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Was Lost But Now I'm Found

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One could have thought that William Sherlock Scott Holmes, youngest son of Lord and Lady Holmes, had a sad, lonely childhood. When his sister Eurus - four years younger than him - had died of the Marble Child Decease, his mother, who had never taken to a deep liking to him in the first place, had drowned in depression and had ignored him and his brother almost completely. His father was either absent or busy all the time, and there were no other children on the huge property that was Musgrave Hall.

After giving birth to two sons within the wide range of seven years, Lady Holmes had been overjoyed when she had held her beautiful daughter in her arms for the first time. Finally she had a little girl she could dress up and play with. She would have denied it if she had she been asked, but what she felt for her sons was more annoyance and a distinct sort of fear but love. Both of them, especially her eldest, were hardly a source of joy for her.

Her first born Mycroft, the future lord of Musgrave, auburn-haired, freckled and lean, had been addressing her only with coldness and a rather insulting politeness as soon as he had been able to talk, and the look in his ice-blue eyes made her shiver. He never let her see any feelings and showed her a mask of total indifference whenever she tried to talk to him. She knew he despised her for her weakness and her ordinary character and her not very high intelligence.

Sherlock on the other hand was a wild, beautiful child with black curls and sparkling green-blue eyes, but his habit of asking never-ending questions was tiring her to no end - last but not least because most of the time she didn’t know the answers... When he had realised this, he hardly spoke with her at all anymore and only turned to his older brother, who treated the boy in a way that made her almost hate him: for his little brother he had all the feelings and genuine attention that he denied her completely. Her husband - twenty years older than her - was out of the house all day, either taking care of the property or his obligations for the country, and was no help at all.

So dealing with her little sunshine of a daughter had been Lady Holmes' entire joy and pride, and she had cherished every day she had been allowed to take care of her. Until Eurus had died in her arms with only four years. And the lady's heart and soul had died with her, and she had closed out the world and her two sons and her husband almost entirely, spending her days on the graveyard, talking to her dead daughter, and the nights alone in her chamber.

So Sherlock had no mother to rely on, and no father he could turn to. And still he'd always been a happy child. He had hardly cared about the death of his sister, and when his mother passed away when he had just turned twelve, he didn't miss her, either. All he cared about was his big brother Mycroft, whom he adored and admired from the bottom of his heart, and he had never had a reason to doubt that Mycroft loved him all the same. They couldn’t spend as much time with each other as they would have liked to though. Both of them were being educated by private teachers, due to the huge age gap of course in two different rooms. But when Sherlock had finished his classes in the early afternoon, he would always slip into the room his brother was in, and sat beside him, listening to the lectures for the much older child, sucking up knowledge that should have been far above his horizon but it wasn’t, and he eagerly awaited him to be finished for the day so they could be alone with each other.

Despite the large age gap, they were very close and none of them enjoyed the company of anybody else than the other one’s. They rode on the gorgeous stallions, observed the bees, and told each other stories. Mycroft taught Sherlock how to deduce people as he called it, and Sherlock spent many more nights in Mycroft's bed than in his own, being cuddled against his big brother and whispering with him until his eyes fell close.

oOoOo

When Mycroft was sixteen, he had learned everything a normal schoolboy needed to know, and he started to study economics and international affairs on his own, using lots and lots of books, assisted by an old teacher who had given lectures at the university in the big town all his adult life and could now focus on his most important student. And Sherlock still joined him, sitting silently in the back of the room, trying to catch up with what his beloved brother was learning but mostly just enjoying being allowed to be in the same room as him.

The future lord Mycroft Holmes would take over his father’s position after his death. The Holmeses were the second important family of the Great Kingdom after the king, and the eldest son would dedicate his life to serving his country by being in charge of co-reigning it behind closed doors as the counsellor of the king. The current Lord Holmes was old; it was only a matter of time that Mycroft would follow into his footsteps. And Sherlock was sure he would do an awesome job, and he would do anything he could to support his older brother.

When Mycroft was twenty, his education was finished, and he spent more and more time with his father in his office in the palace, set in the finest quarter of the Big City, to learn what it took to fulfil his duties. When he came home, he sometimes spoke with the bailiff, the old Carter Lestrade, to learn everything about taking care of his future property as well. The bailiff was responsible of keeping all the surroundings of the house in perfect state and he was the boss of the workers, being in charge of hiring and firing and keeping the lord updated about everything of importance. Carter's son Greg would inherit his position and he was learning to do it the same way as Mycroft was doing it for his own, but Mycroft was determined to learn all he could just like his father had done, wanting to be perfect in anything and a man everybody could rely on. So in the evenings he was often exhausted and tired, but he never pushed his little brother away when he clung around his neck and asked him about his day and told him about the lonely adventures he had experienced in the forest around Musgrave or with Timjoy, his favourite stallion.

oOoOo

But when more time went by and Sherlock slowly grew into a tall, lanky, handsome young man, their relationship started to change in an awkward way. Sherlock realised that he observed more and more things about his brother he had not noticed before, like how the sun made his blue eyes sparkle and his auburn hair shine, or how strong his biceps looked when he lifted something up or how long his legs appeared to be when he was sitting on a horse. Or how tight his trousers were clinging to his bottom and how big he seemed to be on the front of them…

Soon after his fifteenth birthday, Sherlock woke up one night next to his brother. He was sweating and his pants were wet, but not from sweating or having missed going to the bathroom. He had dreamed about being in his brother's bed like he indeed was, only that they had both been naked, and Mycroft had reached over to him and stroked a body part that Sherlock had never paid attention to before. Mycroft had told him how beautiful he was and how desirable, and he had shoved his hand up and down on his length until Sherlock had spilled his seed over himself for the first time, in the dream and in reality.

Sherlock shot up into a sitting position, panting and shivering, and he quickly looked at his brother, who was quietly lying next to him. And he was awake, Sherlock could sense that. But of course he had not really touched him, and he didn't say a word but kept his eyes closed as if he hadn't noticed. Sherlock felt deeply ashamed and grateful for Mycroft's reaction. But when he lay quietly and silently next to him for the rest of a night that seemed to be endless, unable to find back to sleep, he retreated deep into his mind and questioned what had just happened, and he wondered why it had taken him so long to realise that he loved his brother. He had loved him all his life of course, but another dimension had added to this brotherly love now. Sherlock understood that he was gay, and that the man he desired was his big brother.

There was not much Sherlock didn’t know at least a bit about, but he knew nothing about sexuality between two men or about being in love. These subjects had just never come up. The next morning he went into the silent library, and after a while he found a few books that explained everything in a perfect, devastating way. The Great Kingdom was a rather liberal country when it came to sex, Sherlock realised. Two men could make love to one another without having to fear punishment, but between the lines Sherlock could read that the people still judged them. He wouldn't have minded, but he also found out that there were three big taboos. A man was not allowed to sexually engage with an animal, a child, or a close relative. Sherlock grew cold when he read this. Two of the three taboos could be applied to him. A child was defined as a person younger than eighteen years. And how much closer could he be related to Mycroft? Sherlock sat in his father's big armchair and thick tears were dropping on the book pages. Desperation had taken hold of his soul. His love for his brother was doomed and forbidden and he had to keep it to himself. After silently crying for half an hour, he put the books back onto the shelf and stumbled into his room with hanging shoulders and a heavy, sore heart.

oOoOo

Mycroft had not reacted to his brother having a wet dream next to him. His moans and rolling around had woken him up, and at first he had thought Sherlock was having a nightmare and he had been about to wake him up and urge him to calm down in his arms. But then he had seen what Sherlock's right hand was doing, and he had instead watched his still deeply sleeping brother fascinatedly, and the fascination had turned into shock when Sherlock had come into his pyjamas with Mycroft's name on his lips. Shock-frozen he had lain next to him, not moving when he had finally woken up, but he had known that Sherlock had been aware he wasn't really sleeping.

He had been lying awake until the morning, just like Sherlock, neither of them saying a word, and he had realised that his brother had long ceased to be an innocent, cute child. He was a – albeit very young - man. A man he desired as much as Sherlock desired him. How could he have not gotten this for so long? Mycroft had never paid attention to the sexual needs of his body. He had never woken up with soiled pants next to his brother, and very rarely he had experienced an erection at all. But he had acknowledged years ago that he didn't have any interest in the most beautiful maids in the house but had noticed when one of the workers had a nice bottom. It had been a distant, rather objective kind of appreciation, but it had been always clear to him that if he ever was to desire another person, it would be a male. And after this night, he knew who exactly he desired, and he wondered how he could have been so blind.

Sherlock was a desirable young man now with seductive eyes, a deep, manly voice that was made for whispering sweet nothings, large hands that would feel heavenly on his body, and a long-legged, lean figure with a round, plush butt that cried for being worshipped. He longed for his own little brother, and Sherlock longed for him, and it terrified him to no end as he knew it could never be. He was the eldest son of a very important family; not far in the future he would work side by side with the king, and in no way he could risk starting any sort of intimate liaison with his own brother. It would shame the family name forever and destroy their future.

In the evening he told Sherlock that he was too old to sleep in his bed now. He knew he should have done that long ago. But so far it had been innocent, and it wasn't anymore. And it hurt him so much to say it, but he did it with a firm but friendly voice and hid his feelings as well as he could.

oOoOo

Sherlock nodded quietly when he was told after dinner to stay in his own chamber for the nights from now on. He had expected it after being caught in such a compromising situation. He went to bed early and lay awake for a long time, missing his brother tremendously. And in the following days, he was feeling horrified when he realised that Mycroft started to avoid him. He still talked to him but he always kept a distance, and he stepped back when Sherlock tried to embrace him. It almost killed him, and for the first time in his life, he was feeling all alone.

There was nobody to talk to and to search comfort from. Until the day he was sitting on the steps before the front door, and Mrs Hudson, the fifty-four-year-old housekeeper, caught him crying his eyes out. She gently patted his shoulder and quietly asked him to come into the kitchen, a place he had not been in many times before, and she made him a hot chocolate drink and gave him some freshly-baked cookies. She did not ask what pained him, but instead she told him some stories about her nieces and nephews who lived in the Big City, and comforted him with her warm voice and her unobtrusive compassion.

From this day on, Sherlock spent a lot of time in the kitchen after finishing his classes, and he helped her and the housemaids with preparing dinner for the three Holmes' men and the staff, and he brought her flowers from the garden and told her about the horses and the animals he had observed on the property; she would always listen to his complicated explanations about the lives of the bees or the differences in the noises of the various sorts of frogs.

oOoOo

Mrs Hudson had watched the Holmes brothers for all their lives. She had seen how their mother had neglected them and their father had not shown any personal interest in either of them when he was at home for a change. It had broken her heart and made her very angry at her master and his wife. She had hoped the lord would marry again after the lady's death, but he had never seemed to search for a substitute for her that perhaps could have taken care of his sons.

But Sherlock had not been unhappy as he'd still had his beloved brother. She had seen how they had relied only on each other, and in the last years she had noticed a look in Sherlock's eyes that was speaking of more than brotherly affection. She had known that Sherlock was spending almost every night in Mycroft's bed. And she had known the day would come when his feelings that he was probably not aware of himself would break their way out of him and let their little bubble blow up and destroy their close relationship. Because Mycroft could not afford being in any other way than brotherly involved with Sherlock even though he was clearly every bit as drawn to his brother as Sherlock was to him.

And the day had come, and finally she had dared overstep the mark that had kept her from getting close to the young master, not being able to watch him suffer all alone anymore, and she had started to comfort him as well as she could. But she knew things wouldn't get easier for Sherlock as he was clearly very much in love with a man he couldn't have. She did her best to make him feel better without ever mentioning that she knew what his pain was about, but it was clear that his brother was avoiding him, treating him with distance and politeness instead of the warm affection he had shown him all his life, and that Sherlock was suffering immensely. In a way he was still a child, albeit in the body of an almost-grown man, and he was a very hurt child.

oOoOo

With a heavy heart, Sherlock had accepted Mycroft's cold behaviour, and that he spent more and more time out of the house and in the palace with their father. But his feelings, as much as he was ashamed of them, had not changed, and their admittance to his brother was yet to come as deep inside he still hoped that Mycroft would reciprocate them and act on them, no matter how many difficulties they would have to face to be together.

It came out on Sherlock's sixteenth birthday.

Mycroft had been away all day as usual, and when Sherlock heard him and his father come into the house, he started walking down the stairs. It was nine o'clock, and he had spent his special day all alone except for eating cake with Mrs Hudson. Sherlock wanted his brother to look him in the eyes and congratulate him at least. He had found his present, a beautiful, thick book about bees, on the table in the dining room, along with a card that had simply stated Happy birthday, Sherlock. Mycroft. He wanted a hug, at least on this day. Mycroft owed him that.

Neither his father not his brother had noticed his presence. “You will meet her, Mycroft,” the tall, silver-haired lord just said in a tone that didn't allow any protest. “Irene Adler is the best candidate you will find. You need to carry on the Holmes name and the Adlers are the perfect match for us.”

Sherlock stopped dead on the stairs, his heart freezing to ice. He knew who his father was talking about. The Adlers, living a couple of thousand metres away from them in a huge house named Tera, were not as important as the Holmeses, but they were noble and rich. Their only daughter Irene was not exceptionally beautiful with her thin lips and her skinny figure, but she was able to present herself in the best possible way by putting lots of colour onto her face, fluffing up her rather thin, black hair and showing an I’m-the-hottest-attitude to the world. There were not often guests in the Holmes' house as the lord was way too busy for throwing parties all the time, but Irene had attended each and every one of them over the last years. And Sherlock remembered how she had always looked at his brother. He had not liked that, even though he had not understood why. Now he knew it. His brother belonged to him. She couldn’t have him. Nobody except him could have him!

Now Mycroft had spotted him on the steps. “Excuse me, Father,” he said and hurried up to join Sherlock. Sherlock had the strong feeling he didn't do that because he longed to be close to his brother again all at once but because he was very keen on escaping the discussion with the lord. And that could only mean that he had no interest in a marriage with Irene. Not that he had ever seemed to be interested in her even slightly when they had met. But it was clear that their father was determined to force him to get married to her and produce some children. And the lord always got what he wanted…

“Happy birthday, Sherlock,” Mycroft said quietly. “Did you like the book?”

“Yes, thank you. Come with me.” He grabbed for Mycroft's hand and dragged him to his room.

“Sherlock, I…”

“Shut up, Mycroft.” He had pulled him in and closed the door behind them. “You can't marry her!”

“What? Oh, Irene. Of course I won't. I… don't like women.” He bit his lip after this admission and looked as if he was regretting having said this.

But Sherlock would not let this opportunity slip from his hands. “I know! Neither do I! Mycroft…” He took a deep breath and stepped closer to him. “I… love you. We belong together!”

Mycroft gasped. “Sherlock, don't be absurd. You're my little brother, and of course I love you, but not like that.”

But his eyes were flickering, and Sherlock could see that he was lying. “That's not true. You want me.”

“No.” Mycroft shook his head but it wasn't very convincing.

Without any further hesitation, Sherlock slung his arms around his neck and kissed him. It was a clumsy, too wet kiss but it came from the deepness of his heart, and he laid all his feelings into it. And for a wonderful, sweet moment, Mycroft kissed him back, and Sherlock sighed in pleasure. A second later, he was rudely pushed away.

“Sherlock, don't! You can't do that! You can't try to seduce me! It's forbidden and it's wrong, and I don't want it. I don't want you. It's just disgusting!”

The world stopped for Sherlock. He cringed and felt as if he was getting sick, and he realised that he had interpreted it all wrong. Mycroft's eyes were full of embarrassment and shock, and he felt like dying. “I'm sorry,” he whispered, his voice barely audible, and then he ran out of his own room, out of the house and into the forest, where he threw up and then collapsed on a bed of moss, his eyes overflowing with the most pained tears of his life. He had made a fool out of himself in an unforgivably stupid way, and now Mycroft would hate him and never allow him to be near him again.

oOoOo

Mycroft watched him run away and then just stood there without moving or even blinking. Minutes later, he stalked into his own bedroom on shaking legs. He let himself fall onto the bed, and tears were streaming down his cheeks, for the first time since he could remember. He was feeling as if he had broken into millions of pieces by rejecting Sherlock. Of course he wanted him, and of course he wanted to share everything with him, but he couldn't.

He heard Sherlock come back a few hours later, sobbing and walking with heavy feet as it sounded, and he almost got up and went to him, but he didn't. He just couldn't. It could never be. Sherlock would cry and in the morning he would have calmed down and they could slowly get back to normal. Finally he dozed off, his cheeks still wet from crying silent tears for hours.

He woke up not much later from a horrible nightmare. He had found his brother, lying cold and stiff in a dark alley, his eyes - once sparkling with life and wit and intelligence and affection - now staring into nothingness, his breast not moving, no life left in him. And he had cried and cried, mourning the biggest loss of all, and he fought his way into consciousness, with wet cheeks and a sweaty, swollen face, and he let himself just fall out of his bed and he crawled to the door, not even being able to walk. All he knew was that he needed to tell his brother how much he meant to him, that he did want him and would do everything to make him happy and that he was right – they belonged together. Finally he came onto his feet and tumbled into Sherlock's room, and even before he made light he knew that it was empty and that Sherlock had left Musgrave and his life forever.

Chapter Text

It was not even five in the morning when Sherlock stretched in his bed and then sleepily swung his legs out of it. Time to go to work. It was hard to get up before the sun rose, but the early shifts had their advantages. Not many people were on the streets at this time, and he could do his job in peace. Except for his colleagues of course who were too loud and annoying sometimes. But he couldn’t deny that he did have some fun with them and that he had grown rather fond of them over the years.

He didn't bother being quiet when he prepared his breakfast and tea to gulp down and a small lunch to take away with him. John wouldn't wake up. Not even a bomb exploding in their flat in Baker Street would make him wake up. Not that this would do any damage to the looks of it. Neither of them cared about tidying up or cleaning. It was a mess.

Which was very ironic in a way. While he didn't give a damn about his own environment, it was Sherlock's job to clean up behind strangers and make sure the streets of Blackchapel were not dirtier than necessary. On two days a week, Sherlock was cleaning up the parks in the Prime End which was way nicer. He did that in the afternoons which meant he was annoyed by people, but sometimes he found a few coins lying around the benches, and when he was very lucky, somebody gave some money to him. And of course it was generally nicer to be in a beautiful park instead of dirty, depressing streets.

The lack of money was a constant problem. Since the old Mrs Moriarty - their landlady for the past nine years - had died under strange circumstances and her son had moved in instead, the rent was hardly affordable for him and John anymore. As soon as his mother had been buried, Jim - short, black-haired, handsome and right-out scary - had told them with a smile that could have made a boxer run away that he wanted twenty pounds more a month. With Sherlock's salary and John's army pension, it would have been bearable if John hadn't needed his money for other purposes instead, like taking handfuls of painkillers or even padanum when the pains in his leg and his shoulder were too strong. Sherlock saved as much money as he could, hardly eating anything, let alone buying anything for fun, instead taking all kinds of stuff from the rubbish, but when John spent all his money on drugs, it was very difficult to pay the rent in time. He didn’t blame John as he was really suffering immensely, but it made Sherlock's life a lot harder…

oOoOo

When he had told Jim Moriarty for the first time that he couldn't pay him (since John never spoke to him), Jim had looked at him with playfully wide-open eyes and a mouth that formed an O. “Is that so! But we did agree on that, didn't we, Billy? It was today when you were supposed to pay, wasn't it?”

And Sherlock had nodded. “Yes, sir. I'm very sorry. I'll try to get the money until Monday. I'm sure I'll have it by then.” Perhaps Phil would lend him some money. Or he would find something on the street. Or heaven would fall onto his head…

“Are you! But you know what, that's fine. I can wait. I'm a patient man. But I do need a little deposit.”

“Of course, I understand…” Sherlock had searched in his pocket for some coins, but Jim had given him a friendly but rather strange smile.

“Oh, don't bother. I was thinking of something else. Why don't you come in for a moment?” He had stepped aside and gestured to Sherlock to enter his flat. He still smiled but somehow it was a disconcerting smile…

Sherlock had nodded, and while feeling rather tense and uncomfortable, he had stepped into the flat his former landlady had lived in. She had had dolls of all sorts sitting around everywhere, a huge black-and-white cat named Rosie had always come to greet Sherlock, and it had been all nice and warm. Now the flat had been almost empty. The cat had moved over to Sherlock's neighbour Molly Hooper, who was taking care of it with a lot of affection, and the dolls had apparently found another home as well or had ended in the bin. Now there had been a sofa, a table and two chairs, and that had been about it.

“Do sit down,” Jim had said, still with this disturbing smile. He almost looked… predatory, Sherlock had thought. “You know… I do feel a bit lonely sometimes. I had so much more company when I was still in prison. Wouldn't you like to make up for your inability to fulfil your financial obligations by making me feel a little better?” He had patted on the couch beside him.

Sherlock had closed his eyes for a moment. He had wondered why he hadn't seen this coming. Usually he was very good at deducing people's intentions. But even if he had, there wouldn't have been a way out... He had cleared his throat. “Yes, sir. I can do that.”

“Excellent! Come on then, boy…” He had opened his zipper. “Make Uncle Jim feel good.”

And Sherlock had done it. He had sent his mind into a calm, white, silent place, and had sucked the man's short, thick and thankfully clean dick while his head had been in the iron grip of two strong hands. It hadn't taken Jim long to moan loudly and release himself into Sherlock's mouth, and he had wiped over Sherlock's wet lips and chin after that.

“That was nice, Billy. You may pay me ten pounds less on Monday.”

Sherlock had thanked him, and then he had hurried out of the flat to wash out his mouth.

oOoOo

It had not been the first time that he had paid a debt in this way. When he had come into the darkest, most dangerous and dirtiest quarter of the Big City more than eleven years ago, he had slipped off the personality of the intelligent, bright and promising Sherlock Holmes, youngest son of one of the most important men in the Great Kingdom.

Sherlock was dead. He had belonged to Mycroft, and Mycroft had not wanted him. Whenever he had been asked what his name was, he had answered: Billy Scott.

He had taken almost no money or clothes with him in this worst night of his life. He had a trust with a few hundred-thousand pounds in which he would have been able to access after turning eighteen, but of course these riches were lost along with his family, his name, his love, his dignity and his entire life as he had known it. There was no turning back, no redemption - just punishment for his impossible, disgusting behaviour towards his brother, and he had taken it almost with pleasure; the pain filling up the emptiness he'd been feeling after stumbling out of the train that night.

It had not taken him more than two days before turning to drugs to numb his brain, close out the reality and shut down the painful thoughts about his brother. With the drugs had come the difficulties to pay for them, and when the first dealer had suggested paying with his body, he had done it without even thinking about it. His body meant nothing to him; it was just transport. Mycroft had not wanted it, so this man could have it. When the man had penetrated him, he had cringed in pain, but not even that had really bothered him. It hadn’t mattered.

Over the next nearly two years, many men had possessed his body. They had paid him more or less generously, and he had bought drugs and the necessary food for it. He had slept on the streets of Blackchapel and Spit Fields, under bridges or in dark corners, avoiding staying in the same place for too long, and he had waited for the death to finally free him from his pains as for some reason he had not been able to take his own life directly.

And then he had met John Watson.

oOoOo

Sherlock had been searching for a place to sleep. Being totally drugged, he had climbed down the bluff bank of the Beautiful River, and he had slipped and fallen into the water. The water had been cold, and his clothes had pulled him down. And he had been ready to go. He had sunken down to the ground and made his peace, and then a strong hand had grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the water.

One broken soul had saved the life of another one.

John had come home from the Big War a year ago. The Great Kingdom had a professional army, and John had fought for his country for many years. But this time he had returned with a severely damaged right shoulder and a crippled left leg. John was a short man with blond hair and dark-blue eyes; he was muscular and brave and friendly and very, very sad. He received a compensatory payment from the kingdom for his injuries every month, and he lived in a dark, little flat he could hardly afford as he spent most of his pension on numbing his pain and his nightmare-tortured brain with padanum if he could get it or simply painkillers - preferably gulped down with strong alcohol - if he didn’t.

He had offered Sherlock to move in with him into 221B Baker Street and help him paying the rent. Sherlock had not known what to say to this as he had earned his money by stealing it or selling his body, and he had not told John about the latter when the ex-soldier had brought him into his flat and dried him off and given him some warm clothes, but he had expected to be asked for this service in return. It hadn't happened. John had only wanted to help him. His concern and care had reached him in the emptiness and the darkness of his hurt soul. John had saved him from drowning, and due to his handicaps, he had almost died himself when he had hurried into the river to get hold of Sherlock, and Sherlock had felt that he owed him to get his senses back together. He had known he needed to get out of his misery and he needed a job. And the next day, he had found it.

He had searched in the rubbish for something to eat a few streets away from home, and then a scrawny boy had approached him and told him he was a dustman, and he knew that his company was searching for new people. Sherlock had returned to John who had cut his hair and given him a suit that was way too short and too wide for him, but he had gone to the company and the next day, he had taken a pair of garbage tongs and a few bin liners and had started his first real job, and strangely enough, he had rather liked it from the start. Working and taking in all the noises and the details of his environment and getting annoyed by his colleagues had helped him to distract himself without having to take drugs.

And the years had gone by, and his soul had not healed but the pain had become more distant. Nine years ago he had read in an old, crumpled newspaper that his father had passed away, but he had never tried to find out if his brother had in fact married Irene or any other woman to bear him an heir or whatever had happened to him. But in his dreams he returned to him almost every night and there he could touch him and caress him and tell him that he'd never stopped loving him and would never do.

oOoOo

“The horses are all fine, My Lord,” Greg Lestrade - bailiff of Musgrave Hall since eight years after the retirement of his now deceased father - assured Mycroft. “The fire didn't even get close to them.”

Mycroft nodded. “That's a relief. But I want to know who is responsible for it, and I want to know that very quickly.”

“Of course. My people and I are on it already. Whoever it was won't go unpunished, I can assure you.”

“Good. Anything else I need to know?” Mycroft looked at the handsome man with the dark hair and the huge brown eyes questioningly, and he didn't long for a positive answer. It had been a very long day with lots of difficulties, and all he wanted now was getting something to eat and then relax.

“No, My Lord.”

“Fine. Goodnight then.”

“Goodnight.”

Mycroft finally entered the main house after opening up with his key. It was already dark outside and a typically cold winter day, and the house was bright and warm. And still – it had never felt like a home anymore since… He shook the thought off.

“Good evening, My Lord. May I have your umbrella and your coat?” he was greeted by the butler, just like every evening.

Mycroft returned the greeting and handed the umbrella to the young, tall man in the black suit, and after slipping out of his coat, he gave it to him as well and thanked him.

The younger man hung up the coat. “Dinner will be ready in time, My Lord. Will you need me afterwards?”

Mycroft noticed the hopeful tone in which this had been asked and he was a little surprised about the question. “Yes. I'll be in the library.”

“Very well, My Lord.”

Mycroft walked into his chambers to freshen up. He would eat dinner and then relax in the library, his favourite place in his house. An hour later he would retreat into his bedroom to fall asleep and get up seven hours later to start yet another day of fulfilling his duties in the palace.

When he had entered the smaller dining room and sat down at the long table, a door opened and the soup was served by a tiny young woman who smiled politely but didn’t look into his eyes. He didn’t know more about her than her name and he didn’t want to know anything else. He ate alone and in silence, and when he was finished, he was provided with steak, baked potatoes and vegetables. His staff always seemed to know when he had eaten up; he suspected they were having their ears at the door. Not that he minded. He didn't talk to himself or made any disgusting noises. And even if he had done that – he didn't really bother what anybody was thinking about him.

After eating his dessert – a very tasty piece of cake with a lot of chocolate, thank God without a candle sticking in it like last year – he used his tissue and then walked to the library very slowly. He sat down in his armchair, and half a minute later, he was provided with a glass of his favourite drink and he sipped at the brown liquid with a very quiet moan of pleasure. Two big blue eyes looked into his with a questioning look, and he nodded. A moment later his zipper was opened and a warm mouth welcomed his stiffening dick. He leaned his head back, closed his eyes and buried his free hand in thick, auburn hair, and when a tongue circled around his knob expertly and the tip of said tongue was licking out his slit rather greedily, he moaned again almost inaudibly and melted into the hot wetness that surrounded his now achingly hard member. The curly hair in his hand almost felt like… He bit his bottom lip and tried to shush the unwelcome thoughts away. As if that had ever helped…

oOoOo

Tom Littleton would never forget his first meeting with his master more than half a year ago. He had become aware that Lord Holmes of Musgrave Hall was looking for a new head of his male household staff thanks to an ad in the newspaper, and he had gone there two days later to a meeting with the lord; time and day had been mentioned in the ad. Of course he had not been the only one who wanted this position; about fifteen other men had sat in the big room with him, waiting for their turn to introduce themselves to the lord. He had been by far the youngest candidate with his twenty-four years, and among all the distinguished, middle-aged men he had felt a little out of place. He had known this feeling all too well. All his life he had been an outsider as he had been the only gay man in a little township of the Big City. Homosexuality was not illegal, but that didn’t mean people accepted or at least tolerated it. In school his classmates had known he was different and had tortured him with mocking him over years. He was sure that they would have called him littledick if they had not seen that this nickname wasn’t exactly fitting.

His parents had sent him away when they had gotten aware of his immoral condition when he'd been seventeen, and having been a shy and insecure kid, he had never found any real friends he could have turned to. He had been very lonely.

A year later he had received a fine degree from butler's school – as being a butler meant more than serving drinks and opening doors; it meant keeping the staff working perfectly and the house in best shape and organising everything – and had started working for an old woman afterwards. She had treated him like a grandson and he had liked her very much, and when she had passed away, he had been devastated.

He had moved over to a younger couple and had soon found out that the woman of the house was finding him a little too attractive. He had ignored her advances of course as he had no interest whatsoever in women and even if he'd had, he wouldn't have done anything to risk his job, but the husband had noticed it eventually and had offered him a generous amount of money and a perfect testimonial – that he had deserved anyway – if he left the next day; Tom was sure that he hadn't been the first one to attract the attention of his wife.

He had accepted and soon after had begun to work for an old man who had been a doctor before retirement. Everything had been fine until the man had become more and more nasty and dement, and he had even raised his hand against Tom for no reason. Tom could have split him in two, but he had endured his behaviour but had started looking out for another master.

So he had been very keen on becoming the butler of Lord Holmes whom he had known nothing about than the fact that he was working directly for the king, but he had been impressed by the huge property and the beautiful house, and he was dying to move there and work for a man who was apparently very powerful and wealthy.

He had seen one candidate after the other disappearing through the door of the room they had been placed in and come back with hanging shoulders. He had grown more nervous with every minute.

When it had finally been his turn to enter the big room, his gaze had met piercing, ice-blue eyes, and he had felt his jaw drop at the sight in front of him. A tall, handsome, still young man - around ten years older than he was - with hair of the same colour as his own, with a long nose and full lips had sat behind the desk and looked at him. He had asked Tom to tell him something about himself, and Tom had stammered that he was a butler and was capable of making the staff work properly. He had explained that he knew everything a butler should know and that he would give everything to get the job. He had been embarrassed about himself and how needy he had sounded, and the man had stared at him and raised his eyebrows and listened to his clumsy speech without saying a word.

And after Tom had finally shut up, his cheeks flushed and being close to crying, the lord had told him that he had the job and was expected to move into the house the next day. He had signed the contract the lord had handed him with a shivering hand and without even looking at the monthly salary the lord had filled in handwritten while Tom had sat there with glowing cheeks. Only two days later he had realised that it was much more money than a butler usually received.

Tom had never been so euphoric in his life. And when he had been lying in his bed in the old man's house for the last time – he had not told him that he would move out the next morning yet – he had realised that he had instantly fallen in love with the good-looking lord who was clearly gay like he was.

Tom was very tall, slim but muscular with broad shoulders, and he knew that he was not ugly. His eyes were big and long-lashed and the colour was blue with a shade of green, his hair was auburn and very thick, and he had a strong nose and perfect teeth as well as very prominent cheekbones. He had been told often enough that he was handsome by the men he'd been with. And in this night he had fantasised that one day the lord would tell him how attractive he was, too. Right after declaring his love for him.

Two days after moving into his new home, he had served a drink to Lord Holmes in the huge library. He had hardly dared look into his eyes. His employer had not spoken a personal word to him since he had started working for him – of course he, along with the housekeeper, had explained him everything he had to know - and his eyes had expressed some sort of friendly indifference whenever he had met his gaze. Tom had felt like an idiot. Why on earth had he expected anything else? He was a butler, albeit well-paid, nothing more.

He had put the glass onto the table next to him, had bowed and turned to leave when the lord had said: “Wait.”

He had turned around, terrified of his slipping. “Apologies, My Lord. What can I do for you?”

And he had frozen when Lord Holmes had looked into his eyes and then down on his own groin. His long-fingered hand had lain on his thigh, and he had slightly moved his fingers. Tom had not known if he had understood correctly. What if he hadn't? What if Lord Mycroft Holmes had just meant he should take off his shoes? But then he had seen the flicker of insecurity in the other man's eyes and he had known he hadn't misinterpreted the gesture. Very slowly he had closed the distance between them and had dropped down on his knees. He had searched for the lord's look again, just to be absolutely sure, and the handsome man had given him a nod, and his eyes hadn't looked cold but longing, albeit pained, and he had hurried to make the man he desired so much feel as good as he could.

oOoOo

So many times Tom had taken care of the lord's needs now, and still he always shivered when he was allowed to touch him so intimately. He closed his eyes and took him in completely, sucking gently at the rapidly thickening cock. He was hard in his trousers himself, and without a doubt he would silently spill into his pants before he had fulfilled his duty like he did every time. He loved the taste, and the texture and the huge size of the penis he was supposed to suck and the impact he had on his master's body. On the other side it always saddened him that he was not able to touch his soul as well.

He knew why the lord was so sad. Always sad. He never laughed, he hardly ever smiled, and his eyes were either completely emotionless or expressing a deep melancholy.

One day he had entered the lord's chambers when he had known that nobody was on the same floor. The rooms – a big suite on the highest floor - were a forbidden area, along with Sherlock's childhood room. He had been told from the start to never set a foot into any of them. Only one old housemaid was allowed to enter the lord's flat, and only once a month while nobody had the permission to go into Sherlock's chamber. But Tom had just died to see the private rooms of his master and to find out more about him. And Tom had a key that could open every door in this house, and the master's rooms were no exception.

He had stood there for a long time after closing the door behind him. He had stared at the pictures. They were everywhere. Showing his master as a very young man together with an even younger boy. His brother. He had known about Sherlock before of course. How he had disappeared into the night on his sixteenth birthday and had never come back. He had heard the older servants talk about it more than once. Apparently Mycroft Holmes had loved his brother very much and his loss had broken his heart. Tom had also opened the door to Sherlock's room but he hadn’t entered it. It had been full of dust and just been the room of a teenager with pretty strange interests as the dead bees and butterflies in little vitrines had shown. Somehow he had found it rather creepy…

Tom was not stupid. He had seen the similarity between himself and the pictures of the lost brother. He was not dark-haired like him, but he had thick curls and blue-green eyes like him and the same unusual cheekbones. They were not by far looking exactly the same, but they could have passed for brothers, and it hadn't needed a genius to realise that the lord had felt more for his brother than he should have, and that he allowed Tom to get close to him as a substitute.

Of course Tom didn't know if they had been involved in a sexual way. He doubted it. Sherlock had been so young when he had disappeared, and his master was such a decent man. He'd had romantic feelings for his sibling without a doubt, but he had probably never acted on them. And now he regretted that without a doubt…

Tom felt the lord's breathing speed up along with his sucking movements. It wouldn't last much longer, and he grew very nervous. He was supposed to leave the lord alone after serving him like this; the older man would stay seated with closed eyes until Tom had disappeared, but this time he wanted to suggest something to him. And he was so scared of his reaction… But he had planned this for months and he just needed to try it.

The lord bucked up; his seed shot into Tom's mouth, and in the same second he came as well, untouched and suppressing every reaction as he always did. He carefully licked Lord Holmes' dick clean, paying special attention to the red, still dripping slit, lapping over the twitching flesh with now open eyes. Then he stood up and cleared his throat, hoping his master wouldn't see the damp spot on his black trousers.

Mycroft opened his eyes this time, sensing that he had something on his mind, and raised his eyebrows.

Tom almost shut his mouth again, but then he stuttered: “My Lord, if I may…  I mean… Would you perhaps…” He broke off. It was hopeless. The calm and cool look in these eyes just made him act like an imbecile. He bowed and turned to leave. He could feel that his cheeks were on fire.

“What did you want to say?” Mycroft held him back to his surprise. “Just say it.” He didn't sound exactly curious or excited, but at least not hostile either. Even though he never sounded hostile when he talked to Tom. Just… indifferent. But of course Tom had never tried to talk to him like this before.

Tom caught his gaze. “I just meant to suggest… I could… accompany you to your chambers and… make you… feel good in a more… comfortable way...”

Mycroft looked at him thoughtfully. “Mrs Hudson told you which day it is.” He took a sip from his drink without breaking the disconcerting eye-contact.

“Well, yes. Five months ago actually,” Tom admitted. He had asked her about the date very soon after he had come to this house.

“And you still remember it?” Now he sounded surprised.

Tom could have told him a lot about certainly not forgetting the birthday of the man he was so much in love with, but of course he didn't do it. “Yes,” he simply answered.

Mycroft watched him for an uncomfortably long time. Then he nodded to Tom's big surprise. “Meet me in my rooms in fifteen minutes,” he said.

“Oh, thank you, My Lord,” he breathed.

Mycroft gave him a dismissing look, and he hurried out of the library to get into the shower and change his soiled clothes. And he needed to shave again. Because what he longed for most on this evening was… a kiss. And if he was so lucky to get one, he didn't want to scratch this beautiful face.

oOoOo

Greg Lestrade entered the house just to see the lord leaving the library and turning to the stairs without noticing him. He seemed to be deep in his thoughts. He startled when Greg approached him. “My Lord, we got him,” he said and Mycroft stopped.

“Good. Who was it?” His voice was cool as usual, but he had a distracted look in his eyes.

“One of the new grooms, Benny Moaks. He had smoked inside the stable; he actually came to me when I had started interrogating the boys myself. He cried like a baby and apologised thoroughly.” Not that Greg expected this fact to change anything. Lord Mycroft Holmes did not forgive any stupid mistakes, let alone one that could have led to a disaster. He wasn't known for loving any people – except for his estranged brother. But everybody on the property knew that he loved animals, and to endanger the ones he owned was the quickest way to punishment and unemployment.

Mycroft looked at him thoughtfully. “I assume you have told him that he should never do that again?” he asked to Greg's total surprise.

“Well, actually… Yes,” he finished. In fact he had said that their boss would send him away for good right on this evening… Mycroft never got loud, but he was merciless when it came to mistakes of this calibre. Greg could have fired the young guy himself but since he had informed the lord about the incident, he had wanted to wait for his decision.

“Fine. I appreciate this fast solution. Goodnight then.” With this the young lord turned to climb the stairs, and Greg looked after him in disbelief after mumbling a Goodnight, My Lord.

While shaking his head, he walked to the huge kitchen. He had eaten dinner in his own house with his staff members, but in the main house there was only one place to go to find answers to the really important questions (like: why did the Lord not fire a young lad who had almost burnt his stables down?) or if one liked to have a piece of the most delicious cake in the world or just talk to someone as witty as they were friendly. Everybody loved Mrs Hudson. She was simply the heart of the house and everything that belonged to Musgrave. She was much more than the cook and the housekeeper - she was the person everybody turned to. Except for the lord, that was. He didn't turn to anybody. There was only one person he allowed to be close to him, and only in a physical way, and that was his butler. It was an open secret, and when Greg had learned about it at first, he had been stunned.

He and Mycroft were almost the same age – Greg was one year older – and both of them were homosexual and single, and they had spent a lot of time together in the old days when both of them had been learning everything about the profession they would take over from their fathers. And not once had Mycroft suggested sharing a sexual experience. Greg had thought it was because Mycroft was the future lord and he the bailiff's son or because he was not interested in sexual activities or he didn’t find him attractive, or because… he desired someone else. It had not exactly broken his heart as he had never been in love with the rather stiff and cold young man. Of course - it would have been nice and he wouldn't have said no… Mycroft was very attractive, then and now. But it had never happened.

And now he allowed his butler to satisfy his sexual needs apparently without bothering at all about the difference in status. Of course Greg knew why. Tom didn't look exactly like Sherlock, but nobody could deny a certain similarity.

Nobody of the staff had ever spoken it out loud in his presence. He would have admonished them to stay silent anyway. But Greg had a theory why Sherlock had left Musgrave never to return even though the brothers had been so close. Greg had witnessed them together often enough to know how much they had loved one another. There was only one explanation for the tragedy and it had always made his heart heavy, not out of disgust but out of sympathy. Of course he had never mentioned it to Mycroft.

“Hello, Martha,” he said after entering the kitchen. The old woman always spent her evenings in her beloved kitchen, even when everything was done and prepared for the next day. The room was just so homely and Greg’s favourite place in this house by far.

“Hello, Greg. Do you want some hot chocolate? I was just about to drink a cup and I made way too much.”

“I won't say no.” He sat down at the table and watched her fill the cups. “Thank you. It seems you really made a lot. Expected someone to show up and need some?” He did have his suspicions… He sipped at the hot liquid and rolled his eyes in pleasure.

The old woman sat down opposite of him and warmed her hands on her cup. “Actually yes. But he won't come I guess. I heard him leave the library and he directly hurried upstairs.” She didn’t mention who she was talking about. Greg knew it anyway. And it sort of explained Mycroft's forgiving mood towards the man who had almost killed his beloved horses. Even though it still surprised him.

“The lord just did the same. It's his birthday, isn't it?” He knew the date as he didn't forget anything. But this event was never in any way acknowledged in this house. The lord just didn’t want that. And on Sherlock's birthday, he used to come home from work and go straight up to his chambers… and he probably drank himself into oblivion then… In the end it wasn’t only his lost brother's birthday but also the anniversary of his disappearance.

“Yes. And Tom had planned for a long time to make it a special one for him.”

Greg wasn’t surprised that Tom had confided in her and had told her about it. “He will just break his heart, Martha. Nobody comes close to him. He does allow him to… take care of him, but he'll never return Tom's feelings.” He didn’t add: because they will always belong to someone else.

He didn't have to. Martha Hudson was the only person he had ever spoken with about the relationship of the brothers after Sherlock's disappearance. She had looked at him with sad eyes when he had carefully suggested that it had probably been not that brotherly, just to add that it wasn't their business. She had patted his hand and said that she knew that they had loved each other so much that it had to lead down that path eventually, and then she had changed the subject, and they had never mentioned it again.

But since Martha had been so open now about Tom's feelings, he didn't see a reason to keep quiet, either. He knew whatever he said would stay between the two of them. There was nobody in this world he trusted more than her, and he had known her all his life. After his mother's death, she had been his biggest comfort.

“I know, and I told him,” the old lady admitted. “He is aware of it. But he's young and he's in love. And who knows… maybe a miracle can happen.”

“What do you think - is Sherlock still alive?” Greg asked quietly.

Her face darkened. “I don't know. I hope it so much. I hope he is happy, wherever he is. And I hope so much he'll come back one day. But I doubt it. He left me a note, you know?”

Greg stared at her. “He did? You never told that anybody, did you?”

“No. His father was so mad at him for running away and didn't even look for him, and his brother… We both know he was the reason for it, and it hurt him so much.” It was the first time that she spoke it out.

“Do you think… something happened between them?” Greg asked very quietly.

She shook her head with a sad smile. “I'm sure Sherlock wanted it to happen, and Mycroft rejected him. He just had to, no matter how much he wanted it himself.”

They were silent for a while. Greg didn’t even want to imagine how both brothers must have felt. For sure it had destroyed Mycroft's soul. He was functioning, he was a better lord than his father, but inside he was more dead than alive. And God knew what it had done to Sherlock… “What did the note say?” he finally asked.

“He just wrote that he was sorry and that he couldn't stay as his brother hated him and that he was…” she started sobbing and pulled out a tissue, “…worthless and disgusting…”

“The poor, sad boy…” Greg mumbled and laid a hand onto her arm.

“They both were so sad. And in the lord's case, he still is. I hope Tom can bring him some comfort tonight.”

Greg nodded and drank up his now not so hot chocolate. He just hoped Tom would not break down for being humiliated by the unhappy lord. He felt so sorry for Lord Holmes and his brother, and he was concerned about the young man that was so in love with Mycroft. He was a very good butler, and a very nice soul as it seemed. Greg cared deeply for him just as he cared for all the young men in his staff. To him they were all like sons, and he didn't want any of them to suffer.

Then Martha suggested to have a piece of the cake with her that she had baked for Mycroft's birthday, and he shook off the thoughts that led nowhere and gladly accepted the offer, and their conversation moved to lighter subjects. But in the back of his mind he wondered what might go on upstairs and how both the lord and his butler would be feeling afterwards.

oOoOo

Tom knocked at the door exactly fifteen minutes after they had parted in the library. He had washed himself harder than ever before and shaved his already clean shaven face again. His hair was still a little damp and on the top of his head it would probably develop into a wild mop of auburn curls when it was dry, but he couldn't do anything about that. And he was rather sure his master wouldn't mind…

“Yes,” he heard the quiet voice of the lord, and he opened the door and their eyes met. Mycroft was sitting in the living room before his bedroom, dressed in plain black trousers and a grey shirt, and Tom saw at once that the pictures were gone. Of course Mycroft couldn't know that he had seen them already, but he figured in the same second that the flicker of his eyes towards the table and the wall had given him away. He saw the lord narrowing his eyes and expected to be sent away at once, but Mycroft surprised him by just leaning back in his armchair. “Shut the door, would you?” he said softly, his face calm and his eyes cautious.

“Yes, My Lord.” He did as he was told and then he came closer. He was so nervous that his heart was hammering in his chest; probably it was loud enough that the lord could hear it. He had a plan how to start this evening, but he didn't know if he should suggest it or leave the first step to Lord Holmes.

“What's that?” Mycroft asked him, looking at the bottle he had brought.

He cleared his throat. “I thought… I could give you a massage, My Lord. This would make it smoother.”

Mycroft looked at him for a moment. Then he nodded. “On my bed?” he said quietly, and Tom almost fainted.

“That… would be good,” he stammered. “We'll need to cover it with some towels.”

“In the bathroom,” Mycroft said and walked into his bedroom.

Tom hurried to fetch two big, white towels and he followed him into the bedroom and put them over the precious linen.

Mycroft was leaning against the wall and watching him. Tom tried to read his expression, but it was impossible. He had no idea what would happen after the massage or if he was supposed to undress his master before.

Mycroft finally grabbed his tie and gave him an expectant look. Tom joined him at once and freed him of the tie and his sleeve garters and unbuttoned his shirt. He was naked under it, and Tom had to keep from drooling when he uncovered pale, freckled skin with big, light-pink nipples and a small amount of light-red hair between them. Otherwise his upper body was smooth like his own. He gently pulled the shirt out of the trousers and slipped it off his body, and Mycroft opened his trouser button while he was neatly draping it over a chair. The zipper was undone as well by the lord's long, elegant fingers and then he stepped out of his trousers and pants and removed his black socks.

Tom had never seen him naked; he had only ever seen his dick, even his balls had stayed covered by his trousers. To say that he liked what he was seeing would have been a joke. The lord was tall, exactly as tall as Tom actually, and he was slim; his legs were trained and shaped from riding, and when he turned to the side to put his trousers on the chair himself, Tom could see his butt which was round and muscular. His stomach was flat and the balls under his big penis were round and taut and rosy, and they were crying for being sucked into his mouth.

He realised that he had stared at his naked master for way too long, and his cheeks flushed even harder than they had already done before. But he caught the lord's gaze, and was surprised by the look in his eyes. He looked… not quite touched but not indifferent either. He couldn't have missed Tom's enthusiasm about seeing his body and how much he admired and desired it, and it seemed to make him feel appreciated.

Mycroft stalked to the bed and then he climbed onto it and lay down on his stomach. No word had been spoken in the last couple of minutes.

Tom didn't know if he was supposed to undress as well, but he figured that he had to get rid of his trousers so the fabric wouldn't scratch Mycroft's legs, and to take off his shirt as well to not look like a complete idiot. But he would leave his pants on. Not that they could cover his erection completely, but he would not rub his naked, hard dick against the lord's legs. Not without him asking for it.

oOoOo

Mycroft closed his eyes and enjoyed the two big, deft hands sliding over his back, kneading the hard muscles in his shoulders, sliding over his sides and his upper arms. He could hear Tom breathe fast, and he could feel his erection through the soft, silky material of his pants, pushing against his arse or the back of his thighs from time to time. And he felt himself relaxing in a way that was totally unknown to him.

All he did all day, every day, was functioning. He had a huge property to take care of, of course with the main work being done by Greg Lestrade and his staff, but all land and people and animals and buildings were his responsibility, and he had a country to run behind closed doors; he had to contain a king that was unpredictable, illogical and ill-tempered, and a Ladyship that was dumb, superstitious and unbearable, and he could not let it slide for even a second. He was always on duty, except for the short time he allowed himself to rest. But he never felt really calm. Whenever his brain was not busy thinking of solutions for problems of national importance, he was thinking of his brother. There had not been a single day when he had not missed him, when he had not regretted his actions on this forsaken day.

He would never forgive himself. They could be together now. Their father was dead, Mycroft was the lord, and Sherlock could live with him; he was his brother – he could be living a door away from him and they could be spending every night together. Perhaps the maids would chat about it but none of them would dare give them away. Why had he been such a coward? He had been young and inexperienced, but he had known that he loved Sherlock in a non-brotherly way and all he would have had to do was telling him to wait until their father had passed away. And even under the eyes of their most of the time absent father they could have had been together. His failure was epic.

He had tried to find Sherlock. He had secretly sent men out to search for him, but none of them had ever found a trace. What if he had killed himself this night – drowning in a river, jumping from a cliff? Under the right circumstances, his body would have stayed hidden forever.

It killed him. It killed him to not know what had happened to him. Even if Sherlock would never want him to see him anymore now, Mycroft would have been happy to know that he was alive and living a life that was bringing him joy and meaning, that somebody was caring for him… To not know if he was dead or alive was the worst.

He had thought of bringing on notes all throughout the Big City, because if his brother was alive, he would in all probability be there. But then he had thought that it didn't make any sense. He couldn't write on them that he loved Sherlock the same way, and everything else was pointless. Sherlock knew where he lived and if he had wanted to return, he would have done it. But Mycroft knew he would miss him every single remaining day of his life, and he would one day die with his name on his lips.

He could feel Tom's hands getting slower in massaging him, and he said: “Stop now. Get off.”

Tom slid off of his legs and let himself fall onto the bed next to him. Their eyes met, and Mycroft looked over the muscular, long-limbed body with the ripped stomach, almost completely hairless and very beautiful. His pants were revealing a large bulge, and Mycroft surprised himself by wondering how he was looking down there.

There had been other men. Never in this house though. But ironically enough, his sexuality had woken up after he had lost the man he loved. He had taken to use the services of men who were paid for pleasing him after finishing working in the palace and before coming home. It happened very rarely but sometimes he just needed it, and he always thought of Sherlock when he used some random guy. He had never kissed anyone since Sherlock and he had hardly touched another man's body though, nor had he allowed them to touch him more than necessary. He had topped several men though, and he wanted to do that now, too.

He remembered the day almost seven months ago when he had been searching for a substitute for the old and pretty unbearable butler Robert Frankland, whom he had convinced to finally retire.

Tom had entered the room, obviously feeling impossibly nervous and bubbling away. Like all the candidates Mycroft had rejected before him without really knowing why, he'd had perfect testimonials, both from butler's school and two employers, even though Mycroft had thought that the second one had sounded a little fishy. The handsome young man had reminded him of Sherlock in his appearance, but he had clearly been a completely different character. Mycroft had known very soon after Tom had sat down before his desk that he wanted him to satisfy him; he had also seen that Tom had instantly fallen in love with him, which had happened to him for the first time. Except for Sherlock, of course… He had rather coldly thought that this was serving him pretty well; it would assure that the young man would do a very good job in both keeping his staff under control and pleasing him sexually. It was as if he had subconsciously known that the perfect candidate would show up at the very end. He had definitely not gone into the interviews with the plan of finding a man for sex but in Tom Littleton he had found the total package…

He knew he would never return Tom's feelings, but he was sort of fond of the younger man even though he never showed this to him. The handsome butler was very loyal and devoted to him, willing to make him feel good without ever getting anything back but a silent climax into his pants while pleasing him, but tonight Mycroft would give him a little bit more - albeit only physical - closeness as this was what he needed now himself, and he had only realised this when Tom had offered it to him. He had expected another lonely evening, ignoring his silly birthday with a huge glass of whiskey and staring into nothingness. But Tom's suggestion had reached him in a way, and he was glad and surprised about himself as he had responded positively to it.

So he reached out and embraced the slim waist and pulled him closer, and he closed his eyes when Tom kissed his neck and his lips moved up to his ear and gently pulled at the earlobe. He shuddered under these intimate caresses that nobody had ever given him before, but he had to admit they did feel good.

Mycroft slipped off the pants Tom was still wearing with the butler's help, and he grabbed the firm cheek he had revealed, and let the tip of his middle finger slide into the hot, smooth crack. Tom moaned quietly and Mycroft could feel his cock jump to attention. He wanted to possess him now.

Mycroft had seen that his butler had put the bottle with the massage fluid on the nightstand, and he took it and squeezed something onto his palm. Then he got on his knees and lubed his erect dick up. “Get on your back, and move up your legs.”

The picture was highly stimulating: a beautiful, slim, well-trained, tall man holding his long legs apart with his hands, a pillow under his arse, revealing his hard, long, thick, glistening penis and blood-filled, hairless balls and an inviting pink hole under them, and Mycroft longed to be inside him very much all at once. He wetted the wrinkled flesh with the sticky fluid and worked first one and then two fingers in rather impatiently, and when Tom's entrance seemed to be loose enough, he let the wide head of his dick push against it. He was well aware that he was hung very big and he was careful, but he could see that he was hurting him when he pushed the knob in, and he held still to give the young man time to get adjusted to him, but then Tom slung his arms around his neck and lowered his feet onto Mycroft's butt and urged him to get in deeper. Mycroft obeyed and started to thrust into him, and then he lowered his body on Tom's, resting on his elbows next to his upper body. He was facing Tom and they looked into each other's eyes, but he didn’t kiss his mouth but buried his face against his neck and could feel his lips on his cheek.

Tom's arms were holding him close and his taste and his smell were arousing to say the least but all Mycroft could think of while he was pumping into him was his brother, and he wondered for the millionth time what had happened to him… and if he would ever see him again… And he thought that it should have been Sherlock he was buried in and made love to…

And when the climax shot through his body, along with the seed he was spilling into the man under him came the tears he had suppressed for so many years, and he heard whispered words of comfort but all he wanted was his brother, and when he had calmed down, he stroked over auburn curls and let his thumb run over soft lips and said he wanted to be left alone, and he fell into a restless slumber and woke up at five in the morning, covered in sweat and tears, from dreaming about Sherlock, and in his dream he had told his little brother that he loved him over and over to get nothing but a withering look and a hissed too late, coward.

Chapter Text

“Here, catch it!”

Sherlock whirled around but he wasn’t fast enough. The rotten cabbage exploded on his chest and fell onto his feet in pieces. “Thanks very much, Chris!” he hissed and removed the stinking, green remainders from his shirt and shook them off his shoes.

“Oh, come on. You haven’t even smiled once today.” The huge blond man with the piercing blue eyes made a funny grimace and helped Sherlock cleaning himself up.

Sherlock just rolled his eyes. As much as he liked his friend: giving in would only encourage Chris to play more pranks. He didn’t have any interest in being the target again.

“Not everybody is fond of your childish attempts at cheering people up,” Mike mumbled. He probably thought of the morning when Chris had taken his glasses away and put them on the crumbling head of the Monger War Statue, too high for him to catch it. He had been in hysterics until Chris had given them back to him. Glasses were very expensive and Mike couldn’t have afforded to buy new ones if they had been broken. Chris was not mean at all, but sometimes he just didn’t use his brain…

“You guys are no fun. What do you say, Phil?” Chris pouted, and Sherlock had to admit it looked kind of cute on his extremely attractive face. He was the only good-looking one of his colleagues… Not that Sherlock really cared about that but he wasn’t blind.

“Huh? Did you know that it's not the same time everywhere in the world?” The man with the greasy brown hair and the ugly beard looked up from the crumpled page of a newspaper he had stared at.

Mike and Sherlock sighed simultaneously, and Chris narrowed his eyes. “No? You mean in some places it's four o'clock now?”

“Yes! And in other places it may be evening!”

Sherlock just blanked their nerve-wracking conversation out and emptied the next bin. It was almost eleven, and the streets were full of people now. Three more streets and he could go home and sleep a bit if John wasn’t in a bad state and needed comfort or medicine.

They'd had been a team for four years now - Sherlock (to everybody known as Billy) and his colleagues Phil Anderson, Mike Stamford and Chris Webber.

Thirty-two year old Phil and Chris – twenty-seven like Sherlock - had always worked as dustmen and would probably always do; both had come from different parts of the Big City into Sherlock's division. Phil was not very smart to put it nicely, but Chris had just broken off school because it hadn't interested him; he was not dumb but totally uneducated. He was a severely nice guy and Sherlock had taken to like him very quickly, no matter how annoying he could be. He didn't have any interest in the man who was already a father, but he had to admit he was easy on the eyes with his pretty face and his muscular body that almost burst the black uniform they all had to wear. Mike, who was a lot older than the other three, had been a teacher who had lost his job under rather dubious circumstances and had not found another position that fitted his intelligence better, and to earn money he did a job way below his abilities. He had asked Sherlock many times why he didn’t study, too. Sherlock had first said that he wasn’t interested in learning anything, and finally he had told him to shut up about it.

Learning belonged to the life he'd had. A life where he'd been a rich little boy with a big brother who meant the world to him. And even if he'd wanted to go to university, he couldn’t have done it as he didn't have any papers and lived under a false name; it was a conglomerate of two of his first names but still not his official name. The company he worked for hadn't given a damn about seeing papers, and that's how he needed it to be. He was fine with being a dustman. It was what he deserved and it was satisfying in a way to clean up something when he wasn't able to clean up his own life.

“Hey, Billy!”

He turned around and lifted his free hand to protect his face, but nothing was flying towards him. “Yes, Chris?”

“What's a bitch without a cunt?” Chris was grinning from ear to ear.

Sherlock sighed deeply. “Something I don't give a fuck for…” That was true for any woman at all actually…

“Oh, you knew the joke already!”

oOoOo

Sherlock heard voices from the small living room when he entered the flat he was sharing with John Watson. He sighed. All he wanted to do now was taking a bath and a nap and then sharing the food he had brought with John. But now he would have to cope with Molly Hooper… She worked as a cleaning woman in the nearby hospital and lived in the flat next to theirs since three years. And she had been desperately in love with Sherlock from day one… It wasn’t that he hated her – she was a good soul. But he so didn’t need her longing looks…

“Hello,” he said when he entered the messy living room.

“Hello, Billy,” Molly said and blushed.

John lifted his good hand. “Hi. Had a good morning?”

Sherlock saw at once that John was not having a good day. His face was sweaty and he was shivering, which meant that a) he was in very strong pains, b) the painkillers were not strong enough to ease it and c) he didn't have any panadum left. And Sherlock had no money to buy any. The rent had to be paid in three days, and Sherlock already feared the money wouldn’t last until then. He was mentally preparing for servicing Jim Moriarty once more; he had never told John or Molly about this little secret. He had no idea what John thought about how he was paying the rent when he had spent most of his part of it for drugs. They never spoke about it. John gave him what he had, and Sherlock tried to get the rest together, but more often than not it wasn't enough. In fact Jim was not at all disappointed if he couldn't pay all of it or not in time… He liked to demand a different sort of payment or deposit… Sometimes he said it was fine for the month; sometimes he still wanted the rest of the money a few days later. And it completely depended on his mood if he was really mean or just a little mean to Sherlock while he made up for it or if he demanded some sort of attention even if Sherlock was able to pay everything for a change… The man was unpredictable. Sherlock had never feared anyone in his life, but he was shit-scared of this not in the least unattractive man. Somehow the fact that he was so handsome made it all even worse.

“It was okay,” he answered John's question. He put the paper bag with the pasta on the table. “Our lunch.” He had found it in a bin actually. Hardly touched and totally okay if one was not too picky. And neither of them could afford to be picky.

“Oh, that smells good, thank you.”

John avoided calling him by any name. When they had been living together for a couple of months, Sherlock had – after drinking with him for hours - told him his real name and what had happened at Musgrave Hall, including his sick feelings for his own brother. John had been terrified, not by Sherlock's misguided emotions but by his loss, and he had asked if he was sure that he couldn't go back home. He hates me, Sherlock had answered while tears had been streaming down his cheeks. I can never go back. John was the only one who knew it, and Sherlock knew he could trust him unconditionally. But John was afraid to accidentally use his real name when Molly was there – which she was quite often – so he didn't say any name at all when he talked to Sherlock.

“I don't have enough for three,” he told Molly apologetically.

“Oh, that's fine, I don't need anything. I had the early shift and ate at the hospital.”

Sherlock glanced at her skeleton-like body. Molly earned almost nothing in her job and had even less money than him as she had to pay her rent all alone, and it was almost as much as Sherlock and John owed Jim every month. And all she ever got to eat at the hospital were the leftovers from the plates that the nurses had put on the corridor. And she took half of it home to feed her cat with it. Sherlock thought of the delicious and big meals he had grown up with, of the chocolate cakes and the fried potatoes and the steaks, all of it prepared by Mrs Hudson. He missed her so much, not only her great meals but her compassion and her friendliness… He missed her almost as much as Mycroft… And it was hurting him so much to know that he would never see his brother and her again…

“You look sad,” Molly stated and watched him with her huge, round eyes.

“I'm fine,” Sherlock mumbled. “But I need a bath and something to eat.”

“Well, I better leave now,” she said quietly; her tone saying that she wanted Sherlock to hold her back.

“Have a good day,” he said instead. She was a friend, but her neediness and her never-ending feelings for him that he would just never reciprocate were stressing him.

After a quiet goodbye she left, and Sherlock went to get clean and then have a meal and finally relax after a day of dealing with other people's dirt.

oOoOo

“Good morning, folks,” Greg said when he entered the kitchen. “Do you have a cup of coffee left for me?”

His question was directed at Mrs Hudson, but he was looking at Tom. The butler was sitting at the kitchen table with his long, thin fingers wrapped around a blue cup. He looked as if he hadn't slept very much. He smiled at Greg but it looked sad.

“Of course I do,” the housekeeper assured him and provided him with deliciously smelling, hot coffee. He took it with a smile and sat down next to Tom.

“Thank you, Martha. And – everything's fine in the house today?”

Tom nodded. “Yes, everything's under control. How about this fire? Did you find the guilty one?”

“Oh yes, yesterday evening.”

“So he spent the night on the street already,” Tom concluded and took a sip of his coffee.

“Actually no. The lord just told me to let him know to not smoke in the barn again.”

“What?” Tom looked at him with pure disbelief.

“Yeah. It seems he was in a rather good mood when I told him. He was about to go upstairs after dinner.”

Tom's face darkened but he didn't say anything. Greg looked over to Mrs Hudson who gave him a sad shrug.

Greg and Tom did talk about a lot of subjects during the days. Their jobs were completing each other. Greg was in charge of everything regarding the huge property, with the crop and the horses and the machines and all the different buildings, and Tom had to make sure everything went fine inside the main house but there were overlaps. They did work hand in hand at a lot of times – not literally.

And Greg got along with Tom so much better than he had done with the old butler Robert Frankland – Mr Frankland for everybody; he had never really accepted Greg when he had followed his father in his profession. The stiff old man had moved in with his daughter and her family in the Big City seven months ago, and he sometimes dropped by to greet everybody – or probably rather to see that the house was falling apart now that he wasn't on duty anymore. Which it didn’t of course… To Tom he was arrogant and condescending to say the least, but Tom always just smiled and thanked him for his advice.

He was such a nice guy and Greg liked him a lot. But they had never really come to talking about more personal things. Tom seemed to confide more in Mrs Hudson, and Greg didn’t blame him at all – she was the best. But he did want to help the young man, and perhaps he could offer him a different perspective as he was a homosexual man himself.

Martha seemed to sense that he wanted to talk to the butler alone, because she said that it was about time for her to have a look at the maid that had called in sick this morning. She was not only the cook and the housekeeper but the mistress over all the female staff members. A minute later she left the kitchen with a meaningful look at Greg.

“So…,” he started when he was alone with the butler, not feeling overly comfortable with the subject but knowing he had to bring it up as Tom would never do it. “You spent some time at the lord's chambers yesterday.” His voice was very quiet.

Tom gave him a wry smile but he didn’t seem to be offended. “Martha told you about my plan? Well, it didn't really work.”

“But… you did get to… get a little closer to him than usual.” It was very clear that he had. And that it hadn’t turned out too well, just as Greg had feared.

“It was not my plan to get fucked and sent away because he would feel bad afterwards! This wasn’t about me! I don't mind that he didn't take care of my boner or that he didn’t kiss me. But he cried when he came – can you imagine?” He sounded totally desperate, Greg realised, and the tone went straight to his heart. He was surprised that Tom was speaking so openly to him, but he appreciated it. “I wanted to make him feel better on his birthday and not remind him of what he can't have.”

Tears were glistening in his eyes, and Greg reached out to lay a hand on his arm. “I'm sure he knows what you wanted. He's not a monster - he's just very unhappy and very hurt. It seems it just doesn't heal. Probably it will never do. But perhaps… you did open a door and he will ask you to give him some comfort again – not just sucking him off in the library…”

“Oh, man, does everybody know it?”

“Well, it's hard to hide in such a house and it seems it has been going on for quite a while. People are always talking. And nobody minds. And you did make him happy enough with your offer that he showed his forgiving side to this unlucky young man who will probably never touch a cigarette again in his life. So you did have some impact on him, even before it really happened.” Or perhaps it had been the aftermath of the orgasm the lord had experienced in the library already…. Who could know that. In any way it was certainly because of Tom.

“You really think so?” Tom shot him a hopeful glance. He smiled sadly. “I know damn well he'll never fall in love with me. I'm so far below him in every way that I can call myself very lucky that he's ever noticed me in a sexual way. Well, I know that I look pretty similar to the one he really loves.”

“Did he mention him to you?” Greg asked carefully.

“Oh, of course not. We hardly spoke a word with each other. And when I take care of him in the library, he never talks at all. But I went into his rooms when nobody was around, and there were pictures of them everywhere. He took them off when I came yesterday, but he caught me looking for them. I was surprised he didn't kick me out of the house at once.”

Greg was, too. He had suspected that there were pictures of Sherlock in Mycroft's private rooms as he only allowed one maid to enter it, certainly after removing them as well before. He would have expected Mycroft to punish Tom for spying. Was the lord really starting to open up to him? It would explain the tears Mycroft had shed…

“He'll never want me; we both know that.” Tom seemed to have read his thoughts. “He just felt pretty bad yesterday and that made him a little more emotional. Not as much as an Iceman as he usually is.”

Iceman… This was a very good description for the lord, Greg thought. “But he… doesn’t manhandle you when you are together?”

“Of course not. He doesn't speak, he hardly makes any noise, and he even touches my hair when I… I think it reminds him of Sherlock's curls when he closes his eyes…”

Yes, Sherlock had indeed had thick, curly hair like Tom, albeit quite a bit longer and black instead of reddish.

“I still think you are touching his soul at least slightly, Tom. So if you see a chance in repeating what you did last night, don't miss it.”

“I made the first step yesterday, but I can't do it again,” Tom said with a shake of his head. “If he asks me to visit him, I'll of course do it and do all I can to make him feel good. I… I love him.” He blushed when he said it, and Greg felt deeply sorry for him.

“Don't let him break your heart, kid. In all probability he'll never return your feelings, but you said this yourself. Try to accept him as he is, and enjoy what he gives you.Even if it's just a quick fuck and a goodnight afterwards…

“He touched my hair and my face when he told me to leave him alone,” Tom whispered. “It felt so great… I'll take whatever he wants to give me. I would give him everything. But I can't give him what he wants the most. I can't be him…”

“No, you can't,” Greg said when he stood up to return to his duties. “But what you are is just great. Don't let him take this away from you. Protect your soul when he's hurting you. Even though I know him well enough to be sure he won't hurt you on purpose.”

“No, he certainly won't do that. But I guess one-sided love is the most painful feeling in the world,” Tom mumbled. “Thanks for listening and your advice, Greg. And I guess I don't have to tell you that this needs to stay between the two of us.”

“Of course not. I'll never say anything. And you can come to me anytime, Tom. Whatever happens, you can always talk to me.”

“Thank you, Greg, I totally appreciate it.”

They smiled at each other, and then they both went back to work.

oOoOo

Sherlock picked up some rubbish that had been thrown next to the bin. After all these years as a dustman it still amazed him that people – especially people in this wealthy part of the Big City – were not able to place their rubbish where it belonged.

He emptied the bin and was about to walk to the next one when he heard a voice behind him. A young voice, sounding educated – and totally nasty.

“Oh, look at him. A skeleton in a dustman-uniform. Hey, I have an apple here, only half-eaten. Do you want it?”

Sherlock ignored him and walked straight to the bin.

“Hey, my friend is talking to you,” came the second voice in the same posh accent. These were no homeless, violent teenagers. They were rich teenagers with too much time and no respect for other people.

“Yes, skeleton, my friends are talking to you!”

Oh, great, a third one and so original… Sherlock took care of the rubbish and then he turned around. He saw three guys around sixteen or seventeen years old, all of them muscular and trained. And the one in the middle, the one who had offered him the apple, looked as if he was searching for trouble. Physical trouble… Well, they wouldn't get it, at least not from him.

He turned to the boy next to him, certainly number three. “Your mother has an affair.”

“What? What are you talking about?” His voice had an ugly, high, hysterical tone now.

“She's sleeping with his father.” Sherlock pointed at number two, a redhead with white eyebrows.

“He's just talking shit,” he protested while blushing severely.

“Oh, you're right,” Sherlock said with an apologetic shrug. “My bad. She's sleeping with you.”

“What?! Ben?!”

“No! He can't… I mean…”

The one in the middle – the only handsome one of them with chocolate brown curls and full lips - looked as if he didn't know if he should laugh or vomit. But then he turned to Sherlock. “What are you – a fortune teller?”

“No. If I was one, I would tell you that you'll soon meet a tall, dark, handsome man who will fuck you senseless. But you've found him already, haven’t you? Your mathematics teacher?”

“Mr Plummer?!” the other two screamed simultaneously, and the pretty boy looked as if he was about to pass out.

“No, shit, I don't fuck with him!”

“But I saw you getting out of his car, Brandon! You said he'd just shown you some books!”

“Looks he showed you something else instead!”

Sherlock smiled and went over to the next bin, leaving them to their increasingly loud argument, when he saw Chris standing next to it.

“Holy shit, Billy!” the huge blond said, sounding totally impressed. “How could you know all these things? Were they really true?!”

Sherlock shrugged. “They were. And… I've learned that long ago.” My brother taught me. He was so proud when I got something right. Before he started to hate me…

“You know – I was about to come over and tell them to shut up or they'd meet my fist,” Chris said. “You know I say one word and folks are running away. But seems it wasn't necessary.”

“Thank you, Chris. Sometimes words can hurt more than punches.” Believe me - nobody knows that better than me… Sherlock emptied the bin. “We're done here. Let's go.”

oOoOo

Mycroft desperately tried to calm down when he was finally sitting on the backseat of his car late that evening. It had been a hellish day.

The king had remarried two years ago. The late queen had been a quiet, reasonable, intelligent woman with a strong moral complex who hadn't been asked if she wanted to marry a much older, choleric king who had not even half a brain. Their marriage had certainly not been very happy, and it hadn't helped that she had only given birth to one child, which was above all a girl. But at least she had had enough good influence on her husband to prevent the kingdom of falling into doom.

That was way more than could be said about King Edwin's second wife. Lady Elizabeth Smallwood was a bitch. There was no other suitable word for it. She was crazy and nasty and the biggest plague Mycroft could imagine. She believed in fortune tellers and charlatans, she was letting the moon directing her life, and she took everything personally. And the prince of Blance had insulted her, or so she was thinking, and she wanted him to be punished. Only that one could not just punish a member of the royal family of another country, let alone one your country was friends with. But now the king was speaking of war, and this was the very last thing this kingdom needed. There had not been a war since the Big War had ended twelve years ago – a fact that had to do with both his father's and his own work as the counsellor of the king -  and there was no way Mycroft would allow another one to break out over the sensibilities of a stupid, useless woman…

So he had spent all day with trying to calm down the king and Her Ladyship, and he had begged the prince on the phone to apologise heartily for his slippery while his two secretaries had been listening with wide eyes. In the end Lady Elizabeth had gotten her apology but he was not sure that this was the end of it. And if it wasn't this, it was something else. His job had become increasingly difficult since the lady was living in the palace. Soon Princess Anthea would return from university, and she had the genes of her mother so hopefully her influence on her father would be bigger than the one of her stepmother. Mycroft could only hope for it, and so could this kingdom…

He dozed off when the black car was bringing him home, and when the driver, Paul Dimmock, stopped it and opened the door for him, he climbed out, feeling sleepy and dazed.

He bade the man goodnight and walked up to the house. Everything was quiet, and Greg Lestrade didn't come to tell him about another almost-disaster which he was very grateful for. He didn't know how he would have dealt with it tonight. He still wondered about his friendly reaction the evening before…

The door opened up before he could insert his key. “Good evening, My Lord,” Tom greeted him with perfect politeness and a genuine smile, and Mycroft handed him his umbrella and his coat after greeting him as well.

“I'll go to bed right after dinner,” he said, and a flicker of sadness ghosted over Tom's face.

But he just said: “Very well, My Lord. Dinner is ready,” and all Mycroft saw in his eyes was a deep affection and suppressed longing, no exasperation or disappointment.

Mycroft was feeling not only exhausted but very tense all at once. He cleared his throat and his voice didn't sound quite as usual when he said: “I suppose I'll require your… special library services tomorrow evening. I should be at home sooner then.” If the forsaken lady and the mental king didn't find another reason to threaten innocent countries with starting wars…

He could see Tom's face lighten up even though he tried to hide it. “It will be an honour for me, My Lord,” he said softly.

Mycroft swallowed. Something had changed between them the night before. From the beginning of Tom’s work for him, the butler had served him a few times a week by giving head to him, but the real sex they'd had with each other had been something different. And still Mycroft knew they would never get together. This man was handsome - very much so – as well as young, kind, smart, very competent and totally in love with him. And that Tom Littleton was his butler didn't bother him in the least. If he could just return his feelings, he wouldn't give a damn about what people were thinking about him having a liaison with him. This wasn't what was making it impossible…

Eleven years… Eleven years without a sign of his brother. Perhaps he was dead for years, and if he wasn't, he would have forgotten about him long ago. And still Mycroft couldn't move on. He wanted Sherlock and nobody else. Tom would get his body, but he would never get his heart.

He went upstairs to freshen up for dinner, and his legs were heavy, his brain was tired and his heart was bleeding.

oOoOo

Tom watched him leaving, and his heart was feeling sore, not because of having been rejected for this night but out of a deep sympathy. He would give everything for making his master happy again because he realised more and more how deeply he was in love with him. But he knew he couldn’t give him what he really needed so all he could do was bestowing him physical pleasure whenever the lord would let him. And that the lord had announced that he would need him the next evening had made his heart jump. He had never done that before. The previous night had changed something between them. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking, but apparently the lord did not regret having let Tom get closer to him or having let his shields down like this.

He wouldn't get up his hopes too high though. In all probability they would return to silent blow jobs again. But whenever the beautiful lord would want to have him in his bed again, Tom would obey with pleasure.

He went down into the wine cellar to search for a good bottle for the lord's dinner so he would have at least a little joy after an apparently awful day at the palace. Tom had the freedom to do such things and when he blew over the dusted bottle of one of the finest wines in the house, he thought that his life was as good as he could wish for. At least the lord wasn't disgusted by his obvious feelings for him and would still allow him to sexually serve him. Even though he would always think of somebody else while letting him do it…

Tom decided to serve him dinner himself for a change. Usually one of the maids did it. But he sensed that Mycroft Holmes could do without dealing with any other member of his staff tonight. Apparently he did feel comfortable with Tom around so he could as well take care of it. Of course it was a way to spend at least a few more seconds with him... But whatever Tom could do to make him feel better, he would do it. Damn, if he had a chance to get his brother back into his life, he would do it, too, no matter that he would lose the pleasures he was sharing with him… He was honest enough to himself to know that he could easily think this as the probability of this ever happening was very slim. Nobody knew if Sherlock Holmes was still alive at all, let alone where to find him if he was.

oOoOo

After all these years of being a dustman, Sherlock still wondered about what people were throwing away. Half of the stuff in his flat he had found either in a bin or just lying around in the area he was working in. Chairs, travel blankets, cutlery, plates, clothes, food of all sorts and in any kind of condition – it was all out there. He had long overcome any shame about taking and even eating things he had found in or around rubbish bins. His colleagues took things they needed as well, and they used to compare their treasures at the end of the day.

So far, he had not found anything interesting. They were in one of the parks in the Prime End, emptying the bins and picking up the dirt that had been thrown onto the grass and the pathways.

“Fuck, Billy!” he heard Chris shout while he was just grabbing a dirty towel.

“Yes? What is it? Jewels?”

“Not really. Come here.”

Sherlock had not quite reached the big, blond man when he saw what he was about. Next to a bench there was a little brown dog. His leash was tied to the bin Chris had been about to take care of.

“Oh dear,” Sherlock mumbled. He kneeled down next to the frightened looking animal. It was a blistering cold winter day, and the dog was shivering.

“We can't leave him here,” Mike mumbled next to him.

“Of course we won't.” Sherlock was already slipping out of his warm jacket (that he had found on a bench in exactly this park a year ago). He let the dog sniff on his hand. It looked up to him with big, brown eyes and then cautiously licked his fingers. Sherlock gently stroked over the soft fur on the head and then untied the leash. He picked the dog up and wrapped it into the jacket. “I need to go and get him something to eat and drink.” And warm them both up before they would freeze to death.

“We'll take care of the rest here,” Chris assured him. “God, he's cute. I would love to take him home but Janine is allergic to dog hair.”

“It's okay. I'll take him,” Sherlock said. He had no idea how his crazy landlord would react to it. But this dog was looking so lost and his eyes were full of trust. He wanted to give him a home. He was quite sure he could come to some sort of arrangement with Jim… Not that he was looking forward to that…

oOoOo

John was sleeping on the couch when Sherlock came home. He had bought some dog food and two bowls. He couldn’t really afford it but he would just not eat anything himself then if necessary. He was willing to do everything to make sure the little chap would be fine. He put it onto a chair and gently examined it as well as he could. They'd had many animals at home when he had grown up, and more than once he had watched a vet looking at them. He had not forgotten it. In fact, he had not forgotten anything… He was relieved that the dog seemed to be uninjured. He just hoped that the unknown time it had spent in the cold would not lead to any future damage.

He took the dog with him into the bathroom and hopped into the shower, and then rubbed the dog off carefully with his wet towel. He was a pretty little thing. Why anyone could have thrown him away like this was beyond him. But what most people did was beyond him anyway…

He put fresh clothes on and went back into the living room. The noises had woken up his friend and he mumbled: “Hey, what's that?”

“That's our new flatmate.” He would have to think of a name for him.

“Where did you get him?” John sat up and rubbed his face. He was not looking good.

“Someone abandoned him in the park. He was very lucky we were there today.”

“Do you think Moriarty will be okay with him?”

“He didn't mind Molly taking the cat. So I hope he will.” And if not, he would make Sherlock pay for it. Again and again… But who did he want to fool? Jim would make him pay for it even if he didn't mind at all…

He walked over to the couch with the dog and sat down next to John.

The blond man smiled and let the dog sniff on his good hand. “Hello, little guy. It's a guy, right?”

“Yes. We need to give him a nice name.”

There was a knock on the door and Sherlock sighed internally. He was not in the mood for her now… Not that he ever really was. “Yes, come in, Molly.”

“Hello, Billy, John. You have a dog?!”

“Yes. Just happened. I hope he gets along with your cat…“

“Oh, Rosie is so nice, I'm sure he will. By the way, Jim wanted my rent today, and I guess he'll want yours, too.”

Sherlock closed his eyes. He wouldn't be able to pay it fully. Yet again. He wondered if Molly knew what he was forced to do in this case. But no. She didn't have enough fantasy to imagine it. Better to get it over with right now… “Okay, I'll go over to him. What do you have, John?”

The ex-soldier sighed and rummaged in his wallet. “Here, this is all. I'm sorry. Do you think he can wait?”

“I should hope so. Can you two look after the dog until I'm back? Might take me some time to convince him.”

“No problem. I'll feed him.”

Sherlock nodded and gave the dog a last tender stroke and then grabbed his own part of the rent and went over to Jim's flat. The door was opened after mere seconds.

“Oh, what a coincidence! I was about to visit you!”

“Yes, Molly said you asked for her rent so I thought…”

“Come in, Billy, come in!” Jim beamed at him and Sherlock swallowed hard.

He followed Jim into the living room. It was perfectly neat as always. Jim was dressed in black jog pants and a white shirt and he smelled good. It was something Sherlock was grateful for. Jim was always clean. And he was easy to satisfy…

“Okay, do you have it all?” He didn't sound as if he longed for a positive answer.

“No, not yet. And… we have a dog now.” Better to bring this up at once.

“A dog! Oh! How nice! A big one?”

“No, just a small one. He's very quiet and harmless.”

“I see! Sounds good! You must show him to me tomorrow! But you know… I think it's quite nice of me to accept this without any nagging.”

“It surely is. I'll have to show you my gratitude.” Sherlock knew the game, and there was no way out of it. He and John would never get such a big flat for this price anywhere else. And both of them needed their own space. It was close to work for Sherlock and it had been his home for such a long time now and even longer for John. He didn't want to move out.

“Yes! I see you understand me. So you owe me two favours today, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Okay, I want an arse-lick.”

Sherlock cringed at this rude statement that was so untypical for his landlord. But then… he was unpredictable anyway. He caught Jim's gaze and saw the hunger in his eyes. Under it was an expression that was a lot worse. It was craziness.

Sherlock had never had to serve Jim like this. But he didn't have a choice. “Yes, I'd love that.”

“I can imagine! Undress. Show me your arse.”

Sherlock was perplexed. And feeling tense… But he got rid of his trousers; he had not put on any underwear. Even if he just sucked Jim off, he always had to show him his dick at some point and Jim didn't want to wait for the goodies. He had ripped Sherlock's pants off on several occasions, and Sherlock really didn’t need that as often enough he had ripped off some skin in the go as well… And it wasn’t as if he could afford buying new pants.

“Lie down on the couch,” Jim ordered. “And get your legs up. Yes… Oh, what a nice hole you got. So pink… I bet it tastes sweet…” He was looking at Sherlock as if he had never seen him naked before.

Sherlock shuddered. Jim had never licked him there, but he had fucked him many times before. It had been painful every single time. Sherlock had tried to open himself up before going over, but Jim seemed to sense it and then never demanded this from him. And giving him three blowjobs within half an hour and having to make conversation with him in between was even worse than getting fucked for one or two minutes as the smaller man never lasted very long… But that Jim was about to do something for him was new. And it wasn't a good sign.

Jim shuffled into the right position and without any further hesitation he started to lick Sherlock's hole. He did it with vigour and he knew what he was doing. He forced his tongue into him and Sherlock could feel it circle around. He moaned involuntarily. Damn, it did feel good…

“Oh, you like that?” Jim whispered.

Sherlock saw the look in his eyes. He looked like a viper. His dick that had gotten hard instantly shrunk at once. “Yes,” he mumbled nevertheless.

“Oh, but little Billy says you don't! Why not? I'm a good arse-licker!”

“Yes, you are, sir.”

“But?” Jim spoke it out with a very hard t and it sounded threatening. “You're afraid of me, aren't you? You think I might bite into your precious balls.” He lapped over Sherlock's ball sack.

Sherlock felt his hands tremble. Yes, he did indeed fear that. He wouldn't even have been surprised if Jim would bite them off and then chew and gulp them down right before his eyes…

“That's not nice. I was always so generous to you.” Jim pouted.

“You really were. I'm so sorry, sir,” Sherlock hurried to assure him. “I want you to lick me.”

“Lick you where?”

Sherlock swallowed with a dry throat.

“Tell me. What do you like me to lick?” Jim narrowed his eyes and he grabbed Sherlock's limp dick and pulled very hard at it.

“Oh… I… I want you to lick my arsehole.” Sherlock's voice was a mere whisper.

Jim beamed at him and let his manhandled dick go. “That's my boy! But I don't want to do that anymore.” With unbelievably fast movements he pulled down his jog pants and rammed his hard, thick dick into Sherlock's almost completely dry hole.

Sherlock knew better than to scream; in fact he reached around Jim's body and rubbed him between his own cheeks and tickled his balls. Jim moaned and it took him only five more strokes to come into Sherlock's body. Then he got up, panting and drooling, and said: “That was nice. You made me spurt very well. You may keep the dog. How much money do you have?”

With shivering hands Sherlock fumbled the notes out of his pants and handed them over to Jim.

The black-haired man nodded. “That's enough for this month. Now better clean yourself up. You're bleeding on my couch.”

“Oh, I'm sorry, sir.”

Jim waved this away generously. “It's okay. It's leather. Get a towel out of the bathroom and wipe it away.”

Sherlock put on his trousers and hurried to do as he'd been told.

“One more thing before you go,” Jim held him back when he was about to flee after a whispered goodbye. Jim was still naked below the waist but on him it didn't look ridiculous. And Sherlock couldn't imagine that anyone would dare laugh about him...

He turned around. What now? "Yes, sir?"

Jim smiled at him. “I want one more thing.”

“Whatever you wish,” Sherlock said with a forced smile.

“Kiss me.”

Sherlock froze. Jim had never asked him for that. Sherlock hadn't kissed anyone since…

Jim came to him, and all at once his expression was soft. He laid a hand on Sherlock's cheek. “I know you've got a secret, Billy-Boy. I don't even think that's your real name by the way.”

Sherlock winced and he didn’t answer. He wouldn't have known what to say.

“That's okay. I don't care what your name actually is. But I want this kiss.”

And Sherlock bent down – he was quite a bit taller than him – and they did kiss. Sherlock expected to be bitten in the lips or the tongue, but it didn’t happen. The kiss got deeper and deeper and all at once Jim pushed him back onto the couch, and Sherlock thought that if he fucked him again, he wouldn’t be able to walk anymore for days. But Jim just pressed him down and invaded his mouth and rubbed himself on his legs. Sherlock had closed his eyes, and he thought of this day so many years ago when he had dared kiss the man he loved. He didn't realise that he was crying until Jim broke the kiss and wiped away the tears with his thumb.

“Poor little Billy,” he said hoarsely. “Go now, but don't forget: you're mine if I say so. I could throw you out - you and your drug addict of a friend. I would have kicked the invalid out long ago if I thought you'd fuck with him.  But you don't, do you?”

“No,” Sherlock whispered. “He has no interest in sex. And I don't want it, either.”

“That's good. And it's good that you don't fuck around with this girl. Because this all belongs to me: your cute, round arse, your big dick, your sweet hole. You taste really good in there. Next time I'll lick you out. I'll lick you for an hour until you beg me to fuck you. I love to fuck you. God, look who's hard again.” He took his plump dick in his hand. “Suck it. Suck me off.”

Sherlock let himself drop on his knees and swallowed the leaking cock to the root. It was thick but it was short so it didn't trigger his gag reflex. Another thing he was grateful for. He didn’t even want to imagine how this would be if Jim was hung like Sherlock was. Or Mycroft…

“I can always see when you think of your past,” Jim mumbled and cupped Sherlock's face, pushing his dick into him. “You look so sad. You should pay me for giving you some warmth.”

Sherlock was happy that he couldn't answer and he sucked as powerful as he could, and within twenty seconds, Jim pulsed into his mouth with loud moaning. Then he pushed Sherlock away.

“That was good. Go now and take care of your dog. And your arse.”

“Yes sir. And thank you again.”

Jim smiled, and it made Sherlock shiver. “You're welcome, Billy. See you soon. And fuck you next month…”

Sherlock bade him goodbye with a smile as cheerful as he could pull off. He needed to practice it anyway for John and Molly…

Chapter Text

There were only a couple of weeks left until Wintergiving, and Greg wanted the property to look as perfect as possible until then. It was a very special event for everybody. Probably not for the lord, but even he came out of his cocoon on these two days and did the traditions of the Holmeses justice. He would read a tale for everybody, and he would personally give a gift to each and every staff member. Everybody received money though not the same amount; it depended on the responsibilities they had in working for the Lord. In any way everybody here was looking forward to Wintergiving, and Greg wanted the grounds, the house and the other buildings to be perfectly fine then.

He had spotted an almost completely broken, big branch on a tree next to the main house; the winter winds could easily rip it off and turn it into a danger for the people and the horses. It had to be removed so he had asked the workers Kenny and Henry to take care of it. He should have known that wasn’t a good idea… These two young guys were playing pranks on each other all the time, and taking the ladder away when Kenny was up in the tree had probably just had to be done…

“Okay, go inside and call Doctor Cooper,” he said to the pretty desperate-looking Henry who was ruffling his hair, and Greg was trying to force his rage down.

“I'm fine, really, nothing's broken,” Kenny assured him. He was sitting under the tree with a pale face; the branch was lying next to him. At least he had completed the task – by clinging to the broken limb…

“You fell on your pretty little head, lad.” Thank God not from all the way up there, but his forehead was already developing a huge bump. “Go, Henry!” Now he got loud.

“I'm so sorry,” Henry shouted over his shoulder when he ran up to the main house.

“I'm okay, I can go on working…” Kenny struggled to get up on his feet.

“No! Don't move! Stay there. Jeremy, bring him some water and some ice, please.”

“Right away.” The dark-haired man followed Henry with long steps.

“Sorry, sir. I know we're a lot to bear,” Kenny said with an excusing grin.

Greg smiled. “At least someone who is seeing that.” His boys were all good-hearted and kind. He didn't work with ill-tempered people. But some of them were not the brightest bulbs in the box…

Henry came back running. “Doc's on his way,” he assured Greg and let himself fall next to his friend. “Sorry, man. I didn't think the branch would really break.”

Greg opened his mouth to say something but then he shut it. It was hopeless… And somehow he couldn't concentrate on the boys now. Doctor Cooper was on the way…

He told the boys to stay where they were, and when Jeremy arrived with the water, he told him to make sure Kenny would stay sitting on the ground, and then he walked up to the house as well. He needed to wash his hands. And freshen up a bit. Comb his hair… Just to look presentable…

When he came back from the bathroom on the ground floor, he almost ran into Tom. “Oh, hi. Just… freshened up,” he said, even though of course he was allowed to be in the house as well.

Tom smiled. “Is your boy okay?”

“Yes, I think so. But nonetheless Doctor Cooper should have a look at him.”

“Without a doubt.”

Why did he sound so mocking? “You got a problem with that?” he asked the young butler.

“Not in the least. I'm ogling his arse as well when he bends over one of my people…”

Greg almost choked on his tongue. Dammit… Was it so obvious?!

Tom grinned. “It's fine, really. I hope one day you'll ask him out.”

Greg smiled but he knew he wasn’t looking happy. “He's a doctor, Tom. I'm a bailiff. He would never go out with me.”

“Don't be silly. He likes you. And your job is very important and you are not exactly – I don’t know – a dustman! You have a lot of people working for you; and they call you sir, don’t they!”

Greg had never had such a personal conversation about himself with the handsome young man before. And it had caught him off-guard. “Yes, but… Anyway… I’m sure he’s not interested.”

“Then why bother with looking and smelling better?” Tom winked at him, another first time. “You should better go outside now or you’ll miss him.”

“Okay. But I don’t want to go out with him!”

“Sure. Greet him from me, would you?”

“Brat…” Greg couldn’t help but chuckling and went back outside. He was surprised that Tom was feeling so cheerful after his not-that-nice experience with the lord, but he liked it a lot and hoped the young man would keep this sunny mood.

oOoOo

“Jimmy!” Molly said with an enthusiastic smile.

Sherlock winced. “Don’t think that would be a good idea,” he mumbled and almost sighed when he looked into the puzzled faces of his flatmate and his neighbour. No, they really didn’t have a clue… Probably John thought their landlord was so generous to reduce their rent every month because he had such a good heart… And Molly probably didn’t think at all…

“Peter!” John suggested.

“Please… That’s not a name for a dog at all. I’ll call him… Loki.”

“That’s nice!” Molly said. “What does it mean?”

“Nothing. It just sounds good. Hey Loki! Yeah, do you like that?”

The dog wagged his tail and licked Sherlock’s hand. He smiled at the little animal and tickled his head. He was there for not even two hours and he was already totally in love with him. Molly had combed him while he’d been in Jim’s flat. He was not only cute and nice but also very nice to look at now. And the next day he would take him with him to work. He had to watch him of course so he wouldn’t run away. But somehow Sherlock knew he wouldn’t do that. And Chris was fast… He could get him back if he really did.

When he had come back from Jim, he had sneaked into the bathroom to wash out his blood-stained trousers and clean himself up. It did hurt. But somehow the whole thing didn’t really bother him as soon as it was over. It was yet another fact of life, like working as a dustman or living in a flat without heating. Oh, it did have one but they couldn’t afford to use it. He just hoped the winter would go over soon.

Wintergiving was not far away anymore. He needed a present for John. He had found a nice scarf, draped over a branch in the park, a few weeks back; he was sure Molly would like it. He had discovered an almost full bottle of raspberry-flavoured alcohol for Phil next to a bin and had hidden it so he wouldn’t see it and then he had collected it later. Mike would get a big, warm pullover that someone had forgotten on a bench. Chris would receive some food for himself, his girlfriend and their baby. Sherlock was sure he could get someone to give him some money soon. Wintergiving made the people sentimental, and Sherlock was a handsome man. Old ladies were now more willing than at other times of the year to provide him with some coins so he could buy something nice to eat for Chris and of course for himself and his flatmate. Sherlock always deduced which of the old women in the park were the generous ones. He was hardly ever wrong. But getting a real present for John was more difficult. What he needed was a cure for his never-ending pain. Or drugs… Perhaps he should visit Molly in the hospital and steal some for him. He had never done that before. In summer, John was a lot less in pain; the warmth seemed to soothe his scars. But the coldness was waking up the hurt apparently, and this year it was worse than ever. Sherlock hated to see his friend suffer so he needed to help him as well as he could.

“I’ll go outside with the dog for a while,” he said. “He needs to pee I guess.” And he wanted to be alone for at least a short time.

Thinking about Wintergiving made the people sentimental. Sherlock was no exception. In fact it made him feel even more melancholic than usual. Only on this day of the year his father had talked to his people. Even to his sons. He had read tales for the entire staff and shaken everybody’s hand before he had handed them their presents. It had been Sherlock’s favourite day of the year. Mycroft had always had a wonderful gift for him. And a tight embrace… Eleven years had passed. And still Sherlock could feel his brother’s arms around his waist… And still he missed him so fucking much…

oOoOo

“Mr Lestrade! I’ve heard someone needs my loving attention,” the doctor joked with a wink and offered Greg his hand. He was carrying his doctor’s bag in the other one and his cheeks were pink in the cold.

Greg could feel his cheeks blush when he shook his hand… How embarrassing… He was thirty-six years old and blushed like a schoolgirl just because a good-looking man greeted him and said something funny. But damn – he was so attractive… Tall, red-haired, with piercing blue eyes and broad shoulders, Doctor Michael Cooper rather looked like a professional athlete or a famous actor than like a doctor. He was a year older than Greg and they’d known each other now for five years since the doctor had specialised in looking after the people living in this rather secluded area quite a bit away from the heart of the Big City. Only rich people and their staff… And he treated every small servant with the same attention and care as he treated the lord. He was always smiling and in a good mood and ready to joke around, and Greg had thought countless times that he just had to get to know him better. But he had never dared make the first step. And he guessed that he never would. He knew he was a coward. But he wouldn’t want to be rejected.

“Yes, Doctor Cooper,” he said now. “Come with me, please.” He cursed himself as his voice had sounded a bit strange when he had said it. The doctor was here to help his worker, not to get seduced by him…

But the doctor didn’t seem to mind at all. “Your boy said he fell off a tree?”

“Yes. Has a nice bump over the eye. But he didn’t fell straight on the head, and I don’t think he has any broken bones. But better to be sure…”

“Absolutely. Anybody else I should have a look at while I’m here?”

“Oh, I’ll ask Mrs Hudson. But the butler hasn’t mentioned anything.” Except that I should make a move on you and that he likes to look at your arse as well… He could feel his cheeks blush even harder at this thought. But the doctor didn’t seem to notice.

“Fine. I’ll look at the boy and then come into the house with you. Perhaps Mrs Hudson has some coffee for me. And if it is my lucky day, perhaps she’ll even offer a piece of cake to me.”

Greg laughed. “I’m sure she will!” He liked this man. He really did…

Almost an hour later they were sitting in Mrs Hudson’s kitchen together. The doctor had looked after Kenny (no concussion, no broken bones, just a nice bump that would get better with the ice and some balm he had given to him), a maid that had been suffering from stomach-aches for a few days now and a servant who had cut his hand when he had broken a cup right before the doctor had entered the house.

Now that he was finished with looking after the patients in the Holmes household, the doctor was eating a big piece of apple-cake with pleasure and complimented Mrs Hudson for the fifth time.

“Oh, it’s just a normal pie,” she said while blushing.

Greg smiled. Not even the old lady was immune against the doctor’s charms.

“It’s extraordinaire,” Doctor Cooper said. “And you're making the best coffee in the world.”

“She does,” Tom said. He had just entered the kitchen. “Do I get one, too, Martha?”

“Of course, my boy. Sit down.”

“If I’m not disturbing anybody,” the young man said with a fine smile, and Greg would have loved to kick him under the table. Why was he so cheeky all at once?

“No, why would you?” Michael Cooper asked him. “Everything alright with you? Don’t need an examination?” He winked and Greg almost spat out the sip of coffee he had just taken.

Tom laughed. “No, I’m fine. But Greg… What about your chest aches?”

Greg did kick him this time and Tom giggled. Greg had never heard this before. The doctor looked at Greg, first concerned and then with a rather nasty smile. “You didn’t mention that, Mr Lestrade. Shall I have a look at you?”

“No, I’m fine… I mean…” The bailiff broke off, his cheeks flaming.

“Martha, can you help me with something outside of here?” Tom asked innocently and got up with an elegant movement, carrying his cup.

“Oh, yes, we really should go outside…” Martha put her tea cloth away and hurried to the door, followed by a grinning butler.

Don’t leave me alone with him! “I’m sorry, really, this kid is not like that at all usually…” Greg mumbled, hardly able to look the doc in the eyes.

Michael Cooper smiled. “I think he just wanted to push you in the right direction…”

Greg looked at him with wide eyes. “The right direction? Does that mean you could imagine, I mean…”

“I could indeed, Mr Lestrade. Or may I call you Greg?”

Greg nodded, grinning like a fool, and when the doctor smiled at him even wider and winked, he felt his heart jump in his chest like never before.

oOoOo

Tom was even more surprised than Greg about feeling so light-hearted all at once, but after the events of the last two days, he felt completely different than before. For more than half a year, he’d been serving the lord sexually, and he had always loved to do it. But he had been so intimidated by him nonetheless, and he had been hurt that Mycroft had sent him away after crying next to him. And yesterday he had rejected him but then he had told Tom that he would need him today again, and now it was as if his heart had been freed.

It was clear to him now that the lord did see him as a person, and he did care enough about him to feel a little insecure in his presence now and even announce that he would be in need of his services today; he had never done that before. It had happened or it had not, just depending on the lord’s mood.

Tom wasn’t a fool though and he didn’t believe in fairy tales. He still didn’t expect that Mycroft Holmes would ever love him, but he had finally realised that he could live with that. As long as he was allowed to be close to him in whatever physically limited way, he would consider himself very happy. It was a one-sided love, but at least the lord didn’t mind him loving him and apparently Tom had reached his soul at least a bit. Even if they were about to return to suck-off-sessions in the library for good, Tom would be happy to have this and would enjoy it every single time.

When he saw Greg and the doctor leaving the house side by side, smiling at each other in a very promising way, a wide smile came to his own face. Greg was a great guy and he deserved to be happy.

He returned to his chores and he did it with pleasure. Everything should be perfect for Mycroft. He was out of the house all day and when he returned in the evening, he should feel welcome and come into a neat, homely house.

The maid had looked a bit upset when he had told her that he would serve the lord’s dinner from now on. He had agreed this with Martha Hudson before as she was the boss of the female servants. But Martha had just smiled and told him he was very welcome to take over this job.

As usual, he made sure to be finished with everything way before the lord was expected at home. When everything was looking fine, he started looking out for the black car. Mycroft did come home rather early this day. And when he got out of the car, he didn’t look nearly as exhausted as he had done the evening before.

Tom opened the door for him. He had not done that until this week to not give away that he was eagerly waiting for his return. But of course that had been stupid; the lord would have known that anyway. And Tom had decided that he would show him how much he meant to him from now on. No need to play shy. Mycroft should know that he could have everything from him. If he would take advantage of it or not was up to him.

“Good evening, My Lord,” he said and gave him a genuine smile. And instead of asking for the umbrella, he just reached out with his hand. “Did you have a good day?”

Mycroft looked a bit surprised when he handed the black umbrella over to him and slipped out of his coat. “Well, yes, it was decent. Thank you.” He gave him the coat as well. “What about you?”

Tom could hardly believe his ears. Never before had they had such a conversation. As if they were – equals… Which they weren’t of course but… “It was very nice, thank you, My Lord. I’ll serve you dinner in ten minutes, is that alright?”

“Very much so. I’ll be in the dining room by then.”

“Fine. Would you like some special wine?”

“Is there something left from yesterday? You’ve chosen a very good one.”

“Oh, of course. It will be suitable to the chicken.”

“Sounds good,” Mycroft said quietly, and then he smiled at Tom, and Tom felt like fainting, but he smiled back widely.

The lord gave him a friendly nod and then walked upstairs. Tom watched him leaving, too excited to move.

“Well done,” he heard a voice behind him and he almost dropped the lord’s coat that he had not hung up yet due to his surprise. He did it now. “Oh, Martha. I didn’t hear you.”

“I don’t blame you. It seems you’ve reached him indeed. Just be careful. Don’t expect too much from him. It’s a miracle he was like that now.”

“I won’t. But it makes me so happy,” he whispered.

She gently stroked over his arm. “I wish so much you can make each other happy. Just go on like this. Be nice and kind and not demanding.”

“Oh, I would never be. I know my place.”

“I hope one day you’ll have a place in his heart.”

He laid his hand over hers. He wished that, too. More than anything in the world…

oOoOo

Mycroft was not overly surprised that Tom had taken over the serving job for good now as it seemed. He was fine with it of course. It was a lot nicer to receive your meal by someone who didn’t fear you. He wondered for the first time if he was really such a scary boss. He never yelled at anyone – in fact he left this to Lestrade, Tom, and Mrs Hudson. They had his staff under control very well, and if something went wrong, he usually left it to them to do the punishment. Except if it was something really serious. He wanted to know such things and he did take care of it if it was an important matter. But otherwise he trusted in the three superior members of his staff to take care of everything and he was friendly to everybody he met when he was at home. Nonetheless almost everybody in this house and the property seemed to not only respect him – which he demanded – but was afraid of him, and he had never been out for this.

Tom did not fear him, and the smile with which he offered him his meal made him feel good, he had to admit it. A lot better than a maid who didn’t dare look at him.

“Thank you,” he said when Tom brought his dessert.

“You’re welcome, My Lord. Would you like your drink in the library afterwards?”

“No, I think I don’t want one today.” He looked closely at Tom’s face when he said this.

A shadow of sadness ghosted over it, but the look of affection didn’t change. “Very well, My Lord.” His tone was polite and friendly as always.

“But if you don’t mind, you could come into my chambers in let’s say half an hour?” He watched him well again, and the happiness in Tom’s eyes made him shiver. Maybe it was a mistake; maybe he was making him wrong hopes… But he longed for this contact after all these years of loneliness and soulless sex.

“I’d like that very much, My Lord.” Tom’s voice was quiet and friendly, not intrusive or in any way over the top. It showed him that Tom wouldn’t expect more from him than he could or wanted to give him.

“Fine,” Mycroft said and they shared a smile, then Tom left him alone.

Mycroft would eat up and then take a bath. Tonight he wouldn’t cry; he would not allow his feelings of loss and sadness overwhelm him again. And he would do something he had never done before with a sex partner – he would take care of his needs as well as he could in his total inexperience, because this was the least he could do for a man who loved him so unconditionally…

oOoOo

Sherlock wasn’t exactly proud of himself when he returned into 221B Baker Street this evening, followed by the happy little dog. In fact he felt like shit. But sometimes people did things they had no reason to be proud of. Like he just had…

He had gone around the block with the dog, looking for a little green space where Loki could sniff at and pee on. And there had been a man, way too wealthy looking for this quarter. He had climbed out of a car, and then it had happened: his wallet had fallen out of his jacket, and he hadn't noticed it. The car had driven off, and the man had walked away. And Sherlock had not told him about the wallet. In fact he had waited until the man had disappeared around a corner and then he had picked it up. And a quick glance had told him that there was enough money in it to pay the rent for two months and get some painkillers for John. And food for them and the dog. And a warm winter jacket for Sherlock.

So he had taken it. He had seen papers and photographs as well, and an address. He would give the rest back. But he would keep the money… It meant two months of not serving Jim. Even though he might demand it from him anyway… But probably not in an overly aggressive way. Sherlock had blown him before even though he'd had been able to pay him in full. But then Jim had been at least a bit nicer to him; he had just reminded him of his general generosity and that Sherlock owed him a lot. And Sherlock had not dared turn him away. Not only because he and John needed the flat so much. He was just afraid of this man. He was so much shorter than Sherlock and not very muscular, either. Sherlock would be able to beat him in a fight. Or would have been if Jim hadn’t been completely crazy… He wouldn't fight fairly for sure…

In any way Sherlock had needed the money desperately. He could even buy something nice to eat for Wintergiving. The man had not looked as if he had really needed the cash as much as Sherlock did. Of course that was a poor excuse. He had seen how he'd lost it and had had the opportunity –and, who did he want to fool, the obligation – to give it back to him. He was a thief. He who had always lived decently. He did go to work every day and he did his nasty job as well as he could; he wasn't mean to anyone who didn’t deserve it, and he even sacrificed himself for his only real friend's needs to his lunatic landlord. And now he had turned out to be some sort of criminal. He would never tell anyone about it… And the next day he would make sure the man would get the wallet with all the papers and pictures back. Probably they were more important to him than the money. And still…

He entered his flat and saw John sleeping on the couch, an empty blister with pain killers next to him on the table, and his face looked pained even in his sleep. Sherlock watched him for a long moment. Then he sighed. He was a thief, yes, but he had no choice.

oOoOo

“Come in,” Tom heard when he knocked on the door of Mycroft's private realm.

“Hello, My Lord”, he said quietly and with a smile when he walked in, carrying the lord's most favourite spirit and a glass. When he caught Lord Holmes' questioning look, he explained: “Just in case you might change your mind about the drink.”

And he almost dropped the bottle when the lord smiled at him and said. “That was very considerate, Tom.” He had never said his first name before, and to hear his name out of his mouth, spoken with this beautiful, deep voice…

Tom felt his cheeks blush and closed the door behind him with his elbow. The lord stood up from the armchair he had sat in, and only now Tom realised that he was only wearing a black bathrobe. He swallowed hard and placed the bottle along with the glass on the table before he could really let it fall onto his foot. He wouldn't want to call Doctor Cooper this night…

Mycroft just looked at him, his expression calm but showing a hint of insecurity. And Tom knew he had to make the first step again now. He slowly crossed the room until he had reached his employer. Then he lifted his right hand and laid it flat on Mycroft's cheek. His skin felt so soft and it was so warm. Tom died to kiss him, but he knew this was something he couldn't just do. Instead he let his left hand slide into the robe, and he gently rubbed over Mycroft's chest. He could feel the nipple grow hard under his caresses, and he saw arousal in the lord's stunning blue eyes.

“Let's get more comfortable,” Lord Holmes said with a raspy voice, and Tom could just nod. He followed him into the bedroom and saw that the lord had put a soft, thin blanket over the linen to cover it. This time Tom had not brought the massage fluid and he wondered if the lord had expected him to do it. But Mycroft didn't say anything about it; instead he lay down on his back after slipping out of the robe, and he looked at him and opened his legs for Tom.

On the verge of passing out, Tom quickly settled in the space between the lord's long, freckled legs after taking off his shirt. He kissed the insides of both of his thighs, admiring his half-hard cock for a moment and then he shuffled upwards and rested on his hands on either sides of the older man; and he brushed a kiss on his dimpled chin and then let his lips move slowly over the exposed neck. He could feel the lord's pulse under his mouth, and it was elevated. The mighty man stayed quiet, but he lifted his hand and let it slide over Tom's shoulder, and a moan escaped his mouth under the unexpected but so welcome touch. The lord's fingers were wonderfully long and strong and warm, and Tom shuddered when he teasingly let his fingertips tangle over the inside of his arm.

“You're ticklish?” Mycroft asked him, his voice so quiet that it was hardly audible, but Tom was sure that there had been a hint of amusement in it.

“Just a little bit,” Tom admitted. “But it just feels so good…”

“Yes?” Mycroft gave him a smile that made Tom's heart wide, and he let his big hands slide over Tom's back.

Tom could feel goosebumps appearing under his touch, and he playfully pulled at the lord's earlobe with his lips and licked him behind the ear. And this time the lord moaned, and Tom had the strong feeling he would come into his pants once more if he heard this noise again.

“Get rid of your trousers, boy,” Mycroft demanded, and Tom jumped from the bed and was completely naked within the blink of an eye.

He saw the lord smile a bit over his enthusiasm and he couldn't suppress a grin when their eyes met. He couldn't remember having been so happy ever before. It was not that he would have expected any deep feelings from his boss; he knew he would never get them. But their way of dealing with each other had changed so dramatically all at once. He cursed himself for not suggesting months ago to meet in these rooms, but perhaps the lord wouldn't have agreed on it on just a normal day. Perhaps he did have special albeit not very nice feelings about his birthday and he had given in because of them. Tom would never know it. In any way he was here with him now, and they were being careful and cautious with each other, but the situation was far from being uncomfortable.

And Tom was absolutely determined to make Mycroft feel really good. He could not ease the pains of his heart, but he could bring him real physical pleasure. He started with kissing one of the pink, well-developed nipples. It got harder than it had been before, and Tom carefully sucked the little pearl into his mouth. He caught the lord's gaze, and he could see that he liked it. And a warm hand found his neck and stroked it, and he surprised himself by purring like a cat when he sucked the stiff nipple harder and teased it with his tongue. He reached down and wrapped his fingers around the big, hard penis, letting them slide up and down, rubbing over the wet tip whenever his thumb met it.

The lord's breathing sped up, and Tom moved down on the bed again and started to suck his penis. He just loved to do this. He loved it all – the almost inaudible moans of the recipient of his efforts, the musky taste, the smell, the texture of soft skin over the hard boner, and he loved nothing more than to press the tip of his tongue into the wet slit, tickling and licking and lapping up the drops that constantly escaped from it.

“Oh God,” the lord mumbled to his surprise, “Yes, do it, suck me hard…”

Tom needed all of his self-control to not shoot his load over the bed by hearing him say something like this for the first time. The lord had always been completely quiet; never before had he made an attempt to talk dirty to him. Tom had always thought that he was ashamed of his needs and wanted to get it over with as quickly and as little embarrassing as he could. But now he clearly enjoyed it, and he didn't mind letting Tom know it.

Very soon after murmuring these words Tom's mouth was flooded with warm, thick sperm, and he greedily continued sucking and lapping until he had caught the very last drop. He had managed to not come himself and he knew he would do that once the lord had sent him away. He would just touch himself for ten seconds, thinking of this moment, before he would shoot out his release.

But Mycroft surprised him again. “Come up and lay down,” he ordered, and Tom hesitantly did as he'd been told.

When he had lain on the bed, the lord searched for his gaze and then he let his exquisite hand slide over his chest, rubbing one of Tom's nipples without breaking the eye contact. Tom opened his mouth in pleasure, and he knew he wouldn't last much longer. But he suppressed the orgasm as well as he could, wanting to drag out this unexpected and wonderful moment as long as possible. He would be alone again soon enough.

The lord's hand moved southwards, and then his fingers found Tom's throbbing dick. They almost looked like twins - his cock and Mycroft's - Tom thought when he stared at the fingers around his manhood. They were both long and thick and had a wide head. They had so much in common in their looks overall actually. Both freckled and auburn-haired, smooth and long-limbed. The same eye colour, the same long, strong nose.

But Tom didn't match his boss' self-control. He had never been able to suppress coming into his pants whenever he had given head to him. And then he'd come completely untouched. Now Mycroft's fingers were touching and pressing and sliding and wiping off his wetness, and then the climax crashed through his body and he moaned very loudly against Mycroft's shoulder, and his seed splashed over Mycroft's hand and his groin.

Mycroft had watched him all the time, and he didn't look turned off by this explosion, he just lifted his soiled hand and even slightly smiled at him. Tom grabbed his wrist without thinking, and he licked his seed off of it.

“Oh,” Mycroft said breathily, and then Tom let his now clean hand go and bent over him to lap over the wetness on his groin, too. Mycroft lay down on his back to give him better access. Tom tasted himself and sweat and Mycroft, and he licked the soft skin until there was no trace left of his release. He lifted his head and met the lord's look, not knowing what to expect. And then Mycroft smiled at him and stroked his face, and Tom smiled back.

He didn't want to be sent away again but he knew the lord wanted to be on his own now, and so he said: “Thank you so much for this wonderful experience, My Lord. I think I should better leave you alone now; I guess you want to rest.”

“Yes,” Mycroft said very quietly. “Thank you, too. Thank you for everything. I've never said it, but I highly appreciate all you're doing for me.”

“Oh, My Lord… it's my total pleasure. I l…” Tom broke off, terrified over what he'd almost said. And he could see in Mycroft's eyes that he knew very well what he'd been about to tell him. And the lord didn’t seem to be offended but he did look a bit frightened. “I like to do it very much,” Tom managed to finish the sentence, knowing his cheeks were on fire.

“I'm glad,” Mycroft answered to his surprise; in fact the last couple of days had been full of surprises and he didn't cease to be amazed by them…

Tom reluctantly got up from the bed. “Would you like a drink now, My Lord?"

"That would be nice."

Tom hurried into the living room and poured a generous amount of alcohol into the glass and brought it to the lord. He took it with a smile and sipped at it.

Tom looked into his eyes and knew he had to leave now. "Goodnight, My Lord.”

“Goodnight, Tom.”

They smiled at each other once more, and then Tom left Mycroft Holmes alone to go into his own room, feeling like walking on pink clouds.

Chapter Text

John Watson had never been a happy man. Even as a child he had always been serious, introverted and melancholic. A child like this didn't find any friends, and he hadn't. He had gotten lost in daydreams and hardly paid attention what his teachers had been telling him. When he had finished school, he hadn’t known what to do with himself so he had joined the army. And he had become a bloody good soldier. His mates had been relying on him; a feeling unknown to him, and he had taken to fighting for his country. And then the Great War had changed everything. It had spat him out with physical injuries that never healed, and with a deeply hurt soul. He was in pain all the time and he needed drugs to go on at all. He didn't have a job and he didn't have any hope.

The day he had saved Sherlock's life had been supposed to be his last. He had been at the river to shoot himself in a quiet place where nobody had to clean up after him. And then he had seen the skinny boy falling into the water and not even trying to fight his way out of it, and he had jumped in to save him without even thinking about it. This day had saved them both. But the scars were still there, the pain an even closer companion than Sherlock, and to the guilt he had felt about surviving the war while his comrades had died next to him there had added another, more present guilt.

John knew what a burden he was for his flatmate with his inability to save his army pension for the rent instead of spending it on more or less legal drugs. And he was sure despite his enormous intelligence and insights Sherlock thought he had no idea about his arrangement with their new landlord, but John was neither stupid nor blind. He had seen Sherlock coming back from spending almost an hour with Jim Moriarty with swollen, damaged lips or hardly being able to walk straight. John was well aware that Sherlock had used to sell his body for drugs before they had met; he had overcome his addiction after John had saved his life, and now he had to sell himself again to Jim because of John. The irony was nothing to laugh about.

John knew Sherlock would be better off without him. He knew he should disappear out of his life. But he just couldn’t. He knew he would die without him and he didn't want to die anymore. Not only because Sherlock was his only friend and gave his life some sort of meaning, or because he owed him this. He loved Sherlock; he had done from the start. Of course he had never told him, and he was sure Sherlock thought John just didn't have any interest in either gender or sexual pleasures. But in fact John was gay and he'd had sexual encounters with men in the army. He was simply well aware that Sherlock was off limits. Not only because he was so tremendously beautiful and smart and so far ahead of him, but because John knew that Sherlock loved somebody else, and in all this time that they had known each other, this hadn't changed. Sherlock had never shown any interest in someone else.

John felt more sorry for Molly Hooper than for himself. He had known from the start that Sherlock would never want him, but Molly just didn't seem to get it. She didn't even realise that Sherlock was homosexual even though to John it was quite obvious. And she had really no idea about Sherlock and Jim.

He could only think about them together with a shudder and the deepest pain. Just imagining that Sherlock had to please the physically attractive but very scary man was hurting him. He didn't even want to think about what it did to Sherlock. But of course he knew it. Sherlock had nightmares. He had always had them, mostly about the life he'd left behind; a life with a brother he had and still loved way too much and in a socially not accepted way. How many times John had heard him crying and screaming for his brother in his sleep, and since Jim had become their landlord, his name had added to the screams; albeit in a very different way. Sherlock apparently didn't blame his brother for losing the life he had known but his nightmares were about losing him or finding him back just to be rejected by him again. John was not so sure that this would really happen and he had told Sherlock so in the beginning of their friendship, but Sherlock had not wanted to hear it because he had just not believed it. Even though John didn't want to lose his friend, he would have loved to see him happily reunited with his brother.

John knew who Mycroft was. The lord of Musgrave - consultant of the king. It wasn't common knowledge, but to everybody who was interested in what was going on behind the closed doors of the palace, it was possible to find out about the lord's huge role, and Sherlock had given him some information when he had told him who he really was. And John could imagine that Mycroft Holmes would not risk all this power and wealth for a forbidden sexual relationship with his own brother. But what if Sherlock was wrong and his brother had made up his mind? They wouldn't have to be open about this relationship; they could live it out in their home and nobody would know about it. But of course a house of this sort would have lots of servants and maids who could find out about their secret. So probably Sherlock was right and his brother wouldn't want to give it a try. Of course he could have tried to contact him and ask him if he could come back to just live in the home that should also be his in his role as his little brother. But after loving Sherlock for nine years even though John knew it was hopeless he could understand that Sherlock just couldn't bear doing this and being with Mycroft without being able to touch him. And he had told Mycroft about his feelings before he had left his home so this would also be between them. John still kept this secret.

He got up now and almost screamed. His leg was killing him again. He didn't have money to get a decent treatment for it, even though he doubted that after this long time there was still any hope to make it better anyway. But he needed to get something against the pain.

He searched for some money, knowing that Sherlock had enough to pay the rent for this month and wouldn’t have to satisfy their landlord's needs again. He didn't know where Sherlock had gotten the money from; Sherlock had looked rather guilty when he had told him that he shouldn't worry when he had brought some medication for John.

Unfortunately, during this winter the pains were worse than ever, and he had nothing left to numb them; so he had to go out and get something. Sherlock didn’t have to know about it. John hated to look weak in his eyes; even if Sherlock had not been way too attractive and smart for him there would have still been the fact that Sherlock just couldn't desire a man who was so weak. He had never said anything like it, but he didn't have to. John despised his inability to endure the pain and his addiction to painkillers of all sorts and he was sure that Sherlock was turned off by it even more. But John just couldn't help it.

With slow steps he left the flat. The house was silent. Nobody seemed to be there. Sherlock and Molly were at work and Jim – who knew what he was doing all day. He didn't have a job. Only someone completely crazy would employ a lunatic like him. He had spent years in prison, so much John knew. He didn't know why and he didn't really want to know it…

He started going down the stairs when something black-and-white crashed against his calf. Rosie. He cried out and then he fell, and he managed somehow to not break his neck. But he knew he had broken his right arm under the severely hurt shoulder. When he finally lay still at the end of the stairs, his head hammering and his side hurting like hell, he was crying.

oOoOo

“This room has a bad charisma.” Two green eyes were flickering through the generous, white-painted room and over the desk that was covered in files.

Mycroft sighed inaudibly. A room with charisma… What a stupid crap… In fact this room was as plain as it could get in a huge palace full of riches in the centre of the kingdom. It was a room to work in, not to dwell on gold and diamonds. Or anything this empty-headed something was talking about.

“You need more candles here.”

“More candles? There are no candles at all here…” He somehow doubted that his office would look good when it was on fire, considering all the paper that was lying around…

“Exactly! You need candles to feel the atmosphere.”

“If you say so.” Of course, a fire would indeed bring some special atmosphere… He could lock this woman into it then and leave. Would her screams cause his office to get a better charisma?

Somehow his thoughts had to show on his face. “Mr Holmes, Miss Wenceslas is just trying to help you,” Lady Elizabeth admonished him and threw herself onto the visitor's chair in front of his desk. The secretaries had left in the moment the king's wife and her strange guest had come through the door after he had given them a discreet wave. They had work to do and it was not possible when they had to deal with such stupidity.

“I'm sure she does, My Lady. I really need to go on reading this contract now though; it has to be signed and given back until tomorrow.” Mycroft forced a smile on his face, knowing he had to read one-hundred-and-forty pages and then do all the other stuff that was waiting for him. And he would not leave too late tonight…

“Men and their contracts! You only think with your brain!” The lady rolled her eyes dramatically and threw her long-nailed hands into the air.

With what else would I be thinking, you moron from hell…

“You need to let the ghosts into your head, Mr Holmes,” the fortune teller or whatever she was purred. She was tall and thin and dark-haired, and in her business outfit she rather looked like a secretary than like a woman who believed in magic. Only her overly painted face and the huge earrings showed that she wasn't an office worker.

In any way Mycroft would have loved to hit her on the head but he just gave her a polite smile. “This will certainly help me.”

“You and your sarcasm. My husband and you are just the same ignorant little men.”

Mycroft needed all of his self-control to not grab the king's wife at her shoulders and bang his head against hers. Getting on his nerves with all these pseudo-magicians she used to drag into the palace was bad enough, but to be compared to the fat little king who was stupid like a stone and above all being called little with his one-hundred-eighty-five centimetres height was too much.

“I really think you need to leave me alone now, My Lady. I have quite a few things to do today.” He was almost failing in pretending to be polite now. At least the king wasn't there; he was on a trip to Cussia. Mycroft was sure they would love him there. Hopefully he would not start another war…

The lady narrowed her eyes. “You seem to forget who you are talking to…”

“Good morning!”

Three pairs of eyes were turning to the door. Mycroft saw a young woman with long, dark hair and a sunny smile that could hardly conceal the steely look in her big, dark-brown eyes. She looked to the two women first and raised her eyebrows.

“Stepmother, charlatan… how nice to see you…” Her tone said something completely different. “Mr Holmes, are you ready to teach me everything I need to know about this country?” she then asked while turning to him, and her expression changed completely.

Mycroft smiled and this time it was genuine. “Of course I am. Welcome, Princess Anthea.”

oOoOo

Greg couldn't deny that he was very nervous. He looked around in his living room and removed a little dust he had overlooked on a shelf. He had gotten up very early in the morning to tidy up as well as he could. Once more. He had done the same for two more mornings…

After having had three rather short meetings in the town, having eaten together when he had been able to get away after the lord had come home and his duties had been done, he would finally meet Doctor Michael Cooper for the first time in private today. He had enjoyed the time they had spent together so far tremendously. They had talked and laughed and the strawberry-blond man had been a delight to be having around. He was not in the least arrogant or condescending and he had listened to everything Greg had told him with apparently genuine interest. Their hands had touched on the table of the restaurant they had been sitting in at their second date, and when they had left it, they had shared a kiss… Greg knew he would always remember this kiss. It hadn't been the last. They had kissed some more just two days ago and it had been Michael's idea to meet in Greg's house for their first time alone with each other. It was not that easy for Greg to get to town; he had to ask for a car to borrow from the lord. Not that Mycroft had ever denied him that, but he felt better about Michael coming to him.

He winced when the doorbell rang. Michael was in time. Even a bit too early… And Greg couldn't wait to finally be alone with him. He just hoped no emergency would occur with anyone of his men tonight. But if someone got hurt, they had the doctor right there…

“Hello,” he greeted him when he had opened the door.

“Greg. You look dashing!” Michael beamed at him and presented him a bottle of wine. A very good one as far as Greg could see.

“Thank you. Ditto! Come in, please.” Greg realised he wasn't nervous anymore. He could see in Michael's eyes that he was very happy to see him. And Greg decided to just enjoy whatever would happen between them in this night.

Michael had put on very tight, black trousers and a light-blue shirt that was matching the colour of his eyes. He's so unbelievably attractive, Greg thought when they stalked to his living room. And he's mine…

They talked for about an hour, drank a glass of wine each, and their hands frequently touched on the table. Finally Michael reached out and touched his cheek. “I was a very patient boy. But I really would like to get a little more tactile now.”

Greg laughed. “Oh, you do? Come here…”

This time it wasn't a chaste kiss in a dark corner. This time it was two tongues dancing a dance of love and hunger and excitement, and Greg was hard from the first second on. He longed for more, and he could see in Michael's face and feel in his frantic touching of his back and waist that he was feeling the same way. But he thought they were a little too old to make out on his couch.

“Care to get more comfortable?” he suggested after pulling back and having taken a very necessary breath.

“I thought you would never ask…”

They smiled at each other, and then they walked upstairs to Greg's bedroom hand in hand. Shirt buttons were opened hastily, and trousers were flying over chairs, along with socks and pants. And then Greg was pinned on his bed by a long, muscular body, and two smooth chests were pressing against each other, as well as two stiff cocks. Greg's hands were sliding over Michael's back and he moaned when the doctor's huge dick was grinding against his achingly hard member. They kissed frantically, and their dicks seemed to have a sword fight of the most delicious sort. Finally Michael moved away from Greg and wrapped his long, strong fingers around his hot, hard flesh.

“I won't last long,” Greg hissed, and Michael smiled.

“I have time all night…”

“So do I. Well, until five; then I have to get up and get the work started.”

“We're not too old to survive a night without sleep.”

“No, definitely not. And I don't know a better way to spend it…”

“I really like you, Greg,” Michael said quietly.

“I think I'm very much in love with you,” Greg replied and he could feel his cheeks blush. He had not said these words for many years.

“Oh, come here…” They kissed again and then Greg could feel his climax crash through his groin, and he spilled his seed over the caressing fingers and his own stomach, and then a long, fat cock was being rubbed into the mess on his groin and only seconds after, more semen was added to it. Both of them were panting, and then Greg reached out for the box of tissues that was standing under his bed. He didn't need them often, and every time he had used any in the last couple of months he had been thinking of the man who was lying next to him now, smiling at him and rubbing his chest. And when he had cleaned himself and Michael's hand up, they kissed again and Greg melted into the passionate, loving kiss. He was happy. Very happy.

oOoOo

“Okay, I better go now. I have the early shift again tomorrow.”

“I'm so sorry, Sherlock. I know I'm such a terrible bother for you…”

Sherlock winced about hearing his real name. John had avoided saying it all this time but he was so shaken now. But it didn’t do any harm as they were alone in the hospital room. “Nonsense, John. It's not that you planned to stumble over the cat. It is what it is. And tomorrow you'll come home and you'll recover soon.” As much as he could with a broken arm, two cracked ribs and a concussion. Not even mentioning the old wounds that didn’t heal…

“But now… you won't have enough money for the rent again…”

And in this moment Sherlock realised that John knew what he had to do when this was the case. The pained, guilty look in his dark-blue eyes gave it away.

“It doesn't matter,” Sherlock mumbled. “Don't worry about it. It's all fine.”

“No, it's not… You'd be better off without me…”

“John, I don't want to hear anything like this! Is that clear? You're my friend, and we'll get through this together like we've always done. Tomorrow morning you'll take a cab and then Molly will look after you and when I get back, I will. You'll be okay soon. And they will give you something against your pains.”

“That you have to pay for. All this money you have saved and now you have to waste it on me - again… I wish I had broken my neck.”

“If you go on like this, I will break your neck!” Sherlock looked into the pale face of his friend and he felt nothing but deep sympathy and affection. John's eyes were lying in deep holes and he looked completely desperate. And Sherlock knew there was nothing he could have said to cheer him up. John's life was a mess. Well, so was his own. But they had pulled through together for so many years and they would go on doing that.

He got up. “I really need to leave now. Try to sleep, John. I… like you very much, you know that. And I'll do whatever is necessary to make everything work.” He looked over to the money he had laid on the drawer. “That should be enough for taking a cab. Don't even think of walking home.”

“Thank you, my friend. For everything…”

Sherlock gently patted on his left hand. “Never mind. It's really okay. Goodnight, John.”

“Goodnight. You know, I like you very much, too…” His voice was a mere whisper.

And Sherlock got aware of one more thing and it was hard for him to keep a straight face.

John smiled sadly at him. “I know, Sherlock. That's why I never said it before. You're my best friend and that’s what counts.”

Sherlock gave him a smile that wasn't any less sad than John's, and then he left. Loki was waiting outside, and he would walk home with the dog. And try to forget what John had just told him as this was a complication he didn't need at all. It was clear that John had not meant the same when he had said he liked Sherlock… And he would also try to forget that he would not be able to pay the rent in full again…

oOoOo

“Are you comfortable?” Molly stuffed another pillow behind John's back.

“Yes, thank you. You don't have to stay, Molly. You made me tea and brought me something to eat, and that was very nice. But now I guess I should get some more sleep, and you look as if you need some as well.”

“Yes, I had to do another floor today as Sandy was sick. But I feel bad about leaving you to yourself. It will be some hours until Billy comes home.”

“I'll be fine, Molly, really. I have not hurt my legs any further, so I can get up and walk if necessary. I'll be very careful.”

“I'm so sorry Rosie did this to you…” She wasn't saying this for the first time.

“It's a cat, Mol. She didn't do it on purpose. I should have watched out where I was going. Everything's alright.” He did look stressed and Molly knew she had to leave him alone now.

“Okay, shout when you need something. I'm sure I'll hear you.”

“I will. Thank you.”

And Molly finally went back into her own flat. In opposite to Billy's and John's, hers was perfectly neat. Nothing was lying around and she cleaned it at least once a week. She liked to have it tidy and nice. But somehow she didn't mind the mess in her neighbour's flat. In the beginning she had suggested she could clean up for them, but Billy had not wanted to hear it. She knew he brought a lot of the stuff that was lying around home from his work; some things were useful, some were rather not. In any way the two men were fine with the mess, and Molly was fine with being in it as long as she could be close to Billy. She liked John very much and felt sorry for his never-ending pain and his depression. But she was totally in love with Billy. She had fallen for him the moment she had first seen him.

Of course she knew she could never have him. He was so attractive and so smart and she knew he didn't really like her. She could see John was in love with him as well. Billy didn't seem to notice, but for someone who was crazy for him it was easy to sense this feeling in someone else. She had never mentioned it to either of them – as little as her own feelings – and she wasn't jealous of John. It was clear that Billy didn’t return his feelings, either. Probably he was one of the people who just didn't need anyone. Not physically and not emotionally. She knew Billy was aware of her feelings and that they were annoying him to some extent, so she tried to not show them too much and make him uncomfortable. She was grateful he let her be around him at all.

She walked over to her shabby, blue couch where Rosie was lying. “You're such a bad girl,” she mumbled and took her onto her lap. The cat meowed and rubbed its head against Molly's chin, and she smiled. “Okay, I still love you.” She could say this only to her beloved pet and sometimes it made her heart heavy. Of course – she was unattractive, boring and poor, a fatal combination. It was absolutely understandable that no man wanted her. Not even her scary landlord ever looked at her. He did seem to be rather fond of Billy though. Everybody seemed to be. He was the flower every bee was flying to. The centre of attention. Perhaps she was wrong and he would fall for somebody someday. Whoever that would be, they would be so lucky. And Molly knew she would just die if Billy ever brought somebody home…

oOoOo

“Yes, my dear, it looks perfect. Thank you.” Martha smiled at the young maid who had brought her the last of the good bowls after polishing it for minutes. They had not needed it for ages as there had never been any guests in Musgrave Hall anymore since the old lord had died. He had not been very social already, but Mycroft didn't invite anybody at all. He worked all day and then came home to eat and relax before going to bed. He didn't even have time to ride out or look if everything was fine on the property. The vineyards, the fields – he never visited them. He had Greg Lestrade to take care of everything, and he did it perfectly so the lord didn't have to bother.

But he was apparently struggling with his work at the palace a lot more than his father. Martha could only speculate, but she was quite sure it had something to do with the king's second wife and the changes the old man had probably gone through since the former Lord Holmes had passed away. In any way Mycroft was working himself into the ground and had neither time nor any interest in throwing parties, and he needed her, Greg and his butler to make sure everything was working smoothly at home and they did their best to meet his expectations.

But soon they would celebrate Wintergiving, and she knew and was very happy that Mycroft would take some time off for it. He had come into the kitchen a few days ago and had spoken to her about the menu. All the staff would come to the big house; the huge dining room would be opened for this special occasion, and lots of food had to be prepared.

Martha loved it. She loved cooking for people, the more the better, and of course she would have lots of help.

“Wow, that's a huge bowl,” Tom startled her; she had not heard him coming into the kitchen.

“Yes, and I almost dropped it because of you.”

“Oh, my deepest apologies.” He kissed her on the cheek and she giggled.

She loved the change of attitude in the young man. He was happy; everybody could see that. He had not told her any details about his relationship with the lord but it was clear as day that it had developed into more than giving him pleasure with his mouth. The lord did look somewhat happier as well, even though it didn't match Tom's behaviour. But for sure the butler had a very good influence on him and she would have loved him for that if she hadn't done that before already.

“And yes, it's the good bowl of the old lord's grandmother,” she explained to the handsome man.

“It's big but not big enough for all the people who will be here at Wintergiving.”

“Of course it isn't. We have five more of them. They are already polished and wrapped. They are for the soup.”

“The dining room is looking good already,” Tom explained. “We needed to repair a few chairs but Greg took care of that. He's very good with his hands.”

“Oh, is he?”

“Martha!” Tom grinned. “I wouldn't know anything about that. We can ask Doctor Cooper though when he drops by next time. He sneaked out of the Greg's house this morning.” He winked at her.

“I'm so happy for Greg,” Martha said with a wide smile.

“Yeah, me too. He's great.”

“Without your help, he would have probably never gotten close to the doctor.” Martha had to admit that she had never realised that Greg was interested in him. It did bother her a bit that she had missed it…

Tom smiled. “Ah, eventually he would have had enough courage. But I'm glad I could kick him into the right direction.”

“You're not talking about me, are you?”

“Oh, hi Greg. Still able to walk straight?”

“Tom!” both Martha and Greg said loudly.

“Come on, don't be so prude.” Tom winked. “It's alright, no details necessary. Your face says it all.”

“So does yours…” Greg retorted with raised eyebrows.

Tom blushed adorably. “Well… no details here either!”

“What a shame,” Martha mumbled, and both men laughed.

“You got a cup of tea for me, Martha?” Greg asked her.

“I wouldn't mind one either,” Tom added.

“Everything for my hard-working men.”

oOoOo

“Was the dessert to your liking, My Lord?” Tom asked when he took the plate away.

“Very much so. Mrs Hudson's cakes are always a delight.”

“I would agree.” Tom smiled at him, and he could feel his heart get warm when the lord smiled back. They had not spent any time together the last two evenings. Tom knew that Mycroft was very busy. He would take two days off for Wintergiving and therefore he had to get everything urgent done before. And he was working with the princess now; preparing her for the time she would be the queen of the Great Kingdom. So he had come home even later than usual and then retreated into his chambers right after dinner without asking Tom to visit him there. Tom missed him very much. But from the lord's behaviour he knew that it didn't have anything to do with him and that they would see each other in a more intimate way soon again.

Tonight the lord had come from work a bit earlier but he hadn't said anything about meeting up and Tom didn’t want to ask him just to be rejected. The older man would definitely let him know if he wanted to spend some time with him.

He was about to say goodnight when Mycroft surprised him. “I would like to see the big dining room now. Is everything ready there?”

Tom nodded. “Yes, it's all prepared. We haven't placed the plates and glasses yet so they don't get dusty but we're finished with the decoration.”

“Care to show me?”

“Oh, yes, of course, My Lord.” They shared another smile and then Tom put the tray with the dishes back on the table and they left the room. He spotted a servant on the corridor and told him to take care of the dishes.

A few minutes later, Mycroft was looking around in the richly decorated big dining room. He was impressed, Tom could see it. He had overseen the works of the servants and maids, bringing the spirit of Wintergiving into the room that was neglected all the year. It was decorated in red and gold and it looked very festive. What was missing was the heart of the table – the huge candlestick with the eight arms. It was the lord's turn to carry it into the room and then lit the long, red candles; the symbol of Wintergiving. He was supposed to add some decoration to it, and he would do it in the morning of the big day. Tom hadn't been sure if the lord would really take care of that, but Martha had told him that he always did. It was a tradition, and the lords of Musgrave had done so for centuries; and Mycroft was not an exception.

“Will you help me getting the candlestick ready when it's time?” Mycroft asked him to his total surprise as if he had read his thoughts.

“Oh, that would be an honour,” Tom stuttered, knowing that Mycroft had never wanted any assistance on it.

The lord smiled. “It's your first Wintergiving here. Hopefully it won't be your last.”

Tom almost fainted and he wasn't able to bring out a word which was probably for the best as he would have only said something stupid like I want to stay with you forever.

But the lord didn’t seem to mind at all. He reached out and almost shyly touched his hand. “Meet me in my rooms in twenty minutes?” he asked quietly but with a smile.

“Oh, yes, My Lord,” Tom croaked. Twenty minutes were enough to run into his room and get ready – like scrubbing his entire body, his teeth and his hair.

“See you then.” Mycroft turned around and left, and Tom gave him a head start before pacing off to get into the best possible condition.

He was in time when he knocked on the door. His hair was damp as usual, his face burning from shaving, and his heart and his groin were burning, too…

Mycroft didn't say anything but instead opened the door for him. They shared a smile and Mycroft closed the door behind him. He never locked it when they were together; nobody would dare come in without his permission.

As he had always done lately, he was wearing nothing else than a robe. The fabric was silky and black, and he looked so sexy in it that Tom had to force himself not to be all over him at once. He wasn’t sure how Mycroft would have reacted to it. Tom always let him make the first step or give him a look that made clear that he wanted Tom to make it.

They had not kissed once; not on the mouth. It was the one thing Mycroft wouldn't allow him. It was very hard for Tom, but he understood it. They were not lovers, and they would never be. But they had developed a more intimate relationship in a way, and he was very grateful for that. Mycroft was not so silent anymore, not watching his reactions that much anymore, and when they were finished, he didn't send Tom away at once. He sometimes told him about his day and held him in his arms while doing so, and Tom loved that even more than having sex with him.

He loved every position, but he enjoyed nothing more than having the lord on top of him so he could hold him and touch him while Mycroft was thrusting into him. Mycroft mostly kept his eyes closed when he was taking him, but sometimes he would open them up and their gazes would meet and lock, and this was the best moment during sex that Tom could think of. Tom knew that the lord could see the deep feelings Tom had for him, and he obviously didn't mind them. Of course he didn't return them but that was a fact that Tom had accepted long ago.

“Come into the bedroom,” Mycroft said now and led the way. Tom opened up his shirt while he was following him, not even wanting to wait until they had reached the bed. Mycroft turned around and grinned when he saw his bare chest; Tom had thrown the shirt over a chair.

“Aching to get naked?” he asked with raised eyebrows, and Tom was so happy about his light tone. The lord had never teased him like this before. Every night they met up brought some sort of first time now, and Tom loved it.

“Actually yes,” he answered in the same tone, and Mycroft grinned even wider and then looked down expectantly on Tom's trousers. They followed his shirt in an instant; he had not bothered with pants or socks when he had dressed after his shower so these two pieces of clothing had been all he'd had to get rid of.

His big cock was standing up stiff and proud, and he could feel the tip getting wet just by the way Mycroft was looking at it.

“He's happy to see me, isn’t he?” the lord said quietly, and Tom shuddered at his tone – a mixture of unexpected joking and desire.

“He always is,” he said.

“Do you think he would want me to touch him?”

“There is only one way to find out,” Tom retorted, amazed by his own cheekiness.

Mycroft grinned again and then his fingers were wrapping around silky, twitching flesh, and Tom moaned. Mycroft nodded thoughtfully. “I'd say he clearly likes it.”

Tom could only nod as well; suddenly he wasn't able to talk anymore. And he almost passed out when Mycroft kneeled down before him. The lord looked up to him while still stroking his dick. “What do you think – would he like to be licked as well?”

Tom fought down the reaction of his body with all he could – the last thing he wanted to do now was to shoot his load right into the lord's face…

It had to show on his face as Mycroft stopped massaging him and smiled. “Just relax,” he said quietly, and Tom did his best.

And then Mycroft bent forward and the head of his dick disappeared between his lips; unbelievably hot wetness closed around it and Tom tumbled from excitement. He wished he had a glass of ice water he could pour over his head to cool down his arousal but he was rather sure it wouldn’t have helped. He looked down when Mycroft started to suck him and take him in deeper. Tom's hands cupped his master's cheeks, stroking him gently, and Mycroft looked up to him and his eyes were smiling.

Tom was aware that Mycroft did that for the first time. He just knew that. He was doing it very well, apparently being a natural talent just as in everything he did, but Tom was sure that there hadn’t been anyone in his life he would have wanted to please like this, and that he had chosen Tom of all men to do it for him made him indescribably happy. But he had no idea what he was supposed to do with his release. His insecurity did cool him down a bit and the urge to come at once lessened. But ironically enough this would only lead to an even stronger climax in the end…

But then he realised that Mycroft certainly knew what he was doing, and Tom would warn him beforehand and let him decide what he would do, and Tom would just enjoy it.

Mycroft sucked him harder, and when he gently pulled at his balls, Tom breathed: “Oh, My Lord,” vaguely registering how he had emphasized the first part of the title. “I'm close, so close.” And still the thought of coming down the other man's throat terrified him. Mycroft should really not do that on the first time he sucked somebody off... He was perfect but some things just needed practice...

Mycroft smiled around his dick and then he finally slipped out of his robe and took Tom's dick out of his mouth, instead beating him off with his hand. Tom was very relieved and didn't fight the urge to come anymore, and seconds later his semen splashed onto the lord's bare chest in a massive eruption, and Tom did not moan – he screamed, and he would have probably fallen backwards if Mycroft hadn't held his thigh.

It took him a few seconds to regain his senses, and the lord noticed the moment when he was able to stand without help again and got up. He took one of the towels he had put on the bed and quickly cleaned himself up before Tom could do the deed, and then he grabbed Tom's arms and dragged him to the bed. “I want to be in you now,” he said quietly, and Tom had no objections whatsoever.

Mycroft had taken him many times over the past few weeks and there was no need for any longer preparations. So the big member was sliding into Tom smoothly not long after they had settled on the bed, and Tom just enjoyed being held by Mycroft's arms while he was pushing into him, his face buried in Tom's neck. Tom reached behind him and grabbed his cheeks, urging him to take him even deeper; he was already getting hard again. Mycroft's breathing sped up after a few minutes of deliberate, deep strokes and then Tom could feel him flooding his canal. Mycroft moaned into his ear when he came, and Tom was fully aroused now and Mycroft grabbed his dick and pumped him to completion once more. Then he pulled Tom close against his chest, ignoring the mess they had made. Tom snuggled backwards into his embrace, feeling the lord's heartbeat on his back, and he was feeling enormously grateful and just wonderful.

oOoOo

Greg couldn’t remember having been so happy ever before in his life. Or so filled up – both by deep feelings of love and quite literally by a huge cock that was thrusting into his arse. He was sitting on Michael's lap, being held by the doctor's strong, sensitive hands, their lips locked, Greg's hands buried in the thick reddish hair, and he was riding Michael, sliding down his long member to the root every time he went down.

“You're killing me,” Michael mumbled into his mouth. “You feel so bloody good…”

I feel good? You must be kidding me…” He moaned when his prostate was roughly rubbed after he had changed the angle of penetration. It was such an awesome feeling; he would have loved to have this experience every day. But of course that wasn't possible…

It was not easy to be together… Both of them worked long hours every day, with only one free day in the week, and not even then Greg was really free of his duties. He was actually always on duty – wanting to have everything under control on Musgrave Hall. And Michael as a doctor was not any different. He had always time for his patients and would always drive to them if somebody needed his help. It was all honourable and something to be proud of, but it made it very difficult to find time for each other.

Greg had thought about speaking to the lord about it. That he had a boyfriend now and needed a little time for this relationship as well. But he couldn’t see himself standing before Mycroft and telling him that. Of course he could talk to Tom first and ask for his opinion. Tom was on really great terms with the lord in the end…

“What are you thinking of, babe?” Michael asked him. “You lost your rhythm…” He rocked his hips playfully and stroked over Greg's face.

“Sorry, Mikey… I just thought that we don't get to see each other very often.”

“That's true.” Michael kissed him. “But we are two busy men and that's how it should be. I enjoy every minute we do spend together.”

In this night before Wintergiving, Greg had driven to him after everybody had gone to bed. He had saved some money and he had spent it on a used car. It wasn't pretty or fast or modern but it brought him to his man. But Greg would have to spend Wintergiving at home. He had to be with his staff and the people of the house. “I do too of course… But tomorrow…”

“I'll come by tomorrow afternoon, don't worry,” Michael said with a smile. “We'll sneak into your house and make out a bit before the ceremony begins.”

“But what about you? I hate the thought that you'd have to spend this evening all alone. Why don't you just stay?” Michael didn't have a family. He did have friends of course, but they would be busy with their spouses and children.

“Well… You don't think the lord would mind?”

“I'll ask him.” Why had he not thought about this before? Why should Lord Holmes mind if the doctor he'd known for many years spent Wintergiving there? Martha would certainly have cooked enough for many more people than who would be there. He would first talk to Tom and if he thought it was okay, he would ask the lord.

“Do that. But I'll be okay if he doesn't want that. I'm a big boy.”

“Oh yes, you are…”

“Speaking of that…”

“Come on, give me…”

And Michael did…

Chapter Text

There were not many holidays in the Great Kingdom, but Wintergiving was the most important day of the year. The bins had to be emptied nonetheless on this blistering cold morning, but Sherlock and his colleagues did it with pleasure on this holy day as they received double payment for it. Except for them, not many people had to work on these two days, and it was very quiet on the streets of Blackchapel.

Sherlock had given his presents to his mates and had received theirs as they wouldn’t see each other later. Nothing was new or worthy, but all of them had searched for something they thought the others would like and it came from their hearts, and they laughed and joked around the bench they had placed the items on. Sherlock was pleased about the almost flawless and well-fitting pair of shoes from Chris, and Mike had presented him a pair of gloves. Phil had baked a cake for each of them like every year; he was very talented in that.

Sherlock went home after having been pulled into three hugs – Chris' embrace had almost broken his ribs – and he was feeling rather torn. He would have the next day off and could relax a bit and his colleagues' friendliness had touched him and had made him feel warm in his chest. But this day had to inevitably lead to thinking of the past. Thinking of Mycroft. What would he do on this day? With whom would he spend it? Of course – the traditions… Being the lord of Musgrave now, he would read a long tale for his employees and eat with them. Martha Hudson – if she was still working and alive at all – would have spent hours in the kitchen to produce a wonderful meal for everybody. The house would look homely and inviting; candles would be everywhere… Would his brother even waste a thought on him? Or had he forgotten about him years ago? Surely he had never tried to find Sherlock…

He felt something on his calf and smiled. He hadn't even noticed that he had stopped walking, and Loki was sniffing at his leg and wagging his tail, looking up to him with big eyes as if to ask what was wrong with him and why they had stopped moving.

“Yes, sweetie, we'll go home now. You know – I wish I could show you to somebody. He would love you as much as I do. He loved all animals. But unfortunately, he didn't love me. Not enough at least.” He started walking again, getting more and more lost in his thoughts. How was it possible to miss somebody that much after so many years of having not seen him once, spoken a word to him or touched him? But the pain was still as strong as it had been when he had run away that night as soon as he allowed himself to think about him. He would never stop loving him, missing him, or wanting him. Sherlock didn't even want to imagine that his brother could be married now, or even had children… He would have to have a son. Carrying on the Holmeses. These were the rules. And Mycroft always lived by the rules…

When he came home, he only realised that he was crying when John put his good arm around his shoulder and pulled him close.

oOoOo

“Good morning, Tom.”

The young butler turned around. “Oh, hi Greg! Happy Wintergiving!” The next second he was clinging to Greg’s neck, and Greg was so surprised that he nearly fell over. Tom had never touched him like this before. But it felt damn good… In a platonic way of course…

“Yes, happy Wintergiving to you, too, of course. So, everything's ready for tonight?”

Tom pulled back and smiled at him. “Yes, we’ll put the plates and cutlery in the big room now and finish decorating. And later I’ll help the lord with the candlestick.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “Wow. He asked you for help on that?”

The slight blush on Tom's cheeks looked adorable. “Yes, he did. I do have some ideas for the decoration.”

“I'm sure you will do it nicely. So – he is in a rather good mood, isn't he?”

“I would say so, yes. He had to work a lot the last couple of days. The princess is there now and he is teaching her. But apparently she's very smart and they like each other.” Tom did sound slightly jealous.

“They've known each other forever. Even as a little girl she was clinging to him. He told me once about it. Don't worry – nothing will ever happen between them.”

Tom smiled sheepishly. “Was it so obvious? And it's not as if we were together. Of course not…”

“But it's close to it,” Greg concluded.

“Well, no. I don't want to think so. Because it will hit me even harder if he… drops me…”

“Oh, boy, I'm so sorry you feel so unsure about him. I can't judge the situation of course, but to me he seems to be very different from what he was before you started visiting him in his private rooms. He's overworked, yes, but he looks way happier than he had done all this time since…” He broke off; there was no need to speak it out.

Tom nodded. “I know it. And I like to think it's because he does like me. He's nice to me, don't get me wrong. I just wish more than anything that he lets me touch his heart as well.”

“Sorry if that's too intimate – but does he touch you, too? Physically I mean?”

Tom blushed even more. “Yes, he does. He even sucked me the other night…”

“Wow…” Now it was Greg's turn to blush at this image. “I'm quite sure he's not giving that to just anybody. I don't know him well but I'd say you won't have to fear for being dropped. As long as you don't put pressure on him.”

“I certainly won't… But how can you not know him? You more or less grew up together.”

Greg gave him a sad smile. “Nobody here knows him. Or anyone at all. He's always shut his inner self away if you forgive me for this cliché. There was only one person he opened up to.”

“His brother…”

“Yes.” They were silent for a moment. Then Greg cleared his throat. “Listen – we both still have a lot to do. But… I need to talk to the lord for a moment. Do you think he would be amenable to do me a personal favour?”

Tom shrugged. “Oh wow. I really can't say.”

“So you don't know him either?”

“No, not really. He doesn't talk about any personal stuff. But I'd say it's Wintergiving, and when if not today should you be able to do it? It's about the doc, isn't it?”

“I guess that was also quite obvious… I would like to ask the lord if he can spend this evening here. I'm sure Martha has cooked enough for a whole army. He would be all alone if he had to go back after visiting me.”

“And you would miss him terribly.”

“Yes.”

“I'm sure he doesn't mind, go ahead. Why would he? He's not that bad!”

“Of course he's not. Well, do you know where is?”

“Yes, he said he needed to do some paperwork in his office. Just go there. He likes you, you know that.”

“I would have sworn he doesn't like anyone. And then you came…”

“Quite literally…”

Greg looked at him speechless for a moment, and then they both laughed. “Alright, I'll try my luck. Thank you, Tom.”

“Anytime. I'll keep my fingers crossed.”

oOoOo

Greg wondered why he was so bloody nervous. He'd been pacing around before the lord's home office near the small dining room for almost five minutes and he'd grown just more nervous with each of them. He almost screamed when the door was opened the same moment he had finally gotten his senses together and was about to knock.

Mycroft looked at him with raised eyebrows. “I thought I heard a noise out here. You wanted something from me, Lestrade?”

“Oh, yes, I mean, ahem…”

“Come in.” The lord turned around and walked back in.

Greg followed him after taking a deep breath. The office was rather small and sober-looking, and the furnishing consisted of a dark-brown desk, covered with papers, and one chair behind it and another one in the corner.

“Take a seat.” Mycroft gestured to the second chair, and Greg hurried to take it and place it before the desk. “Alright, what is your concern? Is there something going on I need to know about?” the lord asked with raised eyebrows after Greg had sat down.

Greg was about to say that everything was fine on the property when he realised that this had sounded rather scornful. He searched for the lord's gaze and to his total surprise he saw some sparkles in these ice-blue eyes. “No, ahem, it's just… I would like to bring a guest to the Wintergiving dinner, only if you don't mind.”

“A guest? Well, that's something new. We never have guests here.”

“Oh, yes, I'm sorry…”Greg bit his lip. He should have known it.

“And who is this guest then?” Mycroft watched him intensely.

“Ahem, just Doctor… Cooper.”

Mycroft stared at him and then he smiled slightly. “The doctor. I see. Well, in this case, he is very welcome to join us.”

“Oh, thank you, My Lord!” Greg was relieved and surprised and he realised he was grinning like an idiot and blushed severely.

The lord looked at him inquiringly. “So you are… seeing Doctor Cooper?”

Greg sat up even straighter than before. “Yes, My Lord. I hope you don't mind.”

“Why would I mind? What you do in your spare time is up to you as long as it is not illegal.” A shadow ghosted over his handsome face. He seemed to shake the – very obvious – thought off at once. “But I guess you are not seeing overly much from him. You are way too tied up for it.”

“Well, it is difficult. But we can deal with it.”

“I think you have your boys under control very well. You can take an evening or half a day off once or twice a week without bothering to be reachable, and go to him if you want. Or he can come over.”

“Oh, really?”

“I'm sure you have someone in your staff you can trust with taking over your duties for some hours a week?”

Actually, Greg did. One of the guys, Jeremy, had been working with him for five years now, and while he was rather introverted and quiet, he knew his job very well. Greg trusted him with looking after everything and taking over in an emergency. “Yes, My Lord. Jeremy Danner could be there for the guys then. I'll talk to him. And I absolutely appreciate your generosity.”

Mycroft shook his head. “You know – you aren't a slave. You deserve some free time. You are doing a tremendously good job, and I can't thank you enough for all your efforts. Well, it's the perfect day to do that, isn't it?”

Greg smiled. “I highly appreciate that, thank you. I love my job, My Lord. But a few hours here and there to spend with my boyfriend would be awesome.”

“Consider them guaranteed. Perhaps you can let Tom know when you go out or are not available? He'll keep me updated.”

“I will, My Lord… And thank you again…” He was very surprised – well actually about everything that just had been said, but mostly about the lord's casual mentioning of his relationship with Tom. “I'll see you later then…” He got up and put the chair back where he had found it.

“Yes. But just one thing…”

Greg turned back to him. “Of course, My Lord?”

“Regarding Tom…” He broke off, feeling uncomfortable as it seemed.

“Yes…” Greg was very cautious.

“Is he… Oh, forget it…”

“You can ask me anything, My Lord,” Greg dared say. If it helped Tom and the lord, he would have an awkward conversation with his boss with pleasure.

Mycroft bit his bottom lip and was silent for a moment. “Is he happy?” he simply asked then without looking into Greg's face.

“Oh, yes, he is. He has become very happy lately,” Greg assured him honestly.

Mycroft smiled and now their eyes met. “That's good. Thank you.”

“Anytime, My Lord. See you later then.”

“Yes. Have a good day… And tell the doctor he is very welcome to celebrate with us. And stay the night at your place whenever he wants to.”

“Oh, thank you! I will tell him. You're a great boss,” slipped out his mouth before he could think, and he blushed in embarrassment.

But Mycroft gave him a genuine smile. “That’s good to hear. Blame it on the day.”

They shared a smile, and then Greg left, still grinning from ear to ear.

oOoOo

“It looks great,” Tom said reverently, and sat back onto the chair.

“Yes, I think we've done a pretty good job,” Mycroft agreed. Both of them looked at the huge candlestick on Mycroft's desk. It was made of pure gold and about two-hundred years old. Every year at Wintergiving the respective lord would bring it into the big room to enlighten the candles. And every year it was decorated differently.

Tom had done most of the decoration, always silently asking for the lord's consent when he had brought another piece of fir or golden angel hair on. It did look pretty overloaded, but that was what Wintergiving was about. People could live out their sappy side and enjoy things they would have despised – or pretended to despise – during the rest of the year.

“Let's hope it won't burn…” Mycroft mumbled and Tom grinned. “Water will be kept close to it and I'll always have an eye on it.”

“You and Greg Lestrade will be sitting on either sides of me,” Mycroft told him. “And Mrs Hudson right next to Greg.”

“Oh. That sounds… very nice…” Tom swallowed. He had not expected to be allowed to sit next to him at the long table. But of course he would not be placed there as Mycroft's lover but as the boss of the household staff. He should not forget that. “Isn't there…” he began but then broke off.

“What? Just ask away,” the lord said with a smile.

“I just thought… there must be some other family members… cousins or uncles…” He had known it was a silly question as it had to remind Mycroft of the one family member he would have loved to have close to him.

But Mycroft didn't show it with more than a sad flicker in his eyes. “Yes, there is some extended family. But they'll celebrate in their own houses. We're not exactly close…”

“I see.”

“What about your family?” Mycroft surprised him. “Wouldn't you want to visit them tomorrow? I can give you the day off.”

It was like a double stab into Tom's heart, first for being remembered of his parents and secondly because Mycroft wouldn't mind being without him on the second day of Wintergiving. Which was totally stupid of course. They were not lovers…

“I'm sorry. It seems that's not a good subject.” Mycroft leaned back in his chair and gave him a look full of sympathy.

Tom stared at him. It was unheard that any master apologised to a servant. Then he cleared his throat. “Well, I only have my parents, no other family. And they don't want to see me anymore.”

“Why? Because you're… gay?”

“Yes. I tried to hide it from them, but eventually they found it out and sent me away.”

Mycroft's face was dark now. “How nice.” His voice was steely. “Well, it seems they are no loss. I hope… you are feeling at home here now…”

Tom had to dig his nails into his palms to be sure he was not dreaming. “Oh yes, My Lord. I absolutely do.”

“That's good to know. And it'll be your home as long as you wish. Don't forget that.”

“I won’t.” He just had to be dreaming…

Mycroft cleared his throat. “Well, I guess you're needed out there and I also have some more work to do.”

Tom stood up at once. “Yes. Thank you for letting me help you on this…” He gestured towards the candlestick.

“Oh, it has never looked better. So thank you!”

When Tom walked out, he was smiling and for the first time since many years, he just loved Wintergiving.

oOoOo

The hours went by quickly and Tom was very busy. It was amazing how much had to be done just for a rather simple celebration. The other servants were excited and nervous, and some more or less worthy items crashed onto the floor. Thanks to the thick carpets, nothing broke. But it added to his own nervousness. He wanted the house to be perfect. Okay, even more perfect than usual.

In the early afternoon, he came to the conclusion that everything was done. There would be more work after the ceremony of course, but he would be able to relax for a while before. He had not seen Mycroft for the last couple of hours except for serving him lunch, but he had been on the back of his mind all the time.

He was about to go into the kitchen when the doorbell rang. Normally he didn't open the door – instead leaving that to a servant - except if it was the lord who was coming home. He didn't have to use the doorbell of course. And except for deliveries of groceries or letters, nobody ever came to visit. And it was Wintergiving day. Who was showing up today of all days? A crazy thought came to his mind – but no, it wouldn't be the missing brother…

As he was so close to the door, he did open up, shushing the servant who had come by away. He saw a woman in her early thirties, with black hair that didn’t look like her natural hair colour, dramatically red lips and a stuck-up-expression on her face. She was wearing a black skirt that was way too thin for the time of year and over it a short jacket that looked as if it was made of real fur. He disliked her on the first view. “Yes? Can I help you, ma'am?” he asked cautiously and without the friendliness that used to be in his voice.

“I want to see the lord,” she snapped without bothering to introduce herself.

“I think he's quite busy.” He knew he had no right to say something like this. But somehow he was sure that Mycroft wouldn't want to meet this guest… And hell – he didn't want her to meet him, either…

“Sorry?! Would you tell him that Irene Adler-Barrymore is here to see him, butler?” Her voice was shrill and ugly, and her narrowed eyes didn’t make her looking any more attractive.

“Of course, ma'am. Come in, please.” He tried to not sound pissed off but it was very difficult…

He led the way to the downstairs parlour and forced a polite smile onto his face when he gestured her to enter it. She gave him a snobby look and stalked into it. He only saw now that she was carrying a basket. A present? Who the hell was she?

He shut the door behind her and walked to Mycroft's office. He knocked on the door and was invited at once.

“Yes?” Mycroft said with a smile when he saw him. He was dressed in a grey three-piece-suit, correct as always (when he was not about to go to bed) and looking devastatingly handsome.

“Sorry to disturb you, My Lord, but someone is here to see you. A woman named Irene Adler-Barrymore.”

Mycroft narrowed his eyes and sighed, and Tom could hardly suppress a smile. “What the hell does she want here now… Well, I guess I'll have to ask her. Where is she?”

“I let her into the parlour, My Lord.”

“Alright, thank you.” Mycroft stood up.

Tom shuddered when they walked side by side, their shoulders touching accidentally when they left the office. When they had reached the kitchen, Tom gave him a shy smile and watched him walk away before entering the room, wondering what would be going on between Mycroft and someone who Tom had recognised as a rival at once.

oOoOo

Martha, who had been busy decorating another cake with chocolate stripes, startled when Tom stormed into the kitchen. He looked disturbed and more than a little upset. “What is wrong, my boy?” she asked, feeling concerned. This young man was like a son to her and she didn't like to see him like this, especially not on this day.

“We have a guest,” Tom hissed. “Do you know a woman named Irene Adler-Barrymore?”

Martha sighed. “Oh, and I had hoped she had disappeared for good…”

“Who is she?”

“Someone who doesn’t accept no for an answer… Sit down, darling.”

Tom let himself fall onto a chair and looked at her with narrowed eyes. “So I was right. She wants him.”

The old housekeeper sat down opposite of him. “She has wanted him for fifteen years, if not longer. You know he's the most wanted bachelor in this exclusive circle. The Holmes family is the most important family after the king. And the old lord wanted Mycroft to marry Irene as the Adlers are among the rich and influential people of this kingdom as well. It was the only thing he ever refused his father.”

“He needs an heir,” Tom said in a flat voice.

“But he is gay, and he has always known it as I'm sure. His father didn’t get that. He was very smart, but he never found that out. I don't know how Mycroft will solve this particular problem. But believe me – he's never had any interest in the Adler daughter, and I doubt very much that this will change.”

“Was she married before?”

“Yes, she married a war hero named Major Barrymore. He was not by far as important as Lord Holmes is, but he was very rich and very old… He died this summer; they didn’t have children.”

“And now she's here to finally get the lord…” His face clearly said that he asked himself if she would get him.

“She'll certainly try… But he's never wanted her and now he has even more reason to refuse her.”

Tom laughed and it didn’t sound amused. “Because of me? No way. He's not in love with me. I still call him My Lord, even when we…” He broke off and blushed. He had been so happy for the last couple of days, and now he was looking defeated – as if he had suddenly lost his illusions.

Martha patted his hand. “You know it's not easy for him. And as you work for him, he might be hesitant to let you call him by his first name. Remember that nobody does. He's My Lord for all of us and Lord Holmes for the king and everybody else who doesn't live here. He doesn't allow anybody to call him Mycroft. He would allow his extended family if he ever spoke to them, but besides that, nobody.”

“I see that. And I don't mind using his title, really. But it just proves that he doesn't really feel anything for me. I try not to think about this and just be happy about what I do have with him, but now… If this woman is really so persistent, perhaps he'll give in so he gets his heir to carry on his name…” He looked and sounded desperate, and it broke Martha's heart.

“He won't, trust me, my boy. He has never come closer to love somebody since his brother went away than with you now. He's changed so much since you've come into his life. You must give him time.”

But Tom didn’t seem to believe her. “I want to know what they are talking about…” His beautiful blue eyes were full of tears now.

“The door is not thick and I think her voice is quite shrill. See if you find something to do out there…”

Tom got up quickly and kissed her cheek. “Thank you, Martha. I really love you.”

“Oh, my darling, so do I…” They embraced each other quickly, and then Tom left the kitchen.

oOoOo

“Mrs Adler-Barrymore, what a surprise to see you,” Mycroft said when he had entered the sitting room.

She stood up from the chair she had waited on. “Oh please, call me Irene, would you? Mycroft? We've known each other for ages.” She held out her right hand, apparently wanting Mycroft to kiss it.

He shook it quickly instead. “It's nice of you to drop by at Wintergiving. What do I owe this pleasure?” What the hell do you want here? would have been a more appropriate question…

“I thought I should visit my next neighbour and bring him a little present.” She gave him a smile than reminded him of a viper and presented a basket with a bottle of wine, cigars and a cake to him.

“That was very considerate, thank you. So – you're back at your parents' house? My condolences for your loss.”

“Oh, losing my husband broke my heart,” she said in a light tone and ran a hand through her hair after putting the basket onto the table. “But now I'm back. And back on the market as well…”

Mycroft could hardly refrain from rolling his eyes and chose to not say anything to this. He had never been interested in any woman in his life, and he would have rather cut it off than sticking a certain part of his anatomy into any of them.

Her smile was a little insecure now. “I'll have a little party over Year's End and I wanted to invite you.”

“That is very nice of you, but I don't go to any parties.” And I hate Year's End…

“And you're never giving any. For nine years there hasn't been a party on Musgrave Hall. And I think that's when we've last seen each other.” She came closer and let her hand wander over his forearm, and he shuddered.

Nine years were still too short a break from having to talk to this woman. “It was nice of you to drop by, but I still have plenty to do today and I'm sure you'll have to prepare your Wintergiving ceremony as well.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You need a wife, Mycroft. You need a son to carry on your name. Your father told you that I was the best choice for you; I know that. We could be so happy together.” And then she closed the last distance and slung her arms around his neck.

Mycroft froze in shock. Her attack had taken him by surprise, and he had been raised to always being a gentleman so he couldn't just push her away as he would have loved to do. “I'm sorry, but that's not a good idea,” he stuttered, and then there was a knock on the door. “Yes, come in,” he said loudly, very happy about the distraction, and Irene stepped back to his relief when the door opened.

Tom entered the room, carrying a tray with a glass filled with brandy. Only one glass…

Before he could say anything, Mycroft spoke. “Oh, thank you, dear, just put it on the table.”

He saw that Tom was about to drop the tray and he took it out of his hands and placed it next to Irene's basket. “Feeling a bit nervous today, darling?” he teased him.

“Yes, My… croft,” Tom brought out with blushing cheeks, and then Mycroft pulled him close. He was very grateful that Tom was playing the game.

“Irene, I believe you've already met my partner?” the lord asked cheerily.

Irene was pale like the wall, her lips rapidly moving. “But… he's a man!” she finally stammered.

Mycroft looked at Tom with an expression of utter surprise. “Oh, really? Damn! Why didn't you tell me?” He squeezed his waist tightly. It felt good to be mean, he realised. His father would have been terrified by his behaviour... sod it, he was the lord now...

Tom, who had stared at him in awe, grinned all at once, and Mycroft smiled widely at him. It was a genuine smile.

“And… he's your butler!” Irene spat out.

“Yes, he is. And he's the best butler a man could wish for. As well as the best lover,” Mycroft said deliberately cruelly.

She held her hand over her mouth as if she thought she had to vomit and stared at him with big, round eyes filled with tears of shock.

“Oh, please, Irene, if you're sick, I would appreciate if you could refrain from throwing up in my parlour,” Mycroft said. “Some fresh air might help you.”

“I'll show you out,” Tom said with a polite but hard voice, and Mycroft pulled him closer.

“I believe she'll find the way herself.”

Irene sobbed and gagged, and then she ran out of the room, her hand still clamped over her mouth, and seconds later Mycroft could hear the front door being opened and slammed shut.

“Wow… thank you for saving me, Tom,” he said with a deep sigh of relief. “She was about to eat me up like a spider.” He reached out for the tray and took a sip from the brandy. Tom really always knew what he needed and what had to be done.

“It was my pleasure, My Lord,” Tom replied.

He looked a bit shaken, Mycroft realised. “You know what – stick to Mycroft when we're alone.” It was about time…

Tom stared at him with wide opened eyes – like a parody of Irene, just without the tears. “Oh. Thank you so much,” he croaked.

Mycroft reached up with his hand and stroked gently over his cheek. It felt warm and a little rough. “I have to thank you. And what I said was true. You are the best butler and the best lover I could wish for.”

And now Tom clamped his hand over his mouth.

“Feeling sick, too?” Mycroft asked him with a smile.

Tom let his hand drop down. “No, just overwhelmed.”

All at once they heard a crash from outside the room, followed by a curse. Tom rolled his eyes. “Finally they managed to break something,” he mumbled. “I should better find out what it was.” But he didn’t look as if he was keen on leaving him alone.

“Yes,” Mycroft said and touched his face again. “But don't worry about it. Oh, can you bring this to Mrs Hudson, please?” He picked up Irene's basket. “The wine and the cake look really good.”

Tom took it and looked at the contents. “What about the cigars?”

“We can smoke one tonight if you want.” He took them out and saw that it was a very good brand.

“Wow, that sounds… good.”

Mycroft smiled at him. “Fine. Now run and shout at someone.”

“Oh, yes. But I'm not sure if that works now…”

Mycroft grinned. He pulled Tom into a quick embrace. “Try your best to be mean. See you later.” He watched him go on rather unstable legs and poured down the brandy. Then he returned into his office to finish his paperwork. He knew he should have felt ashamed, but somehow he didn't give a damn. Instead he thought that it had felt very good to hold Tom like this.

Chapter Text

Sherlock rolled around on his bed. He had been trying to sleep for more than half an hour after coming home from his shift, but the noises from the living room had been keeping him awake. He winced when something apparently crashed onto the floor. With a sigh he got up, put on his best trousers and left his bedroom. He had taken a shower when he had gotten home. He knew he couldn't hide away for the rest of the afternoon. John and Molly were waiting for him.

Molly looked at him with a sheepish grin. "Oh, sorry, I didn't want to disturb you. But I wanted to make it all pretty for us. And I didn't break anything."

Sherlock waved this away. He didn't own anything worthy. "It looks very nice," he said honestly after looking around. Molly had done her best. She had tidied up the mess in the room and she had decorated it with all she had been able to find.

"Wow, so many candles," he mumbled after a closer look. They were everywhere; not lit yet but they would make the room look very homely when it became dark. None of them was new though; most of them were just small leftovers. They didn't have a candlestick; John had broken the old one Sherlock had found years ago the previous Wintergiving. Sherlock didn't miss it. He wondered if his brother would present the precious Holmes candlestick tonight. Well, of course he would... It hurt him physically to think of it. To think of him...

"I took them home from the hospital all year and saved them for today," she admitted. "I don't have too many red ones, but I think it'll look fine when we've lit them."

"Yes, she's done such a good job," John said with a smile. "And she brought us something to eat." He was sitting in his old armchair, Rosie the cat in one arm and Loki the dog in the other one. He looked rather healthy today.

"I did, too," Sherlock said with raised eyebrows. He had spent a lot of money on buying some meat for them. They hardly ever ate any but hell, it was Wintergiving.

"Of course you did," Molly hurried to agree. "But we all got a package with food in the hospital this morning, even cake. We'll have a fancy meal."

"Sounds good to me." Sherlock sat down on the shabby couch. "But you should keep at least a part of it for yourself for the next few days. You're skin and bones."

"As you are, Billy. I'm fine. I'm just a woman; I'm supposed to be thin."

For whom? Sherlock thought. She never went outside. After finishing her daily work, she came home and either spent the rest of the day with them or on her own with her cat. But of course Sherlock knew whom she wanted to impress. It was perhaps not the right day to tell her how hopeless this was. One should have expected she would have figured that out long ago by herself, but apparently some illusions were hard to kill. Well, not for him - so much was sure. He had lost all of them eleven years ago...

"We should play a game," Molly suggested. "We throw a coin and who guesses wrong must answer a question – revealing some secrets the others don't know."

Sherlock cringed. That was the very last thing he wanted to do. But then – he would just invent something. "Alright," he said and he could see that John, who had thrown him a concerned look, was surprised. He gave him a wink and hoped his flatmate would play along. They had to do something to get it over with this day; and there was still a lot left of it. He would have preferred to be alone now and cuddle up in his bed with his dog, but he knew that wasn't an option. He would have to wait for it until after exchanging presents and having dinner.

Molly beamed at him and fumbled a coin out of her pocket. "You go first, Billy."

"Okay, I say king."

She threw it and looked disappointed when she had seen on which side it had landed. "You were right. Okay, now you, John..."

oOoOo

Mike Stamford was lying on his bed and smoking the rest of a cigarette he had found on the ground on his way home. The tiny, almost empty flat was totally silent. As always. Wintergiving... He snorted. This day was meant for the lucky ones who had a family or at least friends that cared about them. He didn't have anybody. He did like his colleagues but he knew he was an outcast even among them, being much older and much more educated than they were. Having fallen so deeply... He had tried to convince Billy, who was a very smart young man, to do something else with his life, but every time he had suggested it, Billy's face would shut down and finally he had told him to leave him alone in a rather brisk tone. This man had a secret, so much was clear, but Mike knew he would never found out what it was. In any way his colleagues had their own lives and none of them would waste a thought on him tonight.

He wouldn't even bother with lighting any candles, let alone singing one of these sappy songs or anything other people used to do today. He would lie here until it was time to go to sleep. Of course he would eat something; he still had some bread. But that was it. And tomorrow would be even worse as he wouldn't even have a shift he could go to. He would spend all day like this, being on his own and trying to blank out the joy and fun others were having. They could go to hell...

His life had once been completely different. He'd had a wife and two kids. Well, they were still somewhere out there he was sure, but he hadn't spoken with any of them for many years now. Since the incident. He must have been out of his mind to fall for her and let her ruin everything... Angelina... She had been so pretty with huge blue-green eyes, long, dark hair and these lips... So seductive... He'd just had to kiss her. And she had wanted it too; he knew that. She had pretended to be hesitant when he had suggested going somewhere more private than the then empty teacher's room. He would never forget the moment when he had slid into her, her skinny body below his, and he had sunken into this hot wetness with so little resistance. She had done that before; he also knew that. And she had liked being taken by him and being filled with his seed. But then she had told her parents about it and then the scandal had begun. It hadn't been his fault but of course everybody had blamed him.

He had lost everything. His profession, his family, his home... He had ended on the street. If he hadn't found this job as a dustman, he would have starved there. So as embarrassing it was for a man like him to do such a job, he had to be grateful for it. Well, at least one thing he could thank a higher power for at Wintergiving. He looked at the warm pullover Billy had given him as a present in the morning. What a nice guy he was, no matter how stubborn and mysterious he appeared to be. He had once mentioned he lived together with another man and a girl who had a flat next door but spent all day with them. Certainly his life was way more exciting than his own...

Mike grabbed for the bottle of alcohol that was stored behind his bed. A toast on Billy on this special day. And a toast to this fourteen-year-old cunt that had destroyed his life...

"May you rot in hell, bitch," he mumbled and took a large gulp.

oOoOo

"Okay, which was your favourite toy as a child?" Molly was sitting on the edge of her chair, looking at him expectantly.

Sherlock had a hard time to not roll his eyes. Why on earth had he agreed on playing this stupid game? "I liked to play ball," he lied. He had never done that. There had been so much to discover on the huge property of Musgrave Hall. Together with his brother. Mycroft had always been so patient with him and his endless questions. He bit his lip. He really didn't want to think of him now. Or at all actually. But every question he'd had to answer – most of them with a lie – had led him to thinking of how it really had been. With Mycroft…

"Oh right. Now you, John." She stroked over the head of her loudly purring cat.

The ex-soldier didn't look any happier than Sherlock was feeling. But he guessed and he failed.

"What is your biggest wish?" Molly asked him. She was asking all the questions. So far, she had always guessed right and hadn't been forced to answer a question.

John's face darkened. "That's easy," he mumbled. "Being free of these pains..."

"Oh, sure," Molly said sadly, and Sherlock would have liked to shake her. Women were supposed to be the more sensitive gender, but that wasn't true for her... She tended to stab into the worst wounds... "My turn," she said.

Sherlock threw the coin and this time her guess was incorrect. "Why do you never go out, Molly?" he asked rather brutally. Perhaps it was time for a little payback.

Her pale face got red. "Oh, well... Where would I go? I have no money and nobody to go out with. Except if..." She gave him a shy look and he cursed himself for opening up this door.

"I see," he hurried to say. "My turn."

Again his guess was incorrect. "If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would that be?" Molly asked him.

Sherlock felt tears shooting into his eyes and he was shocked by this reaction. Molly clapped her hand over her mouth. "Oh dear, I'm so sorry, Billy! I didn't want to make you feel bad. Forget this silly question!"

John gave him a very concerned look but he didn't say anything.

Eleven years and such an innocent question ripped open this wound in an instant... But then, it had never healed in the first place, and this day was meant for reminding Sherlock of what he had lost and would never get back. Or never get in the first place like being loved by his brother the way he still loved him. "Alright," he mumbled, fighting back the tears. "I need to take Loki out for a walk now and I guess it's time to prepare dinner then. Be right back..." He hoped she would never suggest playing this game of torment again as he would hit something on her head then.

"Sorry!" Molly said again in a small voice when he had called his dog and grabbed his jacket.

He just nodded and left the flat. He hated Wintergiving...

oOoOo

When Phil Anderson finally got home after work, he had drunken almost half of the almost full bottle of booze that he had received from Billy. It felt so good to have it running down his throat. It made him forget for a moment that he had only some chocolate to give to his girlfriend, not the ring she was craving for. She had told him she would only marry him if he had a ring for her, and not just some cheap piece. And she would only have sex with him if he married her…

He knew he didn't deserve a beautiful, special woman like Sally Donovan. Everybody stared at her when they were walking around together. And not only because she had a different skin colour. She was just stunning. And so far he had only been allowed to give her chaste kisses.

He was such a loser. A stupid little man without any education. He was born to be a dustman. Even worse – he was ugly; scrawny and dumb-faced with hair that always looked greasy, no matter how often he washed it. Why a smart beauty like Sally would even consider getting married to him was beyond him. But then – almost everything was beyond him. For whatever reason she spent time with him instead of looking for a more appropriate partner.

Being not used to drinking so much in such a short period of time, he was walking rather unstable. When he crossed a street not too far from the tiny flat he was living in, he stumbled over the kerb and fell onto his knees. He whined in pain and tried to get back on his feet. The bottle had crashed and splinters were lying around everywhere. He tried to collect them all as he couldn't stand making such a mess and possibly cause someone to get hurt. Of course he cut his hand and cursed and sucked the bleeding finger.

And then he saw something in the drain. Something small and glittery – a ring. He fumbled it out of the dirt and rubbed it clean with a tissue. It was beautiful. He was sure it was real gold and it had a jewel on it that was dark red and looked precious. He knew he'd have to bring it to an official place so the owner could be found. But it looked as if it was Sally's size… And whoever had owned it had not looked after it very well, had he?

He looked around and didn't see anyone close to him. Some people were hurrying by, apparently keen on getting home for celebrating. He put the ring into his trouser pocket and then he went home. He was feeling sober all at once. He would give Sally the ring and she would be happy and say she would marry him, and they would finally have sex.

oOoOo

Sherlock had strolled through Blackchapel for longer than he had estimated. Loki was sniffing everywhere, and he just didn't want to go back. Being used to not eating for many hours and sometimes hardly anything over days, he wasn't longing for their meal, either.

He didn't meet many people. Even in this quarter of the Big City everybody was at home now. Except for the homeless men and women he noticed. They didn't have anywhere to go, no candles, no friends. Sherlock knew he had to consider himself lucky to have all this, no matter how difficult it was. But then – most of these dirty, hopeless people had never had anything while he had had it all and had lost it all because of the sick feelings he had for his brother. And after all this time, they were still there, was he still dreaming about him and longing for him. But he knew that wasn’t that surprising. Mycroft had been his one and only – mother, father, brother, desired man and best friend altogether. He had and did mean everything to him. He knew he would never get over him.

Finally he decided to go home and get it over with this depressing day. He opened the front door and picked the dog up, pressing him against his chest. He had to pass by Jim's flat and he walked very quiet.

But he hadn't been quiet enough. The door opened, and Jim's face appeared. “Hi Billy. Happy Wintergiving,” he said quietly.

Sherlock forced a smile onto his face. “I wish you the same, Mr Moriarty, thank you.”

“Oh, so formal… Come in for a moment.”

“Well, my friends are waiting for me and I'm already quite late…” Sherlock didn’t know why he protested. He would have to do it anyway…

“Just for five minutes. I won't keep you long.”

“Alright. What about the dog?”

Jim smiled, and for the first time since their strange relationship had started, it didn't look creepy. “Bring him in, no problem. I love dogs.”

“You do?” Sherlock realised he sounded disbelieving but he wouldn't have thought this man had a soft spot for pets after abandoning his mother's cat, or that he was able to even use the word love, let alone feel it.

“Yes. Now come in.”

Sherlock entered his landlord's flat, feeling tense. He didn’t want to be here. But then – he didn't really want to be upstairs and playing happy family with John and Molly either.

“Take a seat on the couch. Care for some booze?” Jim held up a bottle with pretty expensive alcohol.

“Yes, why not, thank you.” This day would be way better to endure in a not-so-sober state…

Jim grinned and let himself drop onto the couch next to him. “Good boy! Here you go.” He handed Sherlock a glass and then touched it with his own. “Cheers. On Wintergiving, whatever other people may like about it.”

They both took a gulp and it tasted damn great. Sherlock could feel warmth spreading out in his stomach.

“Wow, good stuff, isn’t it?” Jim bent down to stroke over Loki's head. The dog looked rather cautious but then he wagged his tail.

“Yes, it is indeed. Thanks for sharing it with me.”

“Oh, you know, today is a day to say thank you, and I do thank you for always being so nice to me.”

Sherlock tensed. This was hopefully not going to be a love-confession.

Jim smiled, apparently sensing his thoughts. “Don't worry, pretty boy. I won't fall on my knees and ask for your hand.”

“I'm sorry, I never meant…”

“I want to suck you.”

Sherlock swallowed. That couldn't end well. Jim had never done that before. Why now?

“Probably I'm getting weak and sentimental, but I do feel a bit lonely today and it's so nice that you're giving me some of your time. And you've given me head so many times already; I should really return the favour. Get your dick out now.”

He didn't threaten Sherlock or tell him that he would suffer consequence if he refused him. But Sherlock knew this would come if he did. And then… why should he? He had not gotten a blowjob for more than… eight years? He opened his zipper and then Jim was on his knees, spreading Sherlock's thighs, and lapped over the soft dick he had more or less ripped out of his flies. Sherlock leaned back and closed his eyes. He didn’t want to imagine that this crazy man could bite him or take out a knife… He had learned that Jim could literally do anything. But then Jim took him into his mouth and sucked him, and he knew what he was doing. Sherlock moaned when his penis grew thick and stiff rapidly in the hot, wet mouth. He would certainly not last long as it felt amazingly good.

He tensed a bit when Jim opened his zipper wider and pulled out his balls as well, but he only tugged on them and tickled them, and it felt heavenly.

Jim started to suck harder, and their eyes met when Sherlock looked down on him, still fearing he could do something nasty. There was a disturbing twinkle in the brown eyes but Jim just went on sucking him off, and Sherlock could feel his orgasm building up.

“I'm coming,” he hissed, and Jim took him out and pumped him hard, and with a cry Sherlock released himself all over his face. It had been a very strong climax, and Jim was dripping; he could hardly open his eyes.

He licked over his lips and smiled at him. “Lap it off, boy,” he said.

“What? I can get a tissue…”

“No, I want you to lick it off.” He rested his hands on Sherlock's thighs and moved his face towards him.

Sherlock knew he didn't have a choice and did as he'd been told. He had swallowed Jim's load often enough and he hadn't overly minded it. But licking his own cum from the man's face made his stomach revolting. He could hardly control it but he let his tongue go on sliding over the semen-soiled skin of the smiling man in front of him which was the most awful thing he'd had to do in all his life. It was tremendously humiliating for him.

When he was finished, Jim got up and pulled down his jog pants. His short, fully hard dick sprung free and he gave Sherlock an expecting look. Sherlock forced himself to swallow what was still in his mouth and went to work. It took Jim mere seconds to let his cum follow Sherlock's down his throat, and Sherlock knew he was close to throwing up.

Jim smiled and handed him his glass again, and Sherlock poured the drink down. His head was spinning, but it had at least mostly erased the awful taste from his mouth.

“I… better go now,” he stammered, and Jim gave him a sad look.

“Yes, I guess you have to. Thank you, Billy, or whatever your real name is. It was nice of you to drop by. And next week the rent will have to be paid.”

“Yes, I know. I will do it… As much as I can…”

“Well, if you don't have it all, you know what I like. Go now, and my regards to the cripple and the stupid little girl who still thinks you'll fall in love with her one day. But you won't, will you?”

“No, of course not. I only like men.”

“Good. Enjoy your celebration, Billy-Boy.”

“What will you do?” Sherlock bit his lip. Why the hell had he asked him that?!

Jim smiled, and it looked pretty mocking. “Why, do you want to invite me? No, don't look so scared, I'm fine. I'll stay here and enjoy the silence.” He got up and they walked to the door, followed by Loki.

“Kiss me, mop-head,” Jim demanded, and Sherlock obeyed. They shared a long, strange, disturbingly tender kiss, and then Sherlock finally got out and he and Loki walked upstairs, Sherlock on shaking, weak legs and feeling rather sick.

oOoOo

“Look, here is beef and cheese and even some chocolate.”

Janine clapped her hands together. “Oh, this is so great! We've never eaten anything like that on Wintergiving! Why did he give it all to you?”

Chris shrugged while he was holding baby Joshua with his right arm. He wondered about it himself. Billy would have needed this food equally as much as they did. He was so skinny. He apparently didn’t really care about eating.

He mentioned it to his girlfriend. It was nice to see her happy for a change. There had been way too much nagging lately…

“We must invite him on Year's End. Or for a party in springtime. I want to meet him. He must be awesome,” Janine said.

He was indeed. Chris knew very well that Billy was very different from all of them. He was way too smart to be a dustman, and he was not an embittered man who had lost his previous job like Mike; Chris was sure Billy was running away from something. Perhaps he had committed a crime. But then – he was too decent for that. There was a deep sadness lingering over him and Chris wished he could have cheered him up. Even if he really had done something bad in his past – Chris liked him very much and it was hard to see him all serious and unhappy.

Janine beamed at him with sparkling dark eyes. “You must give him a kiss from me for all this wonderful stuff he gave you.”

“Well, how about I get a kiss from you first?” Billy wasn’t here, was he? And even if he had been, he wouldn’t kiss Chris… Not that he wanted that. He had made out with men in his life, but Billy was more like a brother for him. And probably Billy saw him in the same way – like an annoying sibling…

She giggled and kissed him, and Joshua patted his fist onto his cheek, and Chris smiled. They were poor and they lived in a flat that was way too small for two people and a baby. They neither had many clothes nor enough money to go out or even buy healthy food every day. He knew he could have been leading a nicer life if he had paid attention in school instead of fooling around with half of his class – including some boys. He had never had any interest in learning and this underpaid job was the price he had to pay for it. But when he looked around and saw the decoration that Janine had applied all over their place with a lot of taste and heart, he knew he didn't really miss anything important.

“Hey, big boy, what are you thinking of?”

“I thought that it looks very nice. And that I'm pretty hungry…”

“Well, here's enough to feed you.”

And soon they ate together, and Chris enjoyed it, but he did think of Billy throughout the evening.

oOoOo

“Oh, this scarf! It's so great. It'll keep me so warm! Thank you, Billy.”

Molly was clinging around his neck before he could even say anything. Sherlock stiffened under the intrusive touch and looked over to John who gave him a wry smile while he was still holding the paper bag with the medication in his hand as if he was afraid someone could take it away from him.

Sherlock had bought panadum for him with the rest of the money he had found. He had needed most of it for paying John's hospital-bill, and it hadn’t been enough for the rent anymore anyway. So Sherlock had gotten him the strong medicine that helped him to get through the worst pains. He knew John wouldn’t waste it. He would keep it until he couldn't bear the hurt anymore. John had gotten a pair of black gloves for him that he had needed, and Sherlock had been grateful for this gift. Molly on the other hand…

“Well, thank you for the nice… hat, Molly.” She had made a hat for both of them. It was made from wool and it was blue with black. It was really well-done and Sherlock knew he would look like an idiot with it should he ever wear it. But at least he was spending lots of time outside in the cold due to his job and it was a fitting present for him. But John only went out if he couldn't avoid it by any means and so it was totally useless for him.

“You're welcome. I thought it would look so good on you, and you need to keep your head warm when you work at these early hours in winter. And maybe it will get John to go out more.”

Oh, so she had thought about it… Not that it would seriously made John leave the flat. If he'd had any doubt about that, a glance at John's face would have told him enough.

“Well, it's very nice,” John said with a rather false smile. “Perhaps we can eat now?”

Sherlock felt like everything but eating after his encounter with Jim. After returning to his flat, he had thrown up into the toilet as quietly as he'd been able to and he had brushed his teeth twice and as hard as he could bear it. And still his stomach moved when he thought about what he'd done. He shushed this thought away. His complete lack of appetite was only for the better – if he ate almost nothing, there would be more for John and Molly. Loki and Rosie would get something special as well. He looked over to them – they were lying on the couch, cuddled up together, Rosie's head on Loki's back. This view always made him smile.

“Yes, I'll prepare our dinner. Will you lend me a hand, Billy?”

“Sure.”

Fifteen minutes later, Sherlock sat down at the table with the others and after drinking some water, he felt he could dare eat at least a little bit. And he did and it tasted very good, and he finally started to relax and feel a little better. He listened to the chattering of his friends and tried not to think about what his brother might be doing right now… It didn’t work…

Chapter Text

Tom leaned back on his chair and his eyes didn't leave the lord for even a second. Mycroft walked from one of his employees to the other, handed them each a big golden envelope and exchanged a few words with everybody. It was the only time of the year when he really paid attention to each member of his staff. Each of them stood up when he approached them and Tom could see they were touched by his words. And everybody looked into the envelope after he had moved on to the next person, and they all seemed to be very happy about the content. Tom had asked Greg if there was no envy for someone who received more, but Greg had told him that everybody received a generous amount and it was the same for all the usual workers outside and the servants and maids of the house; only Greg himself, Mrs Hudson and the butler used to get more money because of their higher responsibilities. And there was a printed Wintergiving card in every envelope as well with a few personal words from the lord. Everybody took the card out as well and read it, and Tom saw many touched smiles. It was hard to believe that the usually so cold and intimidating lord had such an impact on his people.

Before he had read a tale for them, and Tom could have listened to his beautiful, melodic voice forever, telling a story of the old kingdom with brave kings and beautiful landscapes. Mycroft had looked at him when he had finished and closed the book, and they had shared a wonderful smile. Then the lord had gotten up to hand out the envelopes to his employees. He had started on the opposite side of the very long table; there were more than thirty people in the room and he was taking his time.

Tom had been completely wound up after he had left the lord to look what had been broken by a servant. It hadn't been anything precious and he had helped him cleaning up and had not shouted at him as the unlucky young man – a rather new servant named Liam Price – had apologised heartily for his slippery as soon as he had seen Tom.

After that he had gone to his room to relax for a moment. And to think about what just had happened. The lord had pretended that Tom was his lover towards this woman, and now Tom would be allowed to call him by his first name when they were in private. He had never expected that. And the way the lord had called him dear and darling had almost killed him. He would probably never do that again as it had just been for letting him know that he should not call him My Lord in this situation and instead should behave as if they were together. Tom knew that and he would keep reminding himself of not forgetting that they were not lovers and would never be. But he was so happy about this change that he was almost bursting.

Martha had seen at once that something had happened, and he had told her about it. She had been amazed and had been very pleased for him. He had asked her if she felt sorry for Irene Adler-Barrymore, and she had said that she would have loved to witness the situation. They had laughed together and Tom knew he should feel ashamed that he was happy about someone else feeling bad, but this woman didn't love Mycroft, she just thought he was a good match as he was mighty and wealthy. Too bad he was also gay…

Now Mycroft had reached Martha and gave her an envelope, and his smile to her was as genuine as it could get. Tom could hear him thanking her for her excellent work over the years and for the fact that she was always there for everybody to listen and give comfort. She smiled under tears and thanked him and wished him a happy Wintergiving, and after patting her hand, he turned to Greg. Tom watched Greg getting red cheeks when he was told how irreplaceable he was for the lord and how well he worked and that he was one of the foundations of this property. Mycroft even shook hands with Doctor Cooper and gave him an envelope as well and thanked him for his medical care for his staff and himself over the years, and he said that the doctor was very welcome in his house whenever he wanted to be there. Tom only knew the doctor as a funny, very self-confident man who always knew what to say or do, but he seemed to be in awe of those friendly words and the lord's dignity.

And then Mycroft stood before Tom and offered him his hand. Tom, who had stood up as soon as he had turned to him, took it and it felt like an electric shock. He had touched this man so much more intimately before but doing it in front of everybody he knew was something else.

“Happy Wintergiving, Tom,” Mycroft said and Tom felt his cheeks flush under his forceful look.

“I wish you the same, My Lord, thank you,” he stammered and Mycroft smiled widely at him and handed him the last envelope.

“You've only come to this house this summer, but you're such an integral part of it already. I want to thank you for your flawless work and all your efforts. It's your first Wintergiving here and I hope there'll be many more to come.”

“There will be as many as you want them to be,” Tom said quietly, and they smiled at each other before Mycroft gave him a nod and turned to leave the dining room. He would get the candlestick know, place it on the middle of the huge table and lit the candles, and then they would eat.

Tom fumbled with the envelope and bit his lip when he saw the money. It was three times as much as he earned a month, and his salary was very high for a butler already. And he saw at once that he didn't have a card in the envelope. With shivering hands he took out a folded piece of precious, soft paper instead. He carefully placed the envelope with his generous gift on the table and unfolded the letter. It was written in the beautiful handwriting of the lord.

 

Dear Tom,

When you came to my house, I was a very sad man. You must know that I still am in a way, but you've given me an amount of comfort and affection that I would have never imagined to receive. I don't have to tell you what a perfect butler you are; I think this is very obvious.

But now you are so much more than this. I gave you this position because I'd seen at once that you are not only very competent but also a very attractive, homosexual man who would in all probability be amenable to give me some physical attention. I had hardly searched for it before and never in this house. I was used to use strangers and I never touched them.

It's all different with you. You've touched more than my body. I'm not sure if I can ever give you what I know you are longing for most and what you deserve but I'm willing to try. I apologise for ever treating you in a humiliating way and I am very grateful that it didn’t scare you off. Letting you calling me by my first name when we are by ourselves was long overdue.

I hope you will come to me when everything is sorted tonight and that you will spend this night with me. Thank you for everything. You are a very special man.

Sincerely yours,

Mycroft Holmes

When the lord came back, carrying the gorgeous, huge candlestick, Tom was hardly able to enjoy the sight as his eyes were full of tears even though he did all he could to fight them back. He tried to ignore the curious looks around him, and he was glad neither Greg nor Martha said anything about it.

Mycroft placed the candlestick on the table and lit each of the eight candles with deft fingers, and everybody clapped their hands, and then he came over to Tom and sat down beside him. “Everything alright?” he asked him, sounding concerned, and then the butler could watch the expression on the beautiful face of his boss turn to a big smile when Tom beamed at him, causing the tears to finally run over his cheeks.

“Very much so, My Lord,” he answered, and this time he deliberately stressed the My, and then he got up to help serving the meal, and he gently stroked over the lord's shoulder when he walked past him and they shared another smile.

oOoOo

Her two boys had more or less begged her to stay seated and let them do the deed, but Martha Hudson was the cook and the housekeeper, and she would not sit around and watch her maids and the servants do all the work.

They had eaten a wonderful Wintergiving-dinner, and everybody had had a great time, but in the end all the cutlery and dishes had to be taken to the kitchen to be washed and dried again. The lord had excused himself after dinner and had left the dining room, but not without exchanging a look with Tom that had told her that they would spend the rest of this evening together.

“I am old, but not dead, and therefore I am very capable of getting some plates into my kitchen,” she had told Tom and Greg, and they had given in and they had worked side by side.

She didn’t wash the dishes though (this was not her job anyway but she sometimes did it just to relax) but she sat at the big kitchen table and watched three of her maids doing it. Neither Tom nor Greg had to do anything in the kitchen, but they had shushed the other servants back to the dining room where they would spend some more time before going into their rooms, either in the house itself or in one of the other buildings on the property.

“At least once a year I can do some housework,” Greg had told her when she had asked why he didn't join the others.

“You're always doing your own housework,” she had reminded him, and he had smiled.

“Yes, but somehow I feel too wired to sit around.”

“Even when your darling is there? And I’m sure you can't wait being alone with him.”

He had blushed adorably. “You know – he'll be here all night and we did spend some quality time before dinner. We're not twenty anymore…”

Tom had burst out laughing and he had gone on making friendly jokes about Greg's potency until Greg had hit him with a kitchen towel.

It was so great to see both of them like that – happy and in love. It was making her heart flow over with joy to watch them giggle and joke around. She had seen that Tom had not gotten a card from the lord but a rather long letter. She was dying to know what he had written him, but of course she hadn't asked Tom and wouldn't do it. It was a completely private matter between him and Mycroft Holmes and not her business at all. But it didn't take a genius to know that it had been something emotional. She had underestimated the lord, or maybe she had underestimated Tom's charms and his influence on the sad, rich man. It was clear now that the lord did feel a lot more for his young, handsome butler than simple sexual attraction.

She had been at first a little terrified by how he had used Tom's feelings for him to get rid of the unwelcome attention of this Adler woman, but she had calmed down when Tom had made so clear that he had loved this situation and that he was allowed now to call the lord by his first name, and obviously she had completely misjudged the lord's behaviour. He had done that to scare this awful woman away but he did indeed have deeper feelings for him, and presenting him at his partner had been a ruse and a confession to Tom at the same time.

Of course there was still a long way to go for having a real relationship like Greg and the attractive doctor had, and she could sense that Tom kept telling himself to not expect too much. Tom and the lord were not only separated by their status difference, their work relationship and the lord's massively introverted character but mostly because of his feelings for his lost brother. But step by step Tom had taken down that wall between them, and she hoped more than anything that one day this wall would fall for good and they would be together in every sense of the word. That Mycroft didn't give a damn if anyone knew about their relationship was very clear after what had happened with Irene. The snobby society would know it very soon thanks to her, and since the lord didn't have any private contact with either of them, why should he care? His feelings for Tom were perhaps unconventional in some ways, but they were not in the least illegal or scandalised. Not like his feelings for Sherlock…

She got up when the maids were finished. She would go back to the others for a while but she would excuse herself pretty soon. In the end she was an old lady and it had been a very exhausting day. But it had also been the best Wintergiving since… actually ever… She just wished so much that Sherlock could be here as well. But then Tom would probably not be happy anymore… She sighed when she left the kitchen. Joy and pleasure for one meant pain and suffering for someone else. But she would give anything to know how Sherlock was doing and to just see him one more time.

oOoOo

“This was an amazing evening,” Michael Cooper said when they undressed side by side in Greg's bedroom. “When I think of the last time I saw the lord – he was so depressed that I was about to suggest to him taking something. Or even better: to talk to somebody.”

“I guess you didn't do it?” Greg asked when he threw his shirt over the chair next to his bed.

“I would have probably seen him for the last time if I had. But I really feared for him. And now? There is still some melancholy underneath of it but he's doing so much better - it's hard to believe…”

“That's what nice feelings are doing to a man even though I hesitate to call it love as of now. As well as regular sex…”

“I thought he didn’t have any feelings for anyone. But that was very wrong. Tom Littleton is so in love with him that he is almost floating. And the lord likes him very much; even a total idiot could see that.”

They were both naked now and Greg couldn’t take his eyes off of his beautiful boyfriend. He was so tall and broad chested with fine red hair on his chest; he was long-legged and very well hung. Greg crossed the last distance between them and slung his arms around the taller man's neck. “Do you like me as well?” he teased him.

Michael kissed him tenderly. “Just a little bit,” he said in the same tone.

Greg pouted. “That was not nice. I might take my present back.”

“No, you won't. I like this book way too much.”

Greg had given him a very rare medicine-book; Michael had mentioned that he had been looking for it for years, and Greg had stumbled over it in a shabby bookstore in the Big City on his free day. “Okay, then you'll have to make up for it otherwise.”

“I think that can be arranged.” Michael sat down on the bed, and his face was right before Greg's groin.

The bailiff's cock had stiffened the moment he had looked at Michael's naked body. In opposite to what Tom was thinking, his potency was doing totally fine. He grinned when he thought about their banter.

“What? You find that funny?” Michael licked a stripe over the erect dick.

Greg moaned. “No, it was just something Tom said.”

“Tom again, huh? Thinking of him when I do that to you? You fancy him as well? Wanna fight with the lord for who's getting him?” He took the head of Greg's cock into his mouth and gave it a quick suck.

Greg rolled his eyes in pleasure. “No! I don't fancy such young men.”

“Oh, I see! You like them old and unattractive like I am?”

Greg giggled. “Stop that now!”

Michael pulled back with a dramatic gesture of his hand. “I get it - you don't want a blowjob from me either.”

“No, please…” Greg laughed so hard that he tumbled.

Michael grabbed his waist and grinned at him. “Alright, I think I've tortured you enough. Where were we?”

“You were sucking my dick.”

“Oh, yes, of course. Well, back to work then.”

Greg had no objections whatsoever.

oOoOo

Tom knocked on the door, feeling totally nervous and wired. He almost dropped what he was carrying when the door was opened.

Mycroft was standing before him and smiling at him. “Come in, please.” Again he was wearing only a robe, and the way the silky, black fabric was clinging to his arse when he walked back into the living room made Tom drool.

“What is that?” Mycroft asked when they had reached the couch.

“My present for you, My… croft.” Tom cursed himself for almost saying My Lord but the older man just smiled.

“It might take you some time to get used to it. But why did you buy me a present? That's very sweet of course but I didn't expect it.”

“Maybe that's why I did it.” Tom cursed himself again for sounding so cheeky and he shuddered when Mycroft stroked over his face with a warm hand.

“It's alright, don't be afraid of me. I know this situation is not easy, and believe me when I say it's not really easier for me. I don't have any experience in… whatever it is we have and will develop.”

Tom smiled. “Thank you. I am very nervous; I can't deny it. It would be very nice if you could just ignore it should I behave like a complete fool…”

“I'll do my best, and please do the same for me.” They smiled at each other and Tom was dying to touch him, embrace him…

“So, will you give it to me?” Mycroft interrupted his thoughts and his smile was accompanied by a lift of his eyebrows.

“Oh, yes, sorry. Here it is. I hope you'll like it.”

They both sat down and he watched Mycroft unwrap the big carton out of the paper Mrs Hudson had put around for him. He was not really clumsy but some things were beyond him.

The lord opened the carton and said: “Oh, that looks very nice. But it's not real, is it?”

Tom hurried to shake his head. “No, no it isn't. They call it fleece but it does feel like fur. I thought… we could use it to… you know…”

Mycroft smiled. “I can imagine. So it's washable?”

“Oh yes. But it's even easier to clean; one can just wipe over it with a wet towel and every stain is gone.”

The salesman had explained that to him. Tom had wanted a big, soft blanket they could use to put over the bed before they had sex and could also use to cover themselves with it. It looked like the real fur of a brown animal, but Tom would have never bought a real one and he knew very well that the lord loved animals as well and wouldn't have appreciated that at all.

“It is beautiful, and I like it very much. But you shouldn't have spent so much money for me.”

“Well, it's not as if I didn't profit from it, too…” Tom smiled at him and Mycroft surprised him by pinching his cheek.

“We'll try it out at once.” He stood up from the couch but Tom gently grabbed his arm when he had gotten up, too.

“That would be great. But before… I wanted to say thank you for all this money and for your letter. I can't even tell you how much that means to me.” He was feeling all insecure and clumsy, and he knew Mycroft had put his feelings in written words instead of telling him in person for a reason, but he couldn't just enjoy them and act on them without mentioning it. “I'm so glad you chose me to be your butler of all the people that were there that day, and I never felt used by you and I think you are a wonderful, very special man.”

Mycroft laid his hands onto his shoulders. “Thank you, Tom. I do feel a bit strange in this situation. I'm just not used to it. To nothing of it. But you do mean something to me, and even though I'm not sure how much I can give you from myself, I really want to try it out. I'm glad you liked my letter and my present. I know money is not very original, but it's a tradition. I should have gotten you something more personal as well.”

“It is totally fine and it was very generous. But if you still want to give me something personal…” Tom broke off, scared of his own courage.

“Yes? What would you like to have from me?” Mycroft was very close now and Tom could feel his warm breath on his face.

“What I wish from you more than anything is… a kiss…” Tom knew very well that Mycroft had never kissed him for a reason, and he could imagine what the reason was. But if the lord was serious about wanting to try to have more with Tom than what they'd been doing so far, a kiss couldn’t be off limits. And to his total delight, it wasn't.

“Yes, I know and I'm sorry I've never let that happen.” Mycroft stroked over his hair and then he crossed the last distance between them and their lips met for the first time, and Tom could feel a shudder going through the other man's body, but then they both opened their mouths in the same second and their tongues pushed against each other, and they both moaned, and then Tom took over and kissed him as deeply, tenderly and passionately as he could; their bodies were pressing against each other, their hands were sliding over the other one's back and bottom, and two hard cocks were searching for each other through their clothes. They both melted into this first kiss, and Tom could feel the barrier between them crumble more and more.

***

Mycroft had not known how much he'd been craving for this kiss until it happened. It had taken him hours to write this letter, and he had known that it would open the door widely for a relationship of a different kind, and he had also known this kiss would happen due to that. But now that their lips were moving against the other one's and their tongues were tangling in a way that he could only describe as divine, he realised that he had wanted this to happen so badly. And of course in his mind a picture popped up from the last time he had kissed someone. And the image of his little brother merged into Tom's and back, and the guilt almost overwhelmed him because he felt that he was betraying both of them. He still loved Sherlock and longed for him and wanted to have him back with all the implications more than anything, but what he was feeling for the beautiful, wonderful man in his arms was nothing else than love as well. He could feel tears welling in his eyes once more, and of course Tom noticed them, but instead of being disappointed or disgusted, he gave Mycroft a loving smile and wiped them away with his thumbs and kissed his wet cheeks and said it was okay and then he kissed him again, and Mycroft could feel his heart get warm and soft.

They stopped kissing only for as long as it took Tom to get undressed and Mycroft to place the beautiful blanket onto the bed and slipping out of his robe, and then they settled on it and went on kissing but it was more than exploring the other one's mouth and devouring the arousing taste and getting as close to each other as possible. It was like crawling into the other man's soul, and Mycroft finally opened himself up for Tom, knowing that Tom deserved it, and he wanted it to happen as well.

Eventually he broke the kiss and lay back into the pillows, giving Tom an expecting look. It was all too new to him to put his desires into words, but Tom understood him at once, and the young man smiled at him and then started worshipping his body. He started at Mycroft's ear and nibbled his way down on his neck, licking his collarbones, and then his tender but determined mouth found one of his nipples and he sucked it and lapped over it, and Mycroft could do nothing but moaning in pleasure with closed eyes, his cock hard and leaking for minutes now. The long fingers of his left hand were wrapped around it but he didn't stroke himself. He knew Tom would get there very soon.

The competent lips moved down on his body and a tongue licked into his bellybutton and finally it found his achingly hard cock. But Tom didn't suck it but just lapped over it and then over his balls a few times. He then grabbed a pillow.

"Would you lift your bottom for me, please?" he asked. “Not for… taking you,” he hurried to explain. “I just would love to taste you and caress you… down there…”

Mycroft had a dry throat all at once. The thought alone made him get even harder but it was also a bit frightening. "Oh, that... Yes, that would be..." He broke off and just got his arse up so Tom could put the pillow under it. He didn't like at all that he was feeling so insecure about this unknown grade of intimacy. He knew very well that he still had a long way to go. But he knew Tom would come with him all the way long...

"Just tell me if you don't like it, alright?" Tom looked at him forcefully.

Mycroft cupped his cheek with his hand and smiled at him and gave him a nod. But there was not one reason to do anything like this. He had never felt more aroused than from the moment on when Tom's wet tongue began to explore his most intimate part. With closed eyes he concentrated on this almost painfully exciting feeling; his feet were gently rubbing over Tom's sides while the younger man was licking in circles around his hole and was digging his tongue into him eventually. It was a lot more than an unknown physical pleasure – it was a symbol for the much higher level that their relationship had reached now.

***

Tom could have gone on with this forever. He couldn't get his tongue deep enough in the lord's hidden spot, couldn't get enough of tasting him like this and he knew he would never get tired of witnessing his reactions. Mycroft's long, thick cock was hard and leaking and his beautiful fingers were holding it but without masturbating. The lord clearly waited for him to take care of him and this was what made Tom stop licking him out and swallowing his wet, dark-red manhood instead. He had not been sucking him for more than a minute when the lord bucked up and released himself into his mouth. Tom devoured all he was giving to him and then he moved upwards on the bed and gently placed his body on Mycroft's. He rubbed his own throbbing erection on his thigh and without any further stimulation he came as well – all over Mycroft's groin and stomach. He caught his semen with a few tissues before it could soil the blanket, and then he lay down on the bed next to his panting, shuddering employer.

Tom wondered what would be an adequate expression for what Mycroft Holmes was for him besides his boss. He would hesitate to call himself Mycroft's boyfriend or partner; he dared hope now that they would get there someday. And he would wait for his very end if necessary to reach that stage.

“Thank you,” Mycroft mumbled next to him. “That was so amazing. I've never experienced that before, and I'm very grateful you were willing to do it for me.”

“It was my pleasure, believe me.” Tom felt insecure again. There was so much he wanted to tell the man he was touching now; he had laid his palm onto his stomach, his head was resting on the pillow, very close to his shoulder. But he was silent as he was afraid the wrong words would scare the other man off.

The blanket was big enough to cover them both while they were lying on a part of it, and Mycroft wrapped them both into it now.

“Come closer, please,” he whispered, and then Tom was lying on him, his face snuggled against his neck, and the lord slung both arms around him.

Tom had never experienced such an intimate physical closeness in his life and it made him feel warm inside despite his qualms about how it would all develop between them. He knew now that the lord cared for him and that he allowed Tom to get close to him not only physically. It was new for both of them and indeed not easy for either of them, and Tom would have all the patience in the world with Mycroft's and his own feelings.

They remained silent, and Tom felt that this long, exciting day was taking its toll. He was amazed that Mycroft allowed him to stay for the night – a manifestation of Mycroft's will to open up to him. Soon the breathing of the lord showed him that he had fallen asleep, and Tom followed him not soon after.

He slept deeply and quietly, and in the early morning hours he woke up from the murmur of the man beside him. Apparently Mycroft was dreaming and speaking in his sleep, and Tom wasn't surprised when among his incomprehensible words a name fell: Sherlock.

Tom, who had gotten into a sitting position, looked down on Mycroft, whose face was showing pain and worry. He smiled a little sadly and gently stroked over his cheek. “Hush, darling,” he whispered. “It's alright, everything's alright.”

Mycroft seemed to hear him in his sleep, and he calmed down and soon he was sleeping quietly again. Tom lay down next to him again, brushed a kiss onto his neck and closed his eyes. He had always known that Sherlock was Mycroft's great love, but he wasn't there anymore and as long as Mycroft would let him, he would try to help him get over that. He loved Mycroft, and he was sure now that the lord loved him, too, albeit not nearly as much as he loved his absent brother. Tom knew he could live with that and he would do anything to ease Mycroft's pain and make him as happy as he was capable of.

oOoOo

As much as Lord Holmes did justice to the traditions of Wintergiving, celebrating Year's End was off limits for him. His staff members could go to the Big City to celebrate or do it quietly at home, but there were no fireworks or gun salute in Musgrave and the lord didn’t want to hear anything from the parties. Greg had told Tom that Mycroft would always go into his rooms after dinner and would return to work the next morning. It was clear to Tom why Mycroft hated this day: it reminded him that he'd spent another year without his brother, and that the next year wouldn't bring him back, either. It had to hurt him.

But this year Mycroft wouldn't be alone in this night that meant a new beginning to so many people. He had asked Tom if he wanted to go out and have fun or keep him company, and Tom had said that it would be his honour to stay by his side if he wanted that.

Tom had never spent this evening nearly as pleasantly before. They didn’t talk a lot and Tom could sense that Mycroft's thoughts moved to Sherlock again and again, but they made love many times, and between their tender encounters they kissed and touched each other and drank some precious wine that Tom had brought, and as Mycroft would go to the palace in the morning, they went to sleep before midnight, not without finally sharing one of the cigars that Irene had brought for Mycroft on his balcony. Tom, who never smoked, coughed a lot to Mycroft's amusement. The next morning Tom was kissed goodbye by a lord who was looking relaxed and, while not really happy, at least not sad so Tom could call this night a success. They had not mentioned Mycroft’s brother of course; to this day they had never spoken about him, and Tom knew Mycroft would never do that.

Greg Lestrade spent this Year's End with his boyfriend at his house a few miles away. They ate in Michael's generous dining room and talked and laughed, and at midnight they went outside to enjoy the fireworks side by side, happy to have found each other, and then they went back in the house to have their own fireworks of another sort.

Martha celebrated with her maids for a while but went into her room before midnight. She didn't like this day either. The lord's melancholy made her sad, too, and she wondered as well where Sherlock was and what he would do in this night. She knew that Lord Holmes was doing better this year thanks to Tom's love for him, but she wasn't that sure that this relationship would be strong enough for all the difficulties, and the thought of Sherlock being out there alone made her heart heavy. On Wintergiving she could distract herself with all the cooking that had to be done, but this quiet Year's End day didn't provide her with this possibility.

Sherlock had worked in the morning and would also help cleaning up the mess on the streets of Blackchapel the next day. He had bought some food for himself and his friends and they sat in their living room in Baker Street with a glass of cheap wine for each of them after their small dinner. Sherlock had Loki on his lap and listened to Molly's chatter, and he didn't even wonder about what the next year would bring them. It would be the same as every year: constant lack of money, watching his best friend suffer, and being at Jim Moriarty's hands again and again. He hoped that warmer temperatures would ease John's pains a bit so he wouldn't need panadum that often which would mean more money for paying the rent, but he wouldn't bet on it. He took a gulp of his wine that tasted pretty awful, and then he stood up and excused himself. The fireworks at midnight would wake him up again anyway, but perhaps he would catch some sleep before. And when he drifted to sleep with his dog in his arms, his thoughts wandered to forbidden grounds – what was his brother doing now… and with whom…

Chapter Text

I think it's a good idea.” The king pouted. It didn't look nice on his round, unattractive face. When he narrowed his eyes like this, they were hardly visible anymore, disappearing between all the fat and his huge eyebrows.

Mycroft really didn't know what to say to that. Eye-rolling was out of the question even though it got harder and harder to not do that every time the king suggested something like this. He was very glad Princess Anthea was there with them.

“You can't really want that, Father. We're not living in the Black Ages anymore.”

“But some people deserve to be beheaded.”

True. Starting with the king and his wife… Mycroft exchanged looks with the princess, and she did roll her eyes.

“That might be true,” Mycroft said cautiously. “But a lot of people were beheaded because of false accusations and despite the fact that they were perfectly innocent of the crimes they'd been supposed to have committed.”

“They received their comfort for that in the next world,” Her Ladyship said and the fortune teller nodded enthusiastically. It was a new one; Mycroft had forgotten her name.

“That is hardly a comfort,” Anthea snapped. “Will you meet the queen of Golmany tonight, Father?”

The king's face lightened up. “Oh yes. Such a charming lady!”

His wife grimaced and Mycroft could hardly suppress a grin. Anthea winked at him and he made a small gesture with his thumb to congratulate her on her successful change of subject. The king started talking full of enthusiasm about the beauty and the intelligence of the monarch that would come for a visit to the Great Kingdom today.

After some minutes Mycroft decided to excuse himself for having lunch at a restaurant close to the palace. He needed to be outside for a while. The king had thankfully forgotten about his plan to reinstall the death penalty. His wife had been upset about his blathering about another woman and had kept silent, pouting like a little girl. They were both hard to bear. He asked Anthea if she liked to join him, and she agreed at once. If Mycroft was honest, he couldn't wait for the king to die or demit - even though he was quite sure that the latter would never happen so he could only hope for the first possibility... He had the strange feeling that Anthea would agree on that as well, but of course neither of them would ever say that loud…

oOoOo

Martha hummed a melody when she got ready to ask one of the men to bring her into town. She hadn't seen her grandniece Gemma for ages, and now she would meet her in Gemma's lunch break. The young girl had started working as a maid for a rich man in the Prime End a couple of weeks ago. She seemed to like it and Martha was looking forward to spending some time with the lovely girl in a café. It was Martha's day off but she had prepared lunch in the morning nonetheless. She liked to know that all the busy boys and girls got something good to eat. Tom would finish the dinner for himself and the lord before the master would come home from his work at the palace.

They were together now, and everybody in the house knew it. They did not openly display their feelings, but they were evident in their dealing with each other. And the only one who had said something negative about it was the former butler Robert Frankland, who had come to visit them right after Year's End. He had been told about it by one of the servants and had ranted about Tom being all unprofessional because a good butler never got close to the people who were paying him. Greg had been in the kitchen, too, and had more or less friendly told him to shut up and not say a word to Tom about it. The old man had left the house, mumbling insults and promising to never come back. Well, nobody would miss him anyway…

All that counted for Martha was that Tom was happy and Mycroft was as happy as he could get as well. She knew that he had not forgotten his brother over his relationship with Tom and would certainly never do. But Tom seemed to be fine with that and that was what mattered. He used to spend every night with Mycroft now, and he came downstairs in the morning with rosy cheeks and sometimes he walked a little strangely… But not even Greg made fun of that – probably because he did the same often enough. The bailiff still stayed in his house at most nights, not wanting to neglect his duties, but pretty often the doctor joined him there for the night.

So both her boys were happy and that made Martha happy. And now she would go away for some hours and check on her beloved grandniece to see if she was really being treated well and could stay in this house. And while doing so, Martha would enjoy the beautiful, sunny spring day and relax from her own duties for a little while. She loved her job but sometimes her age was taking its toll; she couldn't deny it. So being with her beloved girl, enjoying the sunshine and eating a meal she didn’t have to cook would be a very nice distraction.

oOoOo

“My father is crazy,” Anthea said and picked at her noodles. “Totally mental. He hasn’t always been like that, has he?”

“No, Your Highness. He's changed a lot since… he remarried…”

“Yeah, my stepmother is every bit as insane as he is. Okay, one thing, Lord Holmes. Please do not call me Your Highness or Princess anymore; you know I’ve asked you for that before! I've known you since I was a little girl and I don't want to hear that from you. Given your importance and competence, I feel like an imposter when you do that. Call me Anthea, please.”

“I don't think your father would approve of that,” Mycroft said.

“I don't give a bloody damn what he approves of or not. He's nuts!”

Mycroft felt a little uncomfortable. They were outside the palace and they were sitting in a secluded part of the little restaurant, but still it appeared to be a tad dangerous to him to diss the reigning king… even with his own daughter. “I don't really want to be beheaded for not paying respect to you,” he said half-jokingly, half-seriously.

“Okay, then call me Your Highness or Princess Whatever in the palace and when others are around, but not when we're alone. And may I call you Mycroft then? You know – not too far in the future we'll work even closer together. I may be your eager student now but then I'll be the shit-scared queen that needs your help all the time. You'll always be the more competent and more educated from the two of us and for me it's just ridiculous that you should call me by any stupid title when you are the one who is really in charge of this kingdom, exactly as you are now but with a hopefully less dangerous and silly monarch…”

Mycroft wondered if they would both be beheaded if the king ever got to know about this conversation. But then - she was right… “Of course you can call me Mycroft. And I feel honoured to be allowed to call you Anthea when we're alone.”

She beamed at him. “Fine! Just curious – does anyone else call you Mycroft?”

He smiled back. “As a matter of fact – yes. My boyfriend.” He blushed at saying this. Saying it for real for the first time actually. It was not a ruse anymore. It was true.

“You have a boyfriend?!” She stared at him with wide eyes and he felt his cheeks blush even harder. Apparently Irene had not told everybody about it… Of course she didn't have any contact with the king or his daughter directly but he would have expected it was common knowledge by now that he was gay.

“Well, I'm sorry if that shocks you,” he said slowly. “I didn't think…”

She stopped him with the movement of her hand. “No, damn, I didn't mean to make you believe I'm shocked about you being homosexual. I knew that of course. Women always know that…”

Mycroft thought of Irene and had to grin. He could be wrong, but to him she had looked pretty surprised about the nature of his sexuality…

The king's daughter looked at him a tad confused but then she seemed to realise that he was thinking of someone else who had not gotten it. “Well, at least sensitive women who are interested in other people.”

That did explain it…

“No, what I meant is that I'm surprised that you… I'm sorry, whatever I could say now would just sound arrogant and stupid. And actually I should have realised it. You are different. Probably it would have been more obvious if you didn't have to worry about my father and his curse of a wife all the time…”

“Well, sometimes it is a challenge,” Mycroft said cautiously. He did trust her but he really didn’t feel comfortable with speaking ill of the king in such a public place.

“Nicely put.” The young woman nodded. Then she leaned forward. “Who is he? Is he good-looking?” Her eyes were sparkling with interest.

Mycroft smiled. “He's my butler.”

“Wow! So he knows how to serve you…”

“Anthea!” He tried to sound embarrassed but in fact he was feeling rather cheerful and very much at ease with this slightly indecent but funny conversation with the future queen.

She giggled. “Oops, sorry. And is he handsome or not?”

“Of course he is. Very much so.”

“I knew it! Do you have a picture of him?”

“Not with me. But I do have one I can show you.” In fact he had never had one taken of the two of them and this really had to be done as soon as possible. But one of the servants had taken pictures at the Wintergiving dinner and one of them had shown them with Greg Lestrade and Mrs Hudson, and Tom had let it framed for both his and Mycroft's nightstand. Not that he was spending too many nights in his room now. Actually none at all…

“I will remind you!” Then she put her fork away and sighed. “I guess we have to go back to make sure my father doesn't start a bloody war. And I want to know more about Golmany.”

“Not a problem. I have few maps and a book about it.” He'd been teaching her about the kingdom for months and he was fine with telling her about their neighbour countries as well. Anthea would be an amazing queen in his opinion, in opposite to what she had just said. It was a pleasure to work with her.

oOoOo

It was the fifth and last park Sherlock and his colleagues were taking care of today. He was quite exhausted after the long work day, but he was feeling pretty good nonetheless. It was a warm, beautiful day and even though he felt rather sweaty in his black uniform, he enjoyed the sun on his face. He was quite tanned already – not that he cared about his looks in the least in any private sense. But looking good helped him getting some coins from elderly women. So he washed his hair at least every second day and made sure he was shaved and clean. He could always tell which ones were the generous ones. And the cute little dog next to him was a door opener in his own right. Nobody could resist the look of his round, brown eyes. Everybody wanted to stroke him and said silly things to him. Sherlock didn't mind at all. He just hoped the dog hadn't been stolen from his legitimate owner and he would see him one day and claim him back. Sherlock didn't know what he would do without the little guy anymore.

“Here, look at him. He grows every day!”

Sherlock had winced when someone had appeared very close to him. But it was just Chris who seemed to be pretty wired today. Sherlock looked at yet another picture of his son. “He looks… very fully functioning,” he brought out. Babies didn't interest him in the least.

Luckily Chris wasn't offended. He burst out laughing. “That was nicely said for I don't give a fuck for your stupid brat.”

Sherlock proceeded to open the bottom of the next bin to empty the contents into the plastic bin liner he was carrying. “Sorry, I've just never been very good with them.”

“Babies?”

“Humans…” And he really wasn't. In fact he was the biggest loser when it came to dealing with people. What he had done with his own brother was proof enough…

“Hey, sorry, I didn't mean to depress you,” Chris said with a sad expression. “It was good to see you a bit more cheerful.”

Sherlock had been in a better mood for a few weeks. The warmth had indeed a good influence on John's scars, and he didn't need nearly as much strong medication for bearing them. That meant that Sherlock could pay the rent in full. He hadn't had to serve their landlord for two months now. Jim had taken the money and had not insisted on being sucked off for another reason. He hadn't looked happy but he had spared Sherlock. But of course Sherlock didn't believe he was off the hook. Soon enough he would have to give the scary man some special attention again…

“Nothing happened, Chris; I'm fine. Looks we're done for today. I'll take the last one over there. You can go home already.” Phil and Mike had already said goodbye for the day; they were taking care of the bins on the other side of the park and would leave from there.

“Okay, see you tomorrow morning then. You sure you're okay?”

Sherlock smiled at him. “Yes. Just some demons of the past…”

Chris shrugged. “Well, if you ever want to talk about it… I may be a big, silly git, but I can listen. And I have broad shoulders…”

Sherlock was touched and surprised. “Thank you. I appreciate that very much. Now go home to your big little son and your girl.”

Chris gave him a sheepish grin. “Alright. See you, Billy.”

Sherlock watched him leaving for a moment and then he looked down at Loki. “Last bin. And look – there's an old lady on the bench next to it. Go there and play nice doggie.”

Loki barked and ran off as if he had understood. Sherlock smiled. He loved the little guy to death. Then he followed him slowly, hoping for a few coins.

“Good afternoon,” he said when he had reached the bench. The old woman had bent down and was cuddling Loki, just as expected. She had short white hair and was dressed in clean and neat but old clothes. She didn’t look rich but very decent.

She looked up slowly and her face turned white and her eyes grew wide. “Sherlock…?” she whispered, and he tumbled backwards when he finally saw her face.

“Mrs Hudson…” he stammered, letting his sack with the garbage fall onto the ground.

“Oh my boy Sherlock…”

And then he was in her arms and she was crying, and bloody hell, he was crying, too.

***

Martha couldn’t have said how long they had been sitting like this – the big, skinny man with the arms wrapped around her waist, and her head on his bony shoulder, both unable to speak. She could still not believe that this was real, that she had found him back by accident after all this time. There was so much to ask and to tell, and neither of them seemed to be able to start.

Finally she pulled back. “Sherlock, how are you? Where have you been all these years?”

He wiped over his face and then searched for a tissue to blow his nose. “I've been living in Blackchapel. Started working as a dustman about ten years ago. Two days a week I'm in the Prime End to take care of the parks.”

“Sherlock, why don't you come home?” she whispered and then she froze. Come home? To his brother – the man he loved and desired. Who was in love with someone else now…

“I can see it in your eyes. You know why I left. And that's why I can't come back. He married Irene, didn't he?”

“Oh no, he never got married. He is gay, Sherlock. Irene came by on Wintergiving; she'd been married to a rich, old man who died last year, and she came to finally get him but he turned her away.”

He looked at her inquiringly. “But that's not the full truth, is it? He does have someone.”

She sobbed. What could she say other than the truth? “Yes, he has a partner, it is pretty fresh. He is his butler. But I know – if you came back…”

Sherlock huffed out a laugh and she could see how hurt he was. “Then I would still be his little brother. The dustman. The ex-drug-addict with the sick feelings for him… No way, Mrs Hudson. I can't come back.”

“He loves you, Sherlock. He loves you in the same way that you love him.”

Sherlock shook his head. “He didn’t tell you that, did he?”

“No, of course not. He's never spoken about it with anybody. But I could and can see it in his eyes. I knew this would come when you were still a child. It was inevitable. You loved him so much, and he loved you all the same.”

“And still he never tried to find me.” He sounded deeply shaken and defeated.

“But he did! Your father was so mad at you for running away and he didn't want to look for you. In the end he had to think you had done it for no reason as your brother didn’t tell him anything. But Mycroft sent out men to search for you. But this city is called Big City for a reason. And you don't live under your real name, do you?”

He shook his head. “No. Everybody knows me under the alias Billy Scott. And in the beginning I didn't have a flat or a job. I fell, Mrs Hudson. I fell so deep.”

“So he had no chance to find you, my love. And call me Martha, please. Everybody does that. Well, except for your brother.”

“I can imagine. Does the butler call him My Lord as well?” He sounded sarcastic and it hurt her.

“He did for quite a while. But not anymore. Sherlock, you have no idea how your brother died inside after you were gone. He's been missing you so much. He still does. He regrets so deeply to have turned you away. I know he still wants you.” It broke her heart. To see Sherlock like this – way too thin and so shallow-looking; he was tanned and still handsome thanks to working outside but the pain had been engraved into his eyes and in the lines around his mouth. It didn’t take a genius to see that he'd been through a lot – and he still was. On the other hand Tom was so happy with Mycroft and it would break his heart if Sherlock came back and claimed his brother as his own. There was no happy ending for both of them.

But Sherlock shook his head and his eyes got hard. “He may never know that you saw me, Martha. Swear to me that you won't tell him.”

“What? But Sherlock… I can't… And I can't lose you again now that I've finally found you back!”

He was silent for a moment. “We can meet once in a while. Either here or at my place.”

“Yes! I'll bring you food and whatever you need, my boy. You are so thin and you need to be pampered.”

A smile ghosted over his exhausted-looking face. “Alright. That would be great. But swear to me that you won't tell my brother about me.”

It killed her, but she didn't have a choice. “I swear that I'll keep your secret. But from the bottom of my heart I beg you to change your mind about that. You need him, and he needs you. You love each other.”

“He doesn't need me. He never has, and now that he's in love with someone else, he doesn't need me anyway. Do you have a picture?” He sounded as if he wanted to punish himself with it.

“Yes, I… Are you sure you want to see that?” She had one of the Wintergiving dinner in her purse. It showed her with Greg and the couple.

“Yes, show me. I want to see whom he loves.”

With shaking fingers she fumbled the picture out and handed it to him. He stared at it for a long while without saying a word.

“He looks like you, Sherlock,” she whispered. Tom did indeed look like a red-haired version of Sherlock.

Finally he gave her the picture back. “So now he has the perfect, legal substitute. Nobody will sack him for having sex with him. That's how I know my brother – problem solved flawlessly.”

“Oh Sherlock, it's not like that.” But she knew she wouldn't reach him. Not now at least. But she would stay in his life. Keep on trying to make him come home. “Give me your address, my boy. I suppose you don't have a phone?”

He shook his head. “No, we can't afford one. I live together with an ex-soldier,” he explained to her. “He's just a friend, nothing else. For me there has never been anyone else.”

His bitterness was crushing her soul but she didn't say anything. It was time to go back to Musgrave.

Sherlock emptied the bin, shouldered the heavy sack and accompanied her to the exit after scribbling down his address on a piece of paper she had handed him along with a pen. She had told him when she had her next day off and they had agreed on a time for her to come by.

“My boy – no matter what you believe: you can always come home.” She just had to try it again.

“And watch the happy couple? No, thanks. I have everything I need. I don't live in luxury but everything's fine.”

She could see and hear that this was not true. But she couldn’t force him to come back. She would be happy to see him again and perhaps convince him one day. She had no idea though how she should meet Tom and the lord and not say anything…

“Remember you promised it,” Sherlock said, obviously sensing her thoughts.

“I will keep quiet,” she said, knowing she would never see him again if she broke her promise.

“Goodbye for now, see you next week.” They embraced and then she watched him walking off with a sack full of garbage, the uniform too big for his skinny figure, followed by his pretty little dog.

Tears streamed over her face while she looked at him disappearing, and then she turned to go home, feeling grateful for finding him but so sad to leave without him. Her heart was heavy with pain and sympathy.

***

Sherlock started to cry as soon as he had parted from Martha Hudson; his self-control crumbling like a melting iceberg. He somehow managed to throw his full bin liner into the container that was standing outside the park and then he stumbled forward, blinded by the tears in his eyes. His heart felt like an open wound. All the pain he had tried to swallow down and ignore for so long was on the surface now, and he knew it was there to stay.

Was it true? Had his brother really regretted having turned him away? Had he really come to the conclusion that he loved Sherlock exactly the same, forbidden way? He couldn't believe it. Mycroft was way too decent for feeling something that immoral, let alone acting on such feelings.

He would be allowed to go back; he knew it now; Mycroft would probably not send him away. But then what? Watch the happy couple together? Because even if Mycroft had felt the same for him, it would have been too late now. He loved someone else… And Sherlock knew very well that if Mycroft was in a relationship with this man, he had to seriously love him. He didn't do things by halves. If he saw this butler as his boyfriend, he would not just drop him because Sherlock was back. And actually Sherlock couldn't even imagine going back. He was useless there. Mycroft was the lord and he would forever be the little brother – what the hell would he actually do in Musgrave? Except for witnessing Mycroft's love for somebody else. No, there was no way that he could ever return to his father's house that was now his brother's house.

As a worker for the city, he could use the bus, but he didn't waste a thought on that. He didn't care when he would get home or if at all. He should buy some drugs instead and get high or die. But he was feeling too sore and numb to even do that. He just walked and walked for two hours, ignoring all the curious looks that followed him, before he had finally reached Baker Street. And he went on crying all this long way home and didn’t really know why. He had lost his brother almost twelve years ago after all, why was he still mourning him? But it was if he had just lost him again…

He wondered what Jim would say if he caught him – his face certainly looking completely swollen and deranged after hours of non-stop crying. Perhaps Jim had watched him through the keyhole and had found him too unattractive to make use of his condition or perhaps he was just not at home. In any way Sherlock and Loki were able to walk upstairs undisturbed. This ended when he had opened the door…

“Oh dear, what happened? What's wrong, Billy?”

Molly was all big eyes and open mouth and Sherlock shoved her away. John stood up from the couch and said: “Molly, please leave us alone, would you?”

She didn't say a word but fled out of 221B. John didn't say anything either but pulled Sherlock into a tight embrace. He rested his head on the smaller man's shoulder and the tears flowed even harder. Finally John dragged him to the couch and urged him to sit down. “Please stay; I'll make you a cup of tea.”

Sherlock didn't really want one, but he didn't protest. He leaned his hammering head against the backrest of the couch and sat there with closed eyes until he heard John come back. His eyelids were swollen so much that they felt like thick, aching pillows over his eyes.

“Here, drink that. I put some booze into it.”

That sounded better. Sherlock took a sip and he had to admit that the hot fluid that was running down his throat felt good.

“Do you want to tell me what happened?” John asked carefully after sitting down next to him.

Sherlock closed his eyes again. “I met someone from my past,” he said tonelessly.

“Oh. Your… brother?” he asked cautiously.

Sherlock huffed out an unamused laugh. “Hell no. I would look a lot worse if it had been him. No, I met our housekeeper, Mrs Hudson. I was working in the park and she was sitting on a bench. Loki went to her and I followed him and… she recognised me.”

“That must have been very emotional. What did she say? How is he… Your brother?”

“Very well,” Sherlock said bitterly. “He has a boyfriend who resembles me. His fucking butler. And she said he had wanted me the same way as I want him before they got together.”

“Oh, shit…” John touched his arm and Sherlock looked into his eyes. At least there was no disgust there. Just a deep affection.

“I don't believe he really wanted that, John. I don't see that. Why should he have reacted like this if he did? It makes no sense. You should have seen him…” He broke off, recalling this forsaken day when his sick confession had destroyed his life. He would never forget the way Mycroft had looked at him and how he had sounded when he had pushed him away with these cruel words. But there was a tiny doubt in him that Mycroft could have just been afraid of his own feelings… He swallowed and grabbed his cup so hard that it almost broke in his hand. His voice was raspy when he continued to speak. “I don't know what would be worse anyway – that I ran away for nothing and he'd loved me all this time before he met someone else, or that he'd never wanted me. In any way I can't go back.”

John looked relieved for a moment but then seemed to feel ashamed about his reaction. “But why not? I mean… Yes, it would be painful but you know now that your brother doesn't hate you. He…”

Sherlock gave him a hard look that made him shut up. “Never, John. You hear me? I can never go back.”

oOoOo

Greg gently stroked over the soft nostrils of the stallion. “Yeah, who's my good boy? You'll be fine. Bye.” He didn’t feel silly at all about talking to a horse. It had more brains than some people he was dealing with… The horses had to be moved every day, and one of the youngest guys in his staff had initiated a race with two of the horses, and as a result Big Boy had hurt a hind leg, and it was pure luck that it wasn’t a deadly injury. The veterinarian had looked at the stallion and given him some medicine and had applied a bandage and said he would probably recover soon.

Greg had not waited for the lord to come home to fire the guy who was responsible. He had done it right away; he did have the permission to make such decisions even though it was the first time he had really done it. The boy had cried and cursed him, but he had stayed hard. There was no excuse for such behaviour. The other guy involved had heartily apologised, and since it hadn't been his idea and he had never done anything wrong in the two years he'd been working for Greg and he had taken care of the injured horse at once and had informed Greg, the bailiff had told him he would give him one more chance if the lord agreed on that. He had to inform Mycroft about it of course.

When he went back to his house - planning to refresh himself and perhaps relax for a couple of minutes - his deputy Jeremy Danner headed him off before he could enter the house. The younger man with the ruggedly handsome face looked very serious.

“What's up, Jeremy? Are the guys planning a mutiny?” It was not quite a joke.

Jeremy grimaced. “No, not quite that. But it seems we have more than one rotten egg here. Henry just found out that someone has stolen a ring of his grandfather from his room.”

“Damn. But he has not just put it somewhere else and forgot about it?”

“Well, of course that has to be cleared before, but he said he knew he'd put it exactly where it belonged and he had searched everywhere.”

Greg sighed. He really didn't need that now. “Okay, I just need a few minutes, and then we two will go there and search as well, alright?”

Jeremy nodded. “Sure. But I doubt we'll find it.”

Greg nodded. “If we don't, we'll be looking for a thief.”

“And we'll find him.” The dark-haired man with the ice-blue eyes sounded determined and grim.

“I hope you're right…”

oOoOo

With heavy steps Martha Hudson entered the kitchen, at first not noticed by Tom and Greg.

“It was in his shoe?” Tom was standing before the stove; the smell of tomato sauce was lingering in the air.

“Yeah, can you believe that? He made everybody crazy with his stolen ring and then Jeremy finds it in his damn shoe… He said someone must have hidden it in there to annoy him but I rather think he… Oh, hello Martha! You missed something today!”

“Hello!” Tom greeted her as well with a wide smile. “You're just in time to try my sauce and tell me if you think a really important man can eat it without getting a green face and spitting it out.”

She forced a smile onto her face. “If you give me spoonful, I'll let you know. But it smells very good.”

“Wow, coming from you, the best cook on earth, it's a huge compliment!” Tom hurried to provide her with a bit of his dinner for the lord, and it did taste great and she told him so.

He was visibly happy and brushed a kiss onto her cheek. “Thank you, my dear. I'm glad my man can live another day.”

It was so hard to look into his face and pretend everything was still the same even though it wasn't. Tom was so in love that his eyes were glowing as well as his cheeks; he was so excited about being able to cook for his boyfriend who would come home very soon. She could imagine his face getting sad and dark if he knew that she had met the man who was the great love of his partner, and had tried to make him come home to him. She sat down at the kitchen table opposite of Greg with shaking legs.

She caught a concerned look from Greg; he was in love as well but being a lot older and more experienced than Tom, he was way more pragmatic about it and didn't see the world through pink clouds… “So what did I miss?” she asked, just to distract him and herself.

“Oh, someone of the workers hurt a horse, and then another one said a precious ring had been stolen from his room," Greg explained, and she listened to the full story. In the meantime, Tom had brought her a cup of tea and she drank it, happy to being able to occupy her hands. The maids had taken care of a cold dinner for the people in the house and outside and the dishes were done as well; the staff ate early as they had to get up early. Only Tom was making some mess with his cooking; usually he took care of it before going to Mycroft's rooms, but she would do that tonight. He looked rather happy when she told him but protested, but she said she didn't mind at all. In fact she wanted to have to do something to distract herself.

But of course she would still think of Sherlock and how devastated and poor he had looked. When she visited him the next week, she would buy food for him from her own money and cook him a rich, delicious meal. He needed to eat; in fact he had looked as if he was starving… She could tell that nothing was going well in his life and it hurt her so much that he had refused to come home. He would be a rich man with the trust he had inherited. And he threw it all away because he couldn't endure seeing the man he loved happy with someone else. She did understand it and it broke her heart.

“Oh, I hear the car. Excuse me!” Tom beamed at them and hurried out of the kitchen to greet the lord.

“Is everything okay, Martha?” Greg asked her. “Is your grandniece not feeling well in the house she works in?”

In fact, Gemma had looked wonderful and she was doing fine with her new occupation. They had chatted for an hour before she'd had to go back to work and it had been a pleasure to see her.

“Everything is fine,” Martha answered. “I'm just a little exhausted. And I sat in the sun a bit too long. But it sounds as if you had a very challenging day yourself.”

Greg nodded, but his eyes told her that she hadn’t really convinced him and that he knew she was changing the subject. “Yes, and I have to talk to the lord about it. Tom said I should go to him after their dinner.”

“Yes, let him eat something first and relax a bit. I'm sure he had a hard day as well.”

“They always are as it seems. But we both know Tom will help him feel better. I mean… you know…” The handsome man with the big brown eyes, all experienced and rough and still sweet and nice, blushed, and Martha had to giggle.

“I know exactly what you mean. But since you'll talk to him before Tom can do that, that's no help for you.”

Greg grinned. “You're a naughty lady, Martha.”

Yes, naughty and helpless. She could feel her face darken and Greg narrowed his eyes. “Are you really okay? You know you can talk to me.”

No, I can't… “I'm very well, Greg, thank you. I'll make myself another cup of tea and then I'll wait for the rest of the dishes and go to my room afterwards.”

Greg shook his head. “In fact I'll make the tea, and I'll take care of the dishes after talking to the lord. So you can go to bed, and Tom… can do the same… Damn…”

She smiled about his embarrassment, but her heart was not in it. It was breaking for Sherlock.

oOoOo

“Hello, boss,” Tom said with a wide smile that was returned at once. Mycroft looked tired but he was definitely happy to see him, and it made his heart jump as always.

“Hello, handsome,” Mycroft replied and put his umbrella in its stand to embrace him. Tom kissed him and a shudder went through his entire body. It was still simply overwhelming to be able to do this.

Nobody had told the other servants they should keep out of sight when Mycroft came home. They just did it. They knew they were together and they respected their privacy and it had just naturally happened that Tom didn’t use the term My Lord at all anymore. It was not necessary. He could call Mycroft by any name he wanted but he kept the more tender names for the times they were in the privacy of Mycroft's rooms; he mostly stuck to darling or honey then. It was a dream come true to say such a word to him. And Mycroft mostly called him love and it made his heart melt every time he said it. Because that's what Mycroft did now – he loved him, and it still felt sort of unreal…

“Anything special happening today?” Mycroft asked when they parted so he could get rid of the light coat he was wearing over his jacket.

“Well, yes, Lestrade wants to talk to you; I told him to wait until you've had dinner. He had to fire somebody as he caused Big Boy to hurt his leg.” He saw Mycroft's face darken. “It wasn't that bad; he'll be okay the vet said. But another guy was involved and Lestrade wants to know your opinion how to deal with him.”

“Is he in the house?”

“Yes, in the kitchen with Mrs Hudson.”

“I'll talk to him at once so I get it over with. You come with me?”

“Sure.” Tom smiled at him. “I have to look after our dinner anyway.”

“Right, you cooked today.”

“I hope you'll like it…” Tom shuddered when Mycroft linked their fingers together. He wanted to go with him into the kitchen hand in hand? Tom was aware that everybody in the house and on the grounds had to know about them by now, but Mycroft had never taken to show it to anybody so openly.

“You mind?” Mycroft asked him, sounding cautious.

“Mind?! Oh dear…” Tom felt that his eyes were getting wet.

Mycroft smiled at him and they kissed again; Mycroft cupped his cheek with his free hand. And then they did walk to the kitchen hand in hand.

Both Greg and Mrs Hudson stared at them went they entered the room. Tom beamed at them and was a little surprised about the flicker of sadness he saw in Martha's eyes. What was wrong? Why wasn’t she happy for Mycroft giving such a clear display of his feelings for him? But then she smiled warmly and he thought he must have misjudged that look.

“Good evening, My Lord,” Greg said.

“Good evening, Lestrade. So – tell me?” He let Tom's hand go and the butler went to the stove to finish the pasta and the sauce.

He listened to Greg explaining what had happened with the horse. Mycroft listened without interrupting him, told him he had done right to fire the guy then and said that if Greg wanted to keep the other man involved in the incident in his staff, he could do that. Then he asked Martha if she had spent her time off nicely and Tom just loved to watch him talk to his friends in such a kind manner. How anyone could believe that Mycroft was cold was beyond him. But then – Tom himself had called him an Iceman not too long ago… He could only shake his head over that now.

A few minutes later, they ate together in the small dining room. Tom had lit a candle and they drank a glass of wine each. The lord complimented him for the delicious meal and they talked about Mycroft's day in the palace, and as usual Tom shuddered about the king.

“He's not really… sane, is he?”

Mycroft shook his head. “No, and it just gets worse. I'm really frightened that he'll start a war with one of our neighbouring countries, just because he can or his bloody wife thinks someone insulted her. They are both… Well, there's no adequate expression for them.”

“So instead of actually reigning the country secretly, you're mostly there to contain them.”

“Yes, unfortunately it gets like this more and more. But let's rather enjoy the fabulous meal you've cooked, and then I'll go upstairs and refresh myself and wait patiently for you to join me.”

“Actually – Martha said she would do the dishes so I can join you at once.” If Mycroft wanted that at all; perhaps he would like to have some time for himself?

But his lover beamed at him. “Excellent. Would you like to share a bath?”

“Oh, yes!”

***

Mycroft just laid back into his man's arms and closed his eyes, enjoying the long, strong fingers that were rubbing deliciously smelling soap into his skin. All day he had to be in control, had to be strong and always keep his emotions shut away. With Tom he could let his shields drop, could be at his tender, competent hands and just really relax.

Tom was in fact surrounding him completely – with his long legs that were pressing against his ones, with the muscular arms that were holding him, and of course with his lean, hard, ripped body Mycroft was leaning against. He looked down and saw Tom's beautiful hands on his stomach and as much as he loved the view, he felt a little insecure about his looks. Thanks to not eating much, he was pretty slim, but because he didn't have time to exercise, he had some fat rolls around his waist. If he compared himself to the lean, perfectly-trained man behind him, he had to admit he looked pretty chubby.

“Do you mind the fat?” he asked Tom. He was very well aware that he was the mighty and rich man of the two of them, but that Tom was way younger and more handsome than he was.

His boyfriend's hands stopped massaging his belly. “What fat, honey?” Tom asked him. “You are perfect.”

Of course Mycroft wasn't, but Tom had sounded completely serious. “That was very sweet of you, even though your hands were just feeling said fat,” he said with a smile.

“You.are.perfect,” Tom repeated and his hands continued to massage him.

Mycroft decided to let the subject be and to simply enjoy the beauty of his partner and see if he could do something against his belly before it grew even bigger. Speaking of that – his cock was rapidly filling with blood thanks to the competent hands very close to it.

“Please take my cock, love. I need your hands on it.”

He could literally feel Tom shudder behind him and then the long fingers of his big right hand were wrapped around his plump dick and started to shove the foreskin back and forth. It felt wonderful and Mycroft moaned against Tom's neck. And when Tom's left hand followed the example of his right one but just teasingly slapped against his dick once before holding and stroking his blood-filled balls, he knew he wouldn't last long. He moved up a bit so more of his erect penis was above the water, and Tom pumped him harder and faster, causing a big eruption of sperm to shoot into the air, landing on Mycroft's belly. He panted and shivered through his orgasm, very aware of Tom's hard cock that was pressing against his arse.

“Come out of the water now so you can fuck me,” he said hoarsely.

“Oh dear, yes. I can't wait to be in you.”

oOoOo

Tom almost came by the sheer sight in front of him: Mycroft was on all fours on his bed – the linen was covered by the beautiful blanket even though it was much too warm to sleep under it – and he had spread his cheeks beautifully for him by bending his back. Tom reverently stroked over the two perfect half-moons and exposed the quivering pink hole between them as far as he could by spreading them even wider with his thumbs.

“So pretty,” he mumbled and licked a stripe over the wrinkled flesh. Mycroft rewarded him with a very nice moan. It was only a few weeks ago that Mycroft had asked him to top him. He had been exceptionally exhausted after a very tough day in the palace and he had wanted to have sex with Tom but he was too tired to do the work. Tom had suggested riding him but when Mycroft had answered that Tom should instead fuck him for a change, he had almost come right away. He would have never expected that Mycroft would allow him to do that. But then – he had never expected anything that had happened since Wintergiving… Mycroft was his man now and everybody knew it. Mycroft did love him and he was obviously feeling very comfortable with him.

Tom did not think that he had forgotten his brother though… There had been more nights when Mycroft had apparently dreamed about him, mumbling his name in his sleep. Tom knew he would never forget Sherlock and never stop loving him. But as long as Sherlock was just a distant memory, Mycroft was his and it made him so proud, grateful and happy.

And to taste him like this was the epitome of joy for him. He let the tip of his tongue circle around the hole and then almost scratch Mycroft's entrance with it.

“Yes, so good,” Mycroft mumbled and Tom rolled his eyes in pleasure. His dick was so hard that it was about to burst, but he ignored it. He would take his time and drag this out as long as possible, never getting enough of not only tasting his man so intimately but to have him at his hands like this – on his hands and knees, eagerly waiting for him to seriously lick him and then mount and pound him. As he had no interest in tormenting Mycroft though, he soon started to lick him out, getting his tongue into his musky canal as far as he could, letting it circle around the inside now. Mycroft's freshly scrubbed back was sweaty already; he was shivering and panting and his dick was already hard again, his huge balls red and swollen. But Tom would not take care of either of them, wanting to make Mycroft come untouched just by him worshipping his hole, first with his tongue and then with his own big, hard member. He licked and lapped and breathed hot air into Mycroft until his partner begged him to fuck him.

He squeezed some massage fluid onto the already open hole and then he lined himself up and slapped the puckered entrance to paradise with his more than ready dick. He rubbed the head over it and then he finally breached the muscle, making Mycroft moan loudly. Sometimes Tom wondered if the noises they made were audible outside this room, and he had to admit it was an extra-turn-on to think that somebody who walked by could hear how he was pleasing the lord. Tom knew that despite Mycroft's genuine feelings for him, they would never be equals, not in every way, so satisfying Mycroft like this was making him especially proud because he was so far beneath him in terms of status. And he wanted the whole house to know how much he was able to give him pleasure and satisfy his physical needs.

“Give it to me, please,” Mycroft asked hoarsely, and Tom finally started to slide into him completely and to pound him increasingly hard while holding onto his hips. The sound of his hips slapping against Mycroft's arse and the moans the lord was giving by every deep stroke almost pushed him over the edge at once. But with iron will he held his climax back and went on fucking the mighty man for several minutes.

Finally it was Mycroft who cried out in a rather high tone and shot his load onto the blanket and then Tom gave up his resistance and followed him, releasing himself into his clenching arse and the thought of his seed filling Mycroft up made him come even harder. They stayed united for a long moment, both panting and shuddering, before Tom pulled his softening dick out of him. He didn’t have to wait long until his semen started to trickle out of Mycroft's still open hole, and he bent forward to lick it up.

“Wow, what are you doing?” Mycroft whispered, but Tom was busy with cleaning him up. He lapped up everything and he loved it, and then he grabbed for the towel he had placed next to the bed and wiped up Mycroft's semen that had soiled the blanket. When he was finished he urged Mycroft to lie down on his chest and wrapped his arms around him.

“That was wonderful,” Mycroft said against his neck. “Just wonderful.”

He sounded sleepy and Tom knew he needed to rest now. He gently stroked over his forehead and brushed a kiss on it. “Sleep, my love,” he said tenderly. When Mycroft's breathing showed him that he had indeed fallen asleep, he loosely put the blanket over him, only up to his waist, and then he let himself go as well, feeling totally happy and at ease. He was exactly where he belonged, and so was Mycroft.

 

Chapter Text

Sherlock lay awake for a long time that night. He stared at the ceiling with eyes full of tears and he hadn't felt that hopeless for years which really meant something. To even think that Mycroft had really felt the same for him and he had run away even though he could have had him… No, this was too painful to even consider it. And it had to be untrue. Mycroft had never wanted him as a lover; he was certainly only missing the brother he had known for so long and had been so close to before Sherlock had stupidly destroyed everything with his unnatural feelings for him. Feelings that would obviously never go away…

Finally he dozed off in his exhaustion, his cheeks still wet, his heart heavy and sore. And after tossing around in his sleep for a while, he started to dream.

He opened the door of the main house of Musgrave. Everything looked the same as the day he had left. The house was silent and dark, and Sherlock slowly stepped in. And all at one, his brother was standing before him. He looked serious and his eyes were piercing, his gaze holding Sherlock's. He was as handsome as ever, dressed in a light-grey suit.

“Brother mine,” he whispered and then Sherlock was clinging around his neck. He kissed him wildly and Mycroft responded equally thoroughly, his hands exploring Sherlock's suddenly naked body. Sherlock fumbled with Mycroft's zipper and then his fingers closed around his hard, big dick; the tip was wet with sticky fluid and Sherlock was on his knees and took it into his mouth, licking off the salty pre-cum and suck his brother, finally tasted him, felt him, heard him moan, and he felt Mycroft's long fingers in his hair and on his neck.

And then a voice from behind: “Can you tell me what you're doing with my man?”

Sherlock whirled around and saw a man standing in the door, in a dark suit, with short, curly hair, his hands on his hips, his face hard and edgy and angry.

“He's my man,” Sherlock stammered. “I've loved him forever.”

“But he loves me, not you.”

And Sherlock stood up and watched his brother smile at the man who approached them now with long, heavy steps, and then Mycroft pushed Sherlock away and took the tall, muscular man into his arms.

“My love,” he said and they kissed.

And Sherlock woke up crying and struggling, and he rolled onto his stomach and sobbed into his pillow until he finally fell into a dreamless sleep.

oOoOo

Greg looked around in the dirty, dark street. He had never seen such poverty but then, he had hardly ever left Musgrave for anything else than doing some shopping and visiting Michael. And because of him, he was here now, in Blackchapel - a quarter he had heard about, and nothing good.

“It's okay, Greg; it looks more dangerous than it is,” Michael soothed him when he grabbed his doctor’s bag.

“I came with you to protect you,” Greg grumbled. “But now I'm feeling pretty intimidated.”

“Let's get into the house before anyone stabs us.”

“Very funny.”

Michael just grinned and took his hand, and then they went to his patient. She had been a maid in one of the rich people's houses, and Michael had known her for many years. When she had become pregnant, her master had sent her away, and now she was about to get her baby in a shabby hole of a flat instead of the precious, comfortable house she had lived in for years.

“I won’t have to watch it, will I?”

Michael kissed his cheek. “No, sweetheart. I’ll just pull it out and we’ll go home again. You can wait in the living room.”

“Good. I really don't want to see that.”

Michael laughed. “Have you never seen a horse getting a foal?”

“Of course but that’s different.”

“Alright, my shy, pretty man. You’ll just wait for me.”

“But it can last hours, can't it?”

“She is very far already her mum told me. Now hurry, babe, before it comes by itself.”

In the end Greg had to wait almost an hour. He spent it with blundering around in the messy living room the baby would grow up in. Every other minute somebody would run through the flat, a woman was screaming, and then finally Michael came back, his hands clean but his shirt full of blood. He smiled at Greg. “Everything's fine. We can go now.”

“Fine, yes. Do they have anything at all?” He looked around in the room full of furniture that seemed to have been collected from the rubbish.

“I gave her some money,” Michael admitted. “And I'll come back in a few days. These are the facts of life, Greg. Come home with me now.”

“Yes. I need you now.”

Michael stepped closer, carefully avoiding touching him with his dirty clothes, and they kissed. “You'll always have me,” he said tenderly, and then he collected his stuff and they left the depressing flat and the dangerous quarter behind, but Greg kept thinking of it until they were in Michael's house and stepped into the shower together.

oOoOo

Tom couldn't take his eyes off Mycroft. How he looked – like a prince. With his tight black trousers, the high boots, the white shirt, high up on his horse. He was sitting on it as if he was doing nothing else. Mycroft caught him staring at him and smiled. “You look very good, too, my dear.”

Tom had not sat on a horse since he'd been a child, visiting his grandfather's farm. But apparently it was something one didn't forget. He felt great and he smiled back at his lover and they continued their way over the huge grounds of Musgrave Hall.

When Mycroft had come home very early, Tom had been surprised. Mycroft had said he had missed him and had wanted to spend a little time with him before dinner for a change. He had asked Tom if he cared to have a ride, and Tom had said: “You know you never have to ask!”

Mycroft had laughed out loud – a noise that Tom still heard very rarely – and had said that he had meant a different kind of riding. “I have so many gorgeous horses – it's a shame I never get to ride them.”

He had given Tom some appropriate clothes and then they had Jeremy Danner saddle two beautiful stallions for them, and they had ridden off into this sunny, warm afternoon.

“There's a lake behind the trees. Let's go there and have a rest,” Mycroft said now, and Tom saw in his face that this would be a rest without much rest but all the more pleasure…

Mycroft took care of securing the proud, big animals and the two men sat down on the grass next to the small, clean lake full of insects and frogs. “Do you like it?” he asked Tom, and the younger man was straddling his lap in a second.

“Very much so. It's so nice to be outside with you like this.” They kissed tenderly, and Tom thought he just couldn't get any happier. He rubbed his crotch over Mycroft's bulge; they were both hard.

“Oh, so you do want to have another sort of ride, too?” Mycroft teased him.

“You lured me into this secluded place. I'm sure you've planned to have that, too.”

“You caught me. And surprisingly enough, I did take some lubricant with me.”

“Always well-prepared, My Lord.”

“What shall I say?” They smiled at each other and Mycroft started to undress Tom while they were kissing some more.

It was mere moments until Tom impaled himself on Mycroft's length; after all the sex they'd had over the past months there was no need for longer preparations anymore. Mycroft's white shirt was open and Tom caressed his chest and his stiff, pink nipples while he was moving up and down on him, and Mycroft let his big hands slide over his sides, making him shiver under his tender touches.

When Mycroft had ejaculated in him, Tom moved forward until his neglected erection was directly above Mycroft's face, and he rested on his hands and dipped it into his mouth, moaning at the warm lips that closed around it and the strong suction of the wet, hot mouth. Long ago Mycroft had begun swallowing Tom's sperm equally as eagerly as Tom did with his own, and when Tom pumped his release into him, he felt like the luckiest man in the world.

oOoOo

“Wow, Martha, afraid that you could starve on your way?”

Martha cringed. She had not heard Greg coming into the kitchen. “I bought this from my own money,” she said defensively.

“Hey, no offense meant!” Greg lifted his hands. “I was just surprised. Don't they give your grandniece anything to eat there?”

“I'm…” She broke off, angry about not being prepared for this conversation. Then she had an idea. “If you need to know it: I've met a man last week. And he has nobody who cooks for him.” It was not a lie…

“Oh, I see!” Greg beamed at her but then he froze. “You're not going to leave us though, are you?”

“Of course not. I've never married and I haven't missed it. But it's nice to, you know, meet someone who is interested in you…”

“You don't want to imply that I and Tom are not!” Greg playfully rested his hands on his hips.

“What are we not?” Tom entered the kitchen, an apple in his hand. He was walking a little stiffly today…

Before Martha could say anything, Greg answered him. “Apparently we're not paying enough attention to the heart of this house so she has to get it from strangers. And in exchange for that she has to feed them.”

Tom looked a bit confused. “You mean you have a boyfriend out there?!”

“Is that so unusual?” Martha said, hoping to sound convincing. “You think only young and handsome men like you may find someone?”

“Oh, no, of course not!” Tom protested. Then he came over to her and brushed a kiss on her cheek. “I hope you have a lovely day off, dear. But don't let anyone steal you from us. We need you.”

Martha blushed, feeling guilty about her lies, and she decided to change the subject. “You walk as if your ride yesterday was quite exhausting…”

Now Tom blushed and Greg laughed. “Which one, Martha? On the horse or…” He didn’t finish the sentence and winked at Tom.

“Don't tell me you saw us,” Tom croaked and Greg laughed again.

“No, but one of my boys heard you… And he said you're quite the screamer…”

“Greg! How can you embarrass him like this?” Martha was pretty shocked.

But Greg put an arm around Tom's neck. “Hey, no need to feel ashamed, buddy. I think it's great. Do you think the lord minds if Michael and I follow your example?”

Tom grinned. “Of course not. But be aware of the mosquitos when you ride to the lake. It was a lovely place to have fun at but I have some nice bites in my arse…”

Greg chuckled. “He as well?”

“No, apparently even the little beasts respect him. They only bit me.”

Martha shook her head with an indulgent smile and grabbed the basket with food she would bring Sherlock now. “I'll leave you to your man-to-man conversation now. See you in the evening.”

“Have fun Martha, and don't do anything we wouldn't do…” Greg gave her a wide grin.

“Which means I can do almost anything,” she quipped and left the kitchen under the laughter of her two boys. She loved them so much, and she also loved Sherlock. And it made her heart cry that she couldn't bring him home…

oOoOo

“So, beware what you say, John. Molly may not know who she really is. I'm sure she'll show up eventually…”

“Of course not, Sherlock. I will distract her if she comes. But I told her you had a visitor and want your privacy.”

“I told her the same. But somehow I don't believe she can let it be.” He had told Molly that an old lady would come by without mentioning any details, and Molly had looked at him curiously but hadn't asked.

The doorbell rang. “Alright. I let her in.” He had tidied up the flat thoroughly. He had cleaned it and scrubbed the floor. But he hadn't been able to do anything against the shabbiness of their furniture and the fact that the rooms just looked poor…

“Hello Martha,” he greeted the old lady and embraced her. She was so small and fragile in his arms.

“My dear boy. I'm so happy to see you.” She came in and handed a heavy basket to Sherlock. “I brought you some food and a little money.”

“Oh, dear, thank you.” Sherlock was more touched than he liked to show her. He guessed that Mycroft paid rather high wages to the people who had been serving the Holmeses for years, but she was certainly not a rich woman and she worked hard for her money.

“Hello,” he heard Martha say and turned around to his flatmate who smiled rather shyly at her and returned her greeting.

“This is my friend John Watson. John, this is Mrs Hudson, the heart and soul of my… childhood house…”

“Oh, Sherlock…” she mumbled and he could see how sad she was. She seemed to fight her feelings and shook hands with the blond man. Then she looked around in the flat and he knew what she was thinking: they are so poor but neat; probably they cleaned up for my visit. And Sherlock could have all the riches and dumps them because he refuses to see his brother happy with someone else…

“Sit down, please. I'll bring the tea,” he said sharper than he had wanted to, but she just gave him a sad but loving smile.

“Oh, there's a cake in the basket. Would you get it, Mr Watson?”

“Call me John, please. And I'll do that with pleasure.”

“Martha – John knows who I am and what happened. But if our neighbour comes in, Molly - she thinks my name is Billy, and she knows nothing about my past. Please use this name when she's here and don't, you know, say anything. We told her to stay away but I'm not sure if she really does that…”

“And when our landlord shows up, it's just the same,” John threw in, and Sherlock shuddered. Jim Moriarty was the last he wanted to see now. Well, actually he was the last he ever wanted to see… along with Mycroft's boyfriend though…

“I understand. We'll tell them I'm an old neighbour of you,” Martha suggested. She bent down to tickle Loki behind his ears.

“That sounds good. And now I'll get the tea.”

oOoOo

Martha left two hours later for a brief meeting with her grandniece. It had been hard to say goodbye to Sherlock, but she would see him again the next week. She liked the man he was living with, and the girl who had knocked on the door had looked very nice, too. But she was in love with Sherlock; everybody could see that. Of course she would never get him, and she didn't even know his real identity. Sherlock had been rather cold to her as he'd apparently told her to not disturb them, and she had not stayed for long.

Martha had told Sherlock about Musgrave, about Greg and the retirement of the old Mr Frankland (whom Sherlock had been afraid of as a child). She had not mentioned Tom but she had told him about his brother; his hard work for the king and how generous he was. Sherlock had listened with a stoic expression, but she had seen that he had saved all the information in his head and his heart. It was so painful for her to watch him suffer like this; he loved Mycroft every bit as much as he had done before he had left his father's house.

On her way downstairs she had met Sherlock's landlord; he had opened his door and given her a smile that had let her cringe. He was crazy; his eyes said it all. He had asked her if she had visited his dear friend Billy, and she had known that the two of them had some sort of relationship, but a sort Sherlock would never talk to her about. He was disturbingly handsome and charismatic, but she was instantly repulsed by him. This was a scary, dangerous man, and her sweet boy was at his hands. It had made her heart even heavier.

Deep in her thoughts she entered Musgrave Hall before the sun went down. And she reached up to her heart when she was approached by Greg.

“Hello, you're late today! Oh, sorry, I didn't want to startle you.”

She forced a smile onto her face. “It's fine; I just didn't hear you.”

He looked at her closely, and she knew very well that she wasn't looking like a woman who was in love. But she had to stick to this story if they asked her again.

“So, wasn't it nice with him today?” Greg promptly asked.

“Oh yes, it was,” she hurried to ensure him.

He nodded slowly and she could see he didn't believe her.

“Is the dinner for the lord ready? Do you know that?” she tried to distract him.

“Yes, Tom is on it. I'm sure he'll want you to give it a try before.”

“Then I'll go straight to the kitchen. Will you come over again later?”

“No, Michael is on his way. So goodnight. And if you need help with anything, let me know.”

She laid a hand on his arm. “Thank you, my dear, but don't worry about me. I'm totally fine.”

“If you say so.” He bent forward and kissed her cheek. “Just take care of yourself; as Tom said: you're needed.”

She smiled. “Thank you, and goodnight. And greetings to the handsome doctor.”

“I will definitely do that. Sleep well.”

She watched him leaving and then walked to her kitchen to face Tom, but she knew she couldn't pretend to be happy tonight, as she could only think of Sherlock.

oOoOo

“Happy birthday once more, my sweet. I'm sorry I'm so late, but the king didn't let me go.” Mycroft had congratulated him in the morning already of course, and they had kissed for a long time before he'd had to go. Tom had awaited him eagerly, but not because it was his birthday. He did that every day.

Tom beamed at his boyfriend. “That's totally fine. I've never really celebrated my birthday…”

Mycroft's face grew dark. “Yes, I know what you mean. But now we will celebrate yours - it's the twenty-fifth after all. How young you are…”

Tom stroked over his face tenderly. “You're young, too. And if I may add: very handsome as well. And I hope we can have a little party on your next birthday then. Just a big cake, you and me.”

“That sounds very tempting. And what will we do with the cake then?”

“I'll rub it all over your beautiful body and lick it off, and feed you some handfuls.”

“Damn, I should have gotten you a cake as well!”

Tom laughed and dragged him to the living room. “Martha baked me one, and you'll hopefully have a slice later. But first dinner, right?”

“Of course. And your present is waiting in our bedroom.”

Tom shivered at this expression. Our bedroom. It was not that he'd officially moved in with Mycroft, but since he was spending every night with him, it was sort of their bedroom now. Tom could come and go in Mycroft's private rooms as he wanted. The pictures of Sherlock were gone. But of course Tom didn't think he was gone from Mycroft's thoughts. He still dreamed about him. But he had never mentioned him.

“That's lovely,” he said now. “But you know; having your love is the best present you could give me.”

“You're a very modest man, love. And you do have it. But that doesn’t mean I won't give you something more materialistic, too.”

Tom beamed at him. “I can't wait for it. But now let's eat, and tell me about your day.”

Mycroft sighed. “You're a saint that you always listen to that. It's not any more pleasant than on any other day…”

But of course Tom listened to him. Mycroft could have lectured him about the weather and he would have listened to him full of fascination. What he really said was so interesting anyway. The king and his wife had gotten into a row and as a result the king had insulted a Blanch official and Mycroft had had to interfere and save the situation.

Tom was constantly shaking his head in awe while they were eating. When they had devoured the dessert – Martha's fabulous cake - Mycroft tenderly cupped his cheek.

“I'm sorry for complaining all the time, especially on your birthday. Let's go upstairs now so we can really celebrate. You can have me any way you want to tonight.”

“Oh, wow, that sounds good! Will we have a threesome with Big Boy then?”

Mycroft almost choked on his wine and he grinned widely when he used his tissue. “Damn, your fantasy is running wild tonight, boy. I should have been more specific: you can have me any way you want without involving a third party, especially no horses!”

“What a shame.” Tom pouted. “Okay, but a ride is included?”

“Oh yes. You can ride me into oblivion anytime.”

“Let's go!”

***

“It's so beautiful…” Tom could feel his eyes getting wet when he looked at the golden bracelet around his slim wrist. And it wasn't only the precious jewellery that brought him to tears but even more the engraving: For Tom. The man who saved me. Love, Mycroft.

“Do you like it?” Mycroft whispered, holding him tight against his body.

“I love it. And I love you,” Tom breathed back and their eyes were burning into each other.

“I love you, too,” Mycroft whispered, and now Tom really started to cry and he wrapped his arms tight around Mycroft's neck and they kissed, and Tom could feel his legs get weak. And then he was dragged to the bed and they both fell onto it, kissing and touching each other and then they were naked and Tom moaned when Mycroft kissed his neck and his nipples while his hand slid up and down on his cock.

“So silky,” Mycroft mumbled. “You're pure silk and beauty and I love you, I love you…”

“Take me, please… I love you so much…” Tom just needed him in his body, and he needed him right now. Mycroft lubed him up quickly and he slung his arms around the lord's waist and then he was filling him up and his mouth was on Tom's throat and was caressing his ears and pulling on his bottom lip. They kissed deeply and Mycroft was fully seated in him very soon, and Tom wondered how it was possible to be happier every day and what he had done to deserve this wonderful man in his life.

Mycroft pumped away in him and with every deep thrust they both cried out, and then Tom was granted with the incredible and incomparable feeling of hot fluid shooting into his body, and he came as well, spurting over his chest, and Mycroft rubbed the thick fluid into his skin while was still in him, and Tom shivered and breathed fast, and pulled him down on him to hold him as tight as he could.

“The best birthday of all,” he mumbled, and he could feel Mycroft smile against his neck.

“And all that without the horse,” the lord teased him.

“Of course it would have been even better with Big Boy.”

“I think I do have quite a big boy down there…”

“Oh yes. Do you think he'll poke me again tonight?” Tom let his hand slide over Mycroft's spent, wet dick.

“If you ask him really nicely, I'm sure he'll consider it.”

“Oh I will…”

Chapter Text

“I think I did hear enough now about our history,” Anthea said with a moan. “I’m not supposed to recall all that, am I?” She stood up and stretched her back with another moan.

Mycroft smiled. “It's all written down so no, but you do need to know about our past to be able to lead the kingdom into a good future.” He leaned back into his chair after closing the book he had shown her.

Anthea rested her hands on his desk. “I know that's true, but you know what? I would prefer looking at our present. And not just at the nice parts of it.”

Mycroft was a bit confused. “What do you mean?”

“I want you to join me on a tour through the poor quarters, like Spit Fields or Blackchapel. Right this afternoon.”

“Oh no, that’s too dangerous!” Mycroft protested.

“See! That's exactly why I have to get a picture of it! This is going to be my kingdom, Mycroft, and I can't accept that there are areas where people don't have anything and are exposed to violence so the rich people don't dare go there. My father gives a shit about the poor, but I'm not like this. I'll go there anyway but perhaps you want to be near me to protect me?”

Mycroft sighed. “I don't think I'm a decent bodyguard. If we do that, we need to take at least two guards with us.” He preferred accompanying her nonetheless. She was brave – and irresponsible – enough to get out of the car into the middle of danger. Not that Mycroft himself had ever gone there. He more or less only knew his property and the palace and the way between them. When he needed a new suit, the tailor would come to Musgrave and his underwear and shoes were bought by a servant.

Anthea grinned. “Deal!”

Mycroft smiled back, but he was worried. The king would behead him if anything happened to Anthea. And he would never forgive himself anyway…

***

“I can't believe that,” Anthea mumbled, looking around. Mycroft could see that her hand with the long, fragile-looking fingers was digging into the cushions of her seat.

He didn't answer as it was nothing to add to this. After a sunny morning, it had become a rainy day and everything around them looked dark, and it had little to do with the weather. Shabby was not an appropriate word for what he was seeing. Old, burnt cars, dirt, people with empty faces and clothes so dirty that their original colour was hard to identify. This was pure poverty in the middle of the rich Great Kingdom, only half an hour away from the pompous palace.

They were driving through the streets very slowly and carefully. Mycroft's driver Paul Dimmock seemed to expect a riot any time.

“I want to get out of the car, stop it,” Anthea demanded.

“No. Your Highness, we can't allow that,” the bulky bodyguard on the passenger's seat said. “It's way too risky.”

“He's right,” Mycroft said. “You can talk to your father about it so these people get help, but you can't go out there and bring yourself in danger. This kingdom needs you – how much you are just seeing.”

He could see Anthea bite her bottom lip, then she nodded. “Yes, I guess you have a point.”

The bodyguard relaxed and looked out of the front window again.

“I just can't believe I didn't know that. That it is that bad…” she said very quietly.

Mycroft felt rather ashamed that he hadn't known it either. He watched an old woman carrying a heavy bag; her clothes were nothing more than rags. She was accompanied by a tiny, yellow dog that didn’t look any better. And then another, slightly bigger dog came to him and wagged his tail. And a tall, thin man joined them and said something to the old lady. And Mycroft felt his whole world shatter.

He clamped his hand into the shoulder of the driver. “Stop the car!” he shouted. Dimmock stepped on the brake and the car stopped with an awful noise.

“What's wrong, Mycroft?” Anthea laid a hand on his arm.

“My brother. Sherlock…” He ripped the door open and stumbled outside, but when he ran back in the now heavy rain, he could only see the old lady with the small dog.

“Sorry,” he hissed when he had reached her. “Where has he gone?”

She turned around to him. “Who? This young man? I didn't watch him go.”

“Do you know him?”

She gave him a sympathetic smile. “No, sir, I've never seen him before. We just talked about our dogs.” She nodded and turned around to leave.

He could feel tears burn in his eyes. It had been Sherlock, he was absolutely sure. The man had been scarily thin but this had only accentuated his high cheekbones and the full lips. He had been wearing black clothes and a cap that was hiding his hair and his forehead, but it had been Sherlock. And he was gone again…

He winced when he felt a hand on his shoulder. “No luck?” Anthea asked him softly.

“Your Highness, come back into the car!” he heard the bodyguard say but both of them ignored him.

“No,” he choked out. And then he fell down on his knees into the dirt and the wetness, and started to cry.

oOoOo

Sherlock was completely wet when he reached Baker Street. He had not bothered taking an umbrella with him, and the cap had not really helped. Large puddles followed him into the staircase and he almost slipped on the ground. He carefully put his foot on the first step.

And then the door of 221A was opened. “Oh, Billy. Nice weather out there, isn’t it?”

He sighed inaudibly and turned around. “Yes. Sorry for soaking the floor; I’ll dry myself off and then I’ll take care of it.”

Jim had come out of his flat and waved this away. “Sod that. It'll dry by itself. Come in.” He gestured towards his open door.

Sherlock shook his head. “Oh no, I'll make everything wet… I need to take a shower and…”

“Come in. You can shower here.” Jim didn't sound threatening; in fact his voice was soft and silky, but it was clear he wouldn't take no for an answer…

“The dog…”

“… can come in as usual. I know, his paws are dirty. I don't care. Come here, doggie.”

Loki looked up to him and cautiously wagged his tail. Then he slipped into the flat.

“See, your dog is braver than you are. Come now.”

Sherlock nodded and did as he'd been told, wondering what would happen today. Jim always found a way to surprise him. And never in a good way…

“Go right through, I'll get you a towel. Just hop into the shower.”

He nodded again and entered Jim's bathroom for the first time. It was neat and clean like the rest of the flat. Sherlock quickly got rid of his wet clothes and a few seconds later, heavenly warm water was pouring down on him. He closed his eyes when he washed his hair with the shampoo he had found in the corner of the cabin, and then he shrieked when two hands were sliding over his waist.

Jim chuckled behind him. “Like a little girl. Who did you think it is?” He put off the spray.

Sherlock's heart still hammered, and he tensed when he heard the noise of a plastic bottle that was squeezed. And then nicely smelling body wash was rubbed onto his back and two hands were soon washing his front as well. Sherlock didn't move, didn't say a word and watched down on the hands that caressed him, and he winced when he was bitten into the neck from behind. But it was more a tease, followed by a tongue licking over his wet skin. Sherlock couldn't help but getting hard when a deft hand started massaging his dick.

“Oh, you're getting all aroused for me,” Jim purred against his shoulder. He was too short to reach Sherlock's ear. “You like that, don't you, Billy-Boy?”

“Yes sir,” Sherlock croaked, and then he cried out when a finger was rudely inserted into his anus.

“Did that hurt? I'm sorry. Shit that you're so tall - I can't fuck you like this.” Jim put the shower spray back on and handed the body wash over to Sherlock. “Would you please be so kind?”

Sherlock nodded and while Jim was washing his short, black hair, he took care of his body. Jim's short dick was standing straight up, and Sherlock rubbed it rather roughly, hoping to finish him off easily. But Jim grabbed his wrist when he was finished with his hair.

“Not so fast, pretty boy. I want to come inside you.” He dragged Sherlock out of the shower cabin and handed him a big, black towel. They both dried themselves off and then Jim took Sherlock's hand and guided him to his bedroom.

“Kneel on the edge. Yes, good boy.”

Sherlock was prepared for pain, but instead he was graced with a generous amount of lube that was rubbed into him by Jim's rather chubby fingers before he mounted Sherlock. His hips clashed against Sherlock's arse in the rhythm of his loud moans, and he reached around him with one hand and let him fuck his hand. Sherlock came very fast all over the competent hand and only seconds later Jim exploded in him with a cry that John had to hear in their flat.

“Shit, that was good. Come here.” Jim crawled onto the bed and dragged Sherlock with him.

Still shivering, Sherlock reluctantly put his head on Jim's smooth chest and he shuddered when Jim embraced him tightly.

“I love you, pretty boy,” Jim mumbled.

Sherlock was terrified and his whole body went stiff.

Jim chuckled. “I know you don't love me, that's fine. Who was this old woman, Billy?”

“Um, she was a neighbour I knew as a child.”

“I see. Did she give you money?”

“Not much. Um, she is a cook, she doesn't have much herself.”

“Good, that's good. I wouldn't want you to be able to pay the rent every month now. I've missed you.”

Sherlock only wanted to get out.

“You know, after all I've done for you I would have expected you to say that you'll be nice to me anyway.”

There was only one answer to this. “Oh, I will be. When I pay you the rent, I'll make you feel good.”

Jim laughed. “Very clever. So once a month is all I'll get. Well, agreed. Better than nothing, right? But today doesn't count, you know. I did take care of you.”

“Yes you did. Thank you, sir.” He shuddered when Jim stroked over his damp hair.

“Alright, darling. Go upstairs now and relax from your hard day at work. We'll see each other next week. If I'm nice, I'll let your lick my arse then.”

Sherlock swallowed. “I would like that, sir.”

“I bet you would. Go now.” He slapped Sherlock's arse and he hurried to get back to the bathroom and slip into his nastily wet trousers and his sweatshirt. He didn't see anything from Jim anymore when he and Loki left the flat.

John opened the door before he could use his key, and he looked shaken.

“What's wrong, John?” he asked and put off his shirt again after having closed the door. At least Molly wasn't there.

“I saw you coming. More than half an hour ago.” He turned away and sneezed.

Sherlock bit his lip. They had always avoided this subject. “Well, I… showered in Jim's flat. I gotta clean up the staircase by the way.”

“I'm sorry, Sherlock. I'm so fucking sorry. Without me and my weakness, you would have never had to do that. And now he just demands in anyway, right?” He had started to use Sherlock's real name in the last few days.

Sherlock was fine with it as long as he didn't do it in Molly's presence… “It's okay, John. Just forget it. It's not your fault. I need to eat something now.”

“I've prepared some sandwiches for you.” John sneezed again.

“Thank you, John.”

“Don't thank me, Sherlock. Never thank me…”

oOoOo

Tom had spent a pretty relaxing day despite the fact that two of his servants were ill, and he eagerly awaited Mycroft to return. But when he opened the door for him, he saw at once that something was wrong.

“Mycroft? How are you?” he asked carefully.

Mycroft looked horrible. His gaze was unsteady, his tie was a mess, and his hair was ruffled. The knees of his trousers were dirty and his expensive suit looked as if he had been in heavy rain. He stumbled into the house and let his umbrella drop into the stand. Tom helped him out of his coat and he could feel that Mycroft was shivering.

“What's wrong, love?” he whispered and laid a hand on Mycroft's cheek. When he still didn't say anything, he stepped back. “Dinner is ready and…”

“I'm not hungry,” Mycroft finally broke his silence. “I'll go into my rooms.”

Tom nodded, fighting the feeling of rejection. “Do you… want me to come by or would you like to be left alone?” he asked rather stiffly.

Mycroft looked at him, and Tom could see how he was debating with himself. But then he nodded. “Give me an hour, please, and then please come.”

“Sure. And if you change your mind, call me in my room.”

Mycroft nodded and turned away, but then he stopped and grabbed Tom's arm and kissed his cheek. “I'm sorry. And I don't want to talk about it, alright?” he said hoarsely.

“Just as you wish, honey. I'm always there if you want to talk but if you don't, it's fine, too.”

And then Tom was pulled into a surprisingly rude embrace; Mycroft had never done that before. Then the lord's lips were on his and he kissed Tom desperately. Tom responded to the kiss and they stood like this for more than a minute before Mycroft let him go.

“An hour,” Mycroft repeated and then he was gone.

Tom watched him until he had disappeared on the stairs, and he slowly turned around to put their dinner into the fridge. He wasn't hungry anymore, either. He had never seen Mycroft so upset and shaken, and he knew it could only mean one thing: it had something to do with Sherlock…

He went back to the kitchen with heavy steps. Martha was sitting at the table, reading the newspaper. She sneezed when he came in and smiled at him, only to grow serious at once.

“Has anything happened?”

“I don't know. He came home and said he didn't want to eat, and he had to think about if he wants to see me at all tonight. But then he said I should join him later and that he doesn't want to talk about what's happened.”

“Oh!” Martha looked terrified and hopeful at the same time. “But it's good that he wants to be with you, even without telling you what's bothering him.”

“Yeah.” Tom let himself drop onto the chair opposite of hers. “I've never seen him like this. Something important happened. Perhaps… Sherlock called him.”

“What? No, that can't be….” She sneezed again.

“How can you be so sure? And bless you. Everybody seems to have a cold today.”

“Yes, summer colds are the worst.” She blew her nose and then she stood up. “Even if he doesn't want to eat, you have to.”

“But I'm not hungry either.”

“I can imagine, but you need to eat; you've worked all day and you don't want to be with him with a growling stomach later, do you?”

Tom sighed. “Not sure if he'd notice it. But you might be right. I'll eat a bit.”

“Good boy. Stay seated, I'll get everything for you.”

“Thank you, Martha. You are such a support.”

She gave him a look full of sadness and sneezed once more. And before he could ask her what was wrong with her beside the cold, Greg came into the kitchen and greeted them, and he managed to cheer them both up a little.

***

Tom knocked at the door exactly an hour after parting from Mycroft. He had a box with some finger food with him in case Mycroft would get hungry. The room was silent and Tom wondered if Mycroft had changed his mind and gone to bed without letting him know, but then the door was opened.

“Hello. Come in.”

Tom stepped into the room and gave his lover a concerned look. But Mycroft looked as if he had calmed down. He was wearing his robe and he had showered and shaved. “What's that?” he asked, looking at the box.

“Just something small to eat in case you want something.”

“God, Tom, you're so sweet. I'm sorry for before.” He seemed to be close to crying, and Tom hurried to put the box on the table next to the door and embraced him.

“It's alright; there's nothing you had to be sorry for,” he whispered into his ear, and then Mycroft started to walk backwards until they had reached the couch. They both sat down – Tom on Mycroft's lap as he had urged him to do so – and they kissed deeply and passionately. Mycroft had slung one arm tight around his waist and rubbed his bulge with the other hand. Tom had put on black jog pants like he usually did; there was no need to show up in a suit in his boyfriend's rooms. Mycroft slipped the hand in and cupped his dick with his long fingers.

“Come on, straddle my lap,” he demanded, and Tom stood to get rid of his pants while Mycroft was opening his robe, and then he was pressing his hard, wet dick against Mycroft's belly; Mycroft's member was rubbing between his cheeks, his pre-cum slicking Tom up. But they had also stored a bottle of lube next to the couch as they had sex there quite often, and very soon Mycroft was sliding into him and Tom started to ride him rhythmically. To his devastation he saw tears in Mycroft's eyes and he wiped them away with his thumbs. He was dying to know what had happened, but he didn’t dare ask him. So they had the strangest sex they'd ever had with each other since this first night – Tom terrified and worried, Mycroft crying silent tears. And he stayed silent when he came in Tom, and Tom painted his belly and chest with his cum soon after, equally quiet. He cleaned up the mess with a tissue and then they kissed.

“Let's go to bed,” Mycroft said almost inaudibly.

“Would you like to eat something? Just a little bit? We can take it to the bedroom.”

Mycroft smiled at him and nodded. “Yes, that would be nice. Thank you. I love you.”

Tom had not expected to hear these words from him tonight, and it made him very happy that he had said them. “I love you, too. Always.”

oOoOo

Mycroft was walking through the dirty streets of Blackchapel. He was screaming Sherlock's name. He looked into every dark corner, and he saw unspeakable things. Dead animals, dead people, dirt of all sorts, every nasty thing under the sun, but no Sherlock. The rain was pouring down on him but he didn't care. He knew he had to find his brother and tell him, finally tell him that he loved him.

And then, all at once, he saw him. He was lying on his back with open eyes, the rain was filling them, running over him, soaking him. And Mycroft dropped onto his knees next to him and cried out his name, but his little brother was lying in the dirt like a marble statue - stiff, lifeless, dead. And Mycroft screamed and cried and shook him, kissed his cold lips but it was too late, much too late, too late for everything.

And then he heard a voice, deep and soft and tender, saying his name, saying…

“Mycroft, love, wake up. Come here, come to me.”

And Mycroft pressed his face into Tom's neck and clung to him like a man about to drown, and the tears were still streaming out of his eyes and he felt so bad, so sad but not lost anymore because he'd found love even though he didn't deserve it; his brother was living in poverty and dirt and danger, and he lived in the shell of Musgrave, having much more than he needed, and was graced with the love of this beautiful, wonderful young man, and his heart was torn from the pain and the love and the desperation, and he couldn't tell Tom about it. Of course he knew that Tom had seen Sherlock's pictures on the walls and as he was so close to both Greg Lestrade and Mrs Hudson, he would have known anyway about his brother, but he just couldn't tell Tom that he had seen him only to lose him again. Tom wasn't a fool - he had probably guessed that whatever had happened must have had something to do with Sherlock, but Mycroft just couldn't speak it out; couldn't expose his failures and his love for Sherlock and his devastation about having almost (but just almost) caught him.

“It's alright, love,” Tom mumbled into his hair. “It's alright. Try to sleep again; I'll hold you all night.”

“I'm sorry, Tom, and I don't deserve you…”

“Hush, love. As long as you want me to, I'll be there for you. Always. I'm not going anywhere until you say I should.”

And now Mycroft was sure that he knew about his feelings for his brother and he knew that he had sort of found him, and it broke his heart that Tom comforted him like this, accepting to be sent away if Sherlock came back. But of course he never would… Or would he? And what if he did?

“Love you, Tom,” he whispered before he drifted back to sleep, and he was so sad and so happy to be in these arms and being held like this, and the last words he heard before he was off were: “I love you, too, more than anything in the world.”

oOoOo

“Go home, Phil, before you drop dead here,” Chris said. It was ten in the morning, and they had not finished a third of their work.

Phil coughed and made a waving gesture. “No, I'm fine.”

“Oh yes, you look and sound totally fine!”

“But Mike hasn't shown up already. You two can't deal with it all alone.”

“Look at us,” Sherlock said. “We're both young, strong and healthy; we'll just work a tad faster today.”

“He's right. Go now. And get some medicine.”

Phil nodded and coughed again, and then he finally walked off with hanging shoulders.

“Well, we'll better get back to work,” Chris mumbled.

“You don't look much better than him,” Sherlock just realised. He had been deep in his thoughts and hadn't noticed the pale colour of his colleague's face before.

“Ah, I'm good. But this fucking cold – my boy coughed all night and Janine carried him around all the time, no way to get some sleep. And guess what – in the morning she started sneezing, too…”

Sherlock had noticed that the streets had been very less crowded than they usually were when he had gotten home the day before. He had blamed it on the weather. But indeed – a lot of the people he had seen had been coughing or blowing their noses. “Yeah, looks like everybody has it. My flatmate does, too. But he gets every cold, just wonder why. He never really goes out of the house.”

“That's not overly healthy either, as far as I know. I don't know much, I'm aware of that,” he added and rubbed his forehead.

Sherlock wondered why he had said this. “Okay, let's do something or we won't get finished until dusk…”

oOoOo

“I cannot believe that you brought my daughter into danger like this!” King Edwin thundered. He had spent most of the day in his private rooms, but now, not long before Mycroft would have left, he had come down.

“Dad, that was not…”

“Silence! I'm talking to Holmes!”

Mycroft bit his lip. “I'm very sorry for that. But it was just for a couple of minutes, and the bodyguards were with us.”

“You shouldn't have taken her into this area in the first place! And then you got out of the bloody car because what, you thought you had seen someone? Are you mad?”

“Dad, that's enough now!” Anthea shoved herself between Mycroft and the king. “It was my idea to go there, not Mycroft's, and I'm happy that we did, so you can start helping those people! They suffer and die there! In this country you're so proud of!”

Mycroft? Since when do you call him by his first name?!” He pushed the princess aside. “Now I know what's going on! You are making out with my daughter! It's not enough for you anymore to…” He broke off and coughed for almost a minute. But then he continued his tirade as if nothing had happened. “Not enough to be the man in the shadows – you want to be the next queen's man!”

“Oh, that's ridiculous!” Anthea shouted.

“I am gay, Your Majesty,” Mycroft said in a tired voice. “I have no interest in women. And actually the last thing I want is to be some sort of ruler. I'm not even sure I still want to be what I am now…”

“Oh, you can't leave me alone, Mycroft!” Anthea grabbed his shoulder while the king coughed so hard that his already red face seemed to be close to an explosion when he had calmed down.

“So, gay, alright. I see,” he said, and Mycroft was grateful that he sounded more reasonable now. “And that you quit your job is out of the question. But really, you shouldn't have taken her there.” All at once he sounded like a defeated old man.

Mycroft pinched his nose. “I know. But what we saw there – these people need help.”

“They need to get a job!” He was back to his usual self…

“Oh really? Do you have any for them?” Anthea shook her head in exasperation.

“What, should I invite all of them into the palace? It's not my fault they are living like this!”

“So whose fault is, Daddy?”

Mycroft blanked out their banter, grateful that at least Her Ladyship had been too ill to join them. He was so exhausted and he had just gotten a terrible headache. And then he sneezed. Great… Getting a cold was the very last thing he needed. What he did need was a clue how to find his brother…

oOoOo

“Here, I brought you some orange juice.”

“Oh, thank you, that's so nice.” John looked up from the couch with a grateful expression. He had cuddled up in an old, grey blanket. In the chair next to him sat Molly with a red nose and swollen eyes.

“You both look cheerful,” Sherlock stated and poured a glass for John and then one for Molly.

Both of them thanked him. “I was almost alone in my shift,” Molly said after taking a sip. “Everybody's sick. The doctors, the nurses, and my colleagues. You are so lucky that you don't have it…” She turned away to sneeze and coughed for a good minute afterwards.

“Being surrounded by coughing, snorting people this can only be a matter of time,” Sherlock mumbled. But in fact he had hardly been ill all his life. Not even when he had taken drugs and lived on the street. Working in the more or less fresh air and being on his feet all day seemed to help. But then – Phil and Mike did the same job and both of them had caught the flu. At least he was quite sure that this was what had kept Mike from showing up.

“Moriarty is ill as well,” John said.

Molly nodded. “Yes, I saw him coming out of the house when I got home. He was coughing all the way to his car.”

Which made the chances to pass this illness even smaller after having been so close to him, Sherlock thought with a shudder. He still couldn’t believe that Jim had told him that he loved him. But certainly he had just done it to make him freak out. This man could play with Sherlock's nerves virtuously… “Okay, I'll make some scrambled eggs now,” he decided. “And both of you will eat a bit. You can cough a lot better after getting some strength.”

Molly giggled what led to said coughing, and John gave him a wry grin. “Not sure if we need any encouragement for that, but some food sounds good. Thank you.”

Sherlock smiled at him and went into the kitchen to feed his dog and his friends and get some food himself. He and Chris had worked themselves into the ground today and he didn't expect the next day to be better if the company didn't send them substitutes for their ill colleagues. He really hoped he would stay healthy so he could take care of John. He really didn't look very well…

oOoOo

When Mycroft entered the house, he was surprised that Tom wasn’t awaiting him. The house was silent except for some distant coughing. Was Tom ill as well? Or did he not want to greet him, fearing Mycroft would reject him?

But then he showed up, looking a bit deranged. “Sorry, darling, Mrs Hudson is ill and I took care of the cooking.”

“Oh. What about the maids?”

“All ill. If there's mess in the house, please overlook it. Most of my men are down as well.”

“This is really not important,” Mycroft assured him. “Did you ask for Doctor Cooper? Or is he also ill? What about Lestrade?” He sneezed.

“Oh dear, you have it, too? Come, let me get your jacket and then you sit down in the living room. I'll get our meal there, if you're hungry at all? And the doctor is fine. Greg is coughing, too, but he's not feeling that bad. His men are mostly not able to work though but he takes care of the horses, don't worry… Michael will come by later. He has an awful lot to do at the moment…”

“I can imagine.” Mycroft blew his nose. “I'll eat some bites, but I'm not overly hungry. What about you? You're okay? Except for being overworked?”

Tom smiled. “Yes, I'm fine. And I'll make sure you'll be fine very soon again, too.” He stepped closer and Mycroft saw that he was about to kiss him. He made a step back and cursed himself when he saw the flicker of hurt in Tom's eyes. “Honey, I just don't want you to get it, too.”

A big hand was laid on his cheek, and Tom smiled again. “If I haven't gotten it by now, a kiss won't make me ill, be assured.”

“Alright then.” Their lips met and Mycroft allowed himself to melt into his arms. He felt rather shitty and shattered, but somehow Tom's love was like a balm for both his soul and his pained body.

After their short dinner, he retreated into his rooms, hoping that Tom would be finished soon to be able to join him. If the maids and servants didn't recover quickly, he would get help for him. He couldn't take care of the entire household alone, let alone being there for the ill people. But Mycroft hoped it was one of these one-or-two-days flus that were typical for the summer. It had never been so bad before though given the amount of people who were suffering from it.

He didn't bother showering but just refreshed himself, and after brushing his teeth which seemed to take a huge effort, he crawled into his bed. And he could only hit on the light switch before he was overwhelmed by the sleep.

Chapter Text

Greg would have never imagined to be feeling as bad as he was. This was a nightmare. Only that nightmares usually ended when one woke up. This one only started over new when he had crawled out of the bed after three or four hours of sleep. And even this sleep was pure luxury.

The Grand Fever. It hadn't plagued the Great Kingdom for more than fifty years, and this time it had come on silent feet. A sneeze here, a cough there, a running nose or an aching throat - harmless symptoms of every plain cold. And for some people, it ended there. They would feel rather or very bad for a few days and then recover. Actually it had been like this for Greg himself; for him it had been over after only one day. But for most of the patients, these symptoms were followed by high fever. Some of them still got better; it only took a while longer. But the majority of people who lay down with this fever never got up again. They died, plagued by swellings in several parts of their bodies.

“Nobody knows why some people don't catch it at all, or just a harmless version. Or why some of them just shake off the fever and others don't survive, no matter how much medicine for cooling down their body temperature they take,” Michael had explained to him. "There is no medication against the illness itself. We can only try to ease the symptoms and hope for the best.”

This was not a cheerful prognosis… But it was the reality. Greg, along with Tom and Jeremy, could witness it all day. Four of Greg's workers were already dead, and three were on the verge of it. Four more had rather light symptoms but neither of them was even able to walk around a bit. Jeremy Danner hadn't gotten ill at all, just like Tom, and - Greg was more grateful for that than he could say - Michael.

Mrs Hudson's condition was critical. And so was the lord's. Tom was with him almost all the time, and when he had to prepare something to eat - because the ill people and the handful of healthy ones had to eat - he would hurry between the kitchen and Mycroft's rooms. But Mycroft didn't have symptoms anymore – he just had fever, and according to Michael, this was very unusual.

“He's rolling around, mumbling, struggling. It's so fucking horrible…”  Tom had sobbed against Greg's throat.

“I can't do anything for him,” Michael had said, his eyes full of tears. “I feel so bloody useless…”

Greg was feeling the same way. Of course he was useful in his work – taking care of the horses, doing everything that had to be done like every day, side by side with Jeremy. But to see these young men suffer and die was breaking his heart and his worries about Martha and Mycroft were killing him as well.

He had gotten some sleep and now he had to go on. There was no other way. He walked out of his house and stood when Jeremy approached him. His face told him there were no good news.

“Who has died now?” Greg croaked.

“Ricky and Stu. As well as the king and his wife,” Jeremy said.

oOoOo

“You must eat something, John,” Sherlock begged. He laid his palm onto John's forehead. It was glowing. “Just some soup, come on.”

John opened his eyes, and Sherlock could see that even that was painful for him. He smiled, and it looked horrible. “No, Sherlock, it's fine. It's almost over.”

“No! You can't leave me alone. What should I do without you…” Sherlock could hardly see anything through the tears that were streaming out of his eyes. He vaguely registered that Rosie was rubbing on his calf as if to comfort him. Or maybe she was just seeking comfort after losing her owner. Molly had died the day before. She had stopped breathing from one second to the other without making any noise, and Sherlock had wrapped her into a blanket and brought the body into her flat.

Sherlock didn’t go to work anymore. Nobody was out there who could have left any rubbish in the bins. Phil and Mike were dead. As well as Chris' girlfriend and his little son. Chris had been there to tell him that, and they had lain in each other's arms before Chris had stumbled out of the flat. Sherlock knew that he had been on the verge of splitting up with Janine anyway, but to lose his child was something Sherlock couldn’t even imagine.

He had tried all he could to help John. He had bought medicine to get the fever down, and had put wet towels onto his legs. Of course he had done the same for Molly before. But he had known it wouldn't help. He had read all about the Grand Fever when he'd been a young boy, fascinated by death and disease, and thanks to his perfect memory, he remembered it all. There was no cure. People survived it or they didn't, and most of the times, they didn't…

“Did I ever tell you about my mum?” John asked him with closed eyes. Their fingers were linked with each other; John's hand was hot and dry like paper. The red bumps on his neck were glowing in a nasty, deadly red.

“No, you didn’t. How was she?” Sherlock asked while the tears were still running over his cheeks.

“She was a great lady. So gentle and nice, and she loved me. She said I could be all I wanted to be. And you know – all I wanted to be in these past years was a good friend for you. And I failed you all the time.”

“No, you didn't! Don't say that, and don't think that! You saved my life, John. I would be dead if it hadn't been for you.”

“I made you sell your body to this maniac, just because…” A series of sneezes interrupted him, and Sherlock cleaned his face with a tissue. “Just because…” And then his head sacked to one side and an awful noise escaped his throat, and then he was silent.

“No, John! Come on! You'll be fine!”

But of course he wouldn't be. He was dead.

oOoOo

“Lie down for a while, Jeremy,” Greg said. “You can hardly stand anymore.”

Jeremy nodded, but he didn't have time to rest and the bailiff knew that as well as he did.

Not only had the daily work to be done, he and Greg – he was Greg now, not sir anymore – had to take care of the other workers – the ones that were lying down with the Fever. Two were on the verge of death, two were too weak to get up but not in danger of dying anymore, and two were now walking around like ghosts – not really sick anymore but traumatized and only shadows of what they'd been before the fever.

It was a miracle that Jeremy had not gotten sick at all. He had been terrified when one of his colleagues after the other had lain down with life-threatening fever, coughing and croaking, and even Greg had had a rather bad cough. But thank God only for a very short time. Jeremy had no idea what would have happened if Greg had gotten seriously ill as well. Musgrave was depending on him, along with the butler, who worked himself into the ground in the house, worrying to death about the lord, his boyfriend. Even Martha whom Jeremy liked like a mother was ill. To call it a nightmare would have been too nice.

With a bowl full of soup he went to see the patients. They were all in one big room in one of the houses; the very sick ones in one corner, the ones who would probably survive in the other one. The doctor, Greg's partner, looked after them every day, but he couldn’t heal them.

“There's nothing I can do but check how bad it is,” he had told Jeremy, and he had sounded desperate. “I need you and Greg to make them feel more comfortable and get them to eat.”

There was no need to force food into the two guys with all the symptoms; guys that Jeremy had known and worked with for years, and it broke his heart to see them suffer. But they would die, and everybody knew it. They had ugly bumps on their necks, swollen ankles and wrists, and they were glowing. Nobody could help them anymore. Nonetheless Jeremy and Greg regularly cooled their hot legs with cold towels and wiped the sweat from their foreheads. And that was about everything they could do to ease their pains.

And now even the king had died; he had not been very popular but even Jeremy knew that a country with these problems needed a ruler. But at least the king had a daughter who was still healthy, and apparently she was smart.

The rich people were dying as well as the poor and the workers. The Fever didn’t care about wealth and power…

Jeremy hated to see his friends suffer. But at least he could bring some comfort to those who wouldn't die. “Hello Kenny. Here, eat some soup.” And the smile the young man gave him blew his tiredness away.

oOoOo

“How is she?” Tom asked while he was sitting down on the edge of Martha's bed.

Greg shook his head. “She is rarely awake and when she is, she seems to not even recognise me. At least she eats a bit. When she's not, she talks in her fever-sleep as if something pained her to death. But she's fighting and so far, she doesn’t have really big swellings so I guess she’s not in the last stadium. Not yet at least...” He looked into Tom's pale, hollow face. “How is he?”

“He's sleeping. That's all he does. He doesn’t fight anymore.” Thick tears were wetting his cheeks.

The lord was receiving artificial feeding; otherwise he would have died already. Michael, who came to see him every day, had told Greg that he couldn't explain his condition. “It's as if something dragged him into the darkness. He doesn't want to wake up. He has fever, yes, but it doesn't explain it. He doesn’t have the other symptoms of the late stadium – no swollen bumps on his throat, no thick ankles, nothing. He shouldn't be in this condition.”

Of course they could have brought him to a hospital – only that they were all overcrowded, and as important as the lord was, nobody would be able to be at his side all the time, and in fact Tom didn't want him to be brought away – he wanted to take care of him himself and Greg knew that he hoped his love would make him wake up.

“I know what's wrong with him,” Tom whispered now. “He knows that Sherlock is alive, and he thinks he won't survive the fever and he has no chance to get him back now that he finally knows he was out there all the time.”

Greg swallowed. This was a suspicion, but it made sense.

Tom stood up. “I gotta go back to him.” He patted Martha's hand and brushed a kiss onto her cheek. Then he quickly pressed Greg's shoulder and left the room.

With a heavy heart, Greg rearranged Martha's pillows and stuffed the warm blanket around her fragile body. Then he took her hand as well. “Wake up, please,” he said. “Maybe you have an idea. Tom thinks Mycroft has found Sherlock. Maybe you…” And then it hit him like a punch. Martha had seen Sherlock, too. All this talking about the man she had met – it must have been Sherlock! She had looked so disturbed when she had come home from her time out of the house both times lately; her behaviour had not fitted to having fallen in love with anyone. She had been worried and shaken and she had not told them about it. Because Sherlock had asked her to keep quiet? But why? He shook his head over himself. Because she had told him about Tom of course… Why would Sherlock want to come back or let his brother know that he was still alive and apparently living not far away from Musgrave if he knew that Mycroft was in love with someone else? And what had happened to him since then? Was he ill? Was he… dead?

“Wake up!” He shook her shoulder desperately. “You must wake up!”

oOoOo

With gentle movements, Tom stroked over Mycroft's face with a wet, cool towel. He washed him every day, always hoping he would open his eyes and smile at him.

“The king has died,” he said while taking care of his chest. “The princess called to ask how you are. She needs you there. I need you. Wake up, honey, please! I love you so much!”

But Mycroft stayed silent, his eyes moving behind the closed eyelids. He had lost weight and looked so fragile in his big bed. Tom slept next to him whenever he could sleep at all. And every time he feared to wake up next to a stiff, cold body. He wouldn't survive that…

After putting the towel away, he sat next to him on the edge of the bed. “I'd do anything to make you come back. Anything at all. You have to live. Don't give up. I love you.” He knew Mycroft couldn't hear him and he knew he was talking like a fool. Because what could he do? Mycroft had found his brother in some way; Tom was convinced of it. And now he thought Sherlock was dying or had already died out there without ever coming back to him. Why should Mycroft fight? He had lost all that really mattered to him. And it had to appear to him that he had lost him a second time…

Tom looked at his bracelet; the inscription speaking of the lord's feelings for him. But he didn't love him enough. Not enough to come back. Tom had been a distraction for him, a distraction from the man he really loved. He would die and there was nothing he could do but helplessly watch him.

“Tom!”

He turned around, looking up to Greg. “What? Did she die?”

“No, she's awake. And you have to come with me, because maybe she'll tell you.”

“Tell me what?”

“Where Sherlock is…”

Tom stared at him speechlessly for a moment, and then he stood up and bent down to kiss Mycroft's forehead. “I'll be right back, love.” And if I can, I'll bring him back to you… if it's not too late already…

***

“Martha, how are you feeling?” Tom lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it.

She smiled at him, her eyes much clearer than the last time she had been awake. “As if I'd been run over by a train… And I'm hungry.”

“Greg is already in the kitchen to get you something. Martha – do you know where Sherlock is?”

Her face darkened and she bit her lip. “Yes,” she breathed then. “But I promised him to not tell anybody, especially not Mycroft.”

“Because of me, right? He thinks he can't come back because of me?”

“He thinks his brother doesn't care about him; he always thought that since that day, and you were the final proof for him that this is true.”

“You must tell me, Martha! If you know his address, give it to me.”

She swallowed and he put the glass of water against her lips again so she could take a sip. “But I promised…” she whispered after lying back into the pillows.

“Martha – Mycroft is dying! He doesn't have symptoms anymore but his fever doesn't go away and he won't wake up because he thinks he lost Sherlock now forever. He must have seen him somewhere. And now he believes he died of the Fever.”

“Maybe he did. I didn't hear anything from him since it broke out.”

“But if he's still alive, I must bring him here. It's Mycroft's only chance.” His eyes were full of tears. “Please!” No matter what it meant for himself – he had to try to get Mycroft's true love back to him.

Finally she nodded. “He lives in 221B Baker Street, Blackchapel.”

“Thank you.” He kissed her cheek, and he almost crashed into Greg when he hurried out of the room.

“She told you?” the bailiff asked him, balancing the tray with sandwiches he had fetched.

“Yes. I'm on my way. He's in Blackchapel.” Or he had been at least…

“Shall I not come with you?” Greg sounded very concerned.

“We can't go both. Please look after Mycroft.” This was something he had to do himself, and he had to do it alone, even if Greg's presence in Musgrave wouldn't have been required. It was the most precious gift he could give his man. And the biggest sacrifice…

“Of course I will. Be careful!”

But Tom just waved at him and hurried to get the keys for one of the cars. The driver had died of the Fever as well…

oOoOo

Sherlock didn't bother filling the bowls of Loki and Rosie; he just put the food onto the floor, ignoring their releases that were almost everywhere. He did manage to provide them with fresh water, and then he dropped back down on the floor. How much time had passed since John had died? He didn't know. He hadn't drunk or eaten anything, had only crawled into the bathroom, wondering why he didn't bother with that at all.

He wanted to die. He had gone on living all these years because he had owed it to John. But now he was gone and there was finally nothing left. If he'd had the strength for it, he would have searched for John's old army gun and put it into his mouth. But instead he just waited for the death to claim him. He had stopped crying long ago - there were no tears left in him.

He must have been dozed off when someone seemed to try to smash the door.

“Open up! Let me in!”

He froze. No… not that…

“If I have to search for the key, I'll make you pay for it!”

“Go away,” he mumbled, knowing that it was too quiet to be heard. The noise stopped and he closed his eyes again.

And then he was rudely ripped to his knees. “What the fuck?! There's a fucking corpse on the couch! And shit all over.”

He looked up to Jim and froze. His face was swollen, his eyes glistening from fever and craziness. The way he looked he should be lying down, not being able to move. But instead he grabbed Sherlock's throat. “Here I am! Did you miss me? No? No, of course not. Not once have you come looking for me! You've hoped I would die there, all alone in my flat, right? And I almost did. The stink woke me up! The girl's in her flat, right? Dead and stinking? And you are here with a corpse and dog shit? Are you crazy?”

Sherlock licked over his dry lip. He hadn't drunk anything for he didn't know how long. “I am crazy? That's funny…” he croaked.

“Fuck!” Jim fumbled with Sherlock's t-shirt and ripped it from his body. Then he pushed him over and removed his jog pants with hectic movements. “At least you didn’t shit yourself.”

“No… please…” Sherlock screamed when Jim rammed a finger into his arse before pulling down his own pants.

“I am crazy, yes, I'm crazy for you! You never noticed?” Jim pushed his dick into his dry hole, and Sherlock moaned in pain. “I told you I love you! You ungrateful son of a dog!”

Sherlock didn't fight him; he lay still. “Grateful? For raping me for months? With this tiny dick of yours?” he brought out and even managed a mocking tone.

“Oh, I'll give you tiny!” Jim pushed into him even deeper and then he cried out, filling Sherlock up with hot seed.

“Shot your little load already?” Sherlock provoked him. “You were so easy to get off; I can be grateful for that! No control, right? But you're crazy - of course you can't control yourself.”

“You fucking arsehole!” And then Jim's hands were around his neck, pressing, choking.

Now it's over, Sherlock thought. It's finally over. Shit, the pets! He registered that Loki was barking and growling, and he heard Jim hiss: “Go away you fucking piece of shit, or I'll kill you like your fucking daddy!” Sherlock couldn't let that happen but he was too weak to move. He would die now and all he thought about was what would happen to Loki and Rosie.

Sherlock had not heard the steps and neither had Jim obviously, but suddenly the grip around his neck was gone, and Jim was thrown into a corner. Sherlock looked up in disbelief, and a man was standing above him with eyes full of tears. “Oh dear…” he whispered and then he kneeled down next to him. Despite looking exhausted and pale, he was so handsome that he looked like a hallucination – very tall, with broad shoulders and swelling biceps; he had short, curly, auburn hair and piercing blue eyes with a shade of green, his cheekbones sticking out like blades. Sherlock wondered why he noticed all these details in this horrible situation. And he wondered why this man looked so familiar to him even though he was sure he had never met him. He would have remembered that...

“Sherlock, can you stand up?” he asked, his voice deep, calm and beautiful.

“Who are you? Oh, Loki.” The dog licked his face and wagged his tail. Sherlock smiled at him. And then he cringed and turned around. “What about…?”

“Oh, I don't think he'll get up so soon. He crashed against the wall with his head. And he has the Fever, doesn't he?”

“Yes. But he's so insane that he had still enough strength to… Oh, fuck…” A sharp pain went into his chest and he could feel panic arise in his heart. Had this really happened…? Had he just almost died by provoking it? To be saved by a stranger?

“Get up, come on, hold onto me. Good.” He shot a glance at the couch and swallowed at the sight of John’s corpse.

Sherlock was standing on shaking legs. “I need to clean myself up.” He could feel Jim's semen flowing out of him, certainly along with some blood…

“Yes, but we don't have much time. I'll get you under the shower and look for some fresh clothes for you, and then we'll leave. Of course we’ll take your pets as well.” He dragged Sherlock out of the room.

And finally Sherlock recognised him and he went pale. “You’re the butler!” What the hell was Mycroft's boyfriend doing here? And where was Mycroft? Did he know about him? Was he… dead?

“Yes. I'm Tom. Move now. We have to go Musgrave. Mycroft is dying because he thinks you're dead.”

“What?” His knees got weak but Tom held him up and then he was shoved into the shower cabin.

“I'll explain it to you in the car.” Tom put on the spray and handed him the body wash. “Don't talk now, Sherlock. Mycroft needs you and we don't have any time to lose.”

***

A bony hand was holding onto his shoulder when Tom helped Sherlock stepping into black jog pants. When the younger Holmes brother was fully dressed and brushing his teeth, Tom quickly packed some stuff he thought they might need at once, like a few clothes for Sherlock and the bowls for the dog and the cat and some food for them. He took Loki and Sherlock grabbed Rosie. Tom saw him staring at John's body. Sherlock looked as if he was in shock, and who could blame him…  First this horrible incident and then facing the man he apparently knew was the lover of the man he wanted. But he definitely didn't have the Fever.

“We'll send someone to get him,” he soothed the skinny man.

Sherlock nodded. “My other friend is in the second flat. Dead. As he is.” He looked over to the bundle in the corner.

But then the black haired man on the ground started to move and Tom said: “Let's go. We'll talk to the police later. Who is he?”

“My landlord.”

“It wasn’t the first time that he…” He just knew that.

“No. Was the first time he tried to choke me though…” His voice was toneless and flat.

Tom closed his eyes and he wished he hand a free hand to lay it on his shoulder. But probably he wouldn't appreciate that. “Come now, Sherlock. I just hope my car is still there.”

Sherlock shot him a wry glance. “Don't think there's anyone left to steal it…”

Tom felt very silly. “Yeah, sure… This is a bloody disaster.” They left the flat, ignoring the moaning man behind them, but Sherlock turned to look at the corpse on the couch one more time.

The car was where he had left it, and he stored the few items he had grabbed and put the dog onto the back seat. Then he got behind the wheel and drove off, out of the dark, disgusting streets of Blackchapel. If he never had to return, it would still be too soon.

While he was driving - cautiously because he hadn't driven for quite a while and didn't know the area except for the way there – the events he had just witnessed really hit him, and he cramped his hands around the wheel. He had seen a rape and an attempted murder – and a young man who hadn't even tried to fight back. Sherlock had been ready to die… And if Tom had come two minutes later, he would have been dead now…

When he had to stop the car at a red light, he looked over to Mycroft's brother. He was shivering, sweating and looking pale, pressing the cat against his chest as if to seek comfort from it. He needed a doctor but they couldn't waste any time. Mycroft had to see him to survive – if it wasn't too late already. The thought alone was killing him…

“Mycroft…” Sherlock finally asked as if he had sensed his thoughts.

“He has the Fever and he doesn't wake up anymore. He doesn't have the deadly symptoms so it has to be a different reason for him to not come back. And I just know it's because of you. So he has to know you're alive.” But dear me – if he learns what just happened it might kill him, too…

“Mrs Hudson told him she saw me? And what about her?” Finally Sherlock seemed to wake up from his shock.

“No, she didn’t tell anyone; she kept your secret. She got ill herself and only just became responsive again; I hope she'll recover completely. I begged her to tell me where you are.”

“You saved my life,” Sherlock said quietly and looked out of the side window. “Not sure if I should thank you…”

It broke Tom's heart. He had just met Sherlock, and bringing him back to Mycroft would - if everything worked out well - mean that Tom would lose his man and probably his job as well. But he couldn't help it – he liked him and his devastation touched his soul. He couldn’t even imagine what he must have gone through all these years… “Don't say that. You'll have to save your brother, and I'm sure he can save you as well… He… loves you…” It took him some effort to say the last words.

Sherlock looked over to him with an expression of fear, sadness, hope, heartache and sheer terror, and Tom thought that Sherlock might be seeing something similar in his face. They stared into each other's eyes for a long moment before Tom concentrated on the street again. It was not that difficult – there was almost no traffic…

Chapter Text

“Come in,” Tom urged him quietly while holding the door open for him.

It was overwhelming for Sherlock. For twelve years he had not set a foot into the house he'd grown up in, and everything looked like he had left it. The same paintings on the walls, the same precious table next to the door, the same carpets as it seemed… Only that it was so quiet. No footsteps, no chattering, no noise from the kitchen. It was as if the house had died…

“Come, please.” Tom looked desperate and Sherlock followed him to the stairs. And then a man came down – finally a face from the past, albeit looking quite a bit older; his temples already greying.

“Sir! Oh dear God…”

“Greg! Is Mycroft okay?” Tom asked him in a voice full of fear.

Greg Lestrade who had stared at Sherlock with huge eyes turned to him. “Yes, sorry - nothing to worry about. In fact I think he moved a bit.”

“Oh really? Come on, Sherlock, let's go to him. Give Greg the cat, would you? Will you look after the pets for us? Give them some water? The bowls are in the bag.”

“Sure.”

Sherlock handed Rosie over to him and looked at Loki who was sniffing around and apparently feeling rather happy.

Sherlock was feeling so sick that he feared having to throw up. He would see Mycroft now. After being turned away from him so many years ago. After having made a fool out of himself with hitting on him. He was way more frightened than he'd ever had been of Jim Moriarty. But he followed Tom. It would probably mean only pain for him, but if he could really save his brother's life, he would endure everything.

Tom opened the door for him. The rooms Mycroft was occupying now had been the rooms of their parents. Everything looked different now in the living room. Way colder, neater, more impersonal. The room of a man who was living for his work and nothing else.

Sherlock shuddered when a warm hand closed around his.

“Don't be afraid. There is nothing to fear for you.”

Sherlock noticed the slight stressing of the last two words and the imagination of the good-looking young man in bed with Mycroft hit him, but he shook the thought off. He let Tom lead him to the bedroom and entered it with a hammering heart and a completely dry mouth. The curtains were closed, and he could hardly see the figure under the blankets.

“Can I… have some water, please?” he turned to Tom, procrastinating and horribly thirsty at the same time.

“Oh, sorry, yes, of course. Go to him, and I'll get you a bottle.” Tom laid a hand on his shoulder and squeezed it, and Sherlock smiled shyly at him.

And then he was alone. Alone with the motionless body in the bed. He went to the window and opened the curtains. Time to face reality.

On shaking legs he stalked to the bed, and now he could see his brother, and he almost fainted. He was pale like a corpse, his receding auburn hair sweaty, deep, black rings under his eyes, a red beard covering his chin and cheeks, and he was receiving an infusion to keep him alive.

“Oh, Mycroft…” he brought out and sat down on the bed, taking one of his beautiful hands into his, stroking over the long, pale, bony fingers, kissing them. The love for this pained, sick man overwhelmed him, almost bursting his heart. Everything came back, all the suppressed feelings and memories of his childhood; memories so sweet that he started to cry. This man meant everything to him and all those sad, lost years had not changed it even a bit.

“Wake up,” he whispered and laid a hand onto his hot forehead, his cheeks getting wet with streams of tears. “Mycie, wake up!”

He could hear Tom coming back into the room. “Here, drink that. I'm sorry I didn’t think of it myself.”

Sherlock looked up to him through wet eyes and took the cool, open bottle out of his hand. “Thank you.” He gulped half of the water down and then he wanted to put the bottle on the nightstand when he saw Tom's wide opened eyes.

He followed his look and bit his lip so hard that he cut it when he saw that his brother's blue eyes were opening with fluttering eyelids. His gaze was unsteady and glazed, but then he focused on Sherlock.

“Dead,” he heard him mumble almost inaudibly. “Dead together…”

“What? No, you're not dead. I'm not dead.” He put the bottle away and then he leaned over Mycroft. “I'm real, brother mine.”

Mycroft's look shot to the young man standing next to the bed. “Tom,” he mumbled. “Alive?”

The butler got on his knees and took Mycroft's other hand and rubbed it, carefully because of the infusion. “I'm here. And you'll be fine soon.” It was obvious that he longed to say more, but instead he let his hand go and stood up. “I guess he'll fall asleep quickly,” he quietly said to Sherlock.

“Yes, he needs rest. Here, drink, dear.” Sherlock grabbed the bottle and gently held it against Mycroft's sore lips.

Tom grabbed another pillow and carefully put it behind the sick man's head so he could sip at the water.

And finally Mycroft's look cleared. “Sherlock, you're here, you're really here! You're not sick?” he croaked in a voice that hadn't been used for too long.

Sherlock shook his head, his eyes still wet. “No, I'm fine, I didn’t get it. And soon you'll be healthy too. But you'll need more rest before… we can talk.”

Mycroft grabbed his arm with surprising strength, apparently fighting against falling asleep. “Don't leave, please never leave again!” Now his eyes were full of tears as well.

“I won't leave,” Sherlock stammered. “You have to sleep and I need to see Mrs Hudson and get settled, but I'll be back before you wake up again.”

“Promise me…” Mycroft's voice was a bare whisper, his eyes fluttering close again.

“I promise. I'll never leave again if you don't want me to.”

“You may never go again… I… love you…”

Sherlock finally lost his self-control. He burst out into tears and buried his face into his brother's chest. He cried and sobbed, feeling shaken to the core. He needed several minutes to calm down and all the time he was feeling a soothing hand on his back and was hearing whispered words of comfort. And this was not coming from Mycroft but from Tom. When he finally lifted his head, Mycroft had fallen asleep. It was a real, deep sleep as he could see through his swollen eyes; his handsome features were relaxed and peaceful and happy, his breathing steady and calm.

He pressed Mycroft's hand again and then he stood up and a second later, he was clinging around Tom's neck. He could feel the butler's body stiffen in surprise, but then he was held and comforted some more.

***

Tom knew he had to put his feelings aside now. They didn’t matter. Things had to be organised, work had to be done. And when everything was finished, he could dwell on his loss…

“Sherlock, why don't you move in here,” he suggested in a sober, distinct tone. It wasn't as if Sherlock had brought too many things; Tom had just packed a few shirts and two trousers for him. They would buy him whatever he needed because he certainly didn't want to go back there to fetch some more stuff, and from what Tom had seen, he owned more or less just rags. “If you want, we can put in an extra bed for you, or you can sleep next to Mycroft. Just as you wish. The pets can sleep here, too, I'm sure he doesn't mind; I'll get some blankets for them. I guess you still remember where everything is and you can always come to me if you need anything. I'll get Doctor Cooper to look after your brother; I'm sure he can eat alone again once he is awake. You said you want to see Mrs Hudson; I'd suggest we'll do that straight away, alright?” They would meet Greg there as he was sure and he would ask him to get Michael to Mycroft as soon as possible.

Sherlock  had just nodded all the time; it was clear that he was deeply shaken, and why wouldn't he be – his life had been turned upside down once more, and the terrifying experience from less than an hour ago combined with the love declaration by his brother and the recent death of his friends was a lot to cope with. He had gone from absolute poverty and nearly starving back to his childhood home full of riches and all the food he could eat. He had gone through hell with physical violence over a long time as Tom was sure, and now he would get all the love in the world – a look into Mycroft's eyes when he had realised that Sherlock was back for real had been proof enough. And God, it had hurt Tom so much even though he had known what would happen… And Sherlock had been craving for this love all his life and he deserved to get it.

And so do I…

He shook the thought off. “Ready?”

Sherlock nodded.

“By the way… I just called you Sherlock,” Tom realised pretty late, blushing and remembering that Greg, who had known Sherlock since he'd been a child, had said sir to him.

“What else should you call me?” was the answer, and Tom managed a smile that was returned shyly.

oOoOo

“He's back? My boy is back?” Martha still couldn’t believe it.

Greg smiled. “Yes. He didn’t look as if he'd gotten the Fever at all. He is very pale and skinny though…”

“He worked as a dustman, Greg. All those years. He wasn't pale when I saw him last week. God knows what's happened since then.”

“Yes, he looked shaken. But of course he must have been very nervous.”

Martha nodded. “And the lord has moved?”

“I can't swear he has. But I'm pretty sure.” He turned around when somebody knocked at the door frame.

“Hi lovelies. Henry is pretty fine,” Michael said when he stalked to the bed. “And I see you are, too, Martha.”

“My boy is back, and I hope he'll bring his brother back into this world. This is the most important day of my life. I have to be fine!”

Greg and Michael smiled at her, and then Greg heard steps approaching. A moment later Tom and Sherlock entered the room.

“Sherlock!” the old lady cried out, and the younger Holmes was in her arms within the blink of an eye, and both of them were crying.

“Great that you're here, Michael. The lord has woken up,” Tom said, his voice full of suppressed emotions.

Greg shot up from his chair. “That's awesome!”

Tom smiled and Greg could more sense than see the hint of sadness behind his joy. “Yes. He sleeps now but he spoke to Sherlock and me and he really just sleeps; he looks completely different. I guess you should remove the infusion now.”

“I'll have a look at him at once,” Michael said. “This is awesome news. I really didn't believe he would make it, Tom – now I can say it.”

“I know. And I'm so grateful that everything worked so well.”

“You saved him,” Greg said quietly when Michael had hurried out of the room. “Without you, he wouldn't have survived.”

Tom gave him a smile. “We all worked together I'd rather say. Well, I think we should leave them alone. And get some food ready; I think we'll all be hungry this evening.”

“I'll help you. Jeremy takes care of everything outside, and he knows where he can find me.” Greg had just needed a break after working without a minute of rest besides his short naps for over a week now.

“You don't have to!”

“But I want to. Cooking means relaxing.”

“If you put it like that… But I'll have to look after Mycroft first. Hear Michael's opinion.”

“Of course. I'll join you if I may.”

“Sure.”

Greg saw him glancing at Sherlock who was whispering with Martha. He couldn't even imagine how the young butler had to be feeling - torn between joy, relief and facing the fact that his relationship with Mycroft could be over because he had brought his brother back to him.

oOoOo

The reality of the past week was hanging over them when they were eating at the large kitchen table. Tom looked around, seeing only serious faces. Especially Martha had just now realised that only one of her maids was left, a shy girl named Mary who was bending over her plate, silently eating the chicken soup that Tom and Greg had prepared.

Martha had insisted on coming to the kitchen for dinner, and instead of arguing with her about the fact that she still had to be very weak, Greg had lifted her out of the bed, had helped her into her robe and then carried her to the kitchen on his strong arms. She had giggled all the way and it had made Tom smile. But now she was mourning the loss of the women she had worked with for years.

It was not any different for Tom. The young servant Liam was all that was left of his own staff. He had worked himself into the ground along with Tom the past days, and Tom knew they needed more people very quickly, so would Martha and of course Greg who wouldn't be able to cope with five people from now on. Jeremy and the other four had not joined them for dinner but Greg had said he would eat in the house, eager to see what would happen with the lord.

Michael had said it was a miracle. The fever had already dramatically lessened when he had examined Mycroft. The doctor was sure he would recover very quickly now. Mycroft had indeed been sleeping very calmly, the smile still on his face.

Tom had gone upstairs again before dinner to check on Mycroft and to ask Sherlock if he wanted to join them or eat in Mycroft's rooms. But Sherlock had been cuddled up next to his brother, only wearing some of his brother's pyjama shorts, sleeping deeply. And for the first time Tom had really noticed the black bruises on his neck; they had been pretty weak in the beginning but now they looked very ugly. Two hands were clearly visible, and he could only imagine what Mycroft would say to them. Sherlock would want to spare him, but it was impossible.

They would talk very soon Tom was sure. Perhaps they were doing it right in this moment. Mycroft had already told Sherlock that he loved him, and Tom didn't doubt in the least the nature of this love. It was only a matter of hours until they would be together.

And Tom just couldn't leave now. He had to stay to take care of everything; he wasn't a man to run away in such a time of need. But as soon as they started looking for new people, he would search for his replacement.

Because he just couldn't watch them being together. It would shatter him. And of course Sherlock wouldn't allow him to stay anyway. Who would allow a rival under his roof?

He forced these thoughts away before he could start crying at the table, and ate up quickly. Then he stood up and prepared a tureen for bringing it upstairs. He put it on a tray along with two plates and spoons, hoping that Mycroft was awake and willing to eat something.

He heard nothing when he opened the door of Mycroft's flat with his elbow. But when he slowly walked to the bedroom, he saw Sherlock lifting his head. Mycroft still seemed to sleep though.

“Hello,” he said quietly. “I thought you might want to eat something now.” You look as if you were almost starved…

“Thank you, yes, I'm quite hungry.”

Tom put the tray onto the big nightstand next to him. “Be careful, it's hot.” He would have suggested sitting down in the living room, but he was sure Sherlock wouldn't want to leave Mycroft now that he could wake up anytime. And in fact he was moving already.

“Mycie?” Sherlock said, gently touching his shoulder.

Mycroft grumbled something and then he opened his eyes. “Sherlock? Tom?”

Tom smiled and walked around the bed to press his hand. He froze when he saw Sherlock looking at him, but it wasn't the time for this now. It was all about Mycroft getting healthy, and he had said his name, too, hadn't he?

And now Mycroft was smiling at him, and then at his brother. “I still can't believe it. How did you get here all at once?” And then he saw the bruises. “Holy… What happened to your neck?!” He sounded terrified.

“Oh, it's nothing,” Sherlock said soothingly. “And… Tom brought me here. Martha told him where I live; I met her by accident only a couple of days ago. We'll talk about the details later. You must eat something first. Tom has cooked for you, see?”

Mycroft, who looked very shaken, turned to Tom. “Thank you, Tom. But what about Mrs Hudson?”

“Oh, she's fine now, but she only woke up today, just like you. So I did the cooking again. I hope you'll like it.”

“The maids? The servants? And what about Lestrade?”

“Lestrade is fine, and he has five people left. From the household stuff, it's only one maid and one servant.”

Mycroft got pale. “Oh dear God…”

Tom sat down on the bed, realising that it had to be said. “I've got other bad news. The king has died, too, and so has his wife.” He was well aware that Mycroft hadn’t liked either of them, but it meant a great deal of instability for the already shaken kingdom and that couldn't be to his liking.

“What? And Anthea?”

“Oh, she's fine. She'll be crowned in three days.”

Mycroft's eyes were wide but there was relief in them. “Are there any news about how many people died in the kingdom?”

Tom shook his head. “It's too early to say. But from what I've heard I guess millions…”

“Oh, God…”

“We need to call the… you know….” Sherlock said to Tom.

The butler nodded. “I already did that. They went there at once.” A call from the lord's house had made the police act immediately even though they had plenty to do now with very few people as well. He looked at Sherlock to silently tell him to not ask any further but of course Mycroft jumped on it.

“Who are you talking about?”

Tom bit his lip. “Sherlock was in a flat with a friend who had died, and another one was in a separate flat. And his landlord was there with Sherlock as well. The police found him dead, too. He died of the Fever,” he assured with a look at Sherlock. Apparently the fact that he had smashed the short man against the wall had only made him getting unconscious. But then the Fever had finally taken its toll and had killed him. Tom had the strong feeling that he wouldn’t be missed. Definitely not by Sherlock… “Your friends will be brought here and buried on our cemetery. I hope that was okay?” he turned to Mycroft after seeing the grateful expression in Sherlock's eyes. Musgrave had its own cemetery. There would be plenty of funerals in the next days on it as so far the bodies were still waiting to be cremated…

“Of course it is. I'm so sorry, Sherlock, that must have been horrible. It was your landlord who attacked you?” he concluded, and Tom was amazed how flawless his brain was working already after being taken out for so many days by such high fever.

Sherlock nodded. “Yes, but please, not now. Let's eat something now, okay? Um, Tom, perhaps you can help him? Or would you like to stand up and eat at the table in the living room, Mycie?”

“If you could hold the plate for me?” Mycroft asked Tom almost shyly.

Of course Tom could have gone and organised a bed tray for him as he should have done in the first place, but instead he filled two plates, put the terrine away and gave the tray to Sherlock and sat down next to Mycroft to hold up the plate for him, sure that he wouldn't eat much anyway. And it felt good to be able to do it for him.

To his surprise, both men ate with good appetite, and Mycroft had emptied his plate quickly.

“Do you want some more?” Tom offered.

Mycroft shook his head and smiled. “No, thank you. It was very good but I guess I shouldn't eat too much at once. But can you help me into the bathroom and lend me a hand with showering and everything?”

Tom's glance shot to Sherlock. “If, I mean… Yes, sure.”

Sherlock eyes had an uncertain expression but he didn't say anything. So Tom manoeuvred Mycroft into the bathroom and got him onto the toilet and then helped him washing his hair under the shower and afterwards watched him brushing his teeth. Then Tom shaved off the strong beard the lord had grown over the past few days. No words were spoken except for Mycroft thanking him with unsteady eyes, and Mycroft didn’t touch him which was of course understandable in his condition, but he also didn’t even try to kiss him. Just as expected… But Tom didn't show his feelings, instead taking care of the man he loved and would always love carefully and tenderly.

Mycroft was still rather unstable on his feet and what he'd just done had made him get tired again so Tom got him back to bed as soon as he could. “The doctor will look after you again now. I'll go fetch him.” He put the plates and the rest of the soup onto the tray to take it back to the kitchen.

Mycroft nodded and Tom left the brothers alone after exchanging a look with Sherlock. He knew they had to talk now if Mycroft wasn't too sleepy, and he knew it would mean an end to what he'd had with Mycroft.

***

When Tom had left the room, Sherlock turned around to his brother. He still looked exhausted.

But he smiled at Sherlock. “You know, we won't have much time to talk now. I need to speak with the doctor and I guess I'll fall asleep soon as much as I want to be awake.”

“That's totally fine, Mycie. We have all the time in the world now. If you want…”

Mycroft reached over and grabbed his arm. “Sherlock, of course I want that! I want you… And I've already wanted you when you told me you did all this time ago. I'm so sorry… I'll never forgive myself for the way I've treated you that day, especially because I didn't even mean what I said.”

He looked shaken, and Sherlock felt as if his blood was turning into ice water. So it had all been for nothing. He had left his home and suffered for nothing.

“I'm so sorry…” Mycroft was crying now, and there was only one answer to this. Sherlock urged him to roll over and took his older brother in his arms.

“Hush, Mycie. We can't change it anymore. But if you really want that, we can… be more than brothers…”

Mycroft lifted his head. “Yes, I want that. I want it so much. I love you so bloody much. There hasn’t been a day since you left that I didn’t crave for you. I had pictures of us all over these rooms before…” He broke off and closed his eyes.

Sherlock nodded. “Before you fell in love with Tom.”

Mycroft closed his eyes. “That's why you didn't even return when you met Mrs Hudson? She told you about him?”

“Yes. There was no point in coming back just to see you happy with someone else…”

Mycroft let himself drop into his pillows. He only now seemed to realise the reality they were in. “God, Sherlock, I love him, too… I can't just…” He stopped with a terrified expression.

I can't just leave him – but what shall I do? Sherlock added in his mind. It should have hit him like a hammer to witness the deep feelings his brother had for the other man, but of course he had known that before. The way they had looked at each other had told him enough. “He saved my life, Mycie. He came there to save yours because he was sure you would die, thinking I was dying or already dead because of the Fever. And when he came, he had almost killed…” He broke off as Mycroft was looking at him with wide opened eyes. Sherlock cursed himself. Why did he have to tell him this now?

“Your landlord had almost killed you,” Mycroft completed his sentence in a shaky voice.

Sherlock nodded. “Yes, but you don't have to know more now. I just said it because… he loves you so much that he wanted me to come back, thinking you would drop him for me. He clearly thinks that.”

“Oh God…” Mycroft buried his face in his hands. “He saved me, too, Sherlock, in a totally different way but he did, and actually he just did it again. I was so desperate, all this time, and don't you dare blame yourself for it as I was the one who messed it up. He was so patient and so giving without ever demanding anything. He is such a sweet guy…”

“Yes, he is,” Sherlock said quietly. “He's all you could wish for – smart, brave, handsome and kind. The perfect man.” He realised that he had said it without anger or jealousy. It was just the truth…

“Oh Sherlock, what…” He blinked rapidly and Sherlock knew he would fall asleep very quickly now and it was not the time for this discussion here and now.

He winced when someone knocked on the doorframe. “Hello, My Lord,” the good-looking doctor said and stalked into the room, followed by Tom and Lestrade. “I'll let you sleep in a second but I wanted to check on you again now that you're awake. How are you feeling?”

Mycroft shot a rather desperate look at Tom and brought out: “Quite well. But I am very tired.”

The doctor sat down while the other two men kept their distance; Lestrade was tickling Loki's head. “Let me check on the fever.” He measured it and smiled when he saw the figure. “It's almost back to normal. That's great and it's so unexpected. I'm sure you'll sleep through tonight and tomorrow morning you'll feel a lot better.”  He stood up. “I’ll stay in Greg's house tonight and I'll be back here in the morning. But I'm sure you won't need me.” He shot a glance first at Tom and then at Sherlock, and Sherlock realised that they all knew about his feelings for his brother. These forbidden, immoral feelings… Nothing had changed about that…

“Sir, what about your neck?” the doctor said to him. “Shall I have a look at these bruises?” He sounded concerned and rather shocked about the marks.

Sherlock shook his head. “I'm fine. They will heal by themselves. But thanks.”

The doctor nodded, and he and Lestrade left, and Tom stayed away from the bed. “He's fallen asleep,” he said quietly and Sherlock turned to Mycroft. Yes, he was sleeping again, but this time his face looked worried. Sherlock stuffed the blanket around him and got up. His eyes met Tom's, and the taller man smiled at him sadly.

“As soon as the situation is better here, as soon as he can take care of hiring new people, I'll leave,” he said with a quiet, toneless voice.

Sherlock didn’t have time to think it over. He had to make the decision now before this situation would cause even more pain. “No,” he said plainly. He approached him and urged him to go to the living room where they wouldn't disturb his brother.

Tom stared at him and then he shook his head. “I'm sorry – that was the reason why you didn't come back. You thought you still couldn’t have him and you couldn't endure the thought of having to watch us together. And now I think it's very clear that you will have him, and for me it's just the same.”

Sherlock could understand him very well. Tom doubted Mycroft's love for him the same way as he had done. He thought he wasn't good enough for him. He thought Mycroft didn't really care about him. But Sherlock knew his brother. He had let this man into his heart, not only his bed. And he wouldn’t have done that with just anybody. Tom might look a bit like him, but that wouldn't have made Mycroft fall for him. “Do you love him? Really love him?” Sherlock asked very quietly. He knew it of course – Tom wouldn't have done for Sherlock what he had done if he didn’t love his brother deeply.

Tom huffed out a laugh. “Love him? Of course I do. He's my whole life… I'd do everything for him. And this includes leaving so he can be happy with you. No matter what that means for me…”

“He loves you, too; he just told me. After telling me that he loves me and does want me in a non-brotherly way…”

Tom let himself drop into a chair. “But he'll always choose you so I'll have to go. You've longed for him for so long; you've loved him long before I ever met him. And he was so desperate about losing you. I won't be in your way. He'll forget me soon enough.” There was no self-pity in his voice, only resignation.

Sherlock looked at him closely and he didn't need much imagination to watch him through Mycroft's eyes. He saw a man of absolute integrity, honour and devotion. A man as handsome as he could get, competent in every possible way as Sherlock was sure. A man who had saved Sherlock's life and brought him back in the certainty that he would lose his lover because of that. A perfect, beautiful man – a man who deserved his brother's love.

When Martha had told him about Tom, he had hated him, had hated the fact that he was for Mycroft what Sherlock could never be, or so he had believed. But he just couldn't let him go away, making him feel unloved and unhappy. And he was afraid that Mycroft could hate him for that someday… And he was very sure Mycroft would not forget him. “I had no time to talk to him thoroughly. But I know he loves you, and he needs you, too. You were not just a substitute for me. And I won't make him choose because it would break his heart in the end. You have to stay. If he agrees and you can live with it, I can do it, too.”

The look in Tom's stunning blue eyes was speaking of his total confusion. “What are you saying? That he… can have us both?”

“Yes,” Sherlock said calmly. It was in his hands; he knew that. It was his decision. If he told Mycroft he couldn't live under the same roof as Tom, he would have chosen him, Sherlock. And he would have let the butler go – the man who he had said had saved him twice and who had definitely saved Sherlock.

He thought of John – the man who had done the same for him and whom he had protected because he had jumped into the water for him and had given him a home. It was what Sherlock was about – not a perfect man, not by far, but he was not the man who let someone suffer whom he owed so much. He had been willing to die, had even provoked the man who had tried to murder him. But now he was so happy that he was still alive and at his brother's side, and there was no way he'd allow Tom to suffer instead. At least not by leaving his home and his job and the man he loved. But of course – Sherlock wouldn't leave his brother, either.

“So what do you suggest? He spends one night with you and the next one with me?” Tom asked with a shake of his head.

“I don't know. I didn’t really have time to think about it. We'll have to find a way. And so far nothing has happened between us, we haven't even kissed! I hope we will when he feels better… But would you really rather give him up completely instead of sharing him with me?”

Tom swallowed. “No. But maybe he doesn't even want that…”

Sherlock nodded. “Of course we'll have to talk to him. And I know that sounds crazy… Don't think I hadn't been bloody jealous of you and that it doesn't kill me to imagine you in bed with him… But he has never forgiven himself for making me run away, and I don't want him to blame himself for losing you instead. He deserves better than that. And you deserve better than that…” And in the end he would blame me and I would lose him anyway…

And then he was pulled into a crushing embrace. “I don't know what to say, Sherlock. Thank you. Thank you so much…”

Sherlock stroked his back. And he had to admit it didn't feel bad at all to be in this man's arms. “Thank you for saving me. Now I know I can thank you. I don't want you to leave.”

Tom pulled back and they looked into each other's eyes. He saw that Tom's eyes were full of tears. “Go back to him now, Sherlock, and try to sleep. You look every bit as exhausted as he does.”

“Well, ditto!”

Tom smiled. “I know. I'll try to catch some sleep as well. And tomorrow…”

“Tomorrow morning I'll talk to Mycroft, Tom. I'll let him know what I think. He has to make the decision. But I'm sure he will agree.”

Tom shook his head with a disbelieving expression. “From all that could have happened that was the very last thing I've expected.”

“Well, you don't know me. I'm always good for surprises,” Sherlock said dryly. In the end he had surprised himself with it.

Tom chuckled. “I really like you, you know?”

Sherlock smiled. “Well, it's pretty obvious that I like you, too. Goodnight.”

Tom bent forward and brushed a feather-light kiss on his cheek. “Goodnight. I'm so glad you're here.”

And hearing this was the very last thing Sherlock had expected to happen when he had heard about Tom's existence.

Somehow he knew everything would turn out well.

He returned to the bedroom and cuddled up against his brother's shoulder after patting his pets' heads. After all that had happened, he was just so fucking happy.

 

Chapter Text

Mycroft woke up at eight in the morning. He was alone in his bed, but he could hear the shower. Sherlock was back. He was back! He had slept next to him he was sure. Had watched over him. And would never leave him again – he had promised it…

He lifted his head. It didn't hurt anymore. In fact he felt refreshed and almost completely healthy. But he knew he couldn't go to work today. He wouldn’t be able to get through such a day now. The king was dead, and Anthea was about to take his place on the throne. And of course she would need him. He needed all the strength he could get for that. Even though all he wanted was to never leave this house anymore…  Not lose one more second with Sherlock.

But dear God – he missed Tom. He missed to wake up next to him, receiving a smile and a kiss from him, and more often than not Tom had taken care of his sexual needs before he had gone to work. Tom. He would have to let him go; he had seen in his lover's eyes that he would not stay to witness his love with Sherlock. And what was Mycroft supposed to do? He loved Tom, oh yes, he really did. But he couldn’t pass this chance a second time. He could never turn Sherlock away again. And he didn't want that. He longed for exploring him, kissing him, tasting him. He realised that he was hard and he praised and cursed this fact. It proved that his body was about to heal and it proved that he was a bloody bastard…

He heard the shower spray stop. Sherlock would be back soon, and Mycroft wouldn't get up before he hadn't told him what had happened the day before. And where he had been. What he had done all these years. He wanted to finally know him. Know him in every sense of the word…

And then he was there, standing in the door in Mycroft's bathrobe. It was way too wide for him, and Mycroft was not exactly fat…

“Good morning,” Sherlock said when he approached him. “How are you? You look so much better!”

Mycroft smiled. “Come here. Yes, I do feel much better.” And then Sherlock was in his arms, snuggling against him, and Mycroft shuddered. Finally…

“Kiss me, Sherlock, please.” He realised he had not brushed his teeth so he kept his mouth closed when Sherlock's wonderful, full lips were firmly pressed on his, but he nonetheless melted into this kiss, and he remembered the first one they had shared a dozen years ago. But this time he didn't push Sherlock away, and when his tongue demanded entrance eventually, he opened his mouth and he gasped in pleasure at the taste and the feelings this first real kiss caused in him. He hugged Sherlock so close that he could feel… every bone in his upper body.

He pulled away. “My God, Sherlock, you're so thin! Why are you so thin?” He had always been a very slim boy, but this was feeling dangerous.

Sherlock smiled wryly. “This is a long, ugly story. We might want to postpone it a few days.”

“Alright, but we won't postpone that you tell me what has happened to your throat. I want to know it. What happened with your landlord?”

And then, to his total devastation, Sherlock broke apart in front of his eyes. He started to cry and clung to him like he had done the day before, but these tears spoke of a massive damage to his soul. And then he stammered words that stung like a knife. He spoke for minutes, forgetting what he had just said about postponing talking about his past. And Mycroft grew colder with every moment. Words like bloody wire were ghosting through his mind.

Hunger-Pressure-Guilt-Desperation-Dirt-Pain-Rape-Violence.

It broke his heart and made him cry along with him, and he understood why Sherlock had been so reluctant to tell him. And he knew that if this monster of a man had still been alive, he would have killed him with his own hands.

Finally they both calmed down, and Mycroft urged Sherlock to get back into bed completely and covered them both with the blanket. “I'm so sorry,” he said, knowing how insufficient these words were. “Without my stupidity and cowardice, you would have never gone through all this.” He knew he would never forgive himself.

“We were there before, Mycie. It doesn’t change anything anymore. And perhaps these times have made me stronger. Nobody knows if things would have worked out between us if we had started it when I was so young.”

“But you could be dead now. You almost died twice.” He couldn't even imagine how it had been for Sherlock. Twice he had tried to die, and twice he had been saved. And the second time by nobody else than Tom. And Mycroft's heart broke again…

Sherlock lifted his head and cleaned his face with a tissue. “I spoke to Tom yesterday evening, when you'd fallen asleep. He told me he would go as soon as you have someone else for his job.”

Mycroft swallowed. “I knew he would do that.”

“But I said he should stay.”

“What? You want him to stay? But… he will never do that. It would make him so sad to see us together.”

Sherlock cleared his throat. “Yes. He said so. But I told him… I told him I would not allow you to choose between us.” He huffed out a laugh. “I was sure you would choose me, but perhaps…”

“Yes, of course I choose you! I'll never let you go again, and I want to be with you… romantically.”

“But you would miss Tom a lot. Be honest with me, please.”

Mycroft sighed. “Yes, of course I would. These past few months were… so nice. God, I don't want to hurt you with telling you this…” And why did Sherlock ask for that at all?

Sherlock nodded, looking as if he had heard what he had expected to hear. Expected and… wanted? And finally he got what Sherlock had said before. “What do you mean – you won't allow me to choose between you two?”

“Mycie… Tom and I… would be okay with… sharing you.”

“You would be what?!” Perhaps this wasn’t really happening. Perhaps nothing of this had happened. Perhaps he was still in his fever sleep, close to death. Because this just couldn't happen, could it?

“Of course we'll have to work out how and don't think we wouldn't be jealous of the other one. Of course we'll be. But… he saved my life, Mycie, and he is such a good person… I couldn't let you drop him for me. Last but not least because I'm sure you would miss him and deep inside blame me for that and it would bring us apart eventually.”

Mycroft was speechless. Not in a million years he would have considered this solution. It was the best solution for him, yes, but wouldn’t it hurt both of his… lovers? How difficult would this get?

Sherlock continued, looking a bit insecure. “Of course - maybe it doesn't work and one of us can't live with it. I mean, we didn't do anything with each other so far, and even I think we shouldn't rush it after you were so ill and I…” He broke off, and Mycroft balled his right hand into a fist.

And I was just raped once more, he added in his mind. He stroked over Sherlock's cheek. It was freshly shaven and so soft and warm and beautiful. His cheekbones were sticking out frighteningly, even more than Tom's. “Sherlock, of course we won't rush it. But I want you and I long for you; I want to share everything with you when I feel completely healthy and you are not looking so fragile anymore. It's a miracle that you didn’t break any ribs yesterday… Oh God… I wish I could kill this bloody freak!”

Sherlock smiled and buried his face in his neck. “You should have seen how Tom threw him through the room. I'm really surprised he woke up again. His skull made an awful sound when it hit the wall.”

Good. But Mycroft tried to imagine his soft, gentle lover doing something that violent. Tom must have been very determined to save his brother. He would have to thank him thoroughly. But of course he had to talk to him anyway, right away actually.

“I'll let Lestrade know that you're awake,” Sherlock interrupted his thoughts. “So he can send the doctor to you and then you can speak with Tom.”

It was almost scary. Sherlock always seemed to know what he was thinking. But then - it had been like that already when he had been a child. “Yes. I'll just brush my teeth and refresh myself. And later I'll have to call Anthea. She must be in panic.”

“She doesn’t have to be because you're going to take care of everything.”

Mycroft smiled. “Your trust honours me. But it seems you and Tom are also pretty good at taking care of important matters.”

“Of course we are. That's why you love us.”

Mycroft cupped his cheek again. “I love you so much, Sherlock, and I can't wait to show you in every way. And yes, I love Tom as well. And if you two are really okay with me being together with both of you, I'll be the happiest man in the world.”

“And probably the most exhausted one, too…” Sherlock grinned and it looked a bit mocking.

He swallowed. He had not thought about that… But then… Was there a better kind of exhaustion? “Well, I'm thirty-five. I should be able to deal with that.”

“How old is Tom?”

Twenty-five… But I could cope with him so far.” He bit his lip. Probably that wasn’t a good thing to tell Sherlock.

But his brother smiled, albeit a bit sadly. “Well, we'll have to work out a plan so you won't get overworked. It's not as if you didn't have a very important job to do. But God - I really can't wait to be with you.”

Mycroft pulled him very close. “Let's hear what the doctor says but I would think you won't have to wait very long… But remember – no rush.”

Sherlock nodded against his neck and brushed a kiss on it. “I'm so happy, brother mine. I love you.”

“I love you, too, Sherlock, and there won't be a day I won't tell you and show you that I do.” Sherlock was right – they couldn't change the past. But he would never allow him to get hurt again, in no bloody way. He would make up for his failures for the rest of their lives.

***

“So he's okay?” Tom asked Sherlock when the younger Holmes brother had come downstairs, accompanied by his little dog. Tom had paced before the stairs nervously for minutes.

Sherlock smiled. “Yes. The doctor said he could go back to work in two days if he wants to and takes care of himself. He's just giving him some medicine so he regains his strength.”

“I guess this will be easier said than done – taking care of himself when he's in the palace. But I'm glad he can be at the princess' side when she's getting crowned.”

“They get along well?”

“Very well. I never met her of course but he thinks she'll be a much better ruler than her father. Which is obviously rather easy… So did you talk to him about it?” he added after looking around to be sure nobody could hear them. He hadn't mentioned this subject to either Greg or Martha. This arrangement was nothing he wanted to share with them. At least not before talking to Mycroft. Of course both of his friends would know what was going on soon enough… For the moment he had avoided answering their careful questions about what he was going to do now. They both feared the lord would drop him and send him away or make him leave by choosing Sherlock. They would be rather surprised about the solution…

Sherlock nodded. “Yes, he wants to talk to you. But he's pretty fond of the idea. He just wants to make sure you can really live with it.”

“Wow… To be honest I have still no idea how we'll organise that. And how we'll all feel about it. I mean – it's not just the sex, Sherlock. There're lots of feelings involved.”

“Of course. And I even have to wait for the sex at least two more days...”

Tom laughed out loud. “This is so absurd!”

“Yes, totally. But you know what? I just know it will be good. We'll all be fine with it.”

“You are very optimistic.”

Sherlock's face darkened. “No, Tom, I'm as far from being that as I can get. But in this case, I just have a really good feeling. Because of the sentiments that are involved. I love Mycroft so much that I can't even put it in words. I did it all my life. Mycroft loves me all the same and now he's ready to act upon it even though we'll have to be careful. He's a very important man but there's still a law against it. Even though I'm somehow very sure we don't have to fear anything from anybody in this house. And he loves you very much; you can be sure about that, and what you did for me shows how much he means to you. So with so much love involved, how should we fail?”

“Oh, Sherlock.” Tom surprised the older man and himself with pulling him into a tight embrace. And he shuddered when he felt how skinny the dark-haired man was. “I'll make sure you get lots and lots to eat so you gain some pounds.”

Sherlock chuckled against his neck. His arms were around Tom's waist. “I was always thin, Tom. But food sounds good.”

Tom let him go. “Do you want to have breakfast now? I can serve it…”

Sherlock shook his head. “Listen – you won't have to serve me anything - not now and just never. I'll take care of that myself, and you should go to Mycroft. But you could maybe bring him something light to eat and some tea that he can have while you're talking?”

“Of course I will. Come into the kitchen with me. Martha insisted on preparing lunch again. She'll love to see you.”

***

Martha beamed at them when they entered the kitchen. She was sitting at the table, cutting vegetables along with a shy looking girl.

“Sherlock! And Tom! How's the lord?”

Sherlock smiled and walked to her to embrace her. She looked every bit as fragile as Mycroft – and yes, Sherlock himself… But she also looked determined to take over her role again, certainly worried anyone in this house could suffer from not getting enough to eat. “He's fine, Martha, don't worry. He must stay in bed today though, and tomorrow he may walk around and the other day he'll go back to work.”

“Oh, isn't that too soon?”

“He must,” Tom said. He was preparing Mycroft's breakfast with deft hands. “The princess needs his help. There're not too many people left in this kingdom I'm afraid but still they need to be reigned. We can't afford riots breaking out…”

Sherlock swallowed. He had not thought about this possibility…

Martha frowned as well. “Oh, that's right. That would be horrible!”

“What would be horrible?”

Sherlock saw Lestrade coming in. Alone. The bailiff caught his gaze. “Good morning, sir. The doctor had to leave but he'll be back in the afternoon.”

“That's alright. Tom and I will look after him all day. And please – don't call me sir. I'm Sherlock.”

The older man shot him a surprised look. “Oh, that… Really?”

Sherlock smiled. “Yes. I may call you Greg then?”

“Oh, sure! That… wow…”

“I'm not the lord, Greg. I was a dustman for a third of my life.”

“Do you have any plans for what you want to do from now on?” Martha asked him.

Besides shagging my brother senseless in every imaginable and satisfying way? “I didn't have a chance to think about it,” he answered. But then – he didn't really have to. “But I'm not going to go to the palace with him to sit around and play nice all day. He doesn’t need me there anyway. I want to be useful here. Tom – I guess you can use some help here. And you know that my fingers are not all thumbs in the kitchen, remember, Martha? And I'll help you as well out there, Greg, if you can use a skinny man like me.”

Everybody was staring at him and he grinned. “What? Did you think I wanted to sit around all day? Or get an office job in the city? Why would I?”

“But you'll get your money now, Sherlock,” Martha said. “You're a very rich man.”

Sherlock shook his head. “I never cared about being rich. I hope that doesn't sound arrogant but that's what it was always like. For the past twelve years, I didn't have anything, and even though I wasn't exactly happy, I didn't miss any riches. I want to live here and eat and have fresh clothes, so I'll do whatever is necessary to get that. My brother helps running the kingdom. And I'll be here to watch his back.” Among other things…

Tom was finished with Mycroft's breakfast. He stepped to Sherlock and whispered in his ear: “I've already said that I liked you. Triple that.” Then he took the tray and left the kitchen.

Sherlock watched him with a grin. Then he turned around. “Okay, if nobody minds, I'll have some breakfast now, too.”

oOoOo

“Hello! May I come in?”

“Of course. I wanted to come down but the doctor said I should stay in bed another day. It's not really to my liking.”

Tom entered the bedroom with the tray. “I'm sure if you feel good enough, you can walk a few steps this afternoon. Let's see how you're feeling after eating something.”

He arranged the tray on the bed so Mycroft could eat and drink without difficulties. Mycroft was shaved already and he was wearing fresh pyjamas. “I'll look after the bathroom in the meantime.”

“We have to talk, Tom.”

“I know. But you can eat undisturbed and I'll join you when you're finished, alright?”

Mycroft smiled at him. “Yes, of course. Thank you. You're going to hear that a few times more.”

Tom grinned. “I can't wait. But take your time. You need all the strength you can get.”

He had meant for recovering and returning to work, and so he blushed when Mycroft said: “Oh, no doubt about that…” - clearly meaning something else.

He gave him a wry grin and hurried to clean up the bathroom.

It wasn't much to do as they had left it in a very neat state. He just wiped over the toilet seat and polished the sink and the mirror and hung up fresh towels. When he came back into the bedroom, Mycroft was just finished with his scrambled eggs and had eaten his toast. “Would you like something more?” Tom asked him.

Mycroft shook his head and lifted the tray on his nightstand. “I'm fine. Come to me, Tom.”

Tom slipped off his shoes. He wasn't wearing a jacket and had put on black jeans and a grey t-shirt. He hadn't seen any sense in bothering with a suit.

He had hardly lain down on the bed when he was pulled into a tight embrace.

“Tom, thanks so much for saving him. I can never make up for that.”

He smiled against Mycroft's throat. “It's alright. Your brother is a fine man. I'm glad I was there in time.”

“I'll never forget anything of that. You were just awesome. Without you I'd have never seen him again.”

Tom let his body relax against his. Mycroft's grip was strong and he was apparently well enough to bear Tom's weight.

“Tom… There's no way not to say it. If he hadn't made this amazing suggestion, I'd have let you go as a lover, and completely if you hadn't been willing to stay with Sherlock and me as a couple.”

Tom nodded. “I know.” It did hurt but it had been what he'd expected. He had certainly not expected Sherlock's suggestion…

“I wouldn’t have had a choice. I've longed for him for such a painfully, horribly long time and I just can't lose him again. But that doesn't mean I don't love you. This made even clearer to me how much I really do.”

A tear escaped Tom's left eye. “I love you, too. I love you more than anything in the world.”

“I know. That's why you went there to get Sherlock. Thinking you would lose me, but knowing I would die without him. Nobody's ever done something like this for me. Something that selfless and heroic. And then you saved him from this criminal. I owe you, Tom. I owe you my life and Sherlock's life. And Sherlock was right – if I had let you go after all you did for me and for him, and despite my love for you, it would have eaten me up.” He urged Tom to get up so he could face him. “But can you really deal with that? With me being involved with both of you? And don't ask me how this is going to be organised as I have no clue. We'll have to work that out together, all three of us, as soon as I’m fully recovered. But do you think your heart can handle that?”

Tom gently stroked his cheek. “What's the alternative? Go and lose you forever. I would have done it, of course, under different circumstances. But in this way I can keep you; not quite for myself but I won't lose you. You know – if Sherlock was a nasty guy, spoilt and arrogant and awful, I would not stay. But of course he wouldn't have made this suggestion then anyway. Sherlock is a very special man. I can see why you love him so much. I will be jealous, and so will he. We all know it's inevitable. But yes – he's sure that he can deal with it, and so am I. I love you, Mycroft, and I'll always do anything to make you happy. This is all that matters to me.” It may have sounded smug or theatrical, but it was just the truth.

“Oh, Tom!” And then they didn't talk anymore. Their lips met in the first kiss for many days, and Tom put all his feelings and all the comfort he was capable of in this kiss. Of course he got hard and he didn't try to hide it. And Mycroft did as well, but this was not the moment to act on it. Tom wouldn't want to risk Mycroft's well-being, and he felt that the lord would want to save this strength for the first sex with his brother. And that was okay with Tom. He wouldn't lose Mycroft. It wouldn't be easy and perhaps even painful at times, but he would still be allowed to get close to him, to make love to him and to share his feelings with him. Despite the horrors of these past few days, Tom was happy.

oOoOo

Sherlock had spent the morning with being at Mycroft's side, and when his brother grew tired again, he kissed him and then he went to his old room. Slowly he opened the door with the key Tom had given him, and stared at the remains of his childhood. Nothing had been changed, and nothing had been done for a long time. There was dust everywhere.

He winced when he felt a presence behind him.

“It was never opened again. I'll clean it up for you,” Tom said.

Because Sherlock would need another room for the nights he wouldn’t spend with his brother. They had not spoken about it so far. In fact Sherlock and Mycroft had kissed for an hour, and in between kisses Sherlock had told him about the years he had spent as a dustman. They hadn't done anything more than kissing so far. But hell – what kisses they had been…

“We'll do it together and if you're too busy, I'll do it on my own,” Sherlock replied. He slowly entered the room with the closed curtains. He opened them and silently stared at the interior. Not remembering his childhood but pragmatically looking if he could stay there, and yes, of course he could. It was way more comfortable than his flat in Baker Street had been. He opened the wardrobe and saw tight suits and jeans and sweatshirts, all in perfect shape and as good as new. “It'll all still fit me,” he decided. So he didn’t even have to go to the city to buy clothes. Great!

“Sherlock, Mycroft will buy you anything you need or want. And from what I've heard you can do that, too. He will for sure give you access to your trust as soon as he's really back on his feet.”

“I'm sure he will. But I don't need anything. Jeans get never unfashionable – even if I gave a damn if they did. But… Greg will need more men, won't he?” he changed the subject.

Tom looked a bit puzzled. “Definitely, even though that might not be so easy… considering how much the population must have been reduced. Martha needs more maids, and I'll also need some guys of course, but not more than two if you are serious with wanting to help out.”

“Of course I am. I need to have something to do during the day. But regarding Greg – I think I know someone who could start working for him. Someone who doesn't know who I really am, but I've known him for years. I trust him.”

“Who is he? One of your colleagues?”

“Yes, his name is Chris. He's very tall and strong and he'll be very useful here. But he's just lost his child and his girlfriend. I don't know if he'll be in a condition to start working at once. It may help him though so I'd like to see him today. Win-win situation.”

“Does he live in Blackchapel?”

“Yes, and believe me I'm not keen on returning there but he doesn't have a phone. Someone will have to give me a ride.”

“I'd love to but I don't want to leave Mycroft alone. But I'll ask Greg if one of his boys can drive you.”

Sherlock smiled. “I'll ask him right away. I'm a big boy.”

“Sorry, of course.”

Sherlock turned around and gave his arm a squeeze. “Nothing to be sorry for; all you do is taking care of everything. But you won't have to do it alone anymore. I'm back home, and I want it to feel like home, you know?”

Tom embraced him with one arm. “I know exactly what you mean. And this is your home and it always will be.” They smiled at each other. “Do you think you'll be back for lunch? We could eat together in Mycroft's living room.”

“That sounds great. Of course I'll be back if I get a lift quickly.”

“Martha has prepared her famous potato salad and I'll get us some cold chicken to it. Mycroft loves this combination.”

“So do I. Thank you, Tom. Thank you for everything.”

Tom gave him a wide smile. “It's my pleasure, along with it being my job. Come back safe.”

“Oh, sure.” Sherlock definitely didn't want to miss out on the things to come. He really couldn’t wait for them…

oOoOo

Sherlock leaned back in his seat when the driver left Musgrave. Greg had immediately said that it was no problem to lend him his deputy Jeremy to drive him to Chris. And the short, dark-haired man had just nodded, completely unimpressed by the area they would be going to.

The bailiff had looked pretty relieved that he would probably get another worker so easily. He had asked Sherlock carefully if he was sure that he could trust Chris. Sherlock was well aware what he had meant – if Chris wouldn't mind his relationship with his brother. Of course he couldn't be sure about it. But he knew that Chris liked him. And he hoped he could get him to come with them.

Sherlock had given Jeremy the address and both were silent now. Sherlock had glanced over his appearance when they had left to get into the car. He looked very manly with his ruggedly handsome face and his huge arms but Sherlock could sense that he was gay as well.

“It's creepy,” the older man broke the silence.

Sherlock looked over to him. “It's almost empty.” The streets looked indeed deserted. Dead.

“Yes. So many people have died.”

“You must have lost a lot of friends.”

“Yes.” Jeremy bit his lip. “It was… terrible.”

Sherlock nodded. “Yes, I know what you mean.” John and Molly were on Musgrave's cemetery now. As so many people had died, they had burned the cadavers, all of them, overnight, and everybody would get a little gravestone eventually.

“It must have been so hard out there, all these years, sir,” Jeremy surprised him. His tone was calm with a hint of compassion.

“Please, just call me Sherlock. I'm not your boss. And yes, for a number of reasons it was. But I never minded being a dustman. It gives you some sort of satisfaction – leaving a place that was dirty clean.”

Jeremy smiled. “Just for people to mess it up again.”

“Well, yes. The circle of life… But without them, I wouldn’t have had a job.” Sherlock smiled as well. Then he grew serious. “I don't know if Greg told you – this man we are visiting has just lost his baby and his girlfriend. He won't be in the best condition.”

Jeremy nodded. “Yeah, the bailiff told me. Poor fellow. You think he really wants to come with us?”

“I hope so. He's a very decent guy, well, with some strange sense of humour. He can work, and he's reliable.”

“Exactly what we need,” Jeremy agreed. “Let's hope you can convince him.”

oOoOo

“Martha, Sherlock and I will eat with the lord in his rooms. We do have some chicken left, haven't we?”

“Of course, my boy. And I've made way too much potato salad.” Martha closed her eyes. “I'm used to cooking for so many people. And now almost nobody is left…”

Tom sat down on a kitchen chair. “Yes, it's just horrible. But hopefully Sherlock will bring a new guy for Greg when they come back. Someone he worked with.”

Martha laid a hand on his arm. “Tom, we didn't have any time to talk. Will… you stay? And I can't believe how happy you're looking!”

Tom gave her a wry grin. “I guess eventually I'll have to tell you – I will stay. Sherlock asked me to.”

“But I thought… he and…” She swallowed. “Did the lord tell him it wasn't possible? This… relationship Sherlock has wanted so badly?” But she looked very confused as she was certainly thinking that Sherlock's behaviour didn't match this at all.

“Well, actually – we'll both get the lord,” he said very quietly even though they were alone in the kitchen. And of course it wouldn't be long until everybody in Musgrave would be aware of their arrangement.

“What do you mean? You will both…”

“Yes. He loves us both; in fact he's just told me how much he loves me.  And of course Sherlock means so much to him. And he does want him physically. I really hope it won't get him into trouble…  But since he's so mighty and on such good terms with our new queen, I doubt it.”

Martha looked totally surprised. “You really mean you will both sleep with him? Altogether?!”

Tom laughed. “No, not quite that. Well, Sherlock is very handsome, don't get me wrong. But I meant that we both will spend time with Mycroft. Not sure how we'll organise that or if he just decides from day to day with whom he wants to, you know, get close. And before you ask – Sherlock and I are both fine with it.”

“Really?! God, Sherlock was so jealous when I told him about you. I had to… And I really thought the lord would leave you when he came back.”

Tom nodded. “Of course he's jealous. Of course I am jealous. And God knows how we'll really feel when Mycroft chooses the other one for spending the night or some hours with him. But Martha – when I found Sherlock, he was almost dead, and he thinks he owes me to let me be with Mycroft. And somehow we instantly liked each other. I believed too that Mycroft would drop me for him. In fact I told Sherlock I would go as soon as the situation here made it possible. But he convinced me otherwise, and then he convinced Mycroft. Even though he was apparently very easy to convince…”

“Why would he have not? He gets everything. Oh my dear boy, I really hope this works out well and you don't get hurt.”

“Because we both know Mycroft would always choose Sherlock if he had to make a decision. I know that. But so far I'm quite optimistic. And now I'll have to go looking for him. I guess he's still sleeping though. He still needs a lot of rest. Unlike you as it seems?”

“Oh, I am tired. After lunch I'll lie down as well. But the work keeps me alive. So… did anything happen between them?”

“No, not yet. I guess tomorrow will change that.” And then we'll see if Sherlock is still willing to share him… And if Mycroft still thinks he needs me… All at once he was afraid again. Like he had just told Martha – he would lose if push came to shove… And if Mycroft realised that Sherlock was enough for him, it would be over.

“I wish you all the best,” Martha whispered. “But remember – you always need to protect your heart. I can see Sherlock's has been broken many times. Don't let this happen to you.”

He smiled and thanked her, but he knew that if Mycroft changed his mind, it would shatter him.

oOoOo

The man that finally opened the door after Sherlock had knocked four times had only a small resemblance to the man he had known for years now. His long, blond hair was a greasy mess, his clothes and his body were stinking, and his face spoke of total desperation. But it was exactly what Sherlock had expected. “Hello Chris. This is Jeremy. Can we come in?”

“Billy?” he asked. “What are you doing here? And holy shit, what happened to your throat?!”

“Someone tried to strangle me. It's a long story. May we…?”

Chris stepped back. “Okay. But it's not very neat.”

That was a huge understatement but Sherlock remembered very well in which mess he and John had lived… “That's okay. How are you coping?”

Chris huffed out a laugh. “How does it look like?” They had reached the living room. Dirty plates and laundry were everywhere.

“Yeah, stupid question.” Sherlock and Jeremy, who hadn't said a word but had watched Chris closely, found free spots on the couch and Chris let himself drop into an old armchair. “Chris, will you go back to work?”

He shook his head. “No way. The company is closed. They are all dead, Billy, everybody except us.”

Sherlock took a deep breath. “Alright. I know you have to cope with an incredible loss, and I know you might want to hide in here forever but I want to suggest you to come with us. And work for my brother.”

“Your brother?” Chris wrinkled his forehead. “What does he do?”

“First of all, my name is not Billy Scott. My name is Sherlock Holmes. My brother is Lord Holmes, the right hand of the king. Well, from now on of the queen.”

“What? You're making fun of me, right? That's really a good prank!”

“You should know best that I don't tend to joke around. It's all true.” He glanced over to Jeremy.

The short man cleared his throat. “It is indeed. I work for the bailiff on Lord Holmes' property. And we're in need of new people. They have almost all died.” There were no ill people in Musgrave anymore. The ones who had caught the Fever were healthy now or they were dead.

“You want me to work there? And what – your name is Sherlock?! What kind of a name is that?”

Jeremy chuckled but broke off immediately. But Sherlock just smiled. “You have to blame my parents for it. But they have died many years ago. What do you say? Would you like to come with us? It will be hard work, but you'll get paid well; you'll have your own room and good meals and a really nice boss.”

“Yeah, Greg's the best,” Jeremy agreed. “We had to call him sir before the Fever because he thought that's how it should be, but now he's just Greg for us. He's fair and he only gets angry when you deserve it.”

Chris shook his head, but not in negation but in amazement. “I don't know what to say. It sounds good! Nothing holds me here. But… Sherlock?!”

Sherlock grinned. “You'll get used to it. I did, too. Alright, get some stuff and then we can leave.”

“I need to shower first.”

“You can do that in Musgrave; Jeremy and Greg will show you everything.” And then he froze. Shouldn’t he tell Chris right away what he and Mycroft were? Or rather would hopefully be very soon?

“Can I have a glass of water?” Jeremy asked and Sherlock knew he wanted to give them some privacy. Which of course meant that he knew it. How could he know it? He was sure Greg hadn't told his people. Or had he?

“Sure, I just hope you'll find a clean glass.”

“I'm not that picky.” Jeremy gave him a grin and left the tiny living room.

Chris got up, too, certainly to get a bag for the stuff he wanted to pack.

“Chris, just one moment.”

The big man turned around. “Yes?”

“Oh, dear, how shall I say that…”

Chris sat down again. “Just say it. It has something to do with you using a false name?”

“Yes, in a way. I left my home when I was sixteen because… I… was in love with my brother.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, well. He didn't want to hear it when I told him, and so I left, and I used a wrong name, actually a combination of sorts of my other first names, so he wouldn't find me. Anyway, now I'm back and…” He blushed.

“And now he's okay with you loving him.” Chris didn't seem to be offended or disgusted.

“Yes. In fact, we are together now. I know it's against the law and strange but…”

“You've loved him for so fucking long. I'd say it's great that he loves you back now.”

Sherlock was very relieved. “Yes, thank you. In fact he has also a relationship with his butler. And he will keep that going, too.”

Chris made wide eyes. “Fuck, this is really an interesting house I'll go to!”

Sherlock grinned. “You won't live in the main house. But the houses on the property are very nice. In any way you won't have to witness our slightly unusual love life…” Certainly he and Mycroft would not walk around hand in hand together…

Chris shook his head. “I don't know since when you think I'm a tight-arsed preacher, Bil… Sherlock. But I'm not. It's all your business but I do find it very interesting. Go for it. You only have one life. We've just seen how quickly it can be over…” The last words were almost incomprehensible as he had started to sob.

Sherlock was at his side at once and embraced him, ignoring the smell of dirt and sweat that came to his nose. “I know, I know… I don't say it will be all good, because it won't. You will mourn for a long time.”

Chris wiped over his nose. “You know, we were about to split up, Janine and me. I didn’t love her anymore. But my little boy… Oh God…”

“Here, drink that.” Jeremy was back and handed Chris a glass of water.

Chris took it and gulped it down. “Thanks.” He stood up. “Let me get my stuff and then we'll go. I can't wait to have something to do. And Sherlock, don't worry. I really don't mind.”

“I'm glad, Chris. We'll help you pack your things. My brother isn't quite well yet as he had the Fever, and I don't want to leave him alone for longer than I have to.”

“Afraid the butler will be faster?”

Sherlock blushed severely but Jeremy snickered and Chris fell in, at least for a moment. Sherlock shook his head but he grinned. Chris would fit in there perfectly… He would just have to hammer into his head that he had to keep the secret in front of strangers.

oOoOo

“Oh, that looks very good, thank you, Tom.” Mycroft smiled.

“It does indeed.” Sherlock took the plates from the tray he had carried and set up the table in Mycroft's living room while Tom placed the food on it.

“So we have a new worker?” Mycroft asked when they had all sat down. He was wearing his robe and he still looked a bit weak but his face had a healthy colour and he seemed to be pretty happy, Sherlock thought.

“Yes, I hope you don't mind. Greg said he can hire people.”

“Of course he can. And if you recommended him, I'm sure he's fine.”

“I told him about us.”

“You did what?!” Mycroft stared at him and Sherlock felt a bit uncomfortable. In fact still nothing had happened between them. And he hoped it still would now…

“Everybody in Musgrave knows about your feelings for Sherlock,” Tom said. “And now that he's back it should be clear to everybody what's going on. So it was probably better to let him know at once.” He filled Mycroft's plate.

Mycroft sighed. “You're right of course. But will he keep quiet?”

“I've told him thoroughly,” Sherlock assured him. He had done it on their way back, and both Chris and Jeremy had promised that nobody out of Musgrave would ever know about the incestuous relationship. “Listen… the princess will be crowned on the day after tomorrow, right?”

“Yes. I'll go there and do some work, I'll have to.”

“Sure. I do hope you won't do too much at once though. But what I wanted to say: she can change the law, can't she?”

“Oh dear, of course…” Mycroft looked at him with wide eyes. “I don't know if she will do that though… And it might be tricky for me to ask her for it…”

“If you do it carefully…? It doesn't have to be right away. But I think this kingdom owes you a lot,” Tom threw in.

Mycroft nodded. “I will try it. That was a great idea, Sherlock!”

“Well, say that after she agreed instead of throwing us into prison…”

“She won't do that, don't worry. In fact…”

“What?” Sherlock took the first bite of potato salad and almost moaned at the taste. It tasted like his childhood…

“In fact she was there when I saw you in Blackchapel, the day before I got ill.”

“You saw me? You haven't mentioned that!”

Mycroft nodded. “I did. You were talking to an old lady with a little dog. But when I got out of the car, you were gone and I thought I had lost you again after being so close to catch you…”

Sherlock swallowed. “And this made you so ill after you had already gotten over the Fever.”

Mycroft nodded. “I knew then that you were still alive but I thought you would die after I've just missed you. And I subconsciously wanted to follow you…”

Sherlock closed his eyes and pressed his hand.

“The princess called to ask about your well-being,” Tom said thoughtfully. “But she never mentioned that you had seen Sherlock. Which means she wanted to protect you. She knew that we couldn’t find him to save you. So she kept silent.”

“That could mean she knows what kind of feelings I have for you.” Mycroft nodded. “That makes sense. I still have to be careful. But if she really changes the law – it would be such a relief. Not that we'll go out there hand in hand. But if it wasn't forbidden it would feel so different, and we wouldn’t have to fear someone could betray us.”

“I guess nobody will do that anyway,” Tom said. “I think Sherlock's friend is indeed okay with it. And everybody else is here for years. But wait…”

“You'll need to hire new people,” Sherlock added. “So it would really be good if you could convince her.”

“I'll try my best. And now let's eat something. I'm starving.”

“And you'll have to regain your energy for all the tasks that are waiting for you,” Sherlock said with a smirk.

Mycroft chuckled. “Why am I convinced that you didn't mean my duties for the kingdom…”

“For them as well of course. But most of all for your two lovers.” It sounded exciting, no doubt about that. And both Tom and Mycroft grinned at him, and Sherlock winked and then seriously started eating with huge appetite.

oOoOo

“You have everything you need?” Greg asked Chris.

“Oh yes, thank you . Thank you so much for giving me this job, sir.”

“Please – just call me Greg. All the workers do that now. And as long as you don't mess around with me, we'll be on good terms.”

“I won't, I promise,” Chris assured him. The days of playing pranks were over for him. In fact he had thought his whole life was over. He owed Sherlock so much for bringing him here into this big house with the nice, comfortable chamber with its own bathroom he had used at once for turning back into a human being. And everybody had been very nice to him even though they had all looked overworked. He had eaten lunch with the other guys and then Jeremy had shown him around. He had not seen everything of course – the grounds were way too big for that. But he already loved this place. It was so different from Blackchapel and the life he had led so far and he absolutely appreciated that.

Greg smiled. “That's fine. Just get settled here today, and tomorrow Jeremy and I will take you to the horses and explain in detail what has to be done. There will be a list of matters to take care of every day – all over the property. And you can always ask us if you need to know something, no matter what it is. We are such few people now – we have to stand together.” With this he left, but Jeremy, who had sat down on a chair in the corner, stayed seated.

“I could help you unpack?” he suggested. “And I'll show you where you get fresh towels. You have to clean up here yourself.”

“Of course. In opposite to what my flat looked like I know how to do that.”

“I can imagine you didn't feel like taking care of such things after…”

“Yeah… I still can't believe I'll never see my boy again… He was not even a year. Oh God… I'm sorry…” He buried his face in his hands and cried. A moment later he winced when a warm hand was laid on his neck and stroked him gently.

“It's alright, let it out. It won't get better today, and not tomorrow and maybe it takes months before you can think about him without wanting to scream, but eventually you… Shit, what am I telling you… Come here.”

And then Chris was pulled up by two very strong arms. Their height difference was big and Chris couldn't exactly cry on Jeremy's shoulder. So the other man dragged him to the couch and they sat down and he held him until Chris didn't have tears anymore.

“Here.” Jeremy handed him a tissue and Chris blew his nose.

“Thank you,” he mumbled. “I've never cried in my life and now I feel I'll never stop again.”

“The work will help you at least a bit. Distract you. What do you say – shall we unpack your stuff now and then I'll show you some more. And you can touch Big Boy.”

“What?!”

Jeremy grinned wryly. “Oh, sorry. That sounded quite strange. But it's just our most beautiful stallion and it might make you feel better if you, you know, stroked him a bit. He loves that.”

“Oh, I see!” Chris managed a grin. “Guess it would have been a little too early for what I thought you were speaking about.” It seemed that he was still able to joke around after all…

And now Jeremy blushed severely. Chris swallowed. He knew he wasn’t very smart and he couldn't see right into people's heads like Sherlock could, but he could see that this man was interested in him. And he was really attractive… He wondered how the hell he could even consider that now. But then… His relationship with Janine had been over before she had died, and he would miss his son forever, no matter if he dated anyone or not, and he had dated men in his life. He wasn't sure though what Greg would think about that. He cleared his throat when he got up to finally unpack his bags. “Um, Greg said I could ask you anything.”

“Of course!”

“Is it forbidden to, you know… get to know someone better here?”

The dark-haired man blushed even harder. “Oh. No, not at all. There's no rule against that. Greg met his boyfriend here, of course he's not working here but… He's the doctor who looks after us. So I'm pretty sure he doesn't mind. And the lord… He dates the butler. And, well, Sherlock…”

“That's good to know. I mean it's too early and all but… My girlfriend and I were not really together anymore when… this happened so…” What exactly was he doing here? Jeremy wouldn't be the first man for him but he had just met him and he was more or less his boss!

But Jeremy just nodded. “I understand.” They looked into each other's eyes. “When you think you're ready, just give it a try. It'll be fine.” His voice was soft now.

Chris nodded as well. “Thank you. That's very good to know.”

Chapter Text

“So, you two have everything for tonight?” Tom asked after closing the curtains.

Sherlock smiled. “Yes, I think so. And if His Lordship needs anything, I'll be straight on my way.” He threw the robe he had worn onto a chair.

Mycroft pulled the blanket over his waist and grinned. “Ah, so many well-trained servants here. Goodnight, Tom. Come here…”

And for the first time, Sherlock watched his brother kissing Tom and he wondered if Mycroft wanted to test him with that. It wasn't exactly a filthy kiss but it was tender and loving and it showed him how much Mycroft felt for this handsome young man. He could see that Tom was feeling rather tense due to his presence, and he asked himself how he was feeling. There was a stab of jealousy, yes. But the two of them fit so well together, despite the ten-year-age-gap. They were simply beautiful to watch and somehow Sherlock was convinced that what they had would not affect what he had and would even more have with Mycroft.

“Goodnight,” Tom said tenderly and stroked over Mycroft's cheek. Sherlock was still standing before the bed in the pyjamas he had borrowed from his brother. He could have worn his own of course; there were plenty of them in his old room, but it felt so good to wear his ones.

“Goodnight, Sherlock,” Tom said to him a little shyly when he passed by.

Sherlock grabbed his arm and pulled him close. “Goodnight, and thank you,” he said quietly and he could feel that Tom was surprised but then he kissed Sherlock on the cheek.

“Nothing to thank me for. Sleep tight and we'll see each other in the morning.”

“Yes.” They shared a smile and then the brothers were alone.

Mycroft looked a bit tired even though he had slept quite a lot during the day. He had spoken with the princess for half an hour to calm her down and he had told Sherlock that things looked rather quiet out there. Dealing with the problems of the kingdom had been tiring for him though. But Sherlock hoped they would have a few minutes for themselves now. He was craving so badly for it.

He slipped under the blanket and Mycroft pulled him over so he was lying all over his chest. He shuddered when his brother's big hand started stroking his face.

“You were okay with the kiss,” Mycroft stated.

“Yes. It gave me a little sting but nobody can deny you look perfect together.”

“Do we?” Mycroft smiled.

“You do. And I like him, Mycroft. I absolutely like him. I actually think it's impossible to not like him. I am a bit jealous and I can very well imagine how he's feeling now. But we'll get used to it - I just know that. And if you ask me, we shouldn't make a schedule or anything. You can be with the one you want to be. I'm fine with snuggling with you and then spend the night in my own room so he can stay here.”

“Oh dear, if anyone had told me that before…”

“Well, it is a bit unusual. But isn't it very exciting for you?”

“Oh yes!”

Sherlock laughed and Mycroft fell in after a second. Then Sherlock rolled back onto his own bedside.

“Where're you going?” Mycroft protested but he smiled when Sherlock prepped up on his elbow to stroke over his clothed chest. “Ah, I see.”

“I know you're not completely well yet but may I touch you just a bit?”

“Of course you may. If I fall asleep in the middle of it, please don't take it personally.”

Sherlock smiled. “I won't.” He let his hand trace playfully over the silky fabric, feeling the warm skin of his brother under it. And then he had reached a nipple that seemed to search its way out of the shirt.

“Open it up, Sherlock, so you can stroke me better.”

“You sure?”

Mycroft smiled. “I'm hard already from what you've done so far. I'll survive a bit of nipple-play.”

Sherlock shuddered. He would have never imagined hearing him talk in such a way.

Mycroft seemed to sense that. “Not even a year ago I would have never said something like this. But what I've started with Tom made me more open.”

“Thanks, Tom,” Sherlock mumbled and began to open the shirt buttons while Mycroft was chuckling. And then he could see his chest, almost smooth with just the hint of chest hair between his big, pink nipples, the left one stiff from his touching. “You're so beautiful,” he whispered and then he bent over to brush a kiss on the neglected love button. It was the first time in his life that he was touching another man's body with love and desire; a man who loved him and would never be violent against him. He could still feel the consequences of being raped but he longed for Mycroft to make love to him to erase these horrible memories somehow.

Mycroft's long fingers were constantly stroking his hair and it felt so good. But Sherlock realised that he had to look rather awful – John had used to cut his hair and he hadn't exactly been a very talented barber. He decided to ask Tom the other day to take care of it; something told him he would be capable of it. He had no interest in going into the town and having a professional barber cut it.

He continued to kiss and lick Mycroft's silky skin, and his cock was as hard as it could get. He looked down on the bed and saw the bulge under the blanket on his brother's side. “Sorry?” he said with a shy smile.

Mycroft laughed. “What are you sorry for? That I desire you?” And then a shadow fell over his face, and Sherlock knew exactly what he was thinking: and I've already desired you even when you told me about your feelings the first time and we could have had this for so long already, but instead I let you go through hell for twelve bloody years…

Sherlock moved up and kissed him, and a warm hand cupped the back of his head and the kiss turned deep and frantic and heated, neither of them coming as close to the other one as he needed to be.

When Sherlock broke away, he could see how shaken his brother was. And how tired his eyes were looking. “We better stop now so you can sleep. We can get close a bit tomorrow again, right?” Of course Mycroft would be going to work the day after tomorrow for the enthronement of the new queen and for getting back to his job and he would be very busy so he had to save some strength for that. But Sherlock wanted to finally make love with him, and yes, he was quite sure that Tom wanted that as well.

“Yes,” Mycroft said quietly. “I'll feel better once Anthea is on the throne and I'm back in the saddle.”

Sherlock burst out laughing and Mycroft grinned. “Well, that was a silly thing to say.”

“You have at least three saddles to get into. Plus the ones of the horses. Do you still ride?”

“Hardly. I just don't have time. I had a ride with Tom some time ago though. This sort of ride!”

Sherlock giggled. “Do you… let him… take you?”

“Yes. I like it. And of course you can do that with me, too.”

“Oh, this damn Fever…” He wanted to start now…

“Without it you wouldn't be here, Sherlock,” Mycroft said with a sad smile and stroked his face.  “So have some patience with me, please. Once I feel better - and when I rest some more tomorrow I'm sure I will - and I'm used to being in the palace again, things will get back to normal. Well, not quite normal as I have two men to please now.”

“Or you have two men who want to pamper and please you…”

“Of course. If you put it like that… Stroke me a bit if you want, Sherlock, until I fall asleep.”

“You mean your…”

“Yes.”

“But what if I make you come?”

“Well, if I don't survive that, I would have been doomed anyway, right?” He winked and Sherlock grinned.

He pulled the blanket from his brother's body and saw that he was still plump in his pyjama pants. And he could literally see him grow when the stroked over the bulge.

Mycroft made a noise between purring and growling. To Sherlock's surprise he lifted his butt. “Pull them down.”

“Really?”

“Yes! Don't let me wait!”

Sherlock hurried to pull the pants over his hips and he gasped when his hard cock sprung free. It was huge and wet on the tip and his pubes were red and curly. He shuffled down on the bed to get a better view and swallowed when he saw the big, hairless balls. He leaned over and licked over the glistening head of his brother's manhood and he shuddered from deep inside. This was breaking the taboo and the law, and damn, did it feel good!

Mycroft moaned. “Oh, yes, but you don't have to…”

And then Sherlock swallowed him to the root and sucked him. It was totally different to sucking Jim's short dick; this one touched his palate when he took him in, but it didn't bother him. The taste and what Mycroft meant to him made it so arousing that he could very well deal with the strange feeling, and he knew he would get used to it very quickly. He sucked and licked and then his mouth was flooded with his brother's release, and he greedily went on sucking and then licked him clean.

“Dear lord, Sherlock, I never thought we would do that tonight. That was… Oh God, why am I so bloody tired…”

Sherlock was alarmed. He was up on the bed and at his side in an instant. It had been him who had said they shouldn't rush anything. And now he had done something like this! “I'm sorry, I shouldn't have…”

“No, honey, it was wonderful. But I don't think I can do something for you now…” Mycroft's cheeks were rosy and he looked far from having been manhandled, just exhausted.

Sherlock smiled. “You're feeling okay otherwise?”

“No, brother mine. I feel blessed. It was amazing.”

“That's good! And don't worry about me. I'm fine.”

“Your dick is poking my thigh…”

Sherlock laughed. “Let him poke. He can wait. He's waited for so long; he will endure waiting some more…”

“I love you, Sherlock. All I want is to finally make you happy.”

“I am happy. And I know you'll make me feel good physically as soon as you can. Perhaps even tomorrow.  But I don't want to put pressure on you!”

Mycroft chuckled. “I thought we would take it easier but now that you've opened the door in such a lovely way… Tomorrow…” And then he closed his eyes. “One more night of sleep and I should be as good as new.”

“I love you, Mycroft…”

“Love you, brother mine.” And then he was off but the smile on his face told Sherlock he was fine.

He lay down next to him and closed his eyes. He was home and it made him so damn happy.

***

"Oh, shit," Tom hissed. He had almost run into Greg in the dark corridor.

"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to startle you. I just..."

Tom smiled. "You just wanted to know what's going on with the lord, Sherlock and me."

"Yes, I mean... Damn, I just don't want to see you leave..."

"So Martha didn't tell you. Well, I should have known she's discreet." Or maybe she was just still shocked by his confession...

"I actually haven't seen her all day. With the new guy here and so much to do, and she went to sleep a bit."

"Oh, yes. How is he? Sherlock's friend?"

"Can't say much yet but for sure he's very tall and built like a wall. I have quite a good feeling about him."

"That's fine. But we should have known Sherlock wouldn't bring us someone who can't work."

"Speaking of Sherlock..."

Tom grinned. "Alright, I need a cup of tea before I head to bed. Want to join me? The kitchen should be empty now."

"Sure. Tea is always good."

"Michael isn't staying tonight?"

"No, he had to go see a patient and will stay in his house. And I want to show the new guy around in the morning so he can start working as soon as possible. So I need to stay here. That's alright. I can survive a night without sex!"

"You did have some with him before he left, right?" Tom asked with a smirk.

"Oh God yes..."

They grinned at each other and Tom held the kitchen door open for Greg and proceeded to make tea for them.

Greg had sat down at the kitchen table. "Just tell me that you won't leave," he said quietly and seriously.

"I won't. If everything works out the way we hope, I won't."

"Meaning? Sorry if I'm too curious but I really don't want to lose you. You've become such a good friend."

Tom was touched. "I can only return that." He came to the kitchen table with the two cups and put them on the table.

"Thanks. For both."

Tom smiled. "Alright. You don't have to tell that everybody. But since Jeremy came with Sherlock to get this guy, he might know it already. I mean, I guess Sherlock told his friend that his relationship with the lord must stay a secret, at least to everybody outside of here."

"He didn't mention it to me. He did look rather shaken when he came back after helping Chris settle down. Not sure what happened there... Anyway, I'm all ears and you know I can keep it for myself!"

"It's quite easy actually. Mycroft will have two boyfriends from now on." He blew over the hot tea while watching Greg's face turn into an expression of total surprise.

"You mean... you will both... have sex with him? At the same time?!"

Tom laughed and shook his head. "That was exactly Martha's reaction. No, not altogether. But as limited as Mycroft's time is after he comes home from work, he still can spend some quality time with me or Sherlock. Or a little time with one and the night with the other one. I don't know. He was too shattered so far to do anything sexually. He has to recover first. And it doesn't mean he'll do it with either of us every night. I'm fine with cuddling and kissing, and as soon as Sherlock has gotten his way with him thoroughly, I'm sure he can survive a night without sex, too, as you have put it before."

"And you can both live with this solution? Man, you must both love him a lot to accept such an arrangement." Greg looked very impressed.

Tom took a sip of his tea. "Of course we do. But that sounded as if you thought it was Mycroft's idea. It wasn't. Sherlock suggested if after I had told him I would leave as soon as there's a substitute for me as Mycroft's butler. And when I said I would be amenable to it, he talked to Mycroft and then Mycroft talked to me. And Mycroft just kissed me goodnight in front of Sherlock, and although he did look slightly jealous, he touched me afterwards. Everything's good." Even though it did sting a little when he imagined them being in bed now and probably getting a little tactile. But he would get used to it. He just had to, and so did Sherlock.

"Wow, just wow... This sounds very exciting. And very challenging for all of you. Sherlock must like you a lot to do that."

"I like him, too. Very much. But he did it so Mycroft wouldn't lose me I'm sure. He must think Mycroft would eventually regret it and it would hurt their relationship. Not sure if this would have ever happened. But whatever his reasons were, I'm glad about the outcome. Well, I am a bit jealous, of course I am. They will spend the night together again and I will stay in my room. And they will for sure get closer now or latest tomorrow. But there will be times when I may sleep in his bed again, and this is much more than I expected when I went there to get Sherlock back here. I thought it would put an end to my relationship."

"I say it again: you must love him very much."

"I do! And I rather share him than losing it all. We'll have to see how everything works out."

"I'll cross my fingers that neither of you gets hurt. You have my absolute applause for trying this. Not in my wildest dreams I would have imagined this."

"Neither did I. Or Mycroft. Or Sherlock probably – it was a totally spontaneous reaction from him when I said I would go. But he hasn't appeared to regret it so far. But I'm not a fool – if he changes his mind once he'd really come close to Mycroft, I'm fucked. Well, not literally..."

"I hope this won't happen. And if you feel bad, you can always come to me."

"Oh, will you include me in your relationship with Michael then?" Tom teased him.

Greg grinned. "Certainly not! I'm not sharing my man! But I'll always have a shoulder for you to cry on if you need."

"Thank you very much, Greg. But I really hope I'll always have Mycroft's shoulder to cling to."

"Fingers crossed, buddy, fingers crossed!"

oOoOo

“Wanna sit up?” Jeremy asked with a smile. Big Boy seemed to smile as well but he carried this name for a reason. He was huge and looked very intimidating, especially for a man who had grown up in the city and had never sat on a horse before.

“Oh, well, I…” Chris grimaced. “He's really... big.” He didn't want to appear like a frightened little girl but he also didn't want to land on his arse in front of Jeremy because the horse didn't like him being on top of it...

“Well, you're quite a big man! He's an angel. He won't unseat you. He loves to be ridden.” Jeremy blushed and Chris grinned. Apparently he had not forgotten about their conversation the day before. It felt so good to be amused about something again… even though of course it couldn't erase the pain from his heart. The pain about not seeing his son grow up… But somehow Jeremy's presence made him feel better.

The older man had knocked on his door very early this morning. Chris hadn't minded at all after all these years of being a dustman, taking care of bins in the early morning hours. He had already been showered and ready.

He had spoken with Greg and had been shown around more, and he was accompanying the guys who brought the horses to their huge paddock where they would spend the day.

And now he let Jeremy help him onto the horse. He told him what to do and once Chris was holding onto the huge animal and sat up straight, he realised that it felt great to be up there. He looked over the endlessly seeming property - the fields, the flowers, the forest, the different buildings. It was like a world of its own and he loved being here. He couldn't thank Sherlock enough for asking him to come to this awesome place.

“You seem to like it,” Jeremy stated.

“It's great. Not just being on this horse – being here. I would work twenty hours a day to be allowed to stay,” Chris said seriously.

“Don't worry; that won't be necessary. You'll see soon what a great boss Greg is. As long as you do your best, you've got nothing to fear. If you mess something up on purpose, you'll face his wrath though. The lord leaves it all to him. But he's not by far a bad man either as far as I can say.”

“So all of this belongs to him and Sherlock?”

“Just to him actually. The first born gets it all – the title, the grounds and the job in the palace. Of course – if anything happened to him, Sherlock would follow him. I just wonder about the future… In all probability neither of them will have kids. Oh, sorry…”

Chris shrugged. “It's alright.” But the hurt seemed to overwhelm him and he buried his face into the crest of Big Boy. It smelled wild and it tickled his skin and it calmed him down, and while he was holding onto the patient animal, he could feel Jeremy stroke his arm. Eventually he looked up and then he slid down from the horse without help. “I'm okay. Show me some more what I can help with.” For the first time in his life, he actually longed for learning something. He was here for only one day and he already knew he wanted to stay so he couldn't disappoint Greg and Sherlock. And Jeremy…

“Alright. And if that's any comfort: I'm very glad you are here. And I don't mean just for working here…”

Chris smiled at him. “Yes, after all that happened, this was the best development I can imagine. And I'm glad you're here to show me everything.” He also didn't mean just for the job, and a look in Jeremy's eyes told him the older man had understood. They shared a smile and then they got back to work.

oOoOo

When Sherlock woke up, he was lying all over Mycroft's chest. Apparently he had crawled onto him during the night. He didn't move but just listened to the heartbeat in the naked chest under his face. Mycroft was still sleeping tightly; his breathing was deep and calm. After a while, Sherlock carefully rolled from his body as he had to use the bathroom quite urgently.

He nonetheless watched his brother for a minute, admiring his beautiful face with the softened features and his body that was still naked. Sherlock's gaze was drawn to this seductive, big part beyond his waistline, and he remembered how he had sucked him. And he knew he would do this a few million times more if Mycroft let him.

Finally he managed to leave the bed and walk into the bathroom as quietly as he could. He used the toilet, and after that he didn't shower to not wake him up but just refreshed himself while standing before the sink. Then he brushed his teeth and returned to the bedroom.

He carefully lay down again but the movement of the bed woke his brother up. "Morning," he mumbled, and Sherlock gently touched his face. He did look a lot better.

"Morning, handsome. How're you feeling?"

"Good, I really do. But I do have to follow your example..."

"Shall I get us breakfast while you're busy?"

"If you're not about to starve, I'd rather wait for a couple of minutes," Mycroft said with a smirk while getting up.

"Oh, I can definitely wait," Sherlock said a little breathily. Whatever his brother had in mind, it would be better than food.

He didn't have to wait long until Mycroft came back to bed. In opposite to Sherlock, he had also shaved, but Sherlock thought he would probably not mind a little stubble.

"You smell very good," Sherlock stated when he had settled next to him.

"I do? And how do I taste?"

"Oh, ravishing..." The thought of the blowjob he had given him made Sherlock get fully hard instantly. Of course the closeness of his naked brother had already had some impact on him.

Mycroft laughed. "That was actually an attempt to make you kiss me..."

"Oh, my bad. Come here..." He would never get over how this was feeling – melting into his brother's mouth, his arms pressed against his back, his legs frantically rubbing over Mycroft's, their cocks grinding against each other. “You're feeling really good now?”

In the next second he was lying flat on his back and Mycroft was all over him. They kissed passionately but when Mycroft's lips started moving over his neck, Sherlock could feel him tense. “I know it's ugly, but it'll soon be gone,” he said quietly.

“It's not ugly, Sherlock, nothing about you is ugly. It just kills me to see how close I was to losing you forever… and to imagine what you've been through, not only then but all this bloody long time…”

“Don't honey, don't dwell on this. Make it better. Erase it.”

“We both know that nothing I could do would make you forget it. You don't forget anything, just like me…”

“Then cover it with some better memories. Cover it with your love.”

“God, Sherlock, I want to.” Mycroft stroked over his face, his eyes full of tears. “But I can't take you. It must hurt.”

“I don't care. If you feel well enough for it, please do it. Forget this let's don't rush it. I need you and I need you now.” His body was shivering in anticipation. He had never made love with a man who loved him. All it had ever been about had been paying a debt of some sorts, leading to nothing else than pain. No matter how sore he still might be, he knew it wouldn’t hurt him this time because the man who would do it to him was all that mattered.

Mycroft looked him in the eyes, and the look was so intense and deep that Sherlock shuddered. “Okay, Sherlock, don't think for a second that I don't want to it. But promise me to tell me if it hurts too much, and I'll stop at once.”

Sherlock nodded. “Yes, brother mine. But I know it won't. I want to be at your hands. And your mouth, and your cock…”

Mycroft grinned but he grew serious at once. “Alright. I'll prepare you very well. And at the slightest hint that you can't take me, I'll be out of you. You know I'd rather cut my dick off than using it as a weapon against you.”

“I guess Tom wouldn't approve if you did that,” Sherlock said and felt his cheeks flush. “Sorry, not a good thing to say now I guess.”

Mycroft sighed. “You can't really live with it, can you, Sherlock? You just suggested it because you thought…”

“No, Mycie, please. I'm fine with it. But of course if you say something about cutting off your dick, it would affect your relationship with him quite a bit.” He grabbed Mycroft's shoulder. “Tom is not a problem, alright? And now come on – show me that you love me.”

And he did. After a long, inquiring look he kissed Sherlock on the lips, and then he let his tongue and mouth explore him in a way that turned Sherlock into a boneless doll of desire and longing for more. When his nipples were sucked at, he moaned and twitched so Mycroft bit him accidentally.

The older man cursed. “Oh, great! And I just said I would never hurt you!”

Sherlock smiled and carded his fingers through his short hair. “It's all fine, Mycie. It just felt so good that it was like a little shock. Go on, please. I love it.”

Mycroft moved upwards to capture his mouth in a deep kiss again and then he continued worshipping his body. He didn't pay attention to his dick though but urged Sherlock to lift up his arse and put a pillow under it after he had reached his groin.

Sherlock kept his eyes close when his cheeks were spread apart by two big, warm hands. He knew what his brother was seeing. A red, swollen, scarred piece of flesh, penetrated violently for way too many times. And he didn't want to see his expression now, didn't want to see sympathy, guilt and regret. He wanted to be desired, not pitied. And so his moan was not only speaking of arousal but of relief when he felt his brother's tongue lapping over the certainly unattractive, wrinkled flesh. He clamped his hands into the sheets when Mycroft continued to lick him – in circles around his entrance and eventually within. His wet tongue cooled the still sore flesh and Sherlock relaxed more and more under his caresses, and when Mycroft put some sticky fluid onto his fingers and prepared him carefully and thoroughly, he couldn't wait to be taken anymore.

He knew he would never forget the moment when his brother's cock slowly pushed against his hole and he finally felt Mycroft inside of him. He had never even dared fantasise of it happening before he'd come back to Musgrave, sure he would never feel him like this. But now Mycroft was prepped up on his elbows on either side of Sherlock, settled deep inside of him, gently, carefully, lovingly moving in him, his eyes fixed on Sherlock's face, and Sherlock opened himself up in every way he could – physically to let him in as deep as possible, and emotionally so his brother could see how much he wanted this and wanted him. Sherlock was fully erect now, his cock being pressed against Mycroft's stomach, rubbing over it and leaking on it at every thrust of his hips.

“I'm fine, Mycie,” he finally broke the silence. “Please give me more. I want you to come in me.” I want you to flood me with your semen and your love and I want to know that this will never change and I won't ever lose you again…

And when Mycroft finally starting pumping into him and their lips met in a long, deep, reassuring kiss, he knew that this was exactly what their future would be like. This was forever and what they had missed and what he had sustained didn't matter anymore. And when Mycroft released himself into him and Sherlock followed him only moments later, he knew that their love for each other was epic and deep and all-encompassing, and nothing and nobody would bring them apart again.

Chapter Text

“This is a great idea - saves us a lot of time,” Greg said with an approving smile and Martha patted Tom's hand in proud agreement.

Mycroft nodded. “Yes, Tom, let's do it this way. One of you puts the ad in the newspaper?”

“Yes, I'll do it,” Greg said. “I'll head into the city now.”

Probably he would visit his doctor-friend while he was there, Sherlock thought with a grin he hid behind his hand.

“I'll come with you,” Tom stood up. “We need some groceries. Martha gave me a list.”

“Fine. Jeremy will take over for me. Would you like to come with us, Sherlock?” the bailiff offered.

Sherlock smiled. “No, thanks. I want to talk to Chris and maybe Liam needs a hand.”

Tom gave him a grateful smile and then the three of them left Mycroft's home office.

Mycroft took his hand and linked their fingers together. “I would like you to attend the interviews, Sherlock. We need people we can trust and rely on.”

“Of course. I do think Tom, Greg and Martha can judge them pretty well, too, but it sounds like fun.” Tom had made the suggestion to set a date for people to introduce themselves for jobs at Musgrave, for all three departments. Butler, bailiff and housekeeper would pick the best candidates. Of course nobody knew how many people would show up. Or were still alive out there… The Grand Fever had cost countless lives, not only in the kingdom. All countries around it had been plagued by the cruel illness as well. But if Sherlock could be of any help at getting new staff members for this household and the property, he would do it with pleasure.

Mycroft smiled. “So you'll be occupied for a while now?”

“Already tired of me, brother mine?” Sherlock asked with raised eyebrows and a deadpan expression.

“No!” Mycroft was all wide eyes. “Of course not! You can stay here with me! I just…”

“… need to call the soon-to-be queen, I know. And I was just kidding.” Sherlock grinned. He felt so stupidly happy. After their first real sex Sherlock had fetched breakfast for them from the kitchen and then they had continued lying in bed, eating, talking and cuddling with each other. Sherlock had refrained from trying to get more sex. Mycroft needed to be fresh for the next day and Sherlock doubted that he was already a hundred percent recovered. And of course someone else would want a piece of him as well. He had been so patient…

Mycroft narrowed his eyes but it was at least eighty percent playful. “Don't do such things to me, Sherlock. You were very convincing…”

Sherlock grinned again. “And I thought you were so good at deducing people. But anyway - after I've spoken with Chris, I'd like to get a feeling for Musgrave again, you know. And maybe go to the library.”

“Sherlock, this is your home. You can go anywhere you want. And as much as I appreciate and admire your help for Tom and Martha – you don't have to do that.” He opened the drawer and took out a piece of paper. “This is yours, Sherlock. Not only this but this is something that belongs only to you and you can access it anytime.”

Sherlock knew what it was. The trust of their grandparents. He took the paper and swallowed at the figure. It was much more than it had been when it had been set up. “Wow… Thank you.”

“Don't thank me, honey. It's all yours.”

“But still I'll do everything necessary in this house, and if Greg needs me, out there as well. I was a dustman, Mycie, and I didn’t mind it. It sucked to be so poor but I was fine with the work. I need to do something.”

“There's so much you can do. You can study or…”

“Maybe later, sometime. I don't want to be pushed to do something so different after I've just come back. I know it's not a posh occupation but…”

Mycroft grabbed his hand harder. “Sherlock! I don't have any intention to push you into any direction you don't want to go! And if you want to help out and you like to do it, it's great! You can go on doing it for the next twenty years if you like. I just meant to say that you can do whatever you want to do. If it doesn't mean leaving me…”

Sherlock was sitting on his lap within four seconds. “I will never leave you again. I promised and I won't. And I know Tom and Martha are the bosses in this house and Greg outside of it, and I won't mess it up with any of them. I'll do what's necessary and if I have some time for myself, I'll read something or ride. I just…” He broke off and sighed. “It sounds so silly…”

“Nothing you say is silly, Sherlock. And it never was.” Mycroft pressed him tight. “Tell me.”

“I'm just so happy to be here - to be with you above everything else - but also to feel like home that much. Much more than I ever did as a child. I had you of course and I've always loved you, but with our parents being like they were and my confusing feelings for you when I grew older, I felt so lost here. Martha caught me and took care of me but still it wasn't feeling like home at all in the end. So when you… said what you said, it was easy to leave it all behind. Leaving you broke my heart but it wasn’t as if I was losing anything else.”

Mycroft looked as if he had punched him and Sherlock hurried to add: “I'm not saying this to make you feel even guiltier than you already do! All I want to say is that it is so different now. I know this all belongs to you and I'm just the little brother but I feel so… safe here… With Tom being so great and Greg and Martha being wonderful, too, and being able to help out wherever I can and feeling useful… I never want to leave again. If I never see the Big City again or any other place in this world, I'll be happy. I could have some bees here or more animals. Of course I might have to go into the city for doing some shopping if Tom needs help; that's no problem. But I'm so glad to feel so… wanted and accepted here. And thanks for not laughing now and for letting me get Chris here, the only one who's left of the people I've known in my other life, and it helps him so much as he's lost it all, and… Mycroft?”

“Just ignore it, darling,” Mycroft said and pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket to wipe over his wet eyes. He swallowed hard. “Sherlock, whatever I could say to this would sound stupid. So I'll only say how much you touched me with what you've just explained to me, and that this is your home as much as it is mine, and everything I have is yours, too. If you want to simply be here for the rest of your life, I'll consider myself the luckiest man in the world. It makes me so grateful that you enjoy being here so much, and I'll never force or even ask you to do something else. And you can have bees and a complete animal shelter if you want; you can have everything you want! Damn, I did say it all…”

Sherlock smiled. “It wasn't stupid in the least. And I'm glad you don't mind me being your housewife that scrubs the floors and cleans the windows if necessary.”

Mycroft smiled back. “You're by far the sexiest housewife I could wish for and you can clean the windows on any given day if that is what you like to do. I love you, and I'm so proud of you, whatever you do.”

They kissed for a long moment. “Sorry to bring this up now, Mycroft…”

“What? Just speak it out.”

“You just said I was the sexiest housewife you could wish for…”

“Well, actually I have two extremely sexy housewives…”

Sherlock laughed. “No, I wasn't referring to Tom even though of course he's indeed exceptionally easy on the eyes. No, but…”

“Oh, that…”

They were both silent for a moment, and Sherlock knew that Mycroft was thinking as well of the day Sherlock had left after their father had told Mycroft to marry Irene to get an heir. And how deeply he regretted what had happened right after this.

“I've never wasted my time by thinking about it,” Mycroft finally said. “It's a simple fact that I won't have any children, and well, you won't either.”

“Certainly not.”

“So perhaps the Holmeses will die out in the end. Well, everything comes to an end. If we are the last in our line, then so it be. There will be somebody else to do my job. I’m pretty sure Anthea will find more people to work with anyway. And we do have some relatives out there to get this house and everything and maybe even be the next counsellor of the queen or king, well, if they survived the Fever... I really don't see a reason why we should bother about it now.”

“Okay, consider this subject finished.” Sherlock kissed him again and stood up. “So we'll both be busy now. And what do you think – when Tom comes back from their little trip, wouldn’t you want to spend some time with him? I know he misses being with you.”

“What did I do to deserve you and all you do and your tolerance to this?”

Sherlock smiled. “You are just the best man of all, Mycie, and so you deserve just the best.” He bent down and kissed him once more. “We'll see each other for dinner, right? And then we'll see who spends the night with you. Or if you want to sleep alone before this important day.”

“It will be a very short ceremony, Sherlock. The priest will let her swear to serve the kingdom and God, and that's about it. But of course there'll be a lot to do and some noble people will be there as well so there'll be a little party I could do without. But I won't work too much on my first day back at the job, I promise.”

“Good! So Tom and I will wrestle and the winner gets to sleep all over you this night.”

Mycroft laughed. “Oh Lord… If I just had a bigger bed, you could join me both. And now go to Chris, my darling, and see how he's doing. And I shall see if our future queen is in panic.”

“I bet she is. Bye for now. I'll send Tom to you if I see him when they come back. I bet he'll drop all the groceries and jump you at once.”

“You are such a phenomenon, Sherlock. You're really not jealous, are you?”

“Perhaps a tiny little bit. But I can live with it. And I'll make sure to only choose ugly servants and workers so you won't get seduced by any of them.”

Mycroft laughed out loud. “Oh, dear me. Two lovers are really enough! And I may already call the two hottest men on this planet my own. There's nothing more to wish for!”

“Well said, brother mine. And if you do touch anyone else, say goodbye to your dick…”

“It may fall off of me if I ever even think of cheating on you two,” Mycroft said with a grin.

“I love you, Mycie. I love you so fucking much,” Sherlock said hoarsely and Mycroft shot up from his chair to embrace him.

“I love you all the same. You're making me so happy.”

“Ditto, brother mine.” They smiled at each other and shared another long, tender kiss, and then Sherlock left the lord alone.

***

“Hey Jeremy, can you tell me where Chris is right now?”

To his surprise Jeremy, who was pushing a wheelbarrow full of stones, blushed. “Oh, he's at the paddock.”

“Thanks. Oh, I see. You're interested in him.”

Jeremy blushed even harder. “Yes, sir, I hope you don't mind…”

“What did I tell you about not calling me sir?” Sherlock asked him with playfully raised eyebrows. “And why would I mind? I think it's great if he returns it…”

“I do think he does but well, you know - we won't rush anything.”

“That's good. And please – be gentle with him.” He wondered if Jeremy's head would explode any second. “I didn't mean physically – I have no idea what he likes and he is how many heads taller and how many pounds heavier than you? – I just meant don't mess with his heart.”

“Sir! I mean Sherlock! I would never do that!” Now he was more pissed off than embarrassed.

Sherlock grinned. “Exactly what I wanted to hear.” He waved at the now carefully grinning man and went off to find his friend.

He watched Chris for a few seconds after he had spotted him. He was carefully combing a huge, black horse; his face looked calm and even happy. And his eyes brightened up when he saw Sherlock after Loki had approached them and was sniffing at the horse's leg. With five long steps he was there and pulled him into a rib-smashing embrace and lifted him up in the air. Loki barked and ran around them excitedly.

“Thank you, thank you – THANK YOU!”

Sherlock laughed out loud but struggled to free himself. “You're so welcome but let me live. I also have my duties to fulfil.” He was gently put back onto his feet.

“Sorry, Sherlock, but I'm just so fucking glad you've brought me here. I love it; it's the best place I've ever been.”

“I'm so happy to hear that. It's strange - I've just told my brother exactly the same. But I didn't try to kill him while doing so.” He grinned and rubbed over his side.

Chris grinned back. “Don't tell him. Sometimes I forget how strong I am.”

“Well, I'm fine, but don't forget it when you put these arms around your future boyfriend…” Chris blushed and Sherlock laughed. “You two could make a who-looks-more-like-a-tomato-contest. It's great, it really is.”

“It totally surprised me. I mean, he's good-looking and everything but he looks totally different to the few men I've made out with. He's so – manly…”

“He definitely is. And he seems to be very decent and reliable.”

“Yeah. I guess that's it. I need someone like him. I need some… Sorry, I can't think of the word…”

“Sex?” Sherlock suggested with a grin.

Chris laughed. “Well, that too and I would have remembered that! No, it was more like…”

“Stability?”

“Yes! That's it! God Sherlock, why have you ever become a dustman?! I get it that you left because of your brother, but that? I mean I've always known you are so much brighter than I am, but I never thought you come from such a… place.”

Environment was the word he'd been looking for, Sherlock figured, but he didn't say anything. “I was totally lost when I left here, Chris. I took drugs and I almost died. And then John Watson came and literally saved me from drowning, and I needed a job to pay my part of the rent and I didn't have any papers as I didn't want my brother to find out where I am. Now I know how stupid I've been. I could have been back and have him so long ago. But anyway – the company didn’t ask for my identity, and I really liked the job. With you guys, being outside, doing something useful, not being forced to think… It was… a relief. I don't know if I can really explain it. Of course there were also bad parts…”

“Who did that to you, Sherlock?” Chris asked and pointed at his throat. His voice sounded threatening.

Sherlock smiled. “He's dead already. It was my landlord. He… was crazy…”

“Tell me, Sherlock.”

Sherlock sighed and as much as he wanted to forget about it, he gave his friend a short summary of the last year and a half with Jim Moriarty claiming more than the rent from him. He concluded with the moment Tom had saved him.

Chris paled more and more. “My God, Sherlock, why did you let him torture you for so long? Why didn't you tell me about it?! I would have gone there and ripped him apart!”

Sherlock was touched. He had never had realised how much Chris seemed to like him. But he had never been open to it in his grief and his pains. “And then what? Go to prison for me? Thank you, Chris, but I just had to cope with it alone. I couldn't move out there because of my friend and… It's all over now. I'm here and I feel safe and I know nobody will harm me anymore.”

“Come here, Sherlock.” Chris took him in his arms very gently this time, and it felt damn great.

They stood like this for quite a while until something pulled on Sherlock's curls. “What?” he asked breathily but Chris laughed out loud and made a step back.

“He likes you!”

Sherlock grinned after turning around to the attacker and gently stroked over the soft nose of the horse. “He's beautiful. What's his name?”

“Big Boy.”

“Definitely fitting!”

“He's everybody's pride here,” Chris said and patted the huge horse's neck. “Sherlock… I can never thank you enough. If you ever need anything, let me know. I'm so deep in your debt.”

“Oh Chris, I should thank you! Greg and therefore Mycroft need help so urgently. Just support them in any way and try to recover. And if you and Jeremy should get together, it would make me very happy.”

“You're great, Sherlock. I always knew that but now I can finally see what kind of man you are.”

“And which kind is that?” Sherlock asked with a smile.

“A man who cares deeply – about your friend you've lost, your brother, about this place, about me and obviously also about this butler I haven't met yet. You could have told your brother to send him away but instead you are sharing him with this guy. If that's not selfless I don't know.”

Sherlock thought about it. Nobody had ever called him selfless. He had suffered for John, yes, but he had owed him this. He shrugged. “He had him before me, Chris. If I hadn't come back, they would have been happy together. Who am I to destroy this? I left that night and I could have come back long ago. I never even tried to find out if Mycroft had changed his mind because I was so sure he hadn't. Had I come back even a year ago, I would have him for myself now. But I didn't, and I would have never done it if Tom hadn't come to my place. And last but not least he saved my life. And I should thank him this by taking it all away from him? I don't know if I would call it selfless but it's not me to deliberately hurt somebody who did so much for me.” Especially someone who is so… sweet.

“You're really special. No wonder your brother loves you. God, I bet this butler loves you, too.”

Sherlock laughed. “He certainly loves me for letting him love my brother. Alright, I think I should leave you to your duties. And I want to catch Tom before they come back.”

“I think I'm hearing a car. Maybe it's them?”

“Oh, great timing. And Chris – if you need anything, let me know! I'm happy that you're here and I'll cross my fingers for you and Jeremy!”

“Thanks, Sherlock. Talk soon?”

“Of course! You can come to the house anytime! Not sure if I'm free then if you know what I mean… But I'll have time for you of course once I'm finished!”

They smiled at each other and then Sherlock hurried to tell Tom to go to Mycroft. He would spend some time in the library now and relax. Everything was just as pleasant as it could get.

oOoOo

It should have been a completely embarrassing situation to be told by his boyfriend's brother and also boyfriend – in the presence of Greg Lestrade - that he should go to meet Mycroft in his office next to the living room - and certainly not for discussing the budget of the household for the next year… But somehow it wasn't. Sherlock said it with a genuine smile and helped him bringing the groceries they needed for the house into the kitchen. He was about to tell Martha that he would take care of them later, but Sherlock said he would do that if Martha was willing to tell him where everything belonged, and of course she agreed.

So Tom just put the heavy carton on the table and then left the kitchen with a grateful smile. He was missing Mycroft so much… He didn't know if the lord would want to get tactile in his office but he hoped for it. They hadn’t had sex for almost two weeks and Tom just needed it. And he needed to be alone with him.

Before he could knock at the door, it was opened. Mycroft stood before him, smiling and looking great. “Oh, I was just about to look if you're back already. Do you have time to come upstairs with me?”

“We'll not talk about the budget for next year, will we?” It was better to be sure before he kept his hopes up too high.

Mycroft laughed. “No, that wasn't on my schedule. Actually talking was not my first priority…”

Tom grabbed for his hand. “What are we waiting for?” His trousers were getting tight already.

“I might not want to take you though,” Mycroft said quietly. “I would like to lie down and let you do the work.”

“Oh God… I'm sure I can handle that.”

Mycroft pressed his hand. “I never doubted that, my dear.”

Tom was out of his clothes quicker than ever before even though he had to struggle a bit with getting his pretty tight trousers over his very hard dick. Mycroft watched him with a grin while he was undressing himself, and he climbed the bed and lay down on his back.

Their mouths crashed together in a kiss that said it all. Tom had missed their intimacy so much and their wild kissing showed him that despite Sherlock's return Mycroft had missed him as well. Heated, slick skin was rubbing over its counterpart, their cocks seemed to be keen on doing a sword fight, and when Tom finally broke the kiss, leaving Mycroft with swollen lips, he was dripping pre-cum in almost scary amounts. He had no intention to shoot all over Mycroft's body though, so he avoided any more friction and proceeded to prepare his lover's hole with his tongue. He wondered if Sherlock had made love to him already. From the look of the skin around Mycroft's entrance he had obviously not topped him.

Tom licked and lapped thoroughly, listening to Mycroft's moans and hoping there wouldn't be a sign of discomfort from him. He wasn't totally convinced that his man had really recovered, and if he got the impression that he was suffering in any way, he would stop at once.

“I'm fine, Tom, don't worry about me.” Mycroft's words were no surprise for Tom. He always seemed to sense what he was thinking. “I want to feel you in me. Give me this huge dick now.”

Tom almost came at once when he slid into his boyfriend's body after preparing him with deft fingers. He stilled and hoped Mycroft wouldn’t clench his muscles now which would have pushed him over the edge at once. But of course again Mycroft knew what he was about and only stroked his face tenderly and gave him a sweet, indulgent smile. Finally he was adjusted to the pressure around his member, and he started moving carefully. Drops of sweat landed on Mycroft's forehead when he pushed into him, and he removed them with his thumb at once. “Sorry,” he mumbled but Mycroft tousled his hair.

“Never say sorry, darling. Give me your dick, and give me your love.”

Tom was close to crying when he finally realised that Mycroft would not drop him. That the sex and the love he was sharing with Sherlock now had not shown him that he didn't need Tom anymore. He still loved him, and he still wanted to share his sexuality with him. As long as Sherlock didn’t change his mind, he would be allowed to be right here – in Mycroft's arms and in his body.

“Sherlock is fine with it, Tom, and this won't change.” Again the lord had read his mind.

“You can't know that,” slipped out of Tom's mouth before he could think about it.

“I do. He's not like that. He's as loyal as they get. And he likes you very much.”

“God, I'm so grateful…” Tom mumbled and they both moaned at an exceptionally deep stroke.

“Believe me Tom – so am I. Love me now, stop thinking about things that won't happen. Show me what your hips can do.”

Tom giggled and Mycroft fell in, and then Tom was filled up with desire, love, relief and the wish to please his man as well as he could. He eventually changed the angle of penetration so his dick was sliding over Mycroft's prostate at every stroke, and when they both came within a gap of not more than thirty seconds and his seed shot up his lover's arse, he mumbled I love you again and again and shuddered when he was pulled into a sticky, hot, wonderful embrace and the beautiful voice of the lord told him the same in a hoarse, genuine tone.

oOoOo

“I swear,” Anthea said, and then the priest put the heavy crown onto her head.

Mycroft was standing right behind her. He was surrounded by about twenty other people – the rest of the people of high noblesse in this kingdom. Without the Fever, there would have been more than three-hundred…

Seeing that small group of people had given him the best impression of what this illness had done to the kingdom. Not only the poor on the streets of Blackchapel had died – the rich had suffered exactly the same. Probably they had died more comfortably in hospitals or their own big houses, but they had died all the same.

He shook off these thoughts and smiled when Anthea, now the queen of the kingdom, turned to him and beamed at him.

When he had arrived three hours before, she had been clinging around his neck at once, so relieved to have him back as a support and so happy that he was healthy again.

“Your butler told me your brother was back,” she had said with sparkling eyes.

“Yes, he is.”

“And the butler is also your boyfriend.” It hadn’t been a question. He had mentioned to her who his lover was before the illness had broken out.

“He is indeed.” Tom had stayed at his side during the night. After dinner Sherlock had said he was fine with sleeping in his childhood bed that night, and Tom had looked so happy.

“He is, not he was…”

And Mycroft had frozen. How could she know about it?

“Oh Mycroft, I've known you since I was a little girl and I always knew that you loved your brother very much and I saw how devastated you were after he had run away,” she had said quietly even though they had been alone. “You love him very, very much…”

Mycroft had bitten his lip. “Yes, I do.”

She had nodded. “I'm so glad you have him now. And that he seems to be exactly as special as I thought… if he allows your butler to stay…”

Mycroft had just nodded, still feeling very tense, his head dizzy from the fact that she knew about him and Sherlock. And then the surviving secretary had knocked to talk about some very urgent matters and they had not talked about it anymore.

“I'm the queen,” Anthea said now, and in a tone as if she still didn't believe it.

“Yes, and you'll be the best ruler we've ever had,” Mycroft said, and he meant it. “Congratulations, Your Majesty.” He bowed before here.

“Thank you. And if you do that and call me that again, you can look for a new job!”

Mycroft laughed. “I may still say Anthea?”

“Of course! Oh, Lady Marble…”

Mycroft stepped back and let her talk to all the people. After that she would go out on the balcony to show herself to the people who had come to the palace to see her waving. He wondered how many would have come…

It took Anthea more than half an hour to accept all the congratulations, and then she took Mycroft's arm. “Come out there with me, please.”

Mycroft swallowed. He had not expected this. “If you want me to…”

“I do! I need you!”

He smiled and then they went onto the high balcony, and they were there – dozens of people, screaming and waving, most of them crying. There would have been thousands before the Fever. But of course – without the Fever, Anthea wouldn't be the queen now…

After another half an hour, they retrieved into Mycroft's office while the guests were receiving some catering that would keep them occupied.

The new queen sat down after taking off the crown. “We have to talk about a few things,” she said.

“I'm at your service.”

“You know this kingdom couldn't exist without you, and I certainly can't,” she started and he froze. Somehow this sounded as if a but was about to come… But I can't allow you to break the law by having a sexual relationship with your brother… But I will try to exist without you if you don't break up with him…

“But I've decided to give you more free time.”

“Sorry what?”

“You can read reports and write letters and everything very easily from home,” she continued. “I can call you after all if I need your advice, and we'll sort out a time when you should be open for taking calls. But besides that, I think that, if you want that of course, you can work only until lunch or a bit longer and do the rest from home.”

“But, why…”

“I do think you can use the time, especially now… But not only because of that. My father was a very selfish man to force you to stay here all day, every day. You have a property and employees to take care of, and I won't even mention your new occupations…”

He cringed at that but this was too good. “Wow, that… Are you sure?”

Anthea laughed. “Of course I am. As much as I enjoy your presence – and I hope you know how much I not only depend on you but also like you – there's no slavery in this kingdom. Agreed?”

“Yes! I mean – if something really important is happening and you need me here…”

“… I'll be happy if you stay, of course. But there won't be cases like that too often. I don't plan to start any wars with anybody! Okay, fine. Next thing: I've made a list with things that need to be changed as soon as possible. There are not that many people left to be reigned, but I want to help the ones that are still out there. If you think it's fine as it is, this will be law respective being started from tomorrow on.”

Mycroft took the piece of paper out of her hand and started to read. She wanted a complete renovation of Blackchapel and Spit Fields. More police, more helpers on the streets. More financial aid for the poor all over the kingdom… She had written down a long list of things that would make many people a lot happier and he read it all with an approving smile and reassuring nods throughout. But then he came to the last point that said:

Sexual relationships between consenting same sex relatives like siblings are legal as long as both partners are of age.

He was speechless. “Oh…” He remembered Sherlock's suggestion to ask her for this. And now she had done it by herself.

She laid a hand on his arm. “It's the very least I can do for you after all you've done for this kingdom and after all you've been through all these years without him. Of course nobody would dare arrest you for it, let's face it. Don't know what my father would have done but… Anyway. From now on it's legal. Actually it never made any sense anyway as you are both male.”

“I don't know what to say but thank you,” he whispered.

She smiled widely. “Fine! You're very welcome. And now let's talk about the other stuff on the list, and then you can go home to celebrate a bit... God, you look so adorable with red cheeks!”

oOoOo

“Legal…” Sherlock mumbled, and not for the first time.

Mycroft smiled at him. “Yes, love. It was her idea and from tomorrow on, this might still be naughty, but it's not forbidden anymore.”

“I don't want to wait until tomorrow!”

Mycroft laughed. “I never said you must! Would you hand me one glass? Thank you. A toast on Queen Anthea, the woman that made incest history. At least our sort of incest.”

They clinked their glasses and Sherlock took a gulp of the champagne. What a day… He had helped Martha in the kitchen and cleaned the floors and now they had a new queen and he was in bed with his brother who had come home in the middle of the day to tell him their love was no longer illegal. Of course the normal people out there would still think it was disgusting and wrong, but it was not against the law and this had to be very important for his brother.

“Do you like it?”

“What? Oh, the champagne. I'm sure it's good. I used to drink cheap red wine and I liked it, too,” Sherlock replied with a grin.

“From now on you can have the finest wines you want.”

“Well, that is very nice but right now I have a different sort of fluid on my mind…”

Mycroft shook his head with a grin and put their glasses on the nightstand. Then he got on all fours. “I think you should start in this position. It's easier to access me.”

Sherlock was kneeling behind him within the blink of an eye, his rapidly hardening dick snuggling into the inviting crack. It would be the first time for him. He had never topped somebody and he couldn't wait to be in his brother's arse.

“Okay, as tempting as it might be to enter me at once…”

Sherlock froze and then pulled back. “Mycie, I would never do that!”

Mycroft turned around and took him in his arms. “Oh God, forgive me… I only wanted to say that you can prep me up with the lubrication on the nightstand but that came out so stupid. I'm sorry…”

“No, don't be! I just want to say that I never want to hurt you.” Like I've been hurt before… He wondered if he would ever be able to store the memories of what Jim had done to him so deeply away that they didn't pop up all the time…

“I ruined everything,” Mycroft said in a flat voice. “Now you're thinking of this monster just because I said something so stupid; as if you didn't know that you had to open me up first…”

“Alright, no, please… Can we just start this again? Go on your knees, darling, and I won't rub my dick in your crack before you're ready for me. Just do it, please.”

“Okay…” Mycroft returned into his position, and Sherlock spread his firm cheeks and then he started licking him in between.

“Oh yes, that's so good. You like to do that?” This wasn’t a teasing questions – he seriously wanted to know if Sherlock was enjoying himself or if he was doing it only for Mycroft's pleasure.

“I love it. I love your taste and I love to be so close to you.” Sherlock managed to insert his tongue into the quivering hole. He also did this for the first time, and he loved it… He licked Mycroft until he was shivering, and then he slipped one wet finger into him as carefully as he could. He could see that Mycroft was used to being penetrated and so he dared push his dick against the pleasure-door soon after.

There was no way to describe this feeling. When his knob was sucked into this incredibly tight heat, he moaned so loudly that it was probably audible down in the kitchen. He grabbed his brother's slim hips tightly and then he started moving slowly, supported by Mycroft who gave him gasps and encouraging words all the time.

He fucked him with closed eyes, all concentrated on the feeling and the noises, and he came sooner than he wanted but he didn’t fight it. They would do this again and again and he would cherish every single time. But now it was time to let go and just melt into this feeling of satisfaction and completion. Because this was more than sex. It was merging into each other. He cried out when he reached his climax and the knowledge that Mycroft was feeling his semen shooting into his body with countless spurts made him come even harder.

He didn’t dwell on this feeling for long though as he was eager to make Mycroft come as well. He gently pushed him onto his back and then he was sucking him hard, taking in all he could, and he enjoyed Mycroft's hard grip in his neck, his shivers and the noises of pleasure he was making, and then his cry matched his own when he released himself into Sherlock's mouth. Sherlock swallowed it all and then licked the red, twitching dick thoroughly until there was no sperm left in any wrinkle.

He laid his head on Mycroft's chest and snuggled against his sweaty skin. “I loved to do that, thank you, big brother.”

“I loved it too, Sherlock, and you can do that anytime.”

“Will we have sex now until dinner and then Tom will take over?” Sherlock teased him.

Mycroft moaned. “Oh dear… And now that I'll come home earlier almost every day, you'll have even more time to wear me out.”

“You will wish you still had to work ten hours a day.” It felt so good to bicker around with him like this…

Mycroft chuckled. “I love you, Sherlock, and if you and Tom want to kill me by having sex with me, I'll die a happy man at least.”

“Don't worry, we won't. But one more round…?”

The lord shook his head with closed eyes and a grin. “Give me ten minutes and you can have me again.”

“Only if you feel good enough. Perhaps we should wait until you're really…”

“I'm fine, Sherlock, don't worry about me. The Fever has gone without doing any lasting damage to me. But remember I'm seven years older than you. I might need more time to be able to get it up again. But once I am, I'm all yours.”

“Mine and Tom's. He'll kill me if I sucked you dry before he can have you.”

“Are you really…”

“Yes, Mycie. I'm totally fine with it.” Sherlock kissed his left nipple. “And since I like him so much, I won't make you come again. You'll just make me spurt with your mouth, what do you think?”

“That you are selfless to him and cruel to me.”

Sherlock laughed. “We'll have so much fun, won't we?”

“Oh yes, Sherlock. And you're ready again, aren't you?”

“Mmm, yes.”

“Okay, then give me your dick and I'll see what I can do for it…”

Chapter Text

“Cooking? No. But you can tell me how, no?” This question was accompanied by the noise of a bubble-gum that had been chewed for way too long.

Sherlock looked over to Tom and they shared a look of disbelief. Greg was sitting next to them with a fascinated expression plastered on his handsome face.

Martha cleared her throat. “Well, yes but… What about cleaning and washing?”

The blonde girl wrinkled her tiny nose. “Um, must I?” She blinked under long lashes, sticky with mascara.

“You are aware that we're looking for maids, aren’t you?” Sherlock asked her with raised eyebrows.

“Yes, but I can do other things. I heard somewhere that the lord is a bachelor!”

Sherlock caught Tom's gaze again and then Greg's and all three of them burst out laughing.

Mrs Hudson patted the girl's hand. “I'm afraid these special services are not required here.”

“But all the boys say I'm very good at it!”

Sherlock had enough. “Okay, next one!”

It had been Greg's idea to let all the candidates for the various positions in house and property come together on the large lawn behind the house. They were interviewing each of them together, sitting behind a table that Chris and Jeremy had brought from the house, and one by one was called to join them with discreet distance to the waiting people who had been provided with water, soft drinks and biscuits.

So far they had found four guys for Greg, two servants for Tom and three maids; Martha's grandniece Gemma had already started working for them as her masters had died of the Fever. All of them needed one more person. Greg had originally looked for more but it had turned out that Chris could work for three people… Sherlock was very proud of him and quite proud of himself to have brought him to Musgrave.

The next one to sit down in front of them was a gentle-looking man in his late thirties. Tom made a gesture to Greg.

“Hello, Mr…”

“Bauer, sir, Ben Bauer.”

“Hello Mr Bauer. So you are looking for a new position? In the house as a servant or for the grounds?”

“The latter I would say. I'm stronger than I look and I can work hard.”

This sounded good but something was fishy about him. Sherlock tried to deduce him but somehow it didn't work. They vibes he got from him were just too contrarious.

“Are you currently working somewhere?”

“Um, no. I had a few problems at my former house.”

Sherlock and Tom shared another look. That sounded very promising…

“Oh, did you? What kind of problems?” Greg asked cautiously.

“Um, you know. I do tend to get a bit… upset sometimes.”

“Could you be a little more specific?” Greg's voice was a bit unsure now.

Ben Bauer narrowed his eyes. “Okay, yes! I turn green and then everything explodes!”

When they had complimented him away – Greg was a little green around his nose himself when he had finally left – they found a huge guy named Jack Jackson for him, and then a brown-haired woman around forty took place. Her clothes were perfect, her makeup was flawless but Sherlock found the look in her eyes a tad disturbing. She looked like the perfect housekeeper but not exactly very likable…

“I’m Mrs Prudence Bonfire, and I can cook, I can stitch and dust will be a distant memory once I've started working for you,” she said before Martha had the chance to ask her anything.

“Oh, that… sounds good,” Martha said with a hopeful yet slightly frightened smile.

“I'm very good! But is this a decent house?”

“I'm sorry?”

“I can't work anywhere with people who can't behave or do disgusting things,” the woman hissed.

“What exactly are you referring to?” Tom asked her. “People who, I don't know, spit on the carpet?”

“No! Nobody does that! But I can't be around men who touch other men or kiss them! It makes me sick!”

Sherlock could see Tom cringe. He shared a quick look with Greg who was looking rather shocked, and then he turned to the butler and cupped his cheek and kissed him firmly on the lips. “Like that?” he asked when he had let the gasping young man go.

“Oh my God!” The chair dropped when she shot up and ran away.

“Alright, I guess she wasn't quite the right person. You okay, Tom?”

“Um, yes, um…” Tom's face was dark-red and his expression was something between hurt and total embarrassment and a little pleasure.

“Okay. It's not as easy as I thought,” Sherlock admitted. He was very good at deducing people but as there had been so many in such a short time, his brain seemed to struggle with getting adjusted to the various types of people.

“It's scary,” Greg mumbled. He could have gone as he had gotten all the guys he had been looking for, and Sherlock appreciated that he stayed to support the others.

“Alright, the next one,” Tom said loudly. He seemed to have recovered from the insult and Sherlock's kissing-attack.

A man in his early forties took place, dressed in a suit. He was good-looking and a high intelligence was sparkling in his eyes. Sherlock didn’t like him.

“My name is Kevin Sultry. I would like to work as a servant.” His voice sounded sexy. Seductive. Sherlock liked him even less.

“Good,” Tom said. “You did that before?”

“Oh yes. I was a butler in a very good house. But they are all dead now.”

“Oh, yes, I see. You got any certificates?”

“Here they are.”

Tom glanced over them. “This looks very good. But I am the butler - I hope that's no problem for you.” The man was twenty years older than him.

“Not at all. I think we can be good friends besides the work.” He winked at Tom and gave him a smile he surely thought was seductive.

Sherlock couldn't believe it. This guy was hitting on Tom right here?

Tom blushed. “Um, that's nice but…”

“I'm very good at fucking, you know? And I can see you have a big dick. So do I…”

“Okay, I would tell you where the door is but as there is none, just go, alright?” Sherlock said.

Mr Sultry narrowed his eyes. “Oh, I see. He's fucking with you already.”

Martha looked as if she was about to pass out, and Greg's mouth was opened so widely that Sherlock could see all his teeth. And Tom looked as if he was about to crawl into a hole.

Sherlock grinned. “As a matter of fact, he's fucking with the lord. Be careful that you don't stumble and fall when you leave!”

Finally the man got up and grabbed his certificates. When he was gone, Sherlock looked over to the others. “Well, this is a very interesting morning, isn't it?”

oOoOo

“So we have everybody we need?” Mycroft asked with a smile. His arms around Sherlock's waist felt so damn good.

“Yes,” Sherlock said. “It was a lot of fun to choose them.” In the end Martha and Tom had found the missing candidates.

Mycroft grinned. “There were a few crazy people among them, right? Tom looked a tad disturbed when I saw him.”

“Oh yes. One of them wanted to get into his pants and he wasn't shy in expressing it… And we've almost found a wife for you but she was too young. And one of them didn't accept no for an answer and didn’t want to go. He was huge.” He had come right before the end and he'd had a face only a mother could have loved. If at all… But that hadn't been the problem. The problem had been his long police record…

“And what happened?” Mycroft sounded a bit worried.

“I waved at Chris and he came over and convinced him to leave.”

“Do I want to know how?”

Sherlock grinned. “He just put his hand on his neck and said he would break it if he was still around in ten seconds. He wasn't.”

“Thank God I've missed that,” Mycroft mumbled. “I hope you managed to filter out all the lunatics.”

“Oh, we agreed all four on each of the people we hired. So I guess we can be rather sure we chose the right ones. How was your day?” He playfully grabbed the collar of Mycroft's posh jacket and snuggled against his neck.

Mycroft kissed him. “Very pleasant. I knew she would be a good queen, but she surpasses my expectations.”

“That's great. And it's also great you can come home earlier now.”

On most of the past days Mycroft had managed to be home around four. That gave him time to relax before dinner and have some cuddle sessions with either Sherlock or Tom, and he would spend the evening and the night with the other one then. The arrangement was working perfectly, even though Sherlock couldn't deny that he was thinking about them when he was lying in his childhood bed alone, and he was sure Tom was doing the same in the nights he was sleeping on his own. But Sherlock wouldn’t call it jealousy – he liked Tom way too much for it. It was more – curiosity…

“Yes, I definitely like being home so early. Especially as I'm so eagerly awaited by the two most wonderful men in the world.”

“Flattery will get you anywhere, Mycroft. Straight into my pants for example!”

Mycroft laughed out loud. “Alright then, little brother. Show me what you have to offer.”

***

It was still tough to kiss Sherlock's throat. The handprints were not that dark and prominent anymore, but they had not gone, and every time Mycroft saw them he shivered deep inside. The guilt he was feeling would never really leave him – he knew it.

Sherlock had nightmares. He would wake Mycroft by struggling and mumbling in his sleep, and often enough he hissed the name Moriarty while was dreaming, the tone full of fear and pain.

Mycroft had assured himself that this monster was really dead. He had called a high profile policeman he knew and had asked him to investigate if the body that had been found in Sherlock's flat had really belonged to James Moriarty, who, he had learned this with disgust, had been a murderer who had gotten out of prison because of a good lawyer who had found failures in the trial. His beloved baby brother had been at the hands of a murderer for more than a year… Had been raped by him countless times and in the end he had almost been killed by him… The thought was killing Mycroft

His police contact had done him the favour and had let him know that it was a hundred-percent certain that this criminal was dead. He had suffered from progressed Fever; he'd had swollen ankles and armpits and the policeman had said that it had been a miracle that he had lived that long at all.

Mycroft had not told Sherlock about it. If Sherlock ever mused in his presence if his former landlord had indeed died, he would tell him. But he was sure that this wouldn't really shoo the nightmares away. Only his love could maybe achieve this eventually. He would definitely do his best. And now their love was even sanctioned by the law. It was legal for them to love each other, and for some reason this meant a lot to Mycroft. In the eyes of the people out there their love was still wrong and immoral, but he didn’t give a damn about that. It wasn't against the law anymore, and it gave him an inner peace that he also didn’t mention to his brother, but he was pretty sure Sherlock knew it anyway.

He moved downwards on Sherlock's body, letting his mouth ghosting over his pale chest. He was so thin. Tom was slim and well-trained with strong chest muscles and a ripped stomach, but Sherlock was, albeit toned from working physically for so many years, extremely skinny. His ribs were too visible, his hip bones were sticking out even more than his cheekbones. Mycroft tried to force himself not to compare his two lovers whenever he was making love with either of them. And how crazy was this anyway – two lovers! All his life he had almost lived completely without sex, and now he had two boyfriends he was sharing tremendous physical pleasures with, not even mentioning the fact that he loved them both dearly.

In any way he failed in not comparing them. It was just impossible not to do it. They had so much in common – they had curly hair, eyes that frequently changed their colour between blue and green; they were both tall and long-legged with round, firm bottoms and big dicks. But Tom's nipples were developed stronger, and he was way more muscular than Sherlock as he used to train with weights in his room.

“He's much more handsome than me, I know,” Sherlock mumbled when Mycroft was kissing his way down his flat stomach.

Mycroft looked up, feeling terrified. “No, Sherlock, how can you say that? You are both exceptionally beautiful.”

“He looks way manlier than me, and I bet he could lift you up.”

“He might be stronger but first, I don't long for being carried around, and secondly, if you get used to Martha's good, healthy food more, you'll gain some weight quickly, and I'll get you some weights if you want to build up muscles. And listen – only if you want that! I love you exactly as you are; the only reason why I would appreciate you being a little heavier is because I'm afraid I could hurt you or you could get hurt when you work. I want you to be healthy and happy, this is all I long for, and you're beautiful as you are.”

Sherlock smiled at him. “Thank you, love. But perhaps I'll ask Tom if he lends me his weights; I know he uses some.”

“I'm sure he'll do that so you can try it out. I'll build you an entire gym if you want, Sherlock, no problem. You could work out there together.”

“That's a great idea! Yes, please!”

Mycroft laughed. “Very well! I'll take care of this first thing tomorrow morning. And I'd better prepare myself for being carried around…”

“I can't wait to do that,” Sherlock said with a wink. “But I've interrupted your lovely efforts. Go on, please.”

And Mycroft did this with pleasure. He licked over the blade-like hipbones and sucked at each of them, just to show Sherlock that he loved him the way he was. And it was actually rather exciting to do that… Of course things became even more exciting when he sucked Sherlock's hard, wet cock instead. He did it slowly and deliberately, paying special attention to the leaking slit, enjoying Sherlock's gasps and moans of total pleasure.

When Sherlock had eventually climaxed into his mouth, he urged him to lift up his legs so he could access his luring entrance. And again he was confronted with the results of Moriarty's crimes against his brother. The skin around his hole was so scarred and a bit loose from his ruthless, unprepared penetrations. The wounds from the final rape were healed now so he was hopeful to not hurt Sherlock when he would enter him. But it killed him to see this. He didn't let Sherlock see his feelings but he was sure Sherlock knew it anyway. Of course Sherlock was self-conscious about the way he was looking, especially because he was sharing his brother with a man who was sheer perfection. Not that Sherlock knew that but he seemed to guess it.

To Mycroft they were both beautiful to say the least, but it pained him to see what Sherlock thought were his flaws. Instead they were the results of his actions, of punishing himself for his - as he must have thought – unwelcome and unwanted feelings for him, Mycroft. Because why else had he not left this house and moved somewhere where his landlord would not demand sexual favours from him? Why else had he stuck to this poor ex-soldier who had to numb his pains with drugs? Sherlock had clearly endured this all because he had thought he didn’t deserve it any better so in the end it was all Mycroft's fault…

He tried to blank this all out and he put all his emotions into pleasing his brother by licking him out as well as he could. Sherlock was hard again already when he was slowly sinking into him after having taken his time with preparing him, their eyes locked, their pulses racing, their lips meeting for deep, sensual, promising kisses. He enjoyed being embraced by his brother while they were so intimately connected, while he was so deep inside of him. He rode Sherlock with first careful and then deep and strong thrusts until Sherlock came again all over his stomach. And then Mycroft allowed himself to let go and climax in his body, and when he had spent himself, he lowered his weight very carefully on Sherlock's pretty sticky body, snuggling against his neck, mumbling words of love and receiving some from him as well.

He would make Sherlock happy with all he could. He couldn’t make him forget his nasty past or his own failures. But he would do all that was in his power to ensure that from now on there would be only nice memories.

oOoOo

Chris and Jeremy had had a pretty tough day. After the interviews, Greg had asked them to show the new guys in; or he had asked Jeremy and told Chris that he could join them. He hadn’t exactly winked at Chris when he had said this, but even Chris, who was well aware that he wasn't overly intelligent, had understood that Greg Lestrade knew about their developing feelings for each other and didn't mind them at all. Of course he would probably mind if they fucked around in their work time, but Chris was rather sure that Jeremy wouldn't be up to that anyway, even if Chris was crazy enough to initiate it.

So far nothing had happened between them but they've become really good friends even though Jeremy was rather shy in his presence. That said enough anyway – he didn’t appear to be shy under any other circumstances…

Now the new men had left to get their stuff; all of them would start working the next day.

“And, what do you say? Are they all okay?” Greg asked Jeremy. They were standing in front of the stable where they had just guided the horses back in.

“Yes, definitely,” the dark-haired man said with a firm nod. “They asked intelligent questions and they all seem to be very keen on working hard.”

“Sounds great. If they're just half as good as you are, Chris, I'll be very happy.”

Chris felt his cheeks blush. “Oh, thank you.”

“Well, no reason to thank me! I would have needed three more people if Sherlock hadn't brought you here. You're a damn good worker. You are, too, Jeremy, but I hope you know that.”

Jeremy blushed as well. “Thanks, I do my best.”

“I don't expect anything else! And now you two have the rest of the day off. Whatever has to be taken care of, I'll do it. Just relax for a while. Or whatever you want to do…”

Jeremy blushed even harder but Chris grinned. “Thank you, Greg. I'll just read a bit.”

Greg laughed. “Whatever makes you happy. And remember – you'll have to be fresh in the morning so don't go to bed too late.”

“We won't.” Chris watched his likable boss leave and grinned. “Alright. Do you have any interesting books I could borrow?”

Jeremy grinned. “Not really. But listen, um, what you did earlier - it was great.”

“What do you mean?”

“How you grabbed this man's neck and didn't do anything but say one sentence to him and he just ran away… It was awesome…”

“Oh, that. I could have hit him and I would have if he'd become dangerous for Sherlock or Martha, but sometimes you just have to sound tough and smile and it's enough.”

“Well, as short as I am, it wouldn't work for me…”

“You look very strong though?”

Jeremy smiled. “I am but before I came here, nobody really respected me. I was never anyone's boss and I've never thought I could be a deputy bailiff.”

“Well, all of my bosses are just great I have to say. Especially you…”

They looked into each other's eyes, and Chris felt that he was ready. His son was still gone and he was grieving, but then – he would always do. He was still young and had a future, and he couldn't spend it with working and grieving alone. He was ready to start something new besides the job. And he knew Jeremy wanted it as well.

“You're great, too, Chris. I… would like to know you better,” Jeremy said very quietly.

“Well, so do I! What do you say – shall we go into our rooms and take a shower and then meet in yours? I'm sure it's neater than mine… We could just talk a bit? Or… cuddle…?” They were living in two separate little houses next to each other. Jeremy was living in his one alone at the moment…

Jeremy looked as if he was about to pass out. “Oh, that… would be lovely…”

“Great! In half an hour?”

“Yes, and… I really can't wait…”

Neither could Chris, and when they smiled at each other he knew that despite his huge loss, something beautiful was about to begin.

***

Jeremy hurried into the shower and then shaved as thoroughly as he could. It was still hard to believe for him that this gorgeous man was interested in him. He had never seen anyone that handsome. Of course, Tom was very pretty, as well as the lord's brother and the lord himself, but Chris, huge and unbelievably muscular, with blond hair and these deep-blue eyes was the epitome of attractiveness for him. He looked like a bloody god!

What he should find in him, Jeremy, was a mystery to him. He tried to appear self-confident in his presence but in fact he was shit scared. He looked into the mirror, and saw a face that at best could be described as ruggedly handsome; enough people had called it ugly and they'd had every right to do so. He looked older than he was with the wrinkles around his eyes and his mouth. His nose had been broken too many times and it showed. He liked his eyes that were also blue but not nearly as stunning as Chris' eyes. He was muscular but he was short. Well, in height at least. He wasn't exactly short down there… At least one thing he didn't have to have complexes about. But of course he would be the bottom in this relationship – if there would ever be a relationship. Chris did seem to like him, but… would he really want this?

He startled when someone knocked on the door so hard that he feared it would break. “Come in.”

“Hi!” Chris said with an adorably shy smile before he entered Jeremy's realm. “Wow, it's really neat,” he said after looking around. “I'm here for only a couple of days but my room already looks as if someone had looked for gold in it.”

Jeremy laughed. “That's alright. There's no room controlling here. You can live the way you want to live.”

“That's a relief. I would be so fucked if it was controlled.”

“Sit down, please.” Jeremy pointed at one of two armchairs. His grandfather had given them to him. They were not expensive; they were just old chairs that were in good shape. But they meant a lot to him so he had brought them to every place he had moved into.

But Chris hesitated. “If you don't mind… Can we go to your bed?”

“My… bed?”

“Well, my back hurts a bit. I think I've pulled a muscle in my lower back when we brought the table back into the house.”

“Oh dear, you should have told me! Come, lie down – I'll give you a massage. I have some orange oil that is really good. I'll just get a few towels.”

I'm going to touch him now was ghosting through his head when he hurried into the bathroom. He shushed the thoughts away as this was about helping Chris, nothing else. He fetched the massage oil and two towels and returned into his room and almost dropped everything when he saw Chris. He was still wearing black jog pants but he was bare-chested. And he looked like a marble statue, just more muscular and way livelier. His nipples were darker than he had expected and very big. They cried for being sucked at… Jeremy got hard instantly.

“Where…,” he stammered, “…exactly does it hurt?”

Chris pointed at his back, just above his waist. “Here. Shall I lie down now? Give me the towels?”

“Oh, sorry, I'll put them onto the bed.”

He swallowed when Chris was lying flat on his bed, his eyes gazing into Jeremy's. With shaking legs, the older man straddled Chris' huge thighs, which wasn't exactly easy, especially because he didn't want to press his erect cock against them, and rubbed some drops of the precious oil into soft skin over extremely hard muscles.

“Yes, that feels good,” Chris mumbled. “A little deeper, please… Oh, yes… That's really helpful. And now….”

Two seconds later, Jeremy found himself lying flat on his back, his arms pinned on the mattress. “Your back didn't really hurt, did it?” he whispered, fearing that his erection would burst his jeans any second.

“It did,” Chris assured him. “I might have exaggerated the pain a bit though.”

“But why? You could have just asked!”

“Asked for what? Feeling your warm, strong hands on my back? For getting a kiss?” Chris asked very quietly.

“Do you want a kiss?” Jeremy managed to ask back.

“Oh, yes…”

And then Chris lowered his upper body, carefully lying down on him, and his heavy weight felt so bloody good… And then they kissed, and Jeremy decided that his doubts about his attractiveness could go to hell. Chris was as hard as he was, and he wanted him, and that was all that mattered now…

Their lips appeared to be made for each other. Their tongues seemed to love dancing with each other, and eventually Chris started kissing and licking his throat. Jeremy wondered how far they would go at their first time. And then he froze. If Chris undressed him…

The blond giant seemed to sense that something was wrong. “What? Shall I stop? Is it too soon?”

“No, I want it. I like you so much and you're so stunning. But… you might… find me ugly…” How could he have forgotten about it? But when did he have sex the last time? It felt like ages… and nobody had seen it since then. And it wasn’t as if he could see it himself…

“Ugly? Not one part of you is ugly.” Chris stroked over his face, and it felt heavenly.

“Thank you. But if you see my back… you might be turned off…”

Chris sat up. “Show me. Let's get it over with.”

“But…”

“Please. We don't have to do anything you don't feel good about. But I don't want anything to be between us. I know I won't find your back ugly in any way and the sooner I can tell you that in a way you believe me, the faster you'll feel good about yourself and then we can just… explore each other. Because I fucking like you, too. In fact I think I'm in love with you.”

“God, Chris… I'm so happy. Okay… Let's see if you still think the same way after you've seen me.”

Jeremy left the bed and undressed his upper body, facing Chris all the time, who gave him an encouraging smile. He was prepped up on his elbow and watched him approvingly. Jeremy did like his chest. It was slightly hairy and very well developed, and he had perfect abs and pecs. But then he turned around after taking a deep breath, and he prepared himself for Chris telling him he couldn’t touch him.

“Oh, fucking hell!” he heard Chris behind him and closed his eyes.

He could feel tears shooting into them. And he heard Chris getting up, and a moment later huge, warm hands were sliding over the ugliest part of his body, and lips brushed over his neck and shoulder.

“Who did that to you and where do I find him so I can kill him?” he heard Chris whisper in a pained voice against his ear, and he shuddered when Chris kissed him right on his back many times.

He couldn’t suppress a sob, but it was pure relief. He felt embarrassed nonetheless to appear so weak. Surely Chris couldn't find that attractive. Then he was gently turned around and pressed against Chris' huge chest; his long arms embraced him tightly and his hands caressed his back.

“Tell me, Jeremy,” he whispered. “Who?”

“My father,” Jeremy brought out. “My stepfather to be precise. He hated me, and he hit me with… a belt almost every day, always on my back. But he died years ago, and so did my mother who always watched him doing it and never said anything against it. And the funny thing is – when I had showered before I looked in the mirror and thought that you couldn't find me handsome, but I didn't think of my back at all even though of course I could feel the scars when I washed it, but I'm so used to it. My face is bad enough but this…”

“Jeremy, look at me!”

He looked up to the much taller man.

“Did you feel good with me so far? Not only in the last minutes but before?”

“Oh, yes, of course. I… fell in love with you right at the start…”

Chris smiled but grew serious at once. “And do you trust me?”

“Yes. Totally.”

“Then trust me when I say that all I feel when I see your back is hot wrath for the man who did that to you and for your bitch of a mother who let him do it. Nothing of you is ugly and I want to make you feel good and sexy, because you are sexy and I want to do everything with you. I don't have much experience with men because I never really dared to. I don't know why. I did suck some dicks but nobody ever topped me. But with you I want to know how everything is. I want to take you and I want you to take me. Is that okay for you?”

Jeremy didn't answer. Instead he slung his arms around Chris' mighty neck and jumped in the air, and Chris grabbed his thighs with a laugh and then he laid him back onto the bed and there was no need for talking anymore for the next two hours. In this time Jeremy found out that everything of Chris was huge and that he had a big talent for sucking dick. And Jeremy showed Chris to his obvious pleasure that he didn’t only love worshipping his giant cock but also licking his virgin hole, and after Chris had returned the favour thoroughly, he shoved his huge appendage into Jeremy's arse and rode him into the highest highs of physical satisfaction, and Jeremy couldn't have cared less about the looks of his back. When Chris had released himself into him with a cry that echoed from the walls, he told him how beautiful he was and that he loved him, and soon after that Jeremy shot his massive load over the bed equally loudly while Chris masturbated him so firmly that it was the most painful pleasure and the sweetest pain he had ever experienced. And Jeremy knew this was just the beginning and he couldn't wait for more. He just hoped that Greg wouldn't mind that he wouldn’t be able to sit on a horse for at least two days…

Chapter Text

Sherlock had spent the morning with helping out in the house as usual. He and Tom had showed in the new guys and Tom had told him everything about the wine cellar. After that they had beaten the big carpets from the hallway together. Sherlock had showered afterwards as he'd been dusty all over. Now he joined Tom and Martha in the kitchen.

“Oh, look at you - your cheeks are so rosy!” Martha said and handed him a cup of tea.

“Yeah, I've worked him into the ground,” Tom said with a grin.

“Mycroft did that this morning already,” Sherlock said and winked at them. His brother had gone to the palace later this day as he would stay longer. The queen had asked him if he minded if she found herself two more counsellors, and she had invited five candidates to the palace and wanted Mycroft to help her choosing the right ones. She had been afraid he would take this as an affront, but in fact it was just to take some pressure off Mycroft's shoulders and he didn't mind it at all. He had said he would sooner or later be allowed to take some days off he could spend at home then, and all three of them were looking forward to this.

But since Mycroft had had more time in the morning, they had made love for almost an hour after waking up. Every time they shared their sexuality made it easier, better, more intimate, deeper and hotter. They had started with simultaneous blowjobs and then taken turns in topping each other, and Sherlock had loved every single second.

“Oh, so much work on one day - poor, exploited boy.” Tom took a sip from his tea.

Sherlock did the same. “Listen Tom… Do you have some time now?”

“Sure! I always have time for you. Do you need help on anything?”

“Well, I… haven’t been on the cemetery yet. I've never seen my father's grave, and I want to see John's and Molly's, too. But I would like to have some company when I go there. Except for you, Loki, of course,” Sherlock said and tickled his dog's head.

“Of course I'll come with you.” Tom drank up, and so did Sherlock. “Right now?”

“If you don't mind?”

“No, of course not. I'll just let Liam know.”

“Fine, thank you. I'll wait for you outside.”

Five minutes later they were walking over the property together, along with Loki. It was a beautiful, warm day, and both Sherlock and Tom were wearing light trousers and t-shirts. Mycroft had told Tom he didn't have to bother with wearing suits anymore, especially on hot summer days. Sherlock had thrown in that this would also save time as Tom would be naked quicker.

They kept silent until they had reached the huge ground with the gravestones.

“My God, so many,” Sherlock mumbled. It was a beautiful place actually – surrounded by high trees, flowers were everywhere, and he even spotted two red-brown squirrels… But still it was a place for the dead. All of Sherlock's ancestors had ended here; most of the gravestones were old and weathered. But there were many new graves as well.

“Yeah, every worker is buried here, too. If their families didn't claim them. But your parents are over there. Oh well, you must know that of course, sorry.”

The monument for them and Eurus was hard to miss. Sherlock slowly approached it, looking at the inscriptions for his mother, his sister and his father. He asked himself how he was feeling about the fact that he had not seen his father again, that the old lord had died without knowing if Sherlock was dead or alive. But of course he hadn't cared. He had never searched for him…

“It must be hard,” Tom said quietly. “To know he died while you were away…”

“He never liked me. I never counted. I was just the younger son, and only if anything had happened to Mycroft I would have been important. Of course then I would have been off anyway. He was everything that counted for me. My sister died as a child and I hardly noticed it, and my mother was not to be seen afterwards and then died too, and I didn’t care. All that mattered was Mycroft…”

“It's so amazing how far back you two go. I mean that's stupid of course as you're siblings. But that sounds as if you had loved him more than a brother forever.”

“I did. Of course I didn't know what it meant at first. But then… I knew I wanted him. Well, you know what happened then.” He turned around and caught Tom's gaze. Tom's eyes were full of compassion. “Can you show me the graves of my friends?”

“Yes, over there.” Tom put an arm around Sherlock's shoulder. With a smile Sherlock let him guide him to a series of identical little gravestones. Two of them belonged to Sherlock's friends. The inscriptions on them only stated their names and the dates of their births and deaths along with the simple word: Friend.

Sherlock hadn’t cried at his family's grave but now he felt tears coming to his eyes. “It was so hard to see John die, Tom. He was such a good man, but so pained and lost.”

Tom, who was standing behind him, keeping a discreet distance, stepped forward and put his arms lightly around Sherlock. “I'm so sorry for all you've been through. And I'm so glad you're safe now and loved and home…

Sherlock put his hands over Tom's naked forearms and leaned back into his comforting embrace. “Thank you, Tom, you're such a sweet guy.” And then he froze when he felt something hard poking against his butt. And Tom wasn't wearing a belt…

“Oh, fuck, sorry, Sherlock…” the younger man mumbled but he didn’t let him go completely, just pulled back from his arse, and Sherlock realised a few things at once: Tom's embrace felt very good, he was smelling deliciously, and the fact that he apparently desired Sherlock went straight into his own groin.

Slowly he turned around, causing Tom's arms to drop down. They looked into each other's eyes, and Sherlock realised one more thing, namely why he had so quickly decided to tell Tom to stay in Musgrave. And he remembered his very first reaction when Tom had saved him from Jim – before Sherlock had even known who he was. He had noticed how handsome he was, and he had been so impressed by his beauty, his height, his strength, and his courage. How could he have been so blind before? He liked Tom, had done it from the start, but of course it was more: he was in love with him. And Tom's expression told him that he was feeling exactly the same way – and he also had just understood.

“My God, Sherlock,” he mumbled, and then Sherlock's arms were around the taller man's neck, and Tom's arms were around his waist, and after exchanging another deep look, their lips met for a kiss.

At first it was just a careful pressing of lips on lips, testing, probing, as Tom was obviously exactly as shocked as Sherlock was. How could this happen? They both loved Mycroft!  But then… Mycroft loved both of them. Was this really so surprising? Hadn't it rather been inevitable?

“Sherlock,” Tom mumbled, sounding troubled, but then his lips brushed over his cheekbone and his ear.

“Kiss me, Tom,” Sherlock mumbled back, and Tom's lips moved back to his mouth, kissing every inch in between, and when their lips met again, it was a real, deep, passionate kiss and they were standing there, right on the cemetery, their slim bodies pressed together, two hard cocks searching for friction, and they went on kissing until Sherlock was breathless and dizzy. Finally he pulled back. They looked at each other, their foreheads met to lean against one another, and then they simultaneously started to grin. There was no need for stating the obvious - not right now. It was enough that it was clear that this was not a heat-of-the-moment-thing.

“Fuck, what will Mycroft say to that?” Tom asked with a chuckle.

Sherlock grinned. “Oh, you know he'll love it. The possibilities! But what do you say - shouldn't we have a try if we're really, you know, compatible, before we tell him?”

“Oh we absolutely should. I'll let Liam know that I'll be occupied for a little longer…”

“He has two new people to help him.”

“Exactly. Come back to the house, Sherlock. If I'm able to walk with this boner at all…”

Sherlock laughed. “This is so great…”

“Yes, it is. It's crazy but it's great.”

This summed it up perfectly, Sherlock thought. He knew he would come back here and visit the graves of his best friend and Molly, but now life was calling for him…

***

Tom was feeling as if all of a sudden his personality had split up into several little Toms that were running around in his head while he watched Sherlock undress.

The first little Tom was screaming oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my… fucking… GOD! and was ruffling his hair. The second one was drooling with wide eyes at this epitome of fragile male beauty that was revealed piece by piece in front of his eyes, the third one was amazed about how blind he had been before, reminding him of how confused (but in a good way) he had felt when Sherlock had kissed him to scare this bitch off in the interview, and the fourth one was shouting things like: threesome! and: you can have them both, yeah! and was jumping up and down. The fifth one was thinking: so this is what Mycroft caresses when he's with him, not with me and: God, look how fucking beautiful he is! And the last one was just stupidly happy, knowing that he loved this young man who was smiling at him, loved him as much as he loved his older brother, and both of them loved Tom as well and what the hell could be greater?!

“Do you want to keep staring at me or will you eventually get naked, too? Or… did you change your mind?” Sherlock sounded and looked insecure all at once.

His frown turned into a grin when Tom's shirt flew onto the floor. “Not in the least, Sherlock.” He stepped out of his trousers and his socks, and then they took each other in with their eyes.

They made a step in the same moment, their lips crashing together, and then Sherlock dragged Tom to his bed, urging him to lie down so he could crawl onto him, and Tom's hands were sliding over his thin, bony, beautiful body, feeling ribs and firm, smooth arse cheeks, and Sherlock's big, hard dick was poking into his groin and it just felt so damn right. This wasn't curiosity about what Mycroft was feeling when he made love with the other one, it wasn’t a game. This was about love and trust and need, and Tom was a hundred percent sure that neither of them would regret it. And that Mycroft wouldn’t mind…

Tom would never forget these following thirty minutes. It was so different from his first time with the lord. Sherlock had been treating him like his equal from the very start, and this was not a master and servant situation in the least. Of course it was impossible to compare it with the beginning of his relationship with Mycroft. The lord had been so unhappy and his heart had been suffering so much. And neither Sherlock nor Tom were unhappy, so it was so much easier. And as awkward as this situation should have been nonetheless, given the fact that they were involved with the same man, it really wasn't. It was just two young men craving for each other, wanting to please, to caress, to give and take; lips were kissing and licking every part they could reach; mouths were gently biting and sucking and giving heat and wetness to achingly hard body parts; long-fingered hands were rubbing, teasing, massaging, and inserting, and then it was Tom who ended up being on top of Sherlock who was lying on his back, pushing his arse with his feet to take him deeper, faster and harder. Tom shot his semen into Sherlock's hole way too soon due to his enormous arousal, and then he sucked him again until Sherlock flooded his mouth with his own release.

Panting and sweating Tom came to rest on Sherlock's body when he had squeezed out Sherlock's dark-red dick thoroughly, licking up the last drops.

“Wow,” Sherlock finally broke the exhausted silence. “Just wow…”

“Yes, well said,” Tom agreed against his neck. “What do you say now – are we possibly compatible?”

“Oh, I do believe there's not much room for doubt that we are, don't you think?”

Tom giggled. “It must be forbidden to be so bloody happy.”

“I'm sure it is… Shall we throw a coin now?”

Tom was confused but only for a second, then he grinned. “You're his brother, you may tell him.”

“That's very generous of you. Is Michael in the house just in case it's too much for him and he passes out?”

“I don't think so, but if he does, you'll just have to kiss him back to life.”

“It might be better if we tell him together, so we can kiss both ends…”

“Sounds reasonable. I love you, Sherlock.”

“Damn, Tom, I love you, too, and we both love my brother. And isn’t that the most fucking amazing thing?”

Tom could only agree and he closed his eyes for a moment to just relax and enjoy this other unexpected, magical turn his life had taken for some more minutes before he had to return to his chores.

oOoOo

Mycroft looked surprised when Sherlock opened the door for him, not Tom. “Hello, little brother,” he greeted him and grinned when Sherlock captured his mouth in a wild kiss. “Did you miss me?”

Sherlock stroked over his hair. “Loads! How was your day? Give me that. What do you need your umbrella for on a sunny day?” The younger brother shook his head with an indulgent grin.

“You never know. It could rain!”

“Sure. So tell me – how did the interviews go?”

“Fine, really. Anthea now has a consultant for matters regarding the kingdom, and one for dealing with other countries. And I'm the one who's keeping it all together but both guys seem to be really helpful so it should work out fine. Where's Tom?”

“Sounds like a great solution! And he said he wasn't feeling like welcoming you today. He's in his room.”

“Something wrong with him?” Mycroft looked very concerned – as if he thought the Fever might not be over and Tom could have gotten it.

This was not what Sherlock had wanted to achieve but now he needed to stick to the plan. “I don't think so. But perhaps we should check on him? I was on my way there anyway when I heard your car.”

“Yes, definitely.” Mycroft slipped out of his jacket and put it on a hanger. Then he took Sherlock's hand and they went to Tom's private room.

Mycroft knocked at the door and said: “Tom? Are you okay?”

“Yes, just… You know…” His voice sounded a little weak and whiney, and Sherlock tried hard to keep a straight face.

“Can we come in? Sherlock is with me.”

Sherlock was surprised but glad that Mycroft had not said he wanted to go in alone. That wouldn't have been good… But Sherlock would have found a way to come with him.

“Sure. The door is open.”

Tom was lying in the same bed he had made love with Sherlock just a few hours ago. He had tidied up since then; the linen was fresh.

“Hey, what's wrong with you?” Mycroft asked him and went to sit down on the edge of the bed. “Why are you lying here in the middle of the day?”

“Yes!” Sherlock sat down on the other side and then he pulled off the blanket, revealing Tom's naked body. “And what's that?” He grabbed Tom's half-hard dick – apparently he had fantasised about this moment before…

“Sherlock!” Mycroft burst out. “What are you…” And then he broke off when Sherlock kissed Tom right before his eyes while still squeezing his penis. “What? Sherlock? Tom?” The lord was gaping like a fish and his words sounded breathy.

“Mycie – may I introduce: Tom Littleton, our boyfriend,” Sherlock said before he could draw the wrong conclusion that he had lost them to one another…

“Our… what? Oh dear God, when did this happen?” And now he looked not only shocked but very amazed – and excited…

“Just before lunch,” Tom said with a sparkle in his eyes. He sat up and slung one arm around Mycroft's neck, the other one around Sherlock's. “We both love you so much, Mycroft, and now we also love each other.” And then he brushed a kiss on Mycroft's lips and one on Sherlock's. “And I may have both Holmes brothers. I must have been a very good boy in my previous life.”

Sherlock laughed and tousled his short hair.

“This is really happening, right?” Mycroft stammered. “You're not making fun of me.”

“We would never do that, brother mine,” Sherlock assured him and laid a hand on his neck to stroke him tenderly. “But I do have bad news, too…”

“What's that?” Mycroft asked with wide eyes.

“Now you'll definitely need a bigger bed!”

oOoOo

Not long after dinner Mycroft lay back into the pillows, already completely naked, undressed by four deft hands in record time. Then Sherlock had asked him to settle on the bed as comfortably as possible and now they undressed themselves on either sides of the bed and his eyes were moving quickly between them and he almost assumed he was literally drooling.

He still could hardly believe it. It was so much to process, even after thinking about it for the last two hours. But since it was apparently really occurring, he had already ordered a huge bed that would be delivered the next day. Nevertheless they would already spend the night together, all three of them, and he didn't care if it would be a little uncomfortable – he wanted his two lovers next to him. But before he would in all probability have them on top, behind and inside of him and he so couldn't wait.

His hand was flying to his excited cock when both Sherlock and Tom revealed their stiff members. Both of them were smiling and looking very happy, and this was an even bigger turn-on for Mycroft than their beautiful, seductive bodies, their stunning faces and the promise of now tripled sexual pleasures for him.

No matter how often he had assured Tom that Sherlock wouldn't change his mind about letting him continuing to be Mycroft's other man, deep inside he had feared that his brother would get too jealous to allow this arrangement to be going on, and this would have made all three of them unhappy. But what was going on now was so much better than dividing his time between the two of them. Of course Tom and Sherlock could get intimate without him while he was at the palace – the thought didn’t make him jealous but very excited as he was sure that both men didn’t love him any less now that they had discovered their feelings for each other - but there was no need for either of them to sleep alone anymore, and it filled Mycroft's heart with huge gratitude and love. He would do anything he could to make this unusual relationship work, knowing that there was no luckier man than him in this world to have the love of these two extraordinarily wonderful men.

And a few moments later they came to him, each of one side of the bed, and then his mouth was captured in a messy, funny, frantic, wet three-way-kiss that went on and on and left them all breathless and craving for more.

Mycroft moaned with closed eyes when two warms mouths found his nipples and licked and teased him there, sucking the stiff pearls while one big hand was sliding up and down his length and another one fumbled gently with his swollen balls. When a thumb wiped over his wet slit, he knew he wouldn’t last very long. His hands were buried in thick curls, stroking, caressing, and then he opened his eyes to first meet the look of his brother and then their now mutual boyfriend, both of them sparkling, blue-green seas of affection and arousal.

Tom moved up on the bed, kissed him and then straddled his chest so his huge boner was right before Mycroft's face. He accepted the offer at once and took him deep in his mouth, gently sucking at the swollen tip, causing Tom to moan loudly. And Mycroft almost bit him when his own cock disappeared between Sherlock's lips, and his brother started sucking him while fondling his testicles the way he loved it.

Tom pulled back. “Is that good?” he asked him from above with a smirk, his voice teasing but tender.

“No,” Mycroft mumbled, stroking over his sides with both hands, waking adorable goosebumps on the soft, light skin. “It's heaven… And now give me your dick back. I promise to watch my teeth.”

Tom chuckled. “Of course, My Lord.”

***

It was hard for Tom to maintain his self-control while looking down on Mycroft, who was sucking him expertly, hearing indecent, highly arousing slurping noises from him as well as from Sherlock, who was behind his back, worshipping his brother's cock. He bent his head as far as he could to see what the younger Holmes was doing, and Sherlock winked at him, ostentatiously lapping over the big, swollen knob which made Mycroft moan around Tom's dick.

Tom smiled at Sherlock and reached out to tousle his messy, black curls, and with the other hand he stroked over Mycroft's cheek.

How had this happened? How had he ended here, loved and being in love with these two amazing, sexy, super-intelligent and simply wonderful brothers?

He had spent all his youth alone. Mocked by his peers, forsaken by his parents, just working and trying to forget who he was and what his life was about. And then he had come here, being the lord's sex toy for half a year before they had magically gotten together and he had thought he couldn't get any happier. And then Sherlock had come back, and he had thought he had lost the lord's love, only to be told he could still have him, and now, above all, he had Sherlock's love as well. He had joked about having been a good boy in a life before this – not that he really believed in these things – but hell, what had he done to deserve this? Wasn't it too good to be true? Would this last forever? Or would any or both of his two men get tired of him and drop him in the end…

“Stop thinking, Tommy-boy,” Sherlock startled him and he looked at him again, meeting his gaze that was compassionate and full of love. “It won't happen.”

“You can read my thoughts, can't you?”

Mycroft let go off his dick. “We both can, love. And Sherlock is right – it won't happen.”

“This is a little disconcerting,” Tom said with a smile and stroked over Mycroft's left eyebrow. “But very good to know.”

Mycroft smiled and then moaned – Sherlock had continued sucking him, and a moment later Tom's dick disappeared between Mycroft's sensual lips again as well. And then Tom moaned louder than ever before when a finger was gently poked into his arse, and he came without any warning into Mycroft's sucking mouth. Tom leaned his head back, panting and shuddering, while Mycroft seemed to be eager to suck the very last drop out of him. He was just finished when he cried out, and Tom's upper body whirled around to see Sherlock's amazing cheekbones sticking out even more when he swallowed down Mycroft's load greedily.

Tom stepped over Mycroft and lay down next to him, pulling him close. He kissed his cheek when Sherlock straightened up, looking down at his own rock hard dick. “We have a problem here.”

“Nothing that can't be solved at once,” Tom assured him, and Sherlock lay down all over Mycroft's chest and Tom was hovering between his legs within seconds and swallowed Sherlock's incredibly stiff member down to the root, ignoring his gag reflex, eager to please the beautiful man who looked down on him with a smile while he was being stroked by his spent but very happy looking brother.

***

Could life get any better? His head resting on his brother's slightly sweaty chest, being gently caressed by his huge hand, and watching and feeling his dick being worked over expertly by this amazingly handsome, magnificent man who was looking into his eyes with his sea-blue eyes; his look full of trust, love, and devotion. No, it wasn't possible… But then – they would do so much more together; he just knew that. Three men – endless possibilities for sexual pleasures, even better due to the fact that they were all madly in love.

He moaned when Tom's devilish tongue circled around his knob and then started licking out his slit. His hand cramped into Mycroft's thigh and his brother chuckled.

“He's quite good at that, isn't he?”

“Oh, fuck, yes… By the way: you don't mind if we fuck without you while you're busy with your nasty job?”

Mycroft laughed under him and tickled his neck. “Of course not. Not sure if anything will be done in this house then but who cares?”

Tom narrowed his eyes and Sherlock laughed. “Don't worry, brother mine – we both know he's much too duteous for that. He will keep me occupied with chores, but perhaps I can lure him into my room for a quickie from time to time.”

Tom stopped sucking him. “I think that can be arranged. And I've always wanted to be fucked in the wine cellar.”

“Oh, nice! We can do that all three together,” Sherlock suggested. He remembered this huge room full of dusty bottles filled with expensive wine. He would die for seducing his brother there, and of course it would be even more exciting if they were joined by Tom, the master over this cellar.

“Deal,” Tom mumbled and went back to work.

Sherlock closed his eyes in pleasure and gave into the incredible feeling of being sucked by a man who loved to do this. A man who – just like his brother of course – would never even think of hurting him; with neither of them he would ever have to fear being bitten - not out of an overdose of arousal which would be totally fine with him but out of malice. He shuddered when the memories washed over him, and Mycroft sensed at once that he was thinking of something disturbing, and it didn’t need a genius to figure out what his thoughts were about.

He embraced Sherlock tight. “It's alright, love, everything's alright.”

Sherlock could see Tom's concerned look, and he reached out with both hands to touch his brother's face gratefully without looking and Tom's cheek soothingly. “Go on, please,” he asked and Tom nodded and increased his efforts, making Sherlock climax within no more than twenty seconds. He gasped when Tom licked him clean, and then the young butler crawled up to them and lay down on Mycroft's other side, stroking Sherlock and kissing the lord on the shoulder.

Sherlock knew he was safe now – safe and loved and secure, and both men along with Chris would defend him with all they had, just in case… He shuddered again.

“He's dead, Sherlock,” Mycroft said quietly. “I made sure he's really dead. He'll never come back.”

“I love you, Mycie.” Sherlock kissed him and then he turned to Tom. “And I love you, Tom.”

And both men smiled and told him they loved him, too, and Sherlock had never felt so at ease in his whole life.

Chapter Text

Mycroft knew he had slept pretty long on this Wintergiving morning. But why not – it was his only free time in the year. Or it had been for as long as he'd been the lord of Musgrave until two months ago when he had taken a week off that he had spent not at any spectacular place but at home. But he'd had plenty of time for his two men, and it had been wonderful. But then – every day with them was wonderful. He smiled when he noticed that Tom, who was lying behind him, had drooled a bit on his neck, and that Sherlock, who was in his arms, was mumbling in his sleep. He had gotten his huge bed right the day after they had gotten together, but still they woke up every morning in a pile – cuddled together as close as possible.

He knew that Tom had prepared everything for today already. With the help of Sherlock and the servants of course. The big dining room was set up and Mrs Hudson and her maids would do the cooking. There was no need to rush. They would take care of the candlestick together after breakfast which would certainly be a lot of fun, but besides that, there were no chores until dinner when his boys would help serving the meal. Of course Mycroft would have helped as well, but he was rather sure that at least Tom would be terrified it he suggested that. He was the lord and working every day – albeit partly from home now and thanks to the two other counsellors not that much anymore – and it wasn't his job to do the housework.

Mycroft had asked Tom months ago if he really wanted to remain his butler. The lord would have been fine if Tom had found the right person for doing this job among his staff members and just be his and Sherlock's boyfriend. But Tom had looked at him full of embarrassment and had said that he would in no way just sit around all day and let someone else do his job and that he could very well be both his butler and his man if he, Mycroft, didn’t mind it. Mycroft had realised that Tom thought that Mycroft had a problem with him being his employee and he had assured him very quickly that this was not the case in the least. So both Tom and Sherlock were taking care of the house, and they were doing it very well, and if they were fine with this arrangement, Mycroft would have been the last to complain about it. All he wanted was to see his lovers happy, and apparently they were, and so there was no need to change anything.

But Mycroft also realised now that he had to get up, and rather urgently. He carefully freed himself of Tom's grip around his waist, but there was no way to escape his brother's weight without waking him.

“Whatsup?” Sherlock mumbled and pinched his right nipple. “Whereyougoin?”

Mycroft chuckled. “I do need to visit the bathroom, brother mine. If you were so kind to let me stand up?”

“Candoithere,” was the answer and he laughed out loud.

“What sort of kinky suggestion was that, brother dear? Let me get out now, please, or I'll have to tickle you.” He immediately did that and Sherlock shrieked which finally woke up Tom.

“Morning,” he grumbled. And then he shot up. “Damn, it's light already!”

“It's Wintergiving, love, no need to hurry,” Mycroft soothed him.

But Tom was already on his way to the bathroom. “There's plenty to do!” he shouted over his shoulder.

Mycroft and Sherlock looked at each other and grinned with a playful rolling of their eyes. “Such a workaholic,” Sherlock stated. “You're sure that it's not him who's your brother, Mr Huge-Cock-Redhead-Can’t-Live-Without-Work?”

Mycroft laughed again. “Not that I know of. And now please excuse me or there will be a mishap.”

Sherlock just opened up his mouth very wide, put out his tongue and winked.

“Oh dear, no!” Mycroft finally struggled to get on his feet and to the bathroom. Where Tom was already under the shower. Mycroft couldn’t wait any longer and emptied his bladder while standing before the loo. When he was almost finished, Tom came out of the cabin in all his glorious, wet nudity.

“Oh, hello!” he said with a look at the stream, and Mycroft shook his head with a wide grin.

“What's that – Tease-Mycroft-with-kink-morning? It's Wintergiving, my dear, if you could just behave?”

Tom grinned and captured his mouth in a kiss. He had already brushed his teeth as Mycroft noticed – however he could have done that so fast. “Behave? What's that supposed to mean?” He grabbed Mycroft's naked arse. “I would love to lick you now,” he mumbled.

Mycroft got hard at once. “Okay, I'll shower and then we'll see if you're still up to that. You were in a hurry five minutes ago?”

“Sod that. Eating your arse is my priority.”

“Good to know.” He grinned and they kissed again, and then Mycroft hopped under the shower while Tom started to shave.

*****

“Oh, yes, lick me, Tom,” Mycroft mumbled with closed eyes. Or he would have done that if his mouth hadn't been full of Sherlock's cock. So what he said was completely incomprehensible but of course Tom didn’t need any encouragement to go on with the most pleasurable task he had taken to. Mycroft wondered if he would one day just drop dead out of pleasure-overkill, but if he did, he would die a happy man. Tom was so bloody good at rimming him, and he was also a perfect cocksucker as well as a perfect top. Actually he was perfect, and so was Sherlock.

The last couple of months had been a feast of one scorching hot night (and day) after the other. Mycroft was sure that if Tom and Sherlock didn't live out their desires frequently also without him while he was out of the house, he would have some problems in getting up for work in the mornings… They were insatiable, both of them, and as Mycroft did still work rather hard and was quite a bit older than his lovers, he was feeling exhausted from time to time. Not that he was complaining… How often had he woken up before them in the past months, looking at both of his beautiful companions, stroking the cat or the dog or both, wondering what he had done to deserve so much luck. Of course deep in his mind he still recalled every time how easily this could have turned out completely differently… It was only for Tom that they were together like this now as he had saved Sherlock's life in the last second in an act of total selflessness. And if Sherlock hadn't held Tom back when he had wanted to leave… In any way Mycroft had them both now and he was a very happy man.

And now Tom's tongue seemed to be determined to crawl into his body wider than ever before, and it felt heavenly. But Mycroft needed more now. He let go of Sherlock's dick. “Fuck me, Tom, please?”

He heard a gasp and then he grinned when he felt sticky fluid being rubbed into his hole, and a finger probed at it to check out if he was ready to take Tom's big member. He apparently was and so his canal was stretched pretty widely within seconds, and he moaned around Sherlock's hard penis. It took him a moment to find back into his sucking rhythm while Tom was pumping into him, but eventually it started working out fine. He licked and sucked, but Sherlock seemed to hold his climax back; he obviously had other plans for coming… As Mycroft had a suspicion, he closed down his arse muscle around Tom's dick and was rewarded with a loud cry, and hot fluid was shooting up in him very quickly. Probably Tom hadn’t tried to postpone his orgasm as he did feel he had to go downstairs and get the day started. But he let himself fall onto the bed next to Mycroft when Sherlock took over his position and fucked Mycroft, too, using the applied lube as well as Tom's semen to ease his way. The image of this alone was enough to push Mycroft over the edge as well, and he came in hot spurts over his stomach and gasped when Tom licked the white stripes off at once.

“Shit, that’s hot,” Sherlock hissed and then he added his own love juice to Tom's and collapsed all over Mycroft.

The older brother watched Tom stroking over Sherlock's back and arse, and he saw them kissing, and then he was kissed by his two men as well.

“Alright, I gotta get ready now,” Tom said. “Off to the next shower. Who wants to share?”

And a few minutes later, they were all three standing under the hot shower spray, soaping each other up and laughing, and Mycroft thought if there was a better way to start Wintergiving, he had certainly never heard of it.

oOoOo

“Right, you got everything you need?” Chris asked. “Yes? You are such a good boy…”

“I'm getting jealous,” he heard Jeremy behind him. “You never talk to me like this.”

Three seconds later, Chris had pinned him down in the fresh hay, straddling his lap. “You're sure you don't want to overthink that?” he asked hoarsely and playfully bit into his lover's neck.

Jeremy giggled under him. “You git – if he steps onto either of us, we'll spend Wintergiving in the hospital!”

“Ah, he would never do that, right Big Boy?” Chris looked up at the horse that gave him an indulgent glance. “Right so. He loves us.”

“You're spoiling him,” Jeremy stated, gesturing with his head towards the apples in Chris' bag.

“Yes, nothing wrong with that! I spoil you too and you never complain.” Of course he didn’t spoil his lover with apples but with making love to him all the time and feeding him with chocolate, Jeremy's only vice.

“No, I don't.” Jeremy looked up to his with his incredibly beautiful, blue eyes and smiled, and Chris bent down to kiss him.

He would have never thought he would ever feel so happy again. Jeremy with his unconditional love and admiration had healed his soul in a way he had not thought possible. He still missed his son and he would always do, but he had accepted his loss, and he embraced Jeremy's love - as well as Jeremy's body as often as he could – full of gratitude. He sometimes thought that a more intelligent man than him would have had struggled harder – always thinking about what he had lost, not paying enough attention to what he had gotten in return. Jeremy couldn't replace his son in his heart, but he occupied all the rest of it and of him and that was enough to not only make him get through the day but to let him be thankful for every new day he was allowed to spend at his side and to spend here in Musgrave. He didn't only love Jeremy – he loved this place, he loved his job, he loved Big Boy and the other horses and of course he loved Sherlock who was like a brother for him. He loved Greg almost like a father even though he wasn't nearly old enough to be his dad, and he loved the smart, handsome lord who made Sherlock so happy now, as well as Tom for the same reasons as well as his striking personality. And he loved Martha of course – there was no way not to love someone so compassionate and caring who cooked all the best meals and baked the most gorgeous cakes. In fact Chris considered himself a very happy man full of love and he showed it to the people he owed so much as often as he could.

“I love you, Jem,” he whispered, and they kissed tenderly until someone cleared his throat over them.

“Sorry guys, but I'd like to remind you that we still have a few things to do until we can enjoy this day,” Greg Lestrade said, but Chris could hear that he was smiling.

He was on his feet in an instant, pulling Jeremy up as well. “Sorry, boss,” he apologised with a grin. At least they were still dressed… “It's not my fault though that he's so sexy.”

Jeremy blushed and Greg laughed. “Of course it isn't. You have a point, Chris. By the way – do you have any idea who put the dead fish in Henry's sock?”

Chris gave him an innocent headshake. “I have no clue.” He had found the fish at the shore of Musgrave's lake, and it had been too tempting to leave it there. It had been almost fresh.

Greg nodded. “That's what I've thought. Anyway – come with me now, we've got work to do.”

“Will the doc spend the evening here again?” Jeremy asked him while he laid an arm around Chris' waist, which felt bloody great.

Greg smiled. “Oh yes.”

“The hay is very comfortable if you want to try it out later,” Chris told him, and the bailiff laughed out loud.

“Oh, we've found that out long ago, boy. And now let's go; the sooner we're finished, the quicker you can devour Jeremy.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Chris said with a grin and pulled his slightly embarrassed lover close. Devouring him sounded really good…

oOoOo

“That's it, Sherlock! Do you have more of them?” Tom rumbled in the case.

Mycroft chuckled. “You're not serious, brother, are you? A fat little angel? Really? And you want more of them, Tom? Who are you and what have you done to my snarky little brother and my reasonable boyfriend? And where do they even come from?” He poked at the little figure that was naked and holding a violin, hanging proudly at the huge candlestick that was otherwise decorated very tastefully.

Sherlock grinned. “I remembered Mother had them in her closet. They were still there.” He put an arm around Mycroft's shoulder. “I wouldn’t have thought you had kept her stuff…”

Mycroft kissed his cheek. “It's a huge house, Sherlock. I just had their stuff being put in another room and never set a foot into it again. I know Mrs Hudson made sure that it didn’t drown in dust.”

“Do you have any stuff of your sister, too?” Tom asked.

Mycroft raised his eyebrows. “Why? You're longing to play with dolls?”

“I rather play with balls, Mycroft, and I do mean this kind of balls,” he added when Sherlock laughed. “I was just curious. How was she?”

Mycroft looked at Sherlock, and the brothers shared a sheepish grin. “I have honestly no idea, Tom. I… never paid any attention to her, and she was only four when she died. Just a child.”

“So you didn't pay attention to Sherlock when he was at this age?”

“Well, of course I did. It was always different with Sherlock…” Everything had been different. Every moment with him had counted, from the day of his birth. They had been meant for each other, in every possible way… What a bloody shame he had not realised that twelve years ago…

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to depress either of you,” Tom said and took Mycroft's hand and Sherlock's hand.

“You didn’t. I guess these things will come up again and again. It's inevitable I guess.”

Sherlock nodded. “Yes. We can't just shake that off and forget it. We don't forget anything actually.”

“This must be hard.”

“Sometimes it is.” Sherlock looked down, and Mycroft balled his right hand into a fist. His brother still had nightmares. No matter how safe he was feeling now, in his dreams he was still haunted by his horrible past, and it was all Mycroft's fault. He knew neither of them would ever really get over it.

“You know – we can leave it at this one fat angel,” Tom said. “It looks great now and we have some time until lunch. Why don't we head upstairs and spend half an hour with being nice?”

“Oh - fucking!” Sherlock beamed at them. “What are we waiting for?”

Mycroft shook his head with a grin. “How many more times will I have to shower before the ceremony?”

“Oh, you don't have to,” Sherlock assured him. “You can go there covered with our semen, sweaty and with messy hair. You're the lord – you may do that.”

“As tempting as this sounds, I guess I'll stick to showering as often as necessary,” Mycroft decided.

“So fucking?” Tom asked with a wink.

Mycroft sighed. “Yes, boys, let's go fucking.” They would be his death and he would go with a big, wide, satisfied smile.

“Yes!” He was embraced by two strong arms, and he thought that he would with pleasure shower twenty times a day if they were just happy. Despite his never-ending feelings of failure and guilt about the past he couldn’t change anymore, he was definitely happy and he would do all he could to ensure that neither Sherlock nor Tom would ever miss anything.

oOoOo

Greg had hardly waited for Michael to get rid of his coat when he jumped him already. They hadn’t had a chance to meet for three days, and he was, well, very horny. He and his boys had done all they'd had to, and while there would be still some chores to take care of after lunch, he had an hour for Michael now, who would stay for the rest of the day and the night if no emergencies would force him to leave, and he really couldn't wait to get tactile with him.

“Your pulse is pretty elevated,” Michael stated after kissing him thoroughly. “Do you need some medical attention?”

“Oh, yes, doctor – heal me!”

“Well, I'll see what I can do!”

He definitely could do a lot, Greg thought a few minutes later when he watched the red-haired athlete worshipping his dick. Every five seconds he looked up to him and his eyes were smiling. And Greg thought for the millionths time how fucking lucky he was. They were together now for more than a year, and they were still so crazy for each other. They couldn’t meet as often as they wanted to, but when they did, it was always fireworks and roses and sunrises.

It had been such a hard year though. Greg had seen so many people die – people he had known and liked for years. His brave boys – one by one had died of the Fever and it had made Greg suffer so badly as well. Seeing them die and not being able to help had been the worst experience of his life. But Michael had stood by his side, as well as Jeremy and Tom, and somehow they had gone through it. He was more than happy with the new workers, above all Chris, despite his favour for playing rather nasty pranks. The blond giant was an awesome worker, and he was making Jeremy walk on clouds, and Greg definitely liked that. He had caught himself a few times at imagining them together – only a blind could miss how Chris was built. He had a real hammer in his trousers…

“What are you thinking of?” Michael asked him with raised eyebrows while stroking his dick with his hand now.

“Oh, nothing. Go on, please.”

Michael grinned. “Nothing? Alright…”

“I love you, you know?” Greg whispered.

“Yes, of course. And I love you, Mr Bailiff. Even if you fantasise about your employees while I'm sucking you…”

“Damn, how can you know that?” Wasn't it enough that Mycroft and Sherlock could read his mind? “And I don't picture any of them here instead of you, it's just…” He broke off, knowing that nothing he could say would make it any better…

But Michael just laughed. “I guess everybody fantasises about this guy. But never mind. As long as it's me who's allowed to do this…” He lapped over Greg's slit.

“Shit,” he hissed. “Only you, Mike, only you…” And then he closed his eyes and concentrated on the wonderful things that the doctor was doing with him, and when he filled Greg up with his big cock, he told him that he loved him over and over again, and there was nobody who could cope with Michael Cooper, just nobody.

oOoOo

It was so hard. Tom buried his face in his hands. So fucking hard – both his dick and the temptation to shoot over the warm blanket at once.

When they had reached Mycroft's flat, Sherlock had decided that it was Tom's turn to choose a sexual position. And now he was kneeling on the huge bed, both of his lovers at either side of him, and four deft hands were opening him up in the most pleasurable way, and every few seconds a tongue was inserted as well. He gasped when a finger was pressed on his prostate, followed by a rather mocking chuckle from Mycroft. He grinned and then moaned when the finger circled inside of him. His hole was stretched carefully, and he could imagine the view the other two had very well. He figured that they had to be every bit as aroused as he was.

“I guess you're ready now,” Sherlock said. “Let me get under you.”

Tom moved away so he could lie down on his back, and then Tom straddled him and took his erection into his arse within seconds and started riding him. But then he looked over his shoulder. “Saddle up, darling.”

And Mycroft smiled at him and a moment later, a second cock, even huger than the first one, searched entrance into his arse.

They had done this dozens of times already, each of them. Tom loved to top together with either Mycroft or Sherlock, but he had to admit that he enjoyed this position the most: being the meat in the sandwich, being double-penetrated by both Holmes brothers, being enveloped by their sexy bodies and their love.

It was an incredible feeling, and he knew how it was feeling for the other two. Their cocks trapped in his tight, hot canal, rubbing against each other, being wetted by both lube and the other one's pre-cum, sliding deep into him and halfway out, and every time they pushed deep inside of him, all three of them moaned – a sinful symphony, nicer than any music Tom could imagine.

He caught Sherlock's gaze, and then Sherlock urged him to kiss him, and he lost himself into the kiss while he was moving up and down in his lovers' rhythm, feeling Mycroft's big hands on his hips while Sherlock was massaging his shoulders. He was constantly dripping his own pre-ejaculatory fluid on Sherlock's ripped stomach, and he knew neither of them would last long. This was simply too arousing. But since he didn't have too much time, it hadn't been only the most exciting way to get them all off, but also the most efficient way.

And then he cried out after an especially deep stroke and shot his load all over Sherlock, and he clenched down his arse muscles around the big intruders, making them climax within seconds apart from each other, and then Mycroft gently freed him and he was pulled into the lord's arms, and Sherlock lay down on him – yet another panting, sweating, satisfied pile. Sperm and lube was dripping out of him, right on Mycroft's thigh, and his own release was causing his body to almost glue to Sherlock's, but neither of them cared.

Tom imagined how Mycroft would be all sophisticated gentleman a few hours later, carrying the candlestick and handing everybody their gifts, and he grinned. He was so different when they were alone…

He shuddered when Mycroft kissed his ear. “I guess we should get up now before we all fall asleep and they wait for us downstairs. And I still need to work a bit on my cards for tonight.”

“Yes, we'll have something to do as well, Sherlock.” Tom crawled over the younger Holmes to get out of the bed after pushing him gently aside.

“Ah, not just one more round?” Sherlock asked with puppy eyes.

“Later, brother dear,” Mycroft promised him. “After the ceremony, we'll retreat pretty early and have our own celebration if neither of you minds.”

Tom beamed at him, and so did Sherlock, and Mycroft grinned and kissed them both, and then they all went to the bathroom once more to get ready for the rest of this big day.

oOoOo

The work was finally done for today, and so Chris was allowed to relax a bit before the ceremony. He was quite excited before his first Wintergiving celebration in Musgrave. He had heard all about it, and he couldn't wait for it, almost like a little boy. He knew that a part of him would never grow up, and he didn’t even want that. Being all adult was boring… He was especially curious about how the lord and his two lovers would appear together. So far he had not seen them interact. Of course everybody in Musgrave knew that they were both sleeping with Mycroft, and for quite some time also with each other, and it didn’t require much fantasy to picture them in bed all three together. Chris would have been the first to admit that he found this extremely arousing. All of them were good-looking, smart, sexy and interesting, and he was sure that they had a lot of fun together.

But for the moment, he was having lots of fun as well… He was lying on his bed, his hands stroking over Jeremy's sides, and he watched his handsome lover riding him. He loved this position. His hands were free to stroke Jeremy's big dick, and he could see him in full. And he could lazily lie there and let him do all the work. It was really his most favourite thing to do…

“Enjoying yourself?” Jeremy asked him from above.

“I'd say so.” Chris grinned at him. “What's up – are you getting tired, old man? Move your arse, baby!”

Jeremy giggled and increased his efforts, but suddenly Chris longed for being more active. He slung one arm around the slim waist of his man and lifted him up with his massive thighs, and a moment later Jeremy was lying under him and Chris was hammering into him. Jeremy moaned loudly, his arms slung around Chris' neck, and Chris fucked him hard, knowing that his lover died for being taken like this.

Chris had bottomed for him as well, and he had liked it. But apparently one part of the appeal of their sex for Jeremy was to give up control and be at Chris' strong hands, and who was he to deny him that?

So he fucked him increasingly hard, enjoying hearing Jeremy's gasps of pleasure and feeling his feet digging into his arse and his fingernails scratching over his back. He wondered why he had ever wasted his time with fucking women; he couldn't even imagine this anymore. And for the first time in his life, he was sure he had found the one person he wanted to be with forever. Jeremy was all he could have wished for with his loyalty, his decency, his humour and his deep love and adoration for him, not even mentioning his handsome face and his incredibly sexy body. Chris had never believed in destiny, hadn't even ever thought about it, but he had spent some time at Musgrave's huge library and read more books than in his entire life so far together, and he was sure now that his life had a higher purpose, and this purpose was to be here, working hard and making this man he was now buried in happy. He had paid a huge prize for being in Musgrave but somehow he believed it had to be like this. Perhaps it was just a comfort for losing his child, but he had found the love of his life in this man, and after all the tragedy it had been the best possible outcome.

“I love you, Jem,” he said while he could feel his climax crashing through his body, and Jeremy smiled and told him the same, and then he came with a low growl, and he went on pumping and stroking his boyfriend's cock until he orgasmed as well, and he licked the sticky fluid from Jeremy's stone hard stomach and then captured his mouth in a deep, promising kiss.

oOoOo

“It's perfect,” Martha told him.

Tom shrugged. “It never is, you know – you can always make it better.” He looked over the laid out table in the huge dining room. Everything was decorated and the plates and the cutlery were in place. It did look very good but…

The old lady smiled. “Of course, but sometime you need to accept that it is good the way it is and you don't need to worry your handsome head about it anymore. We'll have a very nice time, my dear.”

Tom grinned. “Yes, I'm sure we will. When I think of last year… Wow… So much has happened since then…”

“You are really happy now, aren’t you?”

Tom nodded. He was indeed. His hole hurt a little bit after the scorching threesome, but he thought he should spare Martha such details…

Mycroft was in his office, writing the last cards for his staff members and working on some other stuff, and Sherlock was in the wine cellar to look for a special bottle he was sure his father had hid somewhere. So Tom had taken the opportunity to check if everything was prepared.

“I think I…” he started and then the doorbell rang. He looked at Martha in confusion. “Who can this be now?” Certainly it wasn't Irene Adler-Barrymore with another try to seduce the lord - she hadn't survived the Fever…

“Better have a look,” Martha said, and he nodded and hurried to the door. He met Liam in the corridor and gestured him that he would take care of their visitor, whoever it was.

When he had opened the door, he froze in shock. A beautiful young woman with long, dark hair was standing there with a big basket, just like last year. But she was certainly not here to make a move on the lord…  He had never met her before but of course he recognised her from pictures. “Oh my… Your Majesty, come in please.” He proceeded to bow but she laughed.

“Oh, hello. No hassle, please, and I won't stay for long. Is the lord there?”

“Yes, in his office,” Tom stammered. He hoped Sherlock hadn't joined his brother and they were having sex on his desk now… But then – Mycroft would probably want to save his strength for the night. Sherlock could be very persistent though…

“You’re his boyfriend, right?” Queen Anthea said when she entered the house.

Tom hurried to take the heavy basket out of her hands. “Yes, one of them,” slipped out of his mouth before he could think, and he felt his cheeks flush.

But of course she knew about that. She laughed again. “Yes, I'm aware of that. Can you lead me to him, please? I just want to give him this and say hello, and then I'll leave.”

“Of course, Your Majesty.”

“Just call me Anthea, Tom. I'm hardly older than you.”

“Oh, what an honour, thank you.”

She smiled. “Mycroft's friends are my friends.”

They had reached Mycroft's office, and Tom knocked. Mycroft answered, and he poked his head in. The lord was alone. “The queen is here,” he said quietly.

“What? Anthea?”

Tom opened the door and let her in, and he put the basket full of expensive food and champagne on the desk that Mycroft had cleared quickly, and then he left them alone after sharing a smile with both of them. She was lovely and Tom thought once more how lucky he was. Who would have thought he would be allowed to call the queen of the Great Kingdom by her first name? It was surreal… He wondered what his parents would think if they knew that. But probably they would rather be terrified of him – sleeping with two men who were also brothers… And he decided to search for Sherlock. He just wanted to snog him and hold him and share his happiness with him, knowing he didn't need the approval of anybody else, certainly in the very least of his parents who had forsaken him just because he was gay. They could really kiss his arse… But of course he would rather have Mycroft and Sherlock do that for him… And he knew they would do it with pleasure.

oOoOo

“And the old lord said then so it be.” Mycroft closed the book and looked over to Sherlock, who was feeling as if his heart was about to explode.

As everybody else, he had been listening to Mycroft reading the story he recalled from his childhood. On Wintergiving their father had been a different man; he had been nice to his employees and his sons, and Sherlock had cherished these rare moments. And now he had for the first time really seen Mycroft through the eyes of the other people in Musgrave, who were assembled in the huge dining room.

Mycroft had asked the queen if she wanted to stay but she had said she had plans with her new boyfriend. She had invited Sherlock and Tom, who had met her on her way out, to visit Mycroft and her in the palace someday soon, and Sherlock was determined to do that. And perhaps they could seduce his brother right on his desk there. A look at Mycroft's smirk had told him that he had deduced his thoughts and wasn’t opposed to it…

He had watched them hanging at his lips as everybody had done with his father. He was not sitting directly next to Mycroft as these positions traditionally belonged to the heads of the household- and property staff - so it was Tom on Mycroft's one side and Mrs Hudson on the other side. Sherlock was of course placed at Tom's left side, and Greg along with his boyfriend was sitting next to Martha. Tom had offered him his place but Sherlock didn't want to break this small tradition. He and Mycroft were not showing their feelings for each other for everybody to see anyway. Of course it wasn't forbidden anymore and of course everybody in Musgrave knew about the nature of their relationship anyway, but they had silently agreed to save any emotional, let alone tactile moments for the times when they were alone or with Tom. Nonetheless he would have loved to reach out and take his brother's hand now, and he smiled when he saw that Tom put his hand on the lord's thigh and stroked him gently, and that Mycroft placed his hand over his. Sherlock would have his way with his brother soon enough so he didn’t mind at all. And it touched him that Tom was feeling exactly the same way as he was.

Mycroft pressed Tom's hand and then he stood up. But he didn't grab the pile of envelopes before him as Sherlock had expected. Instead he cleared his throat.

“Before I give you your presents and thank everybody, I would like to say a few words.” He looked to Sherlock, and he gave his big brother a warm smile and he knew he could see the love in his eyes. Mycroft smiled back and then he looked over the people at the large, U-shaped table and started to speak in his beautiful, soft voice. “This was a very, very difficult year. For everybody in this kingdom, and for everybody in this room. Most if not all of you have lost people they loved, and so let’s think of them for a minute.”

Total silence fell over the room, and Sherlock thought of John and Molly and Phil and Mike. He looked down at Loki who watched him with curious eyes, and he smiled.

“But for me it was also the most important year of my life,” Mycroft continued to his surprise when the minute was over. “Twelve years ago I scared my brother out of the house, and after that, I was a dead man walking.”

Sherlock gasped. He would have never expected that. It was like a shot with ice water but Mycroft's openness gave him a thrill.

“But then Tom Littleton came here, and I slowly allowed myself to be alive again. And of all things it was this horrible illness that some months ago brought my brother back into this house and into my life, and now I consider myself the happiest man in the world as I’m surrounded by so much love now. I want to thank everybody for standing at my side during these rough times and for accepting the recent developments. Thanks to everybody for being here and working hard and being so supportive. And of course: thank you, Sherlock and Tom, for everything.” He smiled and it did look as if he was a little embarrassed about himself, and Sherlock had never loved him more than in this moment. And when Mycroft took the envelopes, he stood up.

“Brother, if you allow me to say something, too? And perhaps everybody else who wants to?” Maybe they could start their very own tradition now.

Mycroft gave him a surprised but happy smile. “Well, of course! Go ahead.” He sat down again and Tom immediately took his hand.

Sherlock looked over the faces in front of him. “I can only agree with everything my brother just said. It was a very tough year, and I did lose people I liked. But for me it turned out to be the best year of my life nonetheless. I grew up in this house and then lived a rather hard life out there, and I couldn’t be happier to be back and be a part of this household, having found peace and love, and I hope all of you will stay here with us and go on being as awesome as you are.” With this he sat down, and he smiled when Mycroft reached around Tom to stroke over his neck.

“So well said,” Tom mumbled before he stood up, too. “Well, I could say so much. I came here being used to be feeling out of place wherever I was, and now I feel like finally being at home. I love my job and I love being around you all, and most of all…” He broke off, apparently terrified by saying too much, but Sherlock saw Mycroft giving him an encouraging smile, so he dared continue. “…most of all, I love Lord Holmes, and I love Sherlock Holmes and I'll do that for the rest of my life.”

And then Mycroft stood up and embraced him, and he held his other arm out and looked at Sherlock, and Sherlock joined them, slinging his arms around his two lovers' waists and feeling their arms around him, and there was not a dry eye for either of them when they sat down again. Sherlock didn't see any offended expressions; everybody was smiling instead, especially Chris who was sitting next to his boyfriend.

Mrs Hudson was the next to stand up and she was already crying. “I can't say much other than I lost so many wonderful women I used to work with, but I'm so happy to see my boys so in love now, and I’m so grateful that I may spend another year with all of you.”

One by one was standing up and saying a few words, and Sherlock had never seen his brother so touched. He was almost crying when he finally got to handing out the envelopes. Sherlock took Tom's hand in his while watching his brother go to his first employee. “That was very sweet,” Tom whispered.

“Yes. I'd have never thought he would say something like this. We should do that every year now.” Mycroft had started shaking hands and making his people smile in awe. “God, I love him so much.” He grinned when he saw Chris hugging the lord after taking his present, and how Mycroft struggled a bit but smiled at the huge, blond man.

Tom rubbed his hand. “I feel you, Sherlock; so do I. And have I told you today how much I love you?” He gave him a wide, loving smile.

Sherlock smiled back. “Yes but you can say that a million times a day because I love you, too.”

And he couldn’t wait to be alone with his two men and give them their presents and show them over and over again how much they meant to him. He loved both of them with all of his being, and he would never get tired of proving his feelings. For so many years he had been lost, but now he was finally found.

The End