Actions

Work Header

Not Dating

Chapter Text

Four days later Greg left The Yard a bit early, heading home to shower, shave and don something more comfortable. That it was also considerably sexier than one of his work suits was mere coincidence. Grabbing his leather riding jacket and mirrored sunglasses at the last moment, Greg hoped Mycroft, if he could make it, wouldn’t begrudge him his sartorial indulgence. And technically, he wasn’t wearing his tightest jeans and biker boots specifically to get The British Government’s attention. Well, not only to get it.


When Greg had impulsively sent Myc the text two days earlier, he half expected the other man to respond with thinly veiled derision. Mycroft definitely did not seem like the type to go to a screening of a 51 year old Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. Greg figured however that since he was going anyway he should at least give Mycroft the chance to join him if he wished. He definitely thought it was a long shot though. So when the politician asked him to text the time and location, Greg was pleasantly surprised. Later that day Greg’s phone whistled at him, alerting him to another text from the elder Holmes.


I can’t promise to be available Thursday evening but if I can make it I will meet you at the theater. Save me a seat?


Greg agreed to this request happily, adding a winky face emoji to his reply. When he saw the screen of his phone light up with an emoji from Mycroft, this one with a tongue sticking out, he laughed out loud. A bit not good, as John would say since he was at the crime scene of a likely suicide. Immediately schooling his appearance, he slipped his phone into his pocket and focused on sorting his team. In spite of this almost definitely being ruled a suicide due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Greg wanted forensics conducted thoroughly all the same. He wanted to review a few older cases to look for possible similarities before he’d be satisfied.


There was no sign of Mycroft outside the theater when he pulled up on his bike a few minutes later. Steering around the corner to the side street he parked and pulled his helmet off. Looking about to see if anyone was nearby, he quickly used his mirrored glasses to rearrange his disheveled locks into a slightly hipper but equally disheveled state before sliding them on. Telling himself that Mycroft would probably be a no-show, Greg strove to tamp down his excitement. Just the possibility that he might be there had Greg all aflutter. It was ridiculous to be feeling this way at his age but he absolutely did not care. He was genuinely happy for the first time in a long time and he was going to enjoy it to the fullest.


Sure enough, Mycroft was not amongst the small crowd waiting outside the entrance, enjoying one last smoke before heading inside. Greg queued to get his ticket and went in. Still no Mycroft. Oh well, better luck next time Greg thought. He was determined not to allow the disappointment he felt to ruin his evening. Standing in line to get some popcorn and a frosty, sugary beverage, Greg considered the changes he’d experienced in the last several weeks. Finally free of an unhappy marriage, living in a gorgeous place and with the strong possibility for a new love on the horizon, Greg was feeling pretty hopeful that his golden years wouldn’t be spent perpetually alone. Yeah, he was going to have a good night.


A short time later, Greg watched contentedly as Maria met the Von Trapp family. Although it made no sense at all, he couldn’t help thinking of Mycroft every time the stern Captain spoke. Feeling silly, Greg imagined himself as the newest child-minder for the strict, no-nonsense Captain Holmes, teaching his children how to have fun and just be kids, bringing happiness back in to his home and eventually falling in love with him. Striving to reign in these fanciful musings, Greg was a bit startled when someone took the seat next to where he had his giant bucket of popcorn resting. When an expensive looking umbrella was propped up in front of the same chair, he looked over to see Mycroft gazing back at him.


“Sorry I’m late.”


Grinning like a loon, Greg replied, “Better late than not at all. I’m so glad you could make it.” He had to stifle a strong urge to take the politician’s hand in his. No romance idiot, remember? Together they turned their attention back to the big screen. When the intermission came, and the lights went up, Greg stood and stretched. He turned in time to catch Mycroft enjoying the view. He chuckled as Mycroft turned an adorable pink at being caught out. “Come on smart guy, I need the loo.”


It was Greg’s turn to enjoy the view as Mycroft stood and exited the theater ahead of him. Eschewing his usual bespoke finery, Mycroft had chosen to wear buttery soft charcoal grey trousers paired with what had to be a cashmere navy blue jumper. He looked amazing. After taking a quick bio break, Greg joined Mycroft who had stepped outside for some fresh air. As he approached the other man, Greg wondered how he was going to keep his hands to himself for the duration of the intermission, never mind the remainder of the evening.


Banishing this thought for the time being, he stepped in front of his elegant companion, smiling appreciatively. “Thank you so much for joining me Mycroft.” With these words he tried to convey all the things he wanted to say but could not. As a trade-off, he allowed his eyes to roam a bit, from Mycroft’s lips to the long line of his throat and down to the point where pale skin was covered by soft, dark fabric. Daringly, he had opted not to wear a shirt beneath it. Taking a breath he averted his eyes from the small tuft of coppery chest hair just barely peeking out to add, “It’s wonderful to see you again.”


Mycroft held his breath as Greg approached. Clad in a tight black tee and faded jeans that showed off his strong, muscular legs, he strode confidently, with an unhurried, relaxed gait. The British Government had to forcibly keep his feet from moving in the policeman’s direction. Instead he tried to focus on simply being in the moment. Still, he was unprepared for the wave of pleasure that spread outward from the base of his throat when Greg spoke. The normally articulate man was unable to summon a single response as he gazed at the stunning man standing before him. When Gregory’s eyes met his after a fleeting appraisal he simply returned his appreciative gaze, unconsciously licking his lips. Greg’s eyes began to twinkle. Mycroft felt his face heat up as a blush spread across the alabaster complexion. Tearing his own eyes away he contemplated the tips of his 800 pound Italian loafers, finally managing to say “It’s good to see you again too Gregory. Thank you for inviting me to join you.”


His tummy did funny things as he realized that the statesman was a bit flummoxed. Greg was mesmerized by this rather demure and diffident version of a man he knew to be one of the most powerful in the world. The realization that he, Gregory Raimond Lestrade could discombobulate Mycroft Holmes simply by saying hello was wondrous and a little stupefying. He took a tiny step closer and softly commented, “I think this may be the first time I’ve seen you wearing anything other than a three piece suit.” He’d deliberately kept his voice low so Mycroft would have to lean in a little to hear him. When Mycroft carefully lifted his gaze to meet Greg’s again he added, “That jumper looks lethally soft.” He saw an understanding light creep into Mycroft’s eyes. “May I?” he enquired as he lifted a hand.


Mycroft’s voice was barely a whisper. “Please.” He held perfectly still, his eyes growing wide as Greg shuffled a tiny bit closer and brushed the fingertips of one hand along a sleeve. Although his touch was feather-light, Greg felt a slight trembling of the arm inside. A flash of electricity danced up his arm as his fingers travelled just beyond the edge of the sumptuous material and came in to fleeting contact with the back of Mycroft’s hand. Blinking away his shock at the strength of his desire to take the other man’s hand in his, he quirked a grin, glancing at Mycroft through his lashes. “Only the best, right?”


Instead of answering, Mycroft allowed his fingers to tangle with Greg’s, tugging them gently. When he had the Inspector’s full attention he affirmed, softly, his eyes caressing “Only the best.” Greg was struck speechless by the warm expression in the other man’s eyes. His tummy flopped around some more as the lights flickered, indicating the end of the intermission. Wordlessly, both men turned toward the entrance and walked side by side, their shoulders brushing a bit. Once inside, Greg scooped up his popcorn, hoping Mycroft would take the hint. After a brief pause the umbrella was moved and Mycroft settled himself in the seat next to Greg’s. For the remainder of the movie, Greg’s attention was divided between the screen and the endlessly intriguing man next to him. His senses were full of him, breathing in his scent, the soft sounds made when he crossed his legs or reached over for a handful of popcorn, the warmth from the arm next to his. His mind reeled a little at how thoroughly he was captivated by the tiniest morsel.


As the final credits filled the screen Greg turned to find Mycroft’s gaze on him, a slight smile turning up the corners of his mouth. Greg felt his face flush. He should have known his preoccupation would be noticed by the most observant man in the world. His earlier nervousness gone, he grinned back, not discomfited by Mycroft’s perspicacity. Might as well get used to it, he thought. They strolled slowly through the lobby and came to rest standing under the marquee. A wary light crept in to Mycroft’s eyes as his hand slid into the pocket of his trousers. Still feeling a bit giddy, Greg reassured him. “It’s okay Mycroft. You take your obligations seriously. Nothing wrong with that.”


The politician’s relief was clear as he slid his phone from his pocket. “Thank you for understanding. This won’t take long.” He sent a brief text and received a reply within moments. Returning his attention to the older man he said, “I’ve a car coming. May I offer you a lift home?”


“That would be brilliant but I have my bike with me.”


Mycroft stilled. He stared at the policeman for a full thirty seconds before replying. “You…rode your motorcycle?” His voice was low, a bit hoarse. A slow grin spread over Greg’s face. He nodded.


“Do you…like motorcycles?” he asked, not so innocently.


Greg struggled to keep his features and hormones in check as Mycroft’s eyes raked over his leather clad shoulders, arms and torso, his breathing uneven. Mycroft’s gaze continued on their tour of Greg’s denim covered thighs. Did he just swallow? Now dealing with physiological changes of his own, he stared at Mycroft’s mouth, unable to look away. Greg’s throat constricted painfully as the politician’s eyes travelled slowly from his boots up to his eyes. After another hard swallow Mycroft managed to respond. “I like people who ride motorcycles,” his voice husky.


After watching Mycroft’s eyes darken noticeably he offered, “Wanna see?”

Chapter Text

Mycroft stilled.  He stared at the policeman for a full thirty seconds before replying.  “You…rode your motorcycle?”  His voice was low, a bit hoarse.  A slow grin spread over Greg’s face.  He nodded.

“Do you…like motorcycles?” he asked, not so innocently.

Greg struggled to keep his features and hormones in check as Mycroft’s eyes raked over his leather clad shoulders, arms and torso, his breathing uneven.  Mycroft’s gaze continued on their tour of Greg’s denim covered thighs.  Did he just swallow?  Now dealing with physiological changes of his own, he stared at Mycroft’s mouth, unable to look away.  Greg’s throat constricted painfully as the politician’s eyes travelled slowly from his boots up to his eyes. After another hard swallow Mycroft managed to respond.  “I like people who ride motorcycles,” his voice husky.

After watching Mycroft’s eyes darken noticeably he offered, “Wanna see?”

Mycroft accepted the offer and used the brief walk to gather himself.  He was once again reassessing the DI’s ability to overwhelm his senses.  Even with the memory of their previous meeting, he had underestimated Lestrade’s ability to draw him in almost effortlessly.  He would have to redouble his effort to maintain control. 

Greg kept a tight hold on his excitement as he made his way around the corner.   And tried very, very hard NOT to think about taking the tall man beside him for a ride on his bike, those long legs snugged up behind his, strong arms wrapped around him.  Mycroft had agreed to wait for the divorce to be finalized before acting on his desires and Greg honestly didn’t want to make that time a trial for either of them.  He simply had not known he could affect the other man so greatly.  What’s more, he sensed that Mycroft was coming to the same understanding. 

“It’s really nothing special.  Just a reminder that I too was once young and reckless.”  At the look Mycroft gave him, he smiled. “Okay, so maybe I’m still a bit reckless.  At least now I try not to be.”  To cover his sudden nervousness he strode over to his bike and grabbed the helmet, hoping Mycroft would understand the double meaning.  He had not meant to disturb the politician this evening.  It just sort of happened.  He wanted Mycroft to understand.  Without looking at him, Greg continued, “I didn’t know this would have such an effect on you.”  His words felt inadequate.

There was a lengthy pause before the other man spoke.  “Gregory, please look at me.”  He waited until the Inspector turned to face him.  “Please, don’t feel as if you have to…hold back on my account.  You have correctly surmised that I was not prepared for the…intensity of my reaction to seeing you, being near you.  But this is my problem, one I can assure you I will deal with.”

Greg felt some of his confidence returning. “That’s just it though.  I hate that you see it as a problem to be dealt with.”  He took a small step closer.  “And I really hate that you think it’s your problem alone.”  He waited until that sank in.  “You say you don’t want me to hold back but you take that on yourself without hesitation.  And you’re doing it at my request.”  The copper felt frustrated that he wasn’t making himself understood.  “What I’m trying to say is that we’re in this together.  It’s okay to feel the way you’re feeling and I don’t want you to think you have to hide that from me.  And for the record, you’re not the only one who was unprepared for…all this.”  He vaguely gestured between the two of them.  Greg was gratified to see the glint return to his companion’s eyes.  “Just…tell me if it ever gets to be…too much, okay?”  Mycroft nodded his assent.  Greg took another step closer, smiling softly. “I don’t want to mess this up.  You’re more important to me than some silly notion I had weeks ago.”

Mycroft could hear the sincerity in the other man’s voice.  He felt himself relax a bit.  It was more than unusual for him to take the words of another at face value.  Most people didn’t mean what they said and rarely said what they meant.  But Gregory Lestrade was different.  Mycroft knew he could believe what this man told him.  He found himself returning that soft smile.  “Thank you my dear.”

Greg’s smile deepened at the endearment.  His relief was clear to see.  “So let’s just take things as they come.”

Mycroft’s lips quirked at that.  “So to speak.”  His eyes danced.

“Alright clever clogs,” Greg groaned.  Behind the government official he saw a sleek black Jag stop at the end of the side street.  “Get on with you.  Your ride’s here.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, Mycroft closed the short distance between them and placed a quick kiss just beside Greg’s mouth. “Good night Gregory.  I had a wonderful evening.”  He was walking away, swinging his umbrella, before Greg could react.  His heartbeat elevated, he jammed the helmet on and climbed on his bike.  As he rode away from the theater, he noticed that the Jag was idling nearby.  He smiled all the way home.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Over the next month, Greg and Mycroft were both quite busy with work.  Mycroft had to leave the country twice and Greg barely saw his fabulous new flat.  Not one but two serial killers decided it was time to make their mark on the world.  As a result, the DI spent more time in Sherlock’s company than was good for either of them.  Although the younger Holmes never said anything directly to him, it seemed certain that he had deduced Greg’s growing closeness with his brother.  Though he and Mycroft had only managed a few short lunches together, Greg did feel closer to Mycroft.  They had fallen into the habit of calling or texting each other regularly, sharing what they could of their lives.

Greg entered the Yard on a Thursday morning.  The week had been relatively quiet and he’d been able to get most of the paperwork on his desk completed.  Mycroft was back from somewhere and they had plans to have dinner at his place the following evening.  Greg sent up a silent prayer that nothing derailed those plans.  He was so looking forward to spending time with the man.  In spite of the slightly awkward beginning they had found a comfortable place and he just wanted the chance to enjoy it without that initial nervousness and confusion.  To just be in the same place for a while, enjoy a nice meal together without expectations of anything more. 

A call came in about an hour later.  A body had been found near the scene of the suicide last month.  Arriving at the scene, Greg immediately knew something didn’t add up.  After studying the body and the immediate surroundings, Greg stepped away to call Sherlock.  He and John were there less than twenty minutes later.   Sherlock was unusually quiet as he inspected everything to his satisfaction.  Standing with John off to the side, Greg felt the other man’s eyes on him more than once.  Since he didn’t feel like engaging in a conversation about his personal life just then, he ignored it.

Sherlock’s assessment confirmed what he’d felt instinctively. The young woman had been murdered but the killer had wanted it to appear as a suicide.  After ordering the works and delegating oversight to Donovan, Greg took the Baker Street boys back to the Yard to review the three previous case files that had all been ruled suicides.  Each victim had died differently so there were no obvious correlations.  Greg didn’t expect Sherlock to solve any of them off the bat.  He wanted to know if any of the others were murdered and if there was any chance the four cases were connected.  While absorbing the photos and forensics, Sherlock once again was uncharacteristically quiet.  It was a bit unnerving.

Greg motioned for John to join him in the hallway.  Closing the door quietly he turned to confront the former soldier.  “What gives?”

“What do you mean?”

“Sherlock.”

“What about him?”

“John, he hasn’t said one disparaging thing since you got to the crime scene.  He didn’t even mess with Donovan.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?”

“Just tell me what’s going on John.”

“Nothing is going on.  You called, we came, same as always.”

Greg knew John was keeping something from him.  He took one more stab at it.  “Does this have anything to do with Mycroft?”

Bingo.  John was full of tells.  Without another word Greg went back into the conference room where Sherlock was patiently waiting for them.  If that didn’t scream red flag, nothing did.  Greg refused to be drawn in.  Sherlock identified enough evidence to convince Lestrade that the first three deaths were not the result of individual suicides, but he had not been able to find anything that connected the crimes. In short order, the three closed cases were reopened and changed to probable homicides, which put Greg behind his desk filling out the necessary forms.  He spent the rest of the day reviewing all three autopsy reports but found no commonalities. 

As the hour drew late, he returned home with the personal info on all four victims.  He’d go through everything again and find some leads to follow.  When the text came in he was shocked at how late it was.  It was Mycroft asking about his day.  Greg’s response reflected his exhaustion.

In that case I won’t beat about the bush.  I hope we are still on for tomorrow night.

I’ll be there with bells on, God willing.

Good night Gregory.  Get some rest.  See you tomorrow.

As Greg drifted off, he wondered about Sherlock’s unusual – for him- behavior and how Mycroft was involved. 

 

 

Chapter Text

The following day was filled with tracking down a few of the leads Greg had come up with.  After interviewing several family members, friends and coworkers of the four victims, he assigned a few of his team to keep digging.  There wasn’t enough time to go home to change before dinner.  He knew Mycroft wouldn’t mind his slightly rumpled appearance.  Over the last few weeks they had achieved a more comfortable rapport.  It was clear that their attraction for each other had not diminished.  Rather than trying to behave as if it didn’t affect them, they both seem to have relaxed into it, no longer believing they needed to hide how they were feeling from the other.  There had been those three delightful, somewhat extended lunches, peppered with lingering stares, shy (and not so shy) smiles and even a few too brief brushes of hands or shoulders. 

Unfortunately their ridiculous schedules had resulted in cancelled plans to meet and enjoy a shared few hours more than once.  It was frustrating but they both were all too aware that it was something they had to accept and deal with if this was going to go anywhere.  They had had several enchanting phone conversations which helped them both cope with their disappointment and impatience to be together.  They discussed the agreement they’d made to wait for Greg’s divorce openly and honestly.  Greg never stopped worrying that he was being a bit selfish asking Mycroft to be so patient and Mycroft kept reassuring him that he didn’t consider it a true hardship.  As Greg made his way to the address Mycroft had provided, he recalled something the politician had said the last time he’d been feeling a little guilty about the whole situation.

Sounding just a tad exasperated, Mycroft had sighed heavily and declared.  “Gregory, really, you make it sound as if you’re expecting me to lose interest because we’re not already sleeping together.” After a somewhat hushed silence, he added, his voice softer.  “I can promise you that will never happen.  If so, it would have happened a long, loooong time ago.”

Not sure how to respond, Greg held the phone to his ear, holding his breath.  He felt a bit bad about making such a fuss but that was dwarfed by the warm feeling spreading through him.  Although Mycroft couldn’t see him, he knew that Mycroft knew that he was soon grinning from ear to ear.  Trying to keep from sounding like the brash, impudent arse he clearly was, Greg finally replied, “I don’t deserve you.”

Through the phone he heard a muffled noise, like something being put down with more force than necessary.  “Gregory Raimond Lestrade, listen to me very carefully.  You deserve a great deal more than I can ever offer you and someday in the not too distant future I intend to demonstrate to you the fullness of this belief in as many ways as I can devise.  Is that clear?”

“Yes sir,” he replied meekly, his heart hammering.  The memory warmed his heart again as he turned onto the street where Mycroft lived.  It was a picturesque, tree lined lane in a smallish neighborhood with only a handful of houses.  He drove to the far end and found number 63.  As he approached the circular drive, a secure looking gate swung open.  Pulling in he spotted a guard station just inside the tall thick stone wall on the right.  A huge bloke in a dark suit stepped from the small building, carrying what appeared to be a tablet.  Greg could see the bulge created by at least one of the weapons the guard carried. 

“Detective Inspector Lestrade?” 

“The one and only,” Greg affirmed with a bold grin. 

Apparently his charm had no effect on the well trained guard.  Without another word the big man flipped the tablet open and turned it to face him.  “Please place your right hand on the screen.”  Greg complied, staring as a bright blue light lit up the screen.  After a few seconds the light shifted to bright green.  “Thank you Inspector.  Mr. Holmes is waiting for you.  You can park just over there.  Enjoy your evening.”

Greg nodded.  “Uh, thank you.”  A bit dazed, Greg pulled over and parked.  This would take some getting used to.  Taking a deep breath, he climbed out of his seven year old, previously owned BMW, doing his best not to feel out of place.  Stopping in front of the door, Greg knocked on the door in a rather subdued fashion.  Although not easily intimidated by the trappings of wealth and power, Greg rarely had cause to be this close for an extended period of time.  While he was aware that the Holmes brothers were quite well off financially, that awareness had always been abstract and not terribly important. 

As the door opened and Greg took in the sight of Mycroft sans suit jacket and tie, with sleeves rolled up and the top two buttons undone and a simple white apron keeping his no doubt pristine waistcoat splatter free, all thoughts of who had what evaporated.  He smiled bemusedly at the barely contained excitement easily detected in his host.  “Gregory!  Come in, please.”

Greg stepped through the door that Mycroft held wide for him, his eyes sweeping quickly around the large entryway, taking in the muted browns and golds.  He turned to get another glimpse of Mycroft’s long, lean form so casually clad.  He grinned appreciatively.  Mycroft of course had no trouble discerning the nature of his guest’s admiration.  Coloring slightly, he smiled.  “Welcome to my home.”

Before he was aware of his own movement, Greg stepped up to Mycroft and placed a soft kiss by his mouth.  “It’s good to be here,” he breathed.  There were a few moments of fuzziness as they became reacquainted with each other, taking in traces of citrus and spice and cedar, feeling body heat.  Greg took a step back, staring at the pulse point in Mycroft’s throat.  “It’s good to see you.”

Mycroft blushed adorably as he swept his eyes away from the deep brown ones trained on him.  Instead of responding verbally, Mycroft placed a hand on his arm and squeezed gently.  He stepped away and gestured to the back of the house.  “Join me in the kitchen?”

“I’m just putting the rice on.  It should be ready before long.”  Mycroft offered as they entered a large, modern kitchen chock full of shiny appliances and gleaming countertops. 

“Wow.”  Greg stood still as his inner chef yearned.

“Yes, it is rather awe inspiring, isn’t it?”

Mesmerized, Greg replied in hushed tones. “I think this must be what the kitchen in heaven looks like.”

Mycroft chuckled as he washed the rice.  “Please, make yourself comfortable Gregory.  I’ve opened a lovely white wine to enjoy with dinner, but there’s cold beer in that massive refrigerator as well.  Help yourself to whatever sounds good.”

Greg kept his saucy thoughts to himself and strode to the refrigerator, grabbing two bottles from an impressive selection of brews.   Greg rummaged in the drawer that Mycroft indicated to find a bottle opener.  Removing both tops, he stepped to where Mycroft was wiping down the counter and held one out for him.  After tossing the cloth into the sink, Mycroft turned and accepted the bottle Greg offered.  “Thank you, my dear.”

Greg stretched his other arm forward and gently touched his own drink against the top of the other.  “Cheers,” his voice soft and sultry.

Mycroft quirked an eyebrow.  His own voice was gentle as he replied, his eyes smoldering “Zivjeli.”  He took a small sip of the pale ale, watching the copper’s lips as they closed around the bottle and took a long pull.  The so called minor government official took a deep breath, praying his lust filled thoughts weren’t appallingly obvious.

Greg’s warm eyes twinkled up at him, removing any doubt.  “Zivjeli.  I like that.  Romanian?”

“Bosnian.  Romanian is noroc.”

“Noroc,” Greg repeated, leaning against the counter just a step away.  They were both quiet, sipping beer and drinking each other in.  There was no doubt that their desire for each other was as strong as ever, but they each had somehow found a way to better handle these feelings without letting them take over.  Greg had to admit that he truly enjoyed himself whenever he got to spend time with the man of his dreams in spite of their self-imposed abstinence.  Now that he’d really settled into it, he discovered he quite liked the building anticipation.  If he was being really honest, he’d felt more like his twenty year old self these last few weeks, his days filled with thoughts of Mycroft and his nights filled with gorgeous images, fantasies, and even a few wet dreams.  But his favorite bit was just listening to Mycroft.  Almost didn’t matter what that posh, cultured, silky smooth voice said, Greg reveled in it.  Hoping to hear it again, he breathed, “So what’s for dinner, then?”

Mycroft was coy. “Can you not guess?”

Greg grinned.  “Tease.”

Undaunted, Mycroft’s lips curved up a little as he deliberately put himself between Gregory and the stove top.  “You’re not even trying Gregory.”

Greg stood as he drained the rest of his pint and ambled slowly toward the refrigerator and removed a dark black lager.  He closed his eyes after popping the top and began listing the ingredients, beginning with the most obvious.  “Nice thick beef stock but not too heavy, just right.  Peppers, onions, tomatoes.” He turned and prowled back towards the tall man, holding his eyes as he continued his litany.  “Bay leaves, garlic, thyme and parsley.”  He came to a stop directly in front of his challenger.  “Andouille sausage.”

Mycroft’s eyes glittered like blue zircons.  “All correct.”

Greg’s eyes narrowed.  “You’ve been holding out on me Mycroft.”  Though his voice was soft, Mycroft felt a tendril of excitement at the subtle reproof he heard. 

Licking his lips, he demurred, “Only a little.”

“I’ll be the judge of that Holmes.” Mycroft’s breath caught as that tiny tendril expanded rapidly and his nerve endings seemed to be seeking out the source.  The diplomat had never met anyone who could so easily rattle him with so little effort.  When the Inspector brought his years of hard won command to bear, Mycroft became so much putty.  “I think you owe me a little taste, beautiful.”

Chapter Text

Greg’s eyes narrowed.  “You’ve been holding out on me Mycroft.”  Though his voice was soft, Mycroft felt a tendril of excitement at the subtle reproof he heard. 

Licking his lips, he demurred, “Only a little.”

“I’ll be the judge of that Holmes.” Mycroft’s breath caught as that tiny tendril expanded rapidly and his nerve endings seemed to be seeking out the source.  The diplomat had never met anyone who could so easily rattle him with so little effort.  When the Inspector brought his years of hard won command to bear, Mycroft became so much putty.  “I think you owe me a little taste beautiful.”

Mycroft prayed his knees wouldn’t buckle as the most gorgeous man he’d ever beheld leaned in, stretching one arm behind him to claim the large spoon resting on the counter beside the stove.  A moment later Gregory crowded impossibly closer as his right hand slid by, trapping him.  As the aroma from his stew wafted around them, Mycroft felt the steam from the tall, deep pot heating the back of his neck.  Yes, definitely the steam.  His eyes fluttered closed and he simply awaited the verdict and his sentence.  The silence was damning.  It seemed to be stretching out unnat-

“You bastard.”

His eyes flew open.  Greg stood an inch from him, his glare eclipsed only by the accompanying scowl.  “Gregory?”

“How could you?  Seriously Mycroft, how could you do it?” 

“I don’t…I’m not…”

“How could you keep this from me?  How could you not tell me you could make the most flavorful, perfectly seasoned, delectable Gumbo known to man?”  Mycroft blinked rapidly as the scowl was replaced by a teasing grin.  “Who’s the dark horse now?”

Relief flooded through him as he released the breath he’d been holding.  Smirking wryly he replied, “Touche Inspector.”

A moment later, the rice cooker clicked.  Mycroft asked Greg to step through to the small dining room just off the kitchen and pour them each a measure of the wine already opened while he dished up.  The two tucked into dinner with gusto.  Greg did not stint in his praise for the savory stew and Mycroft basked in the adulation.  “Thank you Gregory.  I’ll own, my skills in the kitchen cannot hold a candle to yours, but there are a few dishes I can adequately prepare.”

Greg’s eyebrows lifted a shade.  “False modesty from Mycroft Holmes?  That better not be a sign of the apocalypse.”  Mycroft’s cheeks turned pink.  “All joking aside, this gumbo is a far sight better than just adequate.  After dinner I want the full story on how and why you know how to do this.”

The evening progressed somewhat predictably with one interesting exception.  While they were cleaning up, the doorbell rang.  Mycroft excused himself and stepped out of the kitchen, returning almost immediately, followed by Anthea and another dark suited man, this one taller and thinner than the bloke on guard duty. 

“Good evening Detective Inspector.”  For once, she was sans smart phone.  “Did you enjoy Mycroft’s gumbo?”

Greg had to ruthlessly quash the urge to laugh at the question as posed.  Trying to pretend he did not see the twinkle in her eyes, while also avoiding those of his host, he nodded.  “I did indeed.  Never had better.” 

The tall thin man carried the large stew pot toward the front door, carefully looking at no one, as Mycroft handed the smaller container of rice to his PA.  “Thank you Anthea.  That will be all tonight.”  His voice indicated he did not appreciate her provocative inquiry.

“Yes, sir.  The car will be out front at eight AM.”

“Very well, I will see you then.”  The slight emphasis on the last three words were the equivalent of another man close to shouting.  She spared another glance at Lestrade.  “Enjoy the remainder of your evening Inspector.”

“You know I will.”

“Good night Anthea,”

Good night, sir.  Good night Inspector.”  She didn’t seem concerned by her boss’s displeasure.

As she turned away, Lestrade could not stop himself from calling out, “Enjoy your dinner.”  He held his breath until the door closed, then could not keep the laughter from bubbling up.  Seeing the resulting pout on his host’s face only deepened Greg’s delight in this surprisingly intimate and wildly amusing glimpse into Mycroft’s day to day reality.

“Really, Gregory.”  Mycroft’s tone was mildly reproachful.

Greg strove to stifle his jollity.  He attempted to lessen the sting.  “I’m sorry babe, I just never imagined you dealing with…that,” waving his hand vaguely in the direction of the front door.

Mycroft crossed his arms defensively and looked at the immaculate floor. “By that I assume you refer to the lamentable impudence of my soon to be former PA?” he grumbled.

Greg smiled at Mycroft’s pique indulgently.  He squeezed the shoulder closest to him.  “Come on.  You don’t mean that,” he murmured. 

“Do I not, Inspector?” he asked petulantly, refusing to make eye contact.

“Oh, give over Mycroft.  You’d never be so petty.”

Mycroft did look at him then, his eyes searching.  “Why do you say that?”

“You forget, I’ve been paying close attention for a long time now.  I know more about you than you realize.”

After a pause, the British Government whispered, “Like?”

Greg regarded him quietly for a bit before answering.  “I know you have seven different umbrellas and you choose which one to carry based on your mood.”  Greg was gratified to see Mycroft’s eyes widen slightly.  “I know you keep an eye on Sherlock’s homeless network, partially for their protection.  I know you’ve anonymously made it possible for some of them to get off the streets.  I know you enjoy gardening but rarely have time for it.  I know you scour second hand bookshops every chance you get for certain rare books.  And I know you value what Anthea does far too much to be truly put out by anything so silly.”

A little overwhelmed, Mycroft realized once again he was still underestimating the man standing in front of him.  Those velvety brown eyes quietly challenged him.  A bit breathless, he murmured, “Thank you my dear.  I concede the point.”  After a few moments he asked, “How did you know…about the umbrellas?”

Lestrade beamed at him and pointed a thumb at himself.  “Detective, me.  Trained to notice things.”  Greg put his hand on Mycroft’s.  “Come on, I want to see your back garden.”

Even more nonplussed, Mycroft said, “You wish to…go outside?”

“Yeah, just for a little while.”

“Whatever for?”

“It’s a gorgeous night.  Just a bit of a nip in the air.  There’s a full moon tonight too.”  Greg tugged Mycroft’s hand gently.  “It’ll be brilliant. There must be a back way out of here.”

The diplomat could not refuse the policeman and escorted him to the spacious back garden.  Greg pulled him onto the perfectly tended lawn before turning to face him again, his smile infectious.  “There now, that’s better.”

“What’s got in to you Gregory?” 

“Nothing to fret about, I promise.”  The gentle caress in his voice sent a thrill through the government man.  Gregory stepped a tiny bit closer, stuffing his hands in his pockets to help keep them to himself.  “I just couldn’t let this evening pass without seeing you in the moonlight again.”  And the great Mycroft Holmes had no idea how to respond to that.  He was certainly not conscious of his decision to move closer.  The face that held so much fascination for him stared back unabashedly.  “God Mycroft, do you know how beautiful you a—.”  He never got to finish the question because his lips were suddenly busy being crushed under Mycroft’s.  He responded eagerly, having wanted to do the same thing all night.  His fingers quickly slipped into Mycroft’s carefully coiffed hair, tugging gently.  He felt strong hands grip his hips and pull him closer.  Yes, they were tempting fate a bit, not to mention each other, but they’d obviously hit a tipping point.  

Only the need to breathe ended the kiss, but neither man made a move away from the other.  Greg’s arms slid lower to wind around Mycroft’s neck and shoulders.  As he struggled to control his own breathing, a shuddered breath ghosted over his jaw as Mycroft nuzzled his neck fleetingly before whispering, “Gregory, please.  Saying such things….it’s…much appreciated, very much in fact, but I am only human my dear.”  The words tumbled out in a rush as if Mycroft thought he might not be allowed to finish the statement.

Greg slid his hands to rest lightly on Mycroft’s shoulders, stepping back to put some space between them.  “Mycroft I…I’m sorry.  It seems I start to lose control when I’m near you.”  He cautiously peeked up at the taller man, a lopsided, slightly rueful grin gracing his features.

Mycroft’s trepidation eased at the copper’s words.  Returning the grin with a soft smile, he confessed, “The feeling is entirely mutual.”  Giving his shoulders a gentle squeeze, Greg let his hands drop as he took a couple more steps away.  Mycroft slid his hands into his pockets.  “Perhaps focusing on something else would provide enough distraction…”

“Yeah, good idea,” Greg encouraged.  Casting about, he suggested, “How about a tour?  We haven’t done that yet.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Mycroft showed Greg around his home, pointing out architectural details and pieces of art acquired from all over the world, sharing a few of the stories of how and where some things were obtained.  Greg listened, captivated, to him recount these adventures, occasionally asking him to elaborate.  By the time they’d drifted through each room on the first floor, it had grown quite late.  Sensing Mycroft’s hesitancy in offering to continue the tour to the upper floors, Greg hurried to remove the rare indecision he saw in the politician’s eyes as they returned once again to the awe inspiring kitchen.  “That was easily the most entertaining tour of anyone’s home I’ve ever had.  Or partial tour anyway.  I’d love to see the rest but we’ll have to postpone that I’m afraid.  My weekend doesn’t start until Sunday and I imagine you have a full day tomorrow as well.”

“Indeed I do my dear.”  Greg was gratified to see the slight frown disappear from his host’s brow as he turned to face him.  “Thank you for joining me this evening Gregory.  I rarely have guests here, so it is a real treat for me to share it with another.”  Although subtle, the pride and pleasure Mycroft felt was clear to the detective.  As was the color that infused the younger man’s fair complexion as he added, “There is no one I’d rather share it with,” his voice ineffably soft and his gaze dropping away shyly.

Greg needed a moment before he could respond.  He was blown away by Mycroft’s quiet, astonishing confession.  He swallowed around the lump in his throat, searching for the words to let the other man know that he understood and could not be happier about it.  Dragging in breath to speak, he closed the distance between them and took both of Mycroft’s hands in his, squeezing them gently.  “Thank you,” love, he added silently, “for sharing all of this with me.  It’s an honor, truly.” 

Both men were a bit overcome for a few moments, each understanding that, with what was both said and unsaid, they were not referring only to Mycroft’s home.  Without conscious thought, Mycroft leaned down to touch his forehead to Greg’s as, eyes closed, they silently communed, the minimal contact innocent but infused with significant and very particular meaning.  Neither man could say how much time passed in this extraordinarily intimate fashion, exchanging as yet unspoken wishes, hopes and promises with the other.  Only the sound of the gargantuan sub-zero humming to life brought the brief interlude to a close as Greg straightened, his eyes twinkling brightly as he spoke.  “Walk me to the door?”

“Of course my dear,” Mycroft breathed, his voice tinged with happiness.  Mycroft led the way, releasing only one of the police man’s hands.  Stopping by the door he turned to face his most favored guest once again.  “I look forward to your next visit Gregory.  I had a most wonderful time.”

The twinkle in Greg’s eyes shifted just a little as his pupils dilated a bit.  “Next time…yeah.  I can hardly wait…,” his voice husky.  And then he turned bright red as Mycroft’s countenance reflected amusement and excitement in equal measure.  There was little doubt in his mind that the next time he stepped foot in this house he’d see the upper floors, or at the very least Mycroft’s bedroom and they both knew to what that would certainly lead.  Clearing his throat, Greg tried again.  “I mean tonight was brilliant.  Dinner was beyond delicious.  Thank you again for inviting me.”

Mycroft was thrilled almost beyond his own understanding.  “It was my pleasure Gregory, absolutely.  Good night, my dear.” 

Greg could not stop himself from leaning in to the other man’s space and kissing him first on one cheek, then lingering a bit as he kissed the other, just to be fair.  “Good night Myc.  Sweet dreams,” he whispered before stepping to and opening the door just enough to step through.  He barely remembered the drive home, floating in a sea of endorphins and picturing gorgeous pale blue eyes the whole way.

                  ****************************************************************

It wasn’t until midway through the following day that Greg realized he had forgotten to ask Mycroft about the mystery of Sherlock’s sudden uncharacteristic behavior, an oversight he would later come to regret more deeply than he could have ever imagined.  The day had dawned sunny and bright.  This was the DI’s favorite time of year, the heat of the summer gone, a hint of crispness in the air, but before the heavy, freezing rains of late fall.  The morning was relatively quiet, allowing Greg to catch up on the paperwork on his desk.  Deciding to enjoy an early and slightly extended lunch break, Greg walked to a small but favorite café near the Yard, taking his light repast of a half sandwich and side salad out to the small grouping of tables available for those who enjoyed eating al fresco.  Weeks later, Greg would remember that day as a time of utter contentment, made more poignant by how quickly his life went pear shaped a scant twenty hours later.

The call came in the following afternoon.  Driving with Donovan to the scene of another suspicious apparent suicide, he texted his favorite Consulting Detective, hoping Sherlock would discover some clue, something out of place that would break the case open.  He could feel disapproval and resentment rolling off of the DS in waves but was prepared to deal with it if it meant they had a chance to catch whoever was behind these murders.  So far the press had not discovered that these deaths were homicides, possibly perpetrated by yet another serial killer, but his gut told him it was only a matter of time.  He sent up a silent prayer that they’d solve this mystery before that happened.

Sherlock and John arrived just after he’d finished his initial examination.  Not having found anything that seemed inconsistent with a suicide, he turned to them, his frustration evident.  On edge already, he did his best to ignore the anger Donovan was wearing almost like a badge of honor. 

“Freak’s here.  Sir.”  Lestrade tensed, bracing for the derision and contempt Sherlock typically expressed when confronted with Donovan’s childish jealousy.  Only…it never came. He watched, breathless, as Sherlock simply removed his hands from the deep pockets of his long coat and John stepped slightly to his right and stood next to the taller man.  Something wordless passed between John and Sherlock as they waited silently just inside the yellow tape, each standing just a bit straighter, eyes focused ahead, almost as if in parade rest, awaiting orders.  What the hell?

Equally confused by this unusual behavior, Donovan snickered and opened her mouth, no doubt to say something horribly inappropriate.   Cutting her off before she had the chance, he sent her off to assign his Constables to begin canvassing the area.  Scowling, she huffed her disapproval but swung off to carry out his orders.  Throughout this exchange, Sherlock and John remained still and silent, not acknowledging Donovan’s presence.  Shifting his eyes back to the pair once Sally was gone, he watched them as he carefully approached.  Stopping a few feet away, he studied them a bit longer, before saying, “This is new.”  John’s eyes shifted to meet his as Sherlock began scanning the area without moving.

“What do you think Detective Inspector?”  Greg’s eyebrows went skyward.  He couldn’t remember Sherlock ever using his title without a subtle (or not so subtle) taunt implied.  

Aware of John’s quiet regard, Greg expelled a deep breath, muttering “Mostly that I’ve somehow stepped into an alternate universe.”  Sherlock smirked as he removed a pair of latex gloves from an inside pocket and put them on.  John’s eyes reflected equal parts amusement and exasperation, but he said nothing.  Admitting to the Consulting Detective that he suspected another homicide disguised as a suicide, but could not point to anything tangible to support this belief was much less awkward than he’d anticipated.  Sherlock merely hummed without comment and silently waited for the DI to give the go ahead to begin his examination of the victim and the surrounding area.

Greg’s sense of surreal incredulity persisted and deepened as Holmes the younger meticulously studied the crime scene with a distinct air of professionalism and gravity.  Lestrade’s focus shifted from watching Sherlock, his curiosity growing steadily, to Dr. Watson, who was awaiting his turn to inspect the body with barely concealed pride in Sherlock’s outward display of maturity.  As Greg waited for Sherlock’s assessment, his imagination wandered a bit, casting about for what could have wrought this change in the younger man.  John was clearly involved.  The real question was, did Mycroft have anything to do with all this?  And if so, how did he feel about it?

Chapter Text

Turning the scene over to Donovan, Greg took John and Sherlock back to the Yard.  Commandeering the big conference room, they covered the white board along one long wall with all the photos from the four previous scenes along with notes about the scant physical evidence recovered at each scene.  Sherlock studied them while Greg reviewed the case files, searching for any commonalities.  None of the victims seemed to have ever met any of the others.  They all lived in different parts of the city and originally came from different towns and villages.  Causes of death were all different. So far the only thing he’d established was that all of the victims were born in the UK and had no record of ever travelling outside of it.  Two had been married at the time of death, two were divorced and one never married.  There were three men and two women, ranging in age from mid 20’s to late 50’s. One had been a Christian, one a Moslem, one Hindi and the remaining two had no religious affiliations. 

Returning to his office, Greg made a series of calls, digging deeper into the day-to-day lives of each victim:  where they shopped, what they did for fun and with whom, who had been their medical providers, who minded their children, pretty much anything he could think of that might lead to a link between these victims.  After three hours there was still nothing. It seemed like a long shot but he had a theory.  Back in the conference room, he shared his thoughts with Sherlock.  “I think these people may have been chosen specifically because they literally have nothing in common, not even incidentally.”

After considering this possibility, Sherlock said “It would have taken the killer some time to confirm that each subsequent victim had no commonalities with the others.”

“Yeah, a lot of time since its unlikely any of the victims knew this bastard, so he would have had to observe them for weeks, if not months, to learn enough about them.”

“And it became more difficult after each murder,” John added.

“Exponentially,” Sherlock remarked.

After thinking about that Greg said “It’s a challenge.  How many people can you kill without creating even one commonality?”

“So, someone who really likes a challenge,” John breathed.

Sherlock took a deep breath and expelled it, awaiting the inevitable.

Greg tensed and his eyes fell closed.

“No.”

“John.”

“Sherlock, no, not again dammit.”

“It’s okay.”

“I’m sorry, but he’s right.  It’s bound to come up.  Might as well head it off.”  Greg hated that this was necessary but it was his responsibility.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!”  John was angry and defensive.

Sherlock turned to John.  “Just think of it as an occupational hazard.  It’s not personal…this time.”

Greg did his best to lessen the blow.  “Look, you’re bound to have alibis for the times of death.  At this point, even one will rule you out as far as I’m concerned.”  John visibly struggled to reign in his anger but said nothing.  “I am sorry about this Sherlock.  For what it’s worth, I won’t let Donovan anywhere near this.”

Sherlock nodded and Greg went back to his office to make arrangements for Sherlock’s statement to be taken.  Even though he wasn’t a suspect, Greg wanted to have definitive proof that the Consulting Detective could not be connected to these deaths in any way.  He knew that someone, somewhere would raise the possibility in spite of what happened the first time.  Maybe even because of it.  People could be such arseholes.

After speaking with DI Greggson, Lestrade fingered his mobile.  He debated calling Mycroft to personally inform him of this development.  He prayed that this wouldn’t result in any misunderstandings or awkwardness between them.  Personally, he was rather proud of the way Sherlock was handling himself.  He knew of course that it wouldn’t be long before big brother was apprised of the current investigation and where it had taken them.  He wanted to tell Mycroft that this was a precautionary measure only and that no one had made any allegations against Sherlock.  He decided to send the government man a text asking him to call when he had some time to talk. 

Lestrade spent the next hour compiling the case file on the latest suspected homicide, instructing his team to get as much information about the most recent victim as possible.  No detail was insignificant.  As he feared, there was nothing linking her with any of the others.  Greg watched from the doorway of his office as Greggson entered the conference room where Sherlock waited to give his statement.  John wouldn’t even make eye contact with him as he walked to the break room to wait.  Forty-five minutes later Greggson made a beeline for Lestrade’s office.  Greg’s heart fell at the scowl on the other DI’s face and he knew the news wasn’t good. 

As Tobias Greggson sank in to the chair in front of Lestrade’s desk, Greg gawked at him.  “Seriously?  Not one alibi for the times of death?”

“I’m afraid not.”

Greg was at a loss.  “What about the most recent victim?”

“On the roof of 221B alone, tending his beehive at the approximate time of death.”

Jesus.  Fuck me.”

“Quite.”

Desperate for anything that would remove Sherlock from suspicion, Greg said, “Surely Mrs. Hudson could confirm he was home then.”

“According to Mr. Holmes, his landlady left to visit her sister Friday afternoon.”

Shite.”

Greggson’s brow furrowed.  “Keep it together Lestrade.  None of this proves he had anything to do with these deaths.”

“You and I both know that won’t mean much if this gets out.” Greg fought back the panic that was creeping in.  Memories of what happened the last time kept assailing him.  He couldn’t let Sherlock be subjected to the same kind of public infamy again. 

“Listen Greg, I know you’re not going to want to hear this, but I think you have to let me take over as lead on this case.  Your history with Holmes is too well known.  We need to avoid even the appearance of any kind of favoritism.  And…”

Greggson’s hesitance was worrying.  “What?”  Greg barked, eyes narrowed.

“It’s my understanding that you’ve entered into a personal relationship with his older brother.”

“What the hell does that have to do with anything?” Greg growled, his hackles rising.  “And how do you even know about that for Chrissakes?”

Greggson leaned forward.  “Sherlock told me of course.  I hope you feel you can trust me with this.  No one is getting charged with anything without clear evidence.  But as of this moment, Sherlock Holmes cannot be ruled out as-

“Please don’t say it.  Take the case.  Just don’t use that word.”  Greg slumped back in his chair, trying to wrap his head around this turn of events.  He didn’t leave his office as Greggson collected the files and the photos from the conference room.  He watched, feeling dejected as Sherlock and John left without even looking in his direction.  He didn’t blame them.  This was horrible. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

An hour later Greg sat at the bar of the pub closest to New Scotland Yard nursing his third whisky, straight. Donovan and a few other members of his team sat across the bar at a table. None of them had said anything to him but it was obvious that they held him responsible for losing the case. To make matters worse, he’d been informed by Anthea that Mycroft had had to leave the country unexpectedly and would be unreachable for an indeterminate amount of time. Feeling more alone than he had in a long time, Greg drained his glass, tossed some cash down and slunk toward the men’s room near the back of the pub. Unwilling to face his own reflection, feeling as if he’d betrayed Sherlock all over again, he pushed his way into a stall, slumping back against the door. He tried desperately to shake himself out of this funk. Hiding in the gents feeling sorry for himself wasn’t going to help Sherlock or this mad bastard’s next victim.  Hearing the door swing open he began to unzip but froze when he heard Tomlinson say, “You’re not seriously thinking of transferring are you?”


“I don’t want to mate but what if Donovan’s right? I’ve worked too hard to get where I am to have my career stalled because of Sherlock bloody Holmes,” Burroughs, the newest member of his team, replied.


“Come on, you know he’s not doing this.”


“No I don’t and neither do you. Listen, I don’t have anything against him. Yeah, he’s a prickly SOB but I don’t give a shite about that. I don’t believe Holmes has gone on a killing spree just to not be bored and I don’t think Donovan does either. But I have to think of my family. They’ve made a lot of sacrifices over the years. I can’t let that go for naught.”


“It won’t.” Tomlinson tried to reassure the other constable. “Look, don’t borrow trouble mate. Talk to Greg. He’s a good man and a good detective.”


“Yeah, I know he is, but he also has a soft spot for Holmes. And now he’s living in that mansion in a part of the city none of us could afford even on a DCI’s salary. I mean, do you really believe that story about a mystery owner? You know he’s seeing Holmes’ brother now. The one with more power and money than God.”


“What I believe is that where Lestrade lives and who he spends his downtime with is none of my business. Just stick to police work.”


As the voices faded and the door closed, Greg could just make out “And if he has been set up in that place by his rich boyfriend who just happens to be Sherlock’s scary big brother?”


Greg couldn’t breathe. Stuck somewhere between shock and self-righteous rage, he struggled to control the blinding urge to follow Tomlinson and punch his stupid, perfect face. Swallowing convulsively, he fought to keep the bile down but failed. After losing the cheap whisky he’d consumed too quickly, he rinsed his mouth and splashed some water on his face. Staring at his ashen reflection in the mirror, Greg forced himself to breathe evenly and set aside the shock and anger threatening to take hold. He’d deal with that later. For now his focus was on what to do about certain members of his team discussing his personal business while getting pissed at the pub. More than aware that he was avoiding the other matter, he decided it was past time to knock some heads together, metaphorically speaking, and lay down the law.


Returning to the Yard, Greg first sent a high priority email to everyone on his team informing them of a mandatory meeting the following morning. The message was strongly worded, making it clear that anyone not in attendance without prior approval would automatically receive an official warning in their file. Anyone who couldn’t attend had exactly one hour to inform him, no exceptions.


He spent that hour putting his thoughts in order. Although Lestrade had a reputation throughout the Yard as an excellent detective, it was well known that he was more lax about some of the regulations than other DIs in his division. Though this likely stemmed from his seemingly bottomless well of compassion and inherent kindness, he was unwilling to let this kind of insubordination go unchecked. Relying on the Met’s code of conduct, Greg compiled a list of behaviors that would no longer be tolerated by DI Lestrade. All infractions would be dealt with swiftly and decisively.


Before shutting down his computer, he checked his email. Of course Burroughs had replied, attempting to get out of the meeting without even providing a reason for the request. Lestrade’s response was short and anything but sweet. “Request denied. Attendance is mandatory.”


On the way home, he shifted his focus back to the murders. There was still something bugging him about what they had learned that day. He realized that Sherlock having no alibi during the times of death of five victims was no coincidence. But what did it mean? The penny dropped a few moments later. Someone, the killer, was setting Sherlock up.


Even as he changed direction to head to Baker Street he knew that Sherlock had no doubt already realized he was once again being framed. Greg knew he might be the last person Sherlock wanted to see but there was no way he was just going to slink home and obsess about whether Mycroft had puppet-mastered him into his posh flat. There was no telling what Sherlock was going through and even if he could do nothing else, Lestrade was going to make sure Sherlock knew that he’d realized he was being framed. Even though he probably shouldn’t, he intended to tell Sherlock that Greggson didn’t believe he was playing this twisted game either.


As soon as he climbed from his car, he was immediately relieved to see Sherlock’s silhouette in the window, violin propped on his shoulder. With a wry grin, Greg felt sure his showing up at 221B wouldn’t be unexpected. Sure enough, the door was unlocked. Stepping inside, he closed and locked the door behind him. Greg pushed his anxiety aside as he climbed the stairs. He couldn’t let the possibility of a cold reception stop him from having this conversation. Stepping into the sitting room, he saw Sherlock sitting in the center of the sofa, violin held loosely in one hand as he languidly plucked the strings with the fingers of the other. His gaze rested in the vicinity of a stack of yellowed tabloids on the low table in front of the sofa. On the front page of the top paper, Lestrade easily scanned the banner headline naming Sherlock Holmes a fraud. Bollocks. Not quite ready to see the accusation in Sherlock’s eyes, Greg allowed his to close. Dimly he became aware that the notes rising from the violin were no longer random. A moment later he recognized the basic melody of History Never Repeats by The Split Enz.


For a few mad seconds he felt a bubble of near hysterical laughter threatening to burst from his throat. Running through the lyrics of the song whether he wanted to or not (he didn’t), Greg slumped over to Sherlock’s chair and threw himself in it, sliding down until his head fell against the back. When he heard footsteps accompanied by the rustling of plastic, he opened his eyes to see John come in carrying a take away bag. He braced for open hostility but the ex-soldier simply breezed by on his way to the kitchen. “Perfect timing Greg. I got you a red curry and those crispy spring rolls that you love.” Returning to the sitting room, he offered the DI an opened, cold bottle of beer. “And a six pack of your favorite lager.”


“Ta.” Taking the bottle gratefully, he added, “You were expecting me.”


“Obvious,” Sherlock sighed.


As Greg drained half the bottle, he felt the tension and anxiety of the last several hours begin to dissipate. He didn’t understand this change of heart but he’d take it just the same. John cleared his throat after a long pull from his beer. “Listen, I’m really sorry about earlier mate. I was experiencing some pretty bad flashbacks.” The emotion behind this statement was clear.


Greg nodded, his eyes drifting back to the stack of newspapers on the table. “I think we’re all struggling with those right now.”


John’s gaze drifted to where Greg was looking. His brows drew together as he took in the tabloid headline and recognized the song Sherlock was now playing languidly. “Sherlock,” he sighed with mild consternation. “Is all this necessary?”


“Yes, John,” Sherlock replied, his eyes twinkling, his voice silky.


“It’s fine John.” Greg volunteered. “He’s entitled to act out this time I think. This is pretty mild as reactions go.” The inspector took in Sherlock’s relaxed body language. “You seem to be handling this really well Sherlock.”


The consulting detective held his gaze for a few moments before saying, “Thank you Greg.” His voice and eyes soft.


Lestrade stared, unaccustomed to this kinder, gentler version of the younger Holmes brother. Sherlock’s gaze shifted lazily from the DI to his flatmate, his smirk growing in to an actual grin. A rumbly chuckle floated over to and between the two older occupants, their twin flabbergasted expressions apparently quite amusing to the laughing genius. Sitting up slowly, Sherlock concluded his performance with a flourish. The chuckle veered into giggle territory and Greg got suspicious. “Are you-

“Drunk? Yes. Also a little stoned? Yup,” he replied, popping the p. Meeting Lestrade’s narrowed eyes, he added, “But nothing else, promise.” His gaze shifted to John on the last word. Relaxing again, Greg strove to hide his amusement, knowing the attempt was likely pointless.


Looking over at John, he saw the former military man regarding his best friend with mild consternation. “Where’d you get weed?”


“From Mycroft. He gets the really good stuff too. Want some?” He bent down and retrieved a partially consumed joint and a lighter, quickly taking another hit before holding it out invitingly.


“Pass.” John wasn’t overjoyed but refrained from passing judgement on this indulgence. Turning, he went back into the kitchen to begin unpacking their dinner.


Sherlock sank onto the end of the coffee table directly in front of Lestrade, exhaling with intent. Greg just looked at him, exasperated, but said nothing.


“So.” Sherlock just stared.


Lestrade’s scowl deepened. “What?”


“They’ll get over it.”


“Who’ll get over what?” For some reason he felt defensive.


“Your team. They’ll get over losing the case.”


Greg sighed. Of course Sherlock would have deduced their losing the case and his team’s resentment. He looked away and grumbled. “Right now, I don’t care if they get over it or not. They’re a bunch of spoiled babies and I’m done catering to their selfishness as of two hours ago.”


Sherlock was quiet for a few seconds. “Something happened.”


Greg didn’t want to talk about it. “Never mind about all that. Now. What are we going to do about this psycho who is clearly trying to frame you for these murders? Do you have any idea who it is?” Meeting Sherlock’s direct gaze again, Greg was pleasantly surprised to see that he was impressed.


John came out of the kitchen with two plates of food. “How about we take a little break and try to enjoy our nice dinner before we dive in to all of that?”


Sherlock stood. “Excellent idea John.” He moved to one end of the sofa, accepting a plate and fork. John placed the second plate in front of Greg.


“Thanks John. I’ll just go wash up. Back in a tick.” Once safely in the bathroom, Greg quickly took a few puffs from the joint Sherlock had conveniently left on the coffee table. He didn’t want to endure any teasing about breaking the law from Sherlock or quiet judgement from John. Other than alcohol, Greg rarely indulged in using mood altering substances and he didn’t feel he had to justify his choices to anyone. Looking at his reflection in the mirror as he soaped up his hands, he could see that his color was almost back to normal. The extreme anxiety he had experienced over this latest palaver had mostly faded into the back of his consciousness. He was also much less worried about how Mycroft would react when he learned about Sherlock being targeted by yet another psychopath. Taking a last deep, cleansing breath, Greg silently vowed to himself that he would do whatever he could to find out who was behind all this and bring the SOB to justice.

Chapter Text

The three men enjoyed their meal mostly in silence, each wrapped up in his own thoughts.  While John focused on staying in the moment, the better to avoid thinking about the past, Greg’s thoughts drifted to the conversation he’d overheard earlier that night.  Although he was desperate to learn the truth, he didn’t want to be distracted at the moment.  Also, it was unlikely he’d get anything helpful out of the younger Holmes.  His best bet was to be patient and just talk to Mycroft when he became available.  Sherlock continued to scan his memory palace for any clues as to who was behind this string of murders.  Although no one shared what he was thinking about, it was clear that the mood in the flat was subdued for several reasons. 

Without a word, Greg stood and carried his plate and fork into the kitchen, rinsing them thoroughly before absently drying them.  John drifted in with the other dishes and set them down within Greg’s reach.  He quietly took the plate Greg still held and returned it to the cupboard before silently squeezing Greg’s shoulder in passing, then removing three more bottles from the refrigerator.  Greg finished the washing up and put everything away.  He moved back to stand in the doorway of the sitting room, his arms crossing in front, taking in the still silent tableau.  John had taken up a quiet vigil, staring out the window and Sherlock sat in the same spot, staring at John’s profile, his brow creased.  For a few minutes no one moved.  Finally, Greg stepped back to the green chair and leaned forward to take one of the beers John had deposited on the low table.  His eyes drifted to the stack of newspapers.  After settling back in the armchair, he swigged from the bottle then placed it on the floor next to him carefully before leaning forward to grab several of the papers from the top of the stack.  He felt Sherlock’s gaze fall on him as he began reading.  A few moments later, Sherlock followed his lead, taking a beer and some papers as well.  Minutes passed but eventually John followed suit.  Although the articles weren’t much to go on, it was better than doing nothing. 

When Lestrade left for home three hours later, he felt a bit better about losing the case to Greggson.  He knew he could trust the other DI to do everything possible to get to the truth.  After scouring both the newspapers and the web for any possible leads, the three of them had calmly discussed ways to try to prevent Sherlock from being further implicated in the event that more victims were discovered.  Although Sherlock bristled at the idea that he simply should always have an established, iron-clad alibi going forward, he agreed to cooperate as much as he was able.  He did however posit that whoever was behind this dastardly, cunning scheme was likely expecting this and would find a way around it.  It also bore mentioning that both John and Greg were not exactly the best candidates to provide alibis, given their history.  This did not sit well with either of the other men but they had to concede the point. 

Sherlock took this idea even further, speculating that no matter who might eventually be able to provide him with an alibi, their veracity would certainly be questioned, especially if the press ever got wind of these serial killings.  This statement was met with begrudging silence until John huffed.  “I can think of one person who won’t be doubted, but you’re not going to like it.”

Sherlock’s eyes narrowed as John met his glare head on.   

“Oh God,” Greg breathed, putting it together. 

Sherlock’s head swiveled in his direction.  A moment later, his spine straightened as his face paled.  “I’d rather confess.”

John cringed a little.  “Sherlock, do not joke about this.”

“I’m not joking.  Besides, she’d never agree to it.”

“She will if I tell her to.”  Lestrade’s tone brooked no rebuttal.

Aghast, Sherlock turned to John.  “Please don’t make me do this John,” he whispered.  “Please.  I’ll…do all the shopping and eat every day and…and…anything you want, anything but that!”

“Oi, Sherlock, she’s not as bad as all that!”  Greg felt he should stick up for Sally.

Sherlock fixed him with a knowing scowl.  “No?  You felt quite differently just a short time ago,” he accused.  Greg colored and dropped his eyes. 

“What is he talking about?”  John was a bit behind.

“Nothing.  It’s not important.”  That was the last thing Lestrade wanted to talk about.  “Look, no one is suggesting handcuffing the two of you together or anything.”  Sherlock seemed to relax a little.  Greg couldn’t resist adding, “Yet.”  Sherlock glowered at the DI mulishly and Greg met his stare, just as determined.  The consulting detective threw himself onto the sofa petulantly, turning his back on them.  Greg slid his eyes in John’s direction and winked. 

Rolling his eyes, John tried to reassure his flatmate.  “Sherlock, this is serious.  We’ll keep that as a last resort, okay?”  Sherlock muttered something unintelligible.  Sighing, the doctor tried again.  “Look, it’s been a long day and we’re all knackered.  Let’s sleep on it and regroup tomorrow.  At least now we know what’s happening, we can figure out how to deal with it.  Together.”

Greg nodded.  “Together.

 

 

Chapter Text

Greg drove to the Yard early the next morning.  Within an hour of arriving, he’d arranged for everything he needed to be brought to his office.  He watched as his team came in and one by one made their way to the small conference room across from his office.   He knew they were likely wondering what this was all about.  He took a seat behind his desk, knowing that within two minutes, Sally would be knocking on his door.  Saving and closing out some open files on his desktop, Greg waited patiently for Donovan to come tell him everyone was assembled.  Message delivered, she hovered in the doorway.  “What’s this about Greg?”

He met her gaze neutrally.  “Just get everyone settled.  I’ll be there in a minute.”  Waiting the full minute after she returned to the conference room, Greg hefted the box he’d obtained earlier and walked across the large open space toward the room where his team was assembled.  “Morning everyone,” he greeted them genially as he walked over to the far end of the long table.  All eyes were on him as he set the box down and looked around the room.  “Thanks for coming in early.  This shouldn’t take long.”  Opening the box, he pulled out a small stack of the most recent version of the Met’s official handbook.  Keeping one for himself, he handed them to Tomlinson, asking him to make sure everyone got one.  As his sergeants warily eyed the books and each other, Greg glanced at his watch. “As soon as everyone’s here, we’ll begin.” 

Donovan’s brows furrowed.  The whole team had already assembled.  “Who else is coming?  Please don’t tell me I’m going to be dealing with Holmes this early.”  The hostility and derision she felt was unambiguous. Greg’s jaw clenched.  He couldn’t deny that his own laid-back approach to leading his team was partially responsible for this regrettable display.  He bit back the angry response, refusing to be derailed.  From now on, he would lead by example and together they would all find a better way forward.

Fortunately the two people he was waiting for arrived.  He strode over to greet them and thank them for coming.  Turning back to his team, he introduced the newcomers.  “You all know Mac, our union rep.  He’s here to ensure that this meeting does not violate anyone’s rights as a member of CID.”  He paused a moment to let that sink in.  “I’ve also asked Mrs. Collins from HR to attend to answer any questions you may have once I’ve finished with you.  You will each be afforded an opportunity to meet with her privately if you wish.  The remainder of this meeting will be recorded and a transcript will be produced in order to ensure there are no misunderstandings.  At the end of this meeting it will be clear what I expect from anyone wishing to continue as a part of this unit.”  He nodded to her and she placed a small digital voice recorder on the table. 

Lestrade walked back to the other end of the table, carefully considering his next words.  He took a few moments to collect himself before looking up at his team.  He registered confusion, bewilderment, anxiety and a bit of resentment (predictably from Burroughs in particular).  “I owe you all an apology.  I’ve done all of you a disservice.”  He didn’t miss the smug look Burroughs slanted at Tomlinson.  To his credit, Tomlinson ignored him.  Good.  His gut told him he could trust Tomlinson to back him up.  “I haven’t given you a good example to follow.  As your superior, it’s my responsibility to show you the proper way to do this job and I haven’t always done that.  I’ve been much too lax with regard to the proper conduct and behavior as members of the Met.  Starting today, that will change.”  He picked up the copy of the handbook.  “I’ve provided each of you an updated copy of the handbook you received during training.  I assume each of you still has one amongst your personal possessions.  I know you’re all familiar with the contents.  Going forward, these will be kept at your desk at all times.  Beginning today, I expect all of you to take advantage of any time not working on an active investigation to re-familiarize yourselves with the material in this book, paying particular attention to the official Code of Ethics, until it can be recited verbatim.  Furthermore, I expect all of you to follow those guidelines at all times.  As each of you know, we’re all required to maintain a standard of behavior whether on or off duty.  Both Mac and Mrs. Collins are available to help you determine if something might fall below this standard if you’re ever unsure and you don’t think I’ll give you an honest and fair answer.”  He paused again.  He studied the men and women sitting at the small conference table.  Although he was still angry with a few of them, he wasn’t going to allow his emotions to affect how he treated them.  His goal was not to harass or humiliate.  But he needed them to understand that he would no longer turn a blind eye or ear to rude, intolerant or insubordinate behavior towards himself, each other or any member of the public, including Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. 

Lestrade opened the book to the Code.  “I think it’s time for a little refresher.  Please go to section three, Standards of Professional Behavior.”  He waited as each of them complied.  “Let’s go around and read these aloud.  I’ll begin.  Number One: Honesty and integrity.  I will be honest and act with integrity at all times and will not compromise or abuse my position.”  He looked at Carruthers, who read the next one, having to do with authority, respect and courtesy. 

“Thank you Simon.  Let’s pause here for a bit.”  He looked at each member of the team pointedly.  “I think this one bears repeating.  Donovan.”  She stared at him for a few seconds, not happy about being singled out.  He met her aggravated glare dispassionately.  “Do we have a problem?”

Greg saw the moment she realized that he was dead serious.  “No, sir.”  Her gaze shifted to the book in front of her.  “Number 2:  Authority, respect and courtesy.  I will act with self-control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesy. I will use my powers and authority lawfully and proportionately, and will respect the rights of all individuals.”

“Excellent.”  One by one, the standards were read aloud.  As number nine, focusing on conduct both on and off duty, was read by Tomlinson, he watched Burroughs closely.  He was trying but failing to hide his anger.  He was a good man and a decent cop, but he had a lot to learn. 

Greg read the final standard himself.  In his opinion, this was probably the trickiest one to follow.  It had to do with policing each other, something that most cops steered well clear of.  He reread a small excerpt.  “…report, challenge or take action against…”  He was pretty sure he knew what the others were thinking.  “Please don’t think I expect you all to come running to me like a bunch of tattle-tales any time someone says or does something a bit off.  We’re all adults here and more than capable of determining what’s acceptable and what isn’t.  But we’re all human so sometimes we need a little help.  Here’s my proposal.  Each of you will share a code word of your choosing with your partner.  If he or she believes you’re out of line, particularly when dealing with the public, they’ll use your code word to keep you from going too far.  It’s up to you whether you share it with anyone other than your partner.  You can change it at any time.  Please do your best to listen to your partner when that code word is invoked.  Please only use them when necessary.   Let me be clear on this.  You are not, I repeat, not required to follow this proposal.  I leave it up to each of you to decide.  But equally, each of you will be held accountable for any conduct that falls sufficiently below these standards.  Does anyone have any questions?”  No one spoke up.  “In the spirit of leading by example I want to share with you all the code word I’ve chosen:  marzipan.  Any of you can use it if you think I’m crossing a line.”

Greg turned to Section 1.3, covering the scope of the code of ethics.  “In case any of you are wondering, these standards apply to, and I quote, all those engaged on a permanent, temporary, full-time, part-time, casual, consultancy, contracted or voluntary basis.”  He looked around again, making eye contact with each of the people around the table.  “You all know Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.  This morning I sent two copies of this handbook to Baker Street with clear instructions that they fully familiarize themselves with all aspects of these standards of behavior, should they wish to continue providing assistance to The Met on a consulting basis.” 

Closing the book, Lestrade removed his mobile from his jacket pocket.  “I received the following text messages just before this meeting.  From Dr. Watson:  Understood, sir.  Consider it done.  From Sherlock Holmes:  To Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade of Scotland Yard, CID:  I wish to formally indicate that I would indeed like to continue providing assistance to the fine men and women of The Metropolitan Police Department on a consulting basis.  Thank you for providing Dr. Watson and me with the materials delivered earlier today.  Rest assured I will take these requirements to heart and approach my ongoing association with Scotland Yard and its members with a newfound sense of respect, professionalism and integrity.”  Greg paused before continuing, letting that sink in.  “A few minutes later, a second text came in from CD Holmes, as he will be referred to from this moment on.”  Reading again from his phone, he said, “Please share my sincere apologies with your team for my past failures to behave in accordance with The Code of Ethics.  It is my most fervent hope that my numerous slights, missteps and outright assaults against your people, policies and proper procedures can be relegated to the past so that we may move forward as a cohesive unit.” 

For the first time since the meeting began, Greg allowed some of what he was feeling to show.  He’d been so surprised by and so proud of Sherlock when he’d first read those messages that it had taken him a minute or two to get his turbulent emotions under control.  Smiling as he placed his phone down, he took a shaky breath.  “Sherlock Holmes isn’t easy.  We all know that.  We’ve all been subjected to his frankly abusive behavior and I know how hard it is to work with him at times.  But we all know that nothing worthwhile is easy, nor should it be.  What we do is not easy.  It requires dedication and a great deal of sacrifice at times.  You have all worked very hard to get here.  You are all among the best trained detectives in the world.  Each of you deserve my undying respect and appreciation for your efforts and for the sacrifices made by each of you and by the people you love.  And you have it.  If any of you ever feel as if I am not treating you fairly, if you have any concerns or questions about anything, my door will always be open to you.  And if you decide to raise any issue with Mac or Mrs. Collins rather than coming to me directly, there will be no reprisals.”

He took a few moments to meet the gazes of his crew, letting the way he felt about them be seen.  “The last thing I want to say is that I truly hope you don’t look at this change in my management style as some sort of punishment.  Those of you who have earned disciplinary action will be spoken to privately.  It is my intention that working together in this way, with these guidelines at the core of everything we do from this moment on, we will become the most effective, most professional, most successful team of detectives the world has ever seen.”

Without waiting for any response, Lestrade gathered his things and approached the two visitors.  Mrs. Collins collected the recorder and stood.  Lestrade opened the door and ushered them out.  Stepping in to the large open room, he said, “If I could impose on you both for just a bit longer.”  Assenting, they followed him back to his office.  Closing the door behind Mac, he let them each take a chair in front of his desk before settling behind it.  “Well, what do you think?  How did I do?”

Mac turned to Mrs. Collins.  “If I may?”

“Please,” she was curious about what the other detective would say as well.

“I’ve known you were good at this for a long time Greg, excuse me, Detective Inspector Lestrade, but I had no idea you were this good.  I won’t ask what brought this about because I know you won’t tell me and that’s certainly to your credit.  It’s not unusual for supervisors to take steps to bring their squad in line, but I think you’ve rather set a new bar today.”

Greg stared at him a bit dumbfounded.  “Really?”

The other man grinned at him.  “You absolutely nailed it Greg.  That was amazing.  You let them know exactly what was expected without being overbearing.  Sending the handbooks to CD Holmes and Dr. Watson was positively brilliant.  Let them know the rules apply equally to everyone.  Reading those texts was a masterstroke.  No one expected it.  And that last bit, letting them know you appreciate their hard work and sacrifices, reminding them that they are some of the best detectives in the world was downright inspirational.  Seriously, I intend to read over the Code of Ethics until I know them forwards and backwards, just in case I’m ever lucky enough to be a part of your team.  For the record, I would be honored to be considered the next time there’s an opening on your team.  Sod that, any time there’s a chance to work with you, I hope I am at least in the running.”   He stood and offered Greg his hand again. 

Standing, Greg shook his hand gratefully.  “Thanks Mac, that’s very kind of you to say.  And you are absolutely on the short list to step in here when needed.”

Settling in to his chair again, he smiled a small, congratulatory smile to himself before lifting his eyes to Mrs. Collins.  A mother of four rambunctious boys and one very headstrong girl, the diminutive woman was not one to be underestimated or easily swayed.  “Feeling a bit full of yourself now DI Lestrade?” she queried, fixing him with the same canny look his own mum had mastered when he and his siblings were still little tykes. 

He blinked at her as he returned to earth but could not dissemble.  “Um, a little bit maybe, yeah.”

“That’s okay, you deserve it.  That was indeed very well done.”  She paused and he relaxed again.  As she stood to go, she added, “Just don’t let it go to your head.  I’ll send you the transcript and the audio file tomorrow.   Good day Inspector.”

Chapter Text

It was very late when Mycroft returned to London.  Although he was desperate to speak to Gregory, to hear his voice, just breathe him in, Anthea had updated him during the return flight on the current situation regarding this latest madman targeting his beleaguered younger brother.  He knew that the DI had been working tirelessly, trying to help Sherlock and John sniff out the killer, even though he had agreed to give up the case.  This work had all been unofficial and off the clock and his current caseload was by no means light.  While he appreciated everything Greg was doing for his friends, Mycroft was determined to impress upon the DI that he was not to keep pushing himself to this unhealthy degree.  He had no doubt that eventually the responsible party would be discovered and either brought to justice or meet a more permanent end.  Of course he understood that the three of them were racing to solve this case as quickly as possible before the press got wind of it.  He was equally aware however that his brother would eventually come out of this relatively unscathed one way or another.  He calculated that outcome to a 93% certainty. 

Once in his secure town car, Mycroft rapidly made arrangements for a nourishing breakfast be delivered to Greg’s home, along with a large flower arrangement and a note to his cherished policeman.  While he’d been in…well, no specifics needed.  While he’d been away, Mycroft had been acutely aware of just how much he’d missed DI Lestrade and was most anxious to re-establish the strong connection that had been growing between them.  It had been more difficult than he was comfortable with to ignore the voice in his head telling him that the extremely attractive and charming man would soon grow weary of so much time apart, so much time alone which could easily be filled with any number of willing partners.  Somewhat concerned with overstepping, Mycroft hesitated briefly before contacting Giles.  He ultimately decided the small risk was well worth taking when balanced against the benefits to Greg.

Lestrade was not able to answer his phone as quickly as he usually did when it rang at stupid o’clock that morning.  He’d been over at Baker Street until 2 AM attempting to determine any sort of pattern that this bastard was creating with his killings.  After a week of trying to find even one single commonality between the victims, John had suggested that if they could determine when the killer might strike again, Sherlock could be somewhere in the public eye so at least he would have a rock solid alibi for that murder.  A week later they were still looking for a pattern

Becoming increasingly desperate, John began pleading with Sherlock to spend greater and greater blocks of time out of the flat and in one public venue or another.  The consulting detective humored him at first, but quickly grew resentful of having his life circumvented and his free will subverted.  The army doctor understood this but felt the sacrifice a small price to pay to keep his friend out of trouble.  The tension between the two men had mounted steadily since this ordeal began and Greg had had to thread a very fine needle, mollifying John when his fear and frustration threatened to boil over, without incurring Sherlock’s wrath or derision.  Suffice it to say that he wasn’t always successful and had become a de facto whipping boy of sorts, letting John vent to him when Sherlock was being particularly obstinate, as well as being the subject of increasingly cruel taunts and jibes from Sherlock when his own anxiety was unbearable. 

For the most part, Lestrade tool his caretaker role in stride, but his stress levels were through the roof, exacerbated by Mycroft’s extended absence.  Of course he’d known the nature of the younger man’s job could call him away at any time with little or no notice before they had begun “not dating”.  Understanding, however, did not make it any easier to cope with. 

“Lestrade.”

“Good morning Detective Inspector Lestrade, I trust you are doing well.  Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Giles.  I have been tasked with taking care of you this morning.  My team and I will be arriving in approximately ten minutes.  I’ve taken the liberty of sending all pertinent security information to your Gmail account.”

Greg blinked.   What?

“What?”

“I understand that you will need to check the credentials of everyone prior to entering your home.  I can assure you that each member of my team has been thoroughly vetted.  I have known each of them personally for several years.”

“Hang on.  Who are you?  And why are you coming here?  And what do you mean you’re supposed to ‘take care’ of me?”

“Apologies Inspector.  Allow me to explain.  While Chef prepares your breakfast, Miranda and Mariah will be performing a full-body sugar scrub followed by a mani-pedi.  Jacob and Simone will then prepare your ensuite for a hot stone and deep tissue massage, after which Simone will give you a hot foam, straight razor shave.  By the time you emerge from the shower, your breakfast will be ready.  Mr. Holmes has asked me to extend his regrets that he will be unable to join you this morning.”

“Mycroft?! Is he home?!”  Greg didn’t even try to keep the excitement out of his voice. 

“It is my understanding Mr. Holmes has returned to our fair city, but he will be engaged for several hours today.  He wished me to express to you his deep concern for your well-being and hopes you can join him for a casual dinner this evening.” 

Greg nodded bemusedly before realizing the other man could not see this through the phone.  “Oh, sorry, uh, yeah, that sounds brilliant.”

“Excellent!  I shall pass your acceptance of his invitation on to Mr. Holmes’ assistant.”

“Ummm, thanks.  Actually, could you convey a message for me?”

“I would be delighted!”

“Great.  Um, please add that I’m really happy he is home safe and how much I’m looking forward to seeing him tonight.”

“I will certainly pass that along.  We shall be arriving very soon.”

“See you then.”

Greg spent the next few minutes reviewing the email Giles had sent, relieved to see that everyone had been cleared both by Mr. Alistair’s office as well as by Anthea herself.  Looking around, he scrambled to tidy the place up a bit.  It had been over a week since he’d had more than ten minutes together to take care of things like doing the laundry or washing the dishes.  Quickly shoving dirty clothes into a hamper, he had just enough time to empty the sink of dirty dishes into the state of the art dishwasher before the place was filled with people bustling about. 

The next ninety minutes was an avalanche to his senses and a boon to his body, mind and morale.  He’d never been so pampered in his life.  He marveled at how quickly the knots in his tired muscles were worked out and how thoroughly the tension of the last few weeks drained away.  Greg just gave himself over to it, allowing his thoughts to roam freely, determined to forget about the nutter trying to frame Sherlock.  Before long all thoughts evaporated as he drifted into a floaty, peaceful headspace free of stress and worry.  When he emerged from a short but invigorating shower he found that his rooms had been expertly cleaned and his entire wardrobe washed, pressed and put away.  The deep and profound feeling of contentment continued as he quickly donned his second best suit.  The thought of seeing Mycroft later spread warmth through him as he stepped from his lounge to find Giles waiting to escort him to the kitchen.

“Ah, Detective Inspector, may I say you are looking much more relaxed than when we first arrived.”

Greg beamed at him.  “Giles, that is down almost entirely to the miracle you and your team have wrought in me this morning.  And in such a short time too!  I can’t remember the last time I felt this loose and free of stress.”

“I am delighted to hear it!  Now, please, make yourself comfortable,” he entreated as they entered the now gleaming kitchen.  “Chef Michaud has outdone himself this morning.” 

As Greg got himself situated at the low countertop, a small plate of fresh fruit was placed before him, a generous dollop of real whipped cream on the side.  Jettisoning the tiny stab of self-consciousness flitting through him, he devoured the glistening fruit with gusto as the most fragrant cup of coffee he’d ever smelled was poured into his cup.  Taking that first, perfect sip, Greg could not keep an appreciative moan from escaping the back of his throat.  A moment later a heaping platter of food appeared.  Glancing up, he acknowledged the other man.  “Cheers.  This looks amazing.” 

A slight blush appeared on the young man’s face.  “Merci beaucoup.  For you this morning I have made a simple deconstructed omelet with mushrooms, red peppers, summer squash and a spicy sausage crumble.  The base is egg whites with scallions and summer savory.  Ah!  J’oublie Presque.  I have also added some bits of buttered toast for, ah, the energie rapide!”

“Sounds wonderful.  Thank you Chef.  I can’t wait to tuck in.”

“Bon appetit Inspector.”  He stepped away as Giles approached with the percolator, refilling his cup. 

“We’ll be taking our leave now DI Lestrade.  I have placed my card on your desk.  If there is ever anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to call.”

“Thank you again so much for everything.  And please pass my thanks along to your entire team.”

“I will.  Enjoy the rest of your day.”

Greg allowed himself to take his time with his breakfast, enjoying the calm and quiet while he could, knowing another opportunity like this would likely never come again.