Greg had his nose buried in a report when he sensed someone walking in. This was the third time Anderson had been by, bitching about Sherlock.
“I swear, Anderson, just drop it already, or I won’t even bother bringing you next time,” he said with exasperation.
Someone - distinctly not Anderson - politely cleared his throat. Lestrade looked up to see Mycroft Holmes, wearing an immaculate three-piece suit, standing in front of his desk.
“Oh Christ, I’m really sorry. Thought you were someone else.”
“Clearly,” said Mycroft with a wry smile.
“Is it six already?” Greg said, hurriedly pushing his papers into a semblance of a pile on his desk. “Sorry, I got caught up in things; I meant to meet you downstairs.” He fumbled for his coat. “We still on for dinner?”
It was their second date; being late wasn’t exactly a brilliant start.
He’d never been good at second dates. Hell, he rarely got second dates. Usually he’d stick his foot in his mouth on the first one by bringing up the gory details of some murder investigation just before the waiter showed up with the spaghetti bolognese. He’d put at least one bloke off his food that way.
He’d learnt not to order pasta.
Or talk about work.
But he still couldn’t believe he’d got a first date with Mycroft.
This tall, posh bloke had shown up at a particularly frustrating crime scene, and Greg had promptly told him to piss off. Mycroft ignored him completely and went to talk to Sherlock.
When he returned, he handed Greg a fancy embossed business card and said, “Don’t hesitate to phone me if I can be of any assistance regarding my brother.” He gave Greg a quick glance up and down and raised one eyebrow a fraction of an inch. His voice dropped nearly an octave. “Or anything else.”
Greg nearly choked on his coffee.
“Yeah, thanks,” he managed to blurt out, as he wondered exactly what ‘anything else’ might include. Only then did he realise that he’d said ‘brother’, and he nearly choked again.
He’d have shoved anyone else’s card into his coat pocket, but he carefully put this one in his wallet. The man had openly flirted with him, and there was no denying he was dead sexy. Even the knowledge that he was Sherlock’s brother didn’t dampen the warm boost to his undernourished ego.
Irritated shouts from the other side of the car park drew him out of his thoughts and back to the work at hand. He didn’t have a chance to look at the card until he got home that night.
Mycroft Holmes. It didn’t even list a title - just a phone number.
Mycroft and Sherlock. If they hadn’t been named after some long-dead relatives, their parents had been complete bastards.
He couldn’t stop thinking about the way Mycroft had checked him out. His previous dates had mostly been set-ups by friends who felt sorry for him. He never went to the clubs - no one his age did. Having someone flirt with him like that - the man’s voice had practically oozed sex - made him feel wanted. It was a hell of a thing.
He phoned him up three days later on the flimsy premise that Sherlock was driving his employees round the bend. Well, a valid premise perhaps, but a flimsy excuse for a date. He was hoping for a meeting - lunch, perhaps, if he was lucky - but Mycroft had suggested dinner.
They went to some ridiculously posh place where he couldn’t identify half the food on the menu, and he thanked God he could recognise the word ‘beef’ in more than one language. Mycroft was clearly not in his league. Or he wasn’t in Mycroft’s. Or something. His entree alone had cost as much as his usual curry - if you tacked a nought onto the end.
He definitely didn’t want to discuss his work, and Mycroft hadn’t brought up whatever it was that he did, so they mostly discussed Sherlock - a topic either better or worse than disembowelled corpses, depending on how you looked at it.
He fidgeted nervously throughout the entire meal, nearly knocking over his glass of wine more than once. What was it about this bloke that made him so self-conscious? Oh, right. Everything.
When Mycroft asked him out on a second date as they lingered over dessert, he couldn’t believe his ears.
“Yeah, all right,” he replied, trying not to come off as too eager and noticing how ‘middle-class’ his accent sounded compared to Mycroft’s.
“Wonderful. Next time, we should discuss something more interesting than my brother’s atrocious behaviour.”
Two glasses of wine and a sense of ‘nothing to lose’ made him bold. “What did you have in mind?”
“I’d like to learn more about you.”
Right. That wasn’t intimidating at all.
And so here they were: second date, and he’d already managed to start it off on the wrong foot. He’d completely lost track of time at work and then he’d mistaken him for Anderson. He wasn’t sure which was more insulting.
“I thought we might have dinner at my club, if you’re not opposed.”
His club? He didn’t know people even had clubs anymore.
Greg looked down in horror at his ill-fitting jacket and rumpled shirt; he wasn’t even wearing a tie. He’d planned to go home and change, but there was no time for that now. Besides, he didn’t want Mycroft seeing his flat in the state it was in; he still had dishes in the sink.
“Um, I’m not sure I’m really dressed for it,” he said, even though that was obvious.
“I assure you, it won’t be a problem.”
He looked at Mycroft doubtfully, then shrugged. “All right. Sounds good.” It had the potential to be humiliating, but Mycroft didn’t appear to be the openly malicious type. Subtly malicious, perhaps, but nothing that had been directed towards him. If he said it would be fine, perhaps it would.
It was more than fine. It was fantastic. Mycroft somehow got a private dining room with a table set for two. Greg wondered again exactly what he did for a living.
Their conversation flowed easily this time, and Greg managed to relax and enjoy himself a bit. Mycroft asked him all about his life and his job without seeming intrusive, and Greg managed to unearth some details about his childhood with Sherlock. It was, without a doubt, one of the best dates he’d ever had.
They made small talk as they were chauffeured back to Greg’s flat in Mycroft’s town car.
Chauffeured. Greg had never been chauffeured anywhere. What on earth did Mycroft do for a living? When Greg had asked him, on their first date, he’d said he worked for the government, but Greg didn’t think you got this sort of treatment unless you were the Prime Minister or at least a Member of Parliament. He obviously wasn’t the Prime Minister, and he wasn’t an MP - he’d checked the website.
He stopped wondering about it when Mycroft kissed him.
Mycroft was very good at it.
“I had a lovely time, Gregory. Would you like to do this again?”
God, that voice.
“The date or the kiss?” he replied cheekily, even though he knew exactly what Mycroft meant.
“Both,” he said, and then rewarded Greg’s question with another slow, delicious kiss.
“Yes. I’d love to,” he replied, trying to retain some composure even though his body had other ideas.
“Wonderful. How about Tuesday?”
Oh, fuck. Not Tuesday.
Tuesday was Raid Night. It was the one night of the week where nine other people relied on him to show up and hurl fireballs at whatever boss they were trying to obliterate.
Not literally, of course.
It was his World of Warcraft night, and he didn’t think Mycroft would understand that at all.
Hell, he’d probably never even heard of it. He was pretty sure Mycroft had never played a computer game in his life, let alone an online, multi-player one.
“Um…” he said and bit his lip. “I already have plans that night. Wednesday?”
“Of course,” Mycroft replied, “Wednesday would be lovely.”
He walked into the flat and collapsed onto the sofa in a warm haze.
A third date, then. Things were really looking up.
He palmed the front of his trousers, just firmly enough placate the slow burn Mycroft’s kisses had ignited. There’d be plenty of time for a wank later; he just wanted to relax and bask in the glow for a bit.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually had dates. Not proper ones. Not like this.
He got up and went to the kitchen, nudging the computer mouse on his way there to wake his sleeping computer. The low hum of a fan started up, and he made himself some decaf.
Just a quick check on things, before bed. Not work, mind - he never did work at home. That was just asking for trouble and eighty hour work weeks.
He logged in to the game.
As soon as he’d signed in, he got a message in guild chat from one of the people in his raiding group.
“hey lustrade, where were u tonight? some of us did a pug. they were awful. too bad u weren’t there.”
Lustrade. He’d chosen the character name as a joke when he’d first started playing. Thank God it had never got out at the office. The ‘pug’ was short for ‘pick-up group’ - a cobbled together raid made up of random players. It had nothing to do with small dogs.
“date,” he typed. Capitalisation, spelling, and grammar were all sacrificed in the name of speed during a raid, and the habits carried over during regular online chatting.
He’d been gaming with KickUrA55 for almost a year now. He was American and in his mid-teens, but that was about all he knew. They never discussed details like that during raids - it was all about coordinating their actions well enough to get the boss down. It could be extremely complicated, especially at the higher levels - even more so after you’d had a beer or two. Some of these kids weren’t even old enough to drink, and they certainly didn’t know he was twice (or was that three times?) their age. No one cared about things like that as long as you knew what you were doing and didn’t get the group killed.
It was great relaxation, and there was nothing quite like it to help him forget a lousy day at the office - or take out his frustrations at having to deal with Sherlock. He’d often log in and do a couple of solo quests when he got home, but Tuesday was the only night he really committed to playing. Without a group of ten, they couldn’t do the raid.
“so, did u get any?”
Oh, God. The downside of gaming with teenagers: ‘the sense of humour of a fourteen year-old’ was quite literally true.
“not that sort of a date”
“k. off to bed. later.” He could use a piss himself. He checked his in-game email and then logged out before anyone else saw him online. He had better ways to end his evening.
The series of dates became a very definite relationship. ‘Dinners out’ turned into elaborate hand-cooked meals at Mycroft’s central London townhouse. Long kisses in the car were replaced by passionate evenings and, most recently, a very enjoyable overnight stay.
Mycroft explained that he really wasn’t allowed to explain what he did for a living, and Greg accepted that.
And Greg carefully avoided conducting any second of their relationship in the four hours between eight and midnight on a Tuesday.
Mycroft didn’t ask questions for six weeks, although Greg strongly suspected he’d noticed the pattern before then.
He sprung it on Greg with typical Mycroftian flair after dinner one night.
“So, I have tickets to the new Bond premiere next week. Interested?”
It was the ultimate Turing Test. Any response other than an immediate, enthusiastic ‘yes’ proved that you weren’t human. Or that you were hiding something. (Or that you weren’t into Bond films, which seemed extremely unlikely.)
Everyone knew it came out on Tuesday. He’d just have to ditch the raid. The rest of them would understand - someone would fill in for him.
“Hell, yes,” he replied, a fraction of a second too late to be human.
“All right,” Mycroft said, “tell me what you do on Tuesdays that’s more compelling than the idea of meeting Daniel Craig in person.”
“Christ! You mean the actual premiere?”
“Well, of course I do. I’m not going to take you to just any old screening.”
“How… how did you even get tickets to that?”
“Daniel’s an old friend.” Mycroft gave him one of those wicked, sexy smiles of his. “He’s positively dying to meet you. Now, are you going to tell me your horrible secret?”
“How long have you known?” Greg said with a resigned sigh.
“Since you rescheduled our third date.”
“That could have been anything!”
“Ah, but it wasn’t, was it?” he replied with a chuckle. “Come on, out with it.”
“I… game. On Tuesday nights.”
“What do you mean? Gambling?”
“Oh God, no. ‘Game.’ As in ‘computer game’.”
Mycroft disintegrated into incredulous laughter. “But you can’t even use your phone! Every time I send you a text, it takes you ten minutes to get back to me.”
Greg looked slightly abashed. “Phones are completely different. I will admit, I’m crap with phones. But not with a computer.”
“But you don’t even have a personal email account.”
“Try to work out why,” he said, and smiled.
Mycroft laughed quietly. “I wish I’d thought of that. Well played. So, what sort of game is this?”
“World of Warcraft.”
Mycroft gave him a blank look.
“It’s an online multi-player game.”
The blank look got a little less blank, but not by much.
“Right, so you’ve heard of Dungeons and Dragons, yeah? Big flap about it being ‘satanic’ back in the 80’s.”
“Yes,” he replied with a smirk. “I remember that.”
“So you played that with dice and numeric tables. This is the same sort of thing except you play with people online, it goes thousands of times faster, and it has computer graphics. But essentially it’s still all about the stats. You have gear and abilities, and the better those are, the more effective you are against the bad guys. It’s just that where it used to take half the night and a couple of beers to kill an orc in D&D, you do that in 30 seconds and move on to the next one.”
Mycroft gave him a quizzical look. “And you spend every Tuesday evening doing this?”
“Yes. Well, it’s not just me. There are ten of us - it’s called a ‘raid’ - we all meet up specifically to kill one very hard-to-kill monster, but if someone doesn’t show up, we can’t do it. Believe me, if it was just a choice between sitting in my flat and being with you, I would have given it up when I met you, but I’ve said I’ll do this through the end of the tier.” He realised Mycroft would have no idea what that meant. “Um, through this series of monsters.”
“But why didn’t you just tell me?”
“Because, well, it’s a computer game. I mean, come on - you don’t even watch much telly. I figured you’d…” he was going to say ‘laugh at me’, but that didn’t seem appropriate. “I didn’t want to admit to it. The new tier comes out in a few weeks and I’d planned on leaving then. I thought, like an idiot, that you wouldn’t notice.” He gave Mycroft a self-deprecating grin.
“How long have you been playing?”
“About a year and a half. One of the blokes at work got me into it. Got me hooked,” he said with a chuckle.
“Why is it so addictive?”
“Well, not addictive really. S’fun. Cathartic. I can take my aggressions out on it after a long day of dealing with Sherlock.”
“Besides, beats drinking yourself into a stupor.”
“So how are you going to get out of the… ‘raid’, is it? on Tuesday? If you want to go to the premiere, I mean.”
“Of course I want to go to the premiere! They’ll find some random bloke to fill in for me. Believe me; they’ll understand. Any of them’d give their right arm to go. And look… if you want, I can look into finding a permanent replacement for my spot. I really should have done it ages ago.”
“Don’t be absurd, Gregory. I’m not going to ask you to give up something you enjoy.” He paused and looked thoughtful. “So, you find it helps you relieve stress?”
“Will you teach me how to play? You’ve got me curious.”
It was Greg’s turn to laugh.
“Seriously?” He thought about some of the comments that flew by in guild chat. “Some of the players can be a bit, um, juvenile. Well, they are juvenile; some of them are teenagers.”
“You forget, I deal with Sherlock on a regular basis.”
“Heh. Yeah, all right. If you’re sure. You have a computer, right?”
Mycroft just smiled.
“’Course you do.” Then he remembered it wouldn’t do him much good if they weren’t in the same room. It would be a nightmare trying to teach him how to play over Vent - the Skype-like voice chat system they often used. One of them would need a laptop, and he didn’t have one. “Er… do you have a laptop, by any chance?”
“Ah, good. We’ll need to be in the same room, at least while you’re learning how it works. Besides, it’s more fun that way.”
“Most things usually are,” Mycroft replied with a grin.
Greg looked at him and shook his head in disbelief.
“I still can’t believe you want to try this.”
“I’m willing to give almost anything a try. It’s not as if you’re a long-distance runner or something.”
“Yeah, thank God for that, really.”
Greg started explaining the basic concepts, but then he decided it was easier to show him. Mycroft retrieved his laptop from his office and Greg signed him up with an account.
“Now, you’ll need to pick a character. There are different types. Well, different races, and different types. I’m a human fire mage. Or you can be an elf, or a gnome, or an alien with a tail, or this cow-like thing…”
Mycroft just smirked at him. “I think I’ll go with human, at least for now.”
Greg gave him a quick glance and smirked. “Mm, probably a good idea. I don’t see you as a Draenei. Now, we’ll need to pick a character type for you.” He gave Mycroft a thoughtful look. “I think you’ll get bored if your rotation is too easy.”
“Um, series of actions. Keys to press.”
“Oh, I have the perfect character for you… rogue. It’s like a thief that has to get up close to the monster to do damage. It takes some skill, and you can go nuts with the stats. One guy I know keeps track of all the different types of armour and how much they’ll effect his DPS. Er, how much damage he does.” He hadn’t realised just how much jargon surrounded the game.
“That does sound rather intriguing. What exactly does your fire mage do?”
Greg was impressed Mycroft had picked up on his earlier mention of it.
“Well, I stand farther back and hurl fire at things. It has a fairly easy rotation - I can still do a good job killing monsters after a few beers.”
Greg clicked through the various options on the character creation screen and described them, the enthusiasm evident in his voice.
“You want to try the rogue, then?”
“Your expectations might be a little high, Gregory; I don’t have much of a background in games.”
“I doubt it; you’re good with everything. All right - male or female?”
Mycroft raised his eyebrows and replied, “Male, I should think.”
“The girls have prettier armour, but suit yourself,” he said with a laugh.
“And you play…?”
“Male,” Greg replied.
“Then we’ll make a good couple.”
“So… character name?” he asked, turning around to look up at Mycroft over his shoulder.
“I have no earthly idea.”
“Why not ‘Mycroft’?”
“Oh, I’m afraid all my colleagues would recognise me if I did that,” he replied, sardonically. “What’s your character’s name?”
“Well?” Mycroft prodded, amused at Greg’s sudden silence.
“Lustrade,” he muttered, sheepishly. “With a ‘u’.”
Mycroft laughed deeply and pressed a kiss to the top of Greg’s head. “I love it. It suits you.” He thought for a second before he continued, “I know - how about ‘Yourcroft’?”
The sentiment behind the name threw him a bit; it implied a deeper level of reciprocation than Greg had dared hope. He turned back to look at Mycroft. “Yeah?”
Mycroft smiled fondly and nodded. “Yes, definitely. I wouldn’t learn to game for just anyone, you know.”
Greg moved in with Mycroft. He gave his old computer setup to his niece; she’s currently levelling a Night Elf Hunter.
Mycroft got a second desk for his home office and purchased each of them a high-end gaming workstation and monitor. To return the favour, Greg learnt how to work his phone and now returns Mycroft’s texts in record time.
Mycroft’s character name did give him away to his colleagues: it turned out Anthea belonged to Greg’s guild and neither of them knew it. She is, unsurprisingly, also a rogue. For Christmas, Mycroft bought her a nice, high-resolution gaming monitor instead of an expensive handbag. She was thrilled.
Mycroft levelled his character faster than anyone thought possible. Once he joined the raiding group, he immediately blew everyone else’s DPS out of the water. They would have been upset if it hadn’t made them so much better at killing bosses; now they’re one of the best guilds in the area. Anthea still tries to beat his DPS, but she hasn’t come close.
Instead of occasionally watching television, Mycroft researches the latest techniques for both their characters. His Excel spreadsheets that calculate DPS based on weapon, rotation, and armour variations are legendary. They remain a tightly guarded guild secret. Greg’s DPS has never been better, even after he has a beer.
Mycroft took to the abbreviated chat lingo immediately, and he has a remarkably profane vocabulary. It turns Greg on something fierce. The raid ends at midnight, but they’re usually up until at least three a.m. afterwards, having ridiculous amounts of passionate sex.
They never, ever, discuss Warcraft during sex. There are some lines you just don’t cross.