have to die, it's part of the Grand Scheme of Things, and so on, but it hurts, actually being there, seeing their lives slip away, wracked by disease, some of them far too young, or praying in their heads to a God that would likely decide not to intervene.

Shoulders hunched, he waits outside the door of Watson's clinic room as the receptionist knocks and slips in, and eventually, she comes out, heading back to the reception, even as Watson follows, looking haggard and grim. "Inspector."

"Do you know where Sherlock is?" Lestrade asks, curtly, because he wants to go, he can feel the press of desperate souls all around him, and it's stifling.

"Do I know..." Watson sucks in a breath, then he growls, in a low, harsh tone, "Angel, I was... there's a little girl in there, all right? She was complaining of headaches. She and her mum just think that she's been tired and stressed from school lately. And I'm going to have to walk back in there, and tell her to go and see a specialist, because I know - I know that she's got something worse than a headache and some stress, all right? I can see it. And she's, God, she's only five. So I don't fucking care where Sherlock is right now!"

Lestrade glances at the door, and wishes he hadn't. He can see the malignant press of a growth in the girl's brain, feel the fragile ticks of her heart, the fading ebb of her soul. He gives her a month, in his mind, and he grits his teeth, exhaling. He'd sworn off intervening like this. It takes too much energy, especially now that he's diminished. He knows he has to limit himself. But-

"She's only been tired and stressed recently," he finds himself telling Watson. "Tell her that."

"But..." Watson blinks at him, then he hesitates. "You're going to... you're going to...?"

"Yeah." Lestrade leans against the wall and closes his eyes, reaching between and out, towards where his grace is, wincing as he teases out a strand, just enough. The little girl's soul wraps quick around it, attuning, and Lestrade waits in second sight until he sees the growth fade to nothing. Inside the room, the girl blinks, kicking out her feet, suffused in a new energy, and Lestrade opens his eyes. He's sweating, dizzy, and he's slumped against the wall, breathing hard.

"Hey. Lestrade? Inspector?" Watson stares at him, looking worried.

"It's done," he manages to gasp. "I just need a minute."

"The hell you do. Here. This room's empty." Watson's grip is inexorable around his wrist, as he drags him into a side room. It's a doctor's office, the computer scrolling some awful cyan and green screensaver, and Watson pushes him into a spare chair. "I'll be right back."

Lestrade closes his eyes. Centuries ago, he wouldn't even have been exhausted. Decades ago, he wouldn't have needed sleep. Now, he's dozing off when Watson finally lets himself back into the office, and he woodenly accepts the glass of water, draining it.

"Thank you," Watson says finally, when he sits down at the doctor's chair, looking pale. "I guess I... wow. Thank you. I don't know what to say."

"It gets harder," Lestrade finds himself confessing, in a small voice. He sounds defensive. "I'm sorry."

"Why are you sorry?" Watson frowns. "You're... you've only got a limited amount of whatever it is?"

"Yeah." Lestrade admits. "Sorry."

"You helped her. You didn't have to. I think." Watson fiddles with his thumbs, awkwardly. "And I don't know where Sherlock is."

"Oh. Well." Lestrade tries to get up, only to stumble, and Watson catches him quickly, steadying him. "I need to go."

"You need to go home. You have a place, don't you? You've got to lie down."

"Your medical degree doesn't cover angels," Lestrade tries for sarcasm and only manages weariness.

"I'll get you home. You don't look..." Watson lets out a wry laugh, there, "By my extremely limited medical opinion with regards to the divine, you don't look well, Inspector."

"All right." Lestrade considers arguing, but he's so exhausted that if he does in fact find Sherlock, he'd probably just pass out on the spot.

He manages to stay conscious when Watson supports him up the narrow steps of his flat and into his bed, and grumbles until the doctor takes his leave. Working on automatic, Lestrade divests himself of his clothes, kicking off his shoes and dragging off the rest, rolling over and going to sleep.

V.

Feeling shame or a sense of vulnerability at one's nudity is a human concept, circa the Garden of Eden. As such, Lestrade's only reactions to finding an equally unclothed Mycroft perched over his lap, in his bed, was first astonishment, then outrage, then a slow trickle of terror. His flat was warded-

Mycroft pins him back down to the bed by his wrists with easy strength when Lestrade tries to twist up, his expression impeccably enigmatic. "You sleep," he notes mildly, searchingly, and as Lestrade tries desperately to gather the strongest exorcism he can think of to the forefront of his mind, adds, "And you are warm. My dear Lestrade. You have been somewhat more indiscreet than I could have imagined. How much of your grace have you given away?"

"Enough," Lestrade doesn't bother to refute the statement, resigned. A spell that he could have cast without thought, two centuries or so ago, now eludes him, and he's beginning to sweat, another uncomfortably human bodily function that he could once repress. "Why are you naked?"

Mycroft tilts his eyes skyward for a moment, in an elegant gesture of condescension. "Why have you been giving away your grace?"

It isn't often that Mycroft asks him direct questions, if at all, while looking so honestly... surprised, and Lestrade would have treasured this moment if he wasn't (a) distinctly underpowered at present and (b) pinned naked under a daemon with a tier equivalent of one of the Dukes of Hell. "Why do you care? This is good for you, innit?"

Mycroft's mouth twists, and his eyes narrow, the banked violence within the dark slits causing Lestrade to press his shoulders back against the sheets in alarm for a moment, then the daemon breathes out, and is abruptly seated primly at the edge of the bed, fully dressed in his usual favourite black three-piece suit. "Do you still have your wings?"

"Of course," Lestrade scoots up warily, fighting the urge to tug the sheets firmly over his waist. He's long past being able to instantly clothe himself like that on a whim; it takes far too much effort.

"Show them to me," Mycroft instructs, and as Lestrade sets his jaw, the daemon huffs out a harsh breath, and adds a tight, "Please," that startles Lestrade so much that he nearly jerks backward and off the bed.

Rather helplessly, Lestrade concentrates, and the wings unfold from here and between into the heavy, weighted air of the mortal world, pulling wide shadows from the steadily rising sunlight edging in from the windows, from the glow of the halo over his head. Mycroft studies him, mouth set into a thin line, sweeping his gaze over his tattered pinions to his considerably dimmed halo to the bedraggled primary flight feathers, and huffs out a deep sigh, as though Lestrade has somehow personally offended him.

"You have been very indiscreet. I was not aware of this," Mycroft even sounds offended. "Until the tail that I placed on you trailed you to that clinic."

"People pray," Lestrade snaps, fingers twisting in the sheets. "They need me. What else can I do?"

Mycroft's eyebrows arch up a fraction, as though in surprise, then he glances away as Lestrade carefully folds his wings behind his back, hunching over the sheets. "Ah. All these brief little human lives and their most condescending conviction in their own importance. Please heal my sick child, Lord. Please make sure that my son comes home, Lord. Please make me a better person, Lord," Mycroft's voice slips into grating, mocking falsetto. "Your kind stopped listening a long time ago, Lestrade. After all, there are so very many of them, and so much hunger. Oh, maybe a little miracle, here and there, for the sake of publicity, but nothing like this."

Lestrade flinches at the whip-hard crack to the daemon's tone, and his wings nearly knock the lamp off the side table as they flare protectively. He's angry now, at least, which is better than fear. "Get out of my flat."

"You need to eat now, don't you? That's why you work," Mycroft notes, pityingly, pronouncing the last word with distaste. "My dear Lestrade, this simply cannot do."

"Why is it your business, again?"

"They'll forget you, you know," Mycroft drawls, ignoring his demand and glancing out at the window. "If they even knew that it was you in the first place. Humans have short memories. I very much doubt that any of the little mortals that you've helped along over the years have been singing hosannas on the street. They're selfish little things, and ungrateful, and so appallingly stupid at the best of times. You might as well heal sheep and turn the oats of horses into apples."

"I-"

"There's one homicide every few weeks, isn't there, Inspector. Husbands beating their wives, children abused in their very homes, theft, blackmail, rape, assault... all the daemons of Hell," Mycroft muses, "Sometimes have not a whit on the evil that these mortals can come up with, and all on their own. Surely you know that."

"And yet the Lord is their shepherd," Lestrade states calmly, "And I am His agent."

"None of the other sheepdogs take their herding as seriously as you do," Mycroft shakes his head, slipping off the bed. "Perhaps there's no point in destroying you. You will do it to yourself."

"Funny way you're going about it," Lestrade shoots back, high on adrenaline and defiance, "Climbing naked into a bloke's bed and then lecturing him like an old lady."

Fingers tilt up his chin with inexorable strength even as Lestrade sits bolt upright at the abrupt speed by which Mycroft has leaned close, the daemon's smiling mouth an inch from his own. "You're fading, Lestrade. Perhaps not now, perhaps not tomorrow, but soon you will learn more of mortality than mere physical function. When you lose enough of yourself and learn temptation," Mycroft whispers, his tone silk-smooth, "I will find you again."

The daemon disappears, and Lestrade starts back, flailing, as he falls rather ungracefully off the bed in a heap of feathers and sheets with a yelp. He's trembling, even as he curls his wings around himself and hugs his shoulders, shaken.

VI.

Sherlock's suitably contrite when Watson drags him into Lestrade's office in Scotland Yard, and Lestrade spends a few minutes actually wondering exactly what Watson might have said or done to have corralled Sherlock like this. It gives him a nice, warm glow inside, and from the looks of Donovan and the others peeking in from their desks outside, he isn't the only one.

"I was following some leads," Sherlock notes grumpily. "I would have contacted you in time. But I'll try to answer your calls in the future. Happy?"

"Absolutely," Lestrade grins. He'll treasure this moment. "Thank you for being so cooperative, Sherlock."

Sherlock scowls at him, but Watson smiles benevolently. The doctor has hidden depths. "I've nearly solved the case, anyway," Sherlock mutters. "I just need more time. The victims are still alive, by the way. There's no logical reason that they wouldn't be."

"We still need to get to them as soon as possible."

"If you really wanted the location so desperately," Sherlock pitches his voice lower, with a glance at Watson, "You know who to ask."

Lestrade stiffens, his hands clenched into the arms of his chair, then he shakes his head, and leans back. "No." He knows that Mycroft can find out - the daemon has strength enough, even if he didn't have the contacts. But asking daemons for favours is a slippery slope to damnation, and Lestrade knows the easy way out often is the worst one. "No."

"Good choice, Inspector," Sherlock seems to relax a fraction. "John, could you wait outside for a moment?"

"What?" Watson frowns at them both, but when Sherlock arches an eyebrow, he shrugs and leaves the office.

"I know he broke into your place," Sherlock murmurs. "Are you all... what did he do?"

Sherlock is concerned, Lestrade realizes. It's a shock. He'd never really thought that Sherlock was capable of concern. "What do you think?"

Sherlock snorts. "He has a strange obsession with you. But I'm not sure what happened. He visited you after John brought you home. You'll never have willingly let him into your flat, so you must have been unconscious and he must have broken in. Somehow, he seems to have done nothing to you, even though you must have been effectively helpless. He's never expended so much effort to speak with you before. Ergo, it must have been something important."

"I didn't bloody give in to him, if that's what you're asking," Lestrade growls, finally cottoning on to the brunt of Sherlock's deductions. "He seemed shocked that I was healing the sick, that's all."

"Strange." Sherlock looks distant, as though he's calculating a probability. "When he appeared to me after he visited you, he did ask if you had been working miracles. I thought that he was being sarcastic."

"Ta," Lestrade says dryly.

"You're a terrible angel," Sherlock responds, matter-of-fact, as he turns on his heel. "I'll call you when I'm certain."

It takes about three days before Sherlock and his logical reasons puts them in the basement of an old house marked for demolition, his team fumbling around upstairs while Sherlock and Watson are beside him, and Lestrade's holding, in his arms, the ravaged body of a child just a few breaths away from death, and Watson's making these terrible, harsh noises, like sobs, and he stares at Lestrade, demanding, "Please. You have to, please!" and it's Sherlock who locks his hand tight on Lestrade's shoulder, pale, shaking his head, but Lestrade closes his eyes and reaches in, for his grace, takes as much as he can bear, to heal all of the children back from the brink of death, to take their memories of the last two weeks away and bless them.

When he slumps against the filthy concrete ground, he can hear the girl take in a quick, strong breath, and that, he thinks, as he slips away, embracing unconsciousness, that's thanks enough, really. It's a pity that his brothers have never understood-

VII.

He wakes up in a warm, plush bed that smells pleasantly of lavender, when sunlight filters over his face, and he turns around, smug and warm, content until his non-human extra senses kick into gear, processing.

The room smells like Mycroft.

Lestrade sits up so sharply that he grows dizzy. He's in a huge bedroom, bigger than half of his apartment, and it's filled with art - gorgeous, antique furniture, beautiful oil paintings of seascapes, and along one wall, a huge floor-to-ceiling mahogany bookshelf full of leather-bound books. The bedroom is stately and elegant, but Lestrade can tell that it's for show - he can feel the traces of Mycroft's presence, but the furniture all looks clean, arranged, and unused.

His clothes have been washed and pressed, folded neatly onto the side table, even the underwear, and Lestrade dresses hurriedly, disoriented and confused. He doesn't know how long he's been out - he'd never taken so much, so quickly before, and he still feels the lessening of his grace like a low ache deep in his very existence. As he stumbles towards the door, it pulls open, and Mycroft shoots him an unimpressed look when Lestrade backpedals with a yelp and forms the mudras with his fingers.

"Perhaps at the beginning that might have given me pause," The daemon reaches over and grabs his shoulder, ignoring how Lestrade snarls and struggles, propelling him back towards the bed, "But now you can't hurt me. Rest."

"I'm fine," Lestrade snaps, even as he's rolled unceremoniously onto the bed.

"You've been unconscious for four days, Lestrade. You're not."

Well, that answered some questions. "Where's Sherlock?" Lestrade asks, warily. How had he come to be here? He very much doubted that Sherlock would have handed him over.

"Furious. Making a pest of himself. That doctor of his, too." Mycroft shakes his head slowly, but he seems amused. "Thankfully he doesn't know of this house - at least, not yet. Also, my interference meant that you wouldn't have been checked into a human hospital."

Despite himself, Lestrade shudders. If he'd woken up in a hospital, surrounded by the sick, weak and not in control of himself... he might have given away the rest of his grace, maybe, right there and then. "If you wanted to get rid of me, you should have let them."

"I don't want to get rid of you," Mycroft stepped back when Lestrade made no move to get off the bed. "I find you fascinating."

"Thanks, I guess?" Lestrade mutters. "I'd no idea that daemons were fascinated by the pathetic."

Mycroft's expression darkens. "You? Pathetic? You are foolish, certainly. Stupid. Rash. Reckless. Short-sighted. But pathetic? Never. I have dealt with your kind longer than you have been in existence, and I have not met another creature in existence quite like you."

"All right," Lestrade frowns, confused again by the hard, almost passionate edge to Mycroft's tone, then he flinches and yelps when the daemon brings a hand up to cup his cheek. The touch burns, like he's over-sensitized, he can feel every inch of warm skin, and it sparks a sensation he can't quite place, something like pleasure, maybe. When he looks up with a glare, about to demand that Mycroft keep his fucking hands and influence to himself, he comes up short. The daemon looks grim.

"You're almost human, Lestrade. You felt that, didn't you? Truly felt it, the way a human would, in pure sensation."

"I," Lestrade swallows, and he's frightened now, the way he'd never been, even centuries and centuries ago, when he'd stood in the silver ranks of his brothers and faced down the Dukes of Hell. "I-"

"Your wings. Show them to me," Mycroft snaps, and Lestrade stiffens. He almost refuses, but then he finds himself taking off his jacket and shirt - no sense in ruining his clothes - and unfurling them, and it hurts this time, like he's moving limbs cramped from disuse, and he moans from the effort, his eyes stinging, but he manages to spread them out over the bed. They've gone gray, his feathers, most of them, white only from the ridge and ceding to a storm gray at their tips, and to his tight shock, his halo - his halo is gone and-

"It's still there," Mycroft cut in, as Lestrade looks around in panic. "But it's faint."

"Oh." Lestrade feels desperately relieved, his wings drooping down for a moment onto the bed, then he hisses and jerks them back up from the sheets as pure sensation spikes up from his feathers and into his veins, his wings sensitive the way they'd never been before. It's an ugly shock.

He doesn't want to be human.

He glances up defiantly to see the daemon watching him soberly, silently, then Mycroft flicks his gaze over the wings, and he actually looks... hungry. Covetous. The daemon wants something from him, Lestrade realizes. But he doesn't know what, and that's a scary thought in its own right - what in the Lord's name could one seriously under-powered angel have that a daemon of Mycroft' calibre could want? Whatever Mycroft must have planned, it can't be pleasant.

"My housekeeper has left food in the kitchen," Mycroft says then, neutrally. "Help yourself, when you can walk properly. She does an acceptable roast."

"Um. Thanks. I suppose." Lestrade briefly considers the possibility of poison, but it doesn't feel like the daemon's style. Too trite. Clenching his hands on the sheets, he tries to fold his wings away, only to come up against some sort of resistance, like a barrier that he can't push through. "What are you doing?"

Mycroft frowns at him. "Specify."

"I can't... I can't fold my wings," Lestrade accuses him angrily. A flash of surprise crosses the daemon's face, and Lestrade's heart sinks down to his shoes. So the daemon wasn't the cause.

He'd grown too weak.

"I will make arrangements," Mycroft is expressionless again, save for the hunger that the daemon can't seem to hide, sharp and naked in his eyes. It seems to have intensified. "At present, you are on medical leave from Scotland Yard. You may rest here until you have the strength to hide your wings."

The daemon says that so very neutrally, but Lestrade feels painfully numb. R&R has never replenished his grace before. He's stuck. And he can't leave the house like this, not with his wings and halo visible. He's trapped. In the heavy gravity of Earth, his wings are useless to him, especially now that they've been pared down and stripped of their power.

Sherlock will find him, Lestrade thinks - he doesn't doubt that. But even then, what can Sherlock do? He's only human, albeit a brilliant one. Even if they manage to escape, Lestrade has nowhere to go. If he can't even fold his wings, then he certainly doesn't have the strength to step through reality, let alone return to Heaven. It's an extremely depressing thought, and his wings droop again, ever an indicator of his mood, and when the primaries brush the bed he hisses, wincing. Fuck.

"Rest. Eat," Mycroft instructs him, and vanishes.

Lestrade rubs a hand over his face. Trying to put a shirt on is a lost cause, with his wings like this. He gets shakily to his feet, yelps in pain as he staggers and barks his wing against a bed post, and curls up on the bed, shaking and gritting his teeth until the ache fades. If he rests his wings slowly and carefully on the sheets, such that the bulk of them spread off the bed and into the air, the sensation's bearable, and after a long, painful while, he manages to drop back into sleep.

VIII.

It takes a couple of days for his wings to slowly desensitize, such that they don't hurt like the blazes whenever he even brushes up against something. Thankfully, the house staff seems invisible; things get vacuumed, the bed gets changed, and he gets new, beautifully tailored clothes, but he never sees anyone. He's not sure if he wants to, not while he's in this state. Lestrade eats, sleeps, and spends the rest of his time reading. The house has no phone line, no telly, and judging from the sprawling view, they're somewhere out in the middle of the country, somewhere lush and fertile. He's not even really sure if they're in England.

As far as he can tell, the daemon leaves him alone. Lestrade isn't entirely sure what to think of that. He's made sure that his projects can keep bumbling along even if he isn't there, a necessary failsafe since he's effectively at war. So he has nothing else left to do save to stew in his regrets and obsess over his possibly reaching-critical-mass paperwork back in the Yard.

It occurs to him at the end of the first week that maybe, just maybe, Lestrade should be devoting some energy to being spooked at the knowledge that he was effectively Mycroft' prisoner, but he supposes that there's no point. If the daemon wanted him dead, he would be, and it isn't as though Lestrade's able to hurt him right now. And he knows better than to believe a daemon's words. If there's something that Mycroft wants from him, that means that Lestrade still has some form of bargaining power. Hopefully.

After a week and a half, Lestrade decides to try and wash his wings, because they're starting to smell musty, and wiping them down now wouldn't make him feel like passing out, hopefully. Mycroft' bedroom has a massive ensuite bathroom, with a large shower space, and Lestrade grits his teeth and turns the hot spray on his wings for the first time.

The sensation is so blissfully incredible that Lestrade almost drops the shower hose on his feet, and he hastily sits down on the edge of the huge tub, awkwardly pressing his left wing to the cold wall as he hoses it down and tries to think through the fog of unexpected, sudden ecstasy. Water shouldn't feel this bloody good, he thinks, dazed, as the flesh between his legs starts to throb, and then ache painfully, and frowning, Lestrade presses the flat of his palm downwards. He's aroused.

That's new.

Technically, Lestrade's aware of human sexual behaviour, at least from a scientific standpoint. The details have never particularly interested him, though, and he finds himself rubbing awkwardly against the ache. It doesn't go away, and he growls, frustrated. He examines the vessel's organ critically - he's never exactly used it before, food just turns into pure energy, with no waste involved.

Maybe it'll go away, or something. Lestrade's a soldier; he'd been one long before he'd been assigned to London, and it's not as though he isn't used to pain. Hunching his shoulders, he grits his teeth and finishes one wing, then the other, fighting down whimpers as the ache just gets worse and worse; it's as though every sleeting caress of water on his wings pulses straight to the penis, and he ends up with the hose dropped on the bottom of the tub, wings curled over himself, hands clenched over his knees and trembling, tangled helplessly in sensation and utterly lost.

And then a gloved hand sets itself on his shoulder, the other sliding over his hip to grasp him, squeezing tight and stroking up, and down, so deliciously, and Lestrade's shouting as he shakes, spilling over gloved fingers, it's so good that he sobs when he comes down from the high, his wings shaking violently as whoever it is rubs a palm up his thigh, almost proprietary, and strokes his other hand down his spine.

"Now you've learned temptation," Mycroft purrs into his ear, all silk, and the pleasure turns quickly into a cold knot of horror. Lestrade jerks himself away so quickly that he skids on the slippery tub and ends up yelping as he slams against the wall, wings flaring for balance, but when he finally manages to get to his feet, Mycroft is gone.

Lestrade cleans himself up without even bothering to dry his wings, and he goes to huddle in the balcony, stretching his wings out under the sun, sick with fright.

IX.

Once his wings are dry, and he's calmer, Lestrade opens the front door and steps outside. He manages five steps before he's abruptly facing the front door, from the inside of the house, and he tries it again four more times before he gives up, defeated. Mycroft' spellwork has only improved with time, it seems. Desultorily, he tries the back door, which doesn't work, then he settles for exploring the whole house.

He calms down some more when he realizes that he's alone. He can't hear heartbeats anymore, so he hadn't been sure, but this is comforting, in a way. It's a tidy villa that he's trapped in, with a host of empty spare rooms, just as neat. He can sense Mycroft in every inch of the place, but he's used to the scent now, the touch of old power signatures. Old disciplines are taking stock, and he canvasses the place for weapons - none - and ends up in the kitchen. There's no salt - also unsurprising - but there's a set of kitchen knives. Lestrade draws out the largest, and the smallest, and absorbs himself by scratching sigils onto the large blade. It probably wouldn't hurt Mycroft, but it might tear a small vent in the daemonic spellwork surrounding the house. Enough to get out, maybe.

When he finishes off the knife, he edges back to the foyer, only to find Mycroft leaning against the doorway to the lounge, arms folded over his slender frame and umbrella-Anthea hooked over his elbow, amused. "Go on," he drawls, as Lestrade clenches his hand over the handle of the kitchen knife. "This should be amusing."

"What do you want from me?" Lestrade demands, and yeah, it was stupid and arrogant of him to think that Mycroft wouldn't know if he tried this. "Sooner or later Heaven will notice what's happened, and they'll send another angel! Our personal war is over," Lestrade spits, bitter, so bitter, "You've won. There, I've said it. Happy?"

"My dear Lestrade," Mycroft smiles, smug and self-assured as always, fucking bastard, "I was never aware that we were at war. That would imply some form of... equal standing. Even as you were when you first arrived in London, you could have had no chance of besting me."

That was low, really. "Why'd you tolerate me then?" Lestrade scowls. "The others before me were about my level of strength or a little higher."

"Because you interest me, angel," Mycroft taps his long, gloved fingers against Anthea's handle absently. "You try so hard. Your curious little vein of righteous zeal, it's quite amusing. The way you willingly destroy yourself over these wayward, transient human souls. The way you try and defy me even though you know that I'm far stronger than you. If Heaven had more angels like you," the daemon added, as Lestrade stared dumbly at him, "I suspect that the War might have been decided in your favour by now."

"If this is some form of torture," Lestrade snaps, "It's not very imaginative."

"Once you can hide your wings away," Mycroft notes, "You may leave. So I have said before."

"I can't. I've tried."

"Then you'll stay here," Mycroft looks him over, and it's that slow, lingering, hungry stare again, and Lestrade shivers, but it's not quite disgust, more like a wire-tight excitement, anticipation. He's probably preparing for an attack. "You know that you'll have to. That's in the rules."

The War had to be kept secret - more or less. It wasn't exactly a strict guideline, but Lestrade didn't fancy having to show up at Scotland Yard for work, shirtless and with wings and a halo. He tried to imagine his squad's reactions, and found that he couldn't. "I could call up," Lestrade decides, uncertainly. Maybe something in Heaven will help. The pools in the Garden, perhaps.

Mycroft snorts, and that thoroughly disabuses Lestrade of that particular hope. The angels are legion, and Heaven will have no use for an angel that can't even step through space any longer. He's replaceable. And besides, he's never heard of anything in the Garden or in Heaven that could replenish grace once it's spent.

"I guess I could turn human," Lestrade mumbles. If he lets go of more of his grace, the wings and the halo would go, but the thought frightens him more than anything else. Turning mortal, becoming as blind as any of the other humans on the street, no longer able to experience flight in the ether, no longer able to close his eyes and listen to the tonal whispers of the winds from the south. He can't think of anything worse, even as he is now.

He freezes in shock when Mycroft goes from leaning against the frame to standing before him in a heartbeat, gloved fingers tilting up his chin. "You're stronger than that," the daemon murmurs, and his gaze seems to burn, it's that intense. "This isn't as hopeless as you think, Lestrade."

"I don't need a daemon's advice," Lestrade tries to jerk back, but Mycroft gets an arm around his waist, holding him in place, and with his other hand, he twists the knife out of Lestrade's grip and makes it vanish. Lestrade growls when Mycroft drags him close, until their bodies are flush together, struggling, then he flinches and yelps when a gloved hand strokes over the wing muscle of his right wing, gently petting up over to the start of his span, and oh, that feels good, so good.

The daemon hums when Lestrade relaxes, his touch growing surer, exploring the arch and spread of his right wing, trailing fingers over muscle, stroking over the coverts, until Lestrade's knees feel weak and Mycroft is supporting all of his weight, holding him still, and he's vaguely aware of the breathless little moans that he's making as his wings shiver.

"What do you want from me?" Lestrade repeats, his voice slurred now, frowning. Mycroft must have seen and touched an angel's wings before; he used to war with them, after all. The daemon smiles lazily as he slides a thigh between Lestrade's legs, and hells but he's hard, his arousal throbbing again, and it's sweet relief to rub up against Mycroft' leg and clutch at his shoulders.

"I wonder," Mycroft muses, as though in response, and this time, when he tilts up Lestrade's chin, he leans over to kiss him, and the daemon's good at this, Lestrade thinks, dazed, as his wings relax further and he opens his mouth, whimpering. This isn't right, he shouldn't, this is worse than turning human, but he's frozen in time, strung between Mycroft' touch and his will, and it feels rather like freefall.

Lestrade moans in protest when the daemon pulls back, flushing when he looks up to realize that Mycroft' dark eyes are blown nearly black with lust. He bites down on his lip, unsure of what to say, trembling; his soldier's instincts scream for him to try and run, find a weapon, but instead, he's rooted to the spot, breathing hard.

"When you want more," Mycroft drawls, hot and silky, "You'll have to ask me for it."

"Fuck you," Lestrade hisses, incredulous, but the daemon merely nods at him and vanishes. Groaning, Lestrade drops to his knees, drawing his wings around him. Heaven, but his blood feels like it's on fire.

X.

Lestrade lasts about another week until his wings start to smell again, and he grits his teeth, standing in the bathroom. He can do this. He's had a week of being alone in the house to be utterly bored, anyway, and the wings don't seem so sensitive any longer.

Stripping down, Lestrade gets into the tub, then he decides just in case to sit down, taking in a deep breath as he picks up the hose. He washes himself down first, perfunctorily, then he braces himself and turns the hose on the first wing.

So much for desensitisation. Lestrade nearly skids and barks his forehead on the wall at the first shock of ecstasy. Moaning, he forces himself to finish washing, awkwardly trying the shampoo until he can't stand the ache in his dripping arousal. This was so much easier when he could just hide his wings away; they didn't need care in the space between reality. Eventually, he gives up completely, curled in the tub and breathing shallowly, hunched. He wraps a hand around himself, gritting his teeth, and tries to mimic the squeeze and tug motion that Mycroft had used, but the pressure feels like it's getting slowly worse rather than better, and he stops, whimpering.

He tries waiting, for a while, but even as his vessel starts to get cold, the pressure doesn't seem to ebb, especially when he fumbles and tries to dry off one of the wings with a towel, and eventually, pride in tatters and desperate, Lestrade whispers, "Mycroft."

The daemon pops into existence on the edge of the tub, so prim and proper in his three piece suit. Water doesn't seem to soak into the fabric, and he's even still wearing his fucking shoes. "I'm in the middle of a meeting, Lestrade," he notes mildly, though his eyes flick down to where Lestrade has an ineffectual hand wrapped around the vessel's organ.

"Make this quick, then," Lestrade grits out, and when Mycroft only arches an eyebrow, the angel gestures at his groin, self-consciously. "Do what you did the last time."

"I said you'll have to ask me, didn't I?"

"Please," Lestrade states flatly. Mycroft shakes his head slowly and pityingly, getting to his feet, and desperate, Lestrade reaches out, to grab at the hem of his tailored suit jacket. "Please!"

"Better." Mycroft doesn't even seem to move, but they're abruptly in the bedroom, Lestrade sprawled on the bed, the daemon between his legs, pushing his thighs open with his gloved hands. Puzzled, Lestrade lets him, squirming impatiently as the daemon seems happy to study him, raking his gaze over his body to where the bedraggled wings are soaking into the quilt. "Perfect," Mycroft murmurs, that hungry edge in his eyes again, then he kneels and pulls Lestrade to the edge of the bed, effortless, and Heaven - oh Heaven - puts his mouth on him.

Lestrade whines when Mycroft licks a stripe up his cock, then he moans when Mycroft seems to decide to explore, pressing small kitten licks up and down taut flesh until he feels like he'll go crazy from it, it's so good, and he's whimpering and struggling in Mycroft's grip but the daemon's inexorable, laving his tongue up and down the vein and even dipping the tip into the leaking cap, chuckling when Lestrade sobs, wings heaving on the bed.

"You're mine, little angel," Mycroft purrs, and Lestrade shivers at the warm breath that huffs over far too oversensitive skin, "I've waited far too long to have you," he adds, when Lestrade frowns, trying to concentrate, and ends up screaming and arching instead as Mycroft licks back down and sucks one of his balls into his mouth. It's too much, too soon, and he's already coming in wet spurts over his belly.

When he catches his breath and props himself up onto his elbows, Mycroft is gone. Groaning, Lestrade flops down onto his back. He's not sure what to think of anything anymore.

XI.

It takes a few days of obsessing over it before Lestrade's finally certain, and he's rather surprised that he hasn't thought of it before. Mycroft wants to fuck an angel. Satisfy some curiosity, perhaps; Lestrade's all too aware that he's a pretty poor specimen of an angel at present, and he's already under Mycroft's power, so it's most likely not some sort of power play - if it was, Mycroft was definitely strong enough to overpower him and just take what he wanted.

Until then, he'll probably keep Lestrade in his house until the sun burned out the earth. Grimly, Lestrade examines his options. Firstly, as much as he didn't exactly like the idea of venturing out, if he could at least contact John or Sherlock, perhaps they could come up with a temporary solution: they've always proven to be pretty resourceful. A very big cape, or something, maybe. Heaven knew that the occasional strange person in London liked to parade around in costume.

He'll get to a church and pray; that'll probably get Heaven's attention. Assuming that Heaven wouldn't help him might be wrong. Maybe, at the least, someone could get him home. If not, then - Lestrade clenches his hands - then he'll just have to let go of his grace. He'll live out the rest of his life as a human police Inspector. Try to do some good before he shucks his mortal coil. It'll be better than rotting in a daemon's house for the rest of his immortal existence.

And besides, it isn't as though Heaven really had any rules against enemy fraternisation - oddly enough - and Mycroft's touch, to date, hadn't been repulsive. Lestrade has endured worse things in the name of duty; this might even be pleasant. Morally reprehensible and shallow of him to bargain so, of course, but needs must.

So decided, he takes another breath in the bedroom, and tries to calm down. "Mycroft."

This time, Mycroft appears in one of the antique chairs, legs crossed, relaxed, and he arches an eyebrow. "Inspector," he drawls, mockingly.

In the face of Mycroft's perfect composure, Lestrade's awkwardly prepared speech falters. "Uh. Were you busy?" Smooth, Lestrade, very smooth.

"I'm always busy," Mycroft tips up one slender shoulder. "Well?"

"You want to fuck me, don't you?" The words sound far cruder out in the air than they had in Lestrade's head, and he fights his flush. "You want me to let you."

The daemon doesn't even blink, instead looking him over, then he smiles thinly. "Whatever brought this on, Lestriel?"

Mycroft's use of his true name makes Lestrade shiver; the way he purred every syllable, as though he was enjoying it all - Heaven. "I just thought," he stumbles, then forges on, "If you just do it, you'll be bored after that, won't you? You'll have done it. You could let me go, then."

"You're not a prisoner here."

"I am and you bloody well know it," Lestrade flares. "I can't hide my wings, so you won't let me leave. But I think I could disguise them, under a sheet or something, get to a town and a church and send up a message. Or if Heaven won't respond, I'll call Sherlock, maybe, he'll think of something."

Mycroft's expression visibly darkens when Lestrade mentions Sherlock. "You're fond of this vessel's brother."

"You put him in my charge, didn't you?"

"I did, but-" Mycroft cuts himself off, frowning again, then he abruptly turns expressionless. "So. You'll spread your legs for me, Lestriel? Invite me in? Sit on my lap while I fill you up? Ride my cock until I'm satisfied?" The daemon's voice turns into a velvet rumble, like every measure of sin, and Heaven, Lestrade can feel himself flushing, his vessel's flesh stirring. He still has enough grace to be able to sense Mycroft's power as the daemon slips an inch on his control, and instead of being frightening, the wash of it makes him lightheaded.

"I, uh, I-" Lestrade swallows, and drops his gaze. He can't really think right now, he's growing dazed, it's like his blood is heating up, and he isn't sure why. He's felt Mycroft's full energy signature before, especially at the beginning, when he was still relatively more stupid and given to posturing, and it hadn't had this effect. "Yes," he chokes out, before he loses his nerve. It's just sex, between their vessels, little more. He's been fairly fond of his and has kept it since he first arrived in London, but Mycroft changes his shell every few decades, like a snake shucking off old skin, so he can't particularly be attached to any physical action, can he? "If you'll let me go."

"When I tire of you?"

Lestrade nods, numbly, and after a long, calculating silence, Mycroft smiles thinly and inclines his head. "Very well then. Your clothes, angel. Take them off."

Angels don't exactly understand shame with regards to nakedness; after all, the vessels only house their true forms, they don't represent it. Lestrade unbuckles his belt, then pulls down his borrowed pants and boxers, toeing the clothes aside. He doesn't feel particularly attractive in the least: his chosen vessel, after all, is that of an older man, hair silver-flecked, running a little soft at the edges, but Mycroft licks his own lips, his eyes half-lidding as he watches, his gaze so heavy in the room that Lestrade's wings shuffle awkwardly behind him, briefly uncertain.

He walks over stiffly when Mycroft deliberately pulls off his gloves, tossing them aside and crooking his fingers, and he isn't sure what to expect, but Lestrade tenses when Mycroft pulls him onto his lap, over his knees, and kisses him gently, deliciously cool, soft hands stroking up his back to the knots of wing muscle at his shoulder blades, and it doesn't take much kneading for Lestrade to press himself flush against the daemon's suit, breathless, arching his back, Heaven, but Mycroft has clever fingers.

"I'll ruin your clothes," Lestrade breathes, but Mycroft ignores him, petting up his coverts instead, then Lestrade jerks with a yelp as he takes a fistful each of feathers and tugs - the spike of sensation is intense, freezing him in a jolt of pain-pleasure and he's pulling at Mycroft's perfectly-in-place tie, dragging him over to kiss him, fumbling it, scraping teeth, and then Mycroft curls a hand around the back of his head and takes control. Lestrade's drowning, blissed out, and he doesn't register the hand on his wings slipping down and conjuring slick until a finger presses within him to the knuckle.

At his flinch, Mycroft chuckles and shifts his free hand back over to his wings, petting the softer feathers close to the knots of muscle on his back until he's pliant again. "It'll get better," he promises soothingly, kneading muscle when Lestrade grimaces, toes balanced on the thick carpet. It's not uncomfortable, not really, and he still has some grace left; he'll have a higher threshold for pain than a human. Still, he's not relishing the prospect of more fingers, and he's tense, all the way until Mycroft sighs and digs his fingers into his feathers, stroking deep to their roots, and Lestrade lets out a gasping moan, jerking against the daemon, his cock pressing a wet patch into the expensive tailored vest.

It's so good that he ends up with his cheek plastered to Mycroft's shoulder, panting; he can dimly feel some sort of stretch, a burn, but nothing's as good as the fingers exploring his wing, smoothing down feathers, tracing musculature, and Lestrade lets out a protesting whine when the hand on his wing slips away.

"There'll be more of that soon," Mycroft assures him, shifting him up further against him. Lestrade freezes as he feels the blunt head of Mycroft's cock press briefly against the curve of his ass, then he yelps as he's guided down, and it's too big, it won't fit- and the hand's back over his wing, rubbing over muscle. He relaxes grudgingly, caught between pain and pleasure, and the fit burns with a gritty friction all the way down, too much, and Lestrade's vaguely aware that he's making some sort of pitchy, keening sound as he slides down, slowly, until he's hilted on Mycroft's lap. Heaven, it hurts.

Mycroft's talking, in a steady litany that's growing rougher at the edges, all graceful praise, both of his hands stroking up into Lestrade's wings now, and it's probably filthy, but he can't help but arch into the daemon's touch, biting down on his lip, his hands braced on Mycroft's shoulders. "We're going to break your bloody chair," he grits out finally, breathless, when the stretch fades to a strange feeling of fullness that isn't... unpleasant.

"It'll break only if I want it to," Mycroft notes mildly, though his eyes are dark with lust again. The daemon's tailored pants are pushed down only just enough to free his cock, and the folded fabric rasps against Lestrade's arse. "When you're ready, Lestriel."

"I don't know," Lestrade admits helplessly, rocking awkwardly. "What am I supposed to do?" Mycroft hisses, and he stops instantly, blinking, then he yelps as hands clench over his feathers, forcing him to jerk forward. The daemon moans, then, a raw, hungry sound, and Mycroft's calm mask is thoroughly shattered, leaving something primal in its wake, etched in grades of hunger.

"Lestrade," Mycroft growls, and the sound's threaded with Mycroft's power; it shakes Lestrade's grace in reverberation, and even as instinct tells him to flee, Lestrade grits his teeth and rocks forward again. Mycroft lets him move, shallow and abortive, for a few awkward heartbeats, then the daemon sighs and sets his hands on Lestrade's hips, lifting him up, frowning in calculation, then dragging him sharply back down. Mycroft's cock slams against something within him that makes him scream, spiking high on ecstasy.

"Like that," Mycroft instructs, his teeth bared, and shakily, Lestrade obeys, balancing himself with flared wings and the balls of his feet, and Heaven, it's good, so good, as he starts off tentative and ends up all but bouncing on Mycroft's lap, keening, desire winding tighter and tighter within him as the daemon snarls and thrusts up against him, all savage strength that would have hurt him if he had lost all of his grace.

Lestrade doesn't recognise his own voice, he sounds so desperate, so wanton, the chair's creaking alarmingly despite Mycroft's words, and on impulse, he leans over, takes Mycroft's mouth in a hard kiss, pushing his tongue into the daemon's mouth, and he feels Mycroft stiffen, fingers curling crushingly tight on his hips, then there's a wet sensation of heat within him that he blinks at for a moment before understanding. Oh.

Mycroft tilts his head back with a low growl, reaching up to bury his hands in Lestrade's feathers and pull and Lestrade can feel his power, this time, humming just under the skin of his vessel, sparking over the sensitized feathers, and the shot of pure sensation is so great that he's crying out, coming, clawing at Mycroft's shoulders.

He slumps against the daemon, breathless and boneless, afterwards, doesn't object when an arm goes around his waist and the other gently folds down feathers that have gone askew. It's a nice, warm moment, tender if Lestrade ignores exactly whose lap he's sitting in, but he knows better than to let down his guard. When his breath is steady, he mutters, "All right, then. Don't suppose you could let me know where we are?"

"Does it matter?" Mycroft asks idly. "I haven't yet tired of you." When Lestrade rears back, to stare at him incredulously, Mycroft smiles thinly. "It's been centuries, my dear. One would have thought that you would have long learned the art of contractual negotiation."

"You-" Lestrade begins, angrily, but Mycroft holds up a palm.

"However," Mycroft notes, "I'm rather inclined right now to be generous." He presses his palms forward, against Lestrade's wings, and just like that, they're gone. Lestrade panics for a moment before he concentrates, and yes, he can still feel his wings, back in here and between. The halo, as well.

"Why didn't you do that from the start?" Lestrade demands, then he chokes and shivers when Mycroft arches an eyebrow and rolls his hips. They're still joined, and he can feel the daemon's cock pulse inside him, Heaven.

It's not - and it's not unwelcome.

"You needed rest. You needed to learn a lesson," Mycroft strokes a hand down the flat expanse of Lestrade's back. "And I wanted you to come to me. You need me now, Lestrade. If you still wish to continue as you are."

"Heaven-"

"If Heaven sends a replacement," Mycroft's eyes narrow, "I'll just destroy whoever it is. Eventually, they'll get the message."

"I rather doubt that," Lestrade notes dryly, shivering. He's going to have to make a call up high after all, or he'll have blood on his hands. "You'll let the status quo continue?"

"Certainly. I'm content." Mycroft's stroking his palm up and down his back, now, and it's getting distracting. "If you'll call me when you need me." Long fingers curl around Lestrade's slowly firming cock, pulling a gasp from him. "And should you have any more accidents with your wings, my place in Mayfair's considerably more spacious than your apartment."

"I don't think that I'll ever understand you," Lestrade admits, confused, and this time, when Mycroft smiles, it looks so out of place on the daemon's face that it takes Lestrade a moment to register gentleness.

"I've told you before. I'm fully capable of becoming fond of things." Mycroft rubs slow circles up his flanks to his cheeks, but it's Lestrade who takes the chance, leaning down to close the distance between them. It's most probably stupid and naive of him to take a daemon like Mycroft at face value, but oddly enough, after so very long, Lestrade feels like he's reached some sort of bulwark, caught firm in the tide that he'd been drifting down in the wake of his sacrificed grace.

XII.

Sherlock inspects him with keen suspicion when Lestrade calls at his flat, even as Watson busies himself making some tea. "You were gone for a long time," Sherlock finally decides to say, brusquely. "I thought that he'd done away with you."

"I thought that he was going to," Lestrade admits. The long, enforced break actually felt good, daemonic mind-games aside. He's energised now, while he used to mostly trudge along in shades of weariness.

"Are you still an angel?" Sherlock asks, suspiciously, and Lestrade rolls his eyes.

"Of course I am."

"Good." Sherlock looks briefly awkward, then he grumbles something under his breath as Watson bumbles over with a tray of mugs. "Having to train up a replacement in the Yard would have been tedious. I'm glad that you're not dead."

"He missed you," Watson translates, as he settles into a spare chair.

"Did not," Sherlock corrects, affronted.

"He also drove your team crazy insisting that you'd been kidnapped by his brother and demanding that they issue warrants to search all his known properties." Watson pulled a face. "Didn't go well. Then he broke into some of them, but we couldn't figure out where you were."

"Out in the country, somewhere," Lestrade offers. Sherlock scowls.

"Sussex? Cornwall?"

"I'm not exactly good with landscape, Sherlock. But thanks. I appreciate the concern."

"I'm sorry that I asked you to heal them," Watson admits, looking down at his cup. "I didn't know that you'd half-kill yourself doing it."

"Occupational hazard," Lestrade notes dismissively. "Are they all right?"

"Oh yes. They're fine. I guess you missed the media circus and everything." Watson looks briefly hunted. "Thank you again."

"But he won't be able to do it anymore," Sherlock states, flicking his gaze over him. "He's nearly human. Oh, don't look startled," he adds impatiently, "It's obvious. Your gait's changed. You're actually blinking often now. Your breathing's no longer always even. Your skin's flushed from where you're holding the hot cup."

"I'm so sorry," Watson says earnestly, looking upset, and Lestrade sighs.

"I would have done it even if you hadn't asked, John."

"But if he does it again," Mycroft drawls suddenly, right behind Lestrade's chair, causing Watson to yelp and almost spill his tea over his lap, "Allow me to offer a disincentive. Any person that you use your grace to heal, I will dispose of. Slowly. Painfully. So there's no point in you helping any more humans."

Lestrade scowls, but Sherlock merely snorts, glowering at his daemon 'brother'. "What are you doing here?" he demands, narrowing his eyes, "Someone else's hair on your jacket, a crease on your sleeve, tie, off-centre..." he trails off, abruptly looking between Mycroft and Lestrade, who fidgets, awkwardly. "Really, Inspector? Did you have to? With Mycroft?"

"What?" Watson asks, bewildered.

"Yes, well, circumstances," Lestrade mutters, setting aside his tea. "It's nice seeing you two. Sherlock. John."

"Circumstances?" Sherlock nearly screeches, which seems like a good exit cue to Lestrade if any. Outside, there's a sleek black car at the pavement, waiting, and Lestrade gets into it without having to be asked. It'll save him a cab fare to the Yard, at least. Mycroft slides in with considerably more grace, and rests a palm possessively on Lestrade's thigh as he closes the door. Lestrade stares at it, for a moment, but he doesn't pull back.

"I'll drop you off at the Yard," Mycroft tells him, "And after that - dinner at seven? You haven't tried the Savoy's grill room, I believe."

"You don't need to eat." Besides, his vessel's always gotten along fine on greasy takeout.

"But I do have many indulgences." The pale hand strokes up the inseam of his pants to his knee, and back down, and just like that, Lestrade's breathing hitches. Mycroft's lips curl, lazily. "Now that I have you, allow me to spoil you."

"It's your money." Lestrade fails at his attempt at indifference, and he goes willingly enough and with a laugh, when Mycroft tugs him over and into his lap, his smile hungry, inviting, flecked with affection, and he rumbles when Lestrade straddles him and hooks fingers into his tie.

Maybe it's possible for a stubborn old angel to fumble his way into better tomorrows-