Running had never been a favourite activity of Greg. This would suggest that becoming a copper might not have been the best of career choices. Although making detective inspector and being in charge of his own team had greatly reduced the running component in his life. This only made the question as to why he was running through the oppressive tunnels of the tube to be on time to meet Mycroft, even bigger.
He checked his watch after dodging an old granny arguing vehemently with a shaken looking security woman. If he could keep this up until he got to the café, he’d make it just in time. His side protested. Perhaps the near future should hold a little more gym and a little less doughnut. Not that he didn’t have a good reason for being tardy (work). Or that Mycroft had ever made an issue of it whenever Greg had been late. It was rather the nagging feeling in the back of his mind whenever he spend time with the older Holmes. That somewhere, important things were going really wrong because Mycroft was choosing to sit in a dingy café with Greg, as opposed to doing whatever it was he normally did. The unimpressed looks he got from the interchangeable, impeccably dressed women, who materialized with a black luxury car the moment Mycroft needed to be driven anywhere, didn’t help.
For years, Greg had been more or less aware that Sherlock had an older sibling. It had started with a phone call in the middle of the night, shortly after he had started to allow an ex(probably)-junky, who apparently knew how to read minds, help him with a case. Greg’s brain hadn’t yet been completely operational when a male voice with a posh accent started to fire of questions. Regarding the case, the junky (ex!), Greg’s current position in the Yard and some incidents in Greg’s past he had been convinced had stayed between him, a bottle of scotch, the sofa of some godforsaken motel somewhere in the south and Freddie Mercury. After hanging up the inspector had surprised himself by realising he had answered every question. Not doing so hadn’t even occurred to him.
The next time he heard the voice was in the middle of a very hectic working day. It had told him to take his team to a particular address, now. Greg had answered that that was impossible, especially if he didn’t get a reason why. The voice had tskd and hung up. Five minutes later his chief superintendent had stormed into his office, ordering him and his team to the place, now, and what the hell have you got yourself involved in now, Lestrade?! Greg had wondered about that himself, until they arrived at a decaying brick factory to find a group of human traffickers and a very pissed of Sherlock, gagged and bound to a chair.
The next time he hadn’t hesitated. The calls had netted him two kidnappings, a drugs ring, three murderers and a vacation in Dartmoor, including interesting outing in the woods with free hallucinogenics. And twice, he had been specifically told to go alone, a passed out Sherlock with a needle in his arm.
After some time and a lot of probing Sherlock for information, he had a few images of a tall man in an expensive suit at the edge of his crime scenes and some obscure mumblings that seemed allude to a Grisham or, possibly, a James Bond movie.
That had been all until the funeral. Sherlock’s funeral.
More people had turned up then Greg had expected. Sherlock might not have had many friends but he had helped many. A lot of his clients had turned up, either to swear the papers were wrong, and how would Sherlock have arranged for uncle Bob to bludgeon aunt Sophie, or maybe just to take a look at the media circus. They were expressing their condolences to John. Most seemed to be under the impression him and Sherlock had been a couple. Greg saw a vein in John’s temple starting to throb and realised that the doctor was about to break down or throttle someone, or perhaps both. He said goodbye to Molly (she had been acting very strangely during the entire funeral) to rescue John, but Mrs Hudson beat him to it. She grabbed the man’s arm and asked, with a bit more drama then the occasion required, to be taken outside since she was feeling a bit faint. She had smiled at Greg when they had passed next to him.
That was when he had seen him. A tall, dark figure, alone, outside on the veranda. It was impossible not to notice the similarities, the pose, the look in the eyes, how he held his head and pursed his lips. It could be no one but Sherlock’s brother. The wrongness of the situation had twisted Greg’s stomach in a knot and he had gone outside. The man had been smoking and there had been an alarming amount of cigarettes in the ashtray on the windowsill. He had been looking at the garden of the funeral home, and Greg had been painfully reminded of the expression Sherlock got… used to get, when his brain was going a thousand miles per hour, putting all the pieces together.
He had started by clearing his throat.
“Mr Holmes, I’d like to express my condolences and those of Scotland Yard, for your loss. Your brother’s help was invaluable in a number of cases and …”
Greg’s voice had died out. Holmes had turned towards him but the inspector might as well have been air. The tall man had seemed to look right through him, with a mystified expression on his face. He had blinked twice slowly and only then had seemed to notice Greg.
“Right, Inspector, yes, thank you. I very much appreciate the… sentiment.”
He had lit another cigarette and turned back to the garden. Greg had seen ice statues expressing more emotion than that. Another family trait, he had guessed. He had followed the man’s line of sight.
“They seem to be doing nicely.”
“Hmm? Pardon me?” At last, Holmes had truly focused on him.
“The …Lilac, I think? They are blooming nicely.” He had nodded towards the blossoms.
The man had looked back.
“Ah, no, I wasn’t looking at the flowers.”
“It seemed so to me.” The inspector had offered with a grin.
“I was looking at the bees.” Holmes had explained.
The man had nodded and smiled. At least, Greg had assumed it was a smile. The corners of his mouth had been more or less moving upwards. Except, at that moment, the Detective Inspector hadn’t been able think of single thing that looked sadder and filled with more self-hatred.
Holmes had lowered his head and swallowed hard. When he had looked back up any emotion had been gone from his face. Greg had felt a chill going down his spine. He hadn’t said another word but had stayed until they had been called to lay Sherlock to rest.
As they had walked towards the grave, he had made a point of staying near the older Holmes and had gotten frustrated as they had been slowly but surely relegated to the back of the group. He had been about to say something about it, but the man next to him hadn’t seemed to mind, hadn’t even taken notice of the funeral. As they had stood by the grave (Greg hadn’t even been able to see the casket, or the gravestone) Holmes had kept looking away, to a nearby bush of… something with flowers. There had been more bees.
They had stayed as the people had slowly started to leave. In the end it had been just the four of them. Them two, John, and Mrs Hudson. Holmes had still been looking at the bees. Long moments had passed until he’d suddenly turned around and walked away, without as much as a glance at his brother’s tomb.
Greg had followed him to the parking lot where a black Mercedes had been waiting. As they had gotten closer, a pretty Lebanese woman had gotten out and had opened the back door. When he had gotten to the car, Holmes had turned around, nodded at him and then had started to get inside.
“Wait!” The words had blurted out before Greg had even been able to think about stopping them. The man had looked up questioningly.
“Would you like to go for a drink? Or something?”
Sherlock’s brother had gazed at him impassively for a long time. At least it had seemed long to Greg, who had been so convinced he’d get a no, the yes had taken a while to penetrate. Finally, the Lebanese woman had cleared her throat and had gestured him to get in the car.
Greg couldn’t really say what had made him behave like that. Or rather, he could but preferred not to. It was guild. He had seen suicides before, and what it did to the people around it. There even had been one in his unit a few years ago and had the things he had more or less picked up on the street explained to him in very expensive words by a short woman who seemed to be permanently cross.
He knew Sherlock had been the one to decide to jump of that building. That if there was anyone smart enough to find a reason to keep going it should have been Sherlock bloody Holmes. He knew all that, and he still couldn’t shake the feeling that if he had handled things differently, the man would have never ended up on that rooftop.
And the funeral had been wrong. It had been wrong that nobody there knew or cared about Sherlock’s only brother, that he had been standing alone outside, smoking and looking at insects. That he had been pushed to the back of a crowd of people who hadn’t known Sherlock for more than a few hours. It was all wrong and Greg had desperately needed to make something right.