Actions

Work Header

A Necessary Evil

Work Text:

Blinking slowly, Mycroft Holmes gradually came awake, and he did his best not to move so he didn't wake his brother who was sleeping in his arms. Sherlock’s soft curls were tucked up under Mycroft’s chin, and his arms were curled between them, one of them clutching at the the older man’s sleep shirt. Warm breath puffed against his throat and Mycroft lazily ran a hand up and down Sherlock’s lean back. The sun was just rising, peeping through the gaps in the blind and soon enough light would flood the room to wake the younger genius before their alarm went off.

Feeling an ache of affection in his chest, Mycroft pressed a kiss to the top of his brother’s head. In the quiet moments like these, he still found it amazing to think that it had been over a year now since they had declared their love for one another. He could still remember the day vividly - Sherlock had arrived at Mycroft’s flat, two suitcases in tow, announcing that he was moving in. At first, Mycroft had thought it was simply because Sherlock had not wanted to stay in the dorms at university, and had told his baby brother that it was only a one bedroom flat and that there really wasn’t any space. Sherlock had walked straight into the bedroom, put down his things and stated in a very straight forward manner that he had intended to share a bed with Mycroft anyway so there was more than enough room. When the redhead had stood gaping at him, speechless, Sherlock had crossed to him, slung his arms around Mycroft’s neck and pulled him down into a kiss. It was all Mycroft had ever wanted but he’d had no idea his brother had felt the same. Later that night, after the first time they’d ever made love, Sherlock had confided that he’d been in love with Mycroft since he was twelve, and by the time he was fourteen had deduced that Mycroft felt the same way. He’d known however that there was no way Mycroft would ever act on his feelings, especially before Sherlock turned eighteen, and so he had kept his discovery hidden, biding his time until he moved to London to begin uni.

It had been a fabulous year - they had shared so much and had grown closer than ever. They still bickered and teased one another, and when they were out in public they had to pretend to be nothing more than brothers, but in the safety of their home, they could be open about just how much they loved one another. Their parents knew they were living together, but as they rarely came to London, they were in the dark as to the exact nature of the living arrangements. The few times they had ventured to the city, the brothers had been sure to meet their parents out at restaurants or at the theatre so they wouldn’t see the flat. It was an easy enough facade to maintain and the effort they invested was worth it when they could fall asleep together, knowing that they were in the arms of someone who loved them more than should be possible.

The room grew lighter and lighter and soon Sherlock was stirring. There was no need for him to rise with Mycroft as his classes started much later than Mycroft’s job, but he enjoyed getting up at the same time. It gave him time to help dress the older man - helping Mycroft into his ‘armour’ was Sherlock’s favourite part of the day. He found the idea of dressing his lover more sensual than undressing him, and would stand before the redhead with a look of utter devotion on his face as he slid the sleeve garters up Mycroft’s long arms, deftly tied his tie, and helped slip the fine wool of his suit jacket over his shoulders. Mycroft had loved it right at the start, but now it felt like a betrayal, the final nail in the coffin of the lie he had been telling Sherlock for the past two months.

Once Sherlock was fully awake, Mycroft went and made them tea and his brother joined him on the couch once he’d used the loo. They sat, limbs entwined together, sharing a few minutes of quiet before their days began. It was easy in summer, to feel like the days were long enough for them to share part of it - the sun was up before 4am and didn’t set until late at night so even if Sherlock had a late lecture, they would still feel as if they’d spent part of it together. In winter it had been a different story, both feeling like they only ever shared the darkness, and while some of their favourite activities were night time ones, it did begin to feel claustrophobic.

Sherlock yawned widely, not bothering to cover his mouth. “I can’t wait until your next promotion,” he said, sleepily. “Surely they won’t give you these God forsaken start times once you’re a bit higher up.”

“I’m not sure when that will be, love,” Mycroft said, hopefully vaguely enough to not raise suspicions.

Sherlock leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his brother’s lips. “I’m positive it will be soon, My. You’re amazing at your job and you’ll soon be running the government, I have no doubt. They have people to do the leg work, to spy and assassinate, and they have politicians and diplomats, but you can be the brain behind it all, directing everyone, analysing all of that information and making the tactical decisions.”

The redhead swallowed hard, at a loss for words. How could he ever tell Sherlock the truth when his baby brother admired him so much? The curly haired genius would never forgive Mycroft his deception, and would feel heartbroken and betrayed. No, it was best if he never knew, for both their sakes. And so Mycroft forced himself to smile, to gaze adoringly into his brother’s eyes and lead him to believe that nothing had ever changed. “I’ll keep my fingers crossed it won’t be long. But for now, I have to get to the office before I miss my colleagues in Sydney.”

“No worries, My. I’ve picked out the lovely charcoal pinstripe for you today,” Sherlock said, reaching up to trail his fingers down the older man’s cheek. “You’re going to be the envy of all the men and will make everyone drool over you.”

“I highly doubt that,” Mycroft replied with a chuckle, pulling his brother up from the couch.

“I’m positive of it,” Sherlock asserted. “I just wish I could meet you for lunch and show them all that you’re taken.”

Mycroft froze, even the thought of Sherlock turning up at the office to find him not there sending panic coursing through his body. “You know you can’t, Lock.”

Sherlock wrapped his arms around Mycroft’s neck and hugged him close. “I know,” he replied softly. “I wish we could reveal our love to the world, but I know it would jeopardise everything we have. I’ll never do anything that could destroy us, brother mine, I promise.”

Relieved, Mycroft kissed him gently and then broke away, heading into the bedroom. He was going to be late if he wasn’t careful and that was the last thing he could afford right now. The brothers had the art of dressing the redhead down to a fine art by now and so Mycroft actually was on time when he left for work, and Sherlock could head back to bed, a happy smile on his face after his morning devotion.

The front door to the flat closed behind him, and Mycroft allowed himself a second to just relax, the tension of his ongoing deceit tight across his shoulders. Once he’d gathered himself, he hurried down the stairwell and got in his car. He pulled onto the deserted roads and made his way to a petrol station nearby and pulled up outside of the conveniences. Collecting a bag from his boot, he headed into the toilets and locked himself in a cubicle. He unzipped the bag and pulled out his dark blue coveralls and work boots, plus a garment bag and then stripped himself from the gorgeous suit his brother had chosen for him. Mycroft quickly dressed in the clothes and carefully put the suit in the bag and carried it all back out to the car, the suit hanging up on the hook in the rear so it wouldn’t crease. There was so little traffic on the roads at this hour that it was a short drive the rest of the way and soon he was pulling into the car park of the waste disposal company.

As Mycroft entered the tiny staffroom to make himself a flask of tea to take on his round, a large, beefy man with kind brown eyes entered. “Ah, Mike, there you are.”

“Morning, Terry,” he greeted the boss.

“I’m putting you with the new bloke today so your round will be a little shorter so you’ll have time to show him the ropes. Finish up at Smith Street and I’ll get Tommy to do the rest. The rookie is a bit timid - same boat as you were in so it’s all a bit new to him. Figured you could help him settle in and show him that it’s not as bad as he might think it is.”

“Of course, no worries.”

Clapping him on the shoulder, Terry said, “That’s why I like you, Mike - you always do what you’re told and never argue. I appreciate that in one of my employees.” He looked over his shoulder and gestured towards a man standing hesitantly at the door. “Ah, here he is now. Come on in, Frank, no one bites in here.”

Frank turned out to be a mouse of a man in his fifties, small with receding hair line and wire rim glasses. Former accountant most likely, Mycroft deduced, with a mortgage, wife, and three teenage children. A lot of financial responsibilities to carry in a bad economic climate. “Hello,” he greeted Mycroft, his voice as quiet as one would have guessed from looking at him.

“Nice to meet you,” Mycroft replied, doing his best to smile reassuringly.

“Right, I’m going to leave you in Mike’s very capable hands. He’s going to take care of you, and I’m sure you’ll have a lot in common.” With a final thump on their shoulders, Terry was off to organise the rest of his crew.

“So, accounting firm?” Mycroft asked, fishing the teabag out of his flask. “Made redundant about six months ago?”

“Uh, yeah. How could you tell?” Frank asked, unable to hide his surprise.

“You can just tell after awhile,” he said, but didn't say ‘ I can tell by the way you look at the other men here, like they were once beneath you but now you’re working alongside them and you’re scared that they’ll be able to sense that old disdain for them; I know that your pride made you hide your redundancy from your wife and you scraped by on your savings, not wanting to admit you’d been jobless until you found another position; I can read in the way you hold yourself that eventually your pride and dignity crumbled, slipping down the ladder of priorities until you knew that you needed a job, any job, to support your family and so even though it hurt deep inside, when you saw this position advertised, you applied, hoping more than you’d ever hoped before that you would beat the other forty applicants who were just as desperate as you. Instead he said, “There’s quite a few of us here who used to work in office jobs but have, for one reason or another lost them. I myself had a minor position in the government.”

“Really? Doing what?”

“Oh, just bits and pieces at the Foreign Office, nothing overly important. Probably why I was one of the first to go when they started cutting jobs.”

Relief washed over Frank’s face at knowing that Mycroft understood his predicament. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said, pushing his glasses up his nose.

The redhead gave a half shrug. “It is what it is. Right, we’d best be off, otherwise even with a shortened round, we won’t finish on time.”

Mycroft led the rookie to the depot where the lorries were parked. He snagged the keys off the hook for his usual lorry and signed the register, then headed for the vehicle. “Have you driven anything so big before?” he asked, knowing that Frank had to have his CPC to even apply for the job but realistically it could have been years since he’d gotten the specialised license.

“I might be a bit rusty but I started off working part time for a furniture removal agency when I was in university,” Frank explained. “Since then I’m usually the one the extended family call upon when they hire a van for moving.”

“Excellent. Well, we’ll start off with me driving and I’ll give you a rundown of the procedure, of how the operating system works, and the more common issues we have. Then we’ll swap over and you can drive a few streets.” When he was happy that Frank understood how the day would progress, Mycroft pulled himself up into the cab, settling his flask into the cup holder, and pulling one of the company hats low over his face. The engine roared to life as Frank belted himself into the passenger seat and soon they were trundling their way out of the depot, heading for the first street of their route.

When Mycroft had first started with the company, he had learned that the routes each pair were assigned to were computer generated, Terry simply handing them out at the beginning of each shift. It hadn't taken much for Mycroft to sneak into the office after everyone had left for the day and to tweak the programming so that he would never be assigned a route near his old office, or between home and the university that Sherlock attended. There was still no guarantee that his brother would see him by accident, but he hoped if he was ever glimpsed, the uniform, the hat, and the completely unlikely situation would be enough to convince Sherlock that he had merely seen someone who bore a passing resemblance to Mycroft.

Once Frank had gotten over the worst of his first day jitters, he turned out to be a well spoken, intelligent man and Mycroft found he enjoyed talking to him. Although the redhead had made a concerted effort to interact with his other colleagues over the past two months he’d been here, there were few of them who cared much about the same topics that he did. He’d found one or two who were happy to discuss the current political arena and even one who enjoyed philosophical debates, but he was rarely paired with them. The morning passed rapidly with himself and Frank talking about a broad range of subjects while the rookie picked up the basics of the job. They stopped for a quick break at one of the local fast food restaurants (that Mycroft would never have frequented previously but needs must), using the toilet and getting another cup of tea, and then they swapped positions and Mycroft rode shotgun while Frank drove the lorry.

They were coming to the end of their round, moving into one of the more well to do neighbourhoods when Mycroft motioned for Frank to stop. “This house never aligns their bins properly,” he warned. “If you try to lift them now, they’ll tip and rubbish will go everywhere. Give me a minute and I’ll get out and reposition them since I know from experience that picking up rubbish that is being blown everywhere is not fun.” He slipped from the cab and moved to one of the bins, starting to wheel it closer to the curb. Before he’d even gotten a chance to move the other, the front door slammed open and a dark haired, swarthy man hurried outside.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he demanded angrily, waving his arms at them.

“You’re bins aren’t positioned correctly, sir,” Mycroft told him as politely as he could. “I just have to move them so we can empty them.”

“Well hurry up! I have guests arriving shortly and I don’t want the first thing that they see to be your grubby faces!”

“We’ll be as quick as we can, sir. If you position your bins correctly when you set them out, it will make it much faster for everyone in future.”

The homeowner shook his finger at Mycroft. “Don’t you get cheeky with me or I’ll have your damn job! Do you have any idea of who I am?”

Mycroft knew exactly who the man was as he’d been involved in several surveillance ops on him in his time - Savario Bianchi, a well known businessman and socialite with ties to the Italian mob, but of course it wouldn’t do him any good to mention that he recognised him now. He bit back a flippant retort and finished pushing the second bin into position. “Apologies, sir, we’ll be on our way in just a moment.”

“What are you even doing here so late in the morning? You should do this before people get up so we don’t have to see you,” Bianchi ranted. “I’ll be having words with the Council about this!”

Mycroft signalled to Frank who dutifully maneuvered the arms of the lorry to pick up the first bin. “If you wish, sir,” Mycroft replied.

Bianchi continued to rant and rave until the bins were both emptied and Mycroft had climbed back into the cab. He tipped his hat at the businessman and wished him a pleasant day and then motioned for Frank to continue on their way.

“Wow,” the rookie said, looking a little pale. “Get that much?”

The redhead shrugged. “Sometimes. You know how it is - some people just need to feel superior to others.”

The ex-accountant nodded but looked a little uncomfortable and it wasn’t hard to tell that up until recently he had been guilty of that himself.

“Try not to let it bother you,” Mycroft advised him. “There’s not many like him, most people are actually rather nice to us and recognise we’re providing an essential service.”

They finished their shortened route and headed back to the depot and Mycroft was sure to introduce Frank to some of the other men who were just finishing theirs as well. He himself had felt out of place when he had started, like an outsider, but despite their outwardly intimidating appearance, his colleagues were genuinely nice men who had gone out of their way to make him feel comfortable. In fact, Mycroft felt more welcome here than he ever had amongst politicians, spies, and diplomats. As he predicted, they were just as nice to Frank and by the time they were all knocking off for the day, the rookie looked much more relaxed.

Mycroft gave his workmates one final wave as he joined the queue of cars leaving the car park, and then drove back to the petrol station he stopped at every morning. He’d chosen this one not only because it was on the way, but also because the conveniences were on the outside of the building and he wasn’t forced to walk past the counter each time he wanted to change. The last thing he needed was the cashier’s judgement piled on top of his own. He felt bad enough for the deception without having a stranger’s disapproval (or even worse, pity ) directed at him.

Snagging the garment bag from the rear of the car, as well as a small toiletry bag, he headed into the toilets and locked himself in his usual cubicle. Once he was undressed, Mycroft took out a packet of baby wipes and gave himself a quick wipe down, removing the traces of sweat and grime that he just wouldn’t have gotten if he had spent the day in the air-conditioned comfort of the Foreign Office. Luckily today hadn't been one of the days when something had gotten lodged in the compactor so he’d have to climb in amongst the rubbish and unblock it, or a bin got knocked over and he’d have to chase empty milk bottles down the street. Some days he’d gone through almost an entire packet of wipes trying to remove the evidence and he’d even contemplated heading home for a shower before getting changed, but given Sherlock’s tendency to skip lectures, he simply couldn’t risk his brother finding him like that.

Once dressed in his three piece suit, Mycroft felt his entire body relax, as if it missed the familiar comfort of the clothes. He exited the cubicle and quickly checked his appearance in the mirror, making sure everything was in place. Once he was happy that no trace of what he’d actually been doing for the day was showing, he went back out to his car, hid the bag with his coveralls in the boot and then made his way home.

The house was empty when he got home and Mycroft went to the kitchen and made a cup of tea, sitting at the table and taking the time to read the paper he’d had delivered. He knew it was old fashioned but he had always preferred to read the news in the paper rather than online. Of course articles that caught his attention that he wanted to delve into deeper he would then research on the net, but for the basics he preferred the traditional printed newspaper. As he dipped a gingernut into his tea, he scanned the articles for anything that Sherlock might mention, assuming Mycroft would have come across the issues during a typical day at the Foreign Office. There were one or two incidents that he stowed away for reference, but otherwise Mycroft just hoped his brother wouldn’t mention them. The thought of lying even more to his love twisted his heart and made the redhead feel terrible.

Just as Mycroft was rinsing his cup, he heard the front door open and his brother come in. He only had two lectures today so it was one of his shorter days at university. A moment later the lanky genius was darkening the doorway and he smiled warmly at the older man when he saw him home. “I was worried you’d get caught up and be home late,” he said, crossing the room to pull Mycroft in for a kiss.

“When I know you have a short day?” Mycroft said, nuzzling against Sherlock’s throat. “Never, brother mine.”

Sherlock chuckled and rubbed at Mycroft’s back. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep, My. They obviously know how awesome you are so it won’t be long before they’re throwing more and more work at you and you’ll find your days will get longer and longer.”

“I’ll try to stave that off for as long as possible.”

“Good. Though I suppose working late at the office is better than you being sent off God knows where for God knows how long like you would if you were one of their secret agents.” Sherlock cupped the back of Mycroft’s neck and pressed their foreheads together. “So I suppose I can put up with you staying back at the office to do paperwork. You’re going to be the British Government one day so I know we’ll have to make sacrifices.”

Mycroft swallowed hard, guilt once more threatening to bubble up and overwhelm him. He forced a smile and then kissed his brother softly. “Would you like to have a shower with me?” he asked, hoping to distract the younger man.

Sherlock’s gorgeous blue-green eyes lit up. “Oooh, that sounds great. You’re so hot when you’re all slippery and wet.”

“That’s good to know - I’ll try to shower more often with you.”

“My, you know I will never turn down a shower with you.”

Smiling, Mycroft linked their hands and led his brother through to the bathroom. They undressed and once the spray was warm, they stepped into the shower cubicle. Mycroft wrapped his arms around his brother and pulled him close. “I love you, Lock,” he said softly, not sure if he’d even be heard over the sound of the water on the tiles.

A large hand rubbed over his shoulder, indicating he had indeed been heard. “I love you too, My. Always.”

“Promise?” the redhead asked in an unusual moment of neediness.

The unexpected plea had Sherlock cupping his brother’s chin and leaning in to kiss him gently. “Of course I promise. I will never stop loving you, My, no matter what happens.”

Mycroft tried to believe him, to trust that he meant it, but what would happen if Sherlock ever found out the truth? He thought the man he loved worked in a boring office, diligently slaving away until his skills were recognised and he would be promoted through the ranks until he had the position he was destined for. Instead...instead Mycroft was living a lie, doing work that his brother abhorred. No, he doubted Sherlock would ever forgive him if he discovered the truth. The closeness they shared, the love that was between them would shatter and he would be alone.

Seeming to recognise Mycroft’s strange vulnerability, Sherlock took charge, washing Mycroft’s hair and then helping to dry him when they finished showering. He led Mycroft through the tiny flat to the bedroom and gently pushed him onto the bed, kissing, caressing, and worshipping the man below him. Mycroft gasped as Sherlock’s lips sucked a nipple into his mouth, his tongue laving at the hardening nub and one of his hands stroking through the hair that covered his chest. After one final suck to the nipple, the younger man moved over to its twin, licking over it several times before sucking it into his mouth. Mycroft moaned at the feeling, his cock hardening the rest of the way and bobbing up against his stomach. Sherlock had been crouching over him and he lowered his body so he was almost on top of Mycroft, aligning their cocks. The redhead reached down to stroke them but his hand was pushed out of the way.

“Let me take care of you,” Sherlock murmured, and then rolled so they were both on their sides facing one another. He held his palm up to his face and licked slowly across it, his eyes locked on Mycroft’s the entire time. Once it was wet, he reached down and closed his fingers around both of them, moving his slick hand over the satiny smoothness of their cocks. Mycroft leaned forward and captured Sherlock’s lips in a deep kiss, licking his way inside the hot cavern of his mouth, their tongues sliding against each other.  

An expert twist and swipe of his thumb over the head of Mycroft’s cock had his hips bucking and he rutted against his brother, feeling the pressure of his release building. Sherlock must have been close as well as his hand sped up, slipping off their cocks from time to time so he had to break eye contact to look down and collect them together again. Pushing a knee forward to slot between Sherlock’s legs, Mycroft wormed his way closer, dropping his lips to suck a mark onto the pale skin of the younger man’s throat. His whole body tensed as the reached the edge and then he cried out, spurting hot jets of come over Sherlock’s cock and hand. His brother moaned at the feeling of wetness and his hand slid over his own cock faster and faster, wanking himself brutally as he chase his own climax. Mycroft pushed their mouths back together, wanting to kiss his lover while he came and soon Sherlock did just that, gasping against Mycroft’s lips. Once the final tremors had died away, they clung to one another, breathing hard and feeling sated.

After cleaning themselves off, Sherlock rolled back onto his side and pulled Mycroft close to him, kissing his hair and promising once more that he wasn’t going anywhere. Mycroft clung to him, the euphoria from his orgasm ebbing away, his heart heavy as his lies and deception ate away at him from the inside.

oOoOo

“Sherlock, you have to wear it so stop whinging and just put the damn thing on,” Mycroft said wearily, holding out the tie. His brother was sitting on the bed, a pout that would put a four year old to shame on his lips. He was dressed in a suit but had left his top shirt buttons undone, and as sexy as the redhead found that to be, there was a dress code. “We’re going to be late, please just put it on.”

“Who cares if we’ll be late,” Sherlock grumbled. “We both hate the opera.”

Sighing, Mycroft sat down next to his brother and began to button his shirt. “Yes, but Mummy loves them and since it’s her birthday, this is what we’re doing.” He then popped Sherlock’s collar and slipped the tie around his neck. Surprisingly, his brother allowed him. “If we’re late, they might come looking for us and do you really want them here?”

Sherlock bit his lip and looked away. “No, not at all.”

After deftly looping the silk into a knot, Mycroft adjusted it so it was sitting perfectly and then kissed the plush, pouting lips. “It’s only for one night, Lock. Cheer up.”

“But it’s our weekend!” the younger man protested. “We always spend Saturday nights together.”

“We will be together, just not by ourselves. And we have all of tomorrow to be alone.” Mycroft tugged at the tie, pulling Sherlock close. “Would it make this whole thing easier to bear if I promise to let you do whatever you want with this tie tomorrow?”

His brother’s eyes lit up. “Anything?” he asked in a breathy voice.

Anything ,” Mycroft purred, knowing how much Sherlock loved to deny Mycroft one of his senses to heighten the others. The strip of silk could be used as a blindfold, a gag, or to tie his hands - there were so many possibilities and the way Sherlock’s pupils dilated proved he was thinking of them all.

“Deal,” Sherlock said, scrambling to his feet. “Come on, My, we’re going to be late!”

Laughing, Mycroft followed his brother from the flat and they were soon flagging down a cab to take them to the venue. When they arrived, it was packed and it took them a while to find their parents. Mummy squealed when she saw them and spent at least three minutes gushing over how handsome they both were in their suits, then hugging them both in an attempt to wrinkle those very suits.

As soon as Mummy’s attention was drawn by their father, Sherlock leaned close and whispered to Mycroft, “See, an appreciation for you in a suit is hereditary.”

Quirking an eyebrow, Mycroft whispered back, “I doubt Mummy has quite the same reaction as you.”

Sherlock leered at him, deliberately eying him up and down. “I hope not,” he said.

“Lock, stop that,” Mycroft whispered urgently. “You’ll give us away!”

The younger man laughed. “They’re still busy trying to find the tickets in Mummy’s bottomless handbag. Don't stress, My.”

It wasn’t long before Mummy made a sound of triumph and held the tickets up and then she and father were urging the boys onwards through the crowd, eager to get a drink before they were all seated. The queue for the bar was long and snaked through the foyer but it was moving quickly so they joined the end of it, confident they would get Mummy’s wine before the show started.

They had almost reached the front when Mycroft heard Sherlock muttering and he gave him a concerned look. “What’s wrong?” he murmured as their parents discussed the lead performers.

Sherlock scowled. “Some old bloke over there is eyeing you up. I just wish I could do something to show him that you’re taken.”

“I’m sure it’s not me he’s looking at,” the redhead said, trying to soothe him so he wouldn’t make a scene.

His brother snorted. “He’s not been able to take his eyes off you for the last five minutes, My. He’s clearly fascinated by you and who can blame him?”

Curious now, Mycroft angled his body so he could observe the people in the direction his brother was indicating. He scanned the crowd and then his heart began to thump as he saw none other than Savario Bianchi staring at him. He could see why his brother could have mistaken the look for one of a sexual interest, but Mycroft knew he was instead trying to figure out where he had seen the redhead before. He was about to turn around in the hope that the businessman would give up trying to work out the puzzle when recognition lit up his features. Silently cursing, Mycroft watched as Bianchi gave a mocking little bow and then the redhead turned back to see Sherlock glowering at the man. “Let it go, Lock,” he urged, relieved to see that his brother’s jealousy was not allowing him to come to the correct deduction. “You know that there’s no one else for me but you.”

Finally turning away, Sherlock pressed a hand to Mycroft’s back, ostensibly to guide him forward as the queue shuffled closer to the bar. “I know that, and you know that - I just wish everyone else could know it.”

Unable to give any further comfort in such a public space, Mycroft settled on a smile, vowing in his head to make Sherlock believe it when they were finally alone. Mummy turned to them to ask Sherlock about his studies and luckily they reached the bar before she could enquire about her eldest’s work. Lying to his brother was bad enough, but Mycroft couldn’t bear having to be so untruthful with his mother. They got their drinks and made their way to the stairs leading up to the level they were seated on, and Mycroft wished the show would hurry up and start so Mummy couldn’t find the opportunity to speak to him.

“Enjoy your moment amongst your betters, rubbish man!” a voice called from across the crowd, and Mycroft recognised it as Bianchi’s.

Sherlock’s head whipped around and he hissed to his brother, “What was that about?”

“Hmmm?” Mycroft asked, pretending he hadn't heard. “What’s what about?”

Sherlock scanned the crowd with narrowed eyes but eventually shook his head. “Nevermind. I guess it was nothing.”

Feeling like he’d aged ten years in ten minutes, Mycroft had never been so relieved as when they were shown to their seats and the lights finally dimmed.

oOoOo

The clock ticked loudly from the kitchen and Mycroft lay awake listening to it, unable to sleep. Sherlock had been gone for hours now after telling his brother that he was going to the university library to work on a group project, but Mycroft knew it for the lie it was. He rolled over, feeling his stomach roiling as he fought down the urge to vomit, his imagination throwing out pictures of what his brother was likely doing with his secret lover.

He’d noticed that lately Sherlock had seemed distracted, often on his phone texting even though he always told Mycroft that he had no friends other than he himself which begged the question, who was he texting? Last week he had noticed a bruise on Sherlock’s wrist and Mycroft could tell it had been made from a hand gripping it. He knew this for a fact as one night after Sherlock had begged to be pinned down, he’d had almost the same bruises the following morning. Where once he had been home early more often than not due to skipping classes, now he was gone longer, and when he did get home he seemed distracted and not overly interested in being intimate with Mycroft.

Until today it had all just been conjecture, a gut feeling with no evidence, but now Mycroft had proof. His brother had gotten home on time for once and had given Mycroft a kiss before telling him he was off for a shower. Sherlock’s satchel bag that he used for uni was on the table and a minute later a chime came from within as a text came through. Mycroft stared at the bag for a long while, listening to the shower start up in the bathroom, debating with himself. Sherlock had told him that he loved him, that he didn't want anyone else, but why had he been acting so odd lately? Could it be that the difficulties of keeping their relationship a secret from everyone was getting to him? Did the difficulties now outweigh the love they shared? Was he sick of having to hide and had moved on, found someone else?

Knowing that it was despicable, but unable to help himself, Mycroft found himself off the couch and moving to the bag. He reached inside it and pulled out the phone, swiping his thumb over the screen in the box pattern he’d seen his brother use to unlock it. There on the screen was the preview of a text message that made Mycroft’s eyes well up with tears.

I really need you tonight, Sherlock. Will you come? I’ll even buy you dinner - Greg

Greg - so this was the man who had stolen Sherlock’s heart. At least Mycroft now had a name. He’d slipped the phone back into the bag and had gone back to the couch, picking up his book but staring unseeing at the page. He listened as the shower turned off and Sherlock hummed as he dried himself, then he came out of the bathroom, heading straight for the kitchen and his bag. Mycroft watched from the corner of his eye as his brother read the message, a small smile appearing on his lips. His fingers danced over the screen as he replied and then his phone chimed as another text came through.

“I’m going to head back to uni to work on a group assignment,” he announced, his voice steady and clear with no hint of the lie.

“Oh? I didn't think you had to do group assignments at that level,” Mycroft replied, trying to keep his voice from trembling.

Sherlock shrugged. “This lecturer is a bit funny like that. I wish it were otherwise since I’ll have to put up with the imbeciles I’m teamed with and my marks will depend on their work, but it is what it is.”

Mycroft smiled sadly. “Yes, I suppose it is.”

Sherlock picked up his bag and crossed to the couch, dropping a kiss on Mycroft’s temple. “I’m not sure how long I’ll be - don’t wait up.”

“Shall I leave you some dinner?”

“No, it’s fine - I’ll grab something from the cafe next to the uni.”

Swallowing hard, Mycroft watched as his brother went to leave their flat. “Sherlock,” he called softly.

His brother turned back, his hand on the door knob. “Yes?”

“I love you.”

The younger man smiled then and his expression was full of fondness. “I love you, too.” He then opened the door and stepped through and then he was gone.

Mycroft had spent the night in an almost zombie-like state, moving about the flat but not accomplishing anything. He’d showered and gone to bed, hugging Sherlock’s pillow close to him and breathing in his brother’s unique scent. Would he be able to smell this other man on him when he returned? Would he breathe in and smell this Greg on his brother’s skin? The thought had made bile creep up his throat and he’d been close to bringing up his meagre dinner. His eyes had burned and he finally allowed the tears that had been threatening all night to fall.

He’d cried himself out and now he lay there, staring at the ceiling in the dark. There was the sound of a key in the lock and he listened as his brother entered the flat. Sherlock didn't come to the bedroom immediately, instead he went into the bathroom and Mycroft heard the shower start up again. Washing off the evidence his mind told him, helpfully supplying him with images of Sherlock being covered with the seed of this mystery man. Mycroft washed off the evidence of his own deception each day before he came home, but this seemed so much worse, a much more devastating lie. Perhaps he deserved it, some karmic justice for deceiving his brother/lover, but it still ached, his heart shattering into a million pieces.

Once again that night, he listened to the shower switch off and Mycroft turned onto his side, pretending to be asleep. It wasn’t long before the bedroom door was pushed open and Sherlock came quietly into the room. The bed dipped and he climbed onto his side, and as the younger man slipped an arm over Mycroft’s waist the redhead couldn't help but press himself backwards, melting against Sherlock. He wasn’t sure how much longer his brother would share a bed with him before he left for good, and despite the gaping hole in his chest, Mycroft wanted to make the very most of it. He doubted it would be long before Sherlock was gone for good.

oOoOo

“You seem distracted, Mike,” a deep voice rumbled beside him, and Mycroft looked over at his colleague who was driving the lorry.

“Sorry, Tommy,” he apologised with a small smile. “A lot on my plate at home.”

The man nodded, his shaggy hair bobbing. “I get that. It’s a tough gig we have, mate. If you ever want to talk, I’m here.”

“I appreciate that,” he told the man but left it at that. He turned his face, watching the quiet streets pass them by as they headed for the start of their route. It had been four weeks since he’d discovered the text from Sherlock’s secret lover but nothing had changed. His brother hadn’t left him yet but he still texted regularly with Greg, disappearing for hours at a time, his excuses becoming more and more flimsy. Mycroft had snuck a look at an incoming text once more but when he’d seen You were bloody magnificent today, just what I needed. Thanks, Sunshine - Greg he had vowed to never look again, the knowledge of the pet name this man had for his brother burning into his brain.

Although he hadn’t moved out, Mycroft already missed Sherlock. Their easy intimacy, the daily lovemaking had stopped, and they’d only had sex a handful of times since, and only when Sherlock initiated it. As much as Mycroft still loved and desired his brother, he found he couldn’t bring himself to start something since there was always the whisper in the back of his mind that he might see for himself evidence of Greg - a mark, a bruise, the slickness of his release still deep inside his lover. As soon as Sherlock made his move, all of Mycroft’s resolve would crumble, his need to be close to Sherlock overriding his need to protect his broken heart. He would cling to the younger man, telling him how much he loved him, hoping that it would be enough to convince him to not leave, to stay with him forever.

The work Mycroft was doing wasn’t overly mentally stimulating but he threw himself into it, trying to distract himself from his dark thoughts. He and Tommy worked well together and they made their way quickly through their round. Due to his tweaking of the allocation program, it was a regular route for Mycroft and the streets they drove were as familiar to him as the back of his hand. He sighed as they pulled up in front of a familiar house, seeing the bins as far back from the curb as they could get whilst still technically being ‘out’.

“What is it with this guy?” Tommy growled as he came to a complete stop.

Mycroft undid his seatbelt and prepared to get out of the lorry to reposition the bins. “He’s just an arsehole,” he said, causing Tommy to laugh.

“There’s always one,” the big man agreed.

Mycroft slipped from the cab, and as he’d expected, he saw the front door open and Bianchi walked down the path towards him. Every week since the businessman had seen him at the opera, the man had gone out of his way to make Mycroft’s job much harder than necessary, making the bins extra heavy, having them positioned wrong, anything he could do to force Mycroft out of the lorry and onto the verge. Bianchi would then be free to lob insults at him, taunting him, and trying to lure him into a confrontation so he could then make a complaint to Mycroft’s boss. It was getting harder and harder for the redhead to stay quiet, to politely ignore the man and get on with his job. The last thing he needed was for Terry to manually assign him a route which might take him into an area where Sherlock might see him. Of course, now it probably wouldn’t matter - Sherlock would leave him soon enough for Greg anyway so what was the point of keeping his secret hidden?

“Enjoying your morning, rubbish man?” Bianchi asked, pleasantly enough as he checked his mail box.

Knowing it was just bait, Mycroft grit his teeth and replied, “Yes, sir. It’s a lovely day out.”

“Do you have any plans for the weekend? Madam Butterfly is showing - will you go?” Bianchi raised a swarthy hand to his lips mockingly. “Oh, sorry! I’m guessing it took you twenty years to save enough of your meagre salary to see one opera, so another is definitely out of the question for you.” He grinned nastily. “Probably for the best - having the likes of you in the audience makes it most unpleasant. The smell, you know,”

Ignoring the man, Mycroft dragged a bin towards the curb so the arm of the lorry could reach it. He didn't know why the man had such an obsession with making Mycroft’s life so difficult, but knew it was likely because he’d challenged him all those weeks ago. He may have been a successful businessman but he was still a petty man and he had a compulsion to feel superior to others.

“Tell me, where did you hire your suit from?” Bianchi continued. “I’m looking for something to dress my dog in come Halloween and it would be perfect for him!” Mycroft went to grab the other bin, but Bianchi stepped in front of him, preventing him from getting it. “It’s a simple question, rubbish man. I expect an answer.”

“Sir, if you’d please step aside so I can do my job,” Mycroft said as calmly as possible.

“Not until you tell me where I can hire the suit that you were wearing for my dog.”

“It’s my own - I didn't hire it so unfortunately I cannot help you. Now please step aside.”

Bianchi snorted. “Don’t lie to me, you couldn’t afford a suit like that. What’s the matter, don’t want to see a mongrel dog looking better in it than you?”

Mycroft took a deep breath to calm himself before he gave into the urge to rip the man in front of him to shreds. “Sir, if you want your second bin emptied, please step aside. Otherwise it will be left as is.”

“Oh, you’re shirking your duties now? I’m sure your boss won’t be pleased to hear how you’re slacking off.”

“Is something the matter here?” Tommy asked in his deep voice, having gotten out of the lorry to see what the problem was.

“No problem,” Mycroft assured him. “The gentleman was just moving out of the way so I can move his bin into the correct position.”

Tommy stared steadily at Bianchi, and the businessman eventually stepped away, not daring to piss off the bear of a man in front of him. “Have a nice day, gentleman ,” he said mockingly and gave them a quick salute before making his way back up to his house.

Mycroft left out a heavy breath and allowed Tommy to help him shift the bin. They climbed back into the cab and moved onto the next house. “What was that about?” Tommy asked.

Mycroft shook his head. “He made a fuss last month about it taking longer than usual to empty his bins and I told him if he put them out right to start with we’d have it done quicker. He didn't appreciate being told what to do and he’s been trying to make my life hell ever since.”

“Maybe you should speak to Terry? You know he doesn’t take kindly to people giving us trouble.”

“No, I don’t want to cause waves.”

“You won’t. Sometimes blokes like that have to be put in their place.”

“He’s got ties to the mob, Tommy. I’m not messing with him.”

“What? Really?”

Mycroft nodded. “Really. He’ll get bored soon enough I’m sure.”

“Wow, how the hell do you even know that?”

Treading carefully, he said, “I recognised him from an article in the paper a while back. Look, just swear you won’t say anything to Terry about this. I really don’t want to cause a fuss - I need this job and I can’t have any trouble.” I also don’t need my routes messed with .

Tommy slapped him on the back. “I won’t say anything but I think you underestimate the boss. He'd never fire you over something like this, in fact he’d be pissed to know you were being treated this way.”

“I’m sure he would, but I’d feel better if we just let it slide. I have enough on my plate at the moment without adding to it with something like this.”

“Okay, Mike, whatever you want. Just remember that you can talk to me, yeah? You’re a good man, and you deserve to be happy.”

He managed a smile, but inside he knew that if Tommy knew the truth about him, he’d probably think very differently about him.

oOoOo

A week later the inevitable happened. Sherlock made his excuse and left one evening and didn't come home that night.

Mycroft woke to find the other side of the bed cold and unslept in. He rose and with a heavy heart didn’t even bother dressing in a suit. Instead he collected his coveralls and dressed in them, knowing he’d be long gone for work before his brother came home to even see him. If he came home at all.

oOoOo

Knock off time on a Friday was always met with enthusiasm and Mycroft listened as his work mates made plans to go to a pub for a few drinks. A large hand fell on his shoulder and he looked up to see Tommy looking at him sympathetically. “Come on, Mike, come and join us for a drink. It looks like you need it.”

His first instinct was to refuse but then he changed his mind. Why not? It wasn’t like Sherlock would be home anyway. Mycroft had seen his brother for a total of about sixty minutes the entire week and had spoken less than a handful of sentences to him. He nodded and Tommy smiled at him.

The pub was relatively close by to the depot so the group walked down to it, stepping into the dimly lit room and finding several tables they could all sit at. They ordered their first round and once they had their drinks, Tommy turned to Mycroft. “Okay, Mike - spill. What the hell is going on?”

He sighed, knowing he couldn’t tell the man the entire truth but feeling like he needed to talk anyway. “My partner is having an affair,” he admitted quietly, a pain going through his chest as he said those words out loud for the first time.

The burly man nodded. “I figured as much. I’m really sorry to hear that, mate. You need a place to stay?”

“Thanks, but I can’t leave - I just can’t.”

Tommy nodded in sympathy. “Yeah, I get that. I went through it with my first wife. In the end she made that choice for us and left. You waiting for her to do the same?”

“He, actually,” Mycroft said.

“Ah, right, sorry.”

Mycroft shrugged. “No problem. But yeah, I don't want him to go, but I guess he will eventually.”

“You spoken to him about it?”

He shook his head. “No, I just can’t. I keep waiting for him to say something, to admit what he’s been doing and to maybe tell me that he made a mistake and that he’s ended it.”

“You reckon you could forgive him?”

“God, yes. I love him with every part of my being, Tommy. I’d forgive him anything if it meant he wouldn’t leave.”

“That’s a really tough situation to be in. I’m really sorry, mate. I reckon it calls for another drink.” He drained the last of his beer and stood to go to the bar.

Mycroft quickly finished his own drink, not overly enjoying beer but not wanting to drink the usual whiskey he preferred. Tommy returned with two more pints and raised his glass. “To a broken heart,” he toasted.

Mycroft raised his drink and clinked their glasses together. “To a broken heart,” he repeated glumly, then took a large sip.

The afternoon turned into evening and two drinks turned into more than he could count. Mycroft hadn’t been drunk in a long time and he found that he was quite enjoying the numbness that had fallen over him. His phone vibrated in his pocket and he pulled it out.

Where are you? - SH

He stared at the message for a long moment, then put his phone away without bothering to reply. His brother hadn’t had the decency to tell him about his whereabouts over the past couple of months so he could have a taste of his own medicine. Picking up his glass to find it empty, he stumbled to his feet and made his way to the bar for another. The bartender was busy serving a group of detectives that were also having some after work drinks of their own, and Mycroft leaned against the bar, listening to them talk to distract himself from his own misery.

“I can’t believe the freak was right,” the curly haired woman was saying. “How the hell could he have known that the aunt had once owned a black poodle?”

“No idea,” the man with the greasy hair and beaked nose replied. “Who cares though? It means we wrapped it up earlier and don’t have to spend the weekend working the case.”

“Is that all you care about? Really, Phil, aren’t you the least bit curious?”

“Sal - we caught the murderer, justice has been served. Does it matter if the freak has super powers? Let it be, yeah.” He nudged her with his shoulder and waggled an eyebrow. “It means we’ll get to spend the entire weekend together. Aren’t you excited about that?”

She smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I am. I can’t wait to get you into bed.”

The couple grabbed their drinks and headed back to their own group of colleagues and Mycroft placed his own order. The bartender bought him another five pints and Mycroft gathered them up and took them back to the table for the handful of people still remaining in their group.

“You’re a legend, Mike,” Eoin said, taking a glass.

“Cheers,” Tommy added, his voice slightly slurred.

“Does anyone feel like chips?” Frank asked. He was no longer shy and timid since he’d settled in at work and had been regaling them all night with terrible puns and dirty jokes.

“Chips sound awesome,” the last man, Harrison, said. “Come on, Frankie, lets go order some.”

They headed to the bar and soon Mycroft was eating greasy chips, drinking even more beer, and chatting with men who emptied bins for a living. It was as far as he could get from the life he'd been living half a year ago, but he found that he didn't mind it at all.

An hour later he was well and truly drunk and so when Tommy decided to call it a night and look for a cab, Mycroft offered to share it since they lived not far from one another. He’d come back the next day and pick his car up from work since it was likely he wouldn’t see Sherlock at all. As they were leaving Tommy excused himself to the loo and instead of heading back to his work mates, Mycroft decided to wait outside for him. He stepped into the cool night air and leaned against the wall, his heady spinning just a little. The door opened again and a man about Mycroft’s age stepped out, fishing in his pockets for his cigarettes. As he lit up, he pulled out his phone and hit dial and the words out of his mouth when the person he was calling answered sent Mycroft reeling.

“Sherlock, hey, it’s me. I just wanted to check up on you - you seemed a little quiet this morning.”

As far as he was aware, there was no one else in London with the same name as his brother so the man speaking to him could be none other than Greg - the man who had stolen Mycroft’s love away from him. He looked at the man, really looked, and he felt himself deflate as he took in how handsome he was. Greg was of average height but he was fit, his legs and arse filling out his jeans spectacularly. His hair was thick and glossy, just starting to grey at the temples, and his eyes were the warmest chocolate brown. As he listened to whatever Sherlock said in reply he laughed in a sexy low baritone and Mycroft could just imagine what that voice would sound like whispering sweet nothings into Sherlock’s ear.

“Well I can’t help but worry, can I? Someone has to take care of you.” Mycroft felt sick as he listened to the one-sided conversation. “Yeah, I know, Sunshine - I’m nothing without you, no need to tell me again,” Greg said, laughing again.

The door opened and Tommy stepped out, his eyes falling on Mycroft. “You alright, Mike?” he asked.

Tearing his gaze away from Greg, Mycroft forced a smile onto his lips. “Yeah, of course. Shall we go?”

The two of them turned and walked away, and Mycroft left the shattered remains of his heart behind at Greg’s feet. He knew now that he would never be able to compete with the man and it was no wonder Sherlock chose to spend every moment that he could with him. The only thing Mycroft couldn't work out is why Sherlock hadn’t left yet. Perhaps a small part of him still cared enough for his brother to feel pity towards him, and he was just trying to come up with a way to break it off gently. Mycroft did know that he couldn’t do it, he couldn’t be the one to end it. He knew he was being played and that he was pathetic, but it would have to be Sherlock to say enough was enough.

The cab ride was silent and when they pulled up outside of Mycroft’s flat, Tommy clapped him on the back and told him to call if he needed anything. With a small smile of thanks, the redhead climbed on unsteady feet and made his way to the front of the building, taking several tries to open the door. Mycroft normally took the stairs but tonight he didn't trust his balance so he pressed the button for the elevator, leaning his head against the cool metal doors as he was taken up to his floor. The doors opened, sending him stumbling into the hall and he staggered to his flat. It was quiet inside, and a glance through the open door of the bedroom showed Sherlock was already asleep.

Mycroft went to the bed and stood looking down at his brother. The light from the hall fell across the younger man’s face, his cheekbones throwing sharp shadows across the pillow. He reached down and gently pushed a curl off Sherlock’s forehead, his eyes welling up as he gazed upon his brother’s beauty. “I love you so much,” Mycroft whispered, then picked up his pillow and took it through to the sitting room. He laid down on the couch, pulling his knees up close to his chest and wiping away the tears that rolled over his cheeks. It took a long time but Mycroft finally fell into a fitful sleep.

The next morning when he woke the flat was silent and Mycroft knew that he was alone. He sat up, looking around for some sign of his brother, the blanket that had been draped over him sometime during the night slipping from his shoulders.

oOoOo

The next few days passed in a daze for Mycroft. He retreated deeply inside himself, ignoring the world around him as he wallowed in his misery. Sherlock came home early in the evening on Saturday, bringing with him their favourite Thai takeaway. He didn’t ask Mycroft where he’d been the previous night, or why he’d slept on the couch, just suggested they watch a film together. Mycroft agreed but when Sherlock took a seat on the couch, the redhead took the armchair, ignoring his brother’s hurt expression. He didn’t have the strength to confront his brother about his infidelity, but he also wasn’t going to pretend it wasn’t happening. He still loved Sherlock, but the thought of being close to him at that point in time was too much.

Mycroft spent most of Sunday pretending Sherlock wasn’t there and when his brother huffed in annoyance, he simply said, “Why don’t you go and work on your ‘group project’? Surely you’d find that more enjoyable than being here.”

Sherlock had looked shocked and Mycroft could tell that his brother now knew that the older man was aware he’d been lying. He didn’t bother with an explanation, had just left, closing the door quietly behind him. He didn't come back that night. Mycroft had gone to work and did his job, but he didn’t try and make conversation with whoever he was paired with, just quietly looked out the window as they drove.

On Wednesday he was paired again with Tommy for the same route as they’d done together the week previous. The big man seemed to sense that Mycroft was in no mood to talk but he often shot him sympathetic glances and more than once offered him a place to stay. They pulled onto the street Bianchi lived on and Mycroft almost hoped the businessman would try and start something again today. The redhead was at breaking point and wouldn’t hold back today, giving as well as he got, itching for a fight. As they moved down the road towards the house, Mycroft could see that the bins were once again positioned incorrectly and he couldn't help but grin. Tommy pulled to a stop so Mycroft could get out and move them, signalling that he would be just a shout away if Bianchi caused trouble again.

A car pulled up behind the truck but Mycroft paid it no mind as the door to the house opened and Bianchi stepped out, coming down the path. Someone spoke from behind Mycroft and Bianchi’s eyes turned to the voice - an oddly familiar voice. Mycroft turned and almost gasped as he saw it was Greg, along with the woman that had been at the bar. Standing next to them, looking confident in their presence, like he was supposed to be there, was Sherlock.

“Savario Bianchi? DI Greg Lestrade - I need to speak to you about the murder of Jocelyn Rosso.”

Several things happened at once: Bianchi’s eyes narrowed and he turned as if to run inside, Sherlock caught sight of his brother and gasped, “My?”, and a car flew around the corner, screeching to a halt, two men jumping from it, guns in their hands.

“Fuck, get down!” Greg shouted as he saw the armed men.

Shots rang out and Mycroft threw himself at Sherlock, knocking him to the ground. Out of the corner of his eye, Mycroft saw Greg and his colleague ducking for cover, and Bianchi fall, his white shirt turning red from the wounds in his chest. Grabbing a fistful of his brother’s shirt, Mycroft scooted backwards towards the lorry, dragging Sherlock to safety. He reached up and activated the discrete device in his ear, hidden by his cap. “This is Agent India Charlie Echo,” he barked. “The Ibis is down, I repeat the Ibis is down. Requesting immediate backup.”

“Mycroft?” Sherlock asked, his eyes wide as the gunmen opened fire upon the unarmed detectives.

“Not now, love,” he shushed him, reaching up and opening the cab door, addressing his shocked colleague. “Tommy, stay down, help is on the way.” He reached under the seat and pulled out two loaded pistols. “Sherlock, get in the cab and stay safe.”

“What the fuck is going on?” his brother demanded.

“No time to explain, just stay safe.” Ignoring the hurt and pain he’d been through recently, Mycroft pulled Sherlock in for a kiss. “I love you. Now stay out of the way.” He shoved Sherlock towards the relative safety of the lorry and then he ducked down and moved out towards the gunmen.

They had the detectives pinned down behind Bianchi’s car, and Mycroft made use of their distraction to aim and fire. He hit the first man in the centre of his forehead, sending him flying backward just as a voice sounded in his ear, advising that the agents that had been doing surveillance across the road were on their way. As Mycroft aimed and fired at the second gunman, the garden statue to his left exploded, sending fragments of plaster shooting through the air, pain stinging his cheek as he was cut. He spun and saw another man getting out of the car, shooting wildly, and Mycroft threw himself onto the ground, rolling once and then coming up onto his knees and firing once more. He hit the man in the chest and then the man was rocked by another two bullets coming from the agents crossing the road. Turning his attention back to the final remaining threat, he saw that the third gunman had flushed the detectives out from behind the car and was holding Greg around the chest, his gun to his temple. “Drop your gun or I’ll shoot him!” he yelled at Mycroft.

Not even bothering to reply, Mycroft raised his own weapon and fired once, putting a bullet right between the man’s eyes. Greg shouted as his attacker went limp behind him, stepping away from the dead man. Mycroft continued walking, moving past the wide eyed detective and hurrying over to Bianchi. He rolled the man over, feeling for a pulse but not finding one.

“Status?” one of the agents asked from behind.

Mycroft shook his head. “Dead.”

“God fucking dammit,” the agent swore, turning and kicking at the shattered statue. “Months of work, pissed away because of a fucking gang squabble!”

Feeling just as frustrated, but remaining calm, Mycroft stood and touched his shoulder. “It’s a setback, yes, but we learned some valuable information. It wasn’t for nothing.”

“What the bloody hell is going on here?” a deep voice demanded and Mycroft turned to see Greg glaring at them.

“Your investigation has crossed paths with one being undertaken by the Secret Service, Detective Inspector,” Mycroft told him, trying to keep the hostility from his voice. “You and your colleagues will need to come with us to be debriefed and to answer some questions.”

oOoOo

Mycroft stepped into the interview room and handed Greg the cup of coffee.

“Cheers,” the DI said, taking the brew. “What the hell did we get caught up in?”

“Unfortunately I can’t give you any details as you don’t have the correct clearance,” Mycroft told him, taking the seat opposite. “All I can say is that it involves a matter of national security and that the man you had gone to question had ties to several terrorist organisations.”

“You’re kidding?” Greg said, eyes wide. “Fuck, and I thought he was dodgy enough having ties to the mob!”

“Yes, quite. Can you tell me what you were wanting to question him about?”

“Um, yeah, sure. I’m not sure if you’re aware but the local mafia boss isn’t well and there’s already squabbling about his successor. The wife of the man, Micheal Rosso, who is leading the race at the moment was found murdered this morning. He was certain that Bianchi had had something to do with it since he was Rosso’s closest rival.”

“I see. Now, one of your colleagues isn’t a detective - can you tell me about him?”

“Sherlock? He’s just someone who consults for us from time to time.”

“Consults?” Mycroft asked, shocked. “What do you mean?”

“I mean he helps us out, nothing official, off the books. It all happened completely by accident - he stumbled upon one of our crime scenes one day and took one look and could tell us the victim had been eating Chinese food with her murderer hours before and that he was dyslexic. It turned out to be correct and when he followed us to another scene and helped out, well, who was I to turn down such help?” Greg pinched the bridge of his nose. “God, my boss is going to kill me for getting the kid mixed up in this. He was happy with the arrangement since our solve rate has gone through the roof since Sherlock started helping out a couple of months ago but he’s not officially sanctioned. If the higher ups hear about it, we’re all screwed.”

“I see. Thank you for your help, Detective Inspector. Someone will be in shortly to take your statement.”

“You know him, don’t you?” Greg said, stopping Mycroft before he could leave the room.

“Pardon?”

“Sherlock, you know him, yeah?”

Mycroft’s mind into overdrive, trying to figure out the angle, if the DI had seen him kiss Sherlock during the firefight. He couldn’t be certain so he kept it simple, not explaining that they were brothers. “Yes,“ was all he said.

“If you’re who I think you are, he loves you very much. I don’t know what’s happened between you recently but he’s worried he’s going to lose you.”

Mycroft couldn't speak, he just gaped at the man.

“Look, I get that it’s none of my business but I can see you love him too. Whatever it is, fix it before it’s too late. Other than the fact that I want to see the kid happy, God knows I don’t want him turning up at my house in the middle of the night bawling his eyes out again because he thinks you’re going to leave him. It depresses the fuck out my fiance.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Mycroft managed to croak out, then he turned and left the room. It appeared that he had read the entire situation incorrectly. What on earth had he done? He needed to speak to his brother, but first he had someone else to speak to.

“Tommy,” he greeted the burly man who was sitting patiently in an empty office.

“Mike!” Tommy stood up with a smile, taking in the suit his friend had changed into. “Though something tells me that name is as real as your story about being made redundant.”

Returning the smile, the redhead gestured for him to sit again. “No, but it’s close. My real name is Mycroft and yes, as you guessed, I hadn't lost my job and needed another. I work for the Secret Service and I’ve been working undercover.”

“You’re a spy?”

“Something like that.”

“Holy hell, that’s awesome!”

“It has its moments,” he admitted. “Tommy, no one can know the truth, you understand that right?”

The man nodded. “Yeah, of course. I’m not going to say anything. No need to lock me up and throw away the key or anything.”

Mycroft huffed out a laugh. “We’re not our American counterparts, don’t worry. You will be asked to give a statement and then to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Breaching the agreement is a felony and you will be charged with treason if you do so, so I highly recommend abiding by it.”

“I’m also guessing that blabbing would put you in danger so trust me, I’m not going to say a word.”

“You’re a good man, Tommy, and you’ve been a good friend to me. Thank you, for everything.”

“It’s my pleasure, Mike - roft. Don’t be a stranger, yeah? I know you’ll have to tell the boys you got another job or something, but you’ll always be welcome to come along for a drink.”

“I’d like that,” he told the man honestly. “I have to go, but I’ll see you soon.”

“Sounds good. Oh, and I hope everything works out with you and that bloke of yours.”

“I have a feeling it will. Thanks, Tommy.”

Mycroft left the room and then made his way down the corridor to another office where Sherlock had been left. Unlike the interview rooms, the offices had no recording devices in them so he was certain their conversation would remain private.

Sherlock was slouched in a chair and he leapt to his feet when Mycroft entered. “My! Are you okay?” He crossed to him immediately, his fingers going to the scratches on his cheek.

“Just a few grazes, nothing serious,” he assured him. He then took a deep breath. “I think we need to talk, Lock, about the lies we’ve both been telling one another.”

Looking wary but nodding nonetheless, Sherlock agreed. “Yes, things have rather gotten out of hand, haven’t they. I assume you figured out I’ve not been going to class so I could help the police with their investigations?”

“No, not really,” Mycroft said.

‘But you knew I’d been lying!”

“Yes, but I thought something much worse was going on! Honestly, Lock, how the hell was I supposed to deduce you were being some sort of Consulting Detective?”

“Consulting Detective?” Sherlock repeated, looking thoughtful. “Oooh, I like the sound of that. I might use that on my business cards.”

“Business cards? What do you mean?”

“I thought it was obvious, My. I’m done with uni - I’ve found my passion and want to do this instead.”

“So you’re going to throw away your years of study and be, what, some sort of policeman?”

Sherlock shuddered. “Urgh, no, not at all. I told you, I’m starting my own business, a consultant who helps the police, but doesn't work for them.”

“And you decided all this without even talking to me? I thought we were supposed to be in this together, Lock!”

“Hello Pot, meet Kettle!” Sherlock exclaimed. “You’ve been lying to me for how long now? You knew I was against you becoming an agent, that I didn’t want you in that kind of danger, and you said you wouldn’t, but it seems you’ve been working as one for quite a while now!”

“To get the position I want, I have to have this experience! It’s not going to be forever, it’s just a necessary evil.”

“Was lying a necessary evil as well? You could have talked to me, My! You could have explained that it was something that you had to do instead of sneaking around behind my back.” He looked away, his eyes full of hurt and Mycroft felt terrible.

“Oh, Lock, I’m sorry, I’ve made such a mess of this.” He pulled him to him and felt his brother melt against him. “I’m sorry for everything. I should have trusted you but I thought I was going to lose you, and I was so scared.”

“You honestly believed I’d leave you if you became an agent?” Even with his voice muffled against Mycroft’s throat, the older man could hear the disbelief in his brother’s voice.

“I knew you wouldn’t be happy and the opportunity came up before I could even talk to you. Then I thought you’d be so mad that I did it without saying anything that you’d never forgive me.”

“Surely you knew I’d figure it out sooner or later? What did you think would happen then?”

I thought you would have left anyway he thought to himself, but couldn't admit that.

But of course, Sherlock put the pieces together. “Wait a minute, you said you thought something much worse...My, what did you think I’d been doing?”

Feeling himself go red, Mycroft looked away, unable to meet his eyes. “It doesn't matter anymore.”

Sherlock dragged him over to the couch in the corner and pulled him down onto it. “It does matter. Even now I can see you were terrified of it. What did you think I was doing?”

He sighed and rubbed a hand over his eyes. “I saw a message from your DI one night, saying he needed you and would you come. I didn't say anything but then you left, telling me you were going to work on a group project. Surely even you can see the conclusion I jumped to?”

“You thought I was sleeping with Lestrade?” Sherlock asked, aghast.

“Of course I bloody well did! You were distant, moody, glued to your phone, disappeared at all hours, never telling me where you’d been. What else was I supposed to think? You got further and further from me and I was sure that any day you were going to walk out that door and never come home.”

“But I love you!”

“And we’re brothers, Lock! If you had the chance at a normal relationship, surely you would take it!”

“Would you?”

“Of course not!”

“Then what makes you think I would?” he ran a hand through his hair in agitation and then took a deep breath, visibly trying to calm down. “I am going to say this now and I expect you to recognise it as the truth. I love you, you stupid idiot, and I am never going anywhere. You are stuck with me until the day one of us dies, so you’d better get bloody well used to it!”

Mycroft’s eyes suddenly welled up as he was overcome with love for his brother. “Promise?” he asked.

Sherlock pulled him close, kissing him soundly. “Of course I promise. Now, can we go home, please? I’ve missed you and I really need to get you into bed.”

Laughing, Mycroft hugged him, holding him tightly. “Yes, we can go home. I’ve missed you as well. And Lock?”

“Yes, My?”

“I love you too.”

Sherlock’s eyes were twinkling as he asked, “Promise?”

“With all my heart.”