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Unlikely Connections We Make

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The first time Greg Lestrade meets Mycroft Holmes he is hit with the unpleasant sensation he’s being punked. He’s only known Holmes the younger for two days, a skinny, coked up mess in dire need of a haircut who rattles off details of his cases at him with so much fervour he promptly forgets to arrest him on suspicion of murder, and then out of nowhere there’s this man, all class wrapped up in an expensive suit and there’s no way, just no way that the fucked up little junk who started following him around is his brother.

Sherlock later confirms he is, actually, and Greg learns to expect the unexpected when it comes to Holmeses.

Mycroft looks different then. He’s heavier, for one, and there’s a discontent sort of sadness in the way he speaks. He holds himself proudly, but there’s still that tiny hint of caution Greg recognises, like he’s expecting someone to punch him in the nose any minute. He sees that sometimes in witnesses, broken people who have grown accustomed to being battered, but it’s bizarrely out of place on this tall, stately, well-composed man who just appears one drizzly morning in front of the Yard. Greg understands the cause, has seen the track marks on the younger Holmes' arms, and thinks that would cause any older brother to look oddly haunted.

But regardless, regardless, he’s got charisma oozing out his ears and Greg thinks he might just be the fittest bloke he’s ever seen. He tells Janet that night, when they’re in bed, describes how utterly surreal his day has been with all these public school twits popping out of nowhere like really high-class jacks-in-a-box, and how he kept losing track of what Mycroft was saying again because he kept getting distracted by how really genuinely sexy he was. Janet dissolves into giggles, covering her face with her hands. They always talked of these things, he’d never been anything but upfront about his sexuality and she’d never made an issue out of it. She knew he was loyal to her, to a fault – he may have enjoyed his window shopping, but always ate his supper at home, and all that. In hindsight he hates her for that, actually, that she could place this blind trust in him but broke his so horrendously. This was all years before the P.E. teacher, but later he learns there was a child psychiatrist, first, and a fucking accountant, and briefly an out-of-work bus driver there was just genuinely no excuse for. He tries not to think about it all too much, about how much of his life had turned out to just be fake smiles and blatant lies.

Mycroft, in the mean time, becomes an unexpected and regular feature in his life the next couple years. Once Mycroft is convinced Greg means his brother no harm he appears to consider him some odd sort of unwilling accomplice, his presence quietly ubiquitous – black cars hovering in the background, security cameras turning his way as he walks across a crime scene, and on regular occasions deeply impersonal phone calls at all times of the day. He appears in his office sometimes, or on the sidelines at crime scenes, shielding himself from the dreary London rain with a black umbrella. One time he even comes to speak with him at his mother’s 75th birthday party, standing laughably out of place in the corridor at the senior centre in Bridgwater, and that’s just a little creepy even for him (although the particular occasion did sort of call for a stern talking-to, considering Sherlock nearly poisoned himself trying to figure out the exact combination of ingredients used by a serial poisoner in Flitwick)

A lot changes in five years. Greg is promoted to Detective Inspector. Sherlock Holmes kicks the coke habit and finds himself a blogger. Mycroft Holmes loses at least three stone and a fair portion of his hair (although even five years later Greg still can’t figure out just what the hell it is he does, exactly). And, yeah, on top of that his daughter pierces her nose and decides she hates everybody and he finds out his wife fucks every willing cock she can find, and when he hits his breaking point he leaves and moves into a noisy little flat above a shop in Hornsey.

He’s not sure when his life spun away from him. He’s forty eight sitting alone in a barely furnished flat and feels miserable. He wonders if this is what midlife crisis is like, this genuine lack of direction. He’d always expected it to be a bit more exciting, really, like when he was twenty one and got a tattoo on his shoulder and studs in his ears and the whole world was like his happy little oyster. This is just depressing. He’s old and gray and getting flabbier and the only highlight of his life is when his phone beeps and it’s that delightful ‘number withheld’ blinking on his screen.

It hits him he’s in trouble when he finds himself drawing this conclusion. He’s sitting in his office, batting at a powdered sugar stain on his shirt, when his mobile rings and his heart jolts. He reaches for his phone with an excited grin on his face and freezes when he realises just what the bloody hell he’s doing. He stares at his phone for three rings, hand outstretched towards it, and then it stops. Not even five seconds later his landline starts to ring, on the corner of his desk, and he lunges for it.

“Yes – Les – Det – what?” he says, heart hammering in his throat.
“Right,” Mycroft drawls on the other side of the line. “Good morning to you too, Detective Inspector.”
Greg feels his face heat up and is more than a little grateful he’s alone in his office. “Yeah. Right. Apologies, I was... What do you need me for, Mycroft?”
“My brother is causing trouble in Dartmoor. I’m a bit tied up at the moment, urgent matters, Bolivia, you know how it is… I’d rather like for you to check up on him, if possible.”
He ought to say no. He just got back from two weeks in a dusty hotel in Spain, trying to get away from things (and failing, actually), and his superiors might gut him if he just pops off to fucking Dartmoor.
“Fine,” he says.

~~~

‘I don’t always do what your brother tells me’ his pasty hairy arse.

~~~

“Emma’s not in, she’s gone to see a movie with her friends.”
He rubs his forehead, sighs. “I haven’t spoken to her in two weeks, Janet.”
“She’s not in, Greg, what do you expect me to do?”

Emma blames him for the divorce. She doesn’t know about her mother’s cheating, and he doesn’t want to tell her, because what’s the use in making the girl hate her mother, too?
“Tell her I called, would you?”

She promises him she will and he knows she won’t and lays back on his stupid little sofa, staring up at his ceiling. He genuinely can’t stand that sofa. It’s this tiny thing he can’t stretch out on properly or go boneless on like he likes to do, and it’s the same kind of colour his computer screen would go sometimes when he did something dumb with it. On top of that, the whole flat just rubs him the wrong way as it is. The little alcove of a one-bedroom is all boxes still, stuff he can’t bring himself to unpack because he just doesn’t want to see his things, the few personal items he’d managed to take with him, in it at all.

Actually, for that matter, he doesn’t even want to see himself in here. He eyes the screen on his phone – 9:35 in the evening. He’s got some paperwork on his desk at work, things that aren’t particularly pressing but that need doing eventually regardless.

Nothing to do here but stare at the telly and get drunk on his own anyway. He pushes himself up from the blue monstrosity and goes to find his shoes.

~~~

Mycroft Holmes wears a wedding band on the wrong hand. Greg doesn’t know what that means. He asks Sherlock whether his brother is married and he just laughs, this sarcastic, oh-you-peasant laugh that makes Greg want to punch him.

John later says to him with a shrug and a twitch of the eyebrow he’s fairly certain Mycroft isn’t, why are you asking, and Greg mutters something about curiosity and inscrutable Holmeses and John seems to buy it.

~~~

He considers cooking dinner for himself. He hasn’t yet, not once in the nine weeks he’s now lived in his flat. He’s survived on take-away, pub meals, petrol station sandwiches, and he considers… maybe pasta. Something. Anything.

He goes through three boxes looking for a saucepan but doesn’t find it. He cusses so loudly at everything in the world his neighbour starts banging on the wall, then stalks into London to find the nearest Indian place and gets himself a curry to take home. He eats it by himself, back on that ugly sofa, watching Eastenders.

He tries calling Emma but after getting her voicemail twice gives up on it. Later that evening he falls asleep on that stupid fucking furniture smurf, some case files he took home on his lap, and wakes up a little after five with a godawful crick in his neck.

~~~

John talks about getting kidnapped by Mycroft. Greg doesn’t get it. Mycroft has never kidnapped him, never had him transported to mysterious locations. He just pops up on his own to wherever Greg might be, and he’s not sure what sets him apart from John.

Mycroft stands in front of his desk in a handsome suit that probably costs three times as much as Greg’s entire wardrobe, an equally expensive overcoat over his arm, umbrella in hand. He’s talking about a triple murder, a cold case Sherlock somehow unearthed – Greg isn’t entirely convinced the sneaky bastard doesn’t break into the Yard at night to sift through their case files – and he hasn’t listened as well as he should. It appears Mycroft doesn’t necessarily fancy the idea of Sherlock picking this one up. He has genuinely no idea why. This is getting a bit pathetic, this is.

“… so I would appreciate any attempt at all to steer him away from this, if you please, Detective Inspector.”

The suit is too big on him, Greg realises. Around the shoulders, around the chest, it sits just a touch too wide. It’s not an old suit, doesn’t look like it, so it can’t be that it’s just a suit he’s had for a while that no longer fits well. This was purchased after the weight loss. Mycroft isn’t the kind of man who’d buy his suits a size too big by accident and then wear them regardless, and he wonders if he thinks himself bigger than he is, maybe, like this man with a brain as big as the bloody moon doesn’t know what size clothes he actually wears.

Fascinating, that, and what the bloody fucking hell is he thinking about, he’s not Sherlock bloody Holmes and needs to stop analysing these stupid things about people.

“Detective Inspector? I’d appreciate if you listened to what I was saying.”
“I, what? Sorry. Yes, the Sands End murders. Look, if he wants in you know I can’t stop him from fiddling with it until he’s solved it.”
Mycroft does something at him with his mouth that on anyone else would probably look like a sarcastic little smile but on him it looks like a frightfully polite death threat. “You’re a policeman. I’m sure you can figure out a way.”
“Why not just let him solve it, anyway? Keeps him off the streets.”
“You needn’t concern yourself with that, Detective Inspector. I would appreciate any assistance in this matter.”
He always appreciates everything. It’s not politeness, just a blatant order disguised as a polite request.

Greg would be lying if he said that didn’t turn him on just a little, though.

Mycroft twitches an eyebrow and inclines his head and turns for the door. He’s so bloody tall, he is, one long lean line from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. Damn it all to hell.

"Would you like to have a drink sometime?" he blurts.
Mycroft stops and half-turns and, oh yes, looks for just a moment genuinely surprised. Well, that makes Greg feel quite good about himself. Even a Holmes can be caught unaware, and hurray, not so much bloody automatons built in a secret factory in Essex after all.
"Beg your pardon?" he asks.
"Would you like to have a drink. With me." Greg pushes his chair back and stands up behind his desk, overcome with an odd surge of confidence, and attempts to look, well, attractive. Doesn’t work so well, he thinks. Mycroft stares at him with a vague hint of distaste, like he’s some crusty busker on the tube.
"Just you and me, no entourage, no creepy black cars. Just two blokes in a pub. Come on,” Greg says, offering him that small crooked little smile Janet always told him made him look irresistibly cheeky.
Mycroft merely wrinkles his nose at it. "What, pray tell, gives you the impression I would enjoy going to a pub?"
"Some other place then, I don't care." Oh come on, he thinks. Please. Just give me this one, universe, just one shot, one drink, one conversation with this brilliant man that doesn’t revolve around Sherlock bloody fucking Holmes.

Mycroft watches him for a long, still moment. Greg feels discouragement nibbling at the corners of his confidence, the first tickle of rejection dragging raw across his ego.
"Why are you asking this?" Mycroft then asks, his eyes narrowed.
Greg considers his answer. Because it’d be nice. Because you’re gorgeous. Because I might be losing my mind and asking out the man who appears to run half the planet on his own is an excellent way to self-destruct. "Because I'm really lonely," he finally admits, his own honesty burning in his throat. "And I thought... you might be lonely, too. And would like to have a drink."
Mycroft straightens and looks really very distant all of a sudden. "Let it go, Detective Inspector. Find someone else to help you with your... loneliness." And he's gone, out the door. Greg watches him go, weave around desks and unsuspecting officers, and disappear.

Well then. The only way that could have actually gone worse is if that umbrella would have turned out to double as a sword and Mycroft would have lopped off his head with it.

~~~

Greg goes on a blind date with a bird named Ginny. Harvey, one of his mates he used to play football with, set him up with her, and he just went along for the sake of having something to do that didn’t involve either his office or his shithole flat. She’s divorced like him, has a fifteen year old kid like him, and somewhat desperately attempts to charm him into believing she’s ten years younger than she actually is. He winds up shagging her anyway, in her house, in her bedroom, with her old wedding portrait still in a frame on the bedside. He leaves just after the sun’s come up, showers in his cramped little bathroom, and has forgotten what her last name is again before he even steps into his office that morning.

Mycroft sends him a text around eleven. He rarely ever texts, so that’s new. He wonders if it’s to do with having asked him out last week. Afraid to show up at his office, now? That’s not like him in the slightest, and it’s oddly jarring.

‘Sherlock is still on the Sands End murders. Kindly speak to him about this. – MH’
Greg sighs and rubs his hands down his face. There’s just no way that’s going to go over well. He thinks it over for an unwilling ten minutes, then picks up his phone and texts John. Best shot he’s got, anyway.

~~~

“Sir, it’s almost 8 o’clock. You should go home.”

Donovan stands in his doorway, leaned against the doorjamb with her arms crossed. Behind her the department is quiet, save for one officer named Dodge who’s only just started working with them three weeks back and is struggling to keep up. Poor bloke is barely in his mid-twenties and has massive bags under his eyes as he sits struggling his way through his paperwork.

Homicide is a tough gig. Greg wouldn’t want anything else, and most of the detectives in his department don’t, but it’s not an easy spot to break into, as a newbie. He wonders if Dodge will make it. He probably won’t.

Donovan looks over her shoulder, following his line of sight. She turns back with a sigh. “You don’t need to stay to observe him working late, you know. Go home. Eat some proper food, watch some shit telly like a normal person.”
“Are you sure you shouldn’t take that advice yourself?” he says, pushing back from his desk. She looks guilty for just a moment.

She thinks he doesn’t know about Anderson. All right, he may not be a fucking Holmes, but you don’t make it to Detective Inspector by being a gullible idiot. He’s noticed. He’s also noticed Anderson has been clocking in a lot of vacation time while Donovan sits at her desk and looks tired and wonders if he’s patching things up with his wife.

Really, if the git wasn’t so bloody good at his job he’d have had him chucked years ago.

“Go home, sir. Never mind about me,” Donovan says, and with a shrug and a somewhat dismissive wave of her hand she turns out his office and heads to her own desk. She ignores Dodge, who shoots her a hopeful look, longing perhaps for some friendly conversation he really shouldn’t be expecting from her.

Greg sits in his office and watches them through the window for a bit. He pulls his phone out his pocket, turns it over in his hands. There’s something inside him, this weird feeling, a hopeful-desperate sort of sadness. I’m pathetic, he thinks, I’m a clingy pathetic lump who doesn’t know how to let go at all.

He scrolls through his received messages until he finds the one Mycroft sent him a few days earlier, about the Sands End murders. He stares at it and wonders and then he presses ‘reply’.

‘One drink. Come on. I want to know who you are other than ‘brother of’. – Greg’

There is no response. He sits in his office until 10:30, when both Dodge and Donovan have long gone home, and sits in the tube back to his flat, to his hateful little sofa, wondering what would happen if he’d just leave London.

~~~~

He finally manages to get Emma on the phone and they talk for an uninspired ten minutes. She’s fine. School is fine. Her friends are fine. Everything is fine and does he want to talk to mum maybe cause she’s right here. Of course he doesn’t want to talk to Janet, he wants to talk to her, but he has to make do with ten minutes of everything being fine before she hangs up with some flimsy excuse about homework.

He sits still on the dreaded blue sofa for a few minutes, until he is suddenly overcome with anger. He yanks a sofa cushion off and throws it across the room. It thuds dully against the cardboard boxes he’s stacked against the wall. He throws the other one too, then slides off the sofa to the floor and feels bleak and useless, yesterday’s news ready to serve as litter box lining.

He lies down on the floor between his boxes and his ugly fucking cushions and just breathes for a moment. Downstairs in the shop he can hear people talking, music playing on crackling speakers, a child whining softly. Sounds of life. He clutches his phone to his chest, sighs, rubs the back of the hand holding the phone across his eyes.

One of the hardest things about divorce, he’s found, is the quiet. Nobody to talk to. Nobody to vent to. A spouse, or a significant other in general, is amongst many other things a great default for social interaction. Always someone there to listen. For better or worse, marriage means having to put up with endless whinging about things like unresponsive daughters and ugly sofas. Now there’s an empty flat, nobody to come home to, and he feels strangely bottled up.

He knows what he wants, and in a flash of inspiration he holds his phone over his face and types a text.

‘My daughter hates me. Such joys life hands out sometimes. – Greg’

He selects Mycroft's number. Hitting the send button makes him feel, oddly enough, a bit better.

~~~

He keeps texting Mycroft. It becomes something of a habit, this sending little messages out into some great oblivion lord knows where. He’s not even sure if the number is actually Mycroft’s – for all he knows he’s sending these messages to some little old Polish lady who has no idea who he is and is too polite to tell him the number’s wrong. He texts about all sorts of things, just to text, just to say something to someone.

He hopes someone is listening. He hopes Mycroft is listening, most of all. It worries him some moments how badly he wants for that to happen, worries that this isn’t so much a crush as it’s the obsession of a lonely middle-aged divorcee, but sending these texts feels like reaching out even if nobody is reaching back.

‘Do you know that Chinese place on High Street? Never order their Moo Goo Gai Pan, it’s shit. – Greg’
‘I’m watching Die Hard on E4. Do you like action movies? – Greg’
‘Witness threw up on me today. Shoes and trousers ruined. Lovely. – Greg’
‘It’s my birthday today. Not even a drink with me on my special day? – Greg’
‘I really can’t stand your brother some days, you know. Arrogant prick. – Greg’
‘I wish you’d text me back sometime. Does this number even go anywhere? – Greg’

There is never an answer back. He keeps texting anyway. It’s oddly therapeutic.

It occurs to him, after about a week and at least eleven texts, that what he’s doing could be construed as stalking. Then again, so could following someone around with a CCTV security camera and showing up unannounced at their family gatherings, so he supposes it’s fair.

~~~

“He’s solved the Sands End murders.”

Greg almost has a heart attack. He starts, knocking an empty paper coffee cup off his desk. Mycroft somehow managed to appear soundlessly in his office while he was engrossed in a toxicology report, and looks on disapprovingly as Greg retrieves the cup and sets it back on his desk.

“I noticed that. I got to close the case,” Greg says, trying to check whether his shirt has any stains on without being too obvious about it. Mycroft is wearing a most handsome three piece suit in gray, perfectly composed down to his blue tie and the gold chain of his pocket watch, and it’d be really bloody typical if he’d be sitting there with last night’s fish’n’chips advertised across his chest.
“I asked you to discourage him from working on that case.”
“I did the best I could.” Yeah, that was a lie. Almost. He’s sure John did his best, after all.
Mycroft narrows his eyes. “Texting John Watson constitutes ‘the best you could’? I fear for Scotland Yard.”

Oh well.

“I would appreciate some more dedicated assistance next time, Detective Inspector.”
“You really came here just to tell me that?”

Mycroft forces a smile at him. No goodbyes, not even any vague threats, as he turns and moves to leave. He stops at the door and hesitates, a split second really, one most people would blink and miss but Greg, all his attention on the handsome bloke in his door, doesn’t miss a beat.

“I do know the Chinese place on High street,” Mycroft says without turning to look at Greg, a deliberate edge to his words. “The Moo Goo Gai Pan is dreadful, but try the lemon chicken.”
And then he’s out the door, and Greg stares wide-eyed at the place in his universe he’d just occupied.

A thing of hope blossoms inside of him so violently it leaves a lump in his throat.

Chapter Text

He lies awake in his bed, tossing and turning, and develops a great aversion against the patterns across his ceiling created by the light from passing cars. The red digits on his digital alarm clock inform him it’s getting close to two am and he hasn’t had a wink of sleep so far. He’s really tired, he is, but sleep won’t come. He goes to take a piss, crawls back into his bed, but still no dice.

Mycroft receives his messages. Better still, he reads them. He has no idea what to make of that. He won’t exactly say it’s what’s keeping him up – might be the somewhat harrowing case he’s currently on, or the people down in the street talking and laughing amongst each other, or the four cups of coffee he’s had in the later afternoon – but it’s certainly not helping.

It’s almost three when he picks his mobile off his nightstand and sends a text that he might not have sent had he not been so dreadfully sleep-deprived.

‘Do you hate me? – Greg’

There’s never an answer, so he puts his phone back on his nightstand, turns to his side, sighs and does his very bloody best to fall asleep.

His phone beeps and startles him so badly he’s fairly certain he jumped right up off the bed entirely for a split second. He grabs his phone, heartbeat pounding between his ears, and reads the incoming text.

‘Why would I hate you? – MH’

Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus. He types up his reply quickly, as if he fears his opportunity may pass him by if he hesitates.

‘Because you never respond to my texts. – Greg’

Fourteen minutes until a response. He counts them.

‘I don’t enjoy the business of texting. – MH’

‘Then call me. – Greg’ he sends back.

There’s no answer and his phone never rings. He lies wide awake for the rest of the night waiting for it to, anyway.

~~~

The lemon chicken is quite good, actually.

~~~

He’s standing outside an empty office building, talking to Anderson on his phone, shielding his eyes from the surprising April sunshine, when he spots Mycroft from the corner of his eye. He’s standing neatly behind the yellow tape, observing him with a calm that clashes weirdly with his surroundings.

Two junkies got into a tiff and one wound up stabbing the other in the neck with a penknife. Easily closed but messy, spurts of blood going all the way up the walls. Outside the building there’s no sign of what went on inside but the broken windows, empty bottles in the gutter and the vague stench of trash so often present on this less desirable corner of the Thames don’t make for an environment that really meshes well with Mycroft’s general demeanour. Still, there is his, in his thousand quid overcoat, patiently awaiting his turn.

Greg promptly forgets what he was trying to get Anderson to do again. He stammers the conversation to an end, conveniently ignores Anderson’s protests and hangs up the phone. He walks towards Mycroft with decisive steps, trying on his best I’m-in-charge-here-don’t-you-forget-it strut.

He almost trips over an empty Pepsi can, which kind of ruins it. He sees Mycroft struggling to keep his face in check, his lips twitching with a grin he tries to suppress.

“ You’re not laughing at me, are you?” Greg says as he steps up to him.
“ I wouldn’t dare, Detective Inspector.” His eyes are almost twinkling, a deep blue in the bright afternoon, and Greg feels as fluttery as a fifteen year old schoolboy.
“What brings you here?” he asks.
“I need a favour.”

Greg raises an eyebrow at him, sticking his hands into the pocket of his overcoat. “Right. Of course.”
Mycroft peers across the scene, squinting his eyes against the sun. “I need my brother occupied for the coming week. I don’t suppose you have something you may keep him busy with?”
“I have two junkies who shanked each other over a scrap of meth. He may just gut me if I called him in over something this simple.”
“Then think of something else.”

Greg sighs, raising his eyes to the sky for a moment. Damn it. “Mycroft. I am not his minder, and I cannot make difficult cases pop out of my arse. Ask John to keep him busy.”
“I did. His response was shockingly similar to yours.”
“Why do you need him occupied, anyway?”
He’d expected a vague, political sort of answer. That creepy condescending smile and a ‘you need not concern yourself, you ingrate’ sort of response, things he’s gotten used to from him. Instead Mycroft seems wary, avoiding his eyes for a moment as he retreats someplace inside himself. “No need to get into that in the middle of a crime scene, Detective Inspector,” is all he says.

This isn’t about some political affair he needs to keep Sherlock away from. This is far more personal than that. “I see,” he says. “I’ll. See what I can do. But I can’t promise anything, all right.”
“Thank you, Detective Inspector.”

Greg observes him for a moment. There’s a hint of auburn in his hair, he realises, brought out by the sun. Christ.
“I’d still quite like to go for that drink,” he says softly, trying on a small smile.
Mycroft sighs. “I’ve already said no, Detective Inspector.”
“Yeah, but I think that maybe with some time to think it over you might want to say yes now, is all.” He’s got to try. He’s just got to. He’s got that feeling that this could go somewhere, and he can’t just stop asking then, can he?

Mycroft looks across the crime scene again with a definite hint of annoyance. He’s got that perpetual umbrella on him, despite endless blue skies, and plants it decisively onto the pavement. “You’re like a stray dog begging for scraps, Detective Inspector. I’ve told you already to let it go.”

Oh for God’s sake. “Fine. Then answer me this, Mycroft - why are you here? You could have just called, or sent that lovely leggy assistant of yours. There’s no reason for you to be here in the flesh to ask me for this favour of yours, none at all, and yet here you are. And the texts, too. You didn’t even ask me to stop sending them, and then randomly respond to one in the bloody dead of night. I may be a stray dog, but there’s no way I’m barking up the wrong tree here.” He thrusts his hands into his pockets stubbornly.
Mycroft flinches almost imperceptibly, then his face pinches together into a sour, discontent sort of frown. “That’s a horrible metaphor.”
“Oh piss off, I’m not bloody Shakespeare. You started it.”
The corner of Mycroft’s mouth quirks up, but it’s not a smile, not exactly. Still, close enough. “No, Detective Inspector, that you aren’t,” he says quietly. “Fine. One drink. But no pub.”
Greg raises his eyebrows in surprise. He got him? Really? “Where?”
“There’s a club. The Diogenes. I will meet you there at four.”
“Yes. Yes, brilliant. Great.” He smiles and feels suddenly inexplicably happy, the kind of happy he’s fairly sure a man’s not supposed to be standing in front of a building with a dead body in.

Mycroft raises an eyebrow at him and with something of an obligatory smile he turns and leaves. He twiddles his umbrella as he goes, like something out of a 1920’s silent movie, and Greg feels something he can only classify as smitten.

With a grin he turns and peers across the scene. “Oi Donovan, don’t suppose you know where the hell I would find the Diogenes club, do you?”

~~~

Donovan didn’t know. Nobody in Scotland Yard knew, actually, and even Google looked at him funny when he’d tried a search.

By the time it was half an hour until four and he still hadn’t figured out where the hell to find this place he was starting to panic. This couldn’t be happening. He couldn’t possibly have finally gotten Mycroft Bloody Man Of Mystery Holmes to agree to go out with him, only to not know where the hell to find the place they’d agreed at.

He was about give in. He’s already pulled his phone out his pocket, and has his thumb over Mycroft’s name in the contact list, when Dodge stumbles into his office. “Sir? These gentlemen are here to see you.”

Two tall men, in dark gray suits, with nearly identical haircuts and freakishly shiny shoes.
Ah. How helpful.
“Detective Inspector Lestrade? We are here to escort you to your meeting,” one of them says, hands clasped behind his back. Meeting. Of course. Well, Greg supposes sending them off with the message that they’re picking up what is basically his date might be a bit eccentric even for Mycroft.
“Good. Lovely. Hoping you know where the bloody Diogenes is, cause I’m stumped.”
The man who spoke looks entirely too amused.

As it turns out it’s a stately building not even that far from New Scotland Yard, complete with pillars and all, and so very very much not a pub it almost feels like a practical joke of some kind. He is instructed to keep silent until he reaches Mr. Holmes (peculiar, but all right, he’ll play) and is escorted past spacious rooms with the occasional stately-looking elderly gentleman in it. Wood panelling, high windows, crystal chandeliers, and the odd sensation he’s stepped right into 1895.

That sensation doesn’t quite go away when he’s shuffled into what appears to be a private room containing several full bookcases, four leather chairs and one Mycroft Holmes, smiling politely at him. “Detective Inspector, do come in. I take you understood the purpose of your escort?”
“Understood and appreciated. Did you know this place is really hard to find?”
“As it ought to be, believe me. It would hardly be a private club if anyone could just Google it, would it?”
For a split second Greg wonders if Mycroft actually controls Google. Wouldn’t be too surprising, really.

“Sit, sit. I do believe you came for a drink?” He gestures to a small side table, holding several crystal decanters and some glasses. Whiskey, he guesses, and what appears to be a deep red port.
“Don’t suppose I could get a pint of bitter in this place?” he says.
“I could get you anything you’d like, actually. I can call for a pint.”
He feels suddenly self-conscious, absurd for asking for a pint of bloody bitter in a place like this, and shakes his head. “No, it’s fine. Just. Whatever you’re having.”

Mycroft hands him a glass of port. Fancy that – he was actually expecting a whiskey. Not bad though, not bad at all, and he accepts it and sits in one of the chairs. Mycroft sits across him, setting his own glass down. He crosses his legs, places a slender hand on his knee. “You’re a persistent man,” he says.
“Only when I know it’s worth it,” Greg answers.
“Persistent and a touch arrogant, then. Fascinating.” He drinks and keeps his eyes on Greg over his glass. It’s enough to make him just a bit uncomfortable. He can only wonder if that’s why Mycroft invited him here at all - to put him in a place where he would, plainly put, not fit in. Yank him so far out of his comfort zone he’d have no choice to but roll over and submit. That’s a classic interrogation technique, actually, now that he’s thinking about it.

“I am more than happy you finally caved though. See, not so bad, is it? Just a drink. Respectable distance between us. And on your turf, too, so you can’t be too unhappy about it yourself.”
“I am... very far from unhappy, Detective Inspector.”
Greg smiles and sips his drink. Very nice, sweet but not overly so, a rich sort of darkness on his tongue. Almost sensual, he’d say, even if the stuff’s heavy enough to ensure he genuinely can’t have more than one if he’s to drive later.
“I have a name, you know,” he offers.
“Ah, yes. Lestrade.”
“Greg,” he corrects. “My name is Greg. Use it.”
Mycroft seems amused by this, for some odd reason. Greg doesn’t follow entirely, but that’s all right. He gets the feeling that that is going to sum up a lot of whatever their relationship might turn out to become.

“You know, I’d still like to know why you need your brother occupied. If you’d care to share, of course.”
Mycroft is quiet for a long moment. He nurses his drink and seems suddenly so lost in thought Greg regrets the question. Perhaps bringing up one’s troubled younger brother isn’t the best way to go about courting a bloke.
Mycroft breathes deeply, puffing himself up a bit, and raises his head. “Coming Thursday is the anniversary of our father’s death. Sherlock is… more sensitive about these matters than he lets on. I prefer for him to be occupied with something. I worry about what he’ll do if he’s not.”
Ah. Right. Now there’s an unexpectedly personal place to wind up in, all of a sudden. “I’m really sorry to hear that,” he says. “But what about you, then? I assume the date is meaningful for you, too.”
Mycroft says nothing, finishes his drink. He sets his glass aside, and sighs. “Of course it is. But I assure you my means of handling these matters are much less self-destructive than my brother’s.” He purses his lips, raises his eyebrows. “Besides, the man’s been dead for 28 years. Time heals wounds about as surprisingly well as the proverb dictates.”

Greg does the maths and doesn’t think that that’s all as simple as Mycroft just put it. Sherlock couldn’t have been more than four, maybe five years old then, so where does that put Mycroft? He sips his port and keeps his thoughts to himself.

“Why are you here, Gregory?” Mycroft says.
Gregory. Oh, bloody fucking hell.
“I already told you that, didn’t I? I’m lonely.” He half-shrugs, half-smiles, does so many things half all at once he’s impressed he’s not half-dropping his drink.
“If you’re genuinely lonely I’m sure that an attractive man like yourself has better means of solving this than mindlessly chasing after my company.”
Greg chuckles, finishes his drink, stretches out his legs. “Well, you just confessed you think I’m attractive. I think that that’s all I’ll choose to take away from that.”

Mycroft smiles at that, a genuine sort of smile with teeth in there and everything. It’s absolutely endearing and Greg is met with the desperate desire to kiss it.
“Regardless, Gregory, you appear a glutton for punishment. Did you know there are people who refer to me as the man of ice?”
“Maybe I don’t give a shit what people refer to you as. Pardon my French.” He drinks the last of his port, swishing it around his mouth. Yeah, this posh thing, not so bad.
“Well, I have to admire your determination,” Mycroft says, scratching at his temple with one finger.
“Determination bollocks. You fancy me a bit, admit it. Did you know there are people who refer to me as dishy?”
Mycroft laughs. “Oh, I know. I’m one of them.”
Greg can’t help himself and actually giggles at that, that bit of cheek right there, and is reminded pleasantly of why he’s so bloody attracted to this man. Holmeses. Expect the unexpected.

Mycroft sighs, sits up. “All right. You requested one drink. You’ve had that now.” He indicates his head towards Greg’s empty glass.
“You’re kicking me out? Seriously?” That’s a bit of a cold shower.
“I am afraid so. I have to be in Glasgow at six.”
“At six? Really? You’ll never make that anymore.”
Mycroft smiled that smile again, that oh-you-peasant one his brother is so incredibly good at as well. “I wouldn’t worry about that, Gregory. I’m not exactly planning to catch a train.”
Right. Of course. He gets somewhat astonishing mental images of Mycroft jumping out a helicopter over Scotland which are all just entirely too silly. Private jet, maybe. Or a space ship. You never know.

Mycroft stands up and Greg moves with him. He’s oddly unsure of what to do with hands.
“We’ll have another one, you know,” he says.
“Another one?”
“Another drink, obviously. Maybe an actual pint, then.” He grins at Mycroft, and expects to be snubbed, maybe, outsmarted in some way, but Mycroft actually returns his grin.
“I believe that the possibility of that is fairly high, yes,” he says.

Confidence thrums in his veins, and he’s old enough to know that this is one of those ‘do it now or regret it forever’ moments. He’s never been one for regret, not if he can help it, so he smiles, steps close and leans in. Mycroft stays where he is, doesn’t step back though he has all the space in the world to do so, but moves his head just slightly and Greg’s kiss winds up on his cheek, just beside the corner of his mouth.
“Come on,” Greg whispers against his skin. “Kiss me. Please. Humour me.”
“Is that what you want, Gregory? To be humoured?” His voice is a soft, deep murmur, but there’s no real refusal in there. His cologne is lovely, very much so, and his skin is warm under the tip of Greg’s nose.
“Please,” he says again, softly, the sound catching and dragging in his throat.
Mycroft breathes and appear to be teetering on the edge of something grand. Greg can almost taste the hesitation on him, almost palpable in what little air remains between them, then Mycroft turns his head and kisses him. It’s like an earthquake between Greg’s ears, the shifting and rearranging of tectonic plates. He’s not going to say it’s life-changing, per se, but it’s certainly doing something of importance to his world at this point. Mycroft’s not touching him anywhere else, so Greg hooks one arm around his shoulders to hug him closer. Mycroft allows it, and gradually his hands find his way to Greg’s waist and stay there.

It’s been so long since Greg kissed a man, just so bloody long, and it’s better than he remembers and he realises he’s missed it more than he’s ever allowed himself to admit. The smell and feel of a man, skin that’s just a touch raw from shaving every day, a hard and tall body to hold onto. It sets all sorts of greedy feelings alight, so many different kinds of desire he’s a bit overwhelmed by it. A good kind of overwhelmed, though, and with a sigh and a touch of desperation he clings closer to Mycroft.

They kiss, and breathe, and after a few tentative moments of lips and teeth he slips his tongue in. Mycroft tastes like port and, to his actual honest to God shock, cigarettes, and whatever it is he’s been feeling for him multiplies rapidly to insane proportions and one of Mycroft’s hands tightens in his shirt and he knows he’s just absolutely done for.

Mycroft breaks the kiss with a turn of his head and a sigh and a hint of reluctance which makes Greg feel pretty damn good about himself. “I’m going to miss my flight.”
“Can’t have that.”
“No, I really can’t, actually.” His hands clench and unclench on Greg’s shirt, and he smoothes his palms across Greg’s waist before he lets go. “I will undoubtedly see you soon, Gregory.”

Greg grins, stepping back and inclining his head towards him. “You will, actually. Have fun in Glasgow.”
Mycroft laughs. “Oh yes, I’ll try.”

Greg moves backwards towards the door, not quite ready to stop looking at him – because dear God he is wonderful, wonderful - but has to eventually and steps out the room. Down the hall he spots the leggy assistant, whose name he really ought to ask sometime, fiddling with her phone. She spots him and throws him the most knowing smirk he’s ever seen. He winks at her.

Dishy. Right.

He hails himself a cab, sits in the back seats sighing and fidgeting and repressing the urge to tell the cabbie he’s just gotten to snog the man who apparently runs the country (and he was bloody good at it, too). He fishes his phone out his pocket, stares at it, turning it over in his hands a few times and feels weirdly like his heart is swelling up and pressing against his ribcage. With a dizzy, happy grin he types up a quick text.

‘I think you’re brilliant. I’ll never stop chasing you now, you know. – Greg’

He receives a response almost immediately, which is so stupidly heartening he could sing.

‘I know. Please don’t. – MH’

Chapter Text

Greg Lestrade is walking on sunshine and doesn’t care who knows. It’s been a while since he’s actually felt good about things, and it’s a hopeful sort of happiness that he’s missed dreadfully. And people know, God do they know. Donovan seems somewhat warily amused by his sudden good cheer, at least, but Sherlock picks up on it too and wrinkles his nose at it. He wonders if Sherlock will somehow figure out it’s his own brother causing all this, that he might smell it on him or some such, but can’t think of a single thing that might give away he’s made out with Mycroft Holmes in some weird non-speaking gentlemen’s establishment three days ago so he grins at him and shrugs.

He fails to get Sherlock an interesting case for the week. He felt like a right prick wishing for some inexplicable murder to occur, but he supposes it might just fall under that thing where all is fair in love and war. He meets with Sherlock twice, disappoints him both times, and winds up with a very confused John trying to figure out what it is he’s up to. It doesn’t occur to him until much later that John genuinely hadn’t known the significance of this week. He isn’t sure if knowing this about Sherlock and Mycroft while John was kept in the dark is supposed to make him feel guilty or proud, and finally settles on an uncomfortable middle ground.

He keeps texting, though. Mycroft still doesn’t reply most of the time, but every so often now there comes a response and they’re like precious jewels, shiny little gemstones strewn across the gravel of his days.

‘One of my forensics guys slipped on a patch of blood and fell. Anderson almost bust his gut laughing. You should’ve seen it. – Greg’
‘Your brother bit a witness. That was new. – Greg’
‘My daughter still won’t talk to me. Janet informs me she’s dyed her hair blue. I imagine it looks nice on her. – Greg’
‘How do you feel about Italian food? I’m in the mood for Italian food. – Greg’

‘The only Italian food worth eating is served in Italy. – MH’

‘Then let’s go to Italy. – Greg’
‘Where are you right now, anyway? Even in England at all? Please don’t tell me I’m pushing my phone bill to unknown heights here. – Greg’
‘I burned my arm on my oven rack making pizza buns. Come kiss it better for me. - Greg’

It is nine days, seventeen hours and he’d wager about twenty minutes since he got to snog Mycroft when his phone rings. ‘Number withheld’, and his heart does that happy little leap he’s starting to grow quite fond of.

“Do you have plans for lunch?” Mycroft asks, and Greg did, actually, but a pub sandwich with his workmates is just no match for this one. And so he finds himself in a small restaurant in Bayswater, the origin of their kitchen strangely impossible to pinpoint, sitting at a small table by the window nearly vibrating with happy anticipation. He orders himself a bitter lemon, and waits.

When he’s waited for over an hour and Mycroft still hasn’t shown he starts to get rather uncomfortable.
After two hours uncomfortable has grown into the understatement of the century. He tries Mycroft’s number, but there is no answer.
He keeps checking his phone regardless, the waiter starting to look more and more sympathetic as he brings him a second drink, and a third.
His phone rings and his heart shoots into his throat. It plummets right down to the vicinity of his ankles, however, when he sees it’s Donovan’s number.

Crime scene. Just what the afternoon needed. Lovely.

He grudgingly pays for his drinks and leaves. His phone rings again just as he walks up to the scene, Donovan waiting for him in the doorway of a badly maintained residence, arms crossed.

‘number withheld’

“Gregory, I am so very deeply sorry. The meeting I was in ran dreadfully, dreadfully late, and it was not the kind of company wherein I might excuse myself to give you a quick call,” Mycroft says on the other end. “I sincerely hope you didn’t wait too long.”
“Yeah. No. Just, just for a while. It’s all right.” It’s not really all right, to be fair, disappointment like granite in his gut, but Mycroft’s explanation is sound enough.
“I do hope we might reschedule some day,” Mycroft says.
“Yes. We will, we both know I’ll let you. Look, I’m very sorry, but I have to go... work.”
Donovan raises an eyebrow at him. He notices she’s got them blue covers over her shoes – well, that doesn’t bode well for the nature of this particular crime scene. Just what his day was lacking.
“Of course, of course. Again, I am so sorry.”
There’s a click and the line goes dead. He sighs, and looks up at Donovan. “Body?”

~~~

A dull drizzle greys London outside his windows as he sits on his stupid fucking little sofa that evening, legs stretched out in front of him. He’s flipping channels back and forth, bored and frustrated, not tired enough to go to sleep but not rested enough to stay awake. Today did not go as planned. Not at all. Not even a little. Today was shit. Getting stood up, completely missing lunch, and a body that was in such a terrific state of decomposition they couldn’t even tell if the cause of death was natural or not.

There’s a knock on his door. Three of them, actually, a quick rap on the wood. He looks around himself as if to find some odd explanation to why someone is at his door right now – he’s lived in this crummy breadbox for almost four months and hasn’t had a single visitor yet. He stays still, wondering if someone perhaps got the wrong door, intending to visit his shouty neighbour, but there’s another succession of three little knocks and he jumps off his modest cerulean torture device and goes to open his door.

Mycroft looks so out of place in his corridor it takes him a moment to wrap his brain around the situation.
“Is this a bad time?” he asks, standing with his coat damp in the blueish lamplight.
“No. God, no,” Greg answers, and he steps aside to let him in. Mycroft sets his umbrella against the wall, sheds his coat and looks around for a place to put it. Greg is embarrassed to admit he has yet to purchase a coat rack of some sorts, and takes the coat from him. He hesitates, then neatly lays it atop a few boxes. Plenty of those around, anyway.

“I felt I owed you an apology in the flesh,” Mycroft says, even more out of place in Greg’s flat than he was in the corridor. “For standing you up. I am truly sorry.”
Greg battles the urge to just pounce him, hold onto him, not let go. “It’s fine, you didn’t have to come all the way up here... I get it, I do. I know what it’s like, to have work take up more of your time than it ought to. It’s all right.”

Mycroft sort of smiles and looks around and for the first time since he’s met him looks a bit uncomfortable. That’s good, actually. It occurs to him that he’s never really told Mycroft where he lives, but he feels stupid for that thought almost immediately. Of course Mycroft knows where he lives. Mycroft probably knows what he had for breakfast and where he keeps his porn, too.
“Tea?” Greg offers, and Mycroft nods. He flips his kettle on, takes two mugs out the cabinet. He covertly checks them for spots, just in case, and sets them on the counter. “How do you take it?”
“Splash of milk, no sugar please,” Mycroft says, looking around the room while Greg makes them both a mug. He worries for a moment his tea won’t do, that Mycroft prefers something fancier, something that’s not PG Tips teabags, but it’s all he’s got and Mycroft is going to have to live with it.

Mycroft Holmes on his blue sofa of death wins at most surreal thing Greg has ever seen. He sits, clearly and understandably uncomfortable, and sips his tea from a large grey Ikea mug.
“I fear I might get assassinated on the spot for asking this,” Greg says. “But what is it you do, exactly?”
Mycroft smiles into his mug. “Oh, dear. The answer to that question is rather complicated. Simply put, I have an... advisory position. Many people, important people, come to me when they are out of their depth.”
“Sounds remarkably like how someone else I know describes his job.”
That earns him a chuckle. “Doesn’t it just? You could say I, like Sherlock, invented my own job. I made myself very indispensable to our government. And some other governments too, actually.”
“Consulting politician,” Greg says, and he laughs. “Oh, brilliant, you lot.”
Mycroft drinks his tea and looks pleased with himself. Ah, yes. Sherlock’s not the only one in the family who enjoys impressing people, then.

“Does it pay well?”
Mycroft snorts at this. “Not as well as you’d think, actually. But that’s... not an issue.”
“Ah, yes, right. That was a bit rude of me though, wasn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t classify that as rude, necessarily. Honest, perhaps. But then I like that about you.”
Their eyes meet briefly, and Greg muses on how his day just improved vast amounts. Bit odd, how that works, that of all people in London it’s this aloof, almost unreal man making that happen for him, but here he is sitting in his flat drinking his crap tea and he supposes it’s the unlikely connections you make that flavour your days the most.

“I’ve never thanked you for what you did for Sherlock, all those years ago,” Mycroft says quietly. “I am endlessly grateful for that.”
“It wasn’t that big a deal.”
“No, no, it was. You could have ruined him. Many men in your place would have. You chose to help him and gave him direction. Thank you. Truly.”
“Your brother is a good man. He just needed someone to see him that way.”
“The number of people who consider Sherlock a ‘good man’ can be counted on one hand, Gregory. I assure you I hold all of them in high regard.”

“I hope that I hold a bit of a nicer place in your heart than Mrs. Hudson does, though,” Greg says, and Mycroft smiles again, that amused, pleased sort of smile he seems to reserve for him a lot. It’s surprisingly powerful, actually, and he can almost see Mycroft’s defences lower.
Mycroft puts his mug down, and Greg puts his mug down, and then they’re kissing again and all words to describe the moment escape him. One of Mycroft’s hands is in his hair, his thumb caressing just behind his ear. It’s incredibly intimate somehow, the small touches of fingertips across his scalp. Greg sidles closer to him, into him, slipping an arm around his waist.

It’s easy, really, this slide into intimacy there in the privacy of his own flat, even on the abomination that is his sofa. Their hands roam and he chances to slip one right up the back of Mycroft’s jacket, up his waistcoat, resting warmly now between fine wool and even finer cotton over the very firm, very real expanse of Mycroft’s back.

The waistcoat, though. Who the hell wears a waistcoat anymore? Mycroft Holmes does, is the answer to that one, and Greg didn’t think he’d ever find someone wearing this many layers so deeply arousing. Mycroft takes it a step further even, tugging Greg’s shirt out the waistband of his trousers with one hand and sliding his fingers across the bare skin of his lower back. Greg lays back, tugging Mycroft down with him. He glides on top of him without even the faintest protest, kissing him first on the lips, then chin, jaw, and finally nibbling down his neck.

“Mycroft,” Greg says softly, barely more than a whisper, and Mycroft is back to kissing him on the mouth again, eagerly so. Greg feels heady, addicted, and comes to the conclusion he wants to kiss Mycroft preferably forever. He’s just so bloody good at it, they are so bloody good at it, as if their mouths were simply made to fit. His weight atop Greg is solid and alive but, unfortunately, their position oh so awkward. His hideous little sofa is small for one person, let alone two grown men, and it takes nearly all his restraint to not just roll the two of them over onto the floor.

“Stay the night,” he says, a breathy whisper by Mycroft’s ear. Mycroft pulls back just enough to be able to see his face and nods, briefly. His face is flushed and his suit rumpled, which is just incredibly delightful. Greg reaches and runs a hand through his hair, smiling at him, and Mycroft snorts out a laugh and presses his face into Greg’s neck.
“I must be losing my mind,” he mumbles.
“Oh, me too. Good, isn’t it,” Greg says, and Mycroft hums an answer into his neck and it’s all really all right.

He wouldn’t be able to recount how they managed to make it to his bedroom, and especially not how Mycroft not only managed to get out of his three piece suit but leave it neatly folded on his dresser, but he’s naked and he’s in Greg’s bed and that’s just not the time for deep thought. On his part Greg just sort of sheds his clothes and leaves them wherever, climbing onto his bed and wrapping himself around Mycroft and kissing him deeply as to prevent himself from just flat-out bursting into song after all. He wants this stupid amounts, touch and feel and taste and just lose himself in this impossible man who is all of a sudden so willing, so naked, and so very handsy.

Mycroft touches him everywhere, shoulders, chest, stomach, hips, takes a firm hold of his buttocks, grinds them together in a way that leaves Greg momentarily breathless. Greg rolls them over, sucks on Mycroft’s collarbone, running a hand through the coarse hair on his chest. He can feel his heart thumping wildly below his breastbone and it’s ridiculously endearing, human, and he presses a kiss right over it.

Mycroft pushes him back, eyebrows furrowed, and turns him around. Greg is confused for a moment, but then he feels Mycroft’s fingers trace the compact design on his shoulder blade and gets it. Mycroft hadn’t known that, then, hadn’t had it written down in some file that Gregory Lestrade was a rebellious youngster, and feels kind of good about that.
Mycroft kisses the tattoo, sliding his hands down Greg’s back. “You’re astonishing,” he murmurs, and Greg doesn’t follow the significance of that but finds it all too easy to accept when Mycroft turns him over again and wraps a determined hand around his cock as he nuzzles the soft flesh that age has gathered around his belly button.

“Jesus,” he breathes, letting his head fall back onto his pillow as Mycroft strokes him slowly, stretching himself out across his bed. He leans in and slowly drags his tongue across the head of Greg’s cock, peeping out from his fist, and looks up at him with a question in his eyes he really shouldn’t have to ask.
“Please,” Greg manages, reaching out, running a hand through Mycroft’s hair, and holds his breath as Mycroft takes him deeply into his mouth and sucks.

There’s something intensely beautiful about this, about Mycroft’s mouth on his cock. Almost forbidden, he’d say, and he connects the prim, proper man he knows with his suits and his gentlemen’s club to the more than eager tongue dragging up his shaft and feels giddy with how fantastic this whole thing is.

Mycroft slips his cock out his mouth, drags lips and tongue and teeth up the inside of his thigh, pumps Greg’s cock with his fist a few times before diving back down and sucking it deeply into his mouth. There’s a hazy kind of determination in his eyes – he really likes to do this, Greg recognises, and that’s a turn-on if he ever did see one. One hand has a firm hold on the base of his prick while the other is on his thigh, gripping so tightly Greg wonders if he might bruise.

He’s ridiculously good at this, too. Stupidly so. He’ll never look at him the same way again, so help him God. It feels strangely like he’s sucking his sanity out of him through his dick and that’s a ridiculous sort of image so he giggles, throwing his head back, self-control slipping just a bit as he thrusts shallowly up into Mycroft’s eager mouth.

Mycroft chuckles around his prick and slips him out his mouth, looking up at him with a smirk. “Good, Detective Inspector?” His lips catch and drag across the spit-slick head of his cock and it’s so good it makes his toe curl. The use of his fucking title, too, dear God.
“Jesus. Yes,” he says, his voice gravelly and cracked.
“Do you want to come?”
He nods, and Mycroft smiles and takes him back into his mouth. Greg reaches up and takes a hold of the headboard, fingers gripping cheap wood for dear life, and Mycroft sucks and bobs his head and Greg lets go. His orgasm hits like a freight train, ripping through him, and he’s fairly sure he’s making an embarrassing amount of noise but feels so far outside himself he can’t do a thing to help it.

Mycroft pumps him all the way through it, then disappears and Greg doesn’t even realise he’s left the room entirely for a moment until he’s already coming back, climbing back onto his bed.
“Sorry,” he murmurs, “I had to… well.”
“Spit,” Greg finishes for him, one arm slung across his face as he catches his breath. “No worries. Jesus fucking Christ, Mycroft Holmes, where the fuck did you learn to do that.”
“Tsk tsk, language,” Mycroft purrs as he stretches himself out alongside him, his nose in Greg’s ear. His mouth is cool against Greg’s temple and he supposes he must’ve rinsed it out and wonders just how long he was in the bathroom for, anyway. Damn but if that hadn’t sent him right off into oblivion for a bit. He inhales and exhales in an overexcited sort of giggle, turning to his side and kissing Mycroft deeply.

“You’re an odd bloke,” he murmurs. “I like that.” He runs a hand down Mycroft’s spine and Mycroft makes a soft, appreciate sound and presses himself close. His cock slides hot and rock hard against Greg’s hip, and Greg grins.
“Return the favour?”
“God, yes,” Mycroft says, dragging his fingers down Greg’s bicep.

Greg pushes him onto his back, his hands on his shoulders, and smiles wildly at him before finding his way down Mycroft’s long body. It’s been very, very long since he’s gotten to do this and he intends to make the best of it, nuzzling Mycroft’s cock. He likes this, the way it feels, the way it smells. He drags his tongue up the length and hears Mycroft gasp. Oh, very good. He runs his fingers up too, a tentative touch at first but then more firmly, gripping it tightly and pumping, sliding his foreskin up and down. He kisses the tip, smirks up at Mycroft. “Let’s see if I can make you scream like I did,” he says, teasingly. Mycroft doesn’t even respond, staring down at him with glassy eyes, lips parted. His cheeks are delightfully flushed, his hair mussed up, and Greg could just about eat him up.

He does so, taking him into his mouth until he feels him at the back of his throat. He used to be so good at this, but he’s painfully out of practice. His gag reflex protests so he moves him back out just a touch, wrapping his fist tightly around the base to make up for it. He sucks, hard, and feels a vein pulsing against his tongue on the underside. He bobs his head, cheeks hollowing, and caresses Mycroft’s balls with his free hand. Drawn ridiculously tight already, and however long it’s been that Greg has sucked a cock it seems it’s been quite some time since Mycroft has had his sucked, too.

He swirls his tongue around the head, laps at it a few times. He presses one daring finger behind Mycroft’s testicles, against his perineum, and again Mycroft gasps. Oh, very good indeed. He slides him back into his mouth and Mycroft tenses. Greg looks up, wishing nothing more than to see his face as he lets himself go. Mycroft orgasms in complete silence, eyes squeezed shut, mouth falling open in a soundless cry as Greg’s mouth floods with semen. Too lazy and certainly too attached to this here and now to get up he swallows, ignoring the momentary weirdness. He sits back on his haunches, wiping his mouth and failing to hide his self-satisfied grin as Mycroft comes back to earth, breathing rapidly, blinking his eyes open.

“Thank you,” he says breathlessly, and Greg doubles over in a manic fit of giggles. He crawls back up the bed, plastering himself against Mycroft’s side.
“Do you always thank people for head?” he teases, and Mycroft grins at him and shrugs.
“There’s nothing wrong with proper manners, Gregory.”
He chuckles, nuzzling pleasantly into Mycroft’s neck. “You know that even my gran doesn’t call me Gregory, right? Nobody calls me that.”
“Yes, I know. That’s rather the point.”

Mycroft rolls to his side, dragging Greg’s arm around his waist, and they lie peacefully, Greg pressing soft kisses to the back of Mycroft’s neck. Mycroft draws shapes and circles on the back of his hand with a lazy finger, and Greg doesn’t remember being this comfortable in this bed for as long as he’s slept in it.
“I’m sleepy,” Greg says.
“Then go to sleep,” Mycroft answers softly. He takes Greg’s hand, raises it to his mouth and presses a kiss to his knuckles. It’s a cherished, precious sort of gesture, and Greg presses his face tightly between Mycroft’s shoulder blades as a means to handle the sudden warm fuzzy feeling he gets.

He drags his duvet over the two of them but Mycroft carefully kicks it off again, lying naked with Greg snuggled warmly against his back. There’s an endearing idiosyncrasy to that – enjoys hiding himself in three piece suits but prefers to sleep without covers – and Greg wants to remember that, remember all these little things about him. He wishes his memory was better, and eventually falls asleep thinking of notebooks and graphs and wondering if that’s an acceptable way of keeping these little things about Mycroft with him.

~~~

He wakes up and it’s barely even morning, milky fledgling daylight coming in through his wispy curtains. Mycroft is awake, sitting up at the foot of his bed. He’s still naked, and Greg watches him for a silent, fragile moment. His entire back is covered in freckles, raining down his shoulders and spine, and he is met with the oddly cutesy idea to find himself a pen and play connect the dots. Mycroft sits perfectly still, lost in thought. He looks strange like this, sitting so serious in Greg’s tiny bedroom.

Greg sits up and scoots towards him. He presses a kiss to the back of his neck, on the nub of his spine. “You’re awake early,” he murmurs.
“Early riser.”
“Me too, actually.”
He hooks an arm around his waist and rests his cheek against Mycroft’s shoulder blade.
“I have to go,” Mycroft says softly. “I have a conference call at seven.”
“Seven am? Damn.”
“Downside of working with people all across the world. Odd hours.”
He presses a line of kisses along the back of Mycroft’s shoulder. “Will you call me, later today?”
“I can’t promise that I’ll find the time.”
They sit in silence, Mycroft unmoving, and Greg feels unease creeping into his bones.
“You don’t regret this, do you?” he asks carefully.
Mycroft doesn’t respond, stays perfectly still.
“Okay. You not answering that question isn’t exactly encouraging,” he says, moving so he can see Mycroft’s face. It’s completely blank.

“This might not be the best decision I’ve ever made,” Mycroft says carefully. “Sleeping with a divorced Detective Inspector. A man in my position…”
“Who cares? We don’t have to advertise this, you know.”
“I care.”
His words hit Greg hard, like a slap in the face. He grits his teeth and leans his head back onto Mycroft’s shoulder. He’s not going to give this up that easily.
“I don’t know what it is you want from me, Gregory,” Mycroft says, and Greg sighs.
“Oh come on. It’s not rocket science. I want this. Going out, spending time. Kissing, contact. Sex. Surely a big brain like yours can figure that out.”

Mycroft looks at him, his eyes dark in the hazy dawn. “I don’t know if I am able to provide that for you,” he says, and Greg thinks that that’s the biggest load of bullshit he’s ever heard.
“I like you, Mycroft. I like you a lot. I’m not going to give up on that because you think it might be a bad decision. Bad decisions have led to some of the best things in my life.”
Mycroft looks at him strangely, like he’s trying to work out whether what he just said is either really offensive or incredibly insightful, then leans in and kisses him, hard. There’s blatant want in it, pure passion, and Greg actually feels a bit angry about that. First telling him he regrets sleeping with him, then kissing him like the world might be ending, it just doesn’t compute. He allows Mycroft to kiss him for a desperate couple minutes, then breaks it and pulls back to look at him. Mycroft is looking at him intently, lips pressed together.
“Stop looking at me like it hurts to do so,” Greg says quietly, and Mycroft closes his eyes.
“I really ought to go, lest I be late,” he says, and Greg has no choice but to lean in and kiss him again, just relishing for a moment the feel of him, soft and still somewhat sleep-warm. He can’t let this go, not just like this.

“You call me today, you hear me? Surely you can fit in five minutes somewhere,” he murmurs against Mycroft’s lips. Mycroft takes his bottom lip between his teeth gently and worries it and Greg shivers.

“No promises,” Mycroft says as he stands up. He stretches, tall and pale and somewhat beautifully unashamed, and goes to wrap himself back in all his trusted layers. Greg watches him, sitting on the bed, this odd reverse striptease performed by a man who has made himself so important on a professional level he can’t seem to accept he might be important to someone on a personal one, too.

Mycroft straightens his tie and turns to him. He’s trying to think of something to say, Greg can see the intent of it, but fails. Greg sits up, beckons him. Mycroft gets the hint and leans in for one last kiss, slow, lingering, his fingers trailing lightly up Greg’s bare arm.
“Call. Me,” Greg says, and Mycroft offers him something of a half-smile as he straightens. Without another word he leaves the bedroom, and Greg hears his front door open and shut.

The flat is empty and quiet. He falls back onto his bed with a sigh and tries not to think.

Chapter Text

Greg keeps his phone on him all day, safe in the inside pocket of his jacket, but it never rings. No calls, no texts, no nothing. He checks his reception up to three times, just in case, but everything is fine and he’s fallen for the most emotionally unavailable man in all of England. Great. Grand. Gorgeous.

He has a meeting with his divorce attorney in the afternoon. They discuss things like dividing property, custody and alimony, and it makes him feel obstinate. She can have it all, he thinks, their house and the car and all the stupid little trinkets. The only thing he cares about, truly cares about, is Emma, and as far as he’s concerned he’ll pay alimony until she’s thirty six if that makes her happy, as long as she’ll eventually talk to him like a normal person again.

He doesn’t come home until late in the evening, and doesn’t even bother gracing the blue horror with his presence. He walks right on into his bedroom, kicks his shoes off and lays down. He presses his face into the pillow, fancying for a moment he might still smell Mycroft on it, but it just smells like his pillow and he feels strangely hollow.

Disheartened, he fidgets his phone out his pocket and types a text, holding it up over his face.

‘You’re a right bastard. – Greg’
‘How difficult is it to call me? Or send me a text during a toilet break or some such. – Greg’
‘I don’t know how it is you can make me so happy one minute and then so unhappy the next. – Greg’

The last one makes him feel like crap and he regrets sending it almost instantly. With a sigh he sends a final text, and sets his phone aside.

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that so much. I just mean, I’m reaching out here. Reach back a little. I think last night proved that leads to pretty spectacular things. – Greg’

An answer never comes. After laying flat on his back across the bed for about twenty minutes he rolls off again, remembering he’s got a six-pack of beers in his fridge, and goes to get himself one.

~~~

“Hi Dad.”

It took five rings for Emma to answer her phone. He’d counted them out loud, to himself, in his empty flat. When she answers it is with a reluctance so obvious it nearly blacks out her words entirely. Greg feels immediately uncomfortable and deeply unwanted, and didn’t think it would ever be possible for his own child to make him feel that way.

He flashes briefly back to 2002, where Emma was five and they would play ‘super heroes’. This involved tying a dish towel around her neck and allowing her to jump up and down on the sofa – a game her mother never let her play, for fear of damaged sofa springs or sprained little girl ankles. The sofa was always fine, the little girl ankles even more so, and Greg just genuinely loved egging her on, bright gap-toothed smile on her face, blond hair bouncing around her head.

Greg was a shit father. He knows that. He was rarely ever there, especially not for the moments that mattered, and he can’t fault Emma for blaming him for her parents’ divorce. Hell, he does too, on some days, when he’s not too blinded by the helpless bitterness left by Janet’s fast-and-loose approach to monogamy. Still, he loves his daughter, and he misses his daughter, and would love for her to come over and jump all over his sofa right now. If he’s lucky, she might even break it.

“Hey sweetheart, how are you doing?” he asks.
“I’m fine. Look, dad, I don’t really have time... I’m out with my friends, is all.”

Out with her friends? On a Wednesday evening? He nearly says something but bites his tongue. He knows he should. He really knows. He just thinks that perhaps Janet ought to be the one having these fights with her, now.

Then again, Janet’s always been the one having these fights with her, hasn’t she?

“I see. That’s all right, hon. Maybe you can call me tomorrow? After school? We could. Chat.” Chat. Yes. Because that’s what a fifteen year old girl wants to do. Chat with her old man over the phone after she hasn’t actually seen him in the flesh in over a month.

“Yeah. Sure. You have a nice night, Dad.”
In the background he hears laughter, high-pitched teenage voices. He hears cars, too, and faint music in the background. Then it’s gone and there’s just a monotonous beep. It’s a lonely sound, that beep, disappointed. He listens to it for a few seconds, then puts his phone down and sighs.

He’s sitting on the floor, between two boxes, back to the wall. He’s more comfortable there than he is on his stupid bloody godforsaken sofa, which is so tragic he doesn’t even have words for it.

He sighs and leans back against the wall, straightening his spine against plaster over brick. He wishes he was tired, genuinely exhausted all the way down to his marrow, so he might go to bed and fall asleep instantly and not feel so pointless. He’s not tired, he’s barely even sort of drowsy, and thinks he really ought to cut down on the coffees he drinks after four.

He picks his phone up from the floor and stares at the screen. It tells him the date, the time, and that the sun’s not shining today, all over a generic swirly grey background. He knows he could change that but can’t figure out how. He gets lost in the bloody thing anyway, he misses phones that had buttons and switches and that he could chuck onto his desk without having to worry about snapping it in half. He wipes his thumb across the screen and watches as it changes, shows him all these options he never uses, barely even recognizes, and feels horribly old. Passé, crinkly at the edges, last season’s shoes. He doesn’t understand his phone, he doesn’t understand his daughter, he’s living in a flat clearly designed for some up and coming young professional who spends more time socialising than he does hanging on his sofa (his sofa appears designed for the same purpose too, actually), and he’s pathetically chasing a man who brushes him off like Greg’s trying to sell him a hoover.

He keeps wiping his thumb across the screen and winds up in his sent messages box. Seventeen messages sent to a certain Holmes, M., in the past seven days. No replies. He keeps flicking across his phone and winds up in his contact list, selects Mycroft and presses call.

The ring is sharp in his ear, hopeful if not vaguely desperate, a different sort of feel to them than the ones after someone hung up on you and he briefly wonders what the hell is wrong with him that he’s attaching so much meaning to different types of fucking phone bleeps. He lets it ring for nearly ten minutes, but it is never answered. With a sigh he hangs up, and thuds his head back against his wall.

~~~

Sunlight reflects off high windows as Greg sits on a bench in St. James's park, sipping coffee from a paper cup he’s purchased at a little café nearby. It’s a slow afternoon and he’s decided to make the most of it, taking along a case report Dimmock sent him.

He’s barely even read the first page. He’s distracted by the sunshine, the two laughing little boys playing with a remote controlled little race car on the path, pretty girls strutting past having just dug their spring dresses out their closets again. It’s a world of pale legs just freed from winter trousers and he peers at them from behind his sunglasses, feeling lazy and a fuzzy kind of warm but not necessarily happy about it. There’s an edge of disappointment to his days that saps his motivation and leaves him listless and far too irritable. Even his team started taking note of that – Dodge, for one, looks like he’s now genuinely two steps away from a nervous breakdown, and Greg isn’t so sure how to fix that one at this point.

He hasn’t heard from Mycroft in two weeks. The mere mention of his name makes him bristle. He’s had to actually stop himself from physically lashing out at Sherlock the other day, simply because anything Holmes-related seems to annoy him beyond belief at the moment.

Every day he checks his phone. Every evening he basically sits and waits, no matter how he tells himself not to. He barely makes plans at all, keeping his options open for a what-if that never comes. He doesn’t text him as often as he did before but still at least once or twice a day, with increasing amounts of cynicism.

‘I’m going to assume you’ve gotten yourself a severe case of laryngitis, what with you apparently incapable of a simple phone call now. – Greg’
‘Broken your thumbs, can’t text? – Greg’
‘Every time someone comes into my office I have this small bit of hope it might be you. Never is. – Greg’
‘Do you own a cat? Cause I think it might’ve gotten your tongue. – Greg’

He receives a reply exactly once, though not one that fills him with particular joy.

‘You didn’t die or something, did you? – Greg’
‘Rest assured that I didn’t. – MH’
‘Well that’s good to know. Just ignoring me, then. Nice. – Greg’

He refuses to acknowledge that what they had had was a one-night stand. He can’t see Mycroft Holmes, of all people, actively participating in things like that, and his gut instinct simply tells him that there’s more here. Sure, he’s been out of the dating game for twenty years, but his intuition can’t possible have gotten that much out of practice. He’s a detective, for God’s sake.

He registers someone sitting down on the bench next to him, but doesn’t realise who until he starts talking to him.

“You really ought to stop texting me so much, Gregory. I can’t imagine it’s very satisfying for you to never receive a response.”
Greg closes his eyes and sighs. “You might just respond like a normal person,” he says. He turns and looks at Mycroft, sitting next to him in a handsome dark blue suit. “Where the hell did you just come from?”
“Brussels.” He sighs, looking at the two boys and their car. Greg stares at him. Brussels. Right. Of course.

“How did you know I was here?”
Mycroft cocks his head at him, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh come on, tell me. You owe me.”
Mycroft turns back to look across the park, and sighs. “Your coffee. You paid for it with your card. That gave me a general area. After that it’s a fairly simple matter of multilaterating your mobile phone signal. You haven’t moved in about thirty minutes, which makes finding you incredibly easy.”
“You’re fucking kidding me.”
“I assure you I’m not.”
“That is some genuine James Bond stuff right there. How much of the tax payer’s money does that cost, exactly?”
Mycroft gives him his best oh-you-peasant smile. “You needn’t worry about that, Gregory.”

“Big violation of privacy too, actually.”
“Privacy is an illusion.”
“Right.” Greg sips his coffee, stretching his legs out in front of him. “So that explains the how. Now the why, though. I’m going to assume there’s no high-tech fancy answer for that one.”
“I had half an hour to myself and thought I might look you up.”
“Oh come on, that’s not an answer! You ignore me to death for two weeks, and then pop out of nowhere for a chat in the park?”
“I didn’t ‘ignore you to death’.”
“Could have fooled me. You know, if this was just a one-night thing for you, you could’ve just said so, would have saved me a lot of sleepless nights full of self-doubt.”

Mycroft clenches his jaw, lips pressed together in a hard, thin line before he speaks again. “I’ve told you before. I am not sure I can provide what it is you want from me. I have dedicated my life to a great many things, and personal relationships is not one of them.”
“Yeah, and? My job is my life. My wife cheated on me like it was going out of style because she got so lonely after a while with me gone all the time. I know how that works. I’m not asking for a full hundred percent of your life, just… a small part. Preferably a somewhat significant one, but you know.”
“I still think you’re a glutton for punishment. Out of all the prospective candidates you might have chosen from, you set your sights on me. How masochistic of you.”

“Yes, well, I have a crush on you. Can’t quite help that. You push my buttons.”
“You do understand people do not generally have ‘crushes’ on me.”
“I don’t give a shit about what people generally have, all right. I have a crush on you. I am not people, I’m… me. You seem to have some trouble getting that concept. Me, Greg Lestrade, individual, fancies the pants off Mycroft Holmes, also an individual. It’s not so much about ‘prospective candidates’, is it.”
Silence. Mycroft watches the two boys, running back and forth after their car. The thing whirs and zooms and the boys laugh, bumping into each other. It’s just one of those images Greg connects to a perfect, sunny spring afternoon, but he wonders how Mycroft interprets it. Does he think them noisy or obnoxious? Or would it inspire memories of some mysterious childhood, somewhere? He realises how desperately he wants to know these things, wants to know who Mycroft is and how he’s grown into who he is now, and it sits uncomfortably with him. It’s a normal sort of thing to feel when you want to pursue a relationship with someone, but it falls so absolutely squarely within Mycroft’s ‘I can’t provide what you want’ defence it’s ridiculous.

“Do you have a crush on me, then?” Greg asks. He knows it’s a childish sort of question, really, but he just wants to know. A no and he might be able to get over all this, or a yes so he might… well, do the exact opposite.
“We’re not fourteen years old, Gregory, must you really use the word ‘crush’?”
“Don’t avoid the question. Do you like me, at all?”
“Do you think me the type to be physically intimate with someone I do not like?”

“Jesus, you’re wordy. Can’t you just say ‘yes, Gregory, I like you’?”
Mycroft smiles at that, quietly amused, and Greg thinks himself such a hopeless chump for finding himself willing to forget that he spent two weeks moping around in exchange for one little smile and a few vaguely encouraging sentences.

“I tried calling you. Why didn’t you pick up?”
“Last time you called I was asleep, actually.”
“You’re not serious.”
“Why on earth would I not be serious about sleeping?”
“Asleep for the other four times too, then? And why don’t you just respond to my stupid texts?” he presses.
“I’m a busy man.”
“Nobody is that busy. You can type me up one when you’re on the loo, for all I care. I’m not asking you to write me an essay, I just want some small bit of evidence that you think of me from time to time.”
“I think of you all the time,” Mycroft says in a soft, withdrawn way that sounds like a confession. It makes Greg feel odd, like those words initiate some sort of gravitational pull, the earth tilting on its axis to topple him closer to Mycroft. He tries to fight it, he honestly does, but a part of him is screaming about how lonely he is and how much he’s been aching for him and he’s right there and it’s this odd sort of universal inevitability he can’t stop.

He reaches and covers Mycroft’s hand with his own and leans in. Mycroft leans away from him abruptly with a sharp intake of breath. “Don’t.”
His world snaps back into harsh alignment and he is momentarily confused, like a dog that got tapped on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.
“Not in public. I am not comfortable with that,” Mycroft clarifies.
“Oh. Right. Sorry. I’m a tit.”
The smile comes back, and Greg is endlessly grateful for that. “You can be, yes.” He turns and looks at him, searching for Greg’s eyes behind his sunglasses. “Your flat is not too far, however.”
The innuendo so openly expressed in such a small sentence spreads like fire ants under his skin. He ought to say no, he really should, at least until Mycroft has profusely apologised for his horrible communication skills, but Greg is a red-blooded male being blatantly propositioned by an attractive ginger and his hormones rage like an October storm.

Yes, definitely a hopeless chump.

~~~

They shuffle into his flat, Mycroft so close behind him he can almost feel his breath on the back of his neck. He dumps his own overcoat across a couple boxes, then turns and watches as Mycroft, with laughable care, does the same.

Mycroft, between boxes containing his CDs, summer clothes and various kitchen appliances. It’s ridiculous, really, and he feels suddenly embarrassed. He nudges at a box with his foot, shrugging somewhat helplessly at Mycroft. Mycroft leans in, stills him with a hand on his elbow and draws him upwards into a kiss. “I’m not here to see your flat,” he murmurs against Greg’s mouth and Greg is deliciously done for.

They make it to his bedroom in a kind of modern dance, moving without ever bothering to unstick their faces from each other. Once there Mycroft again undresses himself completely first, his suit ending up neatly folded on Greg’s dresser like before. Greg laughs and pulls a naked Mycroft on top of him and revels in having him here, again, in his bed, warm and willing and kissing him with such enthusiasm Greg can hardly breathe.

They roll back and forth on his bed, Greg on top one instant and Mycroft the next, kissing and licking and biting and Greg is pretty sure Mycroft has purposefully left a hickey on his right collarbone and that’s just a bit cheeky of him. It’s oddly warm in his little bedroom, especially for a May afternoon, and it soon leaves them sticky with sweat and panting against each other’s skin. It only serves to increase Greg’s utter need for this man, a frenzied yearning that throbs to rhythm of his rapidly beating heart, as they rut together as if the world might end if they didn’t.

“You keep a box of condoms and a bottle of lubricant in your night stand. Gladly take them out,” Mycroft whispers into his ear and a grin so helplessly pleased pops up on Greg’s face with such force he fears he might be stuck with it for the remainder of the week. He doesn’t even care which way this is going to end up, because it’s with Mycroft and either way the idea of it is wank fodder for years to come.

As he retrieves said items he does wonder briefly how Mycroft knew they were there, but comes to the conclusion that that probably doesn’t have so much to do with high-tech spy nonsense as much as it does with Mycroft peeking in his drawers last time he slept here. He should maybe ask him about that. Later. When Mycroft isn’t rolling over onto his stomach, lifting his hips up off the bed invitingly with the naughtiest sort of smirk Greg has ever seen on anyone in his life.

After their world has pleasantly boiled down to the two of them and absolutely nothing else for an always too brief period of time, after Greg has nearly drowned himself in the beauty that is Mycroft Holmes completely submitting himself to pure physical pleasure, and after Greg has come to the utterly calm conclusion that he is experiencing far more than your average crush, they lie together on his bed, sharing one pillow like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

Mycroft had politely asked if it was okay to smoke in his flat. Greg hasn’t actually had any smokers over yet and thus has not given it much thought, but figured Mycroft had more than earned his cigarette and even fetched him a dirty coffee cup out his sink to use as a make-shift ashtray. So there he lay, smoking with such languid enjoyment Greg wasn’t sure who to be more jealous of – Mycroft, or the cigarette.

“Can I have a drag?”
“No.” Mycroft exhales a long drift of smoke towards his ceiling.
“Why not?”
“Because you have been wearing nicotine patches for the better part of a year and are doing well. Don’t ruin that now.”
Greg laughs and rubs his face along Mycroft’s bare shoulder. Mycroft shifts, lifts his arm, and Greg tucks himself under it. He could get used to this.

“I have to know. Did you seriously locate me using my phone signal and whatnot, just to get yourself a bit of afternoon delight?”
Mycroft pulls on his cigarette and looks appropriately ashamed of himself. “I assure you I only meant to look you up for a casual conversation. The sex was a bit of a spontaneous decision.”
“You should be spontaneous more often.”
Mycroft’s laugh drifts to the ceiling in tufts of smoke. He finishes his cigarette, stubs it out gently in the cup and tucks his hand under his head. Greg feels relaxed and sated, and starts drawing circles in the dark hair on Mycroft’s chest with lazy fingertips.

“So how many people have you slept with?” he asks conversationally, only a bit distracted by the coarse hair under his fingers and the distant thump of Mycroft’s heart.
“Such a personal question.”
“Oh come on, I’m curious.”
Mycroft laughs, again, and Greg thinks he’s never seen him this mellow for all the years he’s known him. Apparently a good and thorough shag works wonders on the man.

“Tell me already. I’m willing to put money on it that you’ve got a pretty good idea about me, and all.”
Mycroft smirks at his ceiling. “I know you kept yourself quite busy in the eighties, but committed with admirable devotion to your wife whom you met in 1991. Still, before that, my estimate would be around 40 to 50 bedfellows.”
“Jesus. That’s... impressive reasoning.”
“The figure might be more accurate if I knew at what age you got started.”
“Mycroft Holmes, I am shocked and disappointed you can’t deduce that from the wrinkles in my sheets.”
Mycroft pushes a hand through Greg’s hair with a grin, pressing his face into his chest. Greg chuckles against his skin and tries not to drown on the butterflies in his lungs.

“Now you gotta tell me yours too, you know.”
“Twelve.”
“Twelve? Really?”
“Yes.”
“Including me?”
“Yes, including you.”

“Well that’s. More than I was expecting.” He grins, looking up at Mycroft, who offers him a raised eyebrow,
“You expected me to be what, sexually repressed? I’m not my brother, you know.”
“No not... repressed. Just posh, I guess.” He ignores the aside about Sherlock, mostly because he genuinely doesn’t need to be thinking about that right now.
Mycroft grins now, a twinkle in his blue eyes. “Posh people fuck too, Gregory.”
“Apparently so.” With a bright smile and a heart full of warm fuzzy things Greg rolls on top of him. Mycroft oomphs and chuckles softly and then there’s just kissing and touching and that’s all really bloody brilliant all around.

~~~

Before they both head back to their respective offices, as Mycroft adjusts his tie in the mirror and Greg attempts to make his hair lie flat at the back, he makes Mycroft promise him one thing.

“At least once a day you’ll let me know you’re, you know, alive. Call me up. Text me, if you don’t have time to call. You say you think about me, so prove it.”
Mycroft protests, hems and haws, repeats how he hates texting before he starts tutting back and forth about being a busy man who doesn’t have time for frivolities and honestly Gregory let’s be fair here neither do you, but Greg grabs him by the tie and kisses him and tells him to be a man about it and if he wants more of these lovely afternoons he can just nut up and work for it.
Mycroft shoots him a look that says ‘you are quite possibly far more trouble than you’re worth’ but says he’ll try before quite shamelessly putting his hands in places Greg doesn’t generally allow emotionally avoidant twats to put them, and Greg thinks he can work with that.

‘My bed is boring without you in it – Greg’ he texts that evening, but doesn’t receive a response. Then, he figures he has actually seen him that same day, and Mycroft probably does consider that grounds to not have to stoop to sending an itty bitty text message that same day.

‘Can I fire someone for being a self-righteous wanker? – Greg’ he sends the next day.
‘You could, but I advise against citing that as the reason. – MH’ he receives a little under an hour later. Yes. Yes, Greg thinks, that will do.

Exactly per their agreement Mycroft responds to his texts once a day. Regardless of how many Greg sends, he receives one answer. He’s not sure whether Mycroft’s doing it because he’s making a genuine effort to further their relationship, or if he’s just making an arse out of him by abiding strictly to what he’d made him promise without actually committing to the idea at all, but Greg has learned by now to take his wins where he can get them.

‘Can’t decide if I want pizza or curry for tea. – Greg’
‘Be kind to your coronary arteries, get a salad. – MH’

‘I can’t sleep. Is it boring where you are too? – Greg’
‘I don’t think anyone could ever describe Beirut as boring. – MH’

‘Are you really in Beirut? – Greg’
‘Not anymore. – MH’
‘Damn. – Greg’

‘Do you ever wear anything other than three piece suits? – Greg’
‘Yes. – MH’
‘Like what? – Greg’
‘Oh come on don’t leave me hanging here. – Greg’
‘You’re a troll and I curse the ground you walk upon. – Greg’
‘Not really. Sweet dreams. – Greg’

‘You haven’t texted today. – MH’
‘I’ve been at crime scenes all day. Three bodies. Seven dumping grounds. Don’t ask. I’m flattered you noticed though. Missed me? – Greg’
‘Oh come on you’ve got to answer me now you texted first. – Greg’
‘Damn you, Mycroft Holmes. Oh well. Looking forward to your text tomorrow xxx – Greg’

‘If you ever sign a text with xxx again I may have to have you deported. – MH’
‘Wait, you honestly waited nearly 24 hours with that response? You pig-headed twit. – Greg’
‘Also the x-es are a universally acknowledged symbol of overwhelming affection you’re going to have to learn to deal with – Greg’
‘xxxxxxxxxxxxx – Greg’

It’s juvenile and it’s stupid but Mycroft is actually going along with it and Greg couldn’t be happier. It’s almost two weeks worth of texts, messages, usually in the evenings, occasionally in the dead of the night when Mycroft turns out to be somewhere across the globe. Sometimes, during dead hours in the early mornings, Greg rereads them and feels like he’s refound some odd purpose, like he’s relevant again in an odd way. Mycroft Holmes likes him. Mycroft Holmes, who intimidates people as a hobby, who offers people money to spy on his brother, who quite possibly knows 34 ways to kill a man using his umbrella, a charismatic freckled gentleman nine years his junior, likes him enough to do something he doesn’t actually enjoy doing all that much.

To anybody else, they might appear just texts, but Greg knows they’re proof that Mycroft is taking whatever it is they’re growing seriously, and he feels good about it.

‘Something you don’t see every day in Central London – scorned wife murders cheating husband with a pitchfork. About as messy as it sounds. – Greg’
‘Thank you for the lovely visual. Don’t tell my brother, he’ll blackmail every single last officer in your department for pictures. – MH’

Greg feels like he’s unearthed some secret proof that Mycroft Holmes is astonishingly human after all, and regards these texts as if they were genuine love letters.

Chapter Text

‘One of my officers recommended a new Japanese place in Greenwich. Dinner? – Greg’
‘Grand idea. I shall meet you there at seven thirty. MH’
‘Really? Just like that? Don’t even need to press and whinge and employ the puppy eyes? – Greg’
‘I like Japanese food. Now stop texting me or we’ll run out of conversation for tonight. – MH’
‘The day you run out of conversation is the day hell freezes over. See you tonight x Greg’
‘Yes I used an x deal with it – Greg’

Their dinner is surprisingly pleasant and extraordinarily civil, and Greg doubts that the restaurant staff even noticed they were in fact on a date and not just two blokes sharing a meal. Yet, under the table Mycroft’s feet bump into Greg’s a few times in a way that can’t possibly be accidental, and Mycroft suggests sharing a cab together in a way that means ‘let’s end up at the same flat’ rather than ‘let’s save a couple quid’ and Greg is more than okay with that. They wind up kissing lazily in the dark in Greg’s tiny bedroom, Mycroft’s suit neatly set aside on the dresser, a slow coupling like all time is theirs. Mycroft tastes like sake and something sharper, tangy across his tongue, and his hands slide across Greg’s skin like he’s some very valuable piece of art. Greg takes a deep breath, holds onto Mycroft’s shoulders just a little too tightly for a brief moment, and whispers an incoherent sentence into Mycroft’s ear about how much he wants him.

It has been a long time, a very long time even, since Greg allowed another man to penetrate him and it’s as overwhelming and intimate an experience as he remembers it. It’s the physical wanting that still shocks and surprises him. Like he’s empty all of a sudden, incomplete, and his entire world boils down to the intense need to get Mycroft inside of him now. Mycroft is laughably careful with him, until he assures him he honestly won’t break after which he sighs deeply into Greg’s neck and gives in to what Greg supposes is the last remaining bit of natural instinct still within the man.

After Greg came so loudly he knows his noisy neighbour must have heard it, and after Mycroft came quietly if intensely, face pressed into Greg’s neck, Greg lies sated and a bit sticky, his head resting on Mycroft’s stomach while Mycroft smokes his cigarette in silence. Greg feels boneless and slow, Mycroft’s presence still buzzing across his body with ghostly touches.

“I can still feel you,” he says softly, slowly, smiling up at his ceiling.
“Considering you’re lying on me I’d say that’s not too unusual,” Mycroft says.
Greg chuckles, reaching up to poke him in the side. Mycroft doesn’t respond – not ticklish, then. Shame. “You know what I mean.”
Mycroft chuckles, bringing his cigarette to his lips with one hand, and putting the other hand in Greg’s hair. Greg makes a soft, appreciative sound, leans his head into the touch.
“Will you stay the night?”
“I do have to leave early.”
“That’s fine.”
Greg sits up, stretches his arms, then crawls back up his bed and settles alongside Mycroft, plastered firmly against his side. He presses a slightly too wet kiss in Mycroft’s neck and nuzzles his ear. Mycroft finishes his cigarette, then turns on his side to face Greg and kisses him, slowly, with a warmth that’s almost startling coming from him. Greg pulls the duvet up, Mycroft pushes it off again, and they fall asleep so entangled Greg can barely discern where he ends and Mycroft begins.

~~~

Sherlock is stomping back and forth in his department, shouting things at Anderson that Greg honestly can’t manage to make sense of. Something about a victim’s stomach content. Acid level. PH-whateverthefuck. Anderson isn’t even disagreeing with whatever point Sherlock is trying to make, but they both seem so intent on arguing they fail to recognise they’re actually on the same page.

John sees it. John looks like he’s about five minutes away from smashing their heads together. Greg thinks maybe he ought to do something about that, being the DI and such, but he kind of sort of wants to see him do it. Might actually have to hold his phone at the ready, so he could film it. He thinks it might be one of those satisfying things to rewatch.

He stands and observes and fails to keep his face in check. Donovan appears beside him, arms crossed, and sighs. “You really ought to put a stop that,” she says.
He shrugs. “I say we let them get it out their system.”
“We do that they might wind up strangling each other.”
“Oh, yes. Imagine the peace and quiet.”
She smiles, he knows she does, but she hides it by looking down at her shoes and sighing. “You’re a lot cheerier than you were a couple weeks ago. You’d have chucked them both out the window then.”
He chuckles at that. “Yeah, well. Upside of getting some regularly. Big mood booster.”
She gives him an odd look that falls somewhere between amused and appalled, then shakes her head and stalks off to start yelling at the two grown men bickering like children in the middle of his department.

~~~

“Why do you wear that wedding ring?”

Mycroft sips from his glass of iced water and stabs a cherry tomato onto his fork. He raises his eyebrows at Greg across the small table they’re sat at, so engrossed in his food he appears to have missed the question entirely. It was relatively sweet of Mycroft to insist they make up for the lunch date they mucked up a few weeks back, but Greg feels a little weird about sitting there behind a burger and a mountain of chips while Mycroft pecks his way through a salad like he expects it to be full of caterpillars.

“The wedding ring on your finger. I know you’re not married, so what’s that about?”
Mycroft smiles, swallows the tomato. “It’s my father’s ring,” he says. “It was passed onto me when he died. I started wearing it when I was seventeen.”
“Oh, I see. That’s nice, actually. Keeping him with you like that.”
“Yes. It’s also wonderfully effective for warding off unwanted suitors.”
Greg snorts out a laugh. Oh, typical. “Didn’t work so well on me then, though.”
Mycroft smiles again, a crooked, vaguely mischievous sort of smirk, and bites down on a bit of lettuce.

~~~

His alarm clock tells him it’s not even 5:30 yet but Greg is awake because someone is pressing insistent kisses to his ear. He smiles a groggy, lopsided sort of grin and groans softly. “Jesus, Myc, it’s entirely too early for you to be this cuddly.”
“Call me Myc again and I’ll have your driver’s license revoked,” Mycroft murmurs into his ear, before pressing a kiss into his hair. “I have to get up. I didn’t want to just leave.”
“You have to get up now?”
“Fifteen minutes.” He glances at the clock. “Maybe twenty.”

Greg yawns and burrows closer, Mycroft’s skin warm and dry and rather accessible, what with him being so very very naked and all. He dozes for maybe five minutes, Mycroft’s heartbeat under his palm, but knows Mycroft will hold him to those twenty minutes and is hit with the fear he might waste them.

“You could use my shower, if you wanted... you always just get dressed and leave. It’s a small shower, but it’s not uncomfortable. If you wanted to. Might give you more time to stay.”
“No, that’s fine, I just...” Mycroft begins but he trails off. He presses his mouth against Greg’s shoulder and keeps it there, and Greg doesn’t think he’s awake enough for this yet.
“What?”
“Nothing. It’s silly.”
“Oh, now I really want to know.”
Mycroft sighs, rubs his mouth across Greg’s shoulder again. “I just. I like the notion I might still... carry your scent on me. Hidden under my clothes, no one able to tell. It’s frightfully sentimental, really, I don’t know what I’m thinking. Unhygienic too, I’m sure.”

Greg laughs hoarsely, the laugh of a man just awake, and rolls them over so Mycroft is on his back, looking up at him. “Well, I’ve been really, really close to you and can assure you you don’t smell half bad at all, so I wouldn’t worry about your hygiene too much.” Mycroft rolls his eyes at him.
“And actually,” Greg continues, leaning up to press kisses down Mycroft’s neck as he speaks, “That’s a rather nice idea. To have me, on your skin, under all those layers...” Kiss. “Suit jacket. Waistcoat. Shirt. Undershirt.” Kiss. Kiss. His fingers down Mycroft’s ribcage. “And like, my molecules, bits of my chemistry, still with you...” He grins. Mycroft watches him, decidedly flustered. “Actually,” Greg says, “Fuck that. I’m no bloody scientist. You know what I am? I’m a detective. What I know is...” He pinches one of Mycroft’s nipples. “Fingerprints.”

Mycroft gasps, wriggles, spreads his legs and Greg slides between them effortlessly. “Prints on your skin, my prints... evidence that I’ve touched you.” He rocks them together, Mycroft’s cock rubbing against his own. “Fibres... a stray hair... microscopic traces.” He grins again. “DNA material.”
Mycroft makes a soft, needy sound in the back of his throat, one Greg knows will haunt him delightfully for the rest of the day. “Please,” he says, rocking up against Greg. His cock slides across Greg’s groin, and Greg goes a bit dizzy with it.
“I ought to dust you,” he murmurs, sliding his mouth down Mycroft’s throat. “See what I can find of myself on you.” He runs his hands down Mycroft’s chest, his stomach, up his sides. “I bet I could find a whole array of evidence on your skin. Enough to convict myself for lewd behaviour.” He rocks them together again, finds a rhythm and sticks to it.

Mycroft gasps, too far into this to appreciate the admittedly cheesy joke. He wraps one leg around Greg’s waist and their movements speed up, grow more frantic. Greg, in a calm, clear moment of inspiration, attaches his mouth to Mycroft’s collarbone and sucks, hard.
Ouch,” Mycroft hisses, and scratches the unexpectedly sharp fingernails on one of his hands down Greg’s shoulder blade.
“Sorry,” Greg breathes, licking at the reddening patch of skin.
“No... it’s fine,” Mycroft says, voice catching and dragging with their movements. Greg considers that his cue to keep going and worries the skin over Mycroft’s collarbone between his teeth, determined to leave a nice, big, red mark. Mycroft fancies the idea of keeping him with him under his clothes? Oh yes, he’ll give him something to remember him by.

Greg pushes them together with such force the bedsprings creak in protest, a repeated squeak as he presses closer, rubs harder. Mycroft reaches up with one hand and holds onto his headboard and then goes still, very still, as he climaxes in utter silence. Greg briefly wonders how anyone manages to be so contained during orgasm. He enjoys it thoroughly, anyway, Greg can tell from the way his mouth falls open in a desperate sort of O, his eyes squeeze shut, his breath hitches, but he doesn’t make so much as a squeak. Greg never manages to keep even near that quiet, especially not when they’re suddenly quite wet and warm together and he’s rubbing his prick against semen-slicked skin and yes, his morning shrinks down into one perfect moment and that’s all he needed to start his day off incredibly well.

He collapses onto Mycroft, who slowly comes down to earth and starts to, for lack of a better word, giggle.
“Okay. I think I’ll take that shower, after all. I do not think it will be quite so much fun to walk around with all that drying up on my skin.”
Greg giggles, too, and rolls off of him. “You’re going to be late.”
“Am I?”
“Yes. Because I’ll be joining you in that shower.”
Mycroft snorts out a laugh.

After the quickest shower Greg has ever witnessed anyone take Mycroft stands in front of his mirror, shirtless, his damp hair combed neatly back. Greg more or less walks in on him, fresh out the shower himself, towelling his own hair, and the expression on Mycroft’s face halts him. He’s staring at himself, eyes wide, with something so close to naked shock it’s worrying. He touches the deep red hickey on his collarbone with hesitant fingers, takes a shallow breath, gently prods it. He looks, quite frankly, like he hadn’t expected for the thing to be so obvious, like the reality of it is kicking him in the gut and he doesn’t really know how to handle it.

Greg steps behind him, hooking an arm around his waist. His free hand goes up and covers Mycroft’s, his fingertips ghosting along the mark. “That’ll remind you of me for a couple days,” he murmurs, pressing a kiss against Mycroft’s shoulder. Droplets of water still cling to his skin, chilling it slightly. It’s not unpleasant to the touch.
“Yes, that it will,” Mycroft says softly. He leans back against him, looking at the both of them in the mirror.
“No one will notice, you know. Covered by layers upon layers of expensive fabric.” He smiles at him in the mirror.
“Obviously. I’ll know it’s there, however. It’s. Not a bad conclusion. It is frightfully red, though, you were certainly thorough.”
Greg grins. “Oh, yes. Not a bath will go by the next week where you won’t be thinking of when I gave it to you.”
Mycroft smiles, turns, wraps his bare arms around Greg’s shoulders. “I’m fairly certain that will be on my mind often regardless. Thoroughly distracting, you are.” He presses a kiss to Greg’s cheekbone and lets go, stepping back, taking his shirt off Greg’s dresser and shrugging it on.

“Do you have plans for tonight?” Greg asks, tossing his damp towel onto his bed. Mycroft looks at it disapprovingly while he buttons his shirt. Greg refuses to move it.
“Yes, actually. Apologies. I am afraid I won’t be available much the coming days.”
“Care to share why not?”
“Oh, all dreadfully dull, I assure you... nothing you’d need to know. I will call you when I can, cross my heart.” He tucks his shirt into his trousers, deftly ties his tie, and puts the waistcoat on. It’s stunning, the transformation that he goes through when he gets dressed. He goes from just a man, pale skin and freckles, the kind of man who kisses Greg awake and allows him to leave hickeys on him, to this, the government man, all business, almost unattainable. He even stands up straighter, chin tilted up, speaks more deliberately. Both versions of him are absolutely uniquely Mycroft Holmes, they genuinely are, but Greg has never known anyone to use the way he dresses to emphasise just how much in control he truly is like Mycroft does.

He steps up to him, fusses at Mycroft’s buttons and smoothes down the fabric a bit. It’s unnecessary, really, as he’s oddly flawless as is, but he just wants to touch. Mycroft lets him, too, even if he full well knows there’s no need. “You look nice,” Greg says softly, tugging the waistcoat down a bit. “I mean, you usually do, but this is… nice.” Greg really loves Mycroft’s clothes. He doesn’t understand them, per se, but he loves them. The suit he’s wearing now is dark gray, pinstriped, and he’s wearing a very pale yellow shirt with it. Come to think of it, he’s never actually seen Mycroft in a white shirt. It’s always a solid colour, even if it’s a subtle one, and that tells him something about Mycroft he can’t really place but understands is important.

“You need to get dressed,” Mycroft says. He takes his hands, squeezes them gently before letting them go. He puts his jacket on, checks himself in the mirror one last time, and satisfied turns to offer Greg a weirdly polite smile. “All right, I have to go. I will see you soon.” He leans in and kisses him, briefly. He tastes like toothpaste and Gregory can’t for the life of him figure out when he brushed his teeth, or even what he brushed it with – did he borrow his toothbrush? Should the thought bother him? It doesn’t, which is... odd.
“I’ll miss you,” Greg murmurs.
“Don’t be silly. And get dressed already.”

He walks into the living room, retrieves his coat. Greg watches him from his bedroom door. With a smile and a wave of his hand he’s gone, shutting the door behind him. Greg sighs, and goes to make himself a coffee.

~~~

There are phone calls nobody enjoys. Greg has gotten a fair few of those in his time, ranging from ‘a man fell out my window’ to the most dreaded ‘I want a divorce’, but his phone rings early that evening and he must say that ‘your daughter has been arrested’ may just take the cake.

He rushes to the station and is met by an exasperated Youth worker. “We’ve got her in the detention room, sir, and were just waiting for you... call me when you’re done talking to her, we’ll do the interview then.”

Emma sits in the room, slouched down on a chair, a plastic cup of tea in front of her. She looks up when he comes in and sighs, looking away. “Where’s mum?”
He grabs a chair, sits down, counts to ten. “At home, I dare say. I’m calling her after I speak with you. You’re bloody lucky they called me, you know that? Bloody lucky they recognised your name and knew you were my kid. You’d be in a cell right now if they hadn’t, do you even realise?”
She shrugs. Her hair is a faded blue, and he does think it suits her and wishes he’d gotten to see it when it’d been freshly dyed. So much like him, she is, so intent to be her own sort of person. “They took my phone and my stuff,” she mutters.
“Yes. That’s what happens, when you get arrested. Don’t you worry, you’ll get your precious mobile back later. For God’s sake, what were you even thinking?! Breaking into a shop!?”

She sighs deeply. “It was just a dare. We was hungry, is all, not my fault the shop wasn’t open.”
“You broke into a shop… because you were hungry. What, no Burger King around?”
She sighs again and leans her head back, staring up at the greyish white ceiling. “It was just a dare.”

He doesn’t know what to say for a moment so he stares at her, the way she’s sitting there, his little ball of discontent. “Your friends dared you to break into a shop. And you went and did it. You do realise that this means they genuinely aren’t your friends, right?”
She turns to him sharply, her face contorted into such clear anger it frightens him for a bit. “We were just having a bit of fun.”
“You broke a window. That’s breaking in and entering and vandalism, and apparently I’m lucky you hadn’t gotten to pocket a packet of crisps yet cause they’d have added shoplifting to the list.”
“How was I supposed to know they had one of those silent alarm things?”
“The point isn’t that you got caught, the point is you did it in the first place! Do you even know how much trouble you’re in? Not only were you caught red-handed, you were caught on camera. This might wind up in court, Emma. This is very serious.”

She says nothing, sinks down further in her chair.

Greg sighs, rubs a hand across his forehead. “Emma. I am. Very disappointed.”
“Yeah, well, that’s life for you. A disappointment.” She spits the word out like it’s milk gone sour.
“What is this, is this because of the divorce? Because you know your mum and I –“
“No,” she says, interrupting him with force. “Shut up. Not. Not everything is about your fucking divorce. Stop making out like it is.”
He doesn’t know what to say to that so he says nothing, looking down at his hands. They sit together in silence, so many things shooting through his head all at once he’s having trouble making sense of them.

“An officer is going to come in when I tell him we’re done talking,” he says softly. “He will interview you, which will be recorded. After that you’ll get to go home, and you’ll receive a letter about what’ll happen next. My money is on a Youth court summons.”
Emma still says nothing, pressing the heels of her trainers into the linoleum. Greg sighs and stands up. He stands beside her for a moment, waiting for something, anything, then heads to the door.

“I know mum cheated on you.”
He turns to look at her. She looks determined, proud, her chin up as she stares straight at him with a severity he’s never seen on her before. For a moment he has trouble explaining he is hit with a rush of pride so strong it’s staggering, to see her look so very strong, his girl, but then he realises what she’s just actually said and his stomach twists painfully. He nods, once, then turns and calls the officer back in.

~~~

He calls Mycroft, but he doesn’t answer. Ten minutes later he calls again, drumming his fingers on his desk impatiently, but still no answer.

Fuck.

He types up a text hurriedly, makes a typo he forgets to fish out before hitting send.

‘Cpould you please call me it’s urgent. – Greg’

It takes exactly forty four minutes. There is no actual response, no call, but there is a Mycroft Holmes in the flesh walking into his office looking, much to his credit, actually a bit worried.

“Gregory?”
Greg stands up, gestures. “Would you shut the door?”
Mycroft does so without as much as batting an eyelid and Greg moves around his desk. He leans back against it, palms flat on the surface. “I need a favour.”
“Regarding?”
“My daughter.”

Mycroft gives him a puzzled look, eyebrows knitting together. Greg smiles wryly. “Funny that, I’d sort of assumed you’d know. She was arrested yesterday. Broke into a closed shop at night to steal some snacks, if you believe it.”
“I see. I am sorry to hear that.” Mycroft doesn’t look too impressed, actually, but Greg supposes that when your little brother commandeers buses for fun a little burgling is just not as earth-shattering.
“Yeah. So was I.” Greg sighs deeply, rubs his hands down his face. Mycroft shifts his weight, glances over his shoulder. He’s uncomfortable with the glass panels, Greg knows, with everyone in the department able to see him there. Nobody actually cares, really, and the two or three people who know him as Sherlock’s brother even have the tendency to flat out flee the building when he enters, but there’s always that touch of paranoia. Greg wonders if it’s gotten worse now they’re dating.

“I know they’re supposed to act out, and all that, when they’re her age, but breaking into a bloody shop. Even I never did anything like that, and trust me my parents had a hard time with me when I was fifteen. I don’t know what she was thinking, I really don’t,” he continues. Mycroft says nothing, observes him quietly. Greg thinks he might like a hug, or a pat on the shoulder, or something equally affectionate and comforting, but knows he won’t get that unless everyone in his department magically disappears. At two on a Tuesday afternoon, that’s just not all that likely.

“And what, dare I ask, do you need me for?” Mycroft asks, and he speaks in a carefully measured way that tells Greg he already knows the answer to that one and it’s not an answer he likes.
“She’s had a summons for Youth court. It’s. It’s all a bit ridiculous. She’s a first time offender, for Christ’s sake. It’s just that they’ve caught her on camera, is all, and she wouldn’t say she was sorry either, so now they’re going to actually have a hearing and everything. She’s just fifteen years old. Janet and I have grounded her for the next thirty years. It ought to be enough.”
“And I come in... where?”
Greg sighs, throws up his hands. “Can you make it... go away?”
“Make it go away.”
“Yes.”
“You want me to have your daughter’s Youth court summons retracted.”
“Well. Yes.”

Mycroft gives him a long, hard look and the urge to throttle him just a little bit dawns on the edges of Greg’s composure.
“She made one stupid mistake. I know you can do it. Please?”
“If she made one stupid mistake, then don’t you think she ought to pay for it?”
Greg stares at him, not quite believing his own ears. “Are you serious?”
“Why shouldn’t I be?”

“You have got to be kidding me. I have seen Sherlock’s record, you know. It’s really quite thin. What with all this shit I’ve personally seen him get up to that didn’t end up in there. You pull strings for him all the time, why are you going all law and justice on me now?”
Mycroft presses his lips together in a thin, irritated line. Greg knows he has him on that point, and as it turns out Mycroft doesn’t enjoy having his face rubbed into it.

“Sherlock has nothing to do with this. I can’t erase just everyone’s court summons at will, Gregory,” he says, his words clipped.
“My daughter is not ‘just everyone’, she’s my daughter! And I’m your… your… well…” Greg stammers to a somewhat ashamed halt, not quite winding up where he’d hoped. He wants to be able to finish that sentence, he really does, but confronted with it like this, Mycroft standing in front of him looking about as discontent as he’s seen him, he can’t make it happen.
“You’re my what?” Mycroft says, and that’s it, then.

“Good bloody question. What the bloody hell am I to you, anyway?” He stands up straight, pushing up from the desk. Mycroft doesn’t even respond, just stands there looking like he’s swallowing sentence after sentence and it’s starting to piss Greg off. “Boyfriend? Casual lay? That one bit of rough you’re keeping on the side? Certainly no one important enough to make a couple phone calls for. Great. Thanks. Really.”
“I do not consider you ‘a bit of rough’, how dare you even suggest that,” Mycroft says with so much revulsion he spits a bit. His temper seems to break, there, nostrils flaring, his mouth contorting into a vaguely disgusted arch. He’s not an attractive angry. Under normal circumstances Greg might have found it endearing, but not so much at this point.

“Then why, pray tell, is it too much trouble to do me this one favour? She’s just a child, Mycroft! My child! Is it too much trouble to keep her out of the criminal justice system?!”
“She robbed a shop! I say she got herself into the criminal justice system quite nicely! Don’t you think she ought to learn her lesson?”
“She already has!”
“You mentioned she wouldn’t even apologise!”
“That is... that’s. Besides the point.” It wasn’t. He knew it wasn’t. He pinched the bridge of his nose and did his bloody best to count to ten. “One favour. Is all I’m asking. I can’t believe you’re fighting me on this.”

“What you are doing is using our... liaison as a crutch to have me bend the law at your will,” Mycroft says, tilting his chin up. “And I am the one you have trouble believing?”
“Liaison,” Greg repeats. “Great. Look. Forget it. Never mind. Me and my delinquent daughter will leave you alone from now on, how’s that.”
Mycroft takes an odd, stuttery sort of breath, puffing himself up. “Fine. Whatever you like. Good luck in court.”

He turns, yanks the door open and stalks out. Donovan stands in the middle of the department and watches him leave, clearly puzzled by the waves of anger radiating off the usually so collected Holmes. She turns to Greg, raises her eyebrow. He scowls at her, steps to his door and shuts it with more force than necessary.

Chapter Text

It’s quite astonishing how quickly everything can turn to shit. A week ago he was doing quite well, finding himself more and more at peace with life, and today he’s the father of an underage criminal and he’s not entirely sure he’s still dating Mycroft at all. On top of that even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t manage to solve his current case, it’s raining, and he’s been failing to get rid of a spectacular stress headache for two days.

He stands by the coffee machine, downing a painkiller with a mouthful of slightly too hot coffee and wondering if jumping headfirst out the window might help, when Donovan pops up beside him. She gets herself a coffee from the machine – cream and sugar, and he knows the addition of the sugar means she’s planning to stay late again – and peers up at him from the corner of her eye.

“You look like shit. Sir.”
“I feel like shit.”
“Heard about your daughter. That’s tough. She’s going to be okay, though?”
“We don’t know yet. She’s to be in court on Friday.” He sighs, sips his coffee. She takes hers out the machine and blows on it to cool it off.

“Was that Sherlock’s brother here the other day?” There’s more to that question than that and he can hear it, right below the surface.
“Yeah. We had a bit of a row.”
“Clearly. Didn’t think that bloke was capable of that much emotion.”
“He’s capable of more than you’d think,” he mutters into his coffee.

“You’re going out with him.” Well, that’s direct. He raises an eyebrow at her, and she shrugs. All right, then. He didn’t think anybody knew, really. He's kept his sexuality to himself for most his life, because Scotland Yard usually isn't the best place to advertise you've guzzled your fair share of cock during your college days, but here Donovan is, about as blatantly uncaring about the nature of his sex life as any person could be and she’s still figured it out. He’s just not sure if he’s that obvious, or whether she’s just that sharp. For the sake of his department’s efficiency he kind of hopes it’s the latter.
“What gave me away?”
“He hangs around a lot. You look happier when he does. He storms out angry after you two have an argument, and now you look about five seconds away from tossing yourself in front of a train. It’s not that big a leap, sir.”
“Right. I see.”
She leans against the wall, sipping her coffee. He does the same and feels oddly okay with her knowing this.

“Was it a serious sort of row?” she asks.
“I don’t know. Might be. Bit too busy worrying about Emma to really have the time to figure that one out right now.”
“I see.” She sips her coffee, scans the nearly empty department. “Do you seriously fancy that slab of concrete, though?”
“Er, yeah, actually. Quite a lot. Slab of concrete?”
“Well. He’s not really a basket of smiles, is he.”
“Sometimes. When we’re together. He is... he can be.” He sighs, finishes his coffee. She shrugs at him with an odd, sarcastic sort of disapproval.

“Keep this to yourself though, would you,” he asks as he crumples up the paper cup and tosses it in the trash.
“Wouldn’t dare sully any conversation with discouraging facts concerning my boss’s love life,” she says, and leaves shaking her head.

~~~

Emma looks younger in the Youth court than he’s seen her look in ages. Janet dressed her up nice, did her hair up, even made her take out the nose ring (though Greg wished she’d let her keep it). She sits with her head down, feet together, hands gripping the edge of her seat while they wait to be called in. Her lip quivers occasionally, but she holds her own. The blond of her hair shines through the fading blue in places, and his heart breaks for her.

He knows it shouldn’t. He knows she’s here because of a mistake she made all on her own. But he’s her dad, and she’s so young still, and his heart breaks for how scared she is and how much she’s fighting not to let it show.

The usher calls them in and the three of them shuffle into the court room, Janet on her left, Greg on her right. They sit, the legal adviser begins to read out names and dates and it’s like a long, high-pitched buzz between Greg’s ears just drowns everything out, blurs everything together, and the only thing he keeps thinking is a deeply hysterical ‘I don’t want to be here’.

He’d expected Emma to face a council of magistrates. Instead there’s a district judge, which is... odd. He’s distracted by that, by how rare is it for a district judge to rule these sorts of cases, while the adviser sums up the ample evidence for Emma’s involvement and Emma, with a trembling, high-pitched voice, finally admits to her charge.

And then the judge speaks two words, the only two words that pierce the buzzing between Greg’s ears and slam him back to earth so quickly he gets vertigo.

“Not guilty.”

It’s not possible. The evidence against her is overwhelming. She should get an ASBO or some such at the very least. Instead the usher rushes them out the courtroom again and leaves them standing in the hall, where Emma promptly bursts into tears and Janet stares at the courtroom door like it’s on fire.

Even hours later, when he’s sitting on his blue brick of a loveseat he can’t make sense of it. He’s sipping a scotch he’s poured for himself and tries to think, but his thoughts keep swimming away from him and the only conclusion he can draw is so baffling he thinks he might need at least two more drinks until he can accept it to be true.

There’s a knock on his door and he hates how hopeful it makes him feel. It’s Janet, anyway, changed out her fancy courtroom outfit into her regular t-shirt and jeans. Even at 46 she still manages to look youthful, and he thinks for a fleeting moment it’s no wonder she manages to attract blokes so easily. She was always gorgeous, and from the looks of it age isn’t going to do a thing to change that. He offers her a drink and she declines, sitting down gingerly on his sofa.

“You still haven’t unpacked everything,” she says, looking at his boxes, and he shrugs as he sits down next to her.
“I’ve been busy.”
“You’ve lived here for nearly seven months, Greg. Nobody is that busy.”
He supposes she’s right so he says nothing and sips his drink. She sighs, staring at her knees. Her fingernails are painted, a dusty sort of pink to match the outfit she’d worn to court, but it looks odd combined with the casual clothes she’s wearing now.
“They acquitted her. Thank God,” she says, looking at the polish on her fingers too and probably thinking the same thing about that he was.
“Yes. Thank God, indeed.”

“Why, though? I mean, not to... not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and all that, but... Greg. She was guilty as hell. They know she is. Why did they rule not guilty?”
“First time offender? Admitting to the crime? There’s. There’s a million reasons,” he tries, but he’s not even convincing himself, let alone her.
“Then why summon her to court at all?”

She has him, there, so he empties his glass and places it on the table and shrugs.
“Did you pull some strings?” she asks quietly.
“I tried to,” he admits as he sits back. “I didn’t think it worked. I’m still not sure it did. It must have, I can’t think of any other explanation... it’s just. Never mind.” He rubs his eyes and still can’t make sense of it. His phone is on the kitchen counter and he’s itching to get it, to call, text, to make sure, but he can’t with Janet right there. Now there’s a conversation he knows he can’t let her overhear.

Janet runs her hands through her short blond hair and sits back too. She lets out a deep sigh, leaning her head back. “Your sofa is really uncomfortable.”
“Yeah, I know.”
She laughs, tilting her head forwards with her hands in her neck. “God, Greg. Our daughter’s a criminal who gets off for mysterious reasons, and you live in a flat full of boxes with a sofa that sits like a plastic tube chair. I’m having some trouble following that.”
“I know the feeling.” She shakes her head, entirely too amused by his predicament, and he’s not sure if he’s okay with that. It’s partly her fault he’s here, after all.
“How’s David?” he asks. Not that he cares that much about the P.E. teacher, to be honest, but she winces and that’s good. Poking her in the sore spot, quite satisfying.

“We broke up,” she says.
“Oh.”
“Yeah. I guess we were... not quite meant for something serious. It’s all right.”
He could gloat. He could smirk and be rude and get into a fight. They’re good at that, getting into fights. They’ve done it a lot the past couple years. Still, the energy’s not there, the need for it, and he wonders if that means he’s starting to forgive her.

“How are you, Greg? Really?” She looks at him and her eyes are very green and oddly sad and he’s not sure what to do with that.
“I’m seeing someone. Sort of.”
“Sort of.”
“It’s complicated.”
She laughs at that and he doesn’t think it’s all that funny.

“Girl or guy?” she asks.
“Guy, actually. Funny how that works.”
She shrugs. “It’s logical, in a way. You were with me for twenty years. It makes sense for you to hook up with a guy now. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, really. Does he have a name?”
Greg thinks he’d be hard-pressed to find any other woman in England who’d be so unconcerned about her husband’s bisexuality. Ex-husband. Point still stands, even if he doesn’t think bisexuality really works on a turn-based principle like she’s suggesting. “Mycroft.”
“That’s a name?”
“I’m not entirely sure, but it’s what his mother called him, apparently.”

They both laugh at this, and that’s sort of nice again so he lets it happen for a minute or so. She sighs then, and stands up. “I should go. Can’t let our little delinquent home by herself too long. She might rob a bank next.”
He chuckles at that and walks her to his door. She hesitates, turns, and has plastered herself against him in some weird kind of left field hug before he’s even realised. Her thin arms are around his neck, and her hair smells like that girly pink shampoo she’s used for as long as he’s known her, and she’s familiar and safe and he’s loved her so much for such a long time. He doesn’t really know when he stopped doing that, can’t even pinpoint a general sort of time in his life when that happened, and it makes him wonder about the nature of love and that’s just depressing.

“I miss you,” she says softly. “You know I do. I know that us being separated might be better in the long run, but I still miss the shit out of you.”
He nods and presses his face into her hair and feels really very strange. He pulls back and she’s still looking at him with those oddly sad green eyes and he thinks, very clearly, how simple it all would be.

“I really am seeing someone,” he says, his voice hoarse.
“I know. It’s complicated, right?” she says with a small smile.
“Tell Emma I said hi,” he says, looking away.
“I will. Take care, Greg,” and she’s gone and he’s alone and the emptiness in his flat echoes in his bones.

~~~

It takes him embarrassingly long to figure out where Mycroft’s office is located. After he’s exhausted all his connections as a DI he finally gets a crabby receptionist on the phone who tells him there’s an office with the name ‘Holmes, M.’ on the door in Her Majesty’s Treasury. He has a good, long laugh at that one, actually, as that means Mycroft’s office has been about five minutes away from his own all this time. It even puts Mycroft finding him in St. James’s Park in a whole new perspective – it’s entirely possible he was bullshitting him with his whole fancy phone signal story and might simply have spotted him out the window of his office. He tries not to think about how this really isn’t necessarily the most obvious place to go looking either, though, considering what Mycroft has told him so far about what he actually does. But then again something tells him this would just be one of the many places where Mycroft actually does his work, and wouldn’t a small office in a quiet corner of the old building be a nice cover, anyway?

A quiet corner it is indeed, bit dusty too. A bored-looking temp is asked to show him there, and she only just gestures at the door before disappearing up the stairs again. It’s so informal, he thinks, so little brouhaha surrounding it. Just a door in just a corridor in just an office building, a copier whirring around the corner and a somewhat intimidated houseplant in the corner shedding leaves on the linoleum. There ought to be mountainous bodyguards at least, if that door truly hides the man who keeps half the Western world running. He ought to mention that to Mycroft because this is worrying, it is, that anyone can just waltz in here and look him up, but then he might just be a bit overprotective due to his unfortunate personal connection to the man.

He knocks and Mycroft calls out for him to come in. He’d actually expected him not to be there, what with his luck and all.

Mycroft clearly hadn’t expected it to be him knocking on his door, either. His eyes widen for a moment as Greg steps in and closes the door behind him, but when Greg turns back to face him he’s already back in control of the situation, carefully scrutinising Greg as he steps up to stand behind the wooden chair in the middle of the room, places his hands on the backrest just to have a place to put them.

“Gregory,” Mycroft says, but does not stand up from where he is sat behind his desk. There’s something really off about the office, Greg thinks, and not just the butt ugly portrait of the Queen on the wall behind Mycroft. It’s oddly empty, for a man who does as much work as Mycroft does, and after a few minutes he realises there’s no computer and that seals it for him more than anything else – this office truly does function mostly as a front. Mycroft does appear to be working now though, a stack of suspiciously inconspicuous files in front of him on the desk, and Greg is painfully curious about what they might hold.

“Hi,” he says, feeling hopelessly awkward. “I sort of tracked you down, I hope you don’t mind. It’s just that you weren’t answering the phone again and I didn’t want to text about this.”
“Right.”
Greg takes a deep breath. He’s going to need it. “Emma. The court ruling. You did that, didn’t you.”
“I don’t know what you are referring to.”
“Oh, that’s bollocks, you know exactly. She was acquitted. The whole thing, the whole ruling, it was just for show, wasn’t it?”
Mycroft observes him for a quiet moment, cars passing by outside. “Did she learn her lesson?” he then asks.
“She was terrified. She cried.”
“Yes, but did she learn her lesson?”

Greg hangs his head, grips the chair just a bit tighter and tells himself it’s really not acceptable to toss it at him. “Yes. She learned her lesson.”
“Good.”

They’re quiet again and Greg lets go of the chair, runs a hand through his hair. He wants to tell him that he’s her father, he’s the one who ought to teach her lessons about not breaking too many laws and such, but he knows he ought to be grateful for this even if it didn’t pan out the way he would have liked. Mycroft did him a favour, and not a little one either. He repeats to himself to let it go, and straightens. His eye falls on a red emergency telephone on Mycroft’s desk. That’s just nifty, really. Very 1985 James Bond.

“Look. I am sorry. About getting into a fight with you over this. You were right, anyway, I had no right to ask that of you. Even if I am very grateful you helped us out in the end, of course. Janet, too. We’re really happy with this, so thank you.”
“Right,” Mycroft says. “Your ex. She was pleased?”

There’s a tone to his voice, a certain kind of intonation, and Greg doesn’t like what it implies.
“Why do you ask?”
“No reason.”
“No reason, my arse. Are you trying to say something?”
Mycroft purses his lips, pushes his hands forward on his desk. “No. But I don’t need to, apparently. Your reaction tells me enough.”
“My reaction tells you... yeah. You know what, fine. My ex came by my flat last night. I do see her every so often, you know, what with us having a kid together. I can’t really escape that. Is that an issue for you?”

He shouldn’t let himself get so worked up over this. He came here to thank Mycroft, he reminds himself. Mycroft winces, loses control over his grasp on the situation for just a moment, then his face hardens and his lips press together in a thin line and Greg feels his heart sink to the floor.

“I assure you your ex-wife does not concern me,” Mycroft says, and he’s clearly holding himself back and that doesn’t make Greg any less irritated.
“I feel like shit about getting into a fight with you, all right, and here I am getting into another one over nothing. I came to apologise to you for being such an arse, so let’s just, let’s just breathe. I don’t want us to crash ourselves into a wall and burn out.” He gestures vaguely at Mycroft and takes a step backwards. Space. Metaphorically speaking.

“It’s fine, Gregory. If anything this incident has proven we expect very different things out of this, as it is. ”
Greg only just now begins to realise what is happening here, and his mouth goes very dry. “What do you mean?”
Mycroft forces what Greg supposes was meant as a polite smile, but looks strangely like he’s trying to swallow a mouthful of flies. “We are two very different people. I sincerely hope you understand this was never going to be more than what it has been.”
Greg stares at him and suddenly feels very cold. “What? What are you saying? Are you, are you breaking up with me? Because we had one tiff?”

“We have absolutely nothing in common. I see no benefit for either of us in continuing our relationship. It’s very little to do with our earlier disagreement.”
It’s the first time Mycroft referred to what they have as a relationship at all, and the context it’s in crushes Greg’s spirits so badly he can’t even respond to him right away.

“I am sorry to have to be the one to break this off, but I think that you’ll come to see it’s for the best. There are no advantages to be gained here. We had best keep what’s between us professional.”
“Advantages,” Greg repeats. “Professional. Mycroft, this is, don’t you think you’re being a bit rash? What do you mean ‘more than what it has been’? Because from where I’m standing what this has been falls under ‘pretty damn great’. I know you feel the same, why are you saying this?”
Mycroft sighs so theatrically Greg almost laughs at it, but there’s really very little laughing to be done in this situation. He steps around the chair, raises his hands, and feels almost panicked. This can’t be happening, not now. He can’t be standing here, in Mycroft’s ugly old-carpet-smelling office, getting his sorry arse dumped.

“I can’t deny that we have shared some pleasurable moments, but I feel it is in both our best interests to recognise that we come from far too different places for it to have any kind of long-term chance. We had best break it off before either of us gets too attached.” He says either of them, but the look in his eyes clearly means ‘just you, you chump’ and Greg feels like the biggest idiot London has ever seen.

“What are you even saying, that doesn’t make any kind of sense! I don’t understand, we had one fight, and I’d get it if you’re upset because I’m upset and I’m the one who acted like a bloody tosser but we were doing so great before, you can’t just sit there and say that we don’t have a long-term chance because –“
“Gregory, I am really quite busy and would appreciate if you could leave,” Mycroft cuts him off, eyes on the files in front of him. He’s not even looking at him anymore, like Greg is some nameless intern bringing him the mail, and Greg stands aimless for a few seconds, mouth opening and closing like a very confused fish out of water. He straightens, swallows a dry mouthful of nothing and takes a shuddery sort of breath.

“Fine. Fuck you, then,” he says, his own voice foreign between his ears, and he turns and leaves. He doesn’t bother to shut the door behind him. Mycroft Holmes can bloody well get up off his bloody chair to shut it himself.

~~~

He wants to get drunk. Really drunk. Unbelievably, stupidly drunk, the kind of drunk that will leave him a hungover mess getting sick all over for days after.

He doesn’t have enough alcohol in the flat to accomplish this, and is altogether too disappointed with the world at large to muster the energy to go out and buy it. He has three beers left in his fridge, drinks all three of them, and is left barely buzzed and still so soul-crushingly heartbroken he can hardly manage to keep himself breathing. He wanders his flat aimlessly, wiping at already clean counters, peering out windows into the dark, turning his television on and off again.

The bastard. The rat bastard. He curses his name, then feels bad for cursing his name, then curses his name again for making him feel bad about cursing his name. It’s something of a vicious cycle where he blames Mycroft for feeling bad, then doesn’t want to blame him because God-he-is-so-wonderful-why-doesn’t-he-want-me, and then just goes about blaming him for everything again. He blames him for the lack of booze in his flat and blames him for the rubbish programming on the telly. He blames him for the empty ache driving its sharp teeth into his heart and he blames him for the restless tremble in his arms and legs.

He wants to cry, actually, but Greg is a 49 year old man and he’ll be damned if he’s going to blubber like a kid over getting his pitiful arse dumped by an arrogant, cold-hearted prick who gives him so much hope for a happy ending only to rip it away with a polite smile and a lot of expensive words. He feels like he got severely screwed over, used and tossed aside carelessly like a disposable lighter, left in the gutter for dogs to piss on and he’s getting a bit out of control with this metaphor so for good measure he goes and blames Mycroft for that, also.

The rat bastard.

He paces again, like a caged circus animal, because honestly now his flat is about the size of a cheap kiddie pool and he feels weirdly like the walls are closing in on him. The flat, the bare walls, stacks of boxes, and like the sour cherry on a melted sundae, the ugly, uncomfortable, hideously blue fucking sofa. He kissed Mycroft on that sofa. He kissed Mycroft in this cramped living room and he made love to Mycroft in his even more cramped bedroom, showered with him in his claustrophobic little bathroom, made him tea and sent him texts from here and all that made his characterless breadbox feel warm and alive and now it’s useless and stupid and he hates it more than ever.

He nearly chokes on the thought, coughs, and his blood boils to a roar stampeding through his veins. The feeling of it flies to his arms, his legs, and in a nearly blind rage he grabs a box and flings it across the room. It crashes against the opposite wall with a loud bang and tumbles across the floor. Something inside the box shatters, sounds like glass, and it only makes him angrier. He stalks towards it, kicks it across the room a couple times for good measure, cussing in a way that’d make a weathered sailor blush.

The box comes to a pitiful halt in the middle of his room and he stares at it, breathing hard, slowly coming back to himself. The box stands dented and apologetic, and he is hit with a burst of pure misery so intense he nearly buckles over. He steps back until he feels the wall against his back and slides down slowly until he sits with his knees pulled up, trying to even out his breathing and failing. He leans his elbows on his knees and puts both hands in his hair and sits and sits and sits and tries not to think about how missing Mycroft feels like a jagged hole full of sharp things and ice cold water he can’t manage to climb out of.

~~~

The one thing Greg can always count on is people killing each other. Over the course of the next three weeks he buries himself in work, driving his department up the wall. He gets into a bit of a fight with Dimmock, too, when he more or less steals a case off him, but lords his seniority over him and the poor man flees with his tail between his legs and stays out of his way for three days. There’s no sign of life from Mycroft at all which is ridiculous, because there always used to be something Sherlock got up to that forced Mycroft to contact him. Apparently even keeping their relationship professional is too much to ask for, now, and Mycroft’s complete and utter absence from his life is glaring and hurtful.

Donovan connects the uncomfortably obvious dots, but to her credit doesn’t actually say anything. She gives him these looks from time to time that tell him he could talk, if he maybe wanted to, but in all fairness he’d rather eat his badge, so keeps his mouth shut and grouches his way about London.

He tries to avoid Sherlock. He really genuinely does. He just doesn’t want anything to do with any kind of Holmes for a while, but then there’s a really far-fetched sort of murder-suicide and after managing to keep Sherlock out the investigation with just a bit more force than necessary for two whole days the persistent berk actually goes and shows up at his godforsaken flat. Rather than letting him in and having him deduce his misery from unpacked boxes and evil blue furniture, Greg shuffles him right down the corridor and into the nearest available cab to the station to allow him to read the case files. Might just as well, it’s not like he was getting anywhere with it on his own.

They’re nothing alike, anyway. He repeats that to himself as a means not to punch Sherlock in the face while Sherlock mutters irritably at Greg about how the Yard will never get anything done if they continue insisting on keeping him out the loop.

John is waiting outside the station, which is more than a little ridiculous, but Greg isn’t entirely sure why he’s surprised. Sherlock just continues his diatribe on their way into the station as if John had been with them the whole time, although he may genuinely not have realised he actually wasn’t. Bit astonishing, that.

“Do you think you can keep him from showing up at my flat?” he says.
“Depends. How many pairs of handcuffs can I borrow?” John says, and Greg goes to a very disturbing mental place for a moment.
“I don’t mean... shit,” John says, and apparently he went right along there with Greg, and they share a bit of a laugh over that.
Sherlock throws himself into the case file, spreading crime photos out on the floor of the empty office, and steps around them muttering to himself. Greg and John stand and watch, arms crossed, and Greg feels like a right wanker.

“So how’ve you been,” John asks.
“Oh, fine. You?”
“As good as you can be, living with that.” He grimaces in Sherlock’s general direction. “So I heard about your daughter’s court appointment last month. That ended on a surprisingly high note, didn’t it?”

“Yeah, yeah it did. Thankfully.”
“Funny, that.”
“Spit it out, Watson.”

John smirks and raises one shoulder in an odd, I-got-you-figured kind of shrug. “I only know one guy who can influence the outcome of court cases like that, if necessary.”
“Oh, right clever deduction. He’s rubbing off on you, isn’t he?” He inclines his head towards Sherlock, who’s popped on a pair of rubber gloves and is inspecting a necklace he’s pulled out of an evidence bag.
“Ouch, frightful notion. But honestly, you must’ve done him some right proper favours if he did that for you.”
Greg shifts his weight uncomfortably, stares down at his crossed arms. “Yeah, I did the odd job for him,” he mutters and thinks he might scream if John keeps prodding.

“He’s been in a right mood, though.”
“Who?”
“Mycroft. He’s been in such a downright funk the past few weeks I am half worried he’ll start a war somewhere out of pure spite.”
“Are you serious?”
“Why wouldn’t I be? Well, not about the war thing, he wouldn’t… or at least I hope he wouldn’t. But the mood, yeah. He’s been by Baker Street three times last week for what I assume to be no other reason than to pick stupid fights with his brother. Makes you wonder what would make him so grouchy. I fear for our fine nation’s safety.”
John grins but Greg doesn’t return it. That’s just fascinating, isn’t it. Mycroft is the one who dumps him, but then goes on to be in a foul mood just like him. He could draw conclusions from that, if he wanted to, but rather thinks it not the best thing to do. There’s a touch of hope involved in that, and for the sake of self-preservation he had best keep that one in check.

Still, though. “So he was snippy,” he says carefully, eyeing John for his response.
“God, yes. Sherlock may have gotten into some trouble last week going on the tube with a box of lungs, long story, so Mycroft dropped by to give him a stern talking to about walking about London with body parts. And then Sherlock complained at him about how he had to keep himself from dying of boredom with you not letting him on this case and for a moment I thought Mycroft’s head would explode. He makes this weird face when he gets angry, you ever seen it? Like a really crabby frog. So he goes off at Sherlock about how the police have better things to do than cater to the whims of a spoiled detective so that set Sherlock off, and I went downstairs to have tea with Mrs. Hudson until they were done hurling complicated insults at each other.”

And there it is, then, that touch of hope sparking to life and God damn it John Watson stop bloody talking. He can’t be having these thoughts. He can’t begin to believe Mycroft misses him as much as he misses Mycroft, that way leads to more heartache and drinking and he thinks his department may wind up sticking him in a padded cell if he keeps up these mood swings.

Box of lungs, though?

“Why the sudden interest in Mycroft?” John asks, raising an eyebrow at him, and Greg feels frightfully caught.
“No reason,” he tries but John makes that face he makes when he catches someone bullshitting him and Greg sincerely hopes he’s not blushing because that would just be embarrassing.

“Stop talking about my boring brother when there are murders to be solved,” Sherlock says. He straightens, and looks Greg right in the eye with an expression so sharp Greg thinks it could cut him. “Mycroft is far too good at denying himself what he wants.” It’s a bit like getting hit in the gut by a bag of ice cubes, those words paired with that look, and Greg isn’t sure whether to laugh or to just flat-out panic. Sherlock can’t possibly know. There’s no way he can, and on top of that, there’s no way he could have known all this time and not at the very least taunted him with it at least once.

Unless he knew and approved, which is just bewildering, and that possibility sends him reeling so badly he fails to make sense of what Sherlock is actually saying at all.
“What?” John asks but Sherlock has moved on, throwing the case’s toxicology report at him and asking him to check those numbers. Sherlock has already checked those numbers, Greg saw him do it, saw that tell-tale slackening of Sherlock’s face when something clicks, but knows he wants to see if John can get there too.

Sherlock can’t possibly be saying what Greg thinks he’s saying. He’s not that insightful, not when it comes to real live human beings. But then, a voice in the back of his head whispers, he’s known his brother all his life. If anyone would know what goes on in that impenetrable noggin, it’d be Impenetrable Noggin Junior, wouldn’t it? It feels like a nudge, a push, and it makes Greg feel oddly queasy. Sherlock seems to have forgotten all about his words anyway, rushing John towards the door whilst saying something about having to visit the victim’s jeweller that Greg can’t follow. John waves at him once, an apologetically held up hand, and they’re gone and Greg is left alone in his empty department, leaning back against a desk.

He stands still and thinks a delightful nothing for a good five minutes, blank and quiet. Then his brain kicks firmly into gear and he runs both hands down his face and sighs.

“Oh God,” he mumbles to himself. All he can think is that Mycroft was right – he is a glutton for punishment. He just misses him so much, is all. He misses talking to him, seeing him, he misses the texts and the phone calls. He even misses the way he’d press him into doing him favours regarding Sherlock. He’s so empty and aimless not having Mycroft in his life that he hardly knows what to do with it.

It occurs to him, for a very clear and intensely frightening moment, that the last time he felt this way about anyone at all it was Janet and the year was 1991. He doesn’t know what to do with being a year away from fifty and feeling this way about a man who broke his heart.

He fishes his phone out the inside pocket of his coat and scrolls through his messages. There’s hundreds of them, piled up over the course of months. Most of them ones he sent himself, interspersed with the replies he’d cherished so very much.

And there, nearly four months ago, he finds a brief correspondence that in hindsight tells him so much more than he’d realised at that point.

‘I think you’re brilliant. I’ll never stop chasing you now, you know. – Greg’
‘I know. Please don’t. – MH’

There he has it, then. It’s all very simple, now that he thinks about it, and it hurts so he closes his eyes for a moment and lets it come over him.

This isn’t going to be easy, he concludes, but anything worth doing rarely is.

Chapter Text

It takes him some time to work out a plan. There are a lot of snags, potential problems, and he has to find a way to sail around those without accidentally sinking his ship on the sharp edges of the iceberg that Mycroft Holmes thinks himself to be.

He needs to get Mycroft to communicate with him, plain and simple. Calling him up wouldn’t work, because there is no way Mycroft would answer his phone. Sending him messages, then, which ties in nicely with how they’ve danced their little courtship dance before, but even so he highly doubts sending him about thirty consecutive texts to explain how he feels would have a positive outcome either. Nobody enjoys having their inbox spammed, not even with declarations of love.

He considers e-mail but realises he doesn’t actually know Mycroft’s e-mail address, so that one gets tossed aside quickly.

Yes, the obvious conclusion is he needs a chance to actually genuinely talk to him, face to face. It takes him a couple days to think of a means to create an opportunity for that. For some time he considers lying, making up some great emergency to lure him in, but he realises that would put Mycroft in an altogether far too unromantic mindset and would probably only serve to piss him off. He can’t just go look him up himself, either. Far too confrontational, far too intrusive to step onto Mycroft’s turf again. If this is going to work, he’s going to have to get Mycroft to come to him.

It’s going to be a matter of great patience. Greg is not the most patient man in London so he expects frustrating times ahead, but what other option does he have? Luring Mycroft, he expects, is going to be oddly like getting a stray cat to trust you. You have to keep putting small dishes of cream by your backdoor and hope the skittish little thing will eventually let you pet it without attempting to bite your fingers off.

It’s a good thing that he’s not just stubborn, but also possessing of a single-minded sort of determination. It’s what makes him good at his job, or so he’s been told, and he’s pretty sure it’s going to be his one saving grace here, too. Once Greg Lestrade sets his sights on something, he doesn’t rest until he gets it.

On a sunny Monday he sends Mycroft the first text.

‘I really need to talk to you, so here’s the deal: every Tuesday and every Thursday I will sit on the bench St. James’s Park for an hour, from 4 to 5. You know what bench I mean, no need to track down my phone signal or whatnot. I will wait there for you. Ball’s in your court. Please? – Greg’

He takes his seat on the bench at exactly four o’clock the next day. He doesn’t expect Mycroft to show, and indeed he doesn’t.

Patience.

~~~

No dice on Thursday either. He drinks a coffee, waits the full hour, and goes back to the station.

~~~

It’s ten to five the next Tuesday when he texts him again.

‘Still here. I will keep doing this until you show up, you know. – Greg’

~~~

The second Thursday sees a spectacular August rain shower. He takes an umbrella and goes anyway.

~~~

He’s got to say, sitting out in the sun two afternoons out the week is starting to give him a nice little tan. The temperature rises, summer buzzes through London, and Greg Lestrade waits on a bench. Occasionally he peeks across the park to the HM Treasury and wonders if Mycroft is looking back at him from one of the windows, weighing his options.

‘You know how impatient I am, but I am still sitting here waiting for you. Please, Mycroft. I just want to talk. – Greg’

~~~

‘I was almost late today. Think I could put an ad in the paper asking people not to commit murders on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Gets in the way of my sweeping romantic gestures. Not that it matters, you didn’t show anyway. – Greg’

~~~

On the fifth Tuesday on his bench he realises he’s starting to feel pretty zen about doing this. Impatient still, yes, but sitting there has become an oddly fixed moment of peace in his workweeks. Maybe he should’ve done something like this years ago, although preferably without having to beg for someone’s affections. He’s sitting there in the September sun, counting squirrels, enjoying the crisp edge the impending autumn is already painting onto his days, when a shadow falls over him and would you believe it – his patience has actually paid off.

“I am this close to blocking your number,” Mycroft says quietly. “You really are just like a dog with a bone.”
“And we’re back to dog metaphors,” Greg says, sitting up. All those hours before he’s sat there and had imagined he might be nervous if Mycroft ever decided to show, but he supposes that zen thing really works wonders because he’s cool as a cucumber. He looks up at Mycroft and smiles and thinks he looks as good as he’s always done, if perhaps a bit more tired than usual. The suit he’s wearing is a muted grey, with a pale blue tie. Something is missing, though, and it takes Greg a moment to figure out it’s the umbrella.

“Once again, Gregory, you need to let it go. Do yourself that favour.”
“No.”

His answer is short, and brief, and he gives it with a smile and that seems to confuse Mycroft most of all.
“No?” Mycroft repeats.
“No. Simple, isn’t it? No, I’m not letting it go.”
“For God’s sake, Gregory, why won’t you just –“
“No, just no.” Mycroft doesn’t approve being interrupted, he can tell from the unhappy sort of twitch of his mouth, but Greg has his chance now and he’s taking it. “Just hear me out, okay. Give me that.”

Mycroft steps back a bit, tilting his chin up and looking down at him. He’s giving him his moment, then. Good.

“I miss you,” Greg begins. “Insanely so. All the time. It’s been like six weeks since you dumped me and it still hurts. You tell me to let it go, but how could I when I can’t stop feeling like this? On top of that, I know you’ve been feeling like shit too. John told me you were. Well, he implied it, really, but close enough.” He takes a deep breath. “So here’s how I have it figured. You miss me, too. I miss you and you miss me and we’re both miserable. That’s not right.”

“You’re making such assumptions,” Mycroft says, carefully measured words. “I dare say John Watson doesn’t have the keen insight into my inner workings that he apparently thinks he does.”
“You may be right, there. John probably doesn’t. But I do.”
Mycroft gives him a funny look at that, somewhere halfway between indignation and surprise, and Greg pushes on.
“You sent me texts even though you hate texting. You insisted on making up for a ruined lunch date. You kissed me awake in the early morning because you didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye. Mycroft. If you’re going stand there and tell me, to my face, that you don’t have feelings for me, you’re a flat-out liar. We both know you are.”

Mycroft’s jaw twitches but he says nothing, eyes trained very firmly on Greg, and Greg thinks that that might mean he’s getting somewhere. He's right, and it’s extremely encouraging that Mycroft doesn’t even try to deny it after all.

“You told me yourself, in the flesh, on this very bench here, that you think of me all the time. Why do you think I picked this spot? You must have figured that one out, you’re a clever bloke. And here, look at this. I stumbled across it again a few weeks back and I just, I couldn’t just let that one go.” He takes his phone out his pocket and with practiced ease pulls the text conversation up on his screen. He holds up the phone for Mycroft, who reads them and just like that looks incredibly sad, like Greg has uttered some magic word, pushed a well-concealed button somewhere, and managed to find the sore spot after all.

“You told me to never stop chasing you. You said please, even,” he says softly. He tucks his phone back into his pocket and stands. “Mycroft. I know you want to. I know you want me. I don’t know why you fight that, why you don’t allow yourself to give into that, but I just can’t sit here and accept it as unchangeable. Especially not if it leads to both of us feeling awful and lonely. Would you please just… let me make you happy? I know I can. I know you can certainly do that for me. You said there were no advantages to this, to us, which is stupid, because as far as I’m concerned making each other happy is the best advantage you can get.”

“I don’t...” Mycroft begins to say but he doesn’t finish his sentence, looking at Greg. He’s gone a bit pale, which is worrying. If he swoons Greg might panic. “We’re such different people, Gregory. You want things of me I am not capable of giving you. I don’t see how any of this would work.” There’s an honesty to this that Greg does appreciate, actually. It’s like he’s managed to peel away the politician from the person and despite the suit, despite the public place, despite all those things that usually make Mycroft keep up his shields, he’s now finally talking to that delightful freckled man he’s had in his bed.

“Are we really that different? I mean. Yes. I get it, you’re public school, I’m state. You’re fancy four course dinners, I’m chippy tea. But other than that, we have plenty of things in common.”
“Gregory…”
“No, no, hear me out. We’re both workaholics. We both live for our jobs, and let’s face it, neither of us is going to change that. So that’s okay then, isn’t it? We’re on the same page there. We’re both not exactly social butterflies. We both like Japanese food. And we’re both early risers!”

Mycroft raises an eyebrow at him. “You genuinely wish to build a relationship on how we both enjoy getting up early in the mornings?”
“Yes. Yes I do.”
Mycroft closes his eyes and sighs and Greg wants to grab him by the shoulders and shake him, wake him up, please.
“Besides, the most important part I haven’t even gotten to yet,” he continues. “It’s the differences that make a relationship work, not the things you have in common. I want to learn all of those things about you and show you all of those things about me. I want to see where we differ and make us fit. That’s the best part, isn’t it? About a relationship?”
“Gregory…”
“Will you stop protesting already? For God’s sake, another thing we have in common, we’re both stubborn as can be. See? Just like every other new couple starting out. We have background, we have basis, and I for one want to know everything about you there is to know. I think you’re delightful and I want to solve you like a puzzle, isn’t that enough?”
“Gregory.”
“Spoons!”

Mycroft sort of stops and stares, eyebrows going up. “Spoons?”
“Yes. Spoons. Spooning. You like to be the little spoon. You like to sleep naked without covers and you like to be the little spoon. I like to sleep under lots of covers and I like being the big spoon. So even though that we prefer different things, we still wind up sleeping at our most comfortable together. Don’t you see? It’s about complementing each other. Filling in the gaps in – what are you doing?”

Somewhere halfway his sentence Mycroft has stepped up to him and has now placed both hands on Greg’s face. It’s a tentative touch, careful fingers on his jaw, and it makes Greg go very quiet.
“I’m shutting you up,” Mycroft mumbles and then he’s kissing him and the entire world around them promptly disappears. Greg responds immediately on what he supposes is pure instinct, wrapping his arms around Mycroft and melting right into him.

He’s missed him so much. He’s missed this, he’s missed having him close, has missed the meticulous and oddly intense way he kisses and has missed the smell of his undoubtedly expensive cologne. If he could climb into him he would, fold himself up in the inside pocket of his jacket, just to get near and stay there. Mycroft breaks the kiss but Greg doesn’t allow it, chases it and captures Mycroft’s mouth again and kisses him with such despair he nearly bloody drowns the both of them in it. Mycroft’s hands grab a tight hold on the fabric of his jacket and Greg knows, just sort of knows, that he’s won.

Mycroft breaks the kiss again and this time Greg lets him, even if it’s just because breathing has its advantages. Mycroft drags his lips across his chin and Greg thinks his knees might buckle out from underneath him with sheer insane giddy joy.
“You can stop rambling now, you stupid, lovely idiot,” Mycroft mumbles against the corner of Greg’s mouth. “Everything I know aches for you and it’s utterly dreadful and I blame you. You’re an awful, horrible person for making me want you like this.”
“I’m entirely too well-snogged right now to be able to make sense of that,” Greg says and Mycroft laughs.
“You had me at early riser. Well, more or less.” He presses his face into Greg’s neck and breathes deeply. Greg blinks his eyes open, arms tightly wrapped around Mycroft’s shoulder, and realises something of such glaring importance he feels immensely silly for not catching it before.

They’re in public. Mycroft is kissing him, hugging him, and from how it appears just sort of completely submitting himself to him, in public. The sun warms the tops of their heads, squirrels are hopping about not giving a fuck, and an odd-looking hippie girl sitting on a bench across the park feeding her peanut butter sandwich to the pigeons is watching them with somewhat endeared amusement. None of this could possibly be escaping Mycroft, simply because nothing ever does, and he’s clinging to him like the world might end if he didn’t anyway. Greg smiles and tightens his hold on him and thinks he may never have loved anything as much as he loves Mycroft Holmes right now.

“I’m going to be difficult,” Mycroft mumbles into his neck.
“I know. I don’t mind. I’m no picnic either.”
“You might hate me from time to time. I’m gone a lot.”
“As long as I know you’ll come back to me eventually.”
“I’m... eccentric.”
“There’s a surprise.”
Mycroft chuckles into his neck, fingers gripping Greg’s jacket so tightly Greg thinks the fabric might tear. Everything Greg is made of is humming, like his soul is playing some kind of epic overture, and he searches the right words to tell Mycroft all about that.

His phone rings. He snorts out a giggle and disentangles himself from Mycroft to fish it out his pocket again. Mycroft coughs softly, smoothing his jacket and his shirt with his palms, fidgeting with his tie. He’s ever so flustered and doing his best to shuffle himself back into his usual appearance, and it’s so endearing Greg just wants to kiss him again to ruffle him up more. He grins and answers his phone.

Donovan. Crime scene. Lovely. He hangs up again with a sigh. “Of course. I have to go. Work.”
“Try not to involve my brother?”
“No need. Domestic dispute gone bad. Not every case needs a Holmes to solve it.”
He grabs Mycroft by the lapels of his jacket and pulls him into another kiss, closed-mouthed but firm, with just about enough longing to leave him wanting more.

“I expect to see you at my flat tonight, you hear me?”
“Absolutely,” Mycroft murmurs.
“Even if it’s late. Even if civil war erupts in Canada. I don’t give a damn, you’re coming over even if I have to fly across the globe to fetch you myself.”
“Canada?”
“You know what I mean.”

Mycroft smiles and nods, and Greg steps backwards still grinning at him. He waves, turns with a bit more sashay than strictly necessary, but turns back after just a few steps.

“Mycroft?”
“Yes?”
“Where do you live?”
Mycroft throws his head back and laughs.

~~~

Mycroft shows up far earlier than Greg expects him to. That’s so lovely Greg can’t even find words for it, and they then kiss leisurely for a good ten minutes, Mycroft’s back against Greg’s front door. The kiss is lazy, and slow, and speaks of ages to come where they might allow more passion to take over. All the time in the world for that, for making out, and for wandering hands, for sex and all the urgency that comes with it. Now, they are just kissing, just tasting and nibbling and their hearts beat in perfectly content unison. Mycroft is wearing a different suit than he had done that afternoon, a handsome pinstripe this time, which is weird and Greg can’t even imagine why anyone would go through so much trouble, but then there’s a bit of mystery to it as well and he can’t say that doesn’t tickle him a bit.

Greg is bursting with things to say and to ask, and he flits back and forth across his flat not saying any of them. Mycroft takes his jacket off, folds it neatly on top of a box and stands in his shirtsleeves and Greg has to take a moment to appreciate that because that, actually, is new. It was always either full three piece suit or no suit at all, and while both certainly have their merits there’s something really very intimate about this. He no longer looks like a visitor.

Mycroft eyes the abused, dented box shoved into a corner with some alarm. Greg sort of shrugs at it by means of explanation and steps into his kitchen. “Drink? I have. Well. Water. And beer, actually, but I doubt... I could make tea?”
“Water will do fine,” Mycroft says, gingerly lifting the flap on one of the other boxes and peering inside as if he expects something might jump out and snap at him.
“You’re nice and early though. I could make us dinner. Would you like to have dinner?”
“Are you a decent cook?”
Greg grins. “I’m not a bad cook, that good enough?”
“I think I can learn to live with that,” Mycroft says, and Greg doesn’t have to turn to know he’s smiling. He can hear it in his voice, like a warm sort of lilt to his words.

Greg takes a saucepan out of a box and puts it on the stove. “I can make pasta, if you like? May have to pop down to the shop for some fresh veg. I do a mean Bolognese.”
“All right.”
“Really?”
“Yes.”

Mycroft is behind him then, sliding his hands around Greg’s waist with a possessiveness Greg has to admit he likes, until his arms are wrapped loosely around Greg’s middle and his chest is warm against Greg’s back. It makes Greg’s heart skip a beat, as if it fluttered about like a giddy little butterfly inside his ribcage for a second. He thinks it’s a bit odd, to still feel like this at his age, but then it might be one of those things others would envy him for so that’s all good.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” he says with a relieved sort of sigh as he pours Mycroft his water.
“I must say I am glad to be here,” Mycroft says, resting his chin on Greg’s shoulder.
“Are you really? Cause I sure did have to fight to get you here.”
Mycroft is quiet, his mouth pressed against the collar of Greg’s shirt. Greg can feel his chest move as he breathes, calm and even, and desperately wants to know what he’s thinking but doesn’t dare ask.

“When you first asked me for a drink, I asked you why,” Mycroft says, so very carefully Greg can just about hear him weigh every word four times before speaking. “You told me you were lonely, and said you thought I might be, too.”
“Yes.”
“You were right.”
Greg doesn’t know how to respond to that right away, letting the words sink in as he covers one of Mycroft’s hands with his own.
“I don’t let people get close to me. It’s a habit of mine I don’t necessarily enjoy, but also not one I can afford to shake,” Mycroft says.
“I’m close to you now,” Greg says, pushing his fingers between Mycroft’s.
“You rather wrestled yourself in, yes,” Mycroft says, entangling their fingers further and squeezing lightly. “I am… glad you did.”

“I’m glad you let me.”
“Well, I am exceedingly fond of you,” Mycroft murmurs, pressing his nose behind Greg’s ear.
Greg snorts softly. “Oh, goody. You’re fond of me. How very kind of you, dear sir.”
Mycroft is quiet again but Greg can feel him smile into his hair.
“I love you,” Greg says with a sigh and a boneless sort of lean backwards into him. “You don’t have to say it back, but you know. I do.”
“I know,” Mycroft whispers.
“I think I’ve done so for a long time, kind of. Like this weird sort of slow burn in the back of my head that I could only allow to turn up after the divorce… wait, that sounds bad. I mean –“
“Gregory?”
“Yes?”
“Do stop talking.”
Greg laughs and gently elbows Mycroft in the side. Mycroft laughs quietly into the back of his neck and tightens his arms around Greg’s waist. They stand like that for a while, until the itch to touch back nearly consumes Greg entirely and he wriggles himself around within Mycroft’s embrace. He takes Mycroft’s face between his hands and kisses him, then slides his hands around his shoulders and hugs him close.

They stand, faces pressed in each other’s necks, just breathing and holding and making up for weeks and weeks of having missed this, and Greg feels his universe slot into place not unlike the satisfying slide of a key into a lock. Mycroft pulls back and presses a kiss to his eyebrow.
“Perhaps we ought to make ourselves a bit more useful,” he says.
“I don’t know, this is a pretty quality way to waste time,” Greg says with a grin. He nips at Mycroft’s jaw, runs the tips of his fingers down the back of his neck. Mycroft shivers appreciatively, hmm’s softly.

“You’re spending the night, yeah?”
“I do have to leave early.”
“As always, that’s fine. As long as I get to fall asleep with you.”
“Frightfully romantic notion, Gregory. Then, after your delightful speech about spooning that perhaps shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.”
“Oh, funny,” Greg says with a grin and he lets go somewhat reluctantly. He hands Mycroft his glass of water and turns back to his kitchen counter, getting out a pot and going through his cabinets for things he’ll need to make a meal he might impress Mycroft with. Tomatoes, he thinks. He needs to get some tomatoes, and onions. Possibly some basil.

Mycroft drinks his water standing up, looking around Greg’s living room. Greg watches as his gaze stops at the sofa, the horrid blue ogre, and feels a peculiar, almost shameful sort of distaste for the thing. He can tell Mycroft doesn’t like it either, can tell from the way the corners of his mouth twitch downwards for just a second, and it bothers him. He wants Mycroft to be comfortable in his home.

“I really hate that sofa,” he sighs, the apology shining through in his voice.
Mycroft eyes it a bit longer, looking down his lovely nose at the thing. “We’ll go buy a new one tomorrow. A bigger one.” He says it with a kind of finality – this isn’t something he’d appreciate Greg arguing with him about, but why on earth would Greg argue getting rid of the plush abomination in his living room? He wonders if Mycroft would let him burn it. Actually, he thinks he rather will. Might even get him a pack of matches for it.

Mycroft sets his glass down and wordlessly opens one of the boxes stacked against the wall. It turns out to be full of CD’s, and he begins neatly placing them on an empty shelf on Greg’s wall. Greg watches him and comes home.