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Human Remains

Chapter Text

February 2005.

He stifled a yawn behind his hand. The Commander’s personal assistant continued to ignore him as she drank her tea, wrote a few words on her laptop, then drank her tea again.

Greg had arrived at New Scotland Yard at 4.36am. He was called in about a potential witness who had strolled into police headquarters about an arson Greg had been investigating. The witness had left by the time Greg arrived at work. He supposed he’d been a homeless man popping in for a warm place to sit while he pretended he had evidence about a case.

Greg didn’t see the point in trekking back home across London. Instead he poured himself a large mug of cheap coffee, munched down a packet of crisps and started going through his emails.

When the Commander’s personal assistant told him to report to his boss’ office at 1.30pm, he just about managed a polite response. The meeting was bound to be a waste of time. A simple ‘no, you haven’t got the job’ would have sufficed. It was now 1.43pm. The Commander’s timekeeping was as impeccable as always.

Greg slid his phone from his pocket, scrolling through his messages for the umpteenth time. The PA lifted her head. “Sergeant Lestrade?” she said.

Greg leaned forward in his chair. “Yes?”

“Five minutes,” she told him.

He forced a smile. “No worries.” He let out a long breath and checked his texts. There was one message from his wife asking him to pick up some milk on the way home.

His eyes skimmed over the wall of photographs of former police chiefs who had risen through the ranks. He recognised one or two of them. The rest all looked the same somehow. Confident and ever-so-slightly smug.

He turned his head when the Commander’s office door swung open, the handle smashing into the wall. Sergeant Carter stormed out. Greg frowned, following his colleague with his eyes.

The Commander caught Greg’s eye. “Sergeant Lestrade,” he announced to no one in particular. “Sorry to have kept you.”

“No problem, sir,” Greg replied. He winced as Sergeant Carter slammed another door shut further along the corridor. Greg followed the Commander into his bright office.

The Commander gestured to the chair. “Please, sit.”

Greg perched on the edge of the seat, hands folded in his lap.

The Commander ignored him for a minute as he checked his computer screen. He glanced at Greg through bored eyes. “Well, Sergeant Lestrade. I suppose after that demonstration from Sergeant Carter, you know why you’re here.”

“Not really, sir.”

“You’re promoted.” The Commander returned his attention to the computer. “Well done.”

Greg gaped at him. “Sorry, sir?”

“We have decided to promote you to Detective Inspector. And no, it’s not because of Sergeant Carter's little performance.”

Greg clenched his fists for a second on his lap in silent victory. Play it cool, he told himself. Pretend to deserve this. “Well. Thank you, sir,” he managed.

“No problem at all. Detective Inspector Lestrade.” Greg couldn’t help the grin that spread across his face. “You will start in the role in two weeks. Congratulations.”

Greg shook the Commander’s hand. “Thank you, sir." He walked out in a daze. That had gone well. He wondered if he was better at interviews than he thought. But he couldn’t help but feel inexperienced.

And now the doubts were setting it. Oh God, what was he thinking? He’d taken the job as easily as he would have done his food shopping and now he was going to be a Detective Inspector and he had no idea what a Detective Inspector was supposed to do. Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade. Him. DI. Oh holy shit. Cigarette. He needed a cigarette.

He made his way to the bike rack in the back of the car park He shivered, wishing he’d thought to wear his coat. PC Sally Donavon and PC Edmund Bullock were already there, laughing as they smoked. They were both wearing thick coats over their uniforms.

“We heard,” Sally said, holding a cigarette out to him. Greg took it gratefully. “We think Carter's quit.”

“What the hell happened?” Greg mumbled around the cigarette as he took the lighter from Edmund.

“We don't know,” Sally said. “He stormed into our office, looked around, said 'fuck all of you' and left. So we guessed things had gone well for you.” She grinned. “Detective Inspector Lestrade.”

Greg took a drag, staring into space. He frowned at her. “I'm not sure what just happened. That was Carter's job. The Assistant Commander admitted I was only interviewing to make up the numbers.”

Edmund shrugged, stomping his cigarette into the ground. “Well. We like the result. That's what matters, right?”

Greg hummed and watched the smoke disappear into the air. “I’ll speak to Carter. Smooth it out with him. Can’t have him swearing all over the place.”

Sally laughed and patted Greg’s shoulder. “Spoken like a true Inspector,” she said. “See you round, sir.”

Greg watched the two constables joke together as they wandered back towards the main building, before texting his wife.

MESSAGES
14.06: Get drinks in!
Got good news! xx


Caroline was stretched out along the dark green sofa when Greg returned to their flat. She held a beer in one hand, her mobile phone in the other. Her dark blonde hair was tied up into a messy bun on the top of her head. Greg put the milk in the fridge. He grinned at her, picking up the beer she had left for him. He ignored the empty glass she had set down beside it, sipping from the ice cold bottle instead.

“What’s your news?” she asked, smiling back at him as she muted the television.

“It’s news,” Greg said, leaning on the armrest. He spent a minute watching Dirty Den intimidate some poor 20-year-old brunette on Eastenders.

Caroline touched his arm with the tips of her toes. “Don’t hold back on me,” she said. “I had to clean up the mess after a teenage break-up this afternoon. I don’t have any patience left.”

“I got the job.”

Caroline stared. “You did what?”

“I got the job,” Greg repeated, beginning to grin. “The Detective Inspector job.”

Caroline quirked a bemused smile as she sipped her beer. She opened and closed her mouth. “Sorry, wait, what?” she asked. “The Inspector job you only did the interview for so the bosses knew you existed? That job?”

Greg continued to grin.

She let out a stunned laugh. “But that’s. Oh, Greg. Greg, that’s, that’s brilliant.” She sat up on her knees, reaching out to tug him towards her. “You got the job.”

“I got the job.”

“I can’t believe you got the job. We need something so much better than beer for this!” She kissed him, brushing her hand through his wind-swept hair. It was about time they’d had some good news. He didn’t remember the last time she was so grateful he was home.

“The beer will do,” Greg said, slumping down on the sofa and changing the channel to Sky Sports. “The beer’s amazing.”

Caroline turned the microwave on to heat his dinner. “So what’s the pay rise?” she asked, taking a bottle of Prosecco out of the fridge.

“About £6,000.”

Caroline slammed the fridge door closed. “Really? That much?”

“Yep,” Greg said, flicking through the football matches on offer. “We can try for kids if you want,” he added, turning to look at her. “But we can have that sparkly stuff first, if you’d prefer.”

Caroline laughed, eyes sparkling as she moved to sit on the armrest. “You need your dinner.”

“Then we try for babies?” Greg asked. That was what she wanted. He knew it was what she wanted.

She kissed his eyebrow. “Then we try for babies. Detective Inspector.” Laughing, she got back to her feet and took his dinner out of the microwave. Greg kicked his shoes off.

“You need to stop smoking though,” she added. Greg bit the inside of his cheek. He would do what she wanted. Whatever it took to make her happy.


March 2005.

Greg studied himself in the mirror, straightening his tie. In the reflection, he saw Caroline by the window as she got dressed. He smiled to himself, stepping back to try to see more of himself in the glass.

“Is this acceptable for a first day?” he asked, swiping his hand down the front of his shirt.

Caroline turned around, fastening her necklace. “You look great. You nervous?”

“No. Maybe. Only a little bit. I know the team, I know they like me. It’s just awkward with Carter, you know?”

“I’m amazed they convinced him to stay,” Caroline said, pulling some tights on under her skirt.

“I’m amazed they wanted him to stay to be honest,” Greg replied. He touched his blue tie again. “Is this trying too hard? I never wear a tie.”

Caroline rested her hands on hips from behind. He smelt her perfume, something sweet and floral. “Greg. Stop worrying. You’ve done this before. You know how it works.” She kissed the back of his neck. “And you’ll do great.”

He bit his lip. “Yeah. It’ll be great.”

He had a quick breakfast, finishing his slice of toast as he pulled his coat on. “Have a good day,” he called out through a mouthful.

Caroline smiled up at him from the sofa. “You too,” she said, switching BBC Breakfast on.


“Donavon!”

Sally stuck her head around the door of Greg’s new office a few moments later. She frowned at him. “What?”

“Just seeing if it works,” Greg said, grinning.

Sally crossed her arms. “Don’t make a habit of it, sir. We don’t want to find out the story of the Inspector who cried wolf.” She smiled. “But enjoy your first day.”

“Enjoy your first day, indeed,” said the Chief Superintendent, walking into the office with a stack of files in his arms. “And I have a brilliant start for you.”

Greg eyed the paperwork. “What are these?”

“Documents to sign, old cases to consider refreshing,” the Chief Super said.

Greg frowned as the pile landed on his desk. “Why are we refreshing old cases?” he asked.

The Chief Super looked far too pleased with himself. “Because it’s your first day, and your first job is to see what your predecessor missed. Enjoy. Good day, PC Donovan.”

Sally stared at Greg and then down at his paperwork. “Well." She pulled a face. "Have fun with those, sir.”

“Donovan!”

She turned back to him. “What?” she asked. Shouting her name was never going to get old, Greg thought. Okay, maybe it would get old very quickly for her…

“Do you want to look at these files?” He took a few files from the top of the stack and started flicking through them. He pulled a face. Morgue pictures. Delightful.

She at least tried to appear sympathetic. “We’re off out on the beat, sir. Maybe later? Sorry.” Sally paused. And grinned. “Sort of sorry.”

Groaning, knowing he needed caffeine to get him through the morning, Greg started to pour himself a coffee. Some of the constables were packing their gear ready to go for a walk around London to keep an eye out for trouble. The machine gurgled and Greg stared as a thick mix of coffee and some other slush dropped into his mug. Brilliant. Just brilliant. And he needed a cigarette. Desperately. He stuck a nicotine patch on his arm and opened his emails, swearing as his computer crashed.

One hour and 23 minutes later, he had signed the reports he needed to sign and was turning his attention to the other stack of files on his desk when Sergeant Carter appeared at his door.

They spent a few moments eyeing each other before Carter finally spoke, his voice gruff. “Got a call down by the Thames. A body.”

Greg put on his coat. “Then let’s get going.”


Greg kept out of the way as the forensics experts went about their business. They were under a bridge, damp and dark, and a horrible place to die. Or to be dumped. Greg wasn’t ruling anything out, as he studied the dead man on the floor.

“Drug-taker,” the forensics expert muttered, pulling up the man’s sleeves. “I’d have to do some tests, but these are puncture marks on his arms. I bet they’re not just on his arms either. I hate to say it, Inspector, but this reminds me of a case I came across when I was doing my medical training.”

“What’s that?” Greg asked.

“If I can guess, sir? Strychnine poisoning. Rat poison,” he clarified. “The foam at the mouth, the clear lack of respiration.” The expert puffed up his cheeks. “Bad lot of drugs, sir. And if I could guess again, this poor bloke won’t be the only one. Terrible way to die.”

“So there’s more of these poor buggers out there?” Greg asked.

“Potentially. And with no idea they’ve got themselves some bad drugs. There’s no telling how much could be contaminated.” The expert shrugged, with the air of someone who stared the dead in the eye on a daily basis. “One dealer’s stash, or two dealers’ stashes… no idea. But there will be more. You can be dead within three hours of ingesting it. There's not much of a cure, even if you do realise quickly. And you do have to realise quickly.”

“Let’s get him to Bart’s,” Greg said, trying not to think of the likelihood of more victims. “Do all the tests. Then we’ll have a better idea of what we’re looking for.”

Greg called his contacts in the mortuary at Bart’s, warning them of the body coming in. He told them he wanted a quick identification and an even quicker confirmation of cause of death, because there could be more out there.


He tore off his tie when he got home that evening. He had poured coffee on it. He decided to never wear a tie to work again. What was the point? Sally and Edmund didn’t treat him any differently anyway.


The next few weeks were uneventful. The tests from Bart’s confirmed the man had strychnine poisoning and Greg spent several long nights lying awake imagining drug-users all over London falling dead in a horrific fashion.

As it was, he didn’t hear of another incident.

The death had received some media attention – of course it had – but since there were no other bodies, the press had written it off as a one-off. It had been drugs though. Heroin, most likely, mixed with strychnine.

The man had still not been identified. Greg had his team running searches of known missing people from that area of London, before widening the search to the whole of the South East. He had spoken to several homeless people, none of whom admitted to knowing the man.

It appeared as though he was a homeless drug user, with no family who cared for him. There were no DNA matches on the police database, no images on the missing person database, no evidence anyone living homeless in the area had any idea of who he was.

Greg had even rung up a known drug dealer for a favour, but he was told he’d never seen him before either.

He knew the ten main symptoms of rat poison by heart now, and every time he had been on the street he had been keeping an eye out for them.

Muscle twitching.

Stiffness of the body.

Lockjaw.

Frothing of the mouth.

Respiratory failure.

Eyeballs protruding, pupils enlarging.

Blue colouration of the skin.

The first 15-30 minutes were critical, he knew that now. He imagined these people knew what they expected to feel when they injected the heroin into their bloodstream. He imagined this long-term drug-user had felt what he expected at first. Then the twitching would have started. Perhaps he wouldn’t have noticed straight away. But when it got worse, he would have noticed.

When did he realise when he was going to die? When did the fear start? When the convulsions began, was he conscious? Was he even capable of shouting for help? That kind of thinking had plagued Greg throughout his career.

Seeing bodies never got easier. He knew cops who dehumanised every body they saw. He knew even fewer who cared a bit too much. Greg liked to think he had found a perfect balance, but deep down he suspected the eyes of the dead would always haunt him.

The crimes he never solved were the worst. It was 19 months into his role as a Police Constable when he came across a case they could not solve. It had been an eight-year-old boy. He was in the foster care system, and that somehow made it worse. And every body Greg found with no name, no one who cared, and no likely suspect, reminded him of that kid.

But when no more bodies with evidence of ingesting rat poison showed up, Greg began to relax. They opened cases and a few closed with little fuss. He got used to the rhythm of his new job.

Though he did start smoking again.

Chapter Text

March 2005.

He was finishing work early. Early for him, anyway. It was gone 7pm, and he had signed various reports and told PC Donovan it was time for her to go home too. Of course, the the phone rang the moment he had one foot out the door. For a second, he contemplated not answering. But he gave in, switching the light back on with his elbow as he answered.

“There are two bodies,” the officer explained. “It looks like strychnine poisoning.”

Greg groaned and grabbed his coat. “You’re actually kidding me.”

“Are you coming?”

“Yeah, I’ll be over there in about 20 minutes.”

With a sigh, he text his wife.

MESSAGES
19.19: Got to work late.
Sorry. xx

MESSAGES Caroline Lestrade
19.21: Surprise surprise.
Dinner in the microwave when
you finally get in. Hope it doesnt
take 2 long xxx

MESSAGES
19.24: You and me both. xx

Arriving at the scene, holding his coat over his head to try and keep his face dry, he strolled down the alleyway. “What have we got?” he asked, putting on a forensics coat and gloves and ducking under the flimsy plastic barriers.

“Two bodies. Male and a female. Blueish skin, foaming at the mouth.”

“Any signs they were moved here?” Greg asked the forensics guys.

“Hard to tell in this weather, sir. Looks like they’ve not been here long. They were found by a PCSO half an hour ago.”

Greg frowned. “Can you confirm if its stry-whatever. The rat poison?”

“I wouldn’t want to make any assumptions. I mean, I suppose the symptoms are pretty obvious. I wouldn’t want to guess, but we were expecting more bodies any time, sir. Sir?”

Greg heard him, but his attention was fixed on two men in the shadows further down the alley. Their hands were outstretched as they shared something between them. Drug deal. Greg’s eyes flicked between the two. The one on the right was shorter and reaching into his pockets. The one on the left was taller wearing a long coat with the collar turned up.

“Keep talking,” Greg told the forensics expert, stepping over one of the bodies to get a better look.

“Uh. Well. Rat poison seems pretty likely, going on what happened the other week,” the expert continued. “But I don’t want to assume…”

The men made to leave and Greg picked up the pace. He gestured to Donovan and lowered his voice. “Donovan, you’re with me, man on the right. Bullock, Carter, man on the left.” They acknowledged the instructions and then Greg saw the men snap their faces towards them, ready to make a getaway.

“Stop - police!” Greg yelled, before breaking into a jog and then a brisker run. He heard the footsteps behind him as the PCs and Carter joined the charge, both splitting up to target different men.

He made ground on one man - the tall one, with the long coat - but he seemed to have an uncanny knack of turning round bends and around the traffic in a way Greg couldn’t clock fast enough. He may have been the one chasing, but the man seemed to know corners were coming up before Greg had even seen them.

Greg knew he wasn’t as fit as he once was, but the suspect began to slow as he limped on his left leg. Greg continued to give chase.

He heard Donovan behind him, radioing for back-up, and he thought he heard Carter’s voice too. His feet pounded on the ground, and when he turned the corner and found the man struggling in Carter’s arms, Greg took a few moments to catch his breath.

He wiped the rain water and sweat from his brow.

Carter was trying to get the man’s name, but the tall man with the long coat didn’t answer.

“I won’t run,” the suspect panted and Greg took a proper look at him. He was a skinny, pale bloke, with dark curly hair. His black coat was missing a couple of buttons. His expression was unreadable.

Greg held up his badge while Carter searched for concealed weapons or drugs. “I’m Detective Inspector Lestrade for the Metropolitan Police. And I’m not arresting you.” Yet, he thought, thinking back to the scene which had looked very much like a drug deal. “But you were down that alleyway at the same time as the bodies, and I want to know what you know.”

The suspect raised his eyebrows. “Far more than you,” he said.

Greg reached for his radio. “Can you send a car round to uh…” Greg looked around to get his bearings.

“North Street,” the man muttered, rolling his eyes.

“North Street,” Greg repeated. “I’ve got a witness I want to take in. Get the bodies to Bart’s-”

“-How did they die?” the suspect interrupted.

“-When you can,” Greg continued, ignoring him. “I want forensics reports sent to me as soon as you’ve got them. And sweep the whole area, I want you to confirm to me they were moved there. Make it a priority.”

“What happened?” the man asked. “The bodies?”

“We’ll talk about this at the station,” Greg said.

“How many?”

“We’ll talk about it at the station.”

The man huffed again. “Boring,” he muttered.

“It won’t be so boring if I find you’re carrying. Looked like you had a good deal going on at the end of that alley.” The man’s eyes bored into him. “What’s your name?” Greg asked.

The man continued to stare and Greg rolled his eyes. “Fine. Don’t talk. I’ve got all night.”

“I imagine your wife won’t be very impressed,” the suspect retorted, with the beginnings of a smug smile on the corner of his lips.

Like she ever was, Greg thought, as the police car arrived. “Get in,” he growled, before getting in beside Sergeant Carter.

MESSAGES
21.09: It’s going to be
a long one. Sleep well xx

MESSAGES Caroline Lestrade
21.11: Though so. C U
2moz. Xxx

The suspect remained silent during the journey, not even complaining when Greg walked into the interview room 45 minutes later. He was sat down, hands flat on the table as he fixed Greg with an expectant stare. Greg noticed at the track marks on the suspect’s right arm. He seemed remarkably coherent.

“Right,” Greg said, taking a seat opposite. “We haven’t found any drugs or loads of money on you, so you’re not being arrested or charged with anything. But you are here as a witness. And if you muck me around, I don’t have a problem finding a reason to put you in a cell overnight.”

The man yawned. “I know all this,” he said. “What time is it?”

Greg looked at his watch. “9.47pm.”

“Your wife will be wondering why you’re back so late.” The suspect pulled a face. “No she won’t. You do this all the time. Find excuses not to leave work, even when you could be putting an alleged witness into a cell overnight. How did they die?”

“I’m asking you the questions. Did you see the bodies?”

“No. I didn’t. How long had they been there?”

“How many times do you go to that alleyway in a week?”

“That was my first time. Two bodies, in the same alleyway at the same time,” the man mused, making a steeple with his hands under his chin. “Interesting. There is a building overlooking it but the chances of them both dying from a fall of that height is pretty remote. And you didn’t ask the forensics team to collect the parts. You said the bodies. So they are mostly intact. Not jumpers then.”

The witness/suspect fell silent for a minute. When Greg opened his mouth to speak, a flood of words fell from the suspect's lips. “So, two bodies, in the same alley at the same time, probably moved there and put there by someone," the suspect said. "At least, you think so. Not dumped in a bin, so they were in the open, someone wanted them seen. It was a dry day today, above freezing, so the smell hadn’t attracted attention during the day or you would have known about them earlier. So, dumped there tonight. In the open. Why would they want them to be seen? Is someone sending a message? Left in the rain... It's more difficult to follow the tracks. That part of London is all run-down flats, unlikely to have much in the way of CCTV… It’s difficult to find out who dumped them there, and that person knew that… How am I doing?" 

Greg stared. “Do you always talk that fast?” was the first thing he asked.

The man frowned. “Oh. You already figured all of that out.”

“I’m an Inspector. I’m paid to do that.”

“What did they look like?”

“What?”

“The bodies, Detective Inspector, keep up,” the man snapped. “What did they look like? How long had they been there?”

“We haven’t had the forensics back,” Greg said.

“Forget forensics, they’ll only confirm what you know already. Any signs of blunt trauma? Blow to the head, stabbing?”

“No.”

“What did they look like?”

“Blue. Frothing at the mouth.”

A slow, knowing smile spread over the man’s face. “Rat poison. That’s what you think it is. You’re probably right, you were expecting more to turn up after the first one. But why two, in the same place at the same time, both moved there? And why haven’t there been more? There are more than three drug-users in that part of London and a dealer would serve more than three people.” The man’s eyes widened. “Ah! This wasn’t a bad lot of heroin given to whoever bought it. These were selected. They were given it on purpose. Oh, it is interesting.”

“Hang on.” Greg pointed at him. “How do you decide they were selected… No, hang on, this isn’t how this works. I’m asking you questions. What’s your name?”

The man sighed. “Irrelevant. You don’t need me for your investigation.” He began to recite in a bored voice: “No I haven’t been to that alleyway before, yes I was talking to a drug dealer, no I did not buy drugs, and you know that because there were no drugs on me, no I did not kill them and you know already I am completely unrelated to this case. I was simply in the alleyway when you were.”

“Buying drugs,” Greg repeated.

“Did I have enough money in my coat, Detective Inspector, to purchase drugs?”

“No. But you were talking to a drug dealer.”

“I take drugs,” the man said, with no sense of shame. “They clear my head. I am not a drug addict. But since there was nothing on my person, you can’t charge me with possession.”

“I could search your home.”

“Search all you like.”

“Seriously? What’s the address?” The man told him. Greg gestured to the glass behind the man’s chair to get an officer to follow that up. “And what’s your name?”

“Mycroft Holmes,” the man replied, a little too quickly. Greg narrowed his eyes. He wasn’t sure he believed him. “This has been a very strange interrogation, Inspector.”

“Agreed,” Greg said. “It’s late.”

“Indeed,” Holmes said.

“What sort of name is Mycroft?”

“What sort of surname is Lestrade? It’s not your birth name.”

Greg hesitated. “What? How did you know that?”

The man sighed. “When I asked for the time, you gave it to me to the minute. You’ve kept time all your life. So, you were brought up in a regimented environment. A children’s home then, perhaps? I suppose a boarding school is possible, but judging by the shirt and lack of tie, you’ve not grown up somewhere you were forced to dress well.”

Greg glared, but the man continued speaking.

“You linger over saying your last name. You didn’t have it all your life. Taking into account your accent, your clear knowledge of London, ignoring the fact you clearly don’t know road names, and the fact that you don’t speak as though you’ve ever grown up in a French-speaking home - and your surname is so obviously French - Lestrade is not your natural birth name. Was I wrong?”

“No,” Greg conceded, standing up. He didn’t think he was that easy to read. But he couldn’t be bothered to argue right now. “An officer is conducting a search at your home now. Once that’s complete, you can go. If they don’t find anything.”

The man smiled. It didn't reach his eyes. “One more thing. The rat poison. In what dosage was it in the first man?”

“Worried about your own drugs now, are you?” Greg asked coolly.

The man folded his arms. “Very well. I won’t give you my magnificent insight into your case.”

“Good,” Greg said as he turned to leave, relishing in the flash of surprise across the man’s face before he closed the door.


Greg got home at 12.12am, kicking off his shoes and checking his phone. He hesitated as he considered texting his dad. He didn’t do it often. He knew he should, but it wasn’t as though he seemed to notice whether Greg text him or not. Greg wasn’t even sure he had the right mobile number anymore.

It would have been different if his adopted mother was still alive, but she wasn’t. The old man was probably just fine. The last time Greg had sent him a message was when he told him he had been promoted. His father liked to know when he achieved things. In fact, between Greg’s mother and his work, that was all his dad did seem to care about.

Deciding not to give it another thought, Greg tiptoed into the bedroom and started pulling his clothes off. Caroline murmured a ‘good evening’ and Greg slipped into bed beside her. He kissed her head.

“Test was negative,” she whispered.

Greg swallowed. “I’m sorry,” he said, biting his lip.

Caroline rolled over to look at him. “We missed the time frame anyway. You were working so… missed ovulating time and all.”

“I’m sorry again,” Greg said, trying to keep his eyes open. Caroline sighed. He wrenched his eyes open to look at her. Now his eyes had adjusted to the dark, he saw the mascara down her right cheek. He reached out to touch it, but she yanked her head back. “Caz…”

“It’s okay,” she said. She pressed her lips together. “Not like we’ve not been here before. Sleep.”

She rolled back over to her side. Greg considered reaching for her to touch her shoulder. He remembered the last time they’d had this conversation and she’d told him to stop touching her.

So he rolled onto his back and fell straight to sleep.


Arriving into work the next day, Greg was disappointed - though not at all surprised - to find the forensic reports not on his desk. It was also a disappointment to discover Holmes’ flat hadn’t turned up any drugs. There was - the drug squad’s report said - a disturbing smell and clear signs of drug-taking but nothing which could lead to an arrest or any charges.

Greg wandered through to the department’s main office, eyeing the whiteboard to see which investigations were ongoing. He scribbled a note in the bottom corner in blue pen. ‘Murders? Rat poison. Three dead’. Mumbling to no one in particular he said aloud “and someone moved the bodies.”

“What’s happening, sir?” Sally asked, handing him a coffee. She looked at the board. “When did it get upgraded to murder?”

“It hasn’t,” Greg said. “But I’m not ruling anything out. The bodies were moved there, I’m sure. I need the forensics to confirm but…”

Sally rolled her eyes. “Don’t give us more work, boss. We’re weighed under as it is without you telling us we have a serial killer to deal with.”

Greg grimaced. Something told him he was right about this… “Guess we’ll find out more when the forensics come through,” he muttered.


April 2005.

He knew something serious had happened as soon as the Chief Superintendent marched into his office. “Lestrade. You still working on that rat poison case?”

“Yeah. What happened?”

“Three bodies.”

“Three?” Greg asked.

“All in the same place, looks like they’ve been moved there.”

Greg pulled his coat on. “What are you thinking, sir?” he asked.

“After the first body? I was expecting more. Poisoned drugs, chances were there would be more. But there weren’t for what, two weeks? Three weeks after that and we’ve got three bodies. What are the chances? This isn’t just a bad stash.”

“I thought that when we found the last two. Or at least…” That man did, Greg thought. Holmes. “Never mind. I’ll get a team together, head out there. I want the best forensics we’ve got on this one, sir. I need a proper sweep of the area.”

The Chief Super nodded. “You’ll get it.”

“Thank you.” Greg wrapped his scarf around his neck. He paused. “Boss?”

“Yes?”

“What do you think we’re dealing with?”

“If these are the same as the others? Why would a drug dealer poison his own clients?”

Greg downed the rest of his lukewarm coffee. “That was exactly what I was wondering.”

“Solve this, Lestrade. This is your first big one.”

He left the office and Greg let out a long breath.


He couldn’t mask his look of disgust when he walked into the room. “Jesus Christ,” he muttered.

The forensics expert looked up from the floor. “Help yourself to a mask, if you want.”

Greg studied the bodies. They been chained to the large steel pipe and left to die in their own vomit and urine. “When the Chief said they’d been moved here…”

“Trapped here. And left to die,” the expert said.

Greg stared. “They look like the others. The skin and the mouth…”

The forensics expert hummed his agreement. “I signed off on those files. And I agree with you. Obviously we have to-”

“-Do some tests, yes, I know.” Greg put the protective kit on, opting not to put on a mask. He crouched down next to one of the bodies. “Looks like signs of heroin use to me. Track marks.” He frowned. “The first body, it just looked like he’d done done bad drugs and ended up there. The second two, like their bodies had been moved after they died. But this… someone did this to them. On purpose. Is there anyway of knowing how long they’ve been here? Were they moved before or after they’d ingested the poison?”

“Not easy to tell yet, sir. We’re doing a full sweep of the whole house.”

Greg peered closer to the wrists of the dead woman, her lank hair over her face. They were bruised, bloody. He winced. “She fought against these cuffs. She’s cut her right wrist deep. This is bloody torture.”

He exchanged a look with Sally. She could hardly look at the bodies. “Get this all photographed,” Greg said. “I want detailed pictures of everything.” He looked out the window. “The bridge is about a 20 minute walk from here. Alleyway a good half hour in the other direction.” He crossed his arms, trying to piece it all together.

“Sir?” Sally asked.

“Yeah?”

“This is probably the most horrible crime scene I’ve ever seen,” she said.

It’s not mine, Greg thought. He thought he should comfort her, and tell her it would be the worst she’d ever see. It was almost certainly a lie. So he didn’t bother. He reached for his phone. “If you find anything, anything, you don’t expect to find, call me straight away.” Taking one last look at the bodies - those poor fucking people - he turned and left.

He leaned against a tree outside, breathing in the cold air. He couldn’t help but feel out of his depth.


That night, he couldn’t get the image out of his head. He showered as soon as he got home, and Caroline didn’t ask him about his day. She’d seen that mood too many times, Greg guessed. She poured him an ice cold beer, gave him a bowl of spaghetti, kissed the top of his head and left him with the football while she stretched out along the sofa, listening to music and reading a book.

He hardly watched the game as he tried to piece the scene back together in his head. He was pretty sure the victims wouldn’t be identifiable. At least not without asking every person in London, and even then there was no guarantee of a certain ID.

Caroline went to bed at 11.01pm. She told him not to stay up too late.

Greg stayed in the same chair, ignoring the nagging pain in his back from sitting in the same position for too long.

At 11.35pm, he moved and grabbed the newspaper from the side, turning to the crossword. He sat there until 12.03am, when he thought he’d finally cleared his head of the case.


The forensics had been rushed through, and Greg was glad for that when he got to his desk at 6.01am, a coffee in hand. He had never been so grateful towards his Chief for getting this work onto his desk so swiftly. He laid the toxicology and postmortem reports out in front of him.

Name: John Doe.
Age: Approx 35.
Address: Unknown.
Probable cause of death: Respiratory failure. Likely cause strychnine poisoning.

Name: Jane Doe.
Age: Approx 29.
Address: Unknown.
Probable cause of death: Respiratory failure. Likely cause strychnine poisoning.

Name: Mark Scott.
Age: 33.
Address: Unknown.
Probable cause of death: Respiratory failure. Likely cause strychnine poisoning.

They had a name.

Greg stared at the piece of paper. “Donovan!” he shouted before remembering she - along with the rest of the team - wouldn’t be there yet.

They had a name. Mark Scott.

Greg started going through the documents. Mark Scott’s DNA was on the police database. He had been arrested, charged and convicted three years ago for trespass and burglary. Six months before that, he’d been charged for being drunk and disorderly. The list went on covering the past eight years. They had a name. He fired up his computer while he sifted through the papers. All of Mark Scott's charges read with ‘no fixed abode’.

But with a name and convictions, Greg knew he could follow the story of the man’s life to how he ended up chained to a pipe, poisoned and putrid.

So he was chained first, Greg thought for a second, trying to analyse how he had ordered the sequence of events in his head. Whoever transported them there wouldn’t want the evidence all over their vehicle. Unless they were lured there. Drug deal?

He went back to the case.

John Doe One tested positive for heroin and strychnine.

Jane Doe tested positive for heroin and strychnine.

Mark Scott tested positive for strychnine but only a minute amount of heroin.

Greg hadn’t realised how much he had hunched over the paperwork until he sat up when Sally knocked on the door. He winced and rolled his shoulders. “Morning, Donovan.” He heard his neck crack. Judging by the face Sally pulled, so did she.

“Remember what they say at health and safety training. Straight back, move around every half an hour…” she intoned.

“Shut up, Donovan,” Greg replied gruffly.

“I heard you got the paperwork?” she asked.

“Yeah, we’ve got some things to go on. We’re going to have a meeting in 20 minutes, I just need to finish looking at these charge sheets.”

Sally handed him a coffee. “I’ll let them know.” She walked out, leaving Greg to turn back to his computer.

He visited the local newspaper’s website and saw the story at the top of the page. And here it was. His first big case as Detective Inspector.

THREE bodies have been found by police in an abandoned house in Lower Sloane Street.
The bodies of two men and a woman were discovered by the Metropolitan Police at around 5pm yesterday.
The Herald understands the bodies were chained to a drain pipe, and are believed to be linked to three other deaths in the past month.
The first body, a male found on March 2 in Upper Thames Street, has yet to have been identified.
Two further bodies were discovered in an alley way off East India Dock Road on March 17.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Officers were called to a house in Lower Sloane Street at around 5pm.
“There, they discovered three bodies, two men and a woman. The discoveries are being treated as suspicious. An investigation is ongoing.
“We are continuing with our enquiries and urge anyone with any information on any of these crimes to contact us on the non-emergency number 101 citing crime reference number 1703/05.”

Oh please don’t muck this up, Greg thought, wincing as he burnt his tongue on the coffee.


He met with his team and told them they had never dealt with a case like this before. He urged them not to let it get to the stage where they would find more bodies.

Mark Scott was a brilliant lead, he said. Maybe the killer, because they knew it was a killer now, had made a mistake. Five out of six bodies were Jane and John Does, but not this one. This one had a name and a past, and he was traceable. They could work with that, he said. They needed to get around the known drug haunts and interview people.

Jobs assigned, the team started look through paperwork and chase their leads.

Greg was on his way back to the office when he was stopped by the PC on reception. “There’s a man who says he has some information for your case. Do you want to see him now?”

“Which case?” Greg asked.

“The rat poison one.”

Greg blinked. “Sure, bring into my office.”

Greg nibbled on a biscuit and checked his emails while he waited. The knock on the door came, but the man who opened it was not someone he was expecting.

“Holmes,” Greg said, surprised. “So, what’s the information? Remembered something?”

“You have more bodies,” Holmes said.

Greg scoffed. “I’m aware. Read the news, did you?”

“The killer made a mistake. You do know there’s a killer involved now, don’t you?”

“Yes, I’m not an idiot,” Greg said.

Holmes raised his eyebrows. “Weeeell…” he started.

Greg pointed at him. “Don’t. If you’re not going to say anything useful you can go and I can get on with my day. What mistake?”

“The house,” Holmes replied.

Greg frowned. “The house?”

“Abandoned. For about six months.” Holmes wrinkled his nose. “If I give you information, do you pay me?”

“This isn’t some American police drama,” Greg said.

“What do you mean?” Holmes asked. "What do they do in American police dramas?"

Greg stared. “What? Have you seriously never seen-”

“-Oh forget it, you don’t see it.” Holmes flung his arms in the air. “How can you not see it?”

“See what exactly?” Greg asked, checking his watch.

“The house! The house. Honestly, and you’re supposed to be the police.”

“We are the police. Just tell me what you’re going on about.”

“The house,” Holmes repeated. Greg raised his eyebrows and began to stand up. “Alright, alright!” Holmes held his hands up. “You expected to find something, didn’t you? Something unusual?”

Greg settled back in his chair. “What are you getting at?” he asked, remembering all too clearly asking the forensics man to tell him if anything unusual cropped up. Weird, that. Greg wasn’t even sure why he’d said it.

“First, tell me about the bodies. Not the new ones, the second and third ones.”

Greg shrugged. He hesitated. This broke protocol. And yet, and yet… “Two bodies in an alleyway. John Does, both of them. In about their 30s, no fixed abode, no obvious way of getting them identified. They weren’t on the police database. Both drug users, both killed by respiratory failure caused by rat poison.”

“And how much heroin?”

“It all indicated long-term use of heroin.”

“And the bodies in the house?” Holmes asked.

“All the same.” Greg frowned. No. It wasn’t all the same. “Except the victim with a name.”

Holmes began to smile. “You see it.”

Greg tilted his head. Did he? “They weren’t… drug users. Or at least, one of them wasn’t.”

Holmes rose to his feet. “Very good.”

“Wait. How did you know? And why did you keep saying ‘the house’?”

“I used my brain." Holmes paused. “I’ve lived in this area for six months, and I know the dealers and I know the homeless people in that area. I asked the right questions.”

“And they are?” Greg asked.

“There’s no point showing them pictures and asking if they’ve seen them. They don’t have loyalty to them, they don’t owe them anything. Ask them who is missing. Because they notice the ones who are missing. Maybe it means there’s one less person stealing that good spot under the bridge, or they’ve taken their spare coats and blankets. Ask who’s missing.”

“Holmes. You said the house. What about it?”

Holmes raised his eyebrows. “Really, Detective Inspector?”

Greg sighed. “Come on. Don’t leave me hanging now.”

“Those people could have been there for months before anyone noticed. They weren’t. Maybe you should start working out who contacted you about the three dead bodies in the first place.”

And with that, Holmes swept from his office.


Several hours later, Greg wasn’t shocked to find out it had been an anonymous tip-off. The call’s location was untraceable.

Greg's blood ran cold as he realised what they were up against. The killer wanted the bodies found.

Chapter Text

May 2005.

Greg lit a cigarette by the bike rack, trying to duck underneath it to shield his head from the rain. A few officers were milling around the car park, talking. And sauntering right towards him, eyes fixed on his face, was that man again.

“Holmes,” Greg said as he stalked closer. Holmes had found a new, long grey coat. He stretched out his hand, and Greg handed him a cigarette and a lighter. Greg took a drag of his own cigarette. “What brings you here?”

“I was wondering if you’d found out anything new,” Holmes said, lighting his cigarette.

“We’ve hit a dead-end. It’s been five weeks with no new information.”

A gleeful smile spread over Holmes’ face. “I expect I could find you a new lead.”

Greg huffed a laugh. “You’re not getting anywhere near my files.”

“Pity.”

Greg wasn’t sure why he continued to entertain this man. Since he had wandered into his office and left as though he had a God-given right to be there in the first place, he regularly appeared at New Scotland Yard. He hadn’t entered the building since that day, but seemed to know when Greg would be out having a cigarette. Then again, Greg thought, checking his watch, he was fairly consistent with his smoking breaks.

“We’ve got a new case,” Greg blurted out before he thought it through. Holmes’ eyes lit up. “Nothing major. Don’t get excited. And I don’t know how much I’m going to share with you yet.”

“But you are going to share something? Interesting. What haven’t you been able to work out?”

“It’s a burglary case,” Greg said. “We have fingerprints, the same ones, at three buildings in London.” He held his hand up. “No, I’m not telling you where. No CCTV images, no witnesses, no neighbours hearing or seeing anything. Not much has been stolen, either. A few pieces of jewellery, some cash here and there. But these are posh houses. Not easily broken into. And whoever it is doesn’t seem that worried about leaving his fingerprints everywhere.”

Holmes pursed his lips. “That’s all you’re going to tell me?”

“Yep.”

Holmes pursed his lips. “They weren’t especially interested in the jewellery or money or they would have taken more. They were looking for something specific. But they don’t know where it is. So something connects these three houses, or the people who live there. A club or society… you haven’t given me much to go on. Someone who knows the security measures, knows how to get around it, moving in plain sight. A cleaner who works at all three properties, a workman, a window cleaner. No, not a window cleaner, who lets a window cleaner into their house? A workman.”

“A common link,” Greg agreed, thoughtful. He stamped his cigarette out. “Got to get back to work.”

“Do I still not get money for my tips?” Holmes asked.

“Depends.”

“On what?”

Greg snorted to himself and walked away. “If it leads anywhere,” he called back.

Three days later, and he found himself handing Holmes an envelope. “Don’t spend it all on drugs,” he warned, “or I won’t do this again.”

“You found your burglar,” Holmes realised, his face lighting up. “Was it a workman? Cleaner? Wait, let me guess. Oh, definitely a workman.”

“An electrician.”

“What was he looking for?” Holmes asked, opening the envelope and raising an eyebrow when he looked in it and counted the money.

“Oi, don’t be ungrateful,” Greg said. “Files. Any kinds of files he could use for bribery. Lucky for the owners, they all keep their important documents safe. What are you going to spend that on?”

“Not drugs. You’ve hardly given me enough to get anything decent.”

Greg rolled his eyes. “Buy some food for God’s sake. You look like you’ve lost weight since the last time I saw you.”

“Food. Boring.”

“Just do it. Or I won’t pay you again.”

“Does that mean you’ll tell me when you have a case?”

“Maybe.”

Holmes’ eyes lit up. “Give me your phone,” he said.

“What?”

“Give me your phone.” Eyeing him, Greg handed it over, and watched as Holmes typed into it. “There. My number. And now you can tell me when you have a case. And if I’m available, I will solve it for you.” He spun around and away.

“Don’t spend it on drugs!” Greg called out after him.


It started with the car. Greg recognised the vehicle as soon as he saw it.

He’d seen it at least seven times in the past three weeks and it had stood out in his mind every time. There were not many of that type - and that shiny - in the parts of London he worked in.

He put it out of his mind, though, when Holmes started investigating the crime scene. Greg and his team had already pulled as much information as he thought they would get, but he decided to give Holmes a chance before he returned to the Yard.

Holmes had turned up out of the blue at a few of Greg’s crime scenes in the past few weeks. Greg wasn’t sure if he’d somehow hacked into the computer system or his phone or something, but he seemed to instinctively know when there was a case worth seeing. Not that Greg’s team were particularly enamoured with their new shadow. Holmes was bloody lucky he hadn’t encountered Sally yet. She hadn’t met him, but the stories she’d heard from fellow officers gave her enough cause to despise him.

None of the cases had been on Holmes’ ‘intellectual level’, so the man claimed. No murders, no kidnappings, nothing which required a lot of work. Holmes left them all within minutes.

After leaving the scene (which Holmes had left after three minutes) and returning to the station, Greg poured himself a coffee as Sally walked over to him. “There’s a man in your office who says he’s from the Government,” she said.

Greg jumped, almost pouring coffee on the carpet. “What?” The thought of tax returns and expenses forms rushed through his head. Oh God, what had he done wrong now?

“He was here when I got back. He’s been waiting about 20 minutes,” Sally said.

Greg carried his coffee through to his office. The man turned around, studying him with assessing eyes. He was tall and impeccably dressed with a straight mouth and long nose. He stood and held out his hand, which Greg shook. “Detective Inspector Lestrade. I am Mycroft Holmes.”

“What?” Greg frowned, and sunk into his chair. “No, hang on, two John Smiths I can believe. I don’t believe I’ve met two Mycroft Holmeses in the past two months.”

“What?” the man asked, taking the seat opposite. “Oh, for goodness sake, is that what he’s calling himself these days?” He reached into his briefcase, and passed over a Home Office card. Beside a photograph with ‘Department of Transport’ written beneath it, it said 'Mycroft Holmes'. Greg handed the card back.

“Just how are you acquainted with Sherlock, exactly?” the man - the real Mycroft - asked.

Greg shrugged. “Who’s Sherlock?”

“The man whose drug habit you helped fund last week. He has been at two cases with you in the past week.”

“He said his name was Mycroft,” Greg said.

“It’s Sherlock. Have you honestly been talking to a man outside the force about cases and you don’t know who he is?”

“I pulled him in as a witness. He’s been hanging around. He’s been of use. He’s quite smart.”

“Yes. Quite an understatement. Such a shame he has decided to use his mind for police work, when his talents would be much more wisely used elsewhere.” The man flashed him an unapologetic smile. “No offence intended - while simultaneously destroying it with drugs. Nonetheless, will you be continuing to engage his services?”

“If he keeps being useful.” 

“Very good. This could be good for him. I find it most distressing he has decided drugs are going to make him feel better. He has one of the greatest minds in Britain and he is destroying it so needlessly. I haven’t spoken to my brother in several months. But I have his interests very much at heart. If you could keep me informed, I would be very grateful.”

Greg’s answer was immediate. “No.”

“I’m sorry?”

“I’m not spying on your brother for you. You want to know, ask him yourself.”

Confusion laced its away over Mycroft’s face, as though he was a person unused to being told ‘no’. “Very well. Sorry to have used up so much of your time, Detective Inspector. I expect you and I could be seeing quite a lot of each other. Do look after Sherlock for me. And for goodness sake, stop giving him money for heroin.” Mycroft collected his briefcase and sauntered out.

“Great,” Greg muttered. “That’s bloody great. Donovan!”

Sally peered around the door. “What was that about?”

“God knows. Could you look up everything we have on…” Greg hesitated. He could look up ever file they had on Sherlock Holmes. But something told him to give him the benefit of the doubt instead. “No, don’t worry.

He changed ‘Mycroft Holmes’ to ‘Sherlock Holmes’ on his phone, with a suspicion this was all going to be much more trouble than it was worth.


June 2005.

“Who’s he?” Sally questioned, sneering.

“He’s with me,” Greg told her, handing Sherlock some gloves. “Change your expression, Sally, or you’ll get stuck like it.”

“Oh God. It’s that weirdo, isn’t it? But what’s he doing here?”

“He’s coming to look at what we get up to.”

“But why?”

“Because I said he is. Now come on, crime scene.”

Sherlock followed Greg into the building, Sally hot on their tail. “Who is he?” she asked again.

“Name’s Sherlock Holmes,” Sherlock said, a fake, bright smile on his face. “And you are?”

“PC Sally Donovan. Who are you?”

“Consulting detective.”

“No, you bloody well are not!” Greg exclaimed, wondering where Sherlock had plucked that title from. “You’re not consulting on anything, you’re observing.” Sherlock stared at him, waiting, Greg supposed, for what he was supposed to be observing. “There was a break-in here last night. So, we’re finishing collecting evidence. Looking for fingerprints and any evidence which will lead us to who it was. The homeowners were out at a restaurant and got back at midnight.”

“Midnight? Seems quite late to come home from a restaurant,” Sherlock remarked. “What did they take?”

“A lot of jewellery. A couple of pricey family heirlooms.”

“And how did they get in?”

“This window.” Greg led Sally and Sherlock over. Sherlock peered at it.

“Sir-” Sally started to speak, but Greg shook his head.

“Have you found the implement they smashed it with?” Sherlock asked.

“There was a cricket bat in the garden.”

Sherlock’s whipped round. “You’re testing me,” he said. “You already know what happened.”

Greg tried to keep his face blank. “And what was that?”

Sherlock began to smile. “I don’t know if you thought this would be tricky, Detective Inspector, but you’ve got to try harder than this.” He let out of huff of air as though he was preparing for the speech of his life.  “No one stays at a restaurant until midnight. They went to a restaurant, that’s clear since there are those sweets they give you with your receipt on the coffee table. But they went separate ways after the restaurant. Look at the shoes by the front door. A pair of high heels, the sort you take a taxi for. But the men’s shoes, still smart, but with mud around the sole. Suggests that either he went to the restaurant with those dirty shoes on - unlikely - look how pristine this house is - or he walked back.

“In the picture on the wall, the child looks about 10. And next to that is the newspaper cutting of him playing cricket. A cricket bat was used to break in. In all probability it was the child’s bat and they’re trying to get the insurance money for the jewellery. But you need a police form to make the claim. I suppose they were expecting you’d all be too busy to come round and check on the evidence.”

Greg smiled. “The man’s the brother of an officer. He asked us to give it more attention than we would normally, so we sent a whole team. They’re both in custody at the moment.”

“So why bring me here?” Sherlock asked.

“Like you said, it’s a test. You want to be useful to me, I need you to prove you can be.”

“Oh, you’re a sneaky one, Detective Inspector.”

From behind Sherlock, Sally rolled her eyes. “I still don’t understand why you’re entertaining him, Inspector. You can’t start bringing people to crime scenes. Has he got any clearance?”

“Worried about your job, Sally?” Sherlock asked. “Don’t be, I’m not interested in it. I’m far too intelligent to waste my time solving day-to-day burglaries.”

Greg groaned. “God’s sake…”

“Who the hell who do you think you are?” Sally squared up to him. “Didn’t we pick you up at a crime scene near some bodies?”

“Yes, but I’m not connected to that case. Although, Lestrade, if you’ll let me see your files…”

“Don’t push your luck,” Greg warned.

“Sally. PC Donovan. Sally. Stop scowling, or your fellow officer over there won’t be taking you out for Chinese again.”

Sally stared at him. “You… what? How…”

Sherlock ignored her. “See you soon, Inspector. I hope the test has been illuminating for you.”

With a swish of his coat, he left the house leaving Sally to stare at Greg, her arms folded across her chest.

Greg grinned at her. “So did you have Chinese with Bullock last night?” he asked. 

“What’s that got to do with anything?” she snarled.

Greg shook his head in bewilderment. “Amazing.”

“Bloody freaky you mean.”

“But incredible. Get it all cleared up here, and I’ll see you back at the station.”

“Sir! You can’t just bring random people to crime scenes.”

Greg paused at the door. “Well, are you going to say anything?” he asked. She pressed her lips together. “That’s fine then.”

“I’ve got your back, sir,” Sally said. “Because I know you and we’ve worked together a long while. But I don’t understand what you’re doing.”

Greg regarded her with a long look. “I’ve never met anyone like him. That’s all it is.”

He’d thought about what Sally said. Of course he had. He knew the risks he was taking. But it was just a break-in and a couple of useful tips. That was all.

That was all.


He got home to Caroline at 9.12pm, after a night out with people from work. Sally had spent the evening scowling at him, and after a third attempt trying to explain the Sherlock situation, Greg had given up.

Caroline slouched on the sofa in jeans and a t-shirt, watching some American drama. Greg leaned over the couch to kiss the top of her head. “I thought you were coming home early today,” she said, not looking at him.

“We’ve got an important case tomorrow in court, we were going through our evidence.” Greg grabbed a beer from the fridge.

“In the pub. You smell like fags and beer.”

“We went through evidence at the pub, yeah. So what?”

“I’m ovulating, Greg. I thought you were giving up cigarettes so we could try for a baby.”

Greg stared at her. “What, suddenly you’re interested in sex with me? Three days a month and then we just give up until next time around?”

She glared. “You’re a bastard sometimes, you know that?”

Greg took a long swig of his beer before sitting beside her. “What’s up?” he asked.

Caroline muted the TV. “I thought when you got this job things would calm down a bit. I know you’re busier, but I thought you’d spend less time at crime scenes and more time behind a desk. I thought you’d spend more time trying for a baby. I thought you were quitting smoking.”

“I did!” Greg exclaimed. “I did for a day, anyway. I’ll try again. I’ve still got those patches.”

“Do you even want a baby?”

“I want whatever you want.”

“That isn’t an answer,” she said. Greg picked at the label on the bottle. “Greg, come on. Just say it.”

“I want a baby with you. But if it doesn’t happen, I’m not going to feel like I’ve missed anything. I like our life.”

“You like your work,” Caroline muttered.

“Yeah, I do like my work. And I like you. And let’s have a baby.”

“If I don’t have a child, I’m going to feel like my life was worthless,” she murmured. “You never seem to think about me or what I want.”

“I do.”

“You don’t put me first. And that’s fine most of the time.” She shot him a hard look. “I’m used to it.”

“I’ll try harder. Honest. I’ll quit smoking for longer this time.”

“It’s not all about the stupid smoking.”

“It feels like a lot is about the smoking,” Greg muttered.

Caroline stood up, turning the TV off. “Just come to bed and give me a baby, dammit.”

Greg almost laughed, but stopped himself. “What happened to sex being sexy? Foreplay and snogging?”

“Right now? I’m so angry at you it really is just a means to an end.”

“Oh great, now I’m in the mood,” Greg said sarcastically, downing the rest of his drink.

“Just forget it, Greg. Forget everything. I bloody hate you sometimes!”

“Caroline!” Greg called after her as she stormed to the bedroom. She slammed the door. Experience told Greg to go after her. Experience told him he needed hold her and make it okay and have sex with her.

But, too frustrated to try talking and affection, he turned the channel over, and fell asleep in front of an action film, a beer in hand.

Some time during the night the bottle fell on the floor. The room stank of the stale beer, and Greg groaned when he woke up at 4.03am, a crick in his neck.

He was craving nicotine like nothing else.

He replayed the fight he had with Caroline, and wished he hadn’t ended it like that. Rolling his shoulders, he poured himself a glass of water. He found his nicotine patches and slapped one on. He opened the door to their bedroom, and Caroline sat up. “Not asleep?” he asked.

“I heard you get up,” she said.

“Caroline, I’m sorry.”

She rolled over. “Just come to bed. We’ll sort it out tomorrow.” He stripped and climbed onto his side, drawing her close. She sighed. “We’re a mess, Greg,” she said.

“I know,” he replied, closing his eyes and stroking her hair.


His 6am alarm was hellish. And Christ, he needed nicotine.

He had a big case. A jury verdict on a murder case. A Government worker, Hadrian Kirkcudbright had died, and they had a suspect.

This case was 18 months in the making. He had spent months working with his then-Detective Inspector, pulling the evidence together. He had been in court listening to the witnesses all week when he could spare the time.

And he knew something was wrong.

He knew it as soon as the prosecution lawyer stood up in court and repeated the force’s evidence. He saw the gaps. And when the defence gave their summary he wanted to stand up and shout ‘not guilty’ himself. He hated it had taken him this long to realise it was wrong. It was all wrong. Damn it. Damn it to actual hell.

“How do you find the defendant?”

Greg stared at the jury. Don’t send down an innocent man, he willed.

“Not guilty,” the head juror announced.

Beside him, Greg’s former boss swore under his breath. And though he felt the same anger, Greg would never have accepted a guilty verdict. Not for the wrong man.

He had to pick it up and try again. The culprit was still out there.


Greg wasn’t surprised to find a member of the Holmes family sat at his desk when he got back from court that day; it was just the sort of day he was having.

He stormed in, slammed the door, kicked the bin and turned on bloody Mycroft Holmes, the picture of serenity in his chair, as if he had the right to walk in and do as he pleased.

“Bad day?” Mycroft Holmes asked, calm and poised.

“Great deduction,” Greg muttered, pulling his sodden coat off and throwing it at the radiator. It fell on the floor. As he stepped over to pick it up, he heard his shoe slosh with water. “I feel like I’ve just gone for a swim in the bloody Thames. It’s bloody chucking it down.” Mycroft stayed quiet. “What are you doing in my office?”

“You lost the Kirkcudbright case,” Mycroft said.

“Yes, I’m aware. I was in the bloody court room. Do you want a coffee?”

“What?” Mycroft asked.

“I’m making a coffee, do you want one?” Greg winced at his tone.

“Oh. No, I am quite alright, thank you.”

Greg turned the machine on. He clenched his fists at his sides, staring as the machine whirred away before exclaiming: “fuck!”

Mycroft hummed. “Yes, I must admit, until I saw the files I thought the case was solved too. However, when I heard the jury deliberations were taking a while I asked to have them sent over.” Mycroft tutted. Actually tutted. “Come on now, Detective Inspector, you knew that wasn’t your man.”

“The evidence-”

“-Was convincing in theory. But once you looked at it on paper, it looked circumstantial at best.”

“How the hell did you get my files?”

“Hadrian Kirkcudbright worked in my department. And I knew plenty of people who could acquire the files for me when they thought as highly of him as I did.”

“Was he your boyfriend or something?” Greg asked, spooning coffee into his mug.

“No. Just a colleague. But a good one. You knew you had the wrong man, Inspector, but I’m sure it can be easily put right.”

“Is that what you’re here for? To tell me how to solve my case?” Greg collapsed into his chair.

“Actually, no. Although, please do solve it. Get Sherlock to take a look, I know he’ll find what you’re missing. No, the reason I’m here.” Mycroft picked a stack of letters from the table. “These are all addressed to Sherlock. Since he does not wish to see me, I thought you might be able to pass them to him. I doubt they’re particularly of interest to him, but it might do well to remind him he does have some responsibilities.”

Greg snorted. “Sherlock? Responsible?”

“Quite,” Mycroft agreed. “But he does owe Cambridge University £190 in book fines and his mobile company around £300 and I fear the latter might send some sort of chap round to collect it if he’s not careful.” Mycroft rose to his feet. “Seeing you so damp really has reminded me I must get an umbrella. Have a better afternoon than you have had a morning, Detective Inspector.” He strolled out without waiting for a response.


He got home just as Caroline was dishing up dinner. She eyed him with sympathy. “I’m so sorry it fell through, babe. I saw it on the news.”

“Oh God, was I on it?” Greg asked.

“No, don’t worry. They said it shouldn’t have got to court in the first place.”

Greg dished up some salad with his lasagna. “Yeah. No. I dunno. We went through that case with a fine tooth comb. I don’t know why we didn’t see how wrong it was. It was the right decision. How was your day?”

“We made a paper mashé solar system.”

Greg grinned at her. “Really?”

“Yep. Saturn imploded, and the sun is the same size as the moon, but we all tried really hard and got very messy. It was a good day.”

“I’m glad it was for one of us.”

She stared at the table. “Greg, last night… I know you’re under stress.”

“I’m always under stress. I always take it out on you.”

“Let’s put babies on hold. Just for a while.”

Greg frowned. “What?”

“Until we’re both in the right place. You solve this case, and you’ll feel better. I don’t want children in the wrong circumstances.”

Greg bit his lip, not sure what to say. He knew he wasn’t unhappy with her decision. “I’m sorry, Caz.”

“Just eat your lasagna,” she said as she forced a smile.

Chapter Text

August 2005.

A forensics expert knelt by the door, taking fingerprints from the handle. “Anything interesting?” someone asked, and Greg turned to find Sherlock strolling into the building. There was a line of swear on his brow.

“Oi,” Greg said as he sauntered past, grabbing his arm and hauling him close. He inspected his eyes. “You’re high.”

“What does it matter?” Sherlock asked. “I’m still useful.”

“I don’t care if you could be useful, you’re not getting anywhere near my crime scene.” Greg yanked him towards the car and held the passenger door open for him. “In.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “This is ridiculous,” he said as he took a seat.

Greg ignored him, slamming the doors closed and getting behind the wheel. He would just drive them around the block and give Sherlock a bollocking. He hoped a moving car would mean Sherlock couldn’t escape. Wouldn’t put it past him to jump out of a moving vehicle though, the nutter.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Greg snapped.

Sherlock snorted. “Solving your case. Or I would be if you’d let me have a look.”

“No bloody way when you’re dosed up to your eyeballs.”

“Even with heroin my mind is far superior to your band of merry men.”

“I don’t give a bloody damn if that’s true. You’re a liability without drugs, Sherlock, and if this ever went to court and someone found out I based my evidence on a drug addict’s ideas, I’d lose my job.” Sherlock stayed quiet, looking out of the car. “Look, mate,” Greg said, in what he hoped was his most sympathetic voice. “You’ve been useful on my cases. I might have solved some of them without you but it would have taken me double the amount of time. But I’m taking a massive risk bringing you to crime scenes and letting you look at the files. In fact, it’s bloody illegal. You ever turn up drugged up again and you’ll be out on your arse and you will never work with me again, is that clear?”

“It’s clear,” Sherlock muttered. “But I’m not an addict.”

“Where do you live? I’m taking you back there.”

“No you’re not.”

Greg glanced at him. “Yes I bloody am. If one of my ‘merry men’ finds you on the street and decides you’re high, chances are you’ll never work with me again then either. Now where am I dropping you off?” Sherlock muttered a road name and Greg turned down a street.

Greg stayed quiet after that, trying to work out if a lecture would be worthwhile or whether Sherlock might have taken it in already. He’d come across plenty of people with drug problems during his time in the force, but none of them had been as intelligent as Sherlock.

“Y’know, Sherlock, if you can stay off the drugs, I’ll see about getting you access to Bart’s.” Sherlock’s expression grew more interested. “If you can prove to me you can be clean for a month, I’ll go and talk to the forensics team and see if you can help out there. But if you get back on the heroin, I’m pulling you straight back out.”

“What could I do?”

“Have a play with the evidence, use the equipment, examine the bodies. You have a science qualification, right?” Sherlock nodded. “It might take some work on my part,” Greg added. “But if I can find you someone patient enough to put up with you then I should be able to get you in. But you’ve got to help yourself first. I will go and ask them today. And if you’re clean in a month, then that should have given me enough time to get it sorted. What do you reckon?”

Sherlock stayed silent, so Greg just turned his CD player on. Sherlock made a disgusted huff and Greg grinned as he turned up the volume.


Greg couldn’t believe his eyes when Sherlock told him to stop the car outside where he lived. Greg had carried out two arrests here in the past, both drug related, and it was often used by squatters. He thought back to Sherlock’s supposed brother – Mycroft – and the not-too-shabby suit he wore and wondered how on earth Sherlock had ended up here.

“This house?”

“Obviously,” Sherlock said, getting out. Greg had planned to drop him off and get rid of him, but got out of the car himself. Sherlock rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything as Greg followed him into the building and where he supposed was Sherlock’s ‘room’.

It had a dark wooden floor with a grubby mattress stuck in the middle. No sheets, although Greg did note the room didn’t seem too cold. One saving grace, he thought. Sherlock slumped into the lone chair, next to the window..

Greg went to lean against a desk, but thought better of it when he saw the strange mould on it. Sherlock turned his attention back to the window. “Do you like police work?” Greg asked.

“It keeps my mind working,” Sherlock said. “I get bored.”

“You’re lucky I’m a patient man.”

Sherlock snorted. “You sound like my brother.” He spun his head around. “Oh God, you’ve met my brother.”

Greg stared at him. “How did you know that?”

“Obvious. He’s always interfering in my life. Is this why you’ve let me go to Bart’s? How much is he paying you?”

“He’s not paying me anything."

“Makes a change,” Sherlock muttered. "Though I suppose bribing the police is below even him."

“He cares about you.” Sherlock huffed. “So what’s the problem with you and your brother?”

“Don’t know,” Sherlock said. “Deleted it.”

“You what?”

“I deleted it,” Sherlock repeated.

“Sherlock, you can’t just ‘delete’ things.”

“Just because you’re incapable of it, doesn’t mean I am. It’s not hard. I don’t understand why everyone can’t do it.”

“That’s just great. Genius Sherlock Holmes can just forget everything he wants.” Greg’s phone interrupted them, and he walked out of the room to take the call.

Sally reeled off the details of the case, before she added: “where did you and the freak go?”

“To chase a lead,” Greg replied, ending the call. He wandered back into the room to find Sherlock sticking a needle in his arm.

“For God’s sake, Sherlock! Did you even listen to a single thing I said in the car?”

“Is this before or after you turned your noise on?”

Greg threw his arms up. “My noi-for fuck’s sake, I am not putting up with you. Next time I see you, I’m bringing a drug testing kit and if you’re not clean, I am not working with you again.” He stormed out and down the stairs.

When Greg emerged from the house he was unimpressed – but perhaps not that surprised – to find his hubcaps were missing.

“Bloody perfect.” It was just that kind of a day.


Greg pushed Sherlock from his mind for the rest of the week. He had cops dealing with missing children and shoplifting offences and he had to give evidence in court. He’d pushed Sherlock so far out of his head that when he saw the black car outside New Scotland Yard, it took him a few moments to work out where he recognised it from.

The back door opened, and who else would it be but Sherlock’s older brother. “What do you want?” Greg asked.

“To have a conversation,” Mycroft replied. “Get in.” Greg ignored him, heading towards the car park. “We’ll drive you home.”

“I have my own car," Greg muttered, shoving his hands into his pockets.

“We need to talk about Sherlock.” He paused. “Please. We will drive round the area and then you can drive home in your own car.”

Greg rolled his eyes. “This better be quick. My wife is expecting me home.” He slid onto the black leather seat beside Mycroft. Opposite him was a woman with brown hair typing into a Blackberry. “Hello,” he said. She inclined her head, but her eyes never left the screen.

“She’s not much of a talker,” Mycroft said. “We need to talk about Sherlock.”

“What about him?”

“He hasn’t been helping on cases this last week. It concerns me.”

“He turned up high to a crime scene,” Greg said, watching Mycroft’s face drop. Even the mysterious silent woman glanced at him.

“So you have ended all contact with my brother?” Mycroft asked.

“I didn’t say that.”

“Then what are you saying?”

“I told him I’d throw him out on his ear if he ever showed up at a crime scene high again. But I also told him that if he can clean for a month, I’ll get him access to Bart’s.”

“You would let him do forensic work?”

“I’d let him help,” Greg corrected. “If I found someone willing to put up with him.”

Mycroft stayed quiet for a few moments as he drew out his pocketwatch. Greg fidgeted and smoothed down his shirt. “I need to attend a meeting,” Mycroft said. “But if your association with Sherlock is to continue, and I do believe that is for the best, then I would like to spend some time informing you about my brother.”

“I’ll find it out for myself, thanks,” Greg said.

“As honourable,” Mycroft sneered, “as that sounds, I would prefer to fill in the gaps Sherlock would never tell you. It would be of some help.”

Greg rubbed his face. “Alright. I can do tomorrow.”

“You can do after 7pm, sir,” the woman said.

“Between 7 and 9 would be satisfactory for me,” Mycroft said. “I will take you out for dinner.”

The last thing he wanted was to spend more time in this man's company than necessary. “I don’t need dinner.”

“No, I’m sure.” Mycroft smiled, though it never reached his eyes. “But after a hard day, I do. And I have a flight to catch at 11pm. It would be convenient for me to have a conversation with you over dinner. Where shall we pick you up from?”

Greg gritted his teeth. “You can pick me up from work,” he said, as the car pulled back up to the police car park.

“Very well. See you tomorrow, Detective Inspector.”

Greg could not have got out any faster if he’d tried.


The following evening, Greg and Mycroft sat in silence in the back of the car, Mycroft typing on his laptop, the brown-haired woman still working on her mobile.

This meal was his idea of hell. He had spent the entire day trying to find a way to wriggle out of it. He told Sally he was having dinner ‘with an old friend’ but he needed an excuse not to go. He hadn’t poured the coffee down his shirt on purpose, but thought it was a good enough reason not to turn up. When she managed to find him a spare shirt, he didn’t try to hide his scornful expression.

Instead, here he was, in the back of Mycroft’s car with his strange assistant feeling, once again, under-dressed and uneducated. Greg text his wife.

MESSAGES

19.02: Why am I doing

This? Would rather be

home. X

MESSAGES Caroline Lestrade

19.03: Hv a nice meal and

make him pay! Am working

late anyway. Parents eve.

Fun… Lv u! X

“We’re here,” Mycroft said.

Greg pulled a face as he studied the restaurant, doormen waiting outside. “Looks a bit posh for me,” he said, looking down at the shirt that didn't quite fit. He suspected it belonged to Sam Brockhurst, the PC who had just joined the team. It was just his colour. “I don’t think they’ll let me in.”

“Nonsense,” Mycroft said.

They stepped outside. “Is she not coming?” Greg asked.

“It’s her night off. Supposedly.” Mycroft gestured to the door. “Come.”

Greg pulled his jacket tighter around himself, following Mycroft to the door. He was hit by the smell of steak, and something sweet and rich. It may have been out of his salary range by a million miles, but he was determined to enjoy it. He might never get a chance to go a place like this again. They were shown to a table without Mycroft even having to state his name. “Come here often?” Greg asked, looking around. He let the waiter take his coat and watched him as he handled the garment. Greg patted down his shirt. He should have worn a tie…

“Not very. I have brought a few colleagues here for meetings.”

“And what exactly do you work as?”

“I hold a small position in the British Government,” Mycroft replied. “Are you willing to share a bottle of wine? Do you have a preference?”

“Er… yeah, wine’s fine. I’ll drink whatever colour, I’m not fussy.”

Watching Mycroft raise an eyebrow, just a fraction, Greg supposed that was the wrong answer. Mycroft didn’t even look at the wine list. He asked for a bottle of something fancy-sounding and gestured to the menu. “I recommend the duck. Although I had the lamb the last time I was here and it was exquisite.”

Greg skimmed the prices. “I can’t really-”

“Don’t worry about the cost, I know how much you earn and I know how much I earn. I brought you here, it is my treat.”

“I don’t want charity.”

“By looking after Sherlock for no reward, you’re practically giving charity. Please. Enjoy yourself. I will be abroad for around three weeks and this could be the last good meal I have for a while.”

“Are we having starters?”

Mycroft smiled, the first real one Greg had seen him give. It lit up his face. “Please. Anything you would like.” The waiter brought the wine over, which Mycroft duly tasted. A few moments later, some bread and butter was brought to the table.

Greg ordered a garlic mushroom dish followed by the recommended duck, while Mycroft chose a risotto and steak. “Not that I mind, but why have you brought me here?” Greg asked, taking a sip of his wine. “Holy shit this is…” He winced. “Sorry.”

Mycroft chuckled, not looking the least offended. “It’s to your liking?” he asked.

“Are you kidding me? The wine I drink tastes like piss compared to this.”

Mycroft’s smile widened as he ripped off some of the bread. “I believe your question was why have I brought you here? This is the least I could do for what you’ve done for Sherlock the past few months.”

“Are we going to talk about Sherlock all night?” Greg asked.“I mean, I want to talk about Sherlock. And okay, I have a lot of questions. A. Lot. Of questions. But I don’t want to spend all night talking about him. I spend too much time at work thinking about what I’m going to do about him.”

Mycroft smiled. “That sounds very familiar.”

“So, let’s make a deal,” Greg said. “I imagine talking about Sherlock is going to take a long time. But once we get dessert, we talk about something else.”

“Your deal is acceptable.”

Greg buttered the bread. “Let’s get Sherlock out of the way then. I don’t want to know any big secrets. He can tell me himself.”

“I’m surprised you haven’t looked his record up already.”

“When you came into my office that day, I could have looked him up. I was about to. I didn’t.”

“You’re an honourable man, Detective.”

“Greg.”

“You’re an honourable man. Greg.” Greg frowned down at his bread. “You should learn to accept compliments," Mycroft told him.

“How long has Sherlock been an addict?” Greg asked, ignoring him.

“Hard to say. I believe it started at university, but I was otherwise engaged during that period.”

“Otherwise engaged?”

“I was abroad. Sherlock does not regard himself as an addict. He believes he can pick it up and put it straight back down whenever he wants. He is not as in control as he would like to think he is.”

“Where’s he getting the money from?”

“I don’t know,” Mycroft admitted. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s sitting in pubs challenging patrons to bets. I have tried to give him money but he will not accept it. I top up his account, but he hasn’t touched it in the past six months, as far as I can tell.”

“Where he’s living is disgusting,”

Mycroft sighed. “Is he still living on that mattress in a hovel near the Thames?”

“Yeah. I wanted to tell him to pack his stuff - what there is of it - and come stay on the sofa. And I’d offer it. If he got clean.”

“If seems like a lot of things would improve for Sherlock if only he got clean. Why are you so willing to engage with him?” Their conversation paused while the waiter placed their starters down. Greg forked some of his mushrooms onto the brochette and almost groaned around his fork.

“This is so good,” he said. Mycroft smiled and began to eat. “I pulled him in as a witness,” Greg said between mouthfuls. “That was all it was. But he’s had some interesting insights on my cases. Thought of things I would never had thought of.”

“While I’m sure that’s true on occasion, I’m quite sure you would have got there eventually.”

Greg shrugged. “That might be true. He’s proving to be very helpful. And I feel… overprotective. I don’t know why.”

“Sherlock doesn’t really have any friends.”

“I didn’t say I was a friend.”

“But you are concerned for his wellbeing?”

Greg hesitated, using the excuse of finishing his starter. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess I am a bit concerned. He’s like no one I’ve met before. And if I could give him a ring when I have a tough case and have him help, that would be great. But I can’t trust him when he’s high.”

“Do you think your threat will work? That he will stop if he has the opportunity to work at Bartholomew's?”

“What do you think? You know him better than me.”

“I hope it works,” Mycroft murmured, sounding wistful. “I would love nothing more than to see him use his mind in a beneficial way.”

“What happened between you two?” Greg asked. “Sherlock said he ‘deleted it’.”

“He did, did he?” Mycroft sighed. “Honestly. Nothing particular happened. Sherlock and I have never had the warmest of brotherly relationships, it’s most unfortunate. I would do anything for him. Nonetheless, I worry about him and try to do my best for him. Unfortunately, he does not always wish for my help or expertise.”

“So he’s trying to be independent?”

“Perhaps. If he had a job or at least something to do… I do very well to prevent mummy and father from realising what’s wrong. But if he continues to act like this… I wish I could do something more, but alas, he will not let me.”

“So you want me to help for you? You know I won’t report back to you. I need him to trust me.”

Mycroft raised his hand to silence him. “I realise that now. I trust you to look out for Sherlock. That is the biggest compliment I can give you.”

“What do I need to do?” Greg asked.

“I think you’re doing just fine. I think the promise to take him to Bartholomew's was a good one. And if he cannot make good on his side of the bargain, well, I will just need to consider an alternative.”

“I’ll do what I can,” Greg said as the waiter arrived with their main courses.

Mycroft smiled. “It appears we have finished talking about Sherlock ahead of schedule.”

“It does,” Greg agreed. “This food looks incredible.” Mycroft waited until Greg had taken a bite of his food before starting his own. “Tastes amazing,” Greg said. “Thanks for this.”

“Not at all.”

Greg topped up both their wine glasses. “So, where’d you go to university?”

“Oxford. Did you go?”

“Nottingham,” Greg replied. “Were you a rower?”

Mycroft looked as though he was about to burst into laughter, but toned it down to a chuckle instead. “Do you really imagine me in a boat?”

Greg grinned. “It was the only thing about Oxford I could think of.”

Mycroft laughed. “No, I was not a rower.”

“Didn’t get into any trouble at all?”

A coy smile emerged on Mycroft’s face. “I didn’t say that. How was Nottingham?”

“It was good fun. All the time. I didn’t get a great grade at the end of it. But I had a lot of fun.”

“Did you always wish to be a policeman?”

“No, not really. I didn’t know what I could do. But when I left uni, it seemed like the best option. Turned out I wasn’t bad at it. What do you do in the Government, exactly?”

“A small role in the Department of Transport.”

“And you’re going abroad for three weeks?”

“Other countries have transport,” Mycroft said. “I’m afraid I cannot talk about my work.”

Greg grinned. “If you told me you’d have to kill me?”

“I believe you are referencing James Bond. Unfortunately that isn’t the case.”

“Shame. You seem like a James Bond to me.”

“That is the most extraordinary thing anyone has ever said about me.”

“And I already accused you of being a rower. Where did you grow up?”

“Not in London. In the country.”

“And your parents?” Greg asked.

“Continue to live in the country. In a cottage. They left our ancestral home some time ago.”

Ancestral home? “Are they wealthy?”

“We wanted for nothing.”

“I take it you already know about my folks. You and Sherlock seem to have some sort of intuition about these things.”

“It’s not intuition, it’s deduction." Mycroft studied him. "I could find out what happened to your birth parents. If you wanted.”

“So could I,” Greg reminded him. “Police, remember? I nearly did a few times. I had the computer up and ready but I couldn’t do it. Either they both died in a horrible accident and had no other family and so I ended up…” He swallowed. “Well, that’s the best case scenario. I don’t want to think about the others.”

“But you were fostered?” Mycroft asked.

“When I was 12. I took their surname when I was 17. Alice, my foster mum, she died of cancer the same year. Dad moved back to France when I was 20 to be with his family. I met Caroline a few years after university, we married pretty young. Her parents weren’t thrilled.”

“But you’ve never had children.”

“Not for a lack of trying. We stopped four years ago. Started retrying recently.” He shifted in his seat, thinking of those recent failed attempts at foreplay and sex. “You’re not married? Kids? You've got a ring.”

“No, my work takes up a considerable amount of time.”

“If it wasn’t for meeting Caroline so young, I think I’d have been the same. She wants kids. But. I could live without it.”

“You’re satisfied.”

“I love my work. I love my wife. I don’t really feel like I need a lot else.”

Mycroft finished his food. “You do not have my contact number,” Mycroft said. He pulled a card and small pen from his pocket. He wrote a number and passed it over.

“Do I need to burn this after reading?” Greg asked, grinning.

Mycroft smiled. “That will not be necessary. But this is my direct number, and I do not give it out to just anybody.”

Greg saved the number in his phone and dialled it. “Now you’ve got mine,” he said. “I won’t contact you every time Sherlock gets into trouble. But if there’s something you need to know, I’ll let you know.”

“It is impossible to explain how much I appreciate that gesture.”

“Is there anything I need to be aware of?” Greg asked.

“No. Nothing you haven’t realised already. But if you require anything, please contact me. I realise Sherlock can be… difficult.”

“That’s an understatement.” He sat back in his chair, tilting his head at Mycroft. “I thought tonight was going to be terrible. I tried very hard to get out of it.”

Mycroft smiled, not looking surprised, or offended. “It did occur to me that there must be many better ways for you to spend your evening. But I’m grateful you agreed to come.” Mycroft’s personal assistant headed towards their table, moving just within Mycroft’s eye-line.

Mycroft put the money down on the table. “I must get to the airport. Thank you for a pleasant evening. I will be in touch.”

“Cheers for the food.”

“You are very welcome. Please, stay and finish the wine. Goodnight. Greg.”

“Mycroft.” Mycroft thanked the waiter and left. Greg dialled the number for a taxi, watching the other patrons as he finished his glass of the amazing wine.


Greg returned home to find Caroline already in bed, the lights off, phone in hand. She smiled at him as he walked in, putting it on charge. “How was it?”

“Better than I expected,” Greg said. “I learnt a bit more about Sherlock-"

“-Who?”

“The guy who’s been helping us out.”

“Oh, the heroin chappy?”

Greg laughed as he got undressed. “Yep, him. And had some really good food. The guy’s bloody rich. How was parents’ evening?”

“Full of parents who can’t see anything wrong in their little darlings.”

“What a surprise. Any really bad ones?”

“All of them.”

Greg laughed, and climbed into bed beside her. “Surely it’s not that bad?”

“You try and talk to them,” Caroline said. Greg pressed up against her, kissing her neck. She wriggled away. “Not tonight, hun.”

He clenched his teeth. “Okay. Goodnight.”

“Night.”

Greg kissed her head before rolling over. Before he fell asleep, he was vaguely aware of Caroline picking up her phone and texting.

Chapter Text

September, 2005

Greg had practically banged the door down, but he eventually convinced Sherlock to let him into his room. The Inspector threw a plastic tub at him and Sherlock glared. “Come on, this is the deal. You piss in a pot, I take you to Bart’s, we do the tests and if they’re clean – and you charm the pants off everyone there – you get to do forensics.” Greg grinned, his hands in his pockets. Sherlock glared.

“Somehow I feel like you are getting more out of this deal than I am,” Sherlock said.

“That’s not true. You’re just less of a liability if you’re clean.”

Sherlock folded his arms across his chest. He looked too skinny. Greg want to take that man out for a whopping big McDonalds. Greg longed for a Big Mac. He'd have to pick one up on the way home. “I do not need to ‘piss in a pot’ to prove I’m clean,” Sherlock said.

Greg mirrored Sherlock’s pose, folding his own arms across his chest. “Yes you do.”

“I’m not an addict.”

“Yes you are.”

“I’m not doing it,” Sherlock continued to protest.

“Then you’re not getting anywhere near Bart’s. Or my cases.” Greg raised his eyebrows. Sherlock made an angry sound in his throat before storming past Greg into the corridor and into the toilet, slamming the door behind him. Greg grinned to himself and walked across the room. He lifted the mattress up and pulled out a small tin box from underneath it. He was relieved to find it only contained money. He spent the next five minutes looking up and down Sherlock’s living quarters, hunting for drugs paraphernalia, but his search proved fruitless.

He looked out of the window and shivered. The last time he had been here, he had found it warmer than expected. But despite September being a fairly warm month, the room was beginning to feel damp. Greg wasn’t sure he liked the idea of Sherlock living here much longer.

“Are you quite finished?” Sherlock asked from behind him, leaning on the door frame. He held the urine sample out in front of him.

Greg turned away from the window. “I am. And you can carry that for yourself.”

Sherlock pulled a disgusted face. “You made me do this,” he said. “You can carry it.”

As Greg walked past him him, Sherlock tucked the pot into Greg’s pocket. “I hate you right now,” Greg muttered, pulling a face.

Sherlock followed him down the stairs. “So what do I get to do?”

“You don’t get to do anything today,” Greg said. “Today you meet the staff, try not to scare them, and make them like you. Which, if you stick to science and topics I don’t understand, I’m sure you’ll manage.” Greg risked a glance at Sherlock as they got into the car, and if he didn’t know better, he’d have thought Sherlock almost appeared nervous. He was watching out of the front window, wringing his hands. “Seriously, Sherlock. Stay clean. That’s all you have to do and I’ll pull you in whenever I need you. Which will probably be a lot.” Sherlock glanced over at him. Unsure if flattery was the right technique with this difficult man, Greg added, “you’re a genius. And I want you. Help yourself too, mate.”

“Of course you want me,” Sherlock said. Perhaps flattery was just encouraging the inner monster then. Won’t be trying that again in a hurry. “Your men are incompetent. If what you need for my help is for me to be off the drugs, then I suppose it is only logical that I don’t take drugs.” Greg smiled and decided not to force the issue any further.

 


 

 

Walking into Bart’s, Greg always felt out of place. He watched them with their microscopes and the screens which apparently proved crucial to a case but until he had the words in front of him and a few moments to digest the information, he always felt inferior and a bit of a spare part. He wasn’t stupid, and he knew how important this was. But the science… well, it was not exactly his area.

He had expected to feel a bit more like he had the upper hand on this occasion, introducing Sherlock around and pretending he knew everything that was going on. But then Sherlock began asking what equipment they had, and could they do this, and could they test for that and Greg found himself feeling pretty useless again. As Greg leaned against the wall on his phone, the head technician pulled him aside. “So, why are you introducing him? He on your team?”

Greg looked over at Sherlock who was gesturing wildly and evidently angering one of the scientists. “No, not exactly. He’s just... there’s something special about his brain. I told him I’d introduce him around here.”

“We can’t afford to pay him.”

“No, you don’t have to.” Greg watched the way Sherlock stopped arguing, peering over a scientist’s shoulder gazing at the monitor in front of them. He seemed to be treating that scientist as more of an equal. Almost. “To be honest, I think he’d do this kind of work for free. Don’t give him an access card, just let him in when he shows up and you think he’ll be useful.”

“He a family member of yours?”

“God no.” Oh God, that thought was enough to make Greg shudder. Imagine being related to that. “Just tell me if he starts upsetting all your staff.”

The technician narrowed his eyes. “Is that a possibility?”

Greg bit his lip. “I’d love to say no. But he’s rubbed pretty much all my team up the wrong way.”

“You’re not filling me with confidence, Lestrade.”

“I get on with him. Just set him boundaries and let him do his work and I think he’ll be fine.”

“You think?”

“I hope so. Look, he’s smart. Smarter than you. And I’m going to be a better Detective Inspector with him than without him, I reckon. I’m not arrogant enough to think me and my team can do it all by ourselves, and if you get an opportunity to do some real good, then take it.”

Greg glanced at Sherlock and lowered his voice. “Look, here’s my advice,” he said. “Pull up some old evidence. Stuff you’ve already worked on, and tell him it’s for a new case. Let him loose on it and let him prove himself to you. If he surprises you, keep him on. If you hate him or he’s more useless than the most useless member of your staff, dump him. But I don’t think you’ll find reason to get rid of him. Except if he pisses everyone off, which is a big possibility.”

“If you say so.”

“Bet you a fiver you’ll want him here.”

“Tenner.”

Greg shook the technician’s hand. “You won’t regret it.” Greg hoped to God that was true.

 


 

October, 2005

Three weeks later, and Sherlock had settled into life at Bart’s surprisingly well. Greg collected the ten pound note after two weeks and although two members of staff had threatened to resign and one actually had, the head technician said it was only because they couldn’t stand to be inferior. In fact, the technician said, he had so little to do with the day-to-day running of the lab that as long as results were coming out he didn’t really care how well his staff got on.

Sherlock wasn’t bringing them coffees and making friends. But he was getting results, and that was all Greg and the hierarchy of Bart’s really cared about.

Sherlock also seemed to be off the drugs for now, although Greg was taking no chances, and had taken a few opportunities to search Sherlock’s flat. He knew Sherlock knew. But the fact the man offered no complaint showed Greg how keen he was to progress at Bart’s. And since he had been allowed access to data from a real case for the first time, he seemed to be thriving.

“Sherlock!” Greg called across the lab.

“What?” he asked, looking up from a microscope. “Don’t you see I’m busy?”

“I just wondered if you wanted to come to a crime scene. But if you don’t then I’ll just leave you to it…”

Sherlock instantly stood up and pulled his coat off the back of his chair (breaking lab regulations, Greg was sure of it). “Come on then, Inspector, no time to waste.”

Greg led the way to the car, reciting the details of the crime scene he had already been told. “It’s a man, early 30s, signs of respiratory failure.” Sherlock followed Greg and got into the car. They drove in silence to the crime scene.

Greg spotted Sally keeping watch over the area and guiding pedestrians and tourists to walk around the crime scene rather than through it. “What’s he doing here?” she enquired, crossing her arms. Greg was beginning to wonder if it was himself or Sherlock who made everyone he knew so needlessly aggressive.

“I brought him along to come and look,” Greg said.

“But he is such a freak,” Sally groaned, not for the first time. Greg decided the best course of action was to ignore her, though it was never easy for Sherlock to do the same, it appeared.

Just as Sherlock decided to take that moment to say something derogatory, Greg quickly grabbed his shoulders and steered him away. “Come on, body’s this way.” Angering Sally was only going to make her worse. Greg rounded the corner, and handed Sherlock a gloves and a blue protective suit. Sherlock stared. “You’ve got no choice. Wear it or go.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes as he put the protective suit on, and Greg did the same before letting them both under the barrier. “So, initial thoughts?” Greg asked.

Sherlock crouched down at the body, a strange glint in his eye. The man’s head was turned to the left, froth around his mouth. Greg put his hand up to silence the forensic expert as he began to speak, giving Sherlock all the encouragement he needed to show off. “His name is probably a Rob or a Robert…” Sherlock started.

“Wait, what? How do you know his name?” the expert enquired.

“The bracelet. Has an R on it. White male, probably English, common male names beginning with R, Rob or Robert seem pretty obvious. It was the sixth most popular baby name in 1975, the approximate year this man was born. Maybe a Russell, but looks like he lives in the streets, does he really seem like a Russell to you?” Greg wasn’t even going to ask how the hell Sherlock knew the most popular baby names of 1975. “The man has been at Regent’s Park sometime in the last hour,” Sherlock announced suddenly.

“That’s. Specific,” Greg said, frowning. “Explain.”

Sherlock sighed, as though distraught no one else understood. Which, Greg conceded, was probably true about 90% of the time.

“The wet mud on his shoes. He’s been on damp grass, damp ground, probably in the last hour. Around his pocket are breadcrumbs, so he’s been feeding some ducks on damp ground. Where’s the closest park with ducks? His shoes are worn right down, he walks a lot, unlikely to have taken public transport to get from there to here. So, closest park with ducks in an hour of here? Regent’s Park.”

“He might have been feeding pigeons,” Greg said.

“In a park? Ducks are most obvious. He’s got himself an expensive jacket. Probably from one of those charity events where everyone has to donate a coat to a homeless person.”

“And he definitely wasn’t brought here or dumped here?” Greg asked.

“That would be the obvious expectation if you’re an idiot,” Sherlock said. Greg rolled his eyes as he continued. “And if it weren’t for the leftover soggy chip on his shoe. Around the corner, a bag of chips has been dropped and is currently being enjoyed by the pigeons. So, he walked here. No, he didn’t walk,” Sherlock corrected, his eyes skimming the man’s legs and feet. “He stumbled. From the scuff on his shoe it looks like he dragged this leg. Doesn’t do that often, the shoe isn’t worn down in that way and it’s a light scuff. His hand is slightly damp where he held onto that fence alongside the road there as he stumbled. He picked off a speck of green paint from the gate.”

“Brilliant,” Greg said.

“You say that,” the forensics man said. “But none of that means anything.”

Sherlock sighed. “No, of course, you want to deal in nameless nobodies, because their cases are easier to clear up.”

“I don’t,” Greg said, trying to draw Sherlock’s attention away from the other man. Greg decided he seemed to be willing to take Sherlock’s insults on the chin while everyone else got their knickers in a twist. And they called him the short-tempered one. “So, tell me.”

“He’s another rat poison case. From the images I saw, the same skin tone, the same frothing at the mouth mouth. Only he died faster. A lot faster.”

“A higher concentration?”

“Maybe,” Sherlock said. “Or mixed with something else, not easy to tell that.”

“Anything else?” Greg prompted.

“He’s not a drug taker. No signs of heroin use on his face, no obvious signs of cocaine. Judging by his breath, he’s more of an alcoholic. And he still came into contact with the poison. Fascinating.”

“I hate this case,” Greg muttered.

Sherlock beamed at him. “This case is brilliant! I will catch you your murderer, Lestrade! Give me all your notes.”

Greg shook his head. “You know this is why Sally calls you a freak, don’t you?”

“Oh, forget about her, you don’t need her. You have me. Get this body to Bart’s, now.” Greg raised his eyebrows. “Ah. You give that order, don’t you?” Sherlock said.

“Yes, Sherlock, I do.”

“My first murder victim, this is thrilling.”

“Sherlock,” Greg warned, waving his hand for the forensics man to walk away. “You can’t be this excited at crime scenes?”

“Why not?”

“It’s not a game.”

“Oh, but it is a game, don’t you see it? London is just a big board game for murderers and serial killers. And our killer here just gives us a new challenge every time. There’s only two common threads. Rat poison and the homeless or the nearly-homeless. But there must be something you’ve missed. I need your case notes. I need to see everything. Pictures, maps, details, I need everything, Lestrade!”

Greg held his hands up. “Alright, alright! Do you want to go with the body or do you want to come to the station?”

Sherlock wavered a moment. “I’ve got everything from the body for now, your fellows can sort it. Give me your files.”

“I won’t give you my files, you can look at them.” Sherlock made a huffing sound and got into the car. “I have to set you boundaries, Sherlock,” Greg said. “Because God knows, you trample over them all anyway.”

Sherlock stayed quiet. Greg turned the radio on and sang loudly to his music on the way to the Yard. 

Chapter Text

October, 2005

Four hours after leaving the crime scene, Greg walked into his office with a coffee and a tea and was surprised to see Sherlock still lying on the floor, his hands in a steeple under his chin. The files were strewn across the floor around him and Greg wondered if he stood up whether it would leave a perfect silhouette of his body there. “Is that helping?” Greg asked, putting the tea on the floor beside Sherlock.

“Quiet. Thinking.”

Greg rolled his eyes and sat back down at his desk.

An hour passed. “Sherlock I need to go home,” Greg said, watching him. “I need to put these files away.”

“Go then,” Sherlock said. He hadn’t moved much in all that time. “Thinking.”

Half an hour later, Greg stared at his empty coffee mug. He felt like he was child-minding. “Sherlock, seriously…” he started, but Sherlock suddenly sat up, with a gasp.

“Oh, Lestrade, Lestrade! You absolute idiot.”

Greg looked at Sherlock with a frown. “Hey!”

“This is beautiful,” Sherlock said. “This is just brilliant.”

Greg put his head in his hands. “Come on, Sherlock, I need to go home to see my wife.”

“No you don’t, your wife’s sleeping with your neighbour.”

His head spun round to look at Sherlock. “What?”

“Obvious. Now, this murderer-”

“-Sherlock! You cannot just say that and shut up-”

“-It’s not important-”

“-It is to me!” Greg’s chest felt tight. His mouth was dry.

Sherlock groaned. “Oh, alright. Honestly, why do you always need to know everything? Isn’t it just enough that I know it and you know by now that I always get it right? Your car smells of perfume.”

“So?”

“You’ve picked me up several times in the past two months, only in the past few weeks has it started smelling like a different perfume. It’s nicer, more pungent. More expensive, probably. And in the past three weeks, you’ve stopped wearing aftershave. So, you’re not making an effort to smell nice for your wife anymore while at the same time your wife is making an effort to smell better.

“You’ve started smoking again and you’ve stopped trying for children. You and your wife share one car, and she works at a school in walking distance from your home, so chances are she’s having the affair with a neighbour and not someone she drives to see. I take it from your expression that she’s always home when you are so she must be having sex close enough to your home to pop back whenever you send her a text to say I’m coming home. Which you always do, just before you leave here, giving her 20 minutes to have her fix and get back just in time to turn the telly on and pass you your beer.”

Greg sat down slowly into his chair, stunned. He thought of Caroline texting while he fell asleep. But no. Not his wife. She wouldn’t. “I don’t believe you.”

Sherlock sighed. “Fine. Let’s get back to murder.”

“Sherlock, you can’t just say these things to people!”

“What? Tell them the truth?”

Greg rubbed his face with his hands. “No. Because it isn’t true.”

Sherlock stood up, leaving the paperwork strewn over the floor. “Feelings. Everyone’s so swept up in their feelings that they don’t look at what’s in front of them,” he muttered.

“Sherlock, seriously, go.”

“But I haven’t told you about the case.” Sherlock looked put out.

“Tell me in the morning.” Sherlock opened his mouth to say something. “Sherlock! Shut up. Tell me in the morning. It will wait.”

“Not if there’s another body it won’t.”

Greg looked at him. “How likely is that?”

“Not very likely tonight.”

“Go home. Please,” Greg said tiredly. He took a ten pound note out of his wallet and handed it to Sherlock. “Get a taxi.”

Sherlock nodded his head, picked up his coat and walked out of Greg’s office. Greg felt as though he could practically hear Sherlock rolling his eyes, continually muttering about feelings, as he did so.

Greg stared at his computer, the light from it hurting his eyes. He made himself another coffee and started going through another case.

Greg didn’t leave work until he knew Caroline would be in bed. He knew it was petty. He knew he should be asking her for the truth. But he decided it avoid it.

 


 

Greg couldn’t sleep. Of course he couldn’t sleep, he was lying beside his - apparently unfaithful - wife. But rather than being preoccupied with that particular problem, he was more concerned about his case.

Greg was used to sleepless nights. He’d experienced them ever since he could remember, at varying frequencies. But he didn’t feel like sleep was ever going to arrive this time.

He had mostly managed to ignore Sherlock’s deduction about Caroline, which was hard, because he hadn’t seen Sherlock get it wrong yet.

Instead, he thought back to ‘Lestrade! You absolute idiot!’ and ‘I haven’t told you about the case’ and how certain Sherlock was there wouldn’t be another body.

And in several hours of lying on the floor of his office like a mad man, Sherlock had come up with something Greg thought he would never have seen coming. And in that moment Greg was so swept up in the accusation his wife was having an affair that he didn’t care enough to ask what Sherlock had realised.

And there was the moral problem it posed.

He cared more about his wife’s affair than the seven linked bodies that had shown up around London on his watch. One body was par for the course. He felt like he’d let the others happen. It was the first time he’d ever felt like he’d put himself before those lifeless people who appeared in his life silently saying ‘help me’.

He frowned. Was this really the first time he’d put himself before his cases? Well, if Caroline was having an affair, which she wasn’t, then that would be why.

He was angry at Sherlock. Angry that Sherlock had proved himself to be so brilliant, and that Greg himself hadn’t managed to be half as good yet he’d dedicated his life to this. Dedicated his life to saving people.

And Sherlock treated it like it was something he could turn up and just do. Like it was fun. Like playing a game of Cluedo. And God he hated Sherlock Holmes with his waltzing into situations like he belonged and his long fucking coat with his drug habit and bloody pompous brother.

Greg just didn’t see it.

He didn’t see what Sherlock claimed to see, and that was infuriating. What pattern? What link? What did it all mean except someone hated homeless people and wanted them dead and treated them like vermin?

 

4.56am.

Greg woke with a start, his forehead coated in sweat. He felt Caroline move beside him, but he stayed as still as he could, the image of the screaming man fresh in his mind.

He glanced at the clock and watched it tick over to 4.57am.

He let out a long, shaky breath, reaching for his phone. He checked the screen, saw it empty of messages and tried to push the horrid sense of foreboding out his mind.

How he’d ever got to sleep in the first place he didn’t know, but he had managed it somehow. Just needed to close his eyes and let it go…

 

6.30am.

His alarm woke him this time. Caroline muttered ‘uh, why?’ beside him, groaning as she rolled over and buried her face in the pillow.

Greg felt much the same.

He took a few moments before pulling himself out of bed and stumbling to the bathroom.

He looked in the mirror, and felt the dark circles under his eyes. He brushed a hand through his hair, groaning at the new greys that seemed to have sprung up overnight.

After pissing and brushing his teeth he stepped into the shower. He closed his eyes, letting the hot water almost scold his skin.

 

He was out of the house by 7.06am.

He drove to New Scotland Yard with the radio on, and he found he couldn’t even laugh to Chris Moyles on the radio like he usually did.

He turned the sound up when Bad Day by Daniel Powter came on (well, wasn’t that appropriate), but switched it off completely when he pulled up at New Scotland Yard.

He hadn’t taken the time that morning to have a cigarette, so he joined Sally at the bike rack. It was 7.24am, and he still had some time to enjoy it. “Alright, sir?” she asked, looking at him. “Was there a case last night or something?”

“No. Why?”

“Just you look exhausted.”

“Charming, Donovan.”

She shrugged, dropping her cigarette on the floor and stamping it out. “Is everything okay?” she asked.

“It’ll do,” Greg said. “Just this case and the Kirkcudbright case. It’s all a bit too much to think about. But I’m fine,” he added quickly. “I can handle it, I just need sometime to mull stuff over.”

“Don’t even talk to me about the Kirkcudbright case,” Sally said bitterly. “I thought we had it.”

“I didn’t,” Greg said quietly. “I wanted to think we had, but I knew something was off. We’ll figure it out. We’ll figure all of them out.” 

 


 

Sherlock waited until Greg was about to leave for the day.

He showed up at the Yard just as Greg was finishing his last cup of coffee.

Greg had spent most of the day going over his files. He was desperate to know Sherlock’s thoughts. But pride had kept him from calling or texting. He was going to figure this out for himself, he decided.

He was going to cut Sherlock out. If all Sherlock could do was accuse his wife of having an affair then he could go. And take Mycroft with him, because the man was just a little bit freaky.

But nothing felt clearer at 3.28pm when Greg slammed the folder down on his desk, spilling hot coffee over his keyboard.

And it felt just as far away three hours later.

Sherlock had taken three or four hours to work something out. And Greg had been working on the problem all day and still nothing made sense.

He was working on the Kirkcudbright case simultaneously, of course. And that in itself was posing its own difficulties.

He tipped his head back, closing his eyes. He heard his office door open. “What?” he asked, not bothering to look up.

“Did you figure it out?” came the familiar voice of Sherlock Holmes.

Greg looked at him. He looked paler than usual, if that was possible. “No. Come on then. Take a seat.”

Sherlock sat across from him, not bothering to taking his coat off. “You’re unhappy with me,” Sherlock said.

“Yeah, obvious,” Greg replied, repeating Sherlock’s favourite word. He got a little bit of pleasure out of that. “But I’m putting that aside so you can tell me what you’ve figured out. And try not to sound like a arrogant tosser while you’re at it.”

Sherlock sat in silence, watching Greg before reaching over the desk and taking hold of the files. He flicked through the sheets. He coughed, not much, not loudly, but enough to catch Greg’s attention. But before he could say anything, Sherlock started speaking.

“The first thing that occurred to me were the street names. The body by the bridge was found in Upper Thames Street. The house with the three bodies in Lower Sloane Street. The alleyway off East India Dock Road. And finally, the last body in North Woolwich Road. Upper, Lower, East, North.”

“What’s your point?”

Sherlock started to look exasperated, but managed to reign his expression in. It intrigued Greg that he’d bothered to try. “Upper. Lower. East. North,” he said pointedly.

Greg paused. Thinking. “So they’re all road names that describe locations. So, what, we need to keep an eye on every road beginning with West and South? No, no, but wait, the first body and the last one just died there. They weren’t dumped there or taken there.”

“They were led there,” Sherlock said. “So, no, not dumped. But they were supposed to die in those locations nonetheless. There’s too much of a pattern for it not to be the case. Now…” Sherlock opened the folder, pulling a selection of crime scene and autopsy photos out. He cleared his throat.

“John Doe one, heroin user. Obvious. John Doe two and three, also drug users. John Doe and Jane Doe from the house were also. But Mark Scott wasn’t. Look at his arms. Look at his arms compared to the others. Where are the injection marks? He took heroin once in the last year, maybe once in his life. It was injected along with the rat poison. But his clothes, here in the forensics…”

“He was a dealer,” Greg completed. “I figured that bit out already. Traces of drugs all over him but not much in his body. He’d been in and out of jail on petty offences for years. Last time must have been hard to get back into work or on benefits. So he became a dealer.”

“And so were all the others,” Sherlock said. “Or if not dealers, then they were part of drug networks or gang or whatever else you’d describe it as. These murders aren’t random killings of homeless people or killings of addicts. These are warnings.”

Warnings? Warning of what? Greg didn’t like the sound of that one bit. “And the road names?” Greg asked.

“They refer to areas. Not necessarily the places they were found in either. Imagine London like a big rectangle and divide it into squares, like a grid. Drug dealers and gangs operate all over London in specific areas. If they cross into each others’ territory you get outright war. Some gangs operate in more than one place, all over the city. But it’s spread out and unmanageable. Disorganised chaos. None of their networks are sophisticated enough. But what if one network starts to get a bit smarter than the others?” Sherlock’s eyes began to widen in excitement. “What if one network decides that rather than to spread to a random areas all over the city, they pick several squares all next to each other.”

Greg frowned, trying to digest it. He started to draw a rectangle on his notepad.

“North, South, East, West of the same large geographical area,” Sherlock continued. “And from there, they hope their product is better and they can spread it out into London more widely. All from one concentrated area.

“But someone doesn’t like that. And not all dealers are smart, and some are exceptionally stupid indeed. So our killer starts taking out the weaker members, the lowly-ranked dealers. The rats at the bottom of the food chain. And he leaves them in streets to represent the South, North, East, West of that area. A warning to back-off.”

Greg looked up from his doodle. “So we’re, what, dealing with rival drug dealing gangs?”

“Networks, Inspector. Like I said. You have the rats at the bottom. Running from addict to addict, taking the money, giving them the product. But there are levels above them.”

Greg frowned, thinking. “That. All makes sense. I think. But doesn’t get us much closer to the killer. Except we’re looking for a top dog.”

“When you have the forensics for the last man, let me know. I’ll take a look.”

Greg nodded. “Sherlock?”

“What?”

“I need a urine sample tomorrow.”

Sherlock pulled a face, standing up. He coughed loudly, covering his mouth with his hand, and rubbing his throat. He winced.

“Sherlock. Are you alright? You’re not getting sick are you?”

“Don’t fuss, Inspector.”

He watched the younger Holmes brother leave. Greg chewed his lip and thought back to Sherlock’s ‘home’. He really had to sort something out with that. He couldn’t let the man keep living in those conditions.

But for now, there were even more important matters to attend to.

He picked up his phone and text Caroline.

 

MESSAGES
6.51pm: Going to the pub.
Don’t worry about food.
X

 

He took one last look at his files before standing up and putting his coat on. Sally, Edmund, Carter and a few other PCs were stood in a group laughing together. “Come on Inspector,” Sally said. “We’re missing out on valuable drinking time.”

Greg smiled and followed them out of the building, half-listening to their conversation.

“You see the game last night?” Carter asked, walking beside him.

“No, missed it, mate, I was working late.”

“Again? Mate, seriously, get some sleep.”

“It’s this rat poison case, it’s doing my head in.”

Carter looked at him. “You’ve got to let go sometimes, Greg. You can’t obsess over stuff, you’re more likely to miss what’s right in front of you. How’s the missus?”

“She’s alright. Looking forward to the holidays.”

“Greg. Mate. Just chill out and enjoy the pint tonight, yeah?”

Greg smiled. “So, how was the game?”

“Oh don’t even ask. Bloody ridiculous.”

Greg listened as Carter described the worst penalty miss he’d ever seen as they walked to the pub, and Greg accepted the pint Edmund handed to him.

They sat down at their usual booth, talking for around an hour, when Greg felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He frowned at the withheld number and walked away from the table to take the call.

“Greg Lestrade.”

“Inspector. This is Loretta Freeman from Mycroft Holmes’ office. He has just returned from his trip and would like to arrange a meeting with you. I have his diary in front of me and he is free between two and half two tomorrow or between eight and 10pm. Which would suit you best?”

Greg rolled his eyes at the audacity of it. “I haven’t agreed to this meeting yet,” he said.

“Which time would suit you best, Inspector?”

Greg frowned. It didn’t seem as though he had much of a choice. “After eight, but…”

“And where will the car pick you up from, Inspector?”

“Uh. God. Um. Just pick me up from work.”

“Very well, Inspector. Good evening.” The woman on the other end of the phone hung up. Greg shook his head and sat back down at the table. How on earth had his life become this?

Caroline wasn’t home when Greg got in. She came back at 11.13pm. She was usually in bed by 11.05.

Greg watched her as she readied herself for bed, tying her hair up and changing into her nightgown. Greg looked for signs of a love bite, anything he could confront her about. But nothing looked different. And he was not going to start snooping on her by going through her phone.

No, he was just going to leave it alone. Sherlock couldn’t be right about everything and he rather enjoyed the status quo. So he put the thought to bed, as much as he could. 

Chapter Text

October, 2005

Sherlock was still at Bart’s in the early evening and Greg decided to wander over to see what was going on. In preparation for his visit with Mycroft later, he had worn a tie for only the second day since he had been promoted. He had avoided disaster so far, and actually received some compliments on his appearance. He was considering it was something he would wear more often.

A new member of staff was sat in the far corner of the lab, writing notes. “Sherlock,” Greg said as he walked in. He looked at the woman. “Hello.”

“Hi," she said. 

“I’m Greg Lestrade. Detective Inspector for the Met.”

“Molly Hooper,” she smiled shyly. “Intern.”

Sherlock was still wearing a coat and scarf. If anything he looked worse than yesterday. Sherlock looked up from his microscope. “Inspector. Excellent.” He reached out and grabbed Greg’s tie out of his jacket, picking up some scissors and promptly cutting it.

Greg clenched his fist. “Hey! What the hell are you doing?”

“I’m testing the absorption rates of blue ties compared to red ties.”

“Bloody hell. Why do I put up with you? I was wearing that for a reason.”

“Why?” Sherlock asked.

“I have a meeting.” Greg took what remained of his tie off, throwing it in the bin and watched Sherlock cut up small piece of fabric, dipping them into different solutions. “Why is this useful?”

“I don’t know yet,” Sherlock said. “The numbers will inform me.”

Greg looked over at Molly, frowning. She shrugged one shoulder a fraction, smiling nervously. “I’m just observing,” she said.

Greg sat down, watching Sherlock. “Is this anything to do with our case?” he asked.

“Could be,” Sherlock said cryptically, before he turned his back to his work and let out a horrible throaty-sounding cough.

“You're making me nervous,” Greg told him, watching as he hunched over his experiments. “Look, I’ve been meaning to have a chat with you actually-”

“Shh. Need to concentrate.”

Greg folded his arms across his chest, watching as Sherlock started to write some numbers down on his sheet.

Nothing Sherlock was doing made particular sense to Greg, but he found it fascinating nonetheless. Greg checked the time. He still had half an hour until Mycroft was picking him up, and it struck him, not for the first time, that he was very close to becoming an intermediary between the brothers. And that would not be a good thing. He’d nip that in the bud quickly. “Sherlock, can I ask you a question?”

“I’m busy! Can’t you see?” Sherlock said impatiently. “I know what you’re going to ask me, and no, I’m not talking to my brother and I’m not moving out of the room either. Now leave and stop distracting me.”

Greg caught Molly’s eye and she quickly looked away and back down at her clipboard. Greg stood up. “Fine. Nice to meet you Miss Hooper. I’ll text you, Sherlock.”

Sherlock huffed in response and Greg wandered out of Bart’s.

He contemplated going to McDonalds and picking up a burger, or maybe Starbucks for a coffee. Instead, he lit a cigarette as he walked back to the Yard, trying to work out how he could get Sherlock out of that run-down building and at least somewhere with a proper bed and heating. 

Just as he put the cigarette to his lips, the black car pulled up alongside him. The driver’s window rolled down. “We were running early,” the driver said. “Finish your cigarette and then we can leave.”

Greg contemplated taking one last breath of it and stamping it out. But instead, he decided to drag it out, savour it. He stood watching the cars roll past and the people wander around. He knew it was obvious he was taking longer over it than he ever would normally, but he took some pleasure out of making Mycroft Holmes wait. He let out a long breath, watching the smoke drift into the air.

A back window was rolled down, and Mycroft looked out of it, a half smirk on his face. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

Greg grinned, rolling the cigarette between his fingers. “Yeah, little bit, not gonna lie.”

Mycroft rolled the window back up, and to Greg’s surprise he stepped out a few moments later. He put his hand out, and Greg handed him the packet. “Terrible habit,” Mycroft said, drawing the cigarette out with his long fingers. “But it has been a tiring few weeks.”

Mycroft put the paper between his lips, and Greg took the lighter back out of his pocket, flicking it and lighting it for him. He watched as Mycroft took a drag, closing his eyes for a few seconds as he savoured it before letting out a slow breath. “Yes. Thank you," Mycroft murmured. 

Greg laughed, putting the lighter and packet back in his pocket. He looked over at Mycroft who appeared to be the most relaxed he had ever seen him. “Enjoying that?”

“Mm,” Mycroft agreed. “More than I should.”

Greg stamped his out on the ground. “Every one I smoke is always the last one.”

Mycroft chuckled. “Yes, I find I have a certain lack of self-control around cigarettes.”

Greg grinned, raising his eyebrows. “There’s something you can’t control? I can’t believe that.”

Mycroft finished the cigarette, savouring the last drag. “Where would you like to go this evening?” Mycroft asked.

Greg snorted. “You’re letting me decide?”

“I inconvenienced you. I thought it appropriate to let you decide.”

Greg shrugged, thinking. “Pizza?” he asked.

“Pizza?” Mycroft repeated. Greg hesitated. Was Mycroft really a pizza person? Ah, who wasn’t a pizza person?

“Yeah, pizza. You know. Bread, tomatoes, cheese, lots of toppings. I’ll be kind. We’ll go to Pizza Express rather than Pizza Hut.”

They moved into the car and Greg stroked the leather seat. “Why is Pizza Express preferable?” Mycroft asked.

“It’s less greasy.”

Mycroft looked bemused, and said to the driver, “please take us to the closest Pizza Express.”

“Pizza Express, sir?” the driver asked. He sounded surprised. Mycroft Holmes probably didn’t visit chain restaurants very often. If ever. Greg was honoured.

“Apparently,” Mycroft confirmed, fastening his seatbelt.

Greg laughed. “If you want to go somewhere else just say. I’m not fussy.”

“If you recommend Pizza Express then who am I to argue? It has been a long time since I last had pizza.”

Mycroft’s phone went off and he smiled apologetically before answering. Greg watched out of the window, hearing the occasional word Mycroft muttered, although for the most part he was listening and not speaking. They stepped out of the car and into the restaurant in Russia Row.

They were shown to a table beside the window. It wasn’t too busy, though there were other people already enjoying meals nearby.

Greg didn’t bother with the menu. He knew what he’d have already. He instead watched as Mycroft assessed his options. His face kept a constant neutral expression, except for the second he licked his lips. “Do you have any recommendations?” he asked, looking up at Greg.

“You’ve got to have the dough balls. It’s Sloppy Giuseppe for me, every time. It’s got beef.” One look at Mycroft’s face suggested he wouldn’t order something with the word ‘sloppy’ in its title.

A new waitress walked over to take their drink orders, and Greg chose a beer while Mycroft said he’d ‘risk’ one of their wines.

Greg put the menus back in the stand. “So. Why did you want to want to meet?” he asked. 

“Sherlock spoke very briefly to our parents on the phone. They said he sounded quite ill and asked if he was looking after himself. Of course, I haven’t been near him in months, so this was news to me. I wanted to know if it was just a cold.”

Greg sighed, fiddling with his napkin. “I don’t know. I saw him about two weeks ago and he had this cough, and he looked a bit pale and stuff, but I just thought he was a bit under the weather. But I saw him tonight and he’s still got the cough. He said he’s fine. I don’t know. He didn’t seem better than the last time I saw him.”

“He doesn’t live in the most hygienic conditions.”

“No,” Greg agreed. “I was going to suggest he looked for a new place, but he just brushed it off. Without setting fire to the place, I don’t know how to convince him to leave.”

“I don’t suspect arson would be looked upon particularly favourably," Mycroft said, and Greg grinned at the twinkle in his eye. "It sounds as though you and I need to devise a plan.”

“You could just go and talk to him yourself," Greg suggested. 

“I will try,” Mycroft said. “He is unlikely to meet with me, but I will endeavour to appeal to him.” Mycroft accepted the glass of wine from the waitress, smiling charmingly.

“Are you ready to order?” she asked, reaching for her notepad. Greg ordered dough balls for both of them, going for the Sloppy Giuseppe as promised, while Mycroft went for the Four Seasons, a pizza containing a different flavour on each quarter.

“You’re making me nervous,” Greg said when she moved away.

“How so?”

“Just this isn’t your kind of place at all. People wear jeans to this place.”

Mycroft smiled. “I don’t have an agenda against jeans.”

“But do you own a pair?”

“I do not.”

“Have you ever owned a pair?”

“Not that I recall.”

Greg grinned, sipping his beer. “Anyway. Back to your brother. What are we going to do about him? I still reckon you should see him.”

“I’m concerned it would drive him further away.”

“What really did happen between you two?” Greg asked, sitting back in his seat. 

“I wish I knew. I don’t believe it was any particular event. Perhaps I was out of the country for too long. He isolates himself because he knows he ostracises everyone he meets. He can learn everything about a person and doesn’t think it keep it to himself.”

Greg rolled his eyes. He knew that feeling. “He told me my wife’s cheating on me.”

Mycroft looked at him. “I am sorry.” The apology sounded genuine.

“It’s not true,” Greg said.

“No, it is,” Mycroft replied. “I’m just sorry you heard it from Sherlock.”

Greg stared at him open-mouthed. “Jesus Christ," he muttered. 

“If it’s any consolation, most people wouldn’t be able to work it out.”

“And I just got stuck with the two people who are.”

“Quite.”

Greg swallowed, taking a long gulp of beer. “So, come on then. What did I do? How do you know?”

Mycroft took a sip of his drink, sneered at his glass a little after tasting it, but took another drink nonetheless. “Do you really want to know how I know?”

Greg hesitated. Yes, was his instant reaction, but after Sherlock pulled his life apart in front of him in his office it had made him doubt everything he did. He’d already started over-analysing himself. He decided he didn’t want to go through that again. “No, you’re right. I don’t.”

The waitress walked over, setting a plate of dough balls in front of each of them. “I’m going to smell like garlic,” Mycroft said, pressing his lips together as he studied the plate in front of him.

“Who you planning on kissing tonight?” Greg asked, grinning cheekily.

“I’m not planning on kissing anybody.”

“I know you don’t have a wife. Have you ever been married?” Greg asked, picking up a dough ball and dipping it in the butter. He wanted to grin as he watched Mycroft stare at his fingers being used for eating before picking up a knife and fork to cut his food.

“No, I have never been married.”

“Not interested or…?”

“I’m not interested in having a wife, no.”

“Husband then?” Greg looked up from his plate when Mycroft took a few moments to answer the question.

“I’m yet to find someone who I could spend my life with. But I’m not lonely. My work takes up an awful lot of my time. As does keeping an eye on my brother.”

“Bloody Sherlock,” Greg muttered, stuffing an entire dough ball into his mouth. He chewed on it thoughtfully. “He needs a new place. With a proper bed and heating.”

“You mentioned you would be willing to take him in for a time?”

“I would. But no one would want to be in my house right now, it’s too tense.”

“Have you confronted her?”

“No,” Greg admitted. “But it wouldn’t help, that’s for sure. She’d deny it anyway.”

“You don’t seem too upset,” Mycroft said.

“No, I am. I just sort of accept things like they are. No point dwelling on it. She’s done it now, according to you and Sherlock. So what do I do? Spend every day fighting it out? What’s the point?”

“To make amends.”

“She’s all I know,” Greg said. “It’s not perfect. It’s not been perfect for years, but we deal with each other.”

Mycroft cut a dough ball in half, and Greg watched as he dipped it in the butter. He chewed it, swallowed it. “That wasn’t quite as bad as I was expecting.”

Greg grinned at him. “I didn’t bring you here to poison you or anything.”

Mycroft smiled, sipping his wine. “No, I didn’t think that was your intention.”

Greg finished the last of his dough balls. “I’ve got to admit. I don’t really understand what’s going on here.”

“Going on?” Mycroft asked, looking at him. 

Greg shrugged. “It’s like you’ve employed me to look after your brother. I think you should give it a go sometime.”

“I care about Sherlock.”

“You know, maybe you should tell him that rather than me.”

“He doesn’t listen to me.”

“He doesn’t really listen to me either.”

Mycroft forced a smile, cutting into his food. Greg took a long sip of his beer, looking around the restaurant. “I worry,” Mycroft said after he finished his starter. “Since we were children, I only wanted the best for him.”

“He’s lucky to have a brother.” Mycroft looked at him, confusion evident on his face as Greg finished his beer. “You’re analysing me,” Greg said. “Stop it.”

“I don’t need to ‘analyse’ you, Greg. I’ve had you worked out from the first day we met.”

Greg folded his arms over his chest. “Oh yeah?”

“Yes. You’re not particularly complicated.”

Greg pretended to frown. “Sometimes I don’t know whether I like you or not.”

Mycroft smiled. “You enjoy puzzles.”

Greg grinned. “That’s obvious. I’m a policeman. Of course I like puzzles.”

“You prefer to work on paper than on a computer.”

Greg snorted. “Oh come on, I bitch about technology all the time. You can do better than this.”

Mycroft sat back in his seat, resting his elbows on the table and his chin on his hands. Greg watched him, bracing himself.

Mycroft began to speak. “You have never particularly wanted children because they remind you of being an unhappy child. You dislike enclosed spaces. You settle for the circumstances of your life. You don’t form attachments to people mostly due to your background of living in care homes and with an assortment of foster parents. Sherlock reminds you of your own failures and shortcomings and every case you never solved. You are not entirely heterosexual. You are on occasion reckless, impatient, and do not think much about the future. You are a workaholic. When you close your eyes at night you are haunted by the cases you couldn’t solve. And yet you resent those who care too much. You think them weak.”

Greg stared at Mycroft. He reached out, grabbed the man’s wine and downed the glass. “And you are on occasion incredibly impulsive,” Mycroft continued, looking at the place mat where his glass had been. Greg set the empty glass back down as Mycroft continued. “And you do like me. And you like Sherlock. Because you don’t have any friends and we are far more interesting than your colleagues. Your wife is the only person you let get close to you. And even she knows very little about you. Was that better, Greg? Please do correct me if I got any of that wrong.”

Greg looked up as the waitress came to collect their plates. He ordered them each another drink. That was a long list. Too long. Wait. “How did you know I wasn’t totally straight?” Greg asked. He’d not been with a man since a few weeks before he met Caroline. He didn’t even think she knew about that.

“Ah, that took a little longer, I admit,” Mycroft said. “The waiter at the last restaurant we attended together. Your face displayed all the classic signs of attraction.”

Greg shook his head. “You’re a nutter,” he said. Mycroft frowned at him. “You know what I think, Mycroft?” Mycroft watched him, eyes boring holes into his head. “I think you don’t have any friends either. I think I’m the closest thing you’ve got.”

Mycroft's lips pressed together, a steely gaze on his face. “How do you come to that conclusion?”

“You only talk about Sherlock. You won’t or can’t talk about your work. And you let me bring you to Pizza Express. I’m going to use the loo.” Greg stood up. “You got one thing wrong.”

“What was that?”

“I’m not haunted by cases I didn’t solve. It’s just one case.”

Mycroft made an ‘oh’ face as Greg picked his phone up from the table and walked to the toilets. Despite the beer he’d just finished and the wine he’d just downed, he didn’t particularly need a piss. He just needed to get away from the intensity.

Not easy being told the truth, he thought.

He looked in the mirror, touched the wedding band on his left hand. He hated feeling exposed. And that was exactly how he felt around both of the brothers, but worse around Mycroft somehow because the man looked at you like he could see through you. Like he could see into your memories. The man was ridiculous. But how do you trust someone who knew everything about you that quickly?

And unlike Sherlock who seemed to deal in facts, Mycroft seemed to analyse how events shaped a person. How his parents - lack of, for a good portion of his childhood - had led to where he was now. And Greg knew he didn’t like that analysis one bit.

He walked back out of the toilets, glad to see their food and drinks had arrived. Mycroft had yet to begin his pizza. “You can start,” Greg said. Greg grabbed the pizza cutter, cutting it into slices. Mycroft frowned and started cutting it with a knife and fork. “You know that’s a crime against pizza, right?” Greg said. “It’s finger food.” Mycroft looked at him distastefully, and he continued to eat it his way. Greg laughed and ate his own with his hands.

He finished his food, letting out a contented sound and patting his stomach. “Your restaurant was brilliant,” Greg said. “But this is miles better.”

“It does have a certain… rustic charm, I admit.”

“So you’d come again?”

“I don’t believe I’d bring an associate here. But I could be tempted to join you on another occasion. If you would ever be so inclined.”

“You use too many words," Greg told him. Mycroft opened his mouth to say something and closed it. “It’s not an insult. You just say words. Lots of them.”

“In my job, I on occasion must negotiate and delegate. Words are my work.”

“I don’t believe you. I still think you’re James Bond.”

Mycroft chuckled. “I’m an unlikely ally for you, Greg Lestrade. I realise what you are doing for Sherlock is against the law. But I will do all in my power to enable work with him can continue.”

“And just how much is it in your power?”

Mycroft sipped his wine. Still not willing to talk about work then. Greg found it intrigued him. “Look after Sherlock," Mycroft said simply. 

“I am. I’ll get him out of that house, alright? I don’t know how because he’s a stubborn bastard but I’ll sort it.”

Mycroft’s static expression changed, his lips slacking. “I forgot something,” he murmured.

Greg looked surprised. “Forgot what?”

Mycroft lifted his chin and looked directly at Greg. “You are incredibly generous. And a far better man than Sherlock deserves.”

Greg felt his cheeks warm and he looked down at the table. “I don’t really know what to say to that.”

“Take the compliment, Greg. Just take the compliment.”

They didn’t say much from then on, Greg hastily paying the bill. There were two cars already parked by the curb when they walked outside, and Mycroft’s assistant held the door open for Greg to get in.

“So, I’ll let you know what happens with Sherlock’s new home then," Greg said as he sat down, chewing his lip. 

“Please.”

“Night.”

“Goodnight, Greg.”

The assistant shut the door and Greg watched where Mycroft stood on the pavement as the car pulled away. He looked strangely small beside the lamp post.

Chapter Text

November, 2005

Greg arrived home in a taxi after a night at the pub with a few of his team. He had intended to go for one pint, but he ended up staying much later. He needed more self-control, he decided. He always said one pint and it would become four. He stumbled when he got to the door, gripping the handle and laughing to himself. His head span.

He managed to find his key under his phone and wallet in his pocket and opened the door. He nearly fell through it, but managed to hang on. The light was still on. He frowned. “Caroline?” he called.

There was no reply.

He shuffled to the sink, grabbing a glass from the washing up rack and filling it. He savoured the cold liquid. Best thing about winter, he thought. Cold water straight from the tap.

He heard the bedroom door open and he turned to face Caroline. She was still wearing a shirt and black trousers as though she’d only got back home. Straight from work and straight to her lover’s house? “Greg. Can we talk?” she asked.

“Ah, not now,” Greg said.

“You’re tipsy.”

“An excellent deduction,” Greg grinned, opened a cupboard to hunt for some crisps. He was beginning to sound like Sherlock. Bugger.

Caroline made an exasperated sound. “Greg, I’m leaving.”

Greg frowned. His fingers tightened around the handle on the cupboard door. He’d known it was coming. He’d seen it days ago. She’d got quiet. Some of her clothes had disappeared. Greg hadn’t expected it to be so soon. He swallowed. “Where are you going?” he asked, not looking at her.

“My parents’,” she said quietly. “For a while.”

“Then you going to live with your boyfriend?” Greg turned to look at her. His head spun a little as his eyes fought to catch up with the booze in his brain. She stared at him. “I know, Caroline. I’m not an idiot. Who is he?”

“You don’t know him.”

“Who is he?” he repeated, trying to keep the volume of his voice down. 

“It doesn’t matter. How did you know?”

Greg pulled a seat out at the kitchen table and sat down, rubbing his face. “Sherlock figured it out.”

Caroline frowned. “I’ve never even met him.”

“Yeah, well, he’s a bloody genius. Course once he mentioned it, I saw it too. Couldn’t help it.”

Caroline took a seat opposite him. They stared at each other. “You should be angry,” she said after a few moments. “You should be throwing things and telling me to get out. But you’re not.”

Greg shook his head. “I’ve known about the affair since September.”

“That’s not what I mean,” Caroline said. She reached over and touched his arm. Greg pulled it back sharply. “When did we stop being in love?” she asked.

Greg looked down at the table. He felt sick. He didn't know if it was because of the breaking up or the beer. “I dunno,” he said.

“We just… we just lost it somewhere,” she said. “We went through the motions, I think. And we let it stay that way because it was easy.”

“Why did you cheat on me?”

“He makes me feel important.”

“You’re important to me,” Greg said quietly, looking up at her.

“Not as important as your work is to you. We’ve been married 16 years. But the last five years have been… we were kidding ourselves the whole time. I’m 35, Greg. I want children. I want…” she trailed off.

“You want the things I can’t give you,” Greg murmured.

“You’re my best friend, babe,” Caroline said. “We were barely adults when we met.”

Greg looked at her, feeling as though his whole world had begun to crumble. “Why now?” he asked.

“This guy. He. It’s just different, Greg. It’s just better. You know how we don’t even talk anymore-”

“-We talk.”

“No, Greg, we don’t. Not about us. Not about the future. And we both know why that is. It’s because if we talked about us, we would have ended up having the exact conversation we’re having now. And we’ve spent five years avoiding the obvious issue. And I’m running out of time to have children. That’s it. Ultimately, that’s it.”

“When are you going?”

“Now. Tonight.” Greg swallowed. “I love you, babe,” Caroline continued. “But we both knew it was coming. And I know you did. Because you’ve not mentioned you knew about this other guy until tonight. And you never keep your feelings to yourself, you’re just out with it, get it out. But not this time. Because we were delaying this conversation. But I can’t do it anymore.”

Greg looked at her, as her eyes filled with tears. He sipped his water. “Are we getting a divorce?” he asked her. Divorce. What a failure.

Caroline wiped her eyes. “I hadn’t given that any thoughts really.”

Greg nodded. He bit his top lip. He pressed his eyes closed for a moment before looking at her. Her bottom lip trembled. “I know you’re right,” he murmured. “But I don’t like it.”

“I know.”

“I want to fight for this marriage, Caroline.”

“I know,” she repeated. “But I don’t think there’s anything left to fight for.”

Greg finished his water. He ignored the tightness he felt in his chest. “Do you need a hand with your stuff?”

She shook her head before standing up. She rested her hand on his shoulder. Greg looked away. “I’ll be in touch,” she whispered.

Greg stared at the table as she wandered back into the bedroom. He didn’t move. Just sat, with his empty glass. 10 minutes later, he heard a suitcase being wheeled through to the hallway. “Where do you want me to put the key?” she asked.

“Keep it for now,” Greg said, refusing to look at her. “Just in case.”

The door opened. And then she walked through it.

Greg watched his watch tick over to 11.23pm. He listened to the emptiness. The silence.

He stood and poured himself another glass of water. He knew he needed to go to bed, but he couldn’t bring himself to look at the bedroom with her stuff missing. So he switched off the light and took himself to the sofa.

He pulled the throw over himself, and turned the television on. He fell into a restless sleep with football highlights accompanying him on a low volume throughout the night.

Greg woke with a crick in his neck and a feeling of utter numbness. He forced himself not to replay the previous night, and he slipped his wedding ring off and put it down on the counter.

He got into the shower, turning the temperature up slightly more so it burned, just a little. He felt the space on his finger where his ring had been. It was lighter somehow. Missing something.

Greg was expecting to feel something. Sad, angry, despondent. Anything which wasn’t this feeling of nothingness. He didn’t feel as though he’d lost anything. But he thought that was how it should have been. His wife of 16 years had just walked out on him. On them. And he felt nothing either way.

He got into work and sat down at his desk.

He scrolled through his emails. He had one message from a journalist who wanted to interview him about a murder case. ‘After it goes through court’, Greg typed back. He had some random chain messages with humorous pictures, but they weren’t really making him feel better.

He reached for his snack drawer, rifling through it until he found a packet of crisps. Oh good God, he’d have to do the supermarket shop, he realised. He hadn’t lived on his own since he was 22, barely out of university.

He wouldn’t say he was very messy, but lived in organised chaos at times. He knew where every paper and file on his desk was (good job too, because he could never keep track of documents on his computer). But anyone taking a look at his desk would say it was untidy. Desperately so. Where was the best place to do food shopping now?

There was a knock on the door. He looked up as it opened, and Mycroft Holmes walked through it. Greg raised his eyebrows. “What’s up?” he asked.

Mycroft looked at him. Studying. “Oh, I am sorry,” he said after a few moments.

Greg looked down at himself. What the hell did he do to give himself away? Was there a sign above his head? How bloody transparent was he?

Mycroft shook his head. “You didn’t do anything,” he said. “But you aren’t wearing your wedding ring.”

Greg sighed. Oh. That was obvious. “Yeah. Last night.”

Mycroft took a seat on the other side of the desk. “I am sorry,” he replied. 

Greg shrugged. “16 years. 16 bloody years and she just grabbed her bag and went.” Ah. So there was the anger. Greg rubbed his face. “I’m not even surprised. Actually, I’m glad.” Oh. Relief. There was an emotion he hadn’t expected, but it was quite nice to have. “I mean, how long did I put up with her cheating? Wish I’d confronted her when I got the chance.” Mycroft continued to watch him from across the desk. “Sorry,” Greg said. “I’m done. You don’t want to listen to my crap.”

“On the contrary,” Mycroft said. “I wish I had something appropriate to say.”

“Yeah. Yeah, me too. Not you. I wish I had something appropriate to say. What do you want anyway?”

“If this isn’t a good time, I shan’t impose.”

“Impose all you want.” Greg said. “I need the distraction.”

“I’m afraid I’m here on business,” Mycroft said.

Greg leaned forward on his desk, a small smile on the corner of his mouth. “You’re here on work? Gonna let me into some secret spy mission?”

“I have no knowledge of any secret spy missions, Greg,” Mycroft said. Greg grinned and Mycroft let out a small smile. “Nonetheless, your team found the body of a Russian woman at a bus stop two days ago.”

“Uh. Yeah. Yeah, they did. What about it?”

“You need to stop looking into it. I am here to take the files from you.”

Greg leaned back into his seat, folding his arms across his chest. “No way.”

“It will not go onto your department’s statistics, if that is your concern,” Mycroft said. “I really must insist.”

“And I really must have proof. What the hell is a man with a ‘minor position’ – yeah right, by the way – in the Department of Transport want with the files of a dead Russian woman?”

“I could have sent one of my assistants to meet with you. Instead, I came myself because I believed we trusted each other. Our roles intersect more than you can possibly imagine, Detective Inspector. The woman was, after all, found at a bus stop.”

Greg burst out laughing. “That’s your proof? Pull the other one."

Mycroft smiled slightly. “I do, of course, have the appropriate documentation to prove to you I require these files.” He reached into his briefcase, pulling out some papers. He slid them over the table towards Greg.

They had already been signed by the force’s Commander. Greg looked up at him. “Mycroft.”

“Detective Inspector.”

“I don’t like this.”

“I know,” Mycroft said.

“I don’t like the Government messing in my cases. I don’t like the Government mucking in with the police full stop.”

“I know.”

“It feels dirty.”

“It isn’t.”

“Why am I doing this?”

“Because your Commander told you to. And because I came in person to offer my sincere apologies I must take this case from you.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “And let me guess. You don’t normally come in person?”

“I detest field work,” Mycroft said. “Thankfully, it seems to be decreasing. And believe me. This visit is very much beneath me.” Greg glared. Charming. “Except for the fact it is you,” Mycroft added. “And because I think we have found a mutual respect for each other, I thought it only appropriate I saw you myself and explained.”

“You haven’t really explained much, Mycroft.” Mycroft didn’t reply. Greg sighed. “Fine.” He flicked through the folders on his desk and handed it over. Mycroft continued to sit, watching Greg. “What?” Greg asked impatiently.

“I’m waiting for a phone call to say the files have been deleted from the computer.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “You what?”

“I’m afraid I cannot disclose more than that.” Mycroft picked his phone out of his jacket pocket and looked at it. He set it down on the table.

Greg stared at him. "You’re really going to stay here until you get a phone call?” Greg asked, raising his eyebrows.

“That is correct.”

“You know I’m pissed off at you right now, right?”

“Yes, that is quite clear.” Greg rolled his eyes and opened his emails. “Would you like me to make it up to you?” Mycroft asked. Greg looked at him, stunned. Mycroft smiled.

“Why?” Greg asked.

“I assumed you might like to share a dinner sometime. Not to worry if that isn’t the case.”

“No, that would… I’d like that.”

Mycroft's smile grew wider. “Excellent. It will have to be in a fortnight’s time, I’m afraid.”

“I can wait,” Greg said. He glanced back at his screen and then back at Mycroft. His frustration at the situation, whatever was going on, was beginning to fade away. Mycroft had offered him an olive branch, and Greg decided it was only polite to do likewise. “Do you want a coffee? I need one, my brain’s fried.”

“Yes, I did think you were moderately hungover,” Mycroft said. Greg laughed, still amazed at Mycroft and Sherlock’s deduction skills. “A coffee would be splendid.”

Greg couldn’t help but grin as he stood up and picked his mug up off the desk, reading it all over again.

“What’s the joke on that cup?” Mycroft asked, looking at it.

Greg smiled. “What did the fish say when he posted bail?”

Mycroft shook his head. “What did the fish say?”

“I’m off the hook,” Greg grinned. Mycroft smiled. “It was a birthday present from Sally.”

“An appropriate joke.”

“I think she got it from Poundland. Bail is spelt b-a-l-e on it.” Mycroft chuckled and Greg grinned back at him, watching how warm his face appeared when he laughed. “I’ll just find you a mug. One sec.”

He walked out of the office and headed for the kitchen. He opened the cupboard, hunting for a suitable mug. Half naked women probably not good. Would Mycroft want to drink out of a Manchester United mug? Pink? Wasn’t really his colour. God, why was he stressing about a mug? Spending so much time being ‘deduced’ was taking its toll. Just grab one.

He closed his eyes and let his hand reach out to touch a mug. It was a cartoon from The Book Of Bunny Suicides. Greg chuckled to himself and walked back into his office with it. Mycroft was tapping away on his phone. “How’d you have your coffee?” he asked.

“Black, one sugar, please.”

Greg found his coffee, poured the water into the mugs and added Mycroft’s sugar. He put it down on the desk in front of him. Mycroft put his phone down and looked at the mug. He pulled a disgruntled face. “Greg?”

“Yeah?”

“Why is there a rabbit electrocuting himself on this mug?”

“It’s from the bunny suicide book.”

Mycroft stared. “Bunny suicides?”

“It’s just a book of rabbits killing themselves in inventive ways.”

“But why?”

“It’s just a book of cartoons.” Greg sat back down and laughed at Mycroft’s expression. “Seriously. It’s just a mug.”

“With an accompanying book?”

“I think the book came first.”

Mycroft laughed. Greg found himself watching that expression again. His teeth, the glint in his eye. Mycroft eyed him with curiosity, and Greg smiled and glanced away. He sipped his own drink. “Thanks,” Greg said after a few minutes. “For coming by. Rather than send a minion.”

Mycroft smiled. “I think they’d take great offence at being referred to as minions.”

“Fine. Underlings,” Greg corrected, smiling as Mycroft laughed. Greg grinned back. “So, when you’re back from wherever, where are we going for dinner? Pizza Hut?” Greg asked, stretching his legs out under his desk.

“I believe it’s my turn to choose.”

“You’re going to pick somewhere I need to wear a tie, aren’t you?”

“Not at all.”

Greg laughed. “Yeah right,” he said.

“I assure you, I will find somewhere you will feel more than comfortable. Are there any cuisines you don’t enjoy?”

Greg shook his head. “Long as it’s got meat on it, I’m pretty easy.”

Mycroft watched him, his eyes narrowing slightly. “What are you going to do?” he asked after a minute.

“Do?”

“About your marriage.”

Greg sighed. “I dunno. Throw myself into work, I guess.”

“But you knew it was coming.”

“Yeah,” Greg confirmed. “Yeah, I knew.”

Mycroft nodded, sipping his coffee. “I wish I could offer you some sort of advice, but I’m afraid I have very little experience of these matters to draw upon.”

“It’s alright,” Greg said. “I wouldn’t know what to say either. You don’t have any advice about food shopping do you?”

Mycroft frowned. “Food shopping advice?”

“Yeah, like what to stock my cupboards with.”

Mycroft smiled. “I’m afraid I cannot offer advice on that either.”

Greg grinned. “Thought as much. I’ve not done it since I was at uni. I can’t even remember if I know how to cook.”

“I find putting pasta in a saucepan and adding water is often an easy place to start,” Mycroft said.

“You cook?” Greg asked.

“Rarely.” Mycroft looked at his phone. Greg saw Sally walk past his office and frown at him through the glass. Mycroft looked around as she walked by and put his mug down on the table. “Right. My apologies. Back to work,” he said, standing up slowly and walking to the door.

“Don’t you need to wait for a phone call or something?” Greg asked.

“Oh, the files were deleted while you were in the kitchen. Take care of yourself. Good day, Greg.”

“Oh… oh, yeah, later. And you too,” Greg muttered, staring at Mycroft’s retreating back as he realised the man had sat with him for the past 15 minutes for no reason.

Chapter Text

December 2005

The call came at 2.15pm.

Greg was sat along the full length of his sofa having just devoured a jacket potato. He was thoroughly enjoying his day off. Not that he’d really been taking it as a day off, as his mind was running at 100 miles per hour.

He grabbed his phone when it started ringing, expecting someone from work. He didn’t recognise the number but he answered anyway. “Greg Lestrade.”

“Hello Greg, my name is Dr Stewart Caulson, I’m calling from The Royal London Hospital. We have a friend of yours in hospital in quite a bad way, we would like you to come in.”

“A friend?” Greg hunted furiously for the remote to mute the telly.

“Sherlock Holmes,” the doctor said.

“Sherlock?” Greg felt his heart drop.

“He asked for you specifically.”

Greg jumped up, hunting for his car keys, wallet, jacket. Asked for him specifically… so he was alive… “Shit, what happened?”

“Are you family, sir?”

“No I’m not but if he asked for me-”

“I’ll confirm when you come in.”

“I’ll be right over.”

Greg hung his phone up, pushing it into his pocket and putting on the first pair of shoes he could find. With a sudden thought, he pulled his phone back out, calling Mycroft. “Please pick up, please pick up…”

“Greg,” Mycroft replied. “What a-“

“No time. Sherlock’s at hospital. In The Royal London Hospital. I don’t know what happened, I just got a call,” he said quickly.

“What?” Greg heard the panic in Mycroft’s voice, although he masked it well.

“I’m on my way there now,” Greg said. “Are you even in London?”

“No, I’m not. But I will be there as soon as possible. Take care of him, Greg.”

“I’ll do my best.” Greg hung up, ensuring to lock the door as he left and ran down to his car. Every bit of traffic in his way made him swear loudly, and he tried to ignore the pounding in his chest. Not that it was particularly easy to ignore.

Greg parked illegally. He knew he was doing it, but right now he didn’t particularly care as he stopped on the double-yellows. He’d take the fine. He knew the hospital car park would be packed anyway. He got out, quickly locked up and jogged to the front entrance and to the reception. “I’m here to see Sherlock Holmes. He was admitted a while ago, I don’t know what department.”

“Who are you sir?” the receptionist asked, a bored tone to her voice.

“Greg Lestrade.”

“Are you family?”

Greg hesitated. He pulled out his badge. “Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade, and I need to see Sherlock Holmes.”

“One moment, sir,” she said, typing into his computer. “He’s in intensive care. That’s through those doors, to the second right.”

Greg muttered a thanks, running to where he was told. He bumped into a doctor on the way.

“I’m here to see Sherlock Holmes,” he said. “I’m Greg Lestrade.”

“Ah, Mr Lestrade. Yes. I’m Dr Caulson. Would you like to take a seat?”

Greg shook his head. “Just tell me what’s happened.”

“Sherlock took an unspecified amount of heroin, mixed with what he tells us is a minute amount of strychnine. We’re treating him with fluids and anticonvulsant medication. We have had to intubate to allow him to breath freely when the convulsions got worse. At the moment he is stable, and we’ve given him treatment quickly enough that we think he’ll be okay.”

Greg stared at the doctor. “He took strychnine?” Furious was not the word.

“He did it standing outside the hospital and immediately admitted himself.”

Greg rubbed his face. “You are kidding me? I’m going to bloody kill him. Is he going to be okay?”

“There shouldn’t be any long-term effects, but obviously we’re monitoring him very carefully. The next few hours are critical. But it has a half-life of 10 hours, so in a few days it should be out of his system.”

Greg took a deep breath. “God. His brother’s on his way. Can I see him?”

“In a little while. Obviously, we will have to contact the police in regards to the heroin…”

Greg showed him his badge. “That isn’t necessary.”

The doctor hesitated before nodding. “Understood.”

Greg found the seats in the corridor, drawing out his phone to call Mycroft.

Mycroft answered after just one ring. “Greg. How is he?”

“Stable. Intensive care. He took heroin mixed with strychnine.”

“I’m sorry?” Mycroft asked, disbelieving.

“He did it standing outside the hospital, fuck knows why. He admitted himself straight after apparently.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Neither do I. Where are you?”

“Flying over Scotland. I should be an hour at most. Will I see you there?”

“Yeah. I’ll be here,” Greg agreed. “He’s on a drip, breathing stuff, doctors said they treated him quickly enough.”

Mycroft paused on the end of the line. “I must go,” he said. “Please keep me informed.”

“Promise,” Greg said. He hung up the phone and stared at the blank wall in front of him. He felt responsible. Like he’d shoved the needle in Sherlock’s arm himself. God knows what he was thinking. He wasn’t thinking. That was the most obvious explanation. He was totally and utterly stupid.

Greg thought to how he’d been the one the hospital had called - not Mycroft or Sherlock’s parents. Sherlock was an adult, supposedly. But Greg felt like he was looking after a child. One that needed a lot of care. One that had a tendency to get into trouble. He was flawed. Deeply flawed. And Greg knew he wouldn’t leave this hospital until he was given the all-clear.

He text his boss, saying a family member was in hospital and he needed to be there. It was lie. Like he had any family now. But his superiors didn’t know that. He continued to watch the blank wall ahead of him, listening to the very faint beeping of machines and talk behind the door. The doctor walked out. “You can see him.”

Greg stood up and followed him into the room. “Oh Jesus, Sherlock,” Greg muttered, sitting down on the white plastic seat beside the bed.

He looked at the tube leading to Sherlock’s throat, the wires linked up to machines, drips. “What did you do with the needle?” he asked suddenly.

“Security took it.”

“I need that to get to New Scotland Yard and passed onto Bart’s. It might be evidence in a case I’m working on,” Greg said. We’re working on. Shit, Sherlock, what the fuck were you thinking? “When do we know if the treatment’s working?”

“In the next 10 hours, give or take. It’s not as bad as it could be, but it could be better too. I’d say we’re over the worst.” Greg looked at his watch. 4.23pm. And 10 hours to go.

“I need to call his brother again,” Greg murmured.

The doctor nodded, stepping out and Greg found Mycroft’s number. The man answered immediately. “Greg. What’s happening?”

“I’m in with him now. He looks… He needs to get through the next 10 hours. Give or take.” Greg let out a long breath.

“I’ll be there soon. Greg…” Greg heard the hesitation on the other end of the line.

“Yeah?”

“Don’t leave him.”

“I’ll be here, alright? I’m not going anywhere.”

“Thank you.” Mycroft hung up and Greg closed his eyes, rubbing his face with his hands. He tried to think back to the last conversation they’d had, how he’d acted, what he’d said. He thought about the rat run case - that was what Sherlock had taken to calling it.

There had to be some really logical explanation for this mess. Something that explained it. No one just took a poisoned substance and then demanded treatment straight away. He didn’t want to die. Greg was sure he didn’t want to die.

When Mycroft walked in, flanked by his assistant, Greg was sat with an array of leaflets the doctor had brought him when Greg said he needed reading material. But, he had added, I’m not leaving this room to get them.

Greg stood up, watching Mycroft as he looked at his brother. His face was strained, his usually immaculate suit with creases in it. “Oh, Sherlock,” he murmured. He turned to his assistant. “Can you leave us please?” he said to her.

She left the room without a word. “I’ll just be outside,” Greg said, pushing the chair toward him.

“No,” Mycroft said firmly. Greg frowned at him.

“No?”

“No, you can stay if you wish.”

Greg slowly sank back down in the chair. Mycroft took the one at the opposite side of the bed.

“10 hours?” Mycroft asked.

Greg looked at his watch. “It was 4.23pm when he said that. So about nine hours now.”

“Nine hours,” Mycroft repeated.

“What’s your assistant’s name?” Greg asked after several moments.

“Anthea.” Greg just nodded and looked back down at the leaflets he was reading.

Eight hours.

Anthea walked in with a drink for them both. They hadn’t spoken in the whole time. Mycroft’s was in a blue mug, Greg’s in a polystyrene cup. “They serve tea in china, but not the coffee,” she said by way of an explanation. She walked back out.

Greg burnt his tongue and pulled a face. Mycroft offered him a condescending half-smile in return.

Seven and a half hours.

Greg had moved his chair around to sit beside Mycroft. Greg was doing the crossword, Mycroft was talking to his parents on the phone. He didn’t indicate anything was wrong. Apparently he always rang them this time on a Tuesday, just before his last meeting of the day and before they went for a meal out.

Seven hours.

Mycroft had spent the last fifteen minutes on the phone stood outside the room. Greg could only hear the rumble of his voice, but no words.

He saw him through the window pane talking distractedly. Mycroft looked back at Sherlock through the glass as he talked. He caught Greg’s eye.

Wondering if it wasn’t his place to be here, Greg looked away.

Six hours.

“Look, I’ll go if you want,” Greg finally said after wrestling with his need to keep an eye on Sherlock and the feeling he wasn’t wanted. “Keep me up to date by text.”

“You don’t want you to go, so stay if you wish,” Mycroft said, looking at him.

“I feel like I’m getting in the way.”

“I find your company strangely soothing. Though you really must stop looking at me as though I’m about to break.”

Greg looked down at his knees.

Five hours.

Another of Mycroft’s assistants brought them an elaborate sandwich each. Greg thought it was the best he’d ever tasted.

He hadn’t eaten in so long that his hands were shaking. After eating it, he felt a bit sick.

Four hours.

Greg watched the doctors checking vital signs. “We’re pulling back on the sedatives,” one said. “Should be able to take him off intubation shortly.”

Three hours.

Sherlock was back on the sedatives. The convulsions were no better than they had been when he’d first been showing symptoms shortly before Greg had arrived at the hospital.

Greg was stood by the wall, watching, his teeth clenched. Mycroft had his head in his hands.

Two hours.

Mycroft told Greg the final answers on his crossword. Greg had started doodling on the paper, drawing moustaches on politicians. He hadn’t meant to make the Prime Minister look like Hitler.

The doctors took Sherlock off intubation again. This time he showed improvement.

Mycroft showed no expression.

One hour and a half.

Mycroft had relaxed a little when the doctors said all the signs were good. Greg asked what he was planning for Christmas.

“I despise Christmas,” Mycroft said.

“So do I,” Greg replied.

“Yes. Yes, I suppose you would,” Mycroft said, looking at him. Analysing. Greg didn’t respond.

One hour.

Sherlock had opened his eyes and had tried to speak. His throat was clearly sore from the tube, as he whispered ‘interesting’.

Mycroft said nothing as he shook his head and left the room. Greg had far less patience. “You idiot! You could have died!”

“That’s why I did it outside a hospital.” Sherlock touched his throat, wincing.

“Why did you… forget it, I don’t care right now. I’m going to check on your brother.”

Sherlock didn’t reply and Greg stormed out to find him. 

Greg found Mycroft in the family waiting room, and watched him from a distance as he stared out at the window, his hands hanging by his side. “If I’d known what he was going to do…” Greg started.

“You couldn’t have done,” Mycroft said, his voice emotionless. “Sherlock keeps everyone in the dark. He doesn’t think about anyone else. He just does what he thinks is best.”

Greg sat down in one of the sofas, wincing when he felt a spring dig into his back. “Are you alright?” he asked. Stupid question really.

“I’m fine,” Mycroft said stiffly. “Now Sherlock has pulled through the worst, I suppose I had better get back to work.”

“I’ll keep better eye on him,” Greg said.

Mycroft turned to look at him. “I don’t believe this is your fault. Don’t feel responsible. You’re not his minder.”

“Neither are you,” Greg said. “He’s an adult. I know he doesn’t act like it half the time, but he’s not 15, he’s nearly double that. And if wants to kill himself, he should just bloody go and do it.” Mycroft raised his eyebrows. “Christ, Mycroft,” Greg said, standing up. “I don’t mean that. I wouldn’t have rushed over here if I meant that. I care about him. And not just because he helps with cases, I like him more than that. He drives me up the wall, but he’s alright.”

Greg watched Mycroft. Felt him staring him down. He took a moment to wonder how many had cowered to that stare. “It isn’t your fault,” Greg finally said. “There was nothing you could do to stop him doing that,” he added, taking a hesitant step towards Mycroft. His eyes continued to pierce through him. “He’s an idiot. It’s not your fault,” Greg repeated.

“I’m aware.”

He doesn’t seem aware, Greg thought as he watched the older Holmes. And then he saw that look he’d seen in Sherlock only once or twice. The flash of vulnerability, that look in his eyes that said ‘reassure me that I’m right’. Because you can’t spend your entire life just being right, Greg thought, you need someone to confirm it, to tell you it’s true.

Greg took a few more steps towards Mycroft as Mycroft turned back to to the window. “He’s okay,” Greg said. “You didn’t let him down.” Greg finally reached touching distance of the man in front of him. He paused, knowing he could stretch out and put a hand on his shoulder.

Is this a man who would turn in towards a touch? Or is this a man who would turn and break his neck if he so much as moved a little closer? But he thought he’d take that risk. He had never been one to back down.

He reached out, touched Mycroft’s shoulder, watched the man noticeably stiffen for a second before letting out a slow breath. He was not pressing in towards the touch but not moving away from it either. Reassured, Greg rubbed his hand against Mycroft’s shoulder, feeling the soft wool beneath his fingers.

Mycroft turned his head and looked at him.

And once again he had the same reaction he thought many a man must have had when they were stared down by Mycroft Holmes. The reaction to cower, the reaction to leave as swiftly as possible, potentially without turning their back to him and maybe even bowing a little.

But Greg cowered to no one. He hadn’t cowered to anyone since he was six years old and realised he could fight back even when he was pinned in a corner by an older boy. And he would never cower to a Holmes. They were both so self-important it felt good to bring them down to earth occasionally.

So Greg held his gaze. And Mycroft held it back.

And without even thinking it through - he was doing too much not thinking, Greg thought later - he stepped forward. His hand moved from its position on Mycroft’s shoulder and slid it down his arm. And there he left it resting, his hand almost clinging, midway down his bicep.

“It’s not your fault,” Greg said again, watching the man. Mycroft stayed quiet. But Greg didn’t move his hand. In fact, he moved ever so slightly closer, his thumb rubbing against Mycroft’s arm.

Mycroft lowered his head a little, closing his eyes for a few silent seconds. He looked back up at Greg and murmured a quiet ‘thank you’. Greg started to pull his hand back, but Mycroft reached out and touched his forearm.

Greg’s eyes met his. Mycroft’s hand felt solid against his arm, no sign of letting go. They looked at each other for a long time, Mycroft’s hand wrapped around his arm, hot even through his jacket. Greg put his hand back on Mycroft’s shoulder. He felt like he was stood as close as he could be without invading his space too much.

Greg felt his heart pumping in his chest, the silence the only thing he could hear pushing in around him. Greg licked his lips. He didn’t realise he was doing it until he’d done it, and Mycroft Holmes still was watching him.

He watched Mycroft’s eyes drift down to his lips and back into his eyes.

Greg thought he could see some sort of desperation and willing there. Like he hadn’t been touched in a very long time, and like Greg’s hand on his shoulder was somehow anchoring him there. Grounding him. Greg stopped thinking as he stepped closer and wrapped his arms around Mycroft’s neck, pressing their chests together.

Mycroft didn’t react straight away, but he didn’t feel tense either.

Greg let out a sigh he didn’t know he was holding the second he felt Mycroft’s arms draw around his waist. “I’m so angry with him,” Mycroft whispered, his head pressing against Greg’s shoulder.

“So am I,” Greg said. He rubbed his hand against the top of Mycroft’s back. “Angry and relieved.” He felt Mycroft’s head move against his shoulder in agreement.

They stayed there for a while. Mycroft’s body felt firm against his, warm. Greg thought about how he probably smelt a bit, and was a bit ashamed of that fact. Mycroft, by contrast, smelt like new clothes. He smelt of cologne and faintly of cigarettes.

It had been agony, Greg thought, waiting to hear if the treatment was working. They’d sat in his room for hours. And now it was just past 4am, and they were both exhausted. But Greg wanted to stay tough, because he thought Mycroft could slump in his arms any second.

Mycroft pulled back first, letting one hand drop to his side, while the other remained at Greg’s waist.

Greg dropped his hands to Mycroft’s arms. He looked at the man in front of him, the dark rings under his eyes, the lines on his forehead.

And God, he needed sleep, because he couldn’t tear his eyes away from him. The usual intense, powerful gaze was gone and he looked fragile. Hurting. Strangely, well, brokenly beautiful.

Greg rubbed his hands up Mycroft’s arms and Mycroft tilted his head just a fraction. Greg watched him lick his lips. Greg let out a soft sigh, stepping forward, noticing Mycroft’s mouth was inches from his, at the right angle for Greg to just close the gap and draw their mouths together…

Then Mycroft’s phone began ringing.

Greg pulled away sharply, turning his back to Mycroft and walking swiftly over to the confectionery machine. He heard Mycroft murmuring inaudibly into his phone, and Greg took that opportunity to walk out of the room.

He leaned against the wall, frowning. He unconsciously touched where his wedding band used to be. He was going to kiss Mycroft Holmes. And he hadn’t kissed anyone but Caroline in the 17 years he’d known her.

But he was about to kiss Mycroft Holmes, and he thought Mycroft Holmes was going to kiss him back.

It was tiredness. It had to be the lack of sleep addling his brain. They were exhausted, emotional and relieved. Everyone looked for physical contact after something like this, didn’t they?

Taking a quick look into Sherlock’s room - the man was lying on the bed his hands in a steeple under his chin - Greg left the hospital and headed home, resolving to not give it another thought.

Chapter Text

December, 2005

Greg was sat at his desk, working. He had the pictures of the bodies laid out in front of him, although he could not make out their specific features.  Mycroft Holmes walked into the room like he owned it.  Greg stood, the desk disappeared and Greg walked straight over to him and kissed him.

It was a hot, precise, desperate kiss that left them with their arms around each other, fingers tangled in clothing...

...From the corner of his eye, Greg sensed a movement. There was Sherlock, dressed in a red t-shirt, stained in blood. Greg blinked.  Sherlock was gone. Replacing him was the eight-year-old boy in the red t-shirt and the blood-soaked and bruised face.

“You couldn’t help me,” he said

 and Greg woke up with a start.

He scrambled up to a seating position, pushing the covers off his sweat-covered body. He rubbed his face, closing his eyes. The boy’s face was still all he could see. He hadn’t seen him for a while now. He often popped up in dreams - no, nightmares - when Greg was under the most stress.

Greg reached for his phone on the other pillow. 3.45am it read.

He was exhausted. Having left the hospital at 4.37am the day before, he’d spent the whole day feeling like a zombie, mixed with continued stress about what Sherlock had done while also feeling a bit bewildered he’d been so close to kissing Mycroft Holmes. And apparently his subconscious was rather fond of the idea of kissing Mycroft, since that part of the dream had been quite pleasant. Greg checked his emails, and decided to drop the man a text.

 

MESSAGES
3.47am: Hi just seeing how
Sherlock’s getting on. Hope he’s
not causing too much stress.

 

He pressed send, took a sip from the glass of water beside the bed, pulling a face at how warm it was. He slid back underneath the covers and closed his eyes. His phone beeped.

 

MESSAGES      Mycroft Holmes
3.49am: He is recovering. He
would like to see you if you can
find the time. As would I. M

 

Greg frowned, not expecting a reply so quickly. The bright light of his phone made him squint as he replied.

 

MESSAGES
3.53am: I’m on late shift so will
get there in the morn. What you
doing up?

 

MESSAGES      Mycroft Holmes
3.54am: I am travelling. I will be
out of the country until Friday.
Perhaps we can arrange a time to
have a drink? I need to ask a
favour of you. M

 

A favour. Brilliant. More favours.

 

MESSAGES
3.56am: What time Fri? Last message
from me. I’m going back to sleep.
Good trip.

 

MESSAGES      Mycroft Holmes
4.12am: Is 8pm suitable? Have a
pleasant rest. M 

 

Greg didn’t wake up when his phone beeped this time. But in the morning he replied.

 

MESSAGES
06.54am: 8 is fine. See you soon.
On my way to see Sherlock. 

 


 

 Greg found Sherlock sitting up in the hospital bed drinking a cup of tea. He certainly seemed better than the day before. “Have you got a case?” he asked, as Greg walked in.

Greg folded his arms, eyeing the drip attracted to Sherlock’s arm. “No. You and me are going to have words.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “I’m so sorry and I’ll never do it again.”

“Say it like you mean it.”

Sherlock just stared. “They’re releasing me later,” he said.

Greg frowned. “Not until you tell me what the hell you were thinking.” He sat down next to the bed. “I’ve got all day.”

“No you haven’t, you’ve got work.”

Greg folded his arms across his chest. “Why did you do it?”

Sherlock put his tea down on the table. “The rat run case was annoying me. I didn’t understand why the killer chose poison rather than shooting or stabbing them, which would have been far more efficient. I weighed up the risks and decided that trying it for myself would provide an insight into the mind of the killer.”

Greg shook his head. What the actual fuck? “That wasn’t worth dying over,” he said.

“I disagree.” Sherlock's face was impossible to read. Somewhere in his mind, he had thought poisoning himself was logical. Greg thought he was maniac. 

“Do you have any idea what the hell you put me and your brother through?”

“Mycroft’s so melodramatic," Sherlock said.

Greg rubbed his face. “We sat here for 10 bloody hours thinking you were going to die.”

“Will the two of you stop acting like my parents?” Sherlock frowned. “Come to think of it, where are my parents?”

“Mycroft didn’t tell them.”

“Why?”

“Because he didn’t want to worry them if you were going to recover.”

Sherlock huffed. “He just likes feeling important," he muttered. 

“He cares about you.” Sherlock sipped his tea. He wasn’t going to respond to that, it seemed. “So. Did you learn anything? Was it worth it?”

“Not particularly, no. I won’t be doing it again.”

“Too bloody right you won’t. You’re moving out of your room.”

“What? No I’m not.”

“Yes you are," Greg said. "And that's final." 

“I’m not. I’m going undercover.”

Greg couldn’t help himself. He burst out with laughter. “You’re doing what?”

“I’m going undercover. As a dealer. Or maybe an addict, I haven’t decided yet.”

“No, you bloody well aren’t. You’re not getting anywhere near this case right now. I don’t even know if you’re going anywhere near any of my cases right now.”

Sherlock frowned. “But we’re working on the rat run case together.”

“No we’re not. And stop calling it that.”

“Well, what else are we supposed to call it?”

“It doesn’t need a name.”

“Of course it needs a name. That’s what people do, they name things. You know Mycroft once had a rabbit called Stanley?”

Greg grinned. He couldn't help it. The frustration he had with Sherlock melted away at the thought of Mycroft with a pet. “He had what?”

“He only had it a month because mother was allergic. Mycroft was devastated.”

Greg decided to file that piece of information away for future reference. Maybe that was why he’d been so concerned about the bunny suicide mug? Greg felt a bit bad about that now. “Anyway,” Sherlock said, looking at the wall. “You won’t solve the case without me and I won’t be clean without you. I think Mycroft would approve of an arrangement between us, don’t you?”

“I think Mycroft wants to lock you in a room and throw away the key," Greg muttered. 

“But you don’t. You need me, Detective Inspector.”

“Like a hole in the head,” Greg said. “I’ll make you a deal. Two weeks. Get clean, get a new flat and then we’ll get back into the rat poison case.”

“With me undercover?”

“No! No that is not happening in a million years.”

“Why? I’d be brilliant.”

Greg was sure he would be. That was a frightening thought. “I don’t care if you’re an Oscar winning actor, you’re not doing it and that’s final. Two weeks, Sherlock.”

“I don’t have any money for a flat,” he said.

“Yes you do, Mycroft’s put loads of money in your account.”

“I’m not touching his money.”

“Yes you are, Sherlock," Greg said, standing up, his hands in his pockets. "You don’t get it. You don’t understand what you put me through. Well, this is it. You get your act together or I’m done with you and I’m done with your brother. Find a flat. I’ll bring a list to you and you can go and view them.” Sherlock folded his arms over his chest. “You’re in no position to protest,” Greg told him. “Deal with it. Right. I’m off to work. See you tomorrow, yeah?”

Sherlock turned his back to Greg and he rolled his eyes and left.  

 


 

Rolling his shoulders, Greg checked the time. It was 7.34pm on Friday, and so he could expect a visit from Mycroft pretty soon. He needed a drink. He wasn't hungry - he was past that point - but a pint. Now, a pint he could get behind. He turned back to his paperwork, casting an eye over Bullock's scrawl. A few shoplifting offences, a few caught. Just needed to get this processed for Mag’s Court.

Pulling up CCTV references on his computer, Greg managed to get through three of the five he needed to sign before his phone beeped.

 

MESSAGES        Mycroft Holmes
7.56pm: The car is outside. M

 

Greg stood up and put his coat on, double-checking his emails and turning the screen off. He cast a look around his office for any last minute jobs which needed attending to and walked out of the building. He found the familiar car waiting by the entrance and opened the back door.

"Good evening," Mycroft said looking at him. "Long day." Greg nodded but avoided Mycroft’s eyes. Of course the man could take one look at him and deduce that.

"Just full of paperwork." He put his seatbelt on. "So what's the plan then?"

"You look as though you need a strong drink," Mycroft said, smiling. 

Greg laughed, the tension in the pit of his stomach melting away. "You got that right."

"There is a quiet establishment near here I have visited on occasion. I'm sure they will have a suitable drink to improve your mood."

Greg watched out of the window. Half-expecting a bar at some fancy hotel, he was surprised when they pulled outside of a pub he'd visited a couple of times. He knew it was warm, full of good ale and cosy leather chairs you could sink into. And they had a good pub quiz night. But he suspected if that had been on this evening then Mycroft would have found them somewhere else to go.

They got out of the car and walked in. Greg surveyed the pumps, selecting an Old Peculiar and watching with interest as Mycroft selected his own drink. He chose a whiskey.

Greg raised his eyebrows. "Long day?" he asked, failing to find the same confident tone Mycroft had when he'd said the same thing earlier.

"Yes. Most unfortunate," Mycroft said. He let Greg pay for the drinks and led the way towards a sofa facing a fire.

Greg took a seat, casting an eye over the other people in the pub. “So you had a favour to ask me?” he asked.

“I was going to ask for you to allow Sherlock access to the Kirkcudbright files. It is of some importance to me. And I believe his involvement will help. And it would take his mind off the rat poison case, which I believe can only be a benefit at the present time.”

“No.”

Mycroft frowned. “No?”

“Sherlock’s off my cases until he finds somewhere else to live and proves he’s clean in two weeks time.”

“But then you will allow him access?”

“I don’t know. It’s a massive case. I’ve spent two years on it. And I’m not going to have it messed up in court.”

“Again.”

Greg clenched his teeth as he looked at the man. “Are you deliberately trying to piss me off?”

“My apologies. Hadrian Kirkcudbright had access to information that was of vital importance to this country. I would hate for it to have got into the wrong hands.”

“I’m not putting Sherlock on it. Maybe one day but not now.”

“Because you’re still angry at him.”

“I’m furious,” Greg confirmed. “The fact he doesn’t get why just makes me more angry.” Mycroft took another sip of his drink. Greg turned to watch the fire. He took a long drink. “Well, if that’s it, I should probably go.”

“Very well,” Mycroft said. Greg looked at him. His brother almost killed himself. Greg didn’t like how it had taken him that long to fully appreciate that.

“How you doing?” Greg asked gently.

“Fine,” Mycroft said.

“You don’t need to be all macho with me.”

“I’m not being... macho.” Mycroft pulled a face like the word physically hurt him to say. Greg looked at Mycroft, turning in the sofa to angle his body towards the man.

"I told him we're finding him a new flat," Greg said.

"Yes, I'm sure that will be for the best. If you require my input, let me know."

Greg shook his head, taking a long drink. "I'm bloody sick of this," Greg said. Mycroft narrowed his eyes at him. "Have you even spoken to Sherlock since this happened?"

"Of course. I told you Sherlock requested your presence."

"So I can stop being a go-between?"

"I never asked you to be a mediator," Mycroft said slowly. 

"Feels a bit like that's what I've become."

"Only because you're the closest thing to a friend Sherlock has ever found. And believe me, that does surprise me."

Greg frowned. "Why? What's wrong with me?"

"There is nothing wrong with you, Greg. The surprise comes in the fact you have taken Sherlock as a friend yourself. The man told you of your wife's affair, presumably without any consideration for your feelings. And yet, a day later, you met with him as though you weren't hurt by that."

"He's useful," Greg mumbled into his pint glass.

"You like him."

"Well. Shouldn't I?"

"Of course you should. Sherlock has a tricky time finding friends. He has a tricky find even finding acquaintances happy to be in the same room as him. That you have been willing to work with him despite all his obvious flaws is a great source of surprise for me. But, as I have told you before, you continually surprise me."

Greg tilted his head, looking at his glass. "I guess you're a tough man to surprise."

"The toughest." 

Greg found Mycroft to be smiling warmly at him, taking a slow sip of his drink. Greg looked away from his mouth. "So. You went to Oxford. And Sherlock went to Cambridge. Was that deliberate?"

Mycroft laughed. "Almost certainly. He would not want to attend a university he felt beneath him. But he would rather have gone to Luton University than attend Oxford."

"Does he always do that?"

"Do what?"

"Cut off his nose to spite his face."

"Not often. But he has been known to."

Greg nodded, savouring his ale. "I don't get why he did it, Mycroft. If he was back on the heroin, I'd be angry but I'd get it. Relapses happen. But that. The poison. I don't get it."

"He thinks about the case constantly," Mycroft said after a few moments. Greg looked at him. "Imagine walking into this pub and hearing the thoughts of every person in it. That man over there with his girlfriend. He is trying very hard not to make her aware he has lost his job and can no longer support her and their child. She on the other hand is blissfully content and has no idea of his inner torment. The barman has just lost a parent. The gentleman in the red shirt has just been promoted. Now, imagine you could hear those thoughts. Every concern, every emotion, all of the things that went on during their day going through your mind simultaneously. That is what Sherlock hears all day every day. I am quite sure it's deafening at times. And the heroin turns the volume down."

Greg looked around the room. "That doesn't explain the poison."

"In the back of his mind, every waking moment, he is considering the case. Weighing it up, trying to establish what he missed. You must realise that for my brother, not solving this case would be the worst kind of failure?"

Greg crossed his arms. "I know what that's like," he said.

"I know," Mycroft said. "So believe me when I tell you he rather erroneously thought that taking the poison might give him an insight into the case. It was a last resort. He just wanted to figure it out."

"How do you get what he's going through? The voices in your head, I mean."

"I learnt to shut it out just before I attended Oxford. I tried to do the same for Sherlock. I tried to teach him how to turn the volume down. But of course, he wouldn't listen to me."

"Sounds like Sherlock," Greg muttered.

"Indeed."

"So when did he got hooked on drugs?"

"At university. I was in the middle of a particularly promising career move at the time. Out of the country. I didn't realise what he was doing to himself until long after I returned." Greg finished his drink. "I would do anything to have Sherlock give me the opportunity to help him," Mycroft added.

"How did you… turn the volume down?" Greg asked.

"I discovered how to delegate."

Greg laughed. "Delegate your thoughts?"

"Yes. I learnt how to filter out the unimportant, mundane details while still retaining them for future use. And I concentrate instead on the things I need to recall instantly."

Greg shook his head. "Jesus. You must think I'm an idiot."

"You have many strengths, Greg."

Greg laughed. "That's a yes then."

The corner of Mycroft's mouth rose a fraction. "Few people think like Sherlock and myself."

"So. Who wins?" Greg asked.

"I'm the smart one," Mycroft said with a smile. He finished his whisky. "Allow me to buy you another." 

Mycroft walked to the bar. Greg watched him go, musing that this was the first time he'd really learnt anything about him. He wouldn't - or couldn't - talk about his work. And he seemed to be as much of a workaholic as Greg was.

Greg looked over his shoulder at the man at the bar, casting his eyes down his back, down his long legs. He shifted on the seat. It had been a long time since he'd properly considered a man in any detail. He was a bit attracted, he admitted. A bit. Perhaps it was the way he was always in control…

He didn't realise he was staring until Mycroft turned around with a glass in each hand. He parted his lips a fraction, his head tilting slightly when he saw Greg was watching him. He began to smile and walked over. Greg felt his cheeks warm, and hoped it wasn't too noticeable. Mycroft set the glasses down and sat back down on the sofa, closer to Greg than he was before. "So, you can analyse everything about someone?" Greg asked.

"Deduce. Yes."

Greg picked up his pint. "That must be pretty useful in your line of work. Whatever that is."

Mycroft chuckled. "I find a number of skills to be of use."

Greg grinned. "It was worth a try. I'm curious."

He looked up as the barman brought over a tray of food. He set some bruschetta, olive oil and balsamic vinegar down in front of Mycroft. Greg received a beef burger and chips. "Thank you," Mycroft murmured to the barman, ripping his bread.

Greg laughed. "You deduce I hadn't eaten dinner or something?"

"A bacon sandwich all day is hardly substantial, Greg," Mycroft said.

"I had toast too this morning," Greg muttered.

"What is the particularly unpleasant incident which is bothering you?" Mycroft asked as Greg took a bite of his burger. Greg shrugged. He'd been trying not to think about it.

"We arrested the bloke," he said.

"Domestic violence?"

"Yeah."

"I'm sorry."

"I deal with it all the time."

"And yet this one has particularly affected you." 

Greg looked at him. "It's sorted. It's just a lot of paperwork before it goes to court." To his surprise, Mycroft reached over and touched his arm. Just for a fraction of a second.

"You have many strengths, Greg," he repeated before turning back to his food. Greg glanced at his arm before taking a big mouthful of his burger. "What sort of flat are you looking for?" Mycroft asked as he wiped his fingers on the serviette.

"Bed, kitchen, bathroom. I don't need more than that."

"Any particular area?"

"Just anywhere I can afford. As close to work as possible, I guess."

"If you need anything-"

"-I don't." Greg snapped. He wasn't sure when he started getting defensive. Must be tired. "Sorry, Mycroft."

"Do you need to talk?" The question was gentle, and it took Greg by surprise. He shook his head.

"But thanks." Greg bit his lip. He didn't want to ask about their near kiss at the hospital but... "Mycroft-" He was interrupted by his phone vibrating in his pocket. He groaned. "Sorry. Lestrade."

"Greg, there's been more bodies." It was Sally. "Rat run bodies."

"Shit. Where?"

"West Cromwell Road."

"West," Greg repeated. Upper, Lower, South, West, North... "Almost definitely rat run. I'll be there soon as I can."

"I'll drive you," Mycroft said beside him. 

Greg mouthed a thank you. "Right. See you in a bit, Sally. Secure the scene, call forensics... brilliant, well done. See you."

Greg sent a text. 

 

MESSAGES
9.13pm: West Cromwell Road.
New rat run body. Come if you want.

 

He followed Mycroft out of the pub and he held the car door open for him. Greg slid along the back seat, checking his phone. "The rat poison case?" Mycroft asked as he got in beside him. Greg nodded. He'd just received a reply from Sherlock.

 

MESSAGES        Sherlock Holmes
9.16pm: I'll be there. SH

 

Mycroft sat on his own phone while Greg stared out of the window. The car came to a halt 10 minutes later. Greg took his seat belt off. He jumped slightly as Mycroft touched his arm. His fingers curled around it. "I had a nice evening," he said. "I'll be in touch."

Greg smiled. "Me too." Mycroft removed his hand and Greg got out of the car, trying to ignore the butterflies in his stomach. Crime scene. Time to be the Detective Inspector. "Donovan!" Greg walked towards the flashing lights, hearing Mycroft's car drive off. He glanced over his shoulder as it went before turning back. “What do we have?"

She shook her head. "You just have to see it." 

Greg noted her shaking hands. "Aw crap and I just ate," he muttered, stepping under the plastic rope.

The dead man's hands were stretched up above his head, secured to a sign above him. His feet were surrounded by vomit. Greg swallowed and stepped closer. "Poor bugger," he muttered.

From behind him he heard Sally. "What the hell are you doing here?" Sherlock had arrived then. Greg walked over.

"Come on, Holmes. Get your arse over here. Donovan, leave it." Sherlock graced Sally with a smug smile before walking over to Greg. He looked up at the body.

"Similar to the bodies in the house," he said.

"Yeah."

"Interesting." Sherlock inspected the man. "Drug-user. Cocaine."

"Not heroin?"

"Need to see his arms. Had curry for his last meal." Greg glanced at the ground. Yeah. That was probably a fair assumption. Nice. "He died quicker than the rest," Sherlock said. "This isn't a quiet road and someone would have contacted the police quicker if they'd seen him. Maybe tried to help him."

"He was strung up first?"

"Struggle marks evident on his wrists."

Greg sighed. "I was afraid of that."

Sherlock turned to him. "Why were you out with my brother?"

"Is that really important right now?" Greg asked, frowning. Sherlock seemed to be weighing his options up and turned back to the body.

Greg couldn't help but note the fact that he'd started giving up asking Sherlock for an explanation for everything he deduced. Apparently Sherlock had proved his ability already. And Mycroft had said he was the smart one... Worrying.

Greg asked for some gloves, and walked up to the body. He felt in his pockets and took out the man's wallet. It was full of bank notes, but no official form of ID. "He's from Newcastle," Sherlock said. "The library card."

"Should be able to get him identified then," Greg said.

Sherlock frowned. "I'm losing sight of the pattern." 

Greg pressed his lips together. He had to admit, this did follow the bodies in the house more than any of the others they had come across. He knew serial killers. How often did their modus operandi really change? And change this often. "Get the body to Bart's when you're done with the scene photographs," Greg said. "Not a lot we can do tonight. Sherlock. Coming into the office tomorrow?"

"Can't," Sherlock said. Greg stared at him.

"You can't?"

"No. Busy."

Greg took his shoulder and led him to the side. "Sherlock, do I need to warn you about drugs again?"

"No. You've made your feelings on that matter perfectly clear."

Greg eyed him. "Alright. I'll text you if we get anything interesting from this body, okay?" Sherlock didn't say anything, but turned and sauntered away from the scene. Greg watched him go, biting his top lip.

Chapter Text

December, 2005

Christmas was never a quiet time. Too many drunken louts causing problems in pubs and beating each other up. This Christmas was no exception.

It was Christmas Eve and Greg was sat at his desk, aware of the fact the cells were almost at capacity and it was only 12.06am. An email popped up on the right hand side of his screen. Greg sipped his coffee as he clicked on it to open it.

 

Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Merry Christmas
Dear Greg,
I realise you do not look upon this time of year favourably, but I am just about to leave the office and thought of you at work.
I hope this email finds you well and you find some festive cheer.
Merry Christmas.
Kindest regards,
Mycroft Holmes.

 

Greg clicked reply and paused as his fingers hovered about the keyboard. They hadn’t spoken since the pub and indeed, Greg had tried to give it as little thought as possible. He attempted to ignore those two times Mycroft had touched his arm because he knew he was over-analysing it. So he was cutting Mycroft out of his head as much as possible.

Except that one time in the shower. But he’d tried to convince himself it wasn’t him he’d been thinking of, with his legs and impossibly delicious accent… He typed out a reply.

 

Hi Mycroft,
I’m good thanks, hope you are too. Have a nice Xmas and don’t let Sherlock get into any trouble (ha, good luck with that!!!)
See you in the New Year.
Cheers,
Greg.

 

Greg picked up his files on the Kirkcudbright case and began to look through them. He waited for his phone to go off and tell him to get on the streets and break up more trouble.

Christmas was the worst. Down the full length of the road were trees with Christmas lights. Sparkling, pretty, magic. It should be the best time of the year, but it always made him feel fucking miserable.

Greg had been born in November - probably. And like so many children, he should have spent that first Christmas of his life with presents and love. He spent his first Christmas - and the next 11 - in the children’s home and they tried, oh they tried very hard, but it was never actually what he imagined other kids enjoyed. And this year was shaping up to be one of the worst in his adult life.

Alone, almost divorced. And the closest thing he had to proper friends or family were a thoughtless, idiotic genius who didn’t realise or care the trouble he almost put Greg in on a regular basis. And a man he almost kissed who strolled around like he was the master of the universe.

Merry Fucking Christmas.

 


 

The confidence he had that his week would improve was definitely misplaced. Christmas Day, which often started quiet but gradually built to a crescendo of crime, was the worst Greg had known.

Stood freezing along the Thames as 12.32pm as RNLI crews dragged the body out of the water he prayed it was going to be judged quickly to be a suicide and given to some other poor bastard to deal with.

The stab wound in his abdomen indicated it probably was in Greg’s jurisdiction.

He rubbed his hands over his face. “I bloody hate Christmas,” he muttered.

 


 

January, 2006

Greg got into the flat just after midnight on New Year’s Day and was all ready to climb into bed. He’d had an exhausting week and was grateful this would be the start of some days off. Caroline was sat on the sofa and he stared at her. “Hi.”

She looked at him, bright lipstick on her mouth. She looked neatly put together. Greg didn’t feel his heart beat, nor feel any real attraction at all. “Hi,” she said.

“Look what-”

“-I brought the paperwork,” she cut him off.

Greg frowned. “You brought the paperwork?”

“Yes. For our divorce.”

Greg swallowed, moving to sit down on the chair near her. “You look good,” he said, looking at her.

“I am,” she replied. “Martin’s very good to me.” She looked down at her knees before her eyes met Greg’s again. “I’m pregnant.”

Greg stared at her. “Already?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“And there’s no way it’s-”

“-It’s not yours, Greg, don’t worry.”

Greg folded his arms across his chest. He was glad of that. He pressed his lips together. “So, what, you getting married now?”

“It’s early days,” Caroline said, looking at him. “It shouldn’t have gone like this, Greg.”

“What, getting caught you mean?” She looked down at her knees. Greg bit his top lip. “You keep this place. I don’t want it,” he finally said.

“Greg-”

“Nah. Seriously. I’m sick of being reminded of you. I’ll move out next week.”

“I just want you to be happy,” she said.

“Just give me the papers,” Greg replied, desperate to get it all over and done with. Caroline slid them along the table towards him. “I need to read these first.”

“Of course,” she said, looking around. “You didn’t decorate for Christmas.”

Greg frowned at her. “Why would I?”

“It’s Christmas. We always decorated.”

“You always decorated,” he corrected.

“Don’t you like it?” she asked. Greg sat back in the chair, baffled. He didn’t realise just how little they knew each other until that moment.

“I hate Christmas.”

“What?” Caroline’s eyebrows went up. “No you don’t.”

“Caz. I hate Christmas. It’s the worst time of year.”

“Since when?”

“Since I was a kid. I’ve always worked on Christmas.”

“Yeah, because we didn’t have children. If we had children you would have been allowed…” she stopped talking. “Wait, you worked Christmas on purpose didn’t you?” Greg nodded. She hurt him, might as well hurt her back a bit. “Why?” she asked.

“What bit of ‘I hate Christmas’ didn’t make sense to you?”

Caroline shook her head. She stood up and started putting her coat on. “I want the keys two weeks today.”

“No problem.”

Caroline watched him for a moment. “Be happy, okay?”

Greg nodded, but didn’t reply as he watched her leave. 

 


 

Greg and Sherlock found themselves in Greg’s office looking at flats. Sherlock was doing it under duress, because Greg said he wasn’t allowed access to any cases or crime scenes until he found a new place to live. Greg hadn’t been expecting to look for a new flat at the same time but he’d packed his stuff up. What he had of it. He didn’t have much in the way of possessions.

That was why, two weeks later, the two of them were moving a desk into Sherlock’s new flat. Or, rather, Greg was.

“Oi! Sherlock! If you don’t get your arse down here and help me with this I’m going to drop it back down the stairs.”

Sherlock’s face appeared at the top of the stairs. “Come on, Lestrade. You can get it up here.”

“No I can’t. Now get down here and help me.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes and walked back down, taking hold of the other side of the desk. Together they dragged it up the stairs. “Where’d you want it?” Greg asked.

Sherlock shrugged. “Anywhere.”

Greg put his half down on the floor. “Right. It’s staying here then.”

“What? No.”

“Then bloody tell me where you want it!”

Sherlock looked around the room. “By the window.” They moved it together and put it down where Sherlock wanted it. The flat wasn’t big. But it contained a separate bedroom just large enough for a single bed and a wardrobe, a bathroom to himself and a kitchen-living area. Greg looked around.

“Is there anything else you need?” Greg asked, frowning as Sherlock stared past him.

“My, my. This is quite a set-up.” Greg turned around and looked at Mycroft. He felt his shoulders tense a fraction and forced himself to relax his posture, hoping neither of the Holmeses had noticed his reaction.

Thankfully Sherlock’s attention was too fixed on Mycroft to pay any attention to Greg. He sat down on the sofa, realising he’d never seen the two brothers in the same room before. Except for when Sherlock was unconscious, so that didn’t really count. This would be interesting. Greg stretched one arm out along the back of the sofa, the other on the arm rest. He crossed his ankle over the other knee, awaiting the entertainment.

“What are you doing here?” Sherlock asked, glaring.

“I wanted to see your new place. It is infinitely better than the last one. Not that that’s saying much.” Mycroft eyed the room scornfully.

“I didn’t have a choice but to leave.” Sherlock turned and looked pointedly at Greg. Greg grinned and shrugged in response.

“Have you found yourself somewhere suitable?” Mycroft asked, ignoring Sherlock and turning his attention to Greg.

The intensity of his eyes reminded Greg of having nearly kissing him all over again. Don’t think of that right now, he thought. “Yeah, it’s alright,” Greg said, swallowing. “It’ll do.”

“And how is the Kirkcudbright case?”

Sherlock looked at Greg curiously. “What’s the Kirkcudbright case?”

“Oh no!” Greg pointed at Mycroft. “No. Don’t do that.”

“I was merely enquiring,” Mycroft said.

“No you’re not,” Greg said. “You’re trying to get Sherlock interested.”

“You made your feelings on Sherlock’s involvement in the case quite clear, Detective Inspector.”

“What’s the Kirkcudbright case?” Sherlock asked again.

“Stop it, Mycroft,” Greg warned.

Mycroft smiled nonchalantly. “Well, since you’re both getting along so well, I suppose I should leave you to your lifting and carrying.”

“Not gonna stay and help build the wardrobe then?” Greg asked.

Sherlock snorted. “Mycroft get his fingers dirty?”

Mycroft glared at his brother. “Good afternoon, Detective Inspector. Sherlock.” Mycroft turned and walked back through the door and down the stairs.

Sherlock made an agitated sound and went to watch him leave through the window. Greg was relieved he wasn’t watching him, because he was sure he’d just checked out Mycroft’s arse.

“What’s the Kirkcudbright case?” Sherlock asked.

“None of your business,” Greg said.

“I don’t approve of you and Mycroft knowing something I don’t.”

“Tough. Are you helping me with this wardrobe then?” Greg asked.

Sherlock sat down at his desk without a word and opened his brand new laptop, bought with Mycroft’s credit card he’d acquired (stolen, probably) over Christmas. Greg rolled his eyes and grabbed the screwdriver. He walked into Sherlock’s bedroom and left him taping on his keyboard.

Two days later and Greg was moving his own stuff in. Alone. Sherlock had not-so-politely declined the invitation to return the favour. Thankfully the flat had come with a bed, and so he had only needed to drag in a few boxes and bags of clothes. While Sherlock lived two flights of stairs up, Greg had found a ground-floor flat.

He eyed the mould on the wall. Well, it wasn’t ideal, but it would do for a while.

“This is where you are living?”

Greg took a long breath before turning around to see Mycroft at the door. He was at least carrying one the boxes from the hallway.

“Yeah. What’s wrong with it?” Greg took the box from him. The fingers of his right hand brushed against Mycroft’s, and he felt the brief touch long after it had occured.

“Greg, what’s right with it?” Mycroft asked him.

Greg carried the box into the bedroom. “Look, I don’t have much choice at the moment.” He checked the contents (DVDs) and closed the box back up. “I’m still paying half the mortgage on the old flat.”

“I suggest putting an end to that particular outgoing very quickly.” Greg rolled his eyes at being bossed around again, but said nothing. “You’re not living here, it’s worse than Sherlock’s.”

Greg walked out of the bedroom and folded his arms. “It’s all I can afford.”

“Let me help you.”

“I am not taking money from you.”

“You won’t be. Let me just ask some contacts if they can find you more suitable accommodation.”

“It’s suitable,” Greg protested.

Mycroft raised his eyebrows. Greg held his hands up. “Fine. Do what you want.”

“That is the correct answer,” Mycroft said. A small smile played on his lips. Greg stared at them, feeling the tension between them reignite.

He started to walk towards him, and Mycroft kept his arms down by his sides.

“Guess there’s no point unpacking then,” Greg said.

Mycroft smiled. “Quite.” Greg reached him and Mycroft lifted his head challengingly. Greg just thought how he could push Mycroft back into the wall. Judging by the way Mycroft was looking at him right now, he probably wouldn’t say no… Mycroft’s lips were parted just slightly, his eyes holding Greg’s intently.

Mycroft’s phone started ringing. Greg watched him as he looked down at the screen. “I must take this,” Mycroft said quietly. “I’ll be away for a while. Look after Sherlock.” Greg gave him a slight nod and watched him answer his phone and walk out of the flat.

Greg let out a small breath. He was in trouble and he knew it.

Chapter Text

January, 2006

“I have good news for you,” Sally said with a grin when she walked into Greg’s office.

He looked up from his computer. “That’s a first. What is it?”

Sally folded her arms, watching him. “We have a man in custody,” she said, smiling.

Greg snorted. “More paperwork? That’s your good news?”

“He’s a drug dealer.”

“Even better,” Greg muttered, turning back to his computer.

“He might have links to the rat run case.”

Greg rolled his eyes, groaning. “When the hell did everyone start calling it that?” he muttered.

“About the same time you did, sir.”

Greg frowned, sipping his coffee. It had gone cold, but he refused to let her know that. “Well. Stop it.”

“It’s pretty catchy, sir.”

“Sherlock came up with it,” he said.

Sally sneered. “Anyway, do you want to speak to him?”

Greg looked at the time and back at his computer. He’d been sitting there for three hours. It would be good to stretch his legs and talk to some actual people. Criminals always intrigued him. “Yeah, why not.” Greg picked his jacket off the back of his chair and put it on. He followed Sally to the interview room, listening as she gave him a run-down of the charges and who the man was.

Greg opened the door. “So,” he said as he walked in. “Let’s talk about murder.”

The largish man with greasy hair looked at him, and his eyes widened. “Why?” he asked.

Greg and Sally each took a seat. “Because it’s a lot more interesting to me than…” Greg looked at the piece of paper. “Possession with intent to supply of Class A and Class B drugs.”

“I don’t know nothing about no murder,” the man said. He lifted a hand from the table, leaving a slight sweat mark behind. Nervous then. Good.

“No?” Greg asked. “A load of drug dealers getting knocked off around London and you don’t know anything about it?”

“No.”

Greg sat back in his seat, putting his hands behind his head. “Come on. You must have heard something. I’ll be sure to write down how cooperative you’re being.”

The man stared at him. Greg looked down at the files he’d brought with him and flicked through the paperwork. He took a head shot photograph of one of the victims out of the folder. “Recognise him?” he asked, setting it down. The dealer shook his head. Greg took out another photo. “This one?” More head shaking. “This one?”

“Fuck. Lamby,” the dealer said.

Greg frowned and looked at the picture. “Lamby?”

“Him. That’s Lamby. Lamby Jones. With a z.”

“Jones with a z?”

“Yeah. Like J-o-n-e-z,” the man said.

“Alright. Tell me about Lamby Jonez. Who was he?”

“He worked for Mac. He ain’t got a last name. Lamby used to go round the Hackney estates, mostly knocking off stolen metal shit. Like bikes and stuff. But Mac sometimes made him sell shiz on the streets.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“Smack, Mandy. Bit of weed.”

“Did he get into any trouble?” Greg asked.

“Nah. Lamby was cool. Lamby just did whatever Mac said.”

“Who is Mac?” Sally asked.

“He’s a suit.”

Greg frowned. “A suit?”

“Yeah, ya know. Like. Suited. He wears all this smart shiz. I only seen him once. But he pulls all the strings in this part of London. Well. He did.”

“What happened?” Greg asked, collecting the pictures back up.

“Word is some new guy came in on his turf. Started selling cheaper stuff in the same corners. I only telling you what I heard. Don’t go repeating it.”

“Who was the new guy?” Sally asked him.

“I dunno. Lamby says Mac was well angry. Like. He was declaring war or summat. I can’t believe they got Lamby. What did they do?”

“Rat poison,” Greg said.

“Rat poison? Like in the 80s?”

Greg exchanged a look with Sally. “In the 80s?” Greg repeated.

“Yeah. In the 80s there was this big war for turf. They used to mess each other’s drugs up. There was a massive problem in the south area.”

“South area? What do you count as the south area?”

“Like South London. Croydon, Wimbledon, Sutton. Maybe they doing that again. I dunno. But we all knows to keep our heads down. Don’t go anywhere you’re not s’posed to be. Don’t stand in anyone else’s turf. I just go where I always go. So. Now I told you all this shit. What do I get?”

“I’ll go speak to the chief, see if we can sort something out when this gets to court,” Greg said. “Is there anything else?”

“Nah. Sad for Lamby. He was alright.”

“How old do you think Mac is? Can you describe him?” Sally asked.

“I dunno. Only see him once. Maybe 40. 50. White, black hair. Suit.”

Greg got up. “Can you finish processing him?” he asked Sally. She nodded and started going through the paperwork.

Greg walked out and started walking back to his office. He couldn’t recall hearing of Mac before. “Oi, Bullock.” The man looked up from his desk. “Can you find out anything you can about rat poison deaths in the 80s in South London? I want anything you’ve got on it.”

Bullock nodded. “Sure, sir.”

Greg picked his phone out of his pocket and text Sherlock.

 

MESSAGES
2.21pm: Got some new stuff for you
mate. Come by tomorrow and we’ll
go through it.  

 

Greg returned to his computer to find he had received an email. Greg frowned as he read it.

 

Boyette, Anthea
Subject: Flat
49 Petty France, London, SW1H.
£800pcm.
1 bed, 1 bathroom, 1 reception, 1 kitchen, 1 porter, 1 lift.
5pm. Malcolm Dawn.
07529 513687.


Well, one thing was for sure, Mycroft’s assistant, PA, whoever she was, didn’t bother mincing her words. That thought made Greg smile. Mycroft Holmes who used as many words as he could manage, and an assistant who didn’t bother using them at all.

Greg typed Petty France into Google Maps. It was four minutes’ walk away from the Yard. How the heck was a place that central to London only £800 a month?

And who the hell was Malcolm Dawn? He typed out a reply.

 

To: Boyette, Anthea
Subject: Re: Flat
Hi,
Thanks but it’s ok. I’ll sort it.
Greg.

 

The mouse hovered over the send button. Maybe it was worth having a look. It couldn’t be any worse than his place. No harm in just looking. And Mycroft was obviously keen for him to be comfortable. Greg thought he shouldn’t read into that too much. The man probably felt responsible for lumbering him with Sherlock.

Greg deleted the message and closed his emails.

 


 

And so, for the first time in a long time, Greg left work before 5pm. His colleagues were shocked when they saw him walk out. “What’s up, boss?” Sally asked as she lit a cigarette by the bike rack.

“I’m checking out a new flat,” Greg told her as he walked past.

“Where?”

“Petty France.”

Sally frowned. “How’d you afford that?”

“A mate of mine has got a deal on it or something. It might be a shithole.”

Sally laughed. “Good luck.” Greg eyed her cigarette longingly but he started walking towards Petty France to make the appointment on time. He was sure he must have been down the road before, and he was more certain than ever he couldn’t afford to live there.

He felt a tap on his shoulder. “Detective Inspector Lestrade?”

Greg turned and looked at the grey haired man who wore a long dark coat. “Yeah, that’s me,” Greg confirmed. “Malcolm?” The man held out his hand and Greg shook it.

“Follow me,” the man said. He was Scottish, Greg noted. He followed Malcolm to a five-storey building. It was red-brick with frosted windows the height of doors along the bottom floor. Four further storeys were above it. Greg looked up, admiring. “It’s on the top,” Malcolm said, leading him to the entrance. He keyed in a code and Greg followed him in.

They took the lift up. Greg followed Malcolm in, determined, as ever, not to give away how he felt about this small box. He folded his arms and stared at the wall in front of him. Already he felt the pounding in his chest as they stood. “So, how come it’s so cheap?” Greg asked, glancing around the corners of the lift.

“The owner owes Mr Holmes a favour. A big one,” Malcolm said.

Greg frowned. Great. So Mycroft was doing him favours now too. “You know, I’m not really that fussed,” Greg protested. “There’s nothing wrong with my current place.”

The doors opened and Greg let out a soft breath. He assumed there were stairs in this building somewhere… Malcolm opened the door to the flat. “Mr Holmes said you’d say that. Just have a look. It comes furnished.”

Greg followed him into the living room. It was bright, that was for sure. Already furnished with two sofas more than he currently owned. They were a tan colour, either side of a coffee table in the centre of the room. Plenty of room on the wall to fix a television to. Greg nodded reluctantly. “Alright. It’s worth looking at,” he conceded.

He followed the man into the bedroom, a double bed in a spacious area with a wardrobe and bedside cabinet. And finally the kitchen, with all the things he needed. Fridge, freezer, microwave, washing machine. “So you’re not the landlord?” Greg asked.

“No. Mr Holmes asked me to show you around. Are you taking it?”

“No, I-”

“Mr Holmes insisted you move in tomorrow,” Malcolm said.

Greg slipped his hands into his pockets and murmured “did he now?”

“The contract will be in your office by the time you arrive at work tomorrow.”

Greg took a long breath. It shouldn’t be possible to hate someone so much and appreciate them so much at the same time. “Look, really,” Greg began. “You can tell Mycroft it’s great. But it’s really not for me. I don’t want him to do me any favours.”

Malcolm handed Greg his phone. Greg turned up his top lip. “What? Oh bloody hell, the bastard’s on the phone isn’t he?” Greg took it. “What?” he asked roughly.

“Now, now, Greg,” Mycroft murmured. That voice made Greg’s voice catch.

He glanced at Malcolm and walked over to the window. He looked out into the dark street. “I appreciate it, Mycroft. But it’s too much.”

“Nonsense.”

“I’m going to spend every day thinking I owe you something.”

“You don’t. Although, you could show Sherlock the Kirkcudbright files.”

Greg couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing. “As far as bribes go, this is the most ridiculous one I’ve ever had.”

“You can still have the flat, even if you don’t,” Mycroft said. Greg smiled and thought he could hear Mycroft’s amusement on the other end of the line. He looked at the clean windowsill. This place was too good for him but…

“Fine. I’ll take it if it makes you happy,” Greg said.

“It does,” Mycroft confirmed. Greg turned and looked around at the room.

“I’ll have you round for pizza sometime,” he said. “You can bring the wine.”

The pause on the other end gave Greg enough time to think he’d overstepped the line. Then Mycroft spoke just before Greg was about to start back-pedalling. “I would like that.”

Greg swallowed. “Right. Then. Well. Thanks. Have a good trip.”

“Goodnight, Greg.”

“Night.” Greg held the phone to his ear until the beep confirmed the man had hung up. Greg handed Malcolm the phone back. “Right, so, contracts on my desk in the morning?” he asked.

Malcolm nodded. “Yes, sir.”

Greg followed him back out and shook his hand again as he looked up at the building. He walked back to the Yard to pick up his car. When he got to his current flat and looked at the mould, saw his own breath and got into bed shivering he decided to cast his pride away.

Just this once.

 


 

Mycroft had sent the car to pick Greg up from work. Greg had been hoping to leave at a reasonable hour but then Mycroft’s assistant had called, telling him Mr Holmes urgently required his help. And Greg found he was incapable of saying no to a certain Mr Holmes nowadays.

He watched out of the window as he was driven to Mycroft’s home.

Cars streaked past, and he found himself checking his phone. Since he and Caroline had broken up, he marvelled at how little people seemed to contact him now. He used to be on his phone regularly, sharing messages with her, planning football matches with her friends’ husbands. He hadn’t really thought about it before, but their friends really were all hers. He hadn’t found cause to miss them all that much.

Greg stared as they pulled up to the imposing white building on Pall Mall. “Welcome to Crusader House, Detective Inspector,” the driver said. “I’ll show you the way.”

Greg put his coat and scarf on, tucking his phone in his pocket. He thought of what little he knew of Mycroft, but it made sense that his home would be a replica of him: dramatic and intimidating. And a little bit showy. No wonder Mycroft had been so disgusted by his original flat and found him a new one.

Greg followed the driver up the stairs, up to the third floor. He gave the door three brisk taps. “It’s Jim Braum. I’ve got Detective Inspector Lestrade with me.”

The door was opened by a man wearing a black suit, with a lined face. “Detective Inspector. Do follow me.”

Greg glanced at the driver who was already turning to walk back down the stairs. Greg followed the man - a butler, really? - down the long corridor. He opened a door. “Mr Holmes is expecting you.”

Greg stepped into a large living area, with dark red wallpapered walls, and several floor to ceiling bookcases against them. In front of him was a brown leather sofa, a fire roaring opposite it. Just where Greg would have put a television, if this had been his place. The fire was much more ‘Mycroft’, whatever that meant.

Greg looked around, frowning. The man who was supposedly ‘expecting him’ was no where to be seen. He stepped towards a bookcase, reading the spines. They all looked old. Greg grinned when he saw a title called The Romance Of Lust. Just as he was tempted to pull it out and see just how lustful it was, Mycroft walked from a room. “Good evening,” he said, dressed in his usual fully turned-out suit, but looking somewhat more at ease than he usually did.

Greg turned and looked at him. “Alright. I was just admiring your library.”

Mycroft gave a smile which didn’t reach his eyes. “It’s a few bookcases, hardly a library.”

“It’s more than I’ve got.”

Mycroft smiled a bit more. Greg watched his lips. “Would you like a drink?” Mycroft asked.

“Yeah, go for it. I’ll have whatever you’re having.”

Mycroft walked to a table. On top was a decanter and three glasses. “It is a brandy kind of evening,” he said as he poured. Greg folded his arms, watching him. He took off his coat and scarf, looking around for somewhere to put them. Was there a coat rail or something? Mycroft looked at him. “Just put them on a chair. And please, sit down.”

Greg walked around the sofa, sitting down on it. He put his coat down on the floor beside it. He adjusted the cushion at his back. “Nice place this.”

“Yes,” Mycroft murmured.

“Tell me about it.”

“I’m sorry?” Mycroft looked bemused as he handed Greg a glass.

“The place. How old is it?”

“Oh.” Mycroft tilted his head, a small frown upon his face. “It was built from 1892 to 1893. It was the work of W.S. Joseph and C.J. Smithem. It is four-storey building, a bit of a hotch-potch of styles attempting to replicate the French Renaissance architecture. I chose the third floor for my living quarters owing to its balcony. Some staff and offices are on the forth floor.”

Greg looked around. “Well, I’m glad you’ve got the fire on, it’s pretty cold.” Mycroft took a chair opposite him. “So now you’ve got me here. What did you want to ask me?”

“How is Sherlock?” Mycroft asked.

“He’s fine. Keeps asking me about the Kirkcudbright case. Thanks for that, by the way.”

Mycroft half-smiled. “I maintain he will be of use.”

“Yeah. Maybe.”

Mycroft opened his mouth as though to speak, paused and took a sip of his brandy instead. “I have some paperwork I would like you to sign before I inform you of the purpose of this visit.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “Paperwork? You know I have enough paperwork at work to deal with, right?” He watched as Mycroft silently left the room, walking through a thick mahogany door.

Greg tapped his fingers against his leg. Mycroft peered around the door. “Come this way,” he said.

Greg got up, taking his drink through with him. He found he was led into Mycroft’s office, a dark wooden desk in the middle of one wall, which was darkly painted, darker than the lounge. There was a portrait of the Queen behind the desk. Greg looked at Mycroft. “Something you need to tell me?” he asked, looking at it.

Mycroft looked at the picture. “Oh, standard procedure,” he muttered. Greg didn’t bother to ask what that meant.

Greg walked over to the desk. “So, what is all this?” he asked. Mycroft handed him some papers. Greg looked down at them. “I don’t get it.”

“I’m raising your clearance level,” Mycroft said.

“Clearance?”

“I took a case off your hands. Involving a Russian woman found at a bus stop.”

“I remember,” Greg said stiffly.

“Most policemen would not be desperately unhappy with that. It was a difficult case to solve, and you knew it. It was not going to show on your statistics, and it was a murder case off your books and into someone else’s hands. But you are not most policemen, Detective Inspector. Now please, sign that paperwork and I can tell you what you want to know.”

“I need to read it,” Greg said, taking the seat on the other side of the desk.

“Of course,” Mycroft murmured, sipping from his glass.

Greg glanced at him before turning his attention to the paperwork. He could tell Mycroft had gone to a bit of trouble to get these documents for him. All talking about official secrets and jail and national security. He looked at Mycroft. “You seriously want me to sign these?” he asked.

“I would like to tell you about the case. Whether you choose to sign them is entirely up to you.”

Greg skim-read the documents again before picking up a pen from Mycroft’s desk. He printed and signed his name, filling in the date. The pen flowed across the paper like any expensive pen should. Mycroft nodded at him and collected the papers, closing them into a drawer.

“Let’s return to the living room,” he said. “It is far more comfortable.”

Greg stood up, casting one last quick look around Mycroft’s office before walking out. He walked to the table with the decanter, topping up his own drink. He saw Mycroft’s amused expression as he filled the glass. “I’ll top up yours too,” Greg grinned.

Mycroft smiled and held out his glass, allowing Greg to fill it. Greg sipped his brandy as he walked back to the sofa, returning to the place he’d sat on before. To his surprise, Mycroft took a seat on the other end of the sofa.

Mycroft looked into his glass, a slight frown between his eyes before he started to speak. “The woman’s name was Tatiana Garzone. And her husband was a spy for the Federal Security Service Of The Russian Federation.” Mycroft let out a slow breath before looking at Greg. “I don’t know how much to say,” he finally said.

Greg looked at him, confused. “Surely you can say as much or as little as you want? I mean, I signed that document stuff, so you know better than me what you can tell me.”

“Yes, quite,” Mycroft agreed. “As much as it may surprise you, Greg, my role in the British Government is slightly more than I have told you in the past.”

Greg chuckled. “No shit,” he said.

Mycroft half-smiled. “I’m not sure how much I should disclose.”

Greg hesitated. He wanted to say ‘everything’ but something stopped him. “Just as much as you want,” he said.

Mycroft looked surprised at him but murmured: “Very well. My position in the British Government overlaps between several roles. It is not a job anyone has held before, nor do I expect they will again. I have found I have made myself… invaluable, to certain people in numerous areas of the country’s national and international security. Quite by chance, you understand. Much of my career has been spent dealing with our international security, although I find this is gradually expanding in both national and international matters and involving more… diplomatic concerns. I expect diplomacy will be coming into my role more and more in the next few years.”

Greg swallowed, tightening his grip on his glass. Jesus actual Christ he thought…

Mycroft looked at him. “I don’t expect this will be the last case I take off your hands, Greg.”

Greg nodded. “Yeah. I kind of guessed that,” he said.

“You’re surprised I went to you myself,” Mycroft said, watching him.

Greg nodded. “Yeah. Well. You could have gone higher than me. Much higher. I mean, my team heard about the body first, but it doesn’t give us ownership of that case or anything.”

Mycroft looked straight at him and Greg fought to hold his eyes. “I trust you,” Mycroft said plainly. Greg’s eyes widened and Mycroft smiled in response.

Greg tilted his head. “Um. Well. That’s good, right?”

“I believe so,” Mycroft confirmed. “To the matter at hand. Tatiana Garzone’s husband was killed six months ago. In Romania, I believe, although that has never been confirmed. The fact she was murdered is no coincidence, and that is what we are investigating.”

Greg frowned, trying to absorb this information. “So you’re no closer to finding the bastard who killed her?”

“Sadly no. But we will continue trying.”

Greg sat back in the chair, finishing his drink. “Thank you,” he finally said. He looked at Mycroft. “I get that you didn’t need to tell me all that. But the fact you did… well, I do appreciate it.”

Mycroft smiled warmly in return and finished his own drink. Greg held his glass out. “Top up?” he asked.

Mycroft tilted his head in momentary surprise. He took the glass and stood and Greg couldn’t help but grin at the concept of Mycroft waiting on him. Greg took the time to watch him, looking at his back through the pinstripe jacket.

Mycroft walked back with Greg’s drink. Greg took it from him, his finger brushing against Mycroft’s. He ignored how it made his heart race as Mycroft sat back down. “So, don’t you have a TV?”

Mycroft chuckled. “I do have a television. I don’t tend to watch it.”

“What do you do for fun?”

“I’m sorry?” Mycroft asked.

“Fun. How do you have it?”

“I enjoy my work.”

“That’s not fun,” Greg laughed. “Alright, forget fun. How do you relax?”

“I read a book. I listen to some music.”

“Do you play games?”

Mycroft smiled a little. “What sort of games?”

“Cards? Not chess, you’ll beat me hands down in five minutes.”

Mycroft stood, and brought the decanter over to the table. He left the room and Greg downed much of his brandy before topping it up again.

Mycroft returned a few moments later with a leather-covered box. “Cards,” he said, sitting down and setting the box on the table. He opened it and took them out. The backs bore repeated patterns of a coat of arms. He tipped them into his hand and began to shuffle them, with elegant, expert precision. Greg watched his hands, mesmerised by the speed in which he shuffled them, not even watching while he did so. “So then what are we playing, Greg?”

Greg snapped his head up as he spoke and thought for a moment. “Ever played Bullshit?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Bullshit. You divide the cards between us, and you have to get rid of your cards in order, face down. Aces, twos, threes, fours and so on. But if you don’t have the next card in the sequence you obviously have to lie. And it’s the other player’s job to call you on it. But if you call it wrong, you have to take the pack. First person to get rid of their cards wins.”

“I don’t particularly see this game ending very well for you,” Mycroft said, beginning to deal.

“What you trying to say?”

“That I already know when you’re lying.”

“I’ve never lied to you,” Greg said. Mycroft’s eyes lifted and met his. Greg stared back.

Mycroft pressed his lips together and murmured. “Very well.” He took a slow, deliberate sip of his drink. “You may go first,” he instructed.

Greg looked at his cards. A test, he thought. He set down a seven, but said ‘four’.

Mycroft chose a card and murmured ‘five’.

“Bullshit,” Greg said.

Mycroft let out a half-smile. “I take it you have all the fives?” Mycroft asked, looking at the cards he picked up. He frowned. “You lied with the first card?”

“Testing you,” Greg said.

Mycroft looked momentarily unsure before breaking into a big smile. “I find this game to be unexpectedly appealing.”

They played the full round out. Greg found he quite liked listening to Mycroft swear every time he called Greg out for lying about his card. But Greg had a better poker face than Mycroft had evidently expected. Mycroft smiled with pleasure when he put his final card down. “Three,” he said smugly.

“Bullshit,” Greg said.

Mycroft turned the card. It was indeed a three, and he’d won. Mycroft chuckled. Greg grinned and finished his drink. “I’d never have let you live it down if I’d won,” Greg said. “It’s probably better this way.”

“Indeed,” Mycroft agreed.

Greg reached and topped their glasses up, aware Mycroft wasn’t keeping the same pace as he was. Mycroft sat back in his seat, savouring his drink.

Greg knocked his back with a long gulp. Mycroft raised his eyebrows. “That’s a 1973 vintage,” he said watching him.

“And it’s good,” Greg agreed. “You know, Mycroft, for a man who claims to know me so well you look surprised at me quite a lot.”

“You are impulsive,” Mycroft said. “And that can be terribly difficult to predict.”

“So I do surprise you?”

“Frequently,” Mycroft agreed.

“Is that a good thing?”

“You’d be amazed how rarely I am ever shocked by anything. I find it strangely refreshing.”

Greg looked at him. He moved his head and felt his surroundings catch up a few milliseconds later. Tipsy then. Mycroft was watching him, a small smile on his lips.

Greg put his glass down on the table. Mycroft lifted his head a fraction, sticking out his chin. Greg reached out, taking the glass from Mycroft’s hands and setting it down on the table beside his. Mycroft kept his eyes firmly on his.

Greg folded his arms across his chest. “I don’t get you, Mycroft,” he said. “I really don’t get you at all.”

The smile left Mycroft’s face. “I’m not here with you to make friends, Greg.”

“Good,” Greg replied. “That’s good.” He moved one leg up onto the sofa, before sliding along it. Mycroft did not flinch. “So then. What are you here for?” he asked. “You always call me and tell me to see you. Could just as easily ask about Sherlock on the phone.” Greg reached out and touched his shoulder. “I think you like to see me.”

They watched each other. Like two animals ready to engage in combat, testing each other, circling.

Mycroft wet his lips with his tongue. Greg swallowed as he watched. He lifted his hand to touch Mycroft’s jaw. It was closely-shaved, soft against his hand. Mycroft’s face tilted into it and Greg sighed, suddenly losing his nerve. “Your move,” he muttered.

After a few long seconds, Mycroft slowly put his hand down on Greg’s thigh. It was hot against Greg’s leg and Greg found himself grinning. He leaned forward and slammed their lips together. He felt Mycroft’s mouth submit to his immediately.

Their teeth clanged together as they battled to take charge. Greg had forgotten what it was like to kiss. Two months without it, and he couldn’t get enough. Intoxicating. And kissing another man, well, he couldn’t even remember how long it had been when Mycroft was doing that with his tongue. Fuck.

Greg let out a shaky breath as Mycroft’s lips sucked on his bottom one, a tongue making a deliberate swipe out to taste. Eager to take back some control, Greg closed a possessive hand around the back of Mycroft’s neck and Mycroft’s hands moved to his back, pulling him closer. Their bodies pressed against each other, Greg felt himself grow hard, the only sounds he could make out were his quiet groans and the only feeling in the world he could cling to was Mycroft’s tongue touching his.

Greg felt Mycroft’s fingers curl tightly into his shirt, digging almost painfully into his shoulder. Mycroft’s teeth gently bit his lip and Greg couldn’t hold back the low groan he emitted.

He found himself being shoved back onto the couch, Mycroft’s mouth still exploring his, fingers rubbing his right nipple through his shirt. For someone who hadn’t made the first move, the man was in charge now. Back in control.

One of Mycroft’s hands was beside Greg’s head as he held his body up over Greg’s, the other fumbling with the zip on his jeans. Greg reached down to help him undo the fastenings, and he arched up as Mycroft’s hand wrapped firmly around his length over the top of his black underwear.

Mycroft lifted his head and held Greg’s eyes as he moved his hand, squeezing and loosening it with expert precision.

“Please,” Greg whispered, immediately embarrassed by the sheer need he heard in his voice. He felt Mycroft’s own want against his thigh, and it only made him more desperate.

Mycroft shoved his hand inside Greg’s boxers, and Greg shuddered as his hand closed around him. His thumb swiped over the head and Greg shut his eyes hard, pushing his hips up, urging the man on.

He let the feelings wash over him for a few moments. Greg opened his eyes, reaching for Mycroft’s belt. “You don’t need to,” Mycroft murmured.

“I really fucking do,” Greg breathed out, his hands trembling as he unfastened it and pulled the leather out. He threw it on the floor, cupping Mycroft through the fabric. Mycroft shuddered, his hand stilling on Greg’s cock.

Greg made swift work of the buttons, pushing his trousers and underwear down over his thighs. He watched his hand as he wrapped his fingers around Mycroft’s prick. It was long, hard and hot in his hand, precome already leaking from the tip. Longer than Greg’s. God, he wanted that inside him, in his mouth, anywhere, he didn’t really care. It had been too long since he’d given any kind of pleasure to a man, Greg thought. He forgot the hot need of it, that erotic feeling, how different it was. How right…

Mycroft crushed their mouths together, his previously expert kisses giving way to wet, panting ones as Greg continued to rock his hips into Mycroft’s hand. A masterful twist of Mycroft’s wrist had Greg pressing his heels into the sofa and coming hard over his hand and his own underwear.

He kept his movements up on Mycroft’s cock, his hand moving as quickly as he could while trying to ignore the way his wrist was cramping. Mycroft’s face was pressed into his shoulder, and Greg tried to slow down his breathing so he could make out the heavy breaths Mycroft was making. Mycroft’s body shuddered.

Greg watched his hand on Mycroft’s cock, wishing he could see his face, watch his control slip away as he came undone…

Mycroft came with a gasp against his shoulder, a very soft faint ‘oh’ escaping his lips as he sagged against Greg. Greg slowly withdrew his hand and held it above Mycroft’s shoulder, not wanting to dirty his suit more than he had done already.

Mycroft sagged against Greg’s body, and with his clean hand, Greg couldn’t resist running his fingers through his brown hair.

His back felt sticky under the hot leather of the chair.

He closed his eyes and listened to Mycroft’s breath as he fought to get it back to normal. He made a soft noise, his surroundings coming back into focus.

Mycroft lifted his head and pressed a lazy kiss to the corner of Greg’s mouth. He stood, withdrawing his hand from Greg’s boxers and sitting up to adjust himself. “I will just go to the bathroom,” he said, not looking at Greg.

Greg watched his flushed face, his tie sticking haphazardly out of his waistcoat, his top trouser button still undone. Greg hoped he could imprint that image on his memory, just in case he never saw it again.

When Mycroft returned, he looked less rumpled and as though he’d thrown water over his face. Greg accepted the tissue and cleaned himself up. “I should go, I’ve got work tomorrow.”

“Yes,” Mycroft said stiffly.

Greg nodded. “Thanks for the game and the drink.” And the orgasm. “We should do this again sometime.”

Mycroft gave him a half smile. “I don’t imagine I will be looking for a repeat performance anytime soon.”

“Was it that bad?” Greg frowned.

“On the contrary. But I am far too busy to devote much time to such self-indulgent practises.”

Greg fixed his clothing. His boxers felt wet. A surprisingly sexy reminder of what had just taken place. With Mycroft Holmes. That might take a bit of getting used to. Greg laughed. “Having sex isn’t self-indulgent. It’s fun.”

He stood up and put his scarf and coat on. Mycroft stood too, and Greg nodded at him. “Have a good trip,” Greg said.

Mycroft reached out and squeezed Greg’s shoulder. “Thank you. I will be in touch.”

Greg smiled a little and walked out of Mycroft’s living area and back out into the corridor. The man didn’t want a repeat performance and would be in touch. Talk about mixed signals…

“Can I get you a car sir?” the butler asked.

Greg hesitated. “Nah. I’m just going to walk.”

He strolled out of Crusader House, taking in the cool air. He pulled his coat tighter around himself. His head felt clear for the first time in months during the 15 minute walk to his flat. 

Chapter Text

January, 2006

When Sherlock had walked into New Scotland Yard two days later, Greg initially felt apprehensive. He was sure he’d take one look at him and yell ‘I can’t believe you had sex with my brother!’ in front of the entire building.

But thankfully, Greg seemed to have been good at hiding what had happened and Mycroft obviously hadn’t let it slip. And Greg was certain if Sherlock had known, he wouldn’t have heard the end of it.

Greg spent the day going through more files and ignoring Sherlock intermittently asking “what’s the Kirkcudbright case?”

With Sherlock lying on his back on the floor and his hands steepled under his chin, Greg allowed himself to think that this really was the most bizarre partnership he had ever been a part of.

“What’s your ex wife’s perfume?” Sherlock asked after a while.

“What?” Greg muttered, clicking furiously on his mouse as the computer froze.

“Your ex-wife. Her perfume. What is it?”

“I don’t know,” Greg said.

“Neither do I. I need to know. Buy me some perfume.”

“Shut up, Sherlock.”

“It could be pertinent to cases I solve for you in the future. What if it’s pertinent to the Kirkcudbright case and you don’t buy me perfume and it remains unsolved?”

Greg rolled his eyes. “It isn’t.”

“Could be.”

“Isn’t,” Greg replied.

“Molly will get me perfume,” Sherlock decided. “Hers is decidedly cheap smelling, but it would give me a place to start. What did you do with my brother?”

Do. Brother. Shit. “What?” Greg choked out, looking at him.

“Mycroft has found you a new flat, I wondered what you’d done to endear yourself to him. He doesn’t do favours for just anybody. In fact he only does favours for me, so this is most surprising.”

“I put up with you every day, that’s what I did.” Greg turned back to his screen, clenching his teeth.

Sherlock crossed his arms. “I’m bored. Find me something new to do. Give me the Kirkcudbright case.”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s my case,” Greg said, knowing full-well that wouldn’t mean anything to Sherlock.

“And it’s obviously going so well,” Sherlock said sarcastically, looking at him. “Lestrade! I’m bored. And you know what happens when I get bored.”

Greg rolled his eyes. “I’m not giving you the case.”

“Fine. I’ll just go and get some heroin.”

“No you bloody well aren’t!” Greg stood up, his hands on his hips. “For God’s sake, Sherlock.” Sherlock had his lips pressed together, watching Greg expectantly from the floor. “Fine. Go and buy some perfume.” Greg took £20 out of his wallet and handed it over. “Go write it up and put it on the internet or something. I’m sure you’ll find some nutter willing to read it.”

“I might just do that.” Sherlock looked at the money and kept his hand outstretched. Greg glared at him. “Perfume is expensive,” Sherlock explained. “I need a wide range of samples.”

Greg gave him another £10 and sat back down, exasperated.

Sherlock collected his coat and put it on. He held his hand out. “So, I’ll just take the Kirkcudbright files with me to look over.”

“Piss off.”

Sherlock huffed and walked out.

Count to 10, Greg thought. Count to 10 and it’ll all be okay. He took a deep breath and turned back to his work.

 


 

Greg got home late to his new flat. He walked around the corner to a late-night cafe on the way back home, picking up a sandwich and a sausage roll.

He let himself in and retrieved a beer from the fridge.

Switching the television on, he stretched out along the sofa. He knew there was the prospect of a day off tomorrow. There weren’t any live football matches on, so Greg watched some stand-up comedy, cringing his way through Michael Macintyre.

 


 

His body jolted up as he heard a shout. Who was shouting? What happened? Shit. No. No… That was his own voice. His own shout. He gripped the cushion, pulling it to his face and covering it. He breathed in what little air he could with it blocking his nose, noted the tightness in his chest.

He looked around the room, fumbling for his phone. He winced as he turned it on, realising he’d fallen asleep on the sofa. At least he’d turned the television off first.

This really was turning into a terrible habit. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a night where he’d slept all the way through. Things hadn’t been this bad since that case and at least then he’d had Caroline to drag him through it all.

The only night he’d had a good sleep this month was after he and Mycroft had… no. He wasn’t going to think about that.

He stood up and switched the lamp on, walking to the window. He rubbed the back of his neck. The road was still except for a taxi waiting expectantly outside the building opposite.

It was all too silent. His old flat had been along an incredibly busy road, a road near clubs, bars and pubs. A road with a rumbling underbelly of indecency. It was busy and it was loud. Caroline had hated it, and was often looking through the property section in the paper. When Greg accepted this flat, he hadn’t realised how dead it would be outside. Of course, even if he had realised, he didn’t know until this moment how much that really mattered to him.

He shivered.

Bed. He should be in it.

He closed the curtains, double-checked his door was locked and walked into his new room. 

 


 

February, 2006

Greg and Sally shielded themselves under a railway bridge. “There’s got to be a better way to do this,” Sally muttered, tightening her scarf.

“There isn’t,” Greg replied. “How else do you find out what’s going on on the street except to be on the street?”

“We don’t have the resources for this.”

“We do when our big serial murder case is linked to drug gangs.”

Sally rubbed her hands together. “Did you see that story on the BBC yesterday?”

“What one?” Greg asked, lighting a cigarette.

“About the guy that married a goat.”

Greg laughed. “No.”

“I can’t remember what country it was. But he was caught having sex with it and so the village elders made him marry it.” Greg laughed. Sally inclined her head and murmured, “over there, sir.”

Greg glanced over. “I arrested that guy about 18 months ago. He did some time for possession. Low ranking dealer.”

“If they’re out on the street, they’re all low-ranking, Lestrade. We’ve been coming out for three weeks now. There’s no way some guy in a smart suit will be caught dead chatting to them.”

“It’s all we’ve got, Donovan. We’ve narrowed it down to an area. I don’t really know what else we can do.”

Sally yawned.

“Alright,” Greg declared. “I get the point. We’ll call it a night. But don’t think I’m happy about it.”

They drove home, cold and tired.

 


 

It was a week later when he received a message from Sherlock.

 

MESSAGES        Sherlock Holmes
4.20pm: Come to 22 Serle Street.
Now. Important. SH

 

Greg was sat at his desk when the text came through, wondering if he would be able to finish work on time. Get home by 5.15pm. That’d be a new one. At first he was tempted to text back and ask what exactly what was going on that was so urgent. But curiosity got the better of him a few moments later.

He grabbed his coat, heading out to his car. He turned the radio up loud, singing along to The Killers. He pulled up outside the house.

It looked nice from the outside. He knocked on the door but received no answer. He frowned, glanced around and quietly let himself in. He put his hand over his mouth and made a retching sound as he walked in. It was worse than some of the crime scenes he'd been to. And many of those had been appalling.

"Lestrade!" he heard from one of the rooms and he walked through.

Sherlock was sat in an old wooden chair by the window. A skinny man with blond hair and haunted eyes was throwing clothing into a rucksack. "Sherlock,” Greg said. “What's up?"

Sherlock gestured towards the man. "He knows about Mac," he said.

Greg looked at the man. "Really? Why are you packing?"

"Irrelevant," Sherlock muttered, folding his arms.

"I'm taking off," the man said. "Gettin' outta London."

"Why?" Greg asked.

"You think I wanna hang round here with all this goin' on?" the man asked. "Gonna wind up dead."

Greg raised his eyebrows at Sherlock. "And you call that irrelevant?"

"It's obvious," Sherlock muttered.

Greg rolled his eyes and took a seat on the bed. "What's your name?"

"Leroy."

"And what are you afraid of?"

"I told Sherlock this already,” the man groaned.

"Now tell me," Greg said.

Leroy closed his bag and sat down on the bed. "I worked for Mac for 12 years. I used to be based in Hackney. Mac changed set up about 18 months ago. He started working for some new guy-"

"-Wait, so Mac's not top of the food chain?"

"Nah, mate. Mac does what he's told. I dunno by who. I just do what Mac says so I get paid. Anyways, I got moved here. Then people started being killed. People I worked with, man, for years. It's weird, mate. Normally when you get two gangs, you just get your gun out. But they ain't done that. So, some bloke was killing us off with poison in heroin. Mac started his own revenge. Couple of blokes got stabbed, dumped in the Thames. But that man who was strung up by his arms? Found him just before Christmas, right?"

Greg nodded.

"Nothing to do with Mac,” the man said. “Nothing to do with the other gang. It's summat else. And that's why I'm gettin' outta here."

Greg exchanged looks with Sherlock. Mac was killing dealers. Dealers were being killed by… "Two killers,” Greg muttered, realisation dawning on his face.

Sherlock began to smile. "Told you this was important."

"How did we miss that?" Greg asked, rubbing his face.

"You missed that. I didn't."

"And why are you telling me this now? You never miss an opportunity to tell me I'm wrong."

"Because I needed more data. And I found Leroy here." So Sherlock had been hanging out with dealers again. Fucking fantastic.

"I'm making you piss in a pot later,” Greg said. Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Hang on,” Greg said, thinking. “So. The bodies in the house and the man tied up to the sign..."

"A different killer," Sherlock agreed.

"The man on the sign wasn't one of Mac's," Leroy said. "There's just a feelin', man. A feelin' like we ain't safe on the streets. And these are blokes who have been doin' this for years. Even Mac's been tellin' us to find new areas. Y'know, you could just be doin' a deal with some dude, he gets out a needle, stabs you, strings you up and lets you die like that."

"He's got to be strong," Greg said.

"They're weak when the convulsions start," Sherlock said. "They can't fight back."

"Speaking from experience, Sherlock?" Greg asked, a bit more aggressively than he’d intended. He was still bitter over it then, he realised. Sherlock glared at him.

Greg tapped his fingers against his thigh as he spoke the case out. "Right. So now we've got dealers being killed by dealers, those dealers killing back and both sets of dealers being killed by... by who exactly?"

Sherlock beamed. "Oh I love this game."

Leroy picked his backpack up and put it on his shoulders. "Right. I'm off. Good luck with it all."

"Hang on! Hang on!” Greg held his arm out in front of Leroy, cutting off his exit. “How do I find Mac?"

"You think I'll tell you that? He'd kill me."

"Does he have another name at least?"

"Dunno," Leroy said.

"Let him go, Lestrade," Sherlock said. "We're done here."

"You don't get to make that decision, Holmes," Greg replied. They held each other's eyes, before Greg muttered with some reluctance, "fine. Go." Leroy left the room in a hurry. Sherlock stood up and looked at the chair.

"Will this fit in your car?" he asked.

"Yeah. Why?"

Sherlock picked it up and shoved it into Greg's arms. "For my flat," he said. 

Greg clenched his jaw and carried it out to his car, putting it on the back seats. "So, where am I taking you?" he asked.

"Home. And then we can discuss me going undercover."

"Sherlock..."

"I'll fill you in on the benefits of me going undercover when we get back. I'm going to spend the journey thinking."

"Why don't you let your brother help you switch your brain off?" Greg asked.

Sherlock frowned and huffed. "Mycroft interfering again."

"He's not," Greg said. "I was just curious." 

 


 

Greg turned the radio on and left Sherlock typing on his phone. They arrived at Sherlock's flat with Greg carrying the chair while Sherlock continued to tap away. Greg looked around and pulled a face. "Bloody hell. Didn't take long to make this place a tip, did it? And what the hell is that?" Greg picked up a jar on the table. He sniffed it. "Uch! Sherlock!"

"It's an experiment. For my blog."

"You have a blog?"

"Yes, started it yesterday."

"A blog?" Greg grinned.

"Don't look so surprised. It was the only good idea you've ever had."

Greg chose to ignore that comment. Sherlock actually did something he’d suggested. There was a moment to savour if ever he’d heard one. "What did you call it?"

"The Science of Deduction."

"And what's this?" Greg held the bottle out.

"Analysis of perfumes. Your wife's philandering inspired me." Sherlock continued to send messages on his phone, his fingers sprinting over the keys.

"Who are you texting?" Greg asked.

"Contacts," Sherlock said, slumping into the chair.

"Since when do you have contacts?"

"Since I started going undercover."

"Sherlock-"

"Oh don't start. I found Leroy, didn't I?"

Greg took a seat at Sherlock's desk, frowning. "Sherlock, I told you about this before-"

"I'm doing it for myself. Not officially. I'll let you know when I find something useful. Probably," Sherlock added, putting his phone down. He looked at Greg. "Stop looking like that, Inspector."

"Sherlock. I gave you access to this case because I like your insights. But I'm not letting you go undercover. I can't."

"Why?"

"Because it involves drugs, Sherlock, and you're an addict."

Sherlock snorted. "I am not an addict. Look. Test me! Test me next week! You can test me every day. You've searched my flat every week since September. Have you found anything? No."

Greg sighed and looked around the flat. He had to concede that point. "Alright. Come on. Why do you need to be undercover?"

"Because you're never going to find anything stood on a street corner with Sally Donovan. Even in plain clothes, you're totally conspicuous. I, on the other hand, have experienced drug dealers and addicts in their natural habitat and can fit in. I have been spending the last few weeks finding some key people and know I can find your killer."

"Which one?" Greg asked.

"Both. The first one will be easy. They brag about it. The second. Well, the second is the best one. He's tricky, hard to read, has no clear motive. He's a copy-cat with his own style. I like him. He's intriguing."

"Even if you find them, I need evidence to charge them and then get a conviction. I won't be able to do that if you're undercover without official clearance."

"I'll get you your evidence, Inspector," Sherlock said. Greg looked at him as he reached for his phone and began texting again. When Greg took the job as DI he knew it was about weighing his options. Risk and reward. And he knew he'd already taken almighty risks with Sherlock. Career-on-a-string style risks. But the rewards. Well, the rewards were potentially great. Greg pressed his lips together before standing up.

"Right. I want a text from you every 12 hours. I'm doing a drug test every three days. You stay out of trouble and don't go chasing murderers around yourself. And for God's sake, don't tell your brother."

"Why would I tell Mycroft?"

"I don't know. But I have a feeling it wouldn't go well for me if you did."

"Yes, I suppose you're right," Sherlock said, regarding him.

"Alright," Greg murmured. "But don't say a word to my team. And be careful. If you muck this up-"

"I know," Sherlock said.

And he did know, Greg thought. Because Greg had given him something interesting to do with his ridiculous brain. And he needed this as much as he'd needed the heroin. Risk. Reward. Please be worth it. Greg left Sherlock lying on the sofa, texting at a furious rate.

 


 

Sherlock was good at his word. In fact, he was better. 

Greg went through the rest of next three weeks with a lot of desk work. He spent one short-staffed night in uniform policing a Premier League match. It had been relatively uneventful. Sherlock kept him up to date. Most of his texts simply said 'nothing new SH' but occasionally Sherlock would offer him something of use. There were still several unnamed bodies, and Sherlock's 'contacts' had given them an identity. Many of the names were nicknames, but good work by Sally and some of her own leads had found the true identities behind the street names.

Sally, of course, was disgusted when she had found out what was going on, but Greg couldn't do it all by himself and he needed Sally’s leads as much as his own.

Sherlock was also providing clean samples. Greg had found one on his desk one morning, and made his displeasure very clear. Molly assured him she had been testing every three days and they had all been clean.

The one person Greg hadn't heard from was Holmes senior. He tried not to be bothered about it. 

Greg had been busy and really he didn't feel like he was desperate for the companionship. Being single was a bit of a revelation as colleagues tried to set him up with friends. He went on one date, and she had been perfectly pleasant and Greg thought he'd be happy to see her again. But while for the last 20 years, he had mostly imagined women when he was alone in the dark with his hand wrapped around his cock, he was now imagining men. And one man more than others.

But Greg decided not to give it too much thought or feel ashamed of it. "Sir. There's a tramp in reception asking for you." Greg frowned at the PC.

"A tramp? Asking for me?" he repeated.

The man nodded.

"Oh bloody hell." Greg followed the PC out and couldn't help but laugh when he saw Sherlock sitting there, a grumpy expression on his face. He looked mucky, and his clothes like they'd been picked out of a bin. "Come on, follow me," Greg said, grinning.

Sherlock glared at the PC as he followed Greg behind the desk and towards his office. Greg braced himself when Sally saw them. "What the heck's he done now?" she asked, hands on hips.

"Oh, Sally, you have brightened my day," Sherlock muttered sarcastically. "Single again? I am surprised."

"Sherlock! Donovan! Break it up,” Greg said as he opened the door to his office. "God, you stink," he said as Sherlock strolled past him and took a seat at his desk. He sat down and looked at him expectantly. "So. What have we got?"

"You wanted evidence, Lestrade. I got you evidence."

Greg rested his chin on his hand. "I'm listening."

"17 Onslow Street. You'll find rat poison and wallets from the rat run victims. I suggest you raid it quickly though, as there is talk of them leaving."

"You got a name?" Greg asked, firing up his computer.

"There are enough drugs to secure a prosecution for the people you find there. And yes, I know your man, Inspector. Or rather, men. I will point them out when you bring them in."

"And our second killer?"

"Has evaded me thus far. Which is why you may as well arrest the others. They don't know who the second murderer is."

Greg looked at him. "What are you doing now?"

"I'm staying undercover," Sherlock said. "I'm getting close."

Greg stood up. "Right, I'm going to start assembling a team. Good work." He waited for Sherlock to leave the Yard before taking a long breath. Trying not to consider the paperwork he would need to word carefully to justify this raid, he walked back out and collected Sergeant Carter. "I want the drug squad and our team on an operation together."

"When for, sir?"

"We're leaving at 6pm. I'll go through the details at 4pm."

"I'll sort it, Lestrade. What case?"

"Rat run."

Carter grinned at him and patted his shoulder. "I'll assemble the team."

It was nearly a year since he had been made a Detective Inspector and Greg knew this was crucial to his success within the force. Securing a big drug bust with a big drug gang and capturing a serial killer would boost his reputation. More than that, it would give him some much-needed confidence that he was capable of doing it.

 


 

He and Carter were in his car, Carter with his phone to his ear keeping track of what was going on with the other teams. Greg listened to the conversation.

"We've got a team at the back in place, the one of the front will be there in 30 seconds," Carter relayed to him. "No other exits. But they're keeping an eye on the windows. It's detached, makes it easier."

"We got enough men?" Greg asked.

"Don't worry, alright? We've got this."

"It's a big case."

"We've got this," Carter repeated.

Greg found a place to park at the front. "So, I just trust the guys then right?"

"Yep. Wait until you can rush in and take the glory."

They listened to the raid on the walkey-talkey, heard the cries of 'stop, police!' and the sounds of arrests, seizures.

Greg's phone rang 10 long minutes later. It was Sally. "Lestrade. Get in here and see what we've got for you. It's like Christmas."

Greg grinned at Carter and they both walked out of the car. The house was dingy, and they immediately walked into a room with an indiscernible amount of cannabis plants. That itself was enough to convince Greg his superiors wouldn't have a problem with the raid. Evidence, he thought. Sherlock brought me evidence.

In another room, two men were cuffed, chests against the walls as they were searched. The officers found knives on both, as well as bags of likely cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy tablets. Sally walked into the room and held out a pot. Along the front was a giant symbol for 'dangerous'. On the back: Strychnine.

Greg felt his shoulders slump as he let out a long breath. Just what he was looking for. Carter patted him on the shoulder. "We got it, sir," he said. "We got it."

Not completely, Greg thought, watching as the men found in the house were led to the cars. They'd be able to charge most of these men with possession and intent to supply, and possession of a weapon. But now they had to prove one or more of them was a murderer. And in the back of his mind, Greg knew it was potentially one down and one still to go. One who had nothing to do with these dealers. Nothing to do with this scene at all. Before driving back to the station, Greg sent Sherlock a text.

 

MESSAGES
6.51pm: Big drug raid. Need
you tomorrow for the possible
murder charge. Thank you.

 

Now he just needed to find a way to explain how he'd figured out where they should carry out a random raid on a random house in London. It had been hard enough gaining the warrant...

Chapter Text

February, 2006

Greg had been Detective Inspector for a year and he was regularly proud of his team. He didn't always say it. He probably didn't show it enough at times (need to work on that) but he was frequently proud. They worked long hours, dealt with difficult people and kept their wits about them even when they were tired and fed up. But this was the most proud he had ever been of his team. Processing nine men with a variety of drugs and weapon charges as efficiently as they had done was nothing short of extraordinary.

Greg and Carter worked together with one of the communications team to ensure they had an extra special press release drafted for the morning, ready to be mailed out to the local newspapers and radio stations, along with pictures of the cannabis room (journalists jumped on showy pictures like that).

So while Greg got home late (again) he did so with no regret or dissatisfaction about how the afternoon had panned out. Sherlock had text him a simple 'no news' message, informing Greg he was still on the look out for killer number two.

There was the matter of killer number one, of course, but that could wait for now because the number of charges they'd processed this evening deserved a few hours of celebratory reflection.

Greg opened his flat, ready to pull on some pyjamas, put on the football highlights and drink a beer or two. It was the best evening he'd planned for weeks.

Within around three minutes of being home, there was a knock on his door. Greg groaned. Who now? He was astonished to find Mycroft Holmes behind the door, a particularly intense gaze plastered on his face. "Hey," Greg said. "Come on in. I wasn't expecting you."

"Yes, I'm sorry to impose," Mycroft said. "But we need to talk about Sherlock. Urgently."

Greg stepped aside to let him walk in. He frowned and opened the fridge to get a beer. He refused to let the Holmes men ruin his evening and celebrations. "Do you want a drink or food or anything?"

"This is not a social visit,” the other man replied coolly.

Greg pressed his lips together, taking a long deep breath before he turned around to face the man. "Then can’t we do this tomorrow?" he asked,

"Oh yes. You're celebrating,” Mycroft said, a slight sneer on his lips. “But no, I'm afraid not."

Greg opened his beer and slumped in one of the sofas. Mycroft gracefully took a seat on the opposite one. Greg took a long gulp, savouring his cold beer. They stared long and hard at each other for a few moments. Greg looked away. "Go on then. What's your brother done now?"

"It has come to my attention that Sherlock has been frequenting unsavoury parts of London where he is almost certainly coming into contact with heroin."

Greg nodded. "Yeah, I know."

Mycroft pursed his lips. "You know? Yet you continue to work with him?"

"He's clean. Molly tested him yesterday. And three days before that."

"I don't understand,” Mycroft frowned.

"He's undercover," Greg said, trying not to enjoy Mycroft's confusion too much. "He reckons he's found our rat run killer. Well, one of them. He's still hunting the second."

"Second?" Mycroft paused. "Oh yes, I see."

"Do you?"

"Yes,” Mycroft said, as though he’d seen all the evidence for himself. “But you really must pull Sherlock out of there immediately."

"He's doing all right, Mycroft. He's reporting back to me every 12 hours, getting tested every three days. He lets me search his flat whenever I want. I even have a key."

"Alas, I fear where Sherlock is concerned things are never so simple,” Mycroft warned.

"Maybe you should have more faith in your brother?"

"You simply haven't known him as long as I, Detective Inspector."

Greg frowned and folded his arms. "So we're back to 'Detective Inspector' now?"

"This will not end well," Mycroft said, ignoring the question. "And I must urge you to put an end to this strategy immediately."

"Just trust me, alright? I'm keeping a close eye on him."

"I fear two close eyes are never enough."

Greg sighed. "Just give him - and me - the benefit of the doubt, okay? And if it all goes to shit then I'll bow down to your superiority in the future."

"I like to be kept informed, Inspector."

"I get that," Greg said. "But I'm looking after him." Mycroft stood, settling a long gaze on Greg. "You sure I can't get you a drink?" Greg asked.

"No. I must return to work.” Mycroft stood up, and Greg’s eyes slowly browsed the length of his body. "I expect to be kept informed.”

That controlling voice made Greg’s toes curl into the floor. He swallowed and nodded. "See you, Mycroft," he said, his throat feeling constricted, and watched as he turned and walked out of his flat.

Greg let out a long breath. Damn that man. He brushed his hand over the front of his trousers, lifting his hips into his own touch as he felt his half-hard cock. He was almost a little embarrassed Mycroft had that affect on him so quickly.

Greg grabbed his beer and finished the bottle in several long gulps. His arousal beginning to dissipate, he turned his television on and found the football scores.  

 


 

Sherlock came by early the next day. He still smelt, he still was wearing the same clothes as the last time Greg had seen him, but Greg fully believed Mycroft's fears were unfounded. He didn't have the look of someone who had been using. And Greg had seen him high already once. And he didn't look like that.

Mycroft needed to have a bit more faith.

Sherlock identified three men who he had heard were responsible for the murders. Forensics from Bart's on needles found at the scene found DNA linked to three of the victims.

Sherlock said he'd find the evidence to comprehensively prove which man administered which deadly dose of heroin and rat poison.

Greg's email inbox contained a few messages from his superiors, each congratulating him on the charges. One said 'heard the case was linked to the rat poison murders. Grateful you can wrap that up Lestrade'. Greg hoped he could. He expected if he could prove these men responsible for the majority of these murders then he could prove them responsible for the bodies at the house and the man attached to the sign. The evidence was too coincidental.

But he knew someone else was on the streets. And he didn't want that hanging over him.

 


 

March, 2006

Greg enjoyed the next two weeks. The criminals were going through the Magistrates’ Court, and with fingerprints on the needles (why did they not throw them away?) matching with the suspects' he was pretty confident about the outcome of the case when it reached the Crown Court.

His team were in a great mood. Greg was in a good mood. Until 4.32pm on Friday when he received a call. “Lestrade,” he said, putting his coffee down.

“Hi. Greg. It’s Molly Hooper.”

“Oh, Molly, hi. I don’t think I have your number on my phone, sorry.”

“No, it’s fine,” she said. “Um. But. I think maybe you should know. Sherlock hasn’t been in all week.”

“What?” Greg asked. He leaned on his desk.

“I haven’t seen him since Monday morning.”

Greg frowned. “I had a text from him this morning.”

“Oh. He’s probably okay then. But. We haven’t done any tests since. Just thought you should know.”

“Drug tests?”

“Yes.”

Greg groaned. “Oh bloody hell.”

“Sorry,” Molly said.

“No, don’t worry. I’ll sort it. Cheers, Molly.”

“Bye.”

Greg hung up and slammed his fist down on his desk. Edmund walked into his office. “Everything alright, sir?” he asked.

“Yeah. Fine. Shit!”

Edmund frowned. “Are you sure, sir?”

“Do I seem bloody fine to you?” Greg fumed. “I need you to call…” Who? He wasn’t going to tell Mycroft about this. Bart’s? But Molly was the only one who seemed to give a toss about Sherlock. “Forget it. I’m off out.”

“Out, sir?”

“Yes, out! Like you need to do right now.”

Edmund opened his mouth and closed it before scurrying out of Greg’s office. He faintly heard him ask Sally what was going on, but thankfully she didn’t come to enquire. Greg grabbed his phone and keys, tucking them into his pocket. He sent Sherlock a text.

 

MESSAGES
4.36pm: Where are you?
Urgent case come in. I
need your help.

 

Greg didn’t feel bad about lying. If Sherlock was back on drugs then he didn’t care if the man spent the next month furious at him. God damn it, when had he got so flipping over protective of Sherlock Bloody Holmes? About the time he started having sex with his brother? No, it was before that. Definitely before that.

He took a long drink from his coffee before rushing out of his office. He saw Sally look up at him, but she didn’t say a word as he stormed out of the building toward his car. He clenched his teeth as he drove, turning his CD up loud. He ignored the fact he didn’t really know where to go.

He went to a number of drug addict haunts, each time failing to find Sherlock. In the end, he decided to go to Sherlock’s flat. He let himself in, frowning at the skull on the desk. He sat down on the sofa and checked his texts. God knows how long he’d have to sit here.

He got up and began turning out the drawers of the desk, not caring how much of a mess he left it in. Finding nothing, he went into Sherlock’s bedroom.

He searched in the drawer containing the neatly packed socks and closed it. He frowned. He opened the drawer again and began searching the individually curled up socks. Jackpot.

He pulled out the three needles and felt his heart sink. Like a fucking punch to the gut. He sat down on the edge of Sherlock’s bed. He reached for his phone and searched for Mycroft’s number. His thumb hovered over the call button.

He thought of Sherlock’s brother, half naked and coming over his hand. Better to leave it for the moment. He wasn’t ready to put a definite, comprehensive end to that particular activity any time soon.

So he walked into Sherlock’s sitting room and sat down on the sofa. He hadn’t received a text from the man in question yet. But he would wait. Oh he would wait, alright. And then he was going to bloody murder him. 

 


 

Sherlock got back into his flat at 2.13am. Greg was asleep on the sofa, but he woke as soon as the door opened and the light from the hallway spread into the room. Sherlock stared at him. “This is my flat. Go and find your own.”

Greg sat up, blinking. He looked at Sherlock and reached into his jacket pocket. He held the syringes out to the man in question.

“I’m undercover. They’re my disguise,” Sherlock protested.

Greg looked at him and shook his head. “I don’t believe you.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes and walked to his desk.

“You’re a junkie, Sherlock. You’re a bloody addict. And I’ve seen you high before and I know what it looks like so don’t fucking lie to me.” Sherlock tutted. “And don’t make that sound at me either.”

“What are you doing here, Lestrade? I’m undercover! I’m solving your case.”

Greg knew his temper. He often tried to count to 10. But on this occasion it was never going to work. “You’re fucking high, Sherlock!”

“So what? So what if I have some drugs? Does it matter? I could still solve your cases at 10 times the speed you could. If you even did solve your cases. So sometimes I decide to do what I want with my body, what does it even matter to you if I do?”

“Because you’re going to wind up killing yourself.”

“Oh what does it matter?” Sherlock asked, rolling his eyes. “Everybody dies. Now or in 10 years, what difference does it make?”

“People care about you, Sherlock.” Greg tried to soften his voice. He thought he succeeded a bit.

“They shouldn’t bother,” Sherlock said. “What good does it bring anyone? I mean, just look at Mycroft.” Sherlock said his name with a sneer on his lips.

Greg frowned. “What about him?”

“Mycroft cared so much about me that he ended all his relationships to look after me. It’s pathetic.”

Greg folded his arms. He’d never really thought about Mycroft being in a previous relationship. “Some people might just call that love,” Greg said.

Sherlock snorted. “Mycroft? Love? He controls people, Lestrade. And if that means keeping them happy and giving them flats so he has them just where he wants them then that’s what he’ll do. My brother doesn’t do love. He doesn’t do caring.”

Greg forced out a false laugh and crossed his legs. “Mycroft didn’t get me a flat so he had me where he wanted me.”

Sherlock snorted again, shaking his head with a sardonic grin on his face. “Oh, you are so deluded, Inspector. No wonder he likes keeping you around when you do whatever he asks.”

“I don’t do everything he tells me to, Sherlock.”

Sherlock raised his eyebrows. “No? But you’re quite happy to engage with him in… relations. I’m sure he has you precisely where he wants you.”

Greg swallowed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he muttered defensively.

Sherlock turned his laptop on, ignoring him.

Greg tapped his hand against his thigh. Shit. He was amazed Sherlock had managed to keep that quiet. In fact, he had been amazed Sherlock hadn’t figured it out. He thought he’d been really subtle. He wondered what had given them away, but it wasn’t really the time to ask.

And he wondered if what Sherlock said was true. After all, who knew Mycroft better than his kid brother? “Are there any more syringes?” Greg asked.

Sherlock groaned. “Are you still here?”

“Yeah. I’m still here. Like the idiot I am.”

“Most people are idiots, Lestrade and it was clear from the second I met you that you were not an exception.”

Greg clenched and unclenched his fists. 10, 9, 8, 7… “What are you doing anyway?”

“I’m searching for a man on the internet.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m catching you a serial killer,” Sherlock said, his ‘it’s obvious’ tone in his voice.

“While you’re high?”

“I am capable of doing more than one thing at once. I only had one, and that was a while ago.”

Greg frowned and stood up. He stood over Sherlock’s shoulder. “Kerry Kingsmore?” Greg asked, looking at what he was typing.

“It’s not his real name,” Sherlock said.

“Who is he?”

Sherlock didn’t reply.

“I can look this up at Headquarters,” Greg told him.

“It’s not his real name,” Sherlock repeated distractedly. He looked at Greg. “Oh, actually, great idea. Go and do that. Leave now.” Greg shook his head. Sherlock threw his arms up in exasperation. “What exactly are you after, Inspector?”

“You made me a promise, Sherlock. You said you wouldn’t start on the drugs.” Sherlock shook his head and went back to typing. “You know I have to withdraw your access to Bart’s.” Sherlock ignored him. “And you’re not coming to the Yard until you’re clean. Two weeks.” Greg looked at the syringes in his hand. “Where are the others?”

“There’s a hollowed-out book on the bedside table.”

Greg walked into Sherlock’s bedroom and found the book. He took the two syringes out of it. He sighed as he pocketed them.

“I’ll swing by tomorrow, alright?” Greg said.

Sherlock didn’t say a word as Greg sighed and left.

Greg drove back from Sherlock’s towards New Scotland Yard to dispose of the needles he’d just collected. He pulled up the car and was about to pick them up from the seat. And he hesitated.

If he took them to the Yard he’d have to explain where he’d got them from and despite the jolly good kick up the backside it would give Sherlock, he didn’t want to dump him in it. But he didn’t want them in his flat either. And he really didn’t want to throw them into a bin.

He opened the glove compartment, putting the needles in there. Didn’t the NHS provide a needle collection service or something? He felt uncomfortable leaving them in his car. But not as uncomfortable as he would have felt explaining where they’d come from when he locked them away in the drug box at work.

He slept poorly that night. Too busy worrying about Sherlock and wondering where he’d got this all wrong. And half-wondering about the bed he was lying on, in the flat Mycroft found for him, and whether he was there just because Mycroft wanted him where he could keep an eye on him. And whether what had happened between the two of them was because he was being manipulated. Because Greg was vulnerable, and Mycroft needed him to keep two eyes on Sherlock…

But then there was the other side of that coin.

The side that said Mycroft wasn’t the kind of man to invite any old person to his flat. The kind of man who wouldn’t let just anyone comfort him when his brother was lying near-dead in hospital.

He was the kind of man who had no personal photographs in his flat though. It was his own flat right? Greg couldn’t believe he’d be invited to a dummy flat. What a stupid thought. And now he couldn’t un-think it. He rolled over. And now he was thinking about the sex again. The sex they’d had, the sex he wanted to have. With Mycroft.

The man who was manipulating him. Maybe. According to Sherlock. How much did ‘according to Sherlock’ mean anyway? Well, actually, Sherlock was a genius so it probably meant quite a lot and oh God this was a bloody nightmare.

Greg groaned and buried his face in the pillow. 

 


 

Greg got up earlier than normal, driving straight over to Sherlock’s flat. He knocked at first but got no response so let himself in. Sherlock was exactly where he’d left him. On his laptop.

A syringe was on the floor by the chair leg. Greg’s shoulders slumped as he looked at him.

“I’ve found your murderer,” Sherlock said. “We will go there now.”

“No we won’t,” Greg replied, resigned. “You didn’t tell me where all your stash was.”

“Why would I do that?”

“Because I’m trying to help you.”

“And I’m going to find you a murderer. Now come on.” Sherlock got up, picking his coat up from the corner of the bedroom door. Greg looked at him.

“Sherlock, are you high right now?” Greg walked over to him, planting his hands on Sherlock’s shoulders. “Look at me. Right now.” Sherlock looked at him with a steely expression. His eyes weren’t contracted. Greg pressed his lips together. “Fine,” he muttered. “Fine, tell me where I’m going.”

“Where we’re going,” Sherlock corrected. “I don’t intend to miss out on the fun.”

“What fun?”

“We’re going to find another body, Inspector,” Sherlock said gleefully.

“How do you know that?”

“Because yesterday morning a man tried to sell me heroin containing rat poison.” Greg stared at him. “Well, I did say I had been undercover,” Sherlock said.

“You could have got yourself killed,” Greg muttered.

“But I didn’t.” Sherlock opened the front door.

Greg glared at him, holding his ground. Sherlock raised his eyebrows at him. “Oh bloody hell,” Greg growled, walking through the door and down the stairs. Sherlock followed him to the car, texting. “Where am I going?” Greg asked, pulling away from the curb.

“Just keep driving straight, I’ll tell you when to turn.”

Greg turned the radio on, watching Sherlock out of the corner of his eye and making sure he didn’t open his glove compartment. “What did you do with the needle anyway?” Greg asked. “The one with the rat poison.”

“I took it to Bart’s,” Sherlock said. “Evidence.”

Greg frowned. Couldn’t argue with that, he supposed. He kept driving as Sherlock typed furiously on his phone. Eventually Sherlock told him to turn right, right and then second left and Greg followed his instructions.

“Park here,” Sherlock said. “We’ll walk the rest of the way.”

“Sherlock, do I need back-up for this? Because I don’t want to just walk into a murderer’s lair if I can help it.”

“Oh, don’t worry, he won’t be there.”

“How do you know?” Sherlock began to get out of the car. “No. Stop!” To Greg’s surprise, the younger man did stop. He gradually turned his head to look Greg square in the eye. “I need you to explain what’s going on before you get us both killed,” Greg told him.

Sherlock sighed. “I met a drug dealer two weeks ago. He had only been doing it for nine months, had never taken drugs himself and he wore a cross around his neck. I found his religious beliefs to be contradictory to his drug dealing so I decided to pay closer attention to him. He was very consistent with his patterns. He stood in the same places every day, moving away at near enough the same time every day. He had a very loyal customer base. And one day, I asked him about his operation. He told me he had lost some of his customers recently. He said one had been found hanging by his wrists on a sign.”

“Shit,” Greg muttered.

“He still attended church. In fact, he attended a church, a mosque and a mandir.”

Greg frowned. “Hedging his bets a bit, isn’t he?”

“He referred to himself as Kerry Kingsmore, but his accent did not suggest he had any Irish roots. It was more Germanic in origin. I, of course, decided to track him.”

“And?”

“And he is your murderer.”

“But… what? I don’t get it.”

“He wishes to cleanse the world of dealers and addicts. He sold me the poisoned heroin.”

“How did you know it was poisoned?”

“Because I tested it,” Sherlock said. “I know where we will find the body.” Greg pressed his lips together. He really needed to call his team. “He will be at his usual location,” Sherlock said, getting out of the car. “Trust me.”

Greg snorted. “Like I trusted you not to get high again, you mean?” Greg got out of the car anyway and locked it, following Sherlock to a house three streets away.

Sherlock looked around before kneeling down to start picking the lock. “Oh God,” Greg groaned, covering his eyes. He definitely could not be caught here, allowing this crazy man to break and enter. “Let’s go back and get a warrant.”

“It’s done,” Sherlock said as he pushed the door open. Greg winced and crept in, glancing back behind him. They closed the door and Greg looked around. The walls were graced by religious memorabilia of every sort. There was even some sort of tribute to Satanism. Greg followed Sherlock up the stairs, and there, there was the body.

Just as Sherlock told him there would be. Greg rubbed his face. “Oh, crap,” he muttered.

The man was lying on the floor, one wrist chained to a hook in the wall. Greg closed his eyes. He was done with this case. He needed it to be over. Sherlock pointed to the corner of the room. “There is your rat poison. And I am sure you will find plenty of evidence in this house. Including newspaper cuttings of the first rat run bodies whose method he so faithfully recreated.”

Greg put his hands in his pockets, considering. “Right. You and me are leaving. And then I need to figure out a way of legitimately finding this body and arresting that bloke.” He and Sherlock walked out of the house and Greg checked the door was securely locked again before they wandered back to to car. Greg turned to look at him. “You want to be there for the arrest?” he asked.

“No,” Sherlock said.

Greg glanced at him. “You alright?” he asked. “You haven’t called me an idiot or made me feel stupid all morning.” Sherlock stayed quiet. “Sherlock?”

“What?” he asked gruffly.

“It’s just two weeks, alright, mate? Two weeks of getting clean and I’ll find you another case.”

“I don’t need your cases,” Sherlock muttered.

Greg pursed his lips. He had expected Sherlock to be thrilled at solving the case. Thrilled he’d done it by himself. (Wow, Sherlock really had solved it by himself, that was a bit of a blow to Greg’s ego). But instead he seemed… well, depressed. Maybe he was just craving drugs, Greg thought. Or just coming down. Or maybe it was a bit more than that.

Mycroft had said Sherlock’s mind was at times deafening. Was that how he felt now? Deafened? He pulled out his phone and looked at Mycroft’s name in his contact book. Out of loyalty to Sherlock, he didn’t send him a message to say he was concerned.

Greg surveyed the street. “You said the guy has a routine. When exactly do you think he’ll go back to the house?”

“At 4pm. That’s when he will start to move the body.”

Greg nodded. When that man got to his house, his team were already going to be there, out of sight. They were going to pick him up, charge him and enjoy every minute of his court hearings.

“Right, get in the car,” Greg said, unlocking it. “I’m taking you back to yours.”

Chapter Text

March, 2006

Greg sat at his desk contemplating the rat run case.

After telling the team he’d received an anonymous tip for a body in a house and an exact time the man would be arriving there they all looked disbelieving at him. After more than a year working on the rat run case and now they had an anonymous call which had all the answers? Unlikely.

And at any rate, the men who had done the killings were in prison, the case was closed, how could there be another rat run killer when they’d tied it up in a pretty bow on one evening of absolute celebration.

Sally didn’t say a word during the meeting. If looks could kill, Greg would have been dead a hundred times over from the power of her gaze at him. She knew it was Sherlock, Greg realised. She really was the smartest one on the team. Far superior to Carter, and Edmund Bullock couldn’t hold a torch up to her.

Greg hated keeping things back. He wouldn’t do it again, he decided. Once this case was over, he needed to find a new way of working and a new way of keeping himself and his team totally on the straight and narrow.

They all trusted him. They’d invested a lot into his leadership, and while Greg had been unsure to start with, they’d all rallied around and made him believe he could do this. And now he owed it to them to be upfront.

They planned the arrest for later that day.

 


 

Greg watched from his car as the man walked towards the house. He was tall, with well-built arms and strong shoulders. Strong enough, then, to hoist those poor victims up to signs and drainage pipes. His face was sallow. But if Greg had walked past him in the street, he would have paid him no mind.

The man unlocked the door, glancing around before walking in.

Carter’s voice came from the walkie-talkie. “Me and Donovan are going to knock now, sir.”

“Got it,” Greg replied, calling Edmund and Brockhurst. “Get round the back, I don’t think he’d be able to get past Donovan and Carter, but let’s not make it easy for him to try.”

Greg watched as Sally and Carter approached the door, both in full police uniform. His heart pounded in his chest as he watched, saw the momentary shock on the man’s face as he saw the uniform before he tried to turn on the charm. There was never any charming Sally.

Greg saw it before Sally and Carter did. “He’s got a weapon. Knife, left pocket!” Greg radioed through and he saw Sally’s head incline just an inch as she heard him down the earpiece. Greg swore, biting his lip. Sally and Carter were doing their best to ease their way into the house. But no killer was going to let them in without a fight.

“I want back up for Edmund and Brockhurst around the back. Lewis, Adams, get ready to support Donovan and Carter,” Greg said. He rubbed his face. Shit. They shouldn’t have done it this way. Should have just got a warrant…

But then the man made a fatal error. He reached for the weapon. Carter gave him just enough time to brandish it before pushing him face first into the wall, pulling his arm tight enough to make him drop the knife.

Sally brushed past him, and stormed into the house. Greg got out of the car. Carter was cuffing the man, arresting him on suspicion of threatening an officer. Hopefully that was the least of this man’s worries.

Sally walked down the stairs and nodded at Greg. “We got it, sir. Body’s still there.”

Greg let out a sigh of relief, as he looked the man square in the eye. “I’m arresting you on suspicion of murder.” As he read the man his rights he saw Sally’s half-smile. So, she’d forgiven him then. Nothing like arresting a serial killer to please a police officer.

 


 

The man had been in the interrogation room for half an hour when Greg walked into the room beside it, where Sally was listening to the live feed of the interview. “How’s it going?” he asked.

“He confessed straight away,” she said. “Carter’s just going through the procedures now. Why aren’t you doing this? I thought you’d be right on getting all the credit for his confession.”

Greg shrugged. “Not really me who solved it,” he said. Sally rolled her eyes.

“I don’t know what you did or how he figured this out, sir, but you can’t trust him.”

“Trust who?”

“Sherlock Holmes,” Sally said. “I mean, how the hell did he figure all this out?”

“I wish I knew.”

Sally frowned. “This killer was sick. He said they didn’t deserve to live because they were fucking up their lives. I preferred it when it was just drug gangs killing each other off.” Sally looked at him. “You don’t need Sherlock Holmes, sir. You’d have figured it out. We all would have. So. Stop cutting us out.”

“Yeah,” Greg nodded. “I will. But. I’m not sure we’re done with Sherlock yet.”

Sally rolled her eyes. “Whatever you say. You’re the boss."

“Yep,” Greg agreed. “That I most definitely am. And because I’m the boss, this is all on me. It’s always on me.”

 


 

Greg gripped the bottle of champagne, whistling as he walked to Sherlock’s flat. He let himself in, not expecting him to answer even if he did knock.

Greg strolled in, and stood by the window looking out was the recognisable suit of Mycroft Holmes. He had an umbrella in one hand. Greg frowned. It wasn’t even raining outside. “Where’s Sherlock?” Greg asked, looking around.

“In bed,” Mycroft replied, not turning to face him. “I’m afraid he has been taking heroin.”

Greg winced, wishing in that moment that he’d told him. He sat down on Sherlock’s sofa. Mycroft turned around, but Greg couldn’t meet his eyes. “It was stupid,” Greg muttered. “I wasn’t thinking.”

“That much is obvious,” Mycroft replied. “But it’s done now and we will of course need to consider getting him to a rehabilitation facility.”

Greg looked up at him. “We?”

“Oh yes,” Mycroft said, turning to look back out of the window. “I am not cleaning your mess up by myself. And Sherlock is far more likely to respond to you than me. You be the carrot and and I will be the stick in his recovery.”

Greg stared at his knees. “He was doing so well.”

“On the contrary. I imagine he has been using for much of the past year. He has just become an expert in hiding it.”

“No. We’ve been testing his urine for months…”

“And you believe Sherlock would not find another way to submit samples?” Mycroft asked, his voice sharp. He turned around again and leaned intimidatingly against that long umbrella. Greg felt himself shudder internally under the gaze of that icy stare. “Even the dreadful cough he had in September could have been a symptom of drug use. I can’t believe I missed it.”

“I missed it too,” Greg murmured. But he imagined for Mycroft, missing something felt much worse. “So what’s the plan?”

“Sherlock will be going through withdrawal. I’m afraid I have a trip tomorrow. I would request you stay with him.” Greg nodded. He felt like it was his duty to do that anyway. “After which time,” Mycroft continued. “We will wait and see. You will offer him cold cases if he is clean in two weeks time. I will offer him rehab if he is not. Carrot. And stick. We are more likely to be successful if we do so together. He likes and trusts you, and he does not like or trust me. But you are clearly too easy on him.”

“He seemed to be sorting it.”

“You haven’t seen him at his very worst. I suppose I know better than to believe he can completely shake off these ridiculous impulses of his.”

“What happened before?” Greg asked.

Mycroft turned away again. Greg was about to say sorry he asked, when Mycroft began to speak. “I was 25 when I was given a job offer I simply could not refuse. It was in the United States. Sherlock was just about to begin university, and it seemed an appropriate time to take the offer. I was there for two years. A most unfortunate incident occurred while I was there, and it blinded me to Sherlock’s problems. When I finally realised, he was in hospital.”

Greg bit his lip. “I’m sorry.”

“It was a wonder he ever completed his exams,” Mycroft said. “Three years later, he almost died. It was then I decided to pay closer attention to my brother’s affairs.” Mycroft looked at Greg. “You understand, of course, that I do not blame you?”

Greg frowned. “Don’t you? ‘Cause I do.”

“No. This is nothing new. It was to be expected. The nature of the case you were working on did not help.”

Greg rubbed his face. “Shit, Mycroft-”

“Please don’t apologise. I do not for a second believe you wanted this to happen. You did all you could. Now you just have to do more.”

“I’m still sorry-”

“Oh will you both just shut up!” Sherlock shouted from his room.

Greg rubbed his face. He felt like he’d brought this upon himself. He looked up to see Mycroft watching him. His face seemed to soften for a second, before he was back to the stiff upper lip look Greg had seen him wear through most of their conversations.

“I have to go,” Mycroft said. “If you need anything, my assistant will be on hand to answer my phone.”

Greg nodded. “Sure, no problem.”

Mycroft nodded his head at him. Greg swallowed. God, he felt like he’d let them both down. Mycroft walked towards him and Greg looked up, his fingers curling in the sofa’s cushion. “I’ll be in touch,” Mycroft said softly, before walking to the door. “Oh,” he added. Greg turned over the back of the sofa to look at him. “Write this down.” Greg frowned and got his phone out. “If you get bored, Sherlock’s laptop password is C21H23NO5.”

Greg looked at it. “What’s that?”

“It’s the chemical formula for heroin.” And with that Mycroft left Greg alone in the flat.

The first thing Greg did was retrieve Sherlock’s laptop from the desk. He typed in the password, minimising Sherlock’s strange data table which popped up on the screen. There had been a list of perfumes on the left-hand side. He clearly wasn’t done with his blog.

He typed ‘heroin withdrawal’ into Google. He brought up the first link and read it.

 

Within hours after the drug effects have decreased, the addict’s body begins to crave more. If he does not get another fix, he will begin to experience withdrawal. Withdrawal includes the extreme physical and mental symptoms which are experienced if the body is not supplied again with the next dose of heroin. Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, aches and pains in the bones, diarrhoea, vomiting and severe discomfort.


He immediately wished Mycroft had given him more information. He didn’t know when the last time Sherlock had injected himself was.

Then he frowned. Remembered. Sherlock on the case earlier, depressed, quiet. It made sense if he’d come back and dosed himself. And how many times since then? Greg read some more articles. Water seemed key. Changes of clothes. Lots of blankets for when he sweat through them. He made a list of the drugs he would need to pick up the next day and walked into the bathroom.

He found painkillers in the cupboard above the sink along with other medication Greg supposed could be useful. He went into Sherlock’s bedroom with a glass of water in hand and some books under his arm. He was lying on his back, an arm over his eyes and the blanket down over his legs. His brow was sweaty.

“You alright?” Greg asked.

“Go away,” Sherlock mumbled.

“Not going to happen,” Greg said.

Sherlock muttered something under his breath and Greg chose to ignore it. He set the water down and sat down on the floor, his back resting against Sherlock’s bed.

“Inspector, what exactly do you think you’re doing?”

“Making sure you don’t die,” Greg said. “It’s fine. I’ve brought a book.”

“I’m not going to die, Inspector, don’t be an idiot.”

“Glad to hear I’ve got the pleasure of your company for even longer then.” Greg pulled a packet of Ibuprofen from his pocket. “This is for when the pain starts. Now, I found a list of stuff I need to get you from the chemist, but they’re not open this late so I’ll nip out first thing tomorrow.”

Sherlock grunted in response, turning over in the bed so his back was to Greg.

Greg opened one of the books he’d taken from Sherlock’s desk. He had doubted from the beginning that he would understand any of Sherlock’s books, but he knew he couldn’t sit by doing nothing. Even if his mind began to wonder, it was better than sitting in dead silence.

He looked at the cover. Principles of Kinesic Interview and Interrogation by Stan B. Walters. Greg pursed his lips as he opened the cover. He’d just assumed Sherlock was capable of reading people naturally and maybe there was a lot innate ability to his skills. But it seemed he had been working harder than that. He wasn’t just using something which came naturally, maybe he actually cared about working Greg’s cases.

Greg started reading.

When he woke up, uncomfortable and cold two hours later, he was aware of Sherlock’s shaky breathing.

“Y’alright, mate?” Greg asked hoarsely, rolling his shoulders. He sat up on his knees, leaning onto the bed.

“I need drugs,” Sherlock muttered. He had pushed the blanket down to his feet, with his arms wrapped around himself.

“Drink some water,” Greg said, standing up and taking a seat on the edge of the bed. He felt a spring dig into him and wondered how Sherlock possibly slept on this mattress. “You need to be hydrated.” To his surprise, Sherlock shuffled up a bit and let Greg hand him the drink. His hand shook, and Greg held the end of the glass to support it as Sherlock took several small sips. “Alright?” Greg questioned.

“Hurts,” Sherlock murmured.

“I know. If you need anything, just ask. I’m going to go and sleep on your sofa, but shout if you need me.”

“Why?” Sherlock asked him.

Greg looked at him, the sweat across his forehead, his tightened jaw. “Because you’re an alright bloke,” he replied.

He got up and wandered into the living room, leaving the bedroom door ajar. He used his jacket as a cover, pulling a Union Flag cushion under his head. He set alarms on his phone in hour-and-a-half intervals, ensuring he would wake up and could check on the other man regularly.

Over the course of the night, Greg spent several hours on the sofa and several in Sherlock’s room, providing him with new blankets, opening and closing windows, giving him painkillers and forcing him to have some water.

He was in considerable pain, but Greg knew there was very little they could do but get through it.

On one occasion, at 4.21am, Greg walked in to see Sherlock lying on his back, that all-too-familiar steeple under his chin with his hands. “How’s your head?” Greg asked before he knew the question was about to come out. Sherlock gave him a sidewards glance.

“I never expressed having a headache,” Sherlock began, “so therefore you’re asking me something else.” He studied Greg. “You’re wondering what’s going through my mind right now.”

Greg took a seat on the bottom of the bed. “How do you do that?” he asked. “Work out everything about someone?”

“There are words surrounding you, Inspector. I take cues from your clothing, from your hands, from the way you hold yourself.”

“Doesn’t that… well, get a bit much?” Greg asked, remembering the conversation he had with Mycroft.

“Mycroft certainly thought so,” Sherlock said. “He claims he takes a look at a person and immediately splits the data into categories. The things he needs to know and remember about them. The things he can use in the future. The things he can completely discard. And then the things that are so obvious he will remember them every single time he meets or talks to that person anyway. What my brother doesn’t realise is everything is important. Everything is potentially useful.”

Greg looked thoughtful. “That’s a bit weird.”

“Do you want to know what Mycroft thought when he saw you, Detective Inspector?”

“I’m not sure I do, actually-” Greg began, but Sherlock ignored him.

“Mycroft of course knew straight away about the poor state of your marriage. It was obvious from the beginning and so was one of those things he could instantly recall every time he came across you. Your forgiving and amiable nature was something he knew he could use in the future, because it makes you far too easy to manipulate and he may need that. Indeed, he is doing it all the time. He knew he needed to remember things about your childhood, because he realises how those experience have shaped you. Understand your childhood and it’s pretty easy to recognise what sort of man you are. I expect he has discarded much of the information of your cases, since they aren’t of much use to him.”

Greg leaned back against the wall. “So, how’d you know all this?”

“Because I know my brother.”

“No, I mean, about me.”

“The state of your marriage was clear from the beginning. You work long hours, by choice, often staying at work when you could be going home. You moved your possessions into your office a week before you met me, however, the picture from your wedding was still inside it. You hadn’t felt it important enough to display prominently on your desk. In fact, you never displayed it on your desk at all. I’ve explained how I knew about your childhood already. You must be forgiving, for you had no reason to continue to work with me.”

Greg pressed his lips together, trying to fight a grin. “Is that your way of apologising?” Sherlock took a sip of water in response. “Right. Come on. Educate me. Let’s say I’ve dragged a suspect into the Yard. What do I need to be looking for?”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes. “You’re serious?”

“Yeah, I’m serious. The Great Sherlock Holmes isn’t with me every second of the day deducing every criminal I bring in. So go on. Give me some tips.”

Sherlock let out a dramatic sigh, but the way he leaned forward told Greg everything he needed to know about how keen he was to share his magnificent insights.

“You need to trust your intuition. It’s far easier if you just accept I know rather than get me to explain it. You know two plus two equals four, yet, you would have trouble to explain why that’s the case.”

Greg nodded. “Yeah, alright, that’s true.”

“You see but you do not observe, Inspector. Note the details others miss. The smallest details are often the most important. Take for instance, Mycroft. Imagine you see him in your office with a stain on his collar. What sort of stain is it? Food? But have you ever seen him with a stain before? In fact, based on your past experiences, you would deduce him to be neat and careful. Then logically, he was in a hurry. Is he on time for every meeting he has? Of course he is. So what happened? That is where you fill in the gap. Perhaps he overslept, so he was tired or living in another timezone, in which case, has he been travelling? This is Mycroft, he’s always travelling. There would be indications of where he had been but I think that’s beyond your… skill set.”

Greg frowned but didn’t reply.

“Look at what is happening around you,” Sherlock continued. “Observe. What is different? And then deduce. What does that imply? Always change the deduction to fit the facts. How many books were on my desk?”

“What?” Greg asked, surprised by the sudden question.

“On my desk. There were seven. You saw, when you picked them up. But you did not observe, Lestrade.”

Greg watched Sherlock. “Thank you. That was interesting.” Sherlock shrugged one shoulder. Greg got up. “I’ll be back in an hour, okay?”

Sherlock sunk back onto the bed, curling his knees up.

Greg smiled to himself as he walked back to the sofa, thinking of how that conversation seemed to have taken Sherlock’s mind off what was happening.

At 7am, feeling as though he was sleep-walking, Greg left the flat in search of a chemist. Sherlock had finally fallen asleep and he wanted to keep that the case for as long as possible.

He picked up a number of items for Sherlock as well as finally finding a place to get rid of the syringes. He bought things he hoped would help Sherlock get through the next few days. He dropped them off on the way to his flat, where he changed quickly and went to work.

 


 

He wasn’t at his best all day and he knew it. Sally was picking up on things a lot quicker, and while she was good, Greg liked to think he was better. He was tired and distracted worrying about Sherlock, which wasn’t a brilliant combination and definitely not conducive to work.

On his way out he grabbed files for a case they had been working on. He got to Sherlock’s flat at 7.36pm, where he found the man lying on his sofa. He seemed better than he had been in the morning at any rate. He was surprised when Molly Hooper walked out of the bathroom. She smiled at him. “Hi, Inspector,” she said. “Sherlock was struggling so I brought him something a bit stronger. It seems to have helped.”

Greg nodded. “What sort of something?”

“A better painkiller. And some noodles.”

Greg laughed. “You actually managed to get him to eat?”

Molly beamed and Sherlock said “would you please both stop talking about me as though I’m not here?”

Greg sat down at the desk. “I brought you a case. Interested?”

Sherlock studied him. He huffed. “No. You solved it already.”

“Now come on-” Greg started but Sherlock gave him an icy glare. “Alright, fine, we solved it. I thought it might take your mind off it.”

“You know what case you could bring me, Lestrade? The Kirkcudbright case.”

Greg rolled his eyes. “I can’t believe you’re still going on about that.”

“I looked it up on the internet. You’re an idiot. How did you let that get to court?”

Greg took a long breath and Molly smiled sympathetically at him. “Alright fine,” Greg muttered. “You get Kirkcudbright. If you stay clean. For a month.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Fine.”

Greg looked at Molly. “So, how are you settling into Bart’s?” he asked her.

“It’s really good. I’ve been involved in a new project. Well, Sherlock and I both have except…” she frowned.

“I haven’t been there,” Sherlock explained. “I’ve been undercover,” he told Molly.

Greg rolled his eyes. “Right. Sherlock. I need to go home and get some proper sleep and food. If you need anything, text me. Or text Molly or Mycroft, but for God’s sake, don’t just decide you need drugs.” Greg looked at Sherlock. “Are you listening to me or not?”

“Unfortunately I had no choice but to listen,” Sherlock muttered.

“Text me, Sherlock. I’m serious. I’ll come by after work tomorrow.”

 


 

Greg spent the next few days between work and Sherlock’s flat. He seemed to be on the mend, although he was the most quiet and withdrawn Greg had ever seen him. He was hardly eating, which was another big concern, but Greg did manage to force some Chinese takeaway on him.

The worry was still there, in the back of his head. He was pretty sure Sherlock was about to go back to drugs. And if he didn’t get through the next few days, it was going to be worse than before. Because he’d stopped bothering to hide it.

But then Andrew Hanley happened.

Andrew Hanley was 10 years old, the child of two prominent City bankers, and at just after 3am on the Sunday morning he had gone missing.

The case was high-profile from the start, on the front of all the Monday papers. His face with pale blond hair and a big smile accompanied by a picture of his parents. The nature of the case meant it was all hands on deck.

No one was sleeping much. Greg was lucky if he had three or four hours on each of the five days Andrew Hanley was missing. Twice he took a nap in the staff room and he wasn’t the only one as everyone went on searches, swept the family’s house twice and analysed hours of CCTV footage.

A day into the case, Greg called Mycroft and warned him he would be unable to look after Sherlock as much as he wanted to. Mycroft immediately understood, and Greg hated how reasonable he was being considering Sherlock had started on drugs again on his watch.

Greg was asleep at his desk when he received the call Andrew Hanley had been found. He had run away when he thought his parents were angry at him and been kidnapped. He was traumatised, but thankfully unharmed.

Greg practically crawled into his flat, turning the kettle on and fought to keep his eyes open. He had the next three days off, and he didn’t remember being more glad of time off in his career. He was used to the long hours, the long weeks. But everyone knew an exhausted policeman was a poor policeman.

Sleep. So much sleep was needed.

He stripped off his clothes, leaving them in a trail leading from his kitchen to his bedroom. He shut the mid-day sun out of his room and was almost instantly asleep.

He woke 12 hours later, feeling uncoordinated and realising he had completely mucked his sleep patterns up.

He reached for his phone but found it had run out of battery. He plugged it in. Immediately three missed calls from Mycroft Holmes, and one from an unknown number popped up. Moments later, a text came through.

 

MESSAGE Mycroft Holmes
12.04am: Please discard the missed
phone calls. I understand you must
be tired. Will you be available
for a meeting at my home at 8am?
M

 

Greg groaned and typed back a quick response.

 

MESSAGE
2.31am: Sorry, was sleeping. Yep,
no problem.

 

Greg got up, pulling his dressing gown on. He decided to eat some toast, sitting down in the dark with terrible early-hours-of-the-morning television. He rested his head on the back of the sofa, closing his eyes.

He ate his toast, read some news stories relating to the Andrew Hanley case and decided to try and get some more sleep.

He lay in bed in his boxers, his hand on his chest. He thought back to the last few days, assessing whether they’d tackled the case in the right way, what he would do the same or differently if a similar circumstance occurred again. This was why he drove Caroline crazy, he realised. He never switched off.

Three days off, he thought. Three days off where he wouldn’t give a single thought to cases, murders or kidnappings. He frowned. So what was he going to think about? On days off he used to catch up on sleep, watch some TV, take Caroline out for a meal and read a book. But for the last year, his mind had been full of work near-constantly. Work and his failing marriage.

But that ship had sailed now. There was no marriage. He looked at the space on the bed, wondered if he missed her. He didn’t. Not really. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t a void there. He was a tactile person. He didn’t often act on it, but he liked to feel someone’s hand on his arm, or shoulder, or knee. Thigh. He didn’t know what it was about feeling a hand on his thigh…

His hand drifted down to his hip bone, the idea of being touched by someone else, someone male, someone Mycroft-like… oh bloody hell. He felt the desire in the pit of his stomach, the thought of Mycroft’s hand on his hip, on his thighs.

He let his fingers trace the waistband of his boxers, imagining the clipped voice in his ear saying ‘yes, let me watch you’.

He imagined Mycroft sat on the side of the bed, his analytical eyes looking over his body, watching Greg touch himself, touch himself for him. Greg lifted his hips up off the bed as his hand closed around his cock. He didn’t remember the last time he’d had time to himself to do this, to just lie there and feel. Usually he was in bed to collapse and then sleep. But he took his time. Trying to remember the feeling of Mycroft’s hand around him rather than his own, trying to copy the incredible things Mycroft had done with his thumb, the way he squeezed, released and squeezed again, each change in tension just driving Greg crazy.

And God, that man was driving him crazy. Controlling, in charge… there was something so unbelievably hot being bossed about by Mycroft and he didn’t want to think about him anymore, but he was all he could think about as he started to quicken the pace of his hand, heard himself gasp and dig his heels into the bed and bite his lip with the only words in his head ‘Mycroft, Mycroft, Mycroft, yes’.

He breathed hard, tipping his head back onto the pillow as he came, the man’s name on his lips. And God, he wanted - needed - more. He wanted more Mycroft, more naked Mycroft. He hadn’t been this sexually attracted to anyone in a long time and he’d managed to choose the one person he couldn’t get a handle on.

He was good at reading people. Not like Sherlock and Mycroft were, they were in another league. But he knew what made people tick, he could work out their motives, the things that made them do the things they did. Family, passion, friends, a lover, hatred. He could work that out. But Mycroft? Mycroft was an enigma. And somehow that just made him sexier. 

Chapter Text

April, 2006

Greg decided to walk to Mycroft’s home in the morning. He was glad he wasn’t at work so he could avoid all the usual April Fool jokes. The guard at the door checked his name on a list, and nodded at him to enter the building. Greg was expecting to be accompanied up to Mycroft’s floor, but instead he walked up the stairs by himself. He didn’t feel completely awake, but he knocked firmly on the door.

The butler answered it. This was the second time Greg had met him but he didn’t get the impression the man liked him very much. He wasn’t sure why. He was led to Mycroft’s lounge and he walked in, finding Mycroft sat in his chair beside the fire and Sherlock sprawled out on the sofa in his dressing gown.

“Would you like a cup of coffee?” Mycroft asked as he walked in.

“Er, yeah, sure,” Greg agreed. He watched as Mycroft stood up and walked into the kitchen. Greg took a seat. “You alright?” he asked Sherlock. Sherlock shrugged, looking at the wall behind Greg’s head. Greg narrowed his eyes. “You’re high,” he muttered, looking at him. “Jesus Christ. What the hell are you doing to yourself you absolute idiot.” Sherlock looked genuinely surprised at him. “Yeah. Idiot. You heard me, Sherlock, you’re an idiot.”

He looked up as Mycroft appeared in the kitchen doorway, an amused smile on his face. Greg couldn’t help himself. He looked between Sherlock’s stunned expression and Mycroft’s smile and he began to laugh. He covered his face at the absurdity of what he’d just said, calling the smartest (or second smartest) person he’d ever met an idiot. And he’d meant it.

And Mycroft was stood in the doorway laughing too, while one glance at Sherlock’s angry face just had Greg doubling up even more, holding his stomach as he tried to stop the intense pain as his laughter just got harder. “It’s not even funny,” Greg managed to say through the laughter.

“I disagree,” Mycroft grinned. Greg laughed harder, covering his eyes when he saw the disgust on Sherlock’s face.

“For God’s sake will the two of you shut up?” Sherlock said loudly, putting his hands over his ears.

Mycroft flashed Greg a big smile and went back into the kitchen. Greg rubbed his face and coughed. “Sorry, mate, but seriously, your face.” He grinned at Sherlock. Sherlock made a frustrated sound in the back of his throat, pulling a sheet up over his head. Mycroft walked back in and handed the mug to Greg. “Cheers,” he said, taking it. He chuckled for a moment before looking at Mycroft. “So. What am I doing here?”

Mycroft sat back down and nodded his head towards his brother. “We’re here to discuss what to do about Sherlock.”

“Do I even need to be here for this?” Sherlock asked from under the cover. “Why can’t the two of you just leave me alone?”

“Because the two of us happen to care about your well-being, however distasteful you find the idea,” Mycroft said, lifting his cup and sipping from it. “Now, Sherlock, we made the case perfectly clear to you that if you could not keep off the heroin for two weeks we would send you to rehab. I was hoping we could have a discussion and avoid that.” Greg raised his eyebrows at the use of ‘we’ but didn’t say anything.

“I hate you both,” Sherlock said.

“And I despise you when you’re high,” Mycroft replied bitterly.

Sherlock lowered the sheet and stared at Mycroft angrily from across the room. Mycroft stared back, folding his arms. Greg looked between the two brothers, sipping his coffee. He frowned, not sure of why he was even there. He shuffled awkwardly in his seat, watching the silent exchange going on between them both.

“You both disgust me,” Sherlock finally muttered. “Just send me to rehab. I know you’d prefer it if I’m away, it gives you more time to do nasty things with Lestrade.”

Greg felt his cheeks warm and he looked down at his mug.

“I do not wish to send you to rehab if I don’t have to,” Mycroft said. “I don’t expect it will be particularly beneficial. But if you give me no other choice then I will send you.”

“You can’t make me do anything, Mycroft,” Sherlock said bitterly.

“Do not presume anything about what I can and cannot do, brother mine.”

Greg glanced at Mycroft, recalling the conversation about the stick and the carrot. “I’ll give you the Kirkcudbright case,” Greg finally said. “If you get clean. Properly clean. You can have all the cases you want.”

Sherlock looked at him. “I don’t care about your cases.”

Greg almost rolled his eyes, but he reeled it in. “Yes you do,” Greg said. “Don’t bother lying, Sherlock, I’ve known you a year now and I know you need to keep your mind active. What was it you called yourself? A consulting detective? Well, if you want to do that then here’s your chance. If you’re drug-free.”

Greg sat back in his seat. “It’s an interesting case, the Kirkcudbright one, Sherlock. You said you read about it in the papers but you don’t know the half of it. The security system missing only three minutes of tape. All of the staff accounted for, no one seen arriving or leaving the premises. Three minutes in which Hadrian Kirkcudbright was slashed in the throat.”

Sherlock tapped his fingers against the side of the seat. “He has a lot of enemies,” he murmured as though trying to justify how boring the case was. But Greg knew he was hooked.

“Loads,” Greg agreed. “Pretty nasty way to kill someone. Big case, Sherlock. He was a powerful man. And it’s a very tricky case. I wish I had the brains to figure it out, but we got it wrong before.”

Greg wasn’t sure if the flattery technique was going to be of any use, but appealing to Sherlock’s ego was a tried and tested method. And actually, Sherlock’s expression had begun to change as he started to think. Greg exchanged brief looks with Mycroft, who had a faint smile on the corner of his lips. Sherlock probably knew he was being manipulated. But even if he did, he was going along with it.

“What do I need to do?” Sherlock finally asked.

“Go to rehab,” Greg said. Mycroft opened his mouth in protest, but Greg cut him off. “Your brother doesn’t want you to go. He thinks you’ll just resent us both. But I don’t think either of us are going to be able to give you the time you need to get clean. I know it’ll drive you mad. I know you’re going to hate every bloody second of it. But for every two days you’re there, I will send you a cold case. And in two weeks time, I will give you everything you need for the Kirkcudbright case.”

Sherlock sat up, looking between his brother and Greg. Greg glanced over at Mycroft. His face was expressionless, but his fingers were pressing tightly into the leather chair. Greg wondered if he’d overstepped the line, but he turned back to Sherlock. Shagging Mycroft was the least of his worries. He didn’t know when he’d decided he cared about Sherlock, but he did and he wanted him drug-free. And he would use any amount of bribery to achieve it.

And then he watched Sherlock’s expression change. The way he slumped into the chair, defeated. Mycroft stood up. “I will make the arrangements,” he said, standing and walking into his office. He didn’t look at Greg. Greg pressed his lips together. Crap. Now he’d made Mycroft mad at him.

Sherlock looked at Greg. “Those thoughts you are having about my brother are incredibly disturbing,” he said.

Greg rolled his eyes. “Well, if you’re in rehab you won’t have to see it or think about it, will you?”

“A cold case every two days?” Sherlock asked.

“Yep,” Greg agreed. “I promise.”

Mycroft walked back into the living room. “A car will be here within the hour, Sherlock,” he said.

Sherlock huffed but didn’t argue.

“I’ll leave you to it,” Greg said, standing up. “Just call me or text me if you need anything.”

Mycroft nodded at him. “Thank you,” he murmured.

“I’ll text in a couple of days about the cold cases.”

“Do, Detective Inspector,” Mycroft said, his lips pressed tightly together.

Greg looked at him, the cool look on his face. And so they really were back to that. From hot to cold in half an hour. He really did not have a read on that man at all. Greg nodded. “Great. Well, see you, Mycroft. Talk to you in a few days, Sherlock.” He walked out of the door and left Crusader House feeling entirely uncomfortable about what had just taken place.

But bloody hell, if Mycroft didn’t want him involved in the discussion, he shouldn’t have invited him.

He went home and did some housework. He watched some TV. As he turned off the bedroom light at 11.56pm, he was surprised when a text appeared on his phone.

 

MESSAGES Mycroft Holmes
11.56pm: You were perfect with my
brother this afternoon. I cannot
possibly convey how grateful I am.
M

 

Greg stared at it. Grateful? Perfect? But he was certain Mycroft was mad at him. He quickly wrote out a reply.

 

MESSAGES
11.58pm: Really? I thought I’d pissed
you off! Cheers though. Talk soon?

 

MESSAGES Mycroft Holmes
12.00am: Not at all. I just needed
Sherlock to believe you had. He is
far more likely to do things
willingly if he believes I am unhappy.
M

 

Greg tilted his head as he read Mycroft’s explanation. And there it was. The reason Mycroft was a genius and he wasn’t.

 

MESSAGES
12.03am: That’s bloody genius.
Goodnight.

 

MESSAGES Mycroft Holmes
12.04am: And to you, Greg. MH.

 

Greg was still smiling when he fell asleep. 

 


 

It was the last day of Greg’s days off. He had been relaxed, going to the gym and playing some five-a-side football. He had enjoyed a couple of beers at the pub with Carter and Bullock, and they had even managed to avoid talking about work for a whole 15 minutes.

And so when he was dishing up his chili and heard his phone ringing with the name ‘Mycroft Holmes’ appearing on the screen, he was surprised at how little thought he’d given either of the Holmes brothers. “Hey, mate,” Greg said as he answered it, turning the hob off.

There was a pause before Mycroft said “Good evening.” Greg grinned. Apparently calling him ‘mate’ had thrown him off. Oh, that was an amazing feeling every single time.

“You alright?” Greg asked, spooning his food onto a plate.

“Yes, very well and yourself?”

“Yeah, good thanks. I’ve just been relaxing.”

“I wondered if you would be able to come around tomorrow morning and bring some cold cases for me to send to Sherlock. I understand he is causing a bit of a fuss at the rehabilitation clinic and he would benefit from something to distract him.”

Greg laughed. “Sounds like Sherlock. I’ll find the most difficult ones I can.”

“I am very grateful,” Mycroft said.

Greg grinned to himself, leaning against the fridge. “So, what time do you want me tomorrow?”

“Is 7am acceptable? I have a meeting at 8.30am, so I am leaving home later than I would normally.”

“Yeah, 7 is fine. You only live a quick drive from the Yard so that’s fine.”

“Thank you,” Mycroft said.

“See you tomorrow, Mycroft.”

“I look forward to it,” Mycroft said, hanging up the phone before Greg had a chance to respond. He let out a long, slow breath. Mycroft is looking forward to it. That wasn’t just something you say about a quick meeting about Sherlock was it? He didn’t want to read into it. He didn’t want to analyse a situation which didn’t exist. But even so…

Greg finished dishing up his chili and sat down in front of the television to enjoy it, contentment settling in his chest.

 


 

The next morning, Greg drove to work first, flicking through some files and photo-copying them. He already had a fair idea of what he was going to give Sherlock. Some of them were from before his time at the Yard, while others were ones retired colleagues had mentioned they would love to have solved.

He left at 6.45am, driving to Mycroft’s home. This time, the doorman did not consult his name on the list, merely said “good morning, Detective Inspector,” and let him straight in. Greg found the whole thing bizarre, and wondered whether the man on the door was for Mycroft’s benefit or whether he just came with the building.

He was let straight through to the living room, and Mycroft was sat eating some crumpets on the sofa when Greg walked in. “They smell amazing,” Greg said.

Mycroft smiled. “Would you like one?”

“No, I’m full, but thanks.” Greg put the files down on the table. He looked at Mycroft. He was wearing his usual smart trousers, but no shoes. His white shirt had one button undone, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Greg swallowed. He had never seen Mycroft so… under-dressed before. “There’s six there,” he finally managed to say. “I think the top one is the hardest, it’s probably worth sending that one to him first. How is he?” Greg sat down on the other side of the sofa.

“Driving the staff around the bend,” Mycroft said, his eyes sparkling with amusement. “Hardly surprising.”

Greg laughed. “I’d expect nothing else.”

“It is a small weight off my mind,” Mycroft said. “I am very grateful, Greg.”

“Should I feel manipulated?” Greg asked before he had time to think the question through. He winced. “Sorry, I don’t-”

“Sherlock told you I found you the flat so I could keep an eye on you,” Mycroft murmured, more of a statement than a question. Greg nodded. “I can assure you, that is not the case. Certainly when I invited you here, my aim was for Sherlock to go into rehabilitation. And yes, I was you would react the way you did. But it was never my intention to manipulate you.”

Greg nodded. “I’m sorry I asked.”

“Please don’t be,” Mycroft said, setting his plate down on the table. “You have no reason to believe otherwise. As I may have mentioned in the past, much of our business could easily be conducted on the phone. I could have sent a… how did you describe them? An underling? I could have sent an ‘underling’ to your office to pick up these files. But I enjoy your company.”

Greg looked at him. He looked down at his forearms. Naked forearms. He must be going mad if forearms were suddenly peaking his arousal. “Cheers,” Greg said with a smile. He looked at his watch. “Right.” Greg stood up. “I’ve gotta get back to work. Sherlock’s going to be alright.”

Mycroft smiled slightly, also standing. “Yes.”

Without a thought, Greg reached out and touched Mycroft’s forearm, the soft skin on the underside of it. Mycroft turned his head, looking down at Greg’s hand, and then looked back at his face. Mycroft lifted one eyebrow.

Greg slowly moved his hand up to Mycroft’s shoulder, squeezed it, and cupped the side of his neck. Greg’s fingers must have been cold, because the skin felt so warm, but Mycroft didn’t seem to react to it. Instead his lips parted in response, and Greg felt him leaning into the touch.

Greg intentionally licked his own lips and he saw Mycroft’s eyes flick down to his mouth and back to Greg’s eyes. Greg stepped towards him, hesitated for just a moment, and leaned forward.

He stopped just as his lips were centimetres away from Mycroft’s. He felt Mycroft’s breath against his cheek. Warm, smelt like expensive coffee. Closing his eyes Greg brushed his lips against Mycroft’s just a fraction, just so lightly, barely a whisper of a kiss, and Mycroft’s lips parted against his.

He kissed his bottom lip as tenderly as he could manage. Mycroft’s hand moved to touch his chest. At first Greg paused, thinking he was being pushed away. But Mycroft’s fingers curled around his shirt collar.

Greg pressed his mouth slightly harder against Mycroft’s, both lips slowly moving against each other. A feeling of absolute desire washed over him, and he wished he just had more time. Greg turned his head to kiss the corner of those lips.

“I’ve got to get to work,” Greg whispered, pulling back. He moved his hand from Mycroft’s neck and onto his jaw, caressing Mycroft’s bottom lip with this thumb. “Hold that thought.” With a smile more confident than he felt, Greg let go and walked towards the door, trying to move as surely as he could with his heart feeling like it would beat out of his chest. He didn’t know where that had come from. But Mycroft didn’t seem to be unhappy.

He touched the door handle. “When will I see you?” Mycroft asked. Greg stopped moving, smiling a little to himself.

Greg turned his head to look back at him. “Whenever you want.”

“This evening?”

Sooner than Greg was expecting. He smiled. “See you then.”

Greg left, feeling like he’d got the upper hand over a Holmes for once.

 


 

Greg walked into Crusader House that evening full of apprehension. He didn’t know where his confidence that morning had come from, but now it was later he felt no such belief he’d done the right thing. He’d spent the entire day thinking about Mycroft’s lips. It had been very distracting. And not a very exciting day either, which hadn’t helped keep his mind on work and not Mycroft’s body.

The butler let Greg through and he knocked on the door. Mycroft opened it wearing a fully turned out suit this time. Greg was almost disappointed but he admired the way it showed off the structure of his body. Greg walked through, taking a seat on the sofa. “Can I get you a drink?” Mycroft asked.

“Whatever you’re having.” Mycroft smiled and walked through to the kitchen. Greg heard the tap being poured and then the low rumble of the kettle. Mycroft stood in the kitchen’s doorway. “Heard from Sherlock?” Greg asked.

“Must we talk about my brother?” Mycroft replied. Greg opened his mouth and shut it again, surprised by his tone. “Honestly, Greg. You and I both know you didn’t come here to talk about Sherlock.”

The man stalked towards him. He looked predatory. Greg held his breath. He couldn’t believe how aroused he was already. Like a bloody teenager. Mycroft smirked. Greg heard the kettle stop. He glanced at the kitchen doorway and then back at Mycroft. The man was within inches of him. “Move forward,” Mycroft instructed, his voice low.

Greg tilted his head to the side before doing as instructed, moving until his feet were firmly planted on the floor. Your move, he thought, looking up at the man. He narrowed his eyes.

Mycroft’s head was tilted up, eyes looking down at him. Greg leaned back into the chair, folding his arms across his chest. Mycroft licked his lips. He took a few steps towards Greg, stopped for one moment, and dropped to his knees in one fluid movement.

Greg caught his breath. Mycroft rested his hands on each of Greg’s knees, pushing his legs apart so he could kneel properly between them. Their eyes hadn’t left the other’s.

Mycroft’s hands moved firmly up Greg’s thighs, his fingers rubbing along the inside of them. Greg couldn’t help the low groan that escaped his lips, his face flushing at the sound.

Mycroft smiled in response, his hands travelling up and down Greg’s thighs. He reached for Greg’s belt and Greg looked down, watching long fingers unfasten it. Greg swallowed, felt the leather sliding out of the loops.

He’d gone down on his knees himself, Greg thought, his brain catching up with what his eyes were seeing. He definitely hadn’t expected him to do that. Mycroft Holmes was on his knees in front of him because he wanted to suck him off. Well, he hoped that was the plan. Greg let out a gasp as he watched.

Mycroft unfastened the button on his jeans before dragging down the zip, and the subtle vibration and friction against his cock made Greg groan. Mycroft looked up at Greg’s face. He may have been the one on the floor, but confidence in his eyes left no one unsure about who was in command. “Take them off,” he said.

Greg breathed deeply, anchoring his back against the sofa as he hooked his thumbs in his trousers and pulled them down. As he’d moved them over his hips and out from under his arse, Mycroft took over, pulling them down his thighs and calves. He made no effort to take them off completely.

Mycroft nuzzled the inside of his thigh. Full of unspoken promises. He kissed and sucked the skin, finding a spot near the underside of Greg’s knee that left him giving out a strangled moan.

Mycroft’s hands were all over his legs, fingers tracing patterns over his skin. He bit down on the inside of his thigh, Greg gasped, and he sucked the spot hard. He couldn’t wait to see the mark left there.

Greg palmed his own erection, and Mycroft grabbed his wrist and pinned it to the sofa. “Fuck, I can’t…” Greg murmured. He tilted his head back, staring up at the ceiling, but quickly changed his mind. He had to watch. He’d fantasised about this, he couldn’t lie. But this was better. And he wasn’t going to miss a moment of it.

“You too,” Mycroft said, a warm smile on his face.

“Me too what?” Greg asked, his voice hoarse.

“I have spent the day imagining a situation such as this. It is far more glorious than I expected.”

“You look good there,” Greg replied, grinning, not caring that he’d just had his mind read. Mycroft chuckled lightly, his fingers tightening around Greg’s wrist.

The thumb on his other hand rubbed against the leg of Greg’s black cotton boxers. Greg’s cock twitched, and they both saw it.

“Remove those, Greg,” Mycroft said. He’d never received an instruction like it, Greg thought. Quite unused to taking orders anymore - he was used to giving them nowadays - every word just aroused him more. Mycroft let go of his wrist.

Greg lifted his hips to pull them down and stared at the wall behind Mycroft. He felt Mycroft’s intense gaze on his cock, assessing the situation before him. Greg swallowed and glanced at his Mycroft’s hands. Greg curled his fingers into the cushion.

Mycroft wrapped his hand around Greg’s prick and Greg instinctively lifted his hips. “God please,” he groaned as Mycroft began to stroke him. He watched Mycroft’s face, those eyes lifting to his. Mycroft sat up higher on his knees, wetting his lips with his tongue. Greg stared at his mouth, his legs trembling.

Mycroft moved his mouth towards Greg’s cock slowly, his lips forming an ‘o’ around him, but not touching. Without warning, his tongue swiped against the head. Greg shuddered, his hand moving to grip Mycroft’s shoulder.

Mycroft’s lips finally wrapped around him, a delicious suction. Greg bit his bottom lip, willing himself to stay still. Mycroft sucked on the head, his tongue occasionally flicking, and Greg marvelled at how quickly he seemed to find the right spots. Like he instinctively knew every nerve ending to drive Greg wild. And oh God, Yes, it was working.

He slowly lowered his mouth, and Greg made such a delighted moan he was almost embarrassed it had come from his mouth. Mycroft, it seemed, had no such reservations as he began to move his head, sucking on Greg’s cock and moving his hand against the base.

Greg surveyed the scene. Mycroft there on his knees, hollowed cheeks, looking up at him. It was gloriously obscene.

His tongue pressed against the underside of Greg’s cock and he shuddered. Mycroft did it again, taking Greg deeper into his mouth.

Greg glanced at the ceiling for a second, his breath quickening. “Myc, I-” he began, whispering, but the man just sucked harder. Greg’s toes curled as he came, the world bright white and blissful, his hand clinging to Mycroft’s shoulder, the other gripping the sofa.

Mycroft’s mouth stayed closed around him, his grip softening as Greg relaxed, slumping into the chair.

Mycroft slowly lifted his head, and Greg opened his eyes, taking in his deep red lips, wet with saliva. Fuck, but he was sexy. Mycroft opened his mouth, stretching his jaw. “Was that to your-” Mycroft started to say, but Greg leaned forward, grabbing his tie and kissing him hard.

Mycroft made a noise of protest, but melted into the kiss as Greg sucked his bottom lip before pushing his tongue into his mouth. Mycroft’s tongue met his and Greg tasted himself and couldn’t help but feel that was almost as erotic as what had just taken place. Almost.

“Get on my lap,” Greg muttered breathlessly as he broke the kiss.

Mycroft looked alarmed. “Greg, I really don’t think… it’s not particularly… becoming.” Greg grinned. He didn’t think he’d ever heard Mycroft stammer before. “And besides I’m not as young as-”

“Shut up and straddle me,” Greg grinned.

He held out his arm, letting Mycroft use it for leverage as he stood up. Greg leaned forward and rested his hands on his hips. He rubbed his thumbs against them before reaching out to unfasten Mycroft’s belt.

“It really isn’t necessary,” Mycroft said.

“It’s what I spent the the last month fantasising about,” Greg said, looking up at him. He rubbed his hand against the front of Mycroft’s trousers and the man trembled. “Please. Let me touch you.”

Mycroft nodded and Greg made swift work of unfastening his trousers and pushing them down. Mycroft stepped out of them and Greg sat back on the sofa, letting Mycroft straddle his lap, his legs either side of his. Greg gazed at him for a second before pulling him down by his tie into another heated kiss.

He pushed down Mycroft’s boxers, wrapping his hand around his cock. The head was wet, and Greg didn’t hold back, moving his hand roughly and rubbing his thumb against the head. Mycroft’s body shook against his, breaking the kiss as he gasped against Greg’s cheek.

Greg licked his neck, the faint taste of salt there. Mycroft rocked his hips into Greg’s hand and Greg heard him make a quiet inhale of breath as he came, spilling his load over Greg’s hand.

Not quite as clean as it would have been in my mouth, Greg thought, and the very idea of that made him wish he’d done it. Next time. There had to be a next time.

Mycroft’s head fell onto Greg’s shoulder and Greg wrapped a supportive arm around him, his hand dropping from Mycroft’s prick. Greg closed his eyes, stroking Mycroft’s back through his suit. Less clothes next time too, he thought.

Mycroft turned his head to brush his lips against Greg’s jaw before pulling his boxers up and moving onto the sofa. “Shall we have that coffee now?” he asked.

“Sounds good,” Greg said, standing up and pulling his own underwear and trousers back up. He glanced at Mycroft who was still staring at him through half-lidded eyes. Greg grinned. “I’ll go do it,” he said. Mycroft opened his mouth to protest, but Greg turned and walked to the kitchen before he could say anything.

He found the kettle and switched it on and then began searching for mugs. He heard footsteps behind him but kept hunting through cupboards. He finally found what he was searching for and saw Mycroft move to take the milk out of the fridge. “This is all most troubling,” Mycroft said. “I am rarely a slave to my desires.”

Greg smiled and poured the water into the mugs. “Might be good for you. Are you okay?” Greg asked, opening a drawer to find a spoon. He frowned at the drawer full of tin foil and elastic bands and finally found the drawer he was looking for. Greg turned around to look at him. “You want me to go?”

Mycroft shook his head. “Stay for a coffee.” Greg took a few moments to study him. He looked a bit like how he had at the hospital after Sherlock’s rat poison escapade. Unsure and affected.

“I’ll ring Sherlock in the morning,” Greg said. “If he’s not talking to you, maybe he’ll talk to me.”

“Thank you,” Mycroft whispered. Greg nodded at him and found the teaspoons, stirring their drinks. Mycroft picked up one of the mugs and walked back through to the living room. Greg took the other and followed him. Mycroft was sat in the chair nearest the fire. Greg took a place on the sofa.

“I believe I am due to receive a promotion at work,” Mycroft said, looking into the distance.

“Congratulations,” Greg said.

“Thank you. I had considered turning it down.”

Greg frowned. “Why?”

“Sherlock. I truly believed we had gotten beyond his ridiculous addiction. And now I fear he needs me more than ever.” Sherlock. It was always Sherlock. How many other good things had Mycroft given up because of his infuriating brother?

“He’s not on his own, you know?” Greg asked.

“Yes,” Mycroft said, not taking his eyes off him. “He has you. Which is the reason I fully intend to accept the offer, when I receive it.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Greg asked.

“I didn’t want you to think our physical arrangement was my way of thanking you. I would hate for you to think I regarded sex as some sort of payment for taking care of my brother.” A ‘physical arrangement’? Is that what they had? Where had the arrangement part come in?

Greg smiled. “I never thought that.”

Mycroft watched him. “No. No, you didn’t.”

Greg took a sip of his drink, burning his mouth. Mycroft appeared bemused, but said nothing. They sat in companionable silence as they drank. Greg had some questions, but he decided he would leave it. Enjoy the sex, if it happened again, without questioning or asking. Finally, Greg stood. “I should go. I’ve got work tomorrow.”

Mycroft smiled at him. “Sleep well, Greg.”

Greg smiled. “And you.” Although he wanted more than anything to lower his head and kiss Mycroft’s smile, he decided not to push it. Instead he flashed him the biggest and best attempt at a charming grin he could muster before walking to the door. He left Crusader House feeling happier than he had for months.

 

Chapter Text

April, 2006

Not having Sherlock around was a weight off Greg’s mind. That wasn’t to say he wasn’t a bit worried. But knowing his drug problem was someone else’s problem was a huge help.

Sherlock spent the next five days texting him occasionally, asking questions about the cases or calling the investigating officer on a cold case an idiot. It wasn’t exactly the Holmes brother Greg had been wanting to hear from. But he appreciated that Sherlock was still making contact with him nonetheless.

Greg text Mycroft once to see if wanted to come over for a drink, but the man never text back. Greg wasn’t altogether surprised. They’d had sex twice, sure, but it definitely didn’t mean there was anything going on and they certainly weren’t about to start seeing each other with the sole purpose of sex. And even less likely to start seeing each other with the sole purpose of testing each other to see if a relationship was beginning to build.

So Greg let it be.

A week after Sherlock went to rehab, Greg’s Assistant Commander knocked and walked into his office. Greg was half-way through his coffee, going over some evidence for a third time before he was called in as a witness in court the following day.

“Alright, boss?” Greg asked. “Do you want a coffee?”

“No thanks.” The man slid into a chair opposite Greg, looking around the office. “It’s very impersonal in here, Lestrade.”

“Impersonal?” Greg looked around.

“Yeah, you should put some pictures up or something.”

Greg chose to ignore the comment. “How I can help?”

“How’s Carter doing?”

Greg frowned. “Carter?”

“Yeah.”

“He’s great. He’s a good cop. He’s chilled out a bit in the last 12 months I guess. Why?”

“DI Lewis is moving to Hampshire. And we need a replacement, and we thought Carter would fit the bill.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. Carter a DI and no longer on his team? They’d got along well lately, but he knew he was still harbouring some resentment for Greg’s promotion. “Carter? Yeah. Definitely. He’s been a brilliant Sergeant for me.”

“And who would you like to promote? Bullock has been here the longest of your PCs.”

“No,” Greg said quickly.

“I’m sorry?”

“No, not Bullock. He’s not the best on my team.”

“Who is?”

“It’s Sally Donovan. And she’s better than Carter.”

The Commander paused, considering. “She’s not been here as long.”

“But she’s the best,” Greg said.

“Alright. Well, you know better than me. I’ll interview Carter tomorrow, and you can interview Donovan at the same time. Say 2pm?”

“Yeah, alright. Look if you’re taking Carter off my team, do I get to bring in another PC?”

The Commander’s lips pressed together as he said: “Budgets are tight, Lestrade.”

Greg rolled his eyes. “You’re kidding me? Have you seen that lot out there? You know how they get through the day? Coffee.”

“Them and every officer around the country.”

“This is ridiculous,” Greg muttered.

“It’s life, Lestrade.”

“You know we’ve got the bloody newspapers breathing down our necks judging our crime rate and we can’t take any more officers on either?”

“When we promoted you, you assured us you could improve the crime rate in your area.”

Greg folded his arms across his chest. “And I have,” he said through clenched teeth.

“Yeah. You have. So keep doing it.”

“With less officers?”

“Yep. You haven’t got a choice.”

“And tell me how, exactly, I can do a better job than my predecessor with less manpower?”

The Assistant Commander lifted his head. “You’re a smart man, Detective Inspector. You’ll figure it out.”

Greg shook his head. “Morale is at a serious low.”

“I know. So find a way to lift it. Interview is at 2pm tomorrow. Enjoy giving her the job. It’s a good feeling.”

Greg tipped his head back as he watched the man leave the room. He let out a long breath. This job. This actual fucking job. He thought about Carter. About him starting with a new team of his own, with his own targets to reach. And then thought he had something Carter didn’t. He had Sherlock Holmes.

He needed to get Sherlock more involved somehow. He tapped his fingers on the desk, frowning. He needed to do it in such a way that his superiors never questioned it. He knew his team were on side in that they liked and trusted him, but they didn’t like or trust Sherlock. And that was always going to be a problem when the man didn’t even bother to try.

Greg sighed. This was going to bite him on the arse one of these days. But when he thought of the crimes they could solve… well, it was worth it. They could get their figures up, help improve the Met and if the Government saw what a good job they were doing then maybe they’d have more money for pay rises or for new cops…

 


 

Sally was frowning at him from across the desk. Greg had spent the whole day toying with the different ways he could tell her she was promoted. He wanted to spring it on her. He wanted to bring her in for a casual chat and let it slip. Instead, they were sat staring at each other in some sort of strange silent stand-off.

Sally picked up her mug and sipped from it. She glanced around the room, wrinkling her nose. “So are we done?” she asked.

“No.” Greg frowned. “Do you want to be a Sergeant?” he asked.

She eyed him curiously. “Yeah, sure.”

“Well, basically, Carter’s being promoted to a DI. And if you want to be Sergeant, then his job’s on offer.”

Sally sat back in the chair. Greg couldn’t help but smile as she asked “Really?”

“Yeah, really?”

“What about Bullock?”

“What about him?”

“He’s been here longer than me.”

Greg pulled a face, trying to look diplomatic. “Yeah but Bullock’s…”

“Pretty useless,” Sally grinned.

Greg chuckled. “I wasn’t going to put it quite like that.”

“Yeah, but we both know you were thinking it.”

Greg laughed and rolled his eyes. “Keep that to yourself,” he said. “Anyway. You’ll be starting as Sergeant next Monday. Congratulations.”

Sally grinned and stood up, holding her hand out. Greg stood too and shook it. “We’ll go to the pub next week and celebrate or something,” he said. She nodded at him, still grinning before leaving the room. Greg sat back down at his desk, so glad he was given the opportunity to give her the job himself. It was a great feeling after all. Amazing.

 


 

Sherlock was back in London a week later. Greg knew because he was inundated with texts waking him up on the Monday morning. At rehab, Sherlock had only been allowed access to his phone at certain times in the day. Now he had it back and he was obviously ensuring he wasn’t missing out on using his phone contract to the fullest.

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
2.04am: Have you got a case? What
can I do? SH

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
4.15am: DI Evans was an idiot. It
was the brother. So obvious. Case
solved. SH

 

MESSAGES: Sherlock Holmes
4.32am: Why aren’t you replying? SH

 

MESSAGES: Sherlock Holmes
4.35am: Are you sleeping? You’re not
with Mycroft are you? SH

 

MESSAGES: Sherlock Holmes
4.56am: What are you doing? It is
your job to stop me going back on
heroin. The staff said so. SH

 

MESSAGES: Sherlock Holmes
5.03am: Text me

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
5.04am: Urgent

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
5.04am: Idiot

 

Greg groaned and text him back through half-lidded eyes.

 

MESSAGES
5.06am: I’m sleeping! Go to bed!

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
5.07am: I’m bored!

 

MESSAGES
5.09am: I’ve got 20 minutes until
I have to get up for work. Fuck off
and let me have sleep.

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
5.09am: Kirkcudbright.

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
5.10am: Kirkcudbright.

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
5.11am: Kirkcudbright.

 

MESSAGES
5.12am: Bloody hell. See you at the
Yard at 6.

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
5.12am: Kirkcudbright.

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
5.13am: Excellent. See you then.

 

Greg groaned into his pillow before dragging himself out of bed. He was generally a morning person, but not when he knew he had to contend with Sherlock first thing.

He had a quick shower, ate a slice of toast while reading BBC News. He walked to work, and soon found he was actually looking forward to seeing the young Holmes brother despite the early start. Sherlock was stood by the entrance when Greg arrived and he flashed him a grin. Sherlock glared back in response. Greg laughed. “What’s up now?”

“You’re late.”

“I’m actually early since I don’t start work for another hour. Come on, follow me.”

Sherlock didn’t say a word as Greg led him past the front desk and through to his office. Sherlock took a seat and turned down the tea Greg offered to make him. “So how was rehab?” Greg asked.

“Unbearably dull,” Sherlock replied, looking around the office. Deducing. He put the heap of files down on Greg’s desk. “I have included post-it notes with the murderers’ names in each case and explanation on how I solved it.”

Greg nodded appreciatively. “Cheers.”

“I believe you owe me the Kirkcudbright case?”

Greg sighed and stood up, walking over to his filing cabinet. He took out the relevant case files and walked out with them to the photocopier. He spent the next 15 minutes photocopying the documents before handing them to Sherlock. Sherlock proceeded to look through them. “I’ll have that tea now,” he said.

Greg pressed his lips together in annoyance but stood up to pour him a drink nonetheless.

“I need to see the crime scene,” Sherlock said.

“It’s not a crime scene anymore, Sherlock, the murder happened 18 or more months ago.”

“Yes, but I need to see the house. These pictures are useless. Who took these?”

“Professional crime scene photographer,” Greg told him.

“Find a new one,” Sherlock muttered. “You can’t even see where all the doors or CCTV cameras are in these, it’s pathetic.” Greg set his tea down and looked over his shoulder.

“What are you thinking?” he asked.

“Not sure yet. I need more data. I need to see the house.”

Greg frowned. “That involves letting you meet actual human beings. Are you sure you’re ready for that?” Sherlock glared at him. “I’m not sure I’m ready for that, Sherlock.”

“I just need to look around. The cameras are pivotal, I’m sure of it.”

Greg nodded. “Alright. I’ll call Mrs Kirkcudbright and see if we can look around later. But you have to be on your best behaviour, Sherlock. I’m serious.”

Sherlock looked up at him with wide eyes as though to say ‘I’ll be good’. But Greg knew him too well to believe that look. But of course, as always, he was willing to give him another chance. He wondered if that was why Sherlock tolerated him. Because he gave him a chance.

Sherlock kept looking through the files so Greg left him to it. He opened up his emails, browsed some news sites on the web and looked through what had happened the day before. It was generally quite a quiet month for crime. The weather wasn’t so hot that windows were left open inviting break-ins. The heat wasn’t such that it was driving potential murderers mad and left them killing some poor unsuspecting person.

Shoplifting was definitely down. Greg supposed the shops weren’t quite as busy as they were in the run up to Christmas, and not as busy as when the sun really shone and people flocked to the high streets.

The files and pictures kept Sherlock quiet for an hour, giving Greg’s team enough time to get to the Yard, spot him and avoid Greg’s office like the two of them had rabies. Greg didn’t mind too much. He had plenty to occupy himself with.

At 8.01am, Greg left Sherlock to it. Edmund Bullock was sat with his back to Greg. “Morning, Ed,” Greg said, walking over.

Edmund looked at him, raised his eyebrows and turned back to his computer. Ah. So he had heard about Donovan’s promotion then. Greg felt a bit bad for him, but it wasn’t like there were official interviews. He was told to pick who he wanted and who he wanted was Sally. Everyone on the team knew she was the best. Sally was stood with Carter, who was positively beaming. He was obviously showing Sally the ropes, explaining the things he did for Greg to help him out. Those things which were now Sally’s responsibility, and Greg was convinced she would do better than Carter had done.

Sally turned and flashed him a big smile. Greg wandered over. “How’s it going?” he asked.

“It’s good, sir,” Sally said. “Are we hitting the pub tonight?”

“That’s the plan,” Greg said. “Congratulations, Carter.” The two men shook hands, looking at each other for a while.

“I’m glad you got the job as DI,” Carter suddenly said. “I thought you were the wrong man for the job. But you’ve proved us all wrong and I reckon I’ll do a better job because of your help.”

Greg stared at him. “That’s… thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Is that the freak in your office?” Sally asked, putting a hand on her hip.

“It’s Sherlock,” Greg said irritably. “And he’s going to be helping us out on any cases which come up and he’s interested in. So if the two of you want to try and be a bit more civil, I’d be grateful.”

Sally huffed. “He’s going to be around more?” she asked, frowning.

“If he wants to be, then, yeah. We’re not getting a new PC to replace you, Sally. Budgets won’t allow it. So we’re down on manpower, down on brainpower and we can get Sherlock Holmes for free. So yeah. If he wants to put his brilliant brain to use then I’ll let him. And so will you.”

Sally stared at him, challengingly. “You’ve given this a lot of thought,” she muttered.

“You’re right,” Greg said. “I have.” Sally glared at him and Greg walked back to his office.

Sherlock had spread the house pictures out on the floor, with photos overlapping to build up as much of a 360 degree image as he was able to make. Greg looked down at them. There, in a chair, in the centre of one of the images, was Hadrian Kirkcudbright, bent over his desk. His throat had been slit.

Greg knelt down beside Sherlock, looking at the pictures. “I haven’t laid these out like this before,” Greg said. “It definitely gives you another impression. Like the blood spatter.”

Sherlock’s eyes glanced across the picture. “His neck was cut by someone stood behind him and slightly to his left,” he said. “They were left handed.”

Greg nodded. “We said that too.”

“The brother you charged was left handed.”

“He was,” Greg agreed. “The jury acquitted him, rightly in the end.”

“It made sense,” Sherlock said. “In a way. Hadrian Kirkcudbright was bleeding him for thousands.”

“Yeah, there was an obvious motive.”

Sherlock sat back on his heels. They both looked up from the floor as Sally walked into the room. She hadn’t been on the team when Greg began work on the Kirkcudbright case. She and Sherlock stared at each other for a few moments before she too joined them on the floor. To Greg’s surprise, Sherlock allowed it. Maybe he was changed and improved after all…

“Left handed killer,” she said.

“Yep,” Sherlock agreed.

“Someone he trusted.”

“Obvious,” Sherlock said.

“There’s a metal detector,” Sally muttered.

“What?” Sherlock asked, studying the picture.

“By the door,” Sally said. “This is his personal study by the looks of it but… there’s a metal detector. A hidden one, in the door frame there.” She pointed to the picture and Greg and Sherlock both looked closer. Greg raised his eyebrows. How had they all missed that? “So,” Sally murmured. “Was it switched on when the killer walked in? And if so, the weapon must have been in the room already.”

Greg looked at both Sally and Sherlock. They were both looking intently at the pictures.

“We need to see the crime scene,” Sally said. “These pictures are useless. Who took them? Don’t tell me it was Adams. It was Adams, wasn’t it?”

“It was,” Greg said and Sally rolled her eyes. Greg stood up. “I guess I should call Mrs Kirkcudbright.” He sat down at his desk and began flicking through his contact book. He felt a tension in his chest ease away as he saw Sally and Sherlock sat on the floor together in silence. He was waiting for the sniping to begin again.

But after quickly talking to Mrs Kirkcudbright, during which she told him he was welcome to take a look, they hadn’t said a word to each other. No words were better than them killing each other, Greg supposed.

“We can go over at 2,” Greg said. “Sherlock, can we start looking through these cold cases you say you’ve solved together please?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “I left you post-it notes.”

“Well, I want to hear the explanations from you.”

Sherlock stood up and moved back to the chair at Greg’s desk. Sally shrugged and stepped over the pictures. “See you both at half one to go the Kirkcudbright Estate then,” she said.

 


 

Apprehensive was an understatement when he drove them to the Kirkcudbright Estate. It was tucked away in a road full of beautiful expensive houses, with lush gardens which were out of place in the centre of London.

Sally was sat in a backseat, much to her disgust, and Sherlock was muttering about how much he despised Greg’s music and how he knew real music and if he ever got his violin back…

“You play the violin?” Greg asked, pulling into the driveway.

“Yes. Mycroft took it,” Sherlock said bitterly.

“He took your violin?”

“Yes, apparently it wouldn’t have been safe where I used to live.”

“He had a point,” Greg said. Sherlock shot him a look and Greg fell quiet. Just another thing he’d have to mention to Mycroft at some point.

He pulled up outside the Kirkcudbright residence. It looked just as flawless as it had before the murder, with a perfectly mowed lawn. They all got out of the car and walked to the front door.

Greg used the knocker. The housekeeper answered and he showed her his badge. She nodded at him and let them into the house. “This is Sergeant Sally Donovan and… Sherlock Holmes,” he said. “He’s consulting on the case.”

The housekeeper nodded. “Mrs Kirkcudbright is in the living room. Would you like to see her?” she asked.

“Yeah, if that’s alright.” Greg followed the housekeeper through the house to the room Mrs Kirkcudbright was sat near the window reading a book.

“Oh, Detective Inspector,” she murmured, standing up. She shook Greg’s hand and turned to look at Sally. “It was just a terrible time, but Greg was very helpful, very kind. What is it you’re looking for?”

“I don’t know,” Greg said. “We just want to have another look around your husband’s office if that’s okay? Some of our pictures from the day are lacking some details, and I want to see what’s missing.”

Mrs Kirkcudbright nodded. “Of course, look wherever you need to. If anything can help… any room you need, Inspector. Just do whatever you like.”

Greg nodded. “Thank you, Mrs Kirkcudbright. We will be as quick as we can. Come on, Sherlock.”

Greg led the way up the stairs. He saw how Sherlock was looking around, analysing. “She had motive,” Sherlock murmured. “He used to beat her.”

Sally exchange looks with Greg and whispered. “I think you made that up.”

Greg rolled his eyes. “Shh, you two.” He opened the door to Hadrian Kirkcudbright’s old office. He looked at the edges of the door. “Yeah, there’s still a metal detector here. He was obviously worried about people coming in to kill him.”

“Mycroft has one,” Sherlock said. “On the door to his office. If someone walks in with something which could be the size of a gun or a knife, it sets off a light on his desk.”

Greg frowned. “Mycroft has a metal detector for his office?”

“I told you he’s melodramatic,” Sherlock said, walking into the room. He began to look around. “It hasn’t been touched much.” He rubbed his fingers over a shelf. “Dusted, cleaned and hoovered though.”

Greg walked around to the desk. “I don’t know what this is going to achieve. I don’t know what’s going to be here that I didn’t see the first time.”

“You look but you don’t observe,” Sherlock murmured distractedly as he peered out of the window. “How many cameras?”

Greg looked around. “Two. One on each side of the desk.”

Sally looked up at them circling to work out how much of the room they would cover. “Not many places to hide,” she said. “Maybe to the left of this bookcase…” She tried to squeeze in between the case and the wall. “No, the space is too small.”

“The victim knew his killer,” Sherlock said. “He let him in, trusted him. He wasn’t concerned if the metal detector picked anything up.”

Greg watched as Sherlock paced around the room, obviously measuring out distances. He was shaking his head, standing behind the desk Kirkcudbright was killed at, assessing distances and heights.

“How long were the cameras out?” Sally asked.

“Three minutes,” Greg said. “But all of the staff are accounted for either side of the power outage.”

“All of the power or just the cameras?” Sherlock enquired.

“All of it in the house,” Greg said.

“And every room in the house has CCTV?”

“Not the bathrooms or the bedrooms, but there is a camera on each of those doors to see who goes in and out. Everyone is accounted for.”

Sally pulled a face. “Who puts CCTV in their entire house? That’s crazy.”

“Someone who’s ridiculously worried about security,” Greg replied.

“I’m done here,” Sherlock said. “I need to see the CCTV now.”

Sally rolled her eyes and looked out of the window. “Inspector?” she asked, turning to look at Greg.

“I’m ready whenever,” he said, looking between them. “I’ve been here before, it’s nothing new to me.”

Sherlock had already turned and walked out of the room and Greg shrugged at her. Sally huffed before storming out behind him and Greg followed, exasperated at the both of them. He thought they’d been making a change for the better but they both switched so easily. It drove him up the wall.

He drove them back to the Yard with a stony silence, only the music from his radio filling the void.

After he got back, he left Sherlock with his computer, rifling through the house’s CCTV footage. He sat with Donovan going through the cold cases Sherlock had brought in and the two of them started re-examining the evidence with Sherlock’s new ideas in mind.

They planned two arrests on two separate cases.

Three hours later and Sherlock was still sat at Greg’s desk. Greg took a seat on the other side and watched him for a few moments. “How you doing?” he asked.

Sherlock ignored him.

“Can’t be easy. Being off the drugs you’ve been on for such a long time.” No response. “Look, if you’re tempted, you know you can call me anytime, I’ll keep my phone on for you.” No indication Sherlock had even heard him. Greg bit the inside of his cheek. “I was thinking of stopping smoking. What d’you reckon? For every day you’re off the drugs, I’ll quit smoking?” Sherlock typed into Greg’s keyboard. “I mean, I know it’s not exactly the same thing. But I’ve been smoking since I was 18, you’ve been doing drugs since you were – what - 18? So we’ll do it together.”

Sherlock looked up at him. “Shut up, Lestrade, your vapid dialogue is hurting my brain.”

Greg smiled at him. “So I’ll quit too then, yeah?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Do whatever you want.”

“I’ve had my last cigarette then,” Greg said. “We’ll both kick a habit together.”

Sherlock looked at him again. “Be quiet now.”

Greg grinned. He thought that was as close to an agreement as he was going to get. He stood up and walked behind Sherlock. “So, seen anything?” he asked.

Sherlock frowned. “The wife was in the dining room before the power outage. Look how she drags her leg. There is no way she got from there to the study, killed him and got back in three minutes.”

Greg nodded. “I agree,” he said.

“The staff are all right-handed,” Sherlock bemoaned. “With the exception of one cook, but she couldn’t have got from there and back in three minutes either, look at the size of her.”

Greg wanted to tell Sherlock off for being insensitive, but whatever his conclusion, he had a point. Sherlock glared at the computer. “This is all useless,” he murmured. “I’m missing something. What am I missing? There’s CCTV at every door, a list of staff here. Not a single member was out of the house, none. No changes in cars outside in the street… Who had motive to kill? The wife was beaten for years, of course she had desire to kill him but it wasn’t her. The brother had been taken for thousands but he’s not in the house, it’s clear. How did that case even get to court?”

Greg pressed his lips together but didn’t reply.

“He had a lot of enemies abroad. He worked with Mycroft. Worked with Mycroft… Maybe Mycroft organised a hit?”

Greg stared at Sherlock. “Are you actually serious?”

“No. Mycroft would have had someone blow his brains out, not slash his throat. Not poetic enough for him.”

“Oh good God,” Greg muttered, putting his head in his hands.

“He had enemies. In the Government?” Sherlock pulled a face. “I need files. I need documents. I need Mycroft,” he added bitterly.

“You need Mycroft?”

“Mycroft knew him, he’d know his enemies. You hardly investigated his work. Why?”

“We were convinced it was the brother,” Greg said as Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Alright, I know it was wrong now. You don’t need to rub it in.”

Greg pulled his chair around so he could sit next to Sherlock. They both watched the CCTV turn back on, where Hadrian Kirkcudbright was now visible. Dead. Greg rubbed his head. If Sherlock didn’t work this out, they had no chance.

Edmund Bullock walked in. “We’ve got a body, sir. It’s… unpleasant.”

Greg frowned. “They’re all unpleasant.”

“Sir he’s…” Edmund winced. “In parts.”

Sherlock stood up. “Let’s go.”

Greg glanced at him. “Sherlock…”

“It’s keeping my brain active, Lestrade. Keeping me off the good stuff.”

Greg couldn’t help but laugh. “Alright, alright. Sherlock, you’re with me. Bullock, get Donovan and get a forensics expert on the scene.”

 


 

Greg fidgeted as they sat in traffic. “Shit, I need a smoke,” Greg muttered, tapping his fingers on the wheel. “I should have had one last one. Why didn’t I have one last one?”

Sherlock reached into his jacket pocket and held out a packet of nicotine patches. Greg stared at him. “Why do you have nicotine patches?”

“I’m trying to kick every habit at once.”

Greg glanced at the traffic before taking one out and sticking it on his arm. He drove them in silence to the crime scene, his cravings slightly reduced by the time they arrived.

They put on the protective forensics clothing before following Sally and Edmund into a nicely-kept house. There was sheet music by the front door, a few drips of blood on the page. Sherlock crouched down by it. “Guilty by Russ Columbo,” he muttered.

“You can tell that from the notes?” Greg asked, amazed.

“No, it has the title on the top,” Sherlock said, exasperated.

Greg chuckled a bit and stepped into the hallway. Sherlock stood up and they moved into the lounge. There was the body. Or rather. Parts. Greg closed his eyes for a few seconds, wishing it wasn’t what he had just seen. He looked again. Oh bloody hell.

Sherlock showed no such disgust while Sally had her hand over her mouth, leaning against the wall like she would either faint or throw up. “Donovan, if you’re going to collapse, get out. I won’t judge you,” Greg said as he shuddered. Still not the worst crime scene ever.

Greg turned and looked out of the living room door as footsteps moved down the hallway. A man with longish hair and a beard in the forensics gear strode towards him. “Detective Inspector Lestrade?” he asked.

Greg nodded. “Yeah. You?”

“Philip Anderson.”

“You new?” Greg asked.

“Started last week,” Anderson replied.

“Oh an amateur,” Sherlock muttered from the living room. “Come in then, Anderson, let’s see what you can do.”

“Oh Jesus Christ,” Greg muttered. “Shut up Sherlock!”

Sherlock walked into the hallway. “I’m serious. This is your new so-called expert, he can prove himself to me.”

“And who exactly are you?” Anderson asked.

“Sherlock Holmes. Consulting Detective.”

“No, you’re not,” Greg groaned.

Anderson and Sherlock stared at each other. “Do we need to put them on a table and measure?” Sally asked as she walked to the front door. “I’m getting fresh air,” she explained.

Greg looked between Sherlock and Anderson. “Do you want to see the body?” Greg murmured. Putting them on a table and measuring may not actually have been a bad idea…

Anderson stormed past Sherlock, their shoulders hitting each other as he barged past. Greg pointed at Sherlock. “Behave!”

“That was him,” Sherlock replied petulantly. Greg bit back a retort and he and Sherlock walked back into the living room.

“Go on then,” Greg said. “I don’t care who does it, just tell me what I need to know.”

“Male, late 30s,” Anderson said. “Killed by what looks like a blow to the head and then cut to bits. He’s been dead about two days.”

“And?” Sherlock asked.

“And what?”

“What else?”

“What else?” Anderson frowned.

“Yes, what else, Anderson?” Sherlock asked, folding his arms. “Or did you miss it? The fact he’s recently divorced, two children, musician, likely a singer of jazz music, but his band recently deserted him in favour of a new member. Quite a temper, prone to angry outbursts, used to teach piano. He is a street performer, three - no four - times a week.”

Anderson stared at him, frowning. Greg bit back the grin on his face. Oh, he loved it when Sherlock did this. He couldn’t help himself.

“What was he hit with?” Sherlock asked, looking up at Anderson.

“I don’t know,” Anderson said, folding his arms. “Something heavy.”

Sherlock snorted. “Oh, something heavy. That narrows it down.” Sherlock shook his head. “It was a brass instrument. Is that heavy enough for you? Trumpet most likely, judging by the edge on his head wound. Band mate killed him, probably for the money he stole from them. Find the trumpeter, find the killer.” Sherlock sighed. “And this case had so much promise…”

He stood up, peeling the gloves off. Greg looked at him, impressed. Anderson looked like he was about to commit a murder himself. Greg put his body in between them, looking at Sherlock. “Are you going to explain how you came to that?”

“No,” Sherlock said. “I’ll leave that to your resident expert.” Sherlock looked pointedly at Anderson before strolling out of the house. Greg bit his lip. Anderson glared at him.

“What was that?” he asked bitterly.

“Sherlock Holmes,” Greg said. “Self-proclaimed Consulting Detective. Full-time arsehole. You’ll be seeing a lot of each other.” Greg looked down at the body. “So. Murder weapon?”

Anderson just continued to glare.

 


 

Greg got a bollocking from Anderson’s boss in the forensics squad later that day. Sally and Greg brought in the killer and got a confession within an hour. Greg found Anderson’s number and dropped him a text to apologise for his behaviour. Sherlock responded to Greg’s thank you text with a smug reply. Greg stayed up until late completing his notes. A report from forensics confirmed the murder weapon.

Greg thanked his lucky stars for Sherlock Holmes.

 


 

Three days later, after the murderer pleaded guilty at the Magistrate’s Court, Sherlock Holmes put the first case up on his blog: The Subdivided Crooner.

Mycroft emailed Greg the link with a single sentence in the email: ‘I believe his new website is your doing?’

Greg simply laughed in disbelief. 

Chapter Text

May, 2006

Greg had a headache. It started the second he saw a huge pile of files on his desk. It only got progressively worse after his first coffee. Not smoking did not agree with him, he decided. It was all for a good cause. To prove to Sherlock they could all shrug off their bad habits. But it didn’t make the desire for nicotine any less potent.

Having Sherlock back and hanging around the Yard was not doing wonders for his blood pressure either. He tapped his pen against the desk, the only thought in his head ‘need a cigarette. Just one will be alright, and then I’ll stop forever.’

He looked up at the knock on the door and couldn’t help the smile on his face as Mycroft walked in, along with his assistant. Anthea, was it? Most unusually, he wasn’t wearing a tie. Greg’s smile turned to a frown.

Mycroft looked bewildered at his change in expression for a split second before rolling his eyes and shaking his head. “Sherlock,” he explained. “He demanded I gave him a lift to Bartholomew’s and the reward for my favour was the destruction of my tie.”

Greg laughed. “He’ll probably use it in an experiment,” he said. “He did the same to mine last year.”

Mycroft shook his head. “He’s worse than ever since he got back. May I have a seat?”

“Course. What’s up?” Greg glanced at Anthea. She stood against the wall, phone in hand. “Do you want a coffee?”

“Yes please,” Mycroft said, his voice sounding almost desperate, and Greg pulled himself up out of his chair and moved to the machine. He picked up the Bunny Suicide mug and spooned in some granules.

“Anthea? Coffee?”

“No,” she said.

“Sherlock has been working with you a lot this week,” Mycroft remarked.

Greg poured the milk. “Yeah, we’ve had a few things on. Nothing impossible, but enough to keep us going.” He put the mugs down on the desk and sank back down in his seat. He switched the computer screen off. “So, what brings you both here?” He glanced at Anthea who was still working on her phone.

“One of your officers is still investigating the death of the Russian woman,” Mycroft said.

Greg frowned. “No they’re not.”

“Yes they are.”

Without a word, Anthea bent down, retrieving some files from a briefcase. She put them down on the desk in front of her boss and Mycroft slid them over to Greg. “Those are internet searches from the Yard in the past month,” she said.

Greg stared across at Mycroft. He reached out and hooked his finger in the handle of Mycroft’s coffee mug, pulling it over to his side of the desk. Mycroft looked at him, an mournful expression on his face. “I’m taking your coffee hostage,” Greg said. “I don’t know when I’m going to give it back to you yet. You can’t just trace our Google searches.”

“Yes we can and we have,” Anthea said. “Tell the person involved to drop the matter immediately.”

“No you can’t,” Greg said.

“Greg-” Mycroft started.

Greg pointed at him. “No. Don’t do that. Look, I don’t know who it was, but it’s not like I told them the Government walked into my office and took my files.”

Anthea sighed. “Mr Holmes, I told you I should have handled this.”

Mycroft held his hand up, silencing her. “Greg, I thought you and I understood each other.”

Greg snorted. “Understood each other? Are you actually having a laugh? In what way do I understand you?” Mycroft stared at him from across the table. Greg folded his arms before taking a purposeful sip of coffee from the mug he’d made up for Mycroft. “Are you pouting?” Greg asked, grinning. If Mycroft wanted the coffee, he’d have to work for it.

“No,” Mycroft said, frowning.

“How badly do you want this coffee?” Greg asked, holding the mug up. Mycroft followed the mug’s movements with his eyes. “It’s pretty decent actually. Well, decent for me anyway, I don’t make good coffee apparently.”

Mycroft pressed his lips together. “Your staff need to stop looking into the case.”

“Alright,” Greg said. “Go and tell them that.”

“I explained the situation-”

“This is my job, Mycroft.”

“And this is my job, Detective Inspector.”

“Oh for God’s sake,” Anthea muttered.

Mycroft turned his head sharply, looking at her. “Anthea!”

“What?” she asked. Mycroft didn’t say a word, just continued to stare at her. She put her phone into her pocket. “Detective Inspector. My boss needs your staff to do what we’re asking. It would be very much appreciated.”

“Anthea…” Mycroft murmured.

“Mr Holmes. You employ me because you trust my negotiation skills. I am under the impression the Detective Inspector expects something in return for his help.”

“No, I don’t need anything-” Greg started.

“Anthea, please leave us a moment,” Mycroft said sharply. She rolled her eyes and left the room. “You’re unhappy,” Mycroft said, looking at Greg.

“Too right I bloody am,” Greg muttered.

“What can I give you to improve your mood?”

“A promise you’ll stop spying on me.”

“I’m not spying on you.”

“Feels like it,” Greg muttered in response.

Mycroft looked down at the coffee cup Greg had stolen from him before he spoke again. “Come to my office this evening.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ll make it worth your time.”

“How?”

“I have been in a new job for the past two weeks and I’m yet to celebrate.”

Greg rolled his eyes. “I thought you wanted to improve my mood, not invite me to a party to celebrate your pay rise,” he muttered bitterly, turning the computer monitor back on and ignoring Mycroft completely.

“It isn’t a party. It would be you and I and a bottle of champagne.”

Greg narrowed his eyes, turning back to him. “Is it expensive?”

“Only the very best.”

“Is it paid for by the tax payer?” Mycroft didn’t reply. “Only, if it is paid for by the tax payer, then I don’t think it’s right that you get to drink all of it.”

“So I can expect to see you this evening?”

Greg folded his arms. “This is not me forgiving you.”

“I know.”

“It better be bloody good champagne.”

“I promise.”

“Is this how you negotiate with everyone? Offer them a bottle of bubbly?”

“There are many offers I can make.”

“Well, don’t I feel special…” Greg muttered.

“Why not? I can count on one hand the number of people who have visited this particular office.”

Greg almost laughed. “Mycroft, even if your office is an executive box at the Emirates, it’s not going to impress me.”

“Why not?”

“Because buildings and power don’t impress me.”

Mycroft tilted his head. “And what does impress you?”

“You’re the genius. Figure it out.”

“I will see you this evening. The car will be by your flat at 8.30.”

Greg hesitated before answering. “See you tonight then.”

“Have a nice day.”

“And you. Don’t go giving someone else that champagne. It’s got my name on it.”

“Greg, needless to say…”

“My staff will stop looking into your case.” Greg looked at him. “You need a better way of asking me to do things for you, Mycroft. Saying please wouldn’t actually kill you.”

“I’ll bear that in mind,” Mycroft murmured, standing up and walking to the door.

“Hey, Mycroft,” Greg said. The man turned and looked at him. “Sorry about the coffee hostage situation.”

Mycroft gave him a half smile. “All is fair in negotiation,” he said, before leaving the office.

Greg shook his head in amusement, knowing all too-well no part of that conversation was a negotiation. But he let it go, even so.

 


 

After work, Greg walked to his flat and put a choose-your-own-toppings Asda pizza in the oven. He went into his bedroom and opened up his wardrobe. He needed more shirts.

He hated shopping, and Caroline always kept his wardrobe up-to-date with plenty of clothes for Christmas and birthday gifts. But Greg hadn’t bought a single piece of clothing since he and Caroline had broken up. Mycroft probably had a tailor all of his own who picked items out especially for him and his long legs and pert… Greg covered his face with his hands making a frustrated groan.

Why the hell had he allowed himself to get so attracted to Mycroft? It was bloody embarrassing. Mycroft probably looked at his face every time he walked in the room and instantly knew Greg was thinking about kissing him and blowing him and letting him come anywhere. Everywhere.

Greg fetched himself a beer from the fridge, turning the TV on as he waited for his food. After eating, he got into the shower, telling himself he was showering because he’d spent the day at work. He wasn’t showering for Mycroft Holmes. He washed his hair, lathered his body in his new body wash (which he didn’t buy for Mycroft Holmes).

He shaved his stubble (not for Mycroft Holmes) and walked through to his bedroom with a towel around his hips. He picked out the nicest shirt he could find - a dark blue one - and pulled on some jeans. They were his best jeans. A pair Caroline had spent a fair bit of money on (not for Mycroft Holmes).

He patted down his damp hair and looked at himself in the mirror as he put on some aftershave (totally and completely not for Mycroft Holmes). He looked good, if he could say so himself. Although the grey hair used to embarrass him, maybe he could accept Caroline’s compliment that it made him look a bit more distinguished.

He sat down with a second beer in front of the television, wondering what the night had in store. Sharing a bottle of champagne with Mycroft was definitely unusual. It seemed a bit too… friendly. As friends. And he was certain Mycroft wasn’t looking for that and yet, and yet…

Greg shook his head, resolving not to give the unusual relationship he had with Mycroft any further thought. If they spent the night enjoying each other’s company (and Greg knew he did enjoy his company) then that was great. If it ended with them both giving each other a blowjob then that was great too.

The car pulled up outside his flat at 8.30pm sharp, and Greg pocketed his phone and locked up. His phone beeped while he was on his way down the steps, but he was sure it was probably the driver letting him know he was there.

Greg slid onto the soft leather seat, watching out of the window. They drove through Pall Mall but did not stop, and Greg watched, curious, for where this office might be.

He recognised a lot of London and knew when they were heading towards Mayfair. He recognised Green Street instantly. When he had first joined the force, he visited Green Street with his then Detective Inspector, where a stinking rich man’s office had been broken into.

The man had taken an instant dislike to Greg. He had been young and a bit full of himself at the time. As a kid who had grown up with nothing, seeing a man who had inherited everything he could ever desire drove Greg up the wall. And yeah, it was wrong, but he almost thought the bloke deserved everything he got coming to him if he didn’t spend enough on his own security.

The telling off he got from the man and his boss was enough to teach him a lesson. He never took the same attitude with anyone again, rich or not. Policing was about talking to people in all sectors of society. And Greg had learnt a different tone for different people in different circumstances.

He looked up at the buildings in Green Street as they stopped. The driver pulled the window dividing the front and back of the car aside. “It is the white door there,” he said.

Greg frowned. The building in question was quite unnoticeable, stood between two large ornate and imposing buildings with fancy doors and security guards stood outside. Greg had expected Mycroft’s office to be just like Crusader House. But it wasn’t. If you weren’t looking for the building in question, you wouldn’t look twice at it. And Greg supposed that was the attraction of it. The building screamed ‘no Government secrets kept here, try next door’.

Greg stepped out of the car, patting down his hair. It was still warm and light outside, the birds chattering as they were just on their way to bed.

The door opened before he had a chance to knock. A security guard appeared. “Name?” he asked.

“Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade,” Greg said, frowning.

“Identification?” the security guard demanded. Greg felt his pockets and pulled out his badge. The guard inspected it before standing aside. “I need you to put your belongings in this box to be scanned, and I need you to look directly into the camera to your right please.”

Greg hesitated for a moment before taking the rest of his possessions out of his pockets and emptying them into a box. A female security guard flashed him a small smile as she checked the items on her computer. Greg looked at the camera as instructed. Three seconds later, he was asked to walk through the metal scanner where he would be reunited with his possessions.

He did so without setting it off, but a third guard gave him a once over with a metal detector nonetheless. He pocketed his phone and wallet.

“This is Mr Finck. He will direct you to your meeting.”

Greg nodded and followed the young man, probably in his late 20s, up the stairs. “Nice building this,” Greg said, making small talk. The man did not reply.

Greg was led into a long thin office with 12 tables along the length of the walls. There were no windows, and it was dimly lit with a lamp and safe on each desk. None of the desks appeared to have personal items on them. There were no shelves, no cupboards, no filing cabinets. Everything of importance, Greg imagined, had been locked away. He followed the man to where the offices were.

One said Ms Boyette on the door. Anthea’s office. Beside it, Mr Holmes. The man knocked on the door. Two seconds later, without receiving a response, he opened it.

Mycroft was sat behind a computer and looked up as the door opened. Greg felt a clench in his chest, both a strange, excited anxiety and a general relief just to see him. “Thank you, Danny,” Mycroft said. “Please go home now, I no longer require you. Wish your daughter a very happy birthday. Here…” Mycroft opened a drawer and held out a small book.

Greg glanced at Danny, who seemed genuinely moved by the gesture. “What is it, sir?” Danny asked.

“It is a first edition Beatrix Potter book,” Mycroft explained. “The first she published. Anthea was sure your daughter would like it. Ten is, after all, a landmark year.”

Danny walked forward slowly, bowing his head a little as he took the book from Mycroft. “This is amazing, thank you, sir. Kim will love it.”

Mycroft smiled warmly. “Good evening, Danny.”

“Night, sir,” Danny said, staring at the book as he walked out of the office. Greg stared at Mycroft but stayed quiet until the door closed.

“That was really nice,” Greg said.

Mycroft looked at him. “It is important to keep your employees on your side.”

“Yeah, I agree with that,” Greg said, standing awkwardly. He wondered if that was all it was or whether Mycroft was almost embarrassed for being - well - nice. He looked around the office. It was black. Dark. Foreboding. No wonder not many people visited this office. It was freaking creepy. “This is like Batman’s office. If he had an office,” Greg said looking around. The Queen’s portrait stared at him, from above Mycroft’s head. “Do you really like this kind of room?”

Mycroft opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again. Greg watched him. “I didn’t really have a say in the decor,” Mycroft finally admitted. “It came like this, and I saw no reason to change it.”

“It’s intimidating,” Greg said.

“I am not trying to intimidate you,” Mycroft replied. Greg glanced at the red phone on the desk and raised his eyebrows. “Please take a seat,” Mycroft said.

Greg sat down in the leather chair on the opposite side of the desk. He looked at Mycroft, chewing his lip and trying to think of something to say. Mycroft was watching him, analysing most likely.

Anthea strolled in without knocking, a bottle of champagne in one hand. She put it down on a tray on the table, and held out a card to Greg. “This is your security card for the building,” she said. “It ensures you will not need to go through all the rigmarole at the front in future.”

Greg hesitated before taking it from her. The black card had his name and face on it - taken from the camera when he first entered, he realised. In gold writing it merely said Coeur de Lion Offices. “Um. Thanks,” Greg said, taking out his wallet and tucking the card inside it.

Anthea turned and picked some glasses up off the table behind her. “Would you like me to open this, sir?” she asked, looking at Mycroft.

“No, I will do it. Thank you, Anthea. Please, enjoy your holiday.”

“I will,” she said. “I will see you in a week.” She looked at Greg. “Keep him out of trouble,” she said, raising one eyebrow before leaving the office.

Greg laughed. “I can’t imagine you’re ever in trouble.”

Mycroft offered a half smile. “Anthea keeps me in line,” he said. He reached for the champagne bottle and began twisting the metal hook. Greg sat back in his chair, looking around.

“So, how many offices do you have?”

“A few,” Mycroft said. “I moved to a new one in Whitehall a few days ago.”

“For your promotion?” Greg asked.

“Yes.”

Mycroft slowly began to take the cork out of the bottle. Greg fidgeted nervously in his chair. He thought he’d put some effort into his clothes, but he hadn’t taken into account how perfectly dressed Mycroft always was in his pinstripe suit. His jeans weren’t exactly… smart. Not that Mycroft had appeared to look down on him in anyway. But he still felt like he was wearing the wrong thing.

Mycroft poured the champagne, waiting for the bubbles to melt away before filling the glasses up to the top. He didn’t spill a drop. He took one of the glasses and Greg picked up the other.

“Well. To your promotion then,” Greg said and Mycroft smiled coolly.

“Thank you.”

Greg nodded and took a sip of his drink. It was like no champagne he’d ever had before. He closed his eyes for a moment, savouring the bubbles fizzing on his tongue. It was perfect for him. He hated sweet champagne and wine. But this was just sweet enough to keep him drinking, but not sickly. Not sickly at all. Mycroft was watching him with interest from the other side of the table. “It’s good,” Greg said and Mycroft duly took a sip before nodding.

“Anthea has exquisite taste.”

Greg smiled. “So do you,” he said, eyeing the large dark table. Mycroft looked at him, narrowing his eyes a little as he smiled back.

“Yes, I do,” he replied pointedly, his gaze fixed on Greg. Greg felt his cheeks warm and he took a long gulp of his champagne. Christ. He hadn’t meant him. That wasn’t what he meant at all. He definitely didn’t want to sound like he was playing his own trumpet. Mycroft tilted his head a little. “Do I make you uncomfortable?” he asked.

“No,” Greg said quickly. “No, never. I just.” Greg shook his head. “So. What’s your favourite colour?” Mycroft looked bewildered. Oh well done, Lestrade, Greg thought to himself. You sound like a gibbering idiot.

“I don’t believe I have a favourite colour,” Mycroft said.

“I like red,” Greg said dumbly.

“Ah yes. Arsenal.”

Greg nodded. “Yeah,” he muttered awkwardly. Sound cool. Say something cool, he thought. You can come back from this… Oh, who was he kidding? Mycroft was the epitome of cool as a cucumber and had far more important things to do than listen to Greg ask stupid questions about favourite colours and…

“Green,” Mycroft said after a long minute. “It isn’t a colour I wear very often. In fact, I don’t think I even own a green tie. But I think that’s what I prefer.”

“Oh,” Greg said, smiling a little.

“Do you go to football often?” Mycroft asked.

Greg shook his head. “No, a couple of games a season. They sort of out-price fans there, to be honest. But I watch it on TV when I can. When they’re on.”

“Why did you choose Arsenal?”

“The ground was about 20 minutes away from the kids’ home. I used to…” Greg smiled at the memory. “When I used to sneak out, I’d go on Saturdays and sit outside and listen to the cheering during the games.”

“That sounds wonderful,” Mycroft murmured.

“Have you ever been interested in sport?”

“Not particularly,” Mycroft said. He took a sip of his drink. “A man I was intimate with at university was a cox for the First Team at Oxford. I would occasionally watch their races.”

Greg looked at him, surprised. Someone Mycroft was intimate with. Although he knew they must have existed, and Sherlock had alluded to it, the topic of conversation had thrown Greg off track. He didn’t expect Mycroft would ever talk about his personal life in those terms. Greg felt… honoured, actually. He didn’t imagine Mycroft shared those things about himself very often.

“When was your last relationship?” Greg asked before he could stop himself.

Mycroft didn’t flinch like Greg had expected him to. If anything, his face lost all emotion, but he didn’t look shocked by the question. “Around five years ago,” he replied.

“You’re younger than me, right?” Greg asked.

Mycroft smiled a little. “I don’t know. Am I?”

“I’m 39,” Greg said.

“36,” Mycroft replied, sipping his drink.

“You don’t need to look so smug about that,” Greg grinned. Mycroft laughed, and Greg picked up the champagne bottle to top up their drinks.

“When was the last time you were with a man?” Mycroft asked.

Greg tried to hide his surprise at the question. “Just before I met Caroline,” he said.

“Do you miss her?”

“No not really,” Greg said. “I guess I should, but, no.”

Mycroft nodded. “Greg, I feel should make myself clear. I am not looking for a relationship.”

“Neither am I,” Greg said, looking at him. “Divorce isn’t even finalised yet and I’m…” What? Scared? Enjoying being single? Mycroft looked relieved. “I liked having sex with you though,” Greg said shyly. “So if you ever wanted…”

“I do,” Mycroft said, so quietly that Greg wasn’t sure he’d heard him correctly. Greg grinned.

“Willing to be a slave to your desires, huh?” Greg asked, repeating a comment Mycroft had made the last time they’d been together.

Mycroft smiled. “On this occasion, I think I may give in, yes. You’re very undemanding.”

“Undemanding?” Greg repeated.

“Yes. You have no expectations of me. I find I rather appreciate that.”

Greg shrugged a little. “I kinda like hanging out with you as… well, friends almost, sort of, maybe? You know what I mean.”

“As friends,” Mycroft agreed.

Greg smiled at him. “Yeah, as friends. With a bit of sex thrown in for good measure.”

Mycroft smiled. “Yes.”

Greg grinned and kicked his shoes off, stretching his legs out onto Mycroft’s desk. Mycroft laughed in response, sipping his champagne. “You’re incorrigible,” Mycroft said, a warm smile on his face.

Greg laughed. “I’ve heard that before.” He wriggled his sock-covered toes, wondering how much the desk he had his feet on was worth. How much the champagne in his hand cost. Enjoy it, Greg. You never know how long it could last.

Mycroft was watching him with a content expression, and Greg enjoyed how relaxed he looked, even sat in his suit and tie. “I think you’re gorgeous,” Greg finally said, looking at him. Mycroft’s lips parted and his eyes widened as he took in the compliment. Greg smiled at him. “Sorry if I didn’t make that clear before,” Greg said.

“I… oh… well no but… I… thank you,” Mycroft stammered, staring down at his drink. Greg tilted his head at him.

“Should I not have said that?” he asked.

“No, it’s… wonderful,” Mycroft murmured. “I, of course, return the compliment.” Greg smiled and looked away. “You see,” Mycroft said. “You are as terrible at accepting a compliment as I am.”

Greg laughed. “I can’t believe it’s been more than a year since I met Sherlock.”

“More than a year since you were made DI,” Mycroft said. “That is a far more life-changing accomplishment, I assure you.”

Greg laughed. “Yeah, true. It’s been a pretty mad 12 months. So, your promotion. What does it mean for you?”

“Less field work,” Mycroft said. “I expect I will be travelling out of the country more for the Government and less for…” Mycroft sighed. “You know, of course, everything I tell you stays within these walls?”

Greg nodded. “Course. I signed your documents and stuff.”

“I will be working less for the Secret Intelligence Service than previously.”

“MI6,” Greg murmured.

Mycroft nodded. “Yes. You know the difference between MI5 and MI6.”

“Yeah,” Greg agreed. “You always been six?”

“No,” Mycroft said. “I started at MI5. It was my first job after university.”

“What did you study?” Greg asked.

Mycroft looked confused, as though expecting Greg would be more interested in spy work than university. Greg thought that look Mycroft wore was fantastic. Because, as ever, it meant he surprised the older Holmes brother yet again. “Law and Classics,” Mycroft said.

“Oh, you did a joint?”

“No,” Mycroft said. “I taught myself Classics as a relaxing past-time.”

Greg snorted with laughter. “You taught yourself Classics on top of doing full-time Law?”

“Yes, of course,” Mycroft confirmed. “I also learnt Mandarin and Russian.”

Greg stared at him. “Jesus. You know, I’ve said this before, but you really must think I am an idiot.”

“Not at all,” Mycroft said. “You have different strengths. You have an emotional intelligence neither Sherlock or I could ever possess.”

Greg frowned at that.

“What did you study?” Mycroft asked.

“History. I know, I know, cop out subject.”

“Not at all,” Mycroft said. “I never thought you would be interested in it.”

“Well I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to go to uni because I wanted to move out and didn’t know what else to do. I picked history as the best of a bad lot really.”

“Did you enjoy it?”

“Yeah actually. I wasn’t brilliant at it. But learning about events and stuff that went on… I was crap at analysing it, which was obviously the bit that got you the grades. But I could sit for hours learning about wars and kings and politics and stuff. I didn’t like the reading. But documentaries and lectures… Yeah. You could lecture me all you wanted about the world. It interests me.”

Mycroft gave him a soft smile, one which made Greg less ashamed of how he felt about his intelligence. “You are extraordinary,” Mycroft murmured. Greg looked down at his drink and topped it up. He stared at his feet, unable to meet Mycroft’s eyes. “Don’t be embarrassed,” Mycroft said.

“I am a bit,” Greg said. “I’m pretty sure no one’s said anything like that about me. And definitely not someone who’s a bloody genius, helps run the Government and the security services and is just… well, good looking too.”

“I don’t run the Government or the security services, Greg.”

“No, but they need you, right? You’re like the cog that keeps everything going.”

“As you are in your team.”

Greg snorted. “God I wish. Nothing like having your brother come in to make you feel useless.”

“Sherlock is a very intelligent man. But you have many qualities he doesn’t possess.”

“Like?” Greg asked.

“People like you. They respect you, they follow you without question. Sherlock and I can take a look at someone and know everything which ails them. But you, Greg, you actually care to ask.” Greg looked over the table at him. “Sherlock has no right to ever make you feel inferior.”

“You never failed him, Mycroft,” Greg said suddenly, not sure where it came from. Mycroft pressed his lips together and poured the last of his champagne into his glass. “He’s an idiot if he doesn’t see what you’ve done for him.”

“He doesn’t like me, he never has.”

“Then he’s more of an idiot than I thought. You’re right, he has the emotional intelligence of a mushroom.”

Mycroft chuckled. Greg finished his champagne, took his feet down from the table and stood up. Mycroft kept his eyes on him as circled around the desk. To Greg’s delight, Mycroft moved his chair backwards, allowing Greg to stand between him and the table. Greg leaned back against the desk, looking down at the man in front of him.

Mycroft watched him back with a half smile. Greg watched as he sipped his champagne. “Is there any more of that?” Greg asked, eyeing the glass.

“Yes,” Mycroft murmured.

“Can we drink it?”

“Yes.”

“After this,” Greg said, leaning forward and brushing the backs of his fingers against Mycroft’s cheek. He saw the man’s chest rise and fall with a soft breath. Greg felt the skin under his fingers, the beginning of faint evening stubble there. His index finger traced a line down Mycroft’s cheek, over the curves of his top lip and down to the indent of his chin. He saw Mycroft swallow as his finger began a slow descent down his throat.

Greg stood up and pulled the red tie free of his waistcoat. He untied it slowly with Mycroft’s eyes on his. “You asked me about what impressed me earlier,” Greg said, his voice low. “Did you figure it out?”

“No,” Mycroft admitted, his voice almost choked as Greg withdrew the tie from his collar, setting it down on the desk.

“Honesty. Caring. What you did for that bloke earlier… Mycroft, it was the kindest thing in the world. I don’t care why you did it. The fact you did speaks volumes as far as I’m concerned.”

Mycroft blushed, as far as Greg could make out in the low light. Greg unbuttoned the top fastening of his shirt, letting his finger brush the skin it revealed. “You’re the extraordinary one,” Greg said. “And you surprise me too.” He looked at Mycroft’s face. “I don’t know why you’ve decided to count me as a friend or why you thought I’d be good to have for sex. But I’m not complaining.” Greg unfastened another button. “And you can have me for as long as you want.”

He sunk down to his knees and heard Mycroft’s shaky exhale of breath. Greg stroked his hands along Mycroft’s thighs and muttered “fuck, your legs are perfect. Did you know that?” Mycroft shook his head. “Well they are. They’re just… your legs are great.” Greg looked up at him. “All of you is great, alright?”

Mycroft nodded slowly, letting Greg gently push his legs apart, his thumbs rubbing circles on the inside of his thighs. Greg rubbed his cheek against the fabric. “There’s not enough time in the world for the things I want to do to you,” Greg said huskily. “Anything, everything you want. Just say the word.”

“This… this is fine,” Mycroft whispered.

Greg lowered his hands, his fingers stroking the backs of Mycroft’s knees and down along his calves. “You’re perfect, you’re perfect,” he murmured, as his hands drifted to Mycroft’s ankles. He untied his shoes, slipping them off one at a time and putting them underneath the desk. Greg looked up at him. “Can you tell what I’m thinking right now, Mycroft?” Mycroft swallowed and shook his head. Greg grinned up at him. “I think you’re bloody sexy.”

He sat up on his knees, reaching for Mycroft’s belt. “Can I?” Mycroft nodded wordlessly. “Oh yes,” Greg said softly, unfastening the belt and pulling it free of the loops as slowly as he could. He placed it down on the floor as he unfastened Mycroft’s trousers. He saw Mycroft’s lips part, as though he wanted to say something. “It’s okay,” Greg said. “I want to do this. You don’t need to say anything if you don’t want to.”

He kissed Mycroft’s knee, slowly pulling down the zip. He looked up at Mycroft’s face. “I need to kiss you. Is that alright?” Mycroft nodded again.

Greg stood up and rubbed his thumb against Mycroft’s chin. He touched the man’s cheek, moving his face forward. He pressed his lips to the spot just beside the corner of Mycroft’s mouth. Mycroft’s face turned towards his and Greg brushed their lips together. Mycroft hand wrapped around Greg’s neck as they deepened the kiss. Greg groaned, nibbling Mycroft’s bottom lip. He felt his other hand trail down his back to rest on his arse.

Greg’s back ached in this position, but he didn’t want to stop kissing the man in front of him, especially when they each parted their lips and their tongues touched, where the only thing he could concentrate on was the things their lips and tongues were doing. Mycroft’s hand squeezed his arse, and Greg moved closer to the chair.

He sucked on Mycroft’s bottom lip, drawing it in between his and losing himself to the kiss.

He pulled back, breathing hard and the look of lust in Mycroft’s eyes had him dropping back down to his knees. “Take those off for me,” Greg said, touching Mycroft’s trousers.

Mycroft consented immediately, standing up, and slowly pushing down his trousers and boxers. Greg let out a breath, looking at Mycroft’s thighs, his cock hard. Mycroft slowly lowered himself back into the chair, and Greg rubbed his thighs. He spread Mycroft’s legs, looking up at him still with his jacket, waistcoat and shirt on. One day he’d get him naked. But all he wanted to do at that moment was taste, make him come.

Greg moved to give himself a better angle and wrapped his hand around Mycroft’s cock. He shuddered at the contact and Greg took him straight into his mouth, groaning as he pressed his tongue against Mycroft’s length.

This used to be his favourite thing. It was always incredibly submissive, yet powerful at the same time. Intimate and truthful. There was nothing to hide as far as Greg was concerned, when the only thing he wanted to do was use his mouth to pleasure a man. And this man in particular.

This man who now had one hand gripping the chair arm, and the other with his fingers curling in Greg’s hair. Greg took him as deep as he could in his mouth. Mycroft was giving little gasping breaths above him as Greg flicked his tongue against him.

It was hot. So hot, to have Mycroft like this. He began moving his head, delighting in the feel of Mycroft’s cock against his tongue. He loved, needed, the taste of him.

He felt his thighs, his calves, delighted in the way Mycroft shuddered as he cupped his balls with one hand and squeezed lightly and pressed a finger against his perineum. Greg kept up the motion with his head and his hand, wishing it would never end, but willing Mycroft to orgasm too. Mycroft’s hand touched his cheek, pressing almost to push him back, but Greg just sucked harder, watched Mycroft’s head drop to the back of the chair as he came, came in Greg’s mouth. And Greg swallowed what he gave, thrilled by the look of Mycroft shaking and gasping above him.

Greg pulled back as Mycroft softened, placing a tender kiss to the top of both thighs. He stroked Mycroft’s calves.

Mycroft’s eyes were pinched closed as he fought to get his breath back. Greg pressed a kiss to the side of his knee. Oh, I’ve got you, he thought. If you need me now, need me ever, I’ve got you. He pressed his cheek to Mycroft’s thigh. Mycroft’s fingers brushed through his hair and Greg closed his eyes for a second, savouring the touch.

He felt his knees ache and he sat down on the floor. “Thank you,” Mycroft murmured.

“No need,” Greg said. He stood up and pressed a kiss to Mycroft’s filtrum. The man smiled dazedly at him. Greg padded back to the other side of the desk and took his seat. Mycroft stood and adjusted his clothing. Greg eyed his flushed cheeks with a delighted smile as Mycroft reached for his phone.

“I would like the car immediately,” he said. “The Coeur de Lion Offices, if you please. Thank you.” Greg tried to stop himself from frowning. Was that… not good? “I thought we might share the last bottle of champagne at my flat,” Mycroft explained. “If you would like?”

“Yeah,” Greg murmured. “Yeah, I’d really like.” He smiled and leaned down to put his shoes back on. He saw Mycroft reach for his tie. “Leave it off,” Greg said. “I’ll only take it off again.”

Mycroft chuckled and put it in his jacket pocket. “Very well,” he murmured. He stood up and walked out of the office. Greg took a deep breath and shuffled in his chair. He was so turned on. And God, if that had felt good for Mycroft, it couldn’t possibly compare to how good that had felt for Greg. Sex with Mycroft was intense and consuming.

Mycroft emerged with another bottle of champagne in hand and Greg smiled at him, standing. He felt Mycroft’s eyes give him the once over before he turned and walked out of the office. Greg followed, taking another swift look over the office space, wondering what exactly did happen in this building.

He followed Mycroft down the stairs, marvelling in the fact he was going to the man’s flat again, this time for the purpose of - well, what, exactly? Champagne. Conversation? He felt an apprehensive flutter in his stomach. A mix of excitement and arousal and uncertainty. What did Mycroft expect of him? Anal sex? It had been a long, long time and Greg wasn’t sure that… well, that was intimate, intense, it would change their relationship irreparably. And that would be okay, actually. For a while. But he wasn’t sure he wanted to lose this friendship with Mycroft so soon.

Yeah, sure, he left Greg feeling very inferior, but he was so… warm. Warm, once you chipped away at the ice surrounding him anyway. Greg reckoned he would have been a little bit afraid of him if he had been a different kind of person. But he wasn’t a different person. He was Greg and he was never going to just back down or be afraid no matter how powerful Mycroft was.

He slid into the car and Mycroft smiled at him. There was an edge of anxiety in the air, and neither met the other’s eyes as they sat in silence on the journey towards Pall Mall.

When they were around five minutes away, Greg reached out, planting his hand on Mycroft’s thigh. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a half smile on Mycroft’s face as he gazed out of the window. Greg began to move his thumb in slow circles, delighting in the way Mycroft fidgeted in his seat just from the smallest touch.

They parked directly outside of Crusader House and Greg looked up at the building. Mycroft stepped out of the car and walked around it with the bottle of champagne in hand. The doorman let them both in without a word, and Greg followed Mycroft up the stairs, admiring his lean legs.

When they got to the living room, Greg wanted very desperately to push Mycroft up against the wall and kiss him. But he resisted the urge.

They had to find a balance between friendship and sex, where there was no blurred line in which a relationship seemed to be building. Because neither of them wanted one. That had been established. But kissing, tender kissing, edged into that category, no matter how you tried to hide it. Greg decided to make a mental list of things they would not do.

No sleeping in the same bed, no lasting hugs after sex and no sneaking kisses when they saw each other on a casual and entirely friendship-themed basis. Good rules, he thought. He’d add to it if necessary, but that was an excellent start.

Mycroft had disappeared into the kitchen and Greg slipped his shoes off before following him. Mycroft had begun pouring the champagne and Greg couldn’t resist touching him any longer. Mycroft had taken his jacket, shoes and waistcoat off, leaving him in just his shirt and trousers.

Greg stepped behind him, placing one hand on his hip before brushing his lips against the spot on the back of Mycroft’s neck where his hairline ended. Mycroft leaned back into him, letting Greg trail soft kisses over the back of his neck. Greg kissed behind his ear, felt Mycroft shiver a little, before reaching around him to take a glass of champagne. He heard Mycroft chuckle as Greg turned to walk back to the living room, a grin on his own face.

He sat down on the sofa, and to his delight, Mycroft sat down beside him, not too far away. Greg savoured his drink, leaning back into the chair. Greg looked at the other man. Oh God, the things he would like to do…

Mycroft’s hand found Greg’s knee, his thumb rubbing against it. Greg leaned towards him, pressing his lips to Mycroft’s top one. Their lips met in a few brief touches, each time finding new angles for the mouths to meet. Greg set his glass down on the table, tilting his body in towards Mycroft. Mycroft put his own glass down and pressed the tips of his fingers to Greg’s jaw. Greg’s eyes met his and they gazed at each other before Greg couldn’t take it anymore and pressed his lips hard against Mycroft’s.

The kiss deepened and Mycroft’s hand held the side of Greg’s face. Greg’s fingers traced a line down the other man’s neck. Greg moved closer to Mycroft, gently pushing him down onto his back as he straddled his hips. Mycroft’s hands slid up Greg’s back under his shirt, and Greg shuddered against him. He needed to be closer. Greg unbuttoned two of the fastenings on Mycroft’s shirt, dipping his head to kiss and lick the skin he found there. Mycroft arched up into him, his fingers moving from Greg’s back to his stomach before dropping to unbuckle his belt. Greg kissed his neck, just by his jaw, trailing his lips in an uncoordinated pattern along the skin there.

Mycroft unfastened Greg’s jeans and Greg stood up for a moment to pull them off. He moved back to his position by Mycroft’s hips and Mycroft began to unbutton his shirt. Greg groaned as the younger man sat up, dipping his head to lick Greg’s nipple, before drawing it in between his lips, flicking his tongue against the sensitive nub. Greg brushed his fingers through Mycroft’s hair and let Mycroft push him back down onto the sofa, as he pushed his shirt apart and began to trail kisses down his chest and back up to his nipples. He pinched one experimentally and Greg let out a breathy moan.

Mycroft’s hands trailed across his stomach and Greg laughed as his finger dipped into his belly button. Mycroft glanced at him with a sheepish smile and Greg curled his hand in Mycroft’s shirt collar, pulling him up for another desperate kiss.

Mycroft ground down against him, and Greg let out a low groan as their cocks brushed against each other’s through their clothing. He reached for Mycroft’s belt, pulling it out for the second time that evening and throwing it onto the floor.

They kissed hard, bruising kisses which made Greg’s lips tender and he arched his hips up as Mycroft’s teeth grazed his bottom lip before their tongues met, fought, with a passion Greg hadn’t felt in years.

He unfastened Mycroft’s trousers, pulled them down as far as he could along with his boxers, and Mycroft hooked his fingers in Greg’s underwear, leaning back to take them right off and fling them somewhere on the floor. Mycroft moved to hover back over him.

Their cocks pressed against each other’s and Greg gasped against Mycroft’s lips, reaching down to wrap his hand around as much of both of their lengths as he could. One of Mycroft’s hands joined his, his thumb rubbing the wet head of Greg’s prick.

Greg moved his hips, breaking the heated kiss to look down between their bodies. The sight alone made him reach for Mycroft’s hair, tugging him down to nip and kiss his neck again. He could smell the faint trace of aftershave and longed to know what it was so he could smell it every time he lay in bed alone with his hand around his own cock, wishing Mycroft was there with him, but not now, not now, because Mycroft was here, there, his hand around them both.

They both moved their hips, kissing hard, soft, slow and long kisses, as their hands found the perfect rhythm, joining together.

Greg felt Mycroft shudder first, his teeth biting Greg’s shoulder as he came over their cocks, hands, Greg’s stomach. Feeling Mycroft come undone, finish over his skin, pulled Greg over the edge too, and he curled his sock-covered toes into the backs of Mycroft’s legs as he arched up, coming with Mycroft all the way.

They panted together, Mycroft’s face pressing into Greg’s neck. With his clean hand, Greg wrapped an arm around his back and Mycroft lowered his body down onto him. Greg took his weight, moving a little to find a more comfortable position. He listened to Mycroft’s shaky breathing, felt his lips press lightly into a sensitive part of his neck.

Remember the rule, remember the rule, Greg thought as he kept Mycroft close. He couldn’t help but melt into the embrace. He closed his eyes, his hand stroking Mycroft’s back through his shirt. The cotton was soft to the touch; expensive.

“Are you alright?” Greg asked huskily after a few moments and felt Mycroft nod against his neck.

Greg kept the man close, holding him there until his breath began to return to normal. They breathed in a rhythm, one inhale matching the other’s exhale. As though the other’s breath was needed to keep them both alive. Mycroft moved his head before sitting up. He reached for his clothing, re-dressing. Greg watched him with a smile before sitting up himself and retrieving his boxers and jeans. He left his shirt undone as he sat back down. Mycroft reached over to a table and handed him a handkerchief. He wiped his stomach and his hand before putting it down on the table. Mycroft reached for the glasses and took a long sip from his champagne.

“You alright?” Greg asked again as he watched him. His hair was stood was impossibly humorous angles, his posture relaxed and content.

Mycroft murmured a “yes” as he sat back in the chair. Without thinking, Greg reached out and rubbed the back of his neck. Mycroft returned the gesture with a lazy smile. Greg grinned and picked up his champagne, leaving his hand possessively around the back of Mycroft’s neck. The man didn’t seem to mind as he settled back into the chair, their thighs resting against each other. Greg let out a soft sigh.

“That was amazing,” he said, sipping his drink.

Mycroft glanced at him. “Mm, it was,” he said quietly. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m great,” Greg confirmed, looking around the room. To his surprise, Mycroft lowered his head onto his shoulder, and Greg pressed his cheek against the man’s hair. They sat there in silence as Greg sipped his drink, his fingers gently rubbing circles on Mycroft’s shoulder.

“I should go,” Greg finally said. He tried to ignore the part of his mind which hoped Mycroft would tell him not to.

“I will call for the car,” Mycroft murmured, sitting back up. He looked at Greg for a second. Greg touched the bottom of Mycroft’s chin, drawing their mouths together for one lazy, sweet kiss. Mycroft smiled, almost bashfully, before standing to find his phone.

Greg finished his champagne and buttoned up his shirt. “Talk to you soon then, mate,” he said as his phone beeped to confirm the car was there. Mycroft nodded at him.

“See you very soon,” he murmured. Greg smiled at him before turning to leave the flat, his body relaxed, his heart heavy at leaving so soon.

It wasn’t until he got back to his own flat and undressed that he realised he’d buttoned his shirt up totally wrong. Mycroft hadn’t said a word. Greg slid under the covers, and as he rolled over he thought he could smell a trace of Mycroft’s aftershave on his skin. He clung to that thought as he drifted off to sleep. 

Chapter Text

June, 2006

Greg and Sherlock spent two long weeks working on a variety of cases. A few were left unsolved. On a few others Sherlock had turned his nose up and abandoned the scene after 20 seconds. Sherlock had spent a lot of time at Bart’s, for which Greg was grateful because after Anderson had told a few more people about his disagreement with the younger Holmes, Greg had some cops questioning his judgement. No one had questioned Sherlock’s involvement as a consultant, however. Not yet anyway.

Greg had the Kirkcudbright case spread out in front of him again. There was something missing from the picture and he couldn’t quite clutch at it. Which was why, at 3.23pm he decided to email Mycroft.

He didn’t want to. In fact, he’d spent the last two weeks making a concerted effort not to text, email or call. He didn’t want to seem needy or like he was after anything from him. So he left it. Until now.

 

To: Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Case

Hi Mycroft,
Sherlock and I are working on the Kirkcudbright case and I have a couple of questions. Are you free sometime for a chat?
Cheers,
Greg

 

Sender: Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Re: Case

To Greg, 
I will be available this evening. Would you like me to send a car or will you make your way to Crusader House yourself? I will provide dinner. Is 8.30pm suitable?
Kind regards,
Mycroft Holmes

 

To: Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Re: Case

Hi,
Yeah, 8.30 is good. Don’t worry about a car. It’s a nice day, I’ll just walk. See you later. Want me to bring anything?
Greg

 

Sender: Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Re: Case

To Greg,
I will ask Anthea to provide your favourite beer.
Kind regards
Mycroft Holmes

 

Greg sat back in his chair. He hadn’t expected that to happen so quickly. It was just a dinner and a chat. Friends. They were friends and like friends, they were having dinner and a beer or two and a talk about a case. Because mates did that.

Greg got home and showered, pulling on a t-shirt and some jeans. He put on some aftershave, but he decided not to put too much effort into his appearance. It was late, he was tired, and he just wanted to be comfortable.

He walked to Mycroft’s flat, enjoying the light breeze as night only just began to fall. Greg loved London. Sometimes he wondered where his natural parents had come from. Whether they loved London too, or whether London killed them or whether London had destroyed them. Something had happened to them to leave Greg alone in the world. Greg shook those thoughts from his mind. He couldn’t deal with thinking about his parents just now.

He was let into Crusader House with minimum fuss and walked up the flights of stairs until he reached Mycroft’s door. The butler still did not greet him with a friendly smile, but Greg was let through anyway.

Mycroft was in his chair by the fire, a laptop on a table in front of him. He looked up. “Good evening,” he murmured, closing the screen down.

“Hi. Thanks for seeing me,” Greg said. The balcony doors were open and Greg couldn’t resist walking over to them to look out to the street below.

“I took the liberty of ordering us Chinese,” Mycroft informed him.

“That sounds great,” Greg said, turning and grinning. “I’m starving.”

Mycroft smiled. “I’ll fetch you the beer I promised. Unless you would prefer something else?”

“No, beer’s great,” Greg said, setting himself down on the sofa. He adjusted the cushions at his back as Mycroft walked into the kitchen. He returned with a full pint glass and a glass of red wine for himself.

“The food should be here shortly. So, tell me. How can I be of assistance?”

Greg accepted the beer Mycroft handed him. Greg sipped it. Oh that was much, much needed. Anthea had good taste. Greg watched as Mycroft took a seat before he began to speak. “Me and Sherlock have been looking at the Kirkcudbright case. And the one line of enquiry we never followed through originally was the work angle.” Mycroft’s eyes narrowed. Greg winced a bit but kept talking. “A guy like that must have had enemies.” Mycroft didn’t move, his expression remained closed, guarded. Greg shrugged a bit. “Any assistance you can offer…”

“Hadrian Kirkcudbright had enemies all over the world,” Mycroft said abruptly. “He knew things I am not at liberty to disclose. It’s beyond your clearance.”

“Even after I signed those papers?”

“Even after. I am terribly sorry, I’m afraid I can’t be of much help. He was not killed by someone he worked for or with.”

“How do you know?” Greg asked.

“Trust me,” Mycroft said. A knock came at the door. Mycroft stood and Greg followed him with his eyes. He moved with the air of someone in command. Greg fidgeted in his seat. Mycroft took the paper bag. “We can eat in the kitchen,” he said. Greg stood and walked with him, beer in hand.

He sat down at the table, where two plates and cutlery had already been laid out and watched in silence as Mycroft set out some boxes. Greg groaned as he looked down at the selection in between them. “This is a good spread,” he said, spooning some chicken onto his plate.

Mycroft nodded and did the same. Greg glanced at him. Hm. Maybe he shouldn’t have come. Or maybe he should have just been honest and said he wanted to hang out and then subtly asked the question about Kirkcudbright. Greg twirled some noodles around his fork and saw Mycroft use his chopsticks with practised ease.

“He was well-liked at work,” Mycroft said, cutting the silence. “He wasn’t a generous man but he impressed his colleagues.”

“You liked him?” Greg asked, shoving a big piece of chicken into his mouth.

“Yes. I liked the work he did. He was good at it. I only realised what he was doing to his wife just before he was murdered.”

“I didn’t know until Sherlock pointed it out.”

“I didn’t notice until I attended a charity event they were hosting. It was the first time I met her.”

“Was there anyone there you couldn’t get a read on?” Greg asked.

Mycroft shook his head. “I recognised everyone.” Greg nodded and sipped his beer. “I wish I could be of assistance,” Mycroft said.

“It’s alright. I shouldn’t have expected you to just tell me everything.”

Mycroft ate the sweet and sour chicken. Greg spooned some more food onto his plate. Despite the silence between them, Greg didn’t feel uncomfortable. He just enjoyed his food, piling his plate high and savouring the beer.

“How long have you given up for?” Mycroft asked suddenly. Greg looked up.

“Given up what?”

“Smoking.”

“Oh.” Greg laughed. Of course Mycroft knew. “As long as Sherlock stays off the drugs.” Mycroft nodded and looked back down at his food. “You okay?”

“Yes, of course.”

Greg tilted his head at him.

“It’s nothing,” Mycroft murmured.

“What’s nothing?” Greg asked.

Mycroft sighed. “A minor crisis made worse by a Slovakian diplomat.”

“Did you sort it out?” Greg asked, genuinely interested. He’d never heard any real specifics of Mycroft’s work. This was something different to the murder of the wife of a Russian spy, and he was fascinated.

“Barely,” Mycroft said.

“What happened?”

“How much do you know about the Montenegrin independence referendum?”

Greg almost snorted in amusement. “There’s an independence referendum?” he asked, putting his cutlery down.

Rather than looking exasperated like Sherlock would have done, Mycroft smiled warmly at him. “Shall we move to somewhere a bit more comfortable?”

“Yeah, sure.” Greg stood up and finished his beer.

“Would you like another?” Mycroft asked, walking to the fridge. Greg nodded.

“Yeah, cheers.” He watched as Mycroft retrieved a bottle, opening it quickly. He took hold of the glass in Greg’s hand, his fingers resting on top of Greg’s as he tilted it to the perfect angle, pouring the beverage to leave just the the right amount of head on top. “That was impressive,” Greg said as Mycroft removed his hand, and he could still feel the warmth from his fingers, contrasting with the chill through the glass. Greg couldn’t believe how just the smallest touches left him craving so much more.

“Good,” Mycroft said as he topped up his wine. Greg followed him through to the living room and took his usual spot on the sofa. Mycroft sat in the chair opposite.

Greg smiled. “So. The referendum.”

Mycroft frowned. “You’re truly interested?”

“Yeah, I am. I want to know what happens in your life. So. Day in the life of Mycroft Holmes. Go.”

Mycroft chuckled. “Some background, I feel, is appropriate.”

Deciding Mycroft was unlikely to join him on the sofa, Greg slipped his shoes off, adjusting the cushions against the chair arm and stretching his legs along the length of sofa. Mycroft laughed at him. “Incorrigible,” he smiled, pressing two fingers together under his chin. It took all of Greg’s inner power not to laugh at how Sherlock-like that action was.

Mycroft sipped his wine. “Serbia and Montenegro was, until yesterday, a country formed from the two remaining republics of Yugoslavia, following its break-up in 1992. It was a federation, and later, three years ago, became a state union. The Montenegrin independence referendum has now been held, and the public voted in favour of independence, to each become separate states.”

Greg took a sip of his beer, watching Mycroft intently. He liked how animated his face got when he was explaining. But his hands remained steady. While many people over-gestured while they were speaking, he did so calmly.

“I explained to you how my work was diverging into international matters?” Mycroft asked.

“Yeah, you did,” Greg said.

Mycroft nodded, frowning for a moment. “The process, of course, has not been a simple one. I and a few others have been working alongside the British Europe Minister to ensure it is held correctly and legally, to allow an easy transition if independence was the preferred choice of the electorate. You understand, that if it was to become a new state, the rest of the world must recognise it. The rest of the world must, therefore, recognise its elections to have been legal.”

Greg nodded. “Sure, I get that.”

“There were disagreements over the threshold for independence. One European envoy suggested a 55% majority, with a minimum turn-out of 50%. That was eventually agreed upon, though not without a great amount of work behind the scenes by a number of people.”

“What happened?” Greg asked.

“The referendum was narrowly-won in favour of independence. Those favouring independence were polling at 55.4%. But the head of the referendum commission was unwilling to call it because there were still 19,000 votes disputed.”

“Thats… a lot of votes,” Greg said.

Mycroft hesitated. “Not too many. So, that is the background.”

“Where did you get involved?”

“The country of Montenegro has yet to be recognised because it is yet to formally announce its independence.”

“Why’s it taking so long?”

Mycroft smiled. “At the heart of the matter is a comment from a diplomat, made both in error and stupidity. And someone has to clean up the mess before Montenegro formally announces its independence and the United Kingdom is incapable of recognising it.”

“Some mess,” Greg muttered.

“Quite,” Mycroft agreed. “The specifics of it are-”

“-Classified, I know-”

“-Dull,” Mycroft said.

Greg laughed. “Dull?”

Mycroft smiled. “Yes. I can tell you if you’d like, but it’s tedious. I’m sure I have much better stories.”

Greg smiled at him, relaxing into the sofa. “I think what you do is pretty interesting.”

“You don’t know the half of it.”

“Nah, maybe not. Hey, you’ve never organised a hit, have you?”

Mycroft chuckled. “What did Sherlock say now?”

Greg grinned. “I think he reckons you’re running the whole country single-handedly.”

“Ridiculous,” Mycroft smiled.

“So, when you’ve solved the crisis of Montenegro. What’s next?”

“I’m not sure. I can be juggling two or three items or 30 simultaneously, one day to the next.”

“Anthea’s pretty important then?” Greg asked.

“Crucial,” Mycroft confirmed.

“Where’d you meet her?”

“I’m afraid I can’t divulge that information.”

Greg grinned. “I’m getting used to that.” Greg glanced at his watch. “I should probably be off. I’ve got an early start tomorrow. We’ve tracked down a suspect for one of those cold cases I gave Sherlock.”

“I’m glad he’s been helpful.”

“Yeah, me too.” Greg took a long sip of beer before standing up. Mycroft smiled at him from the chair. “Well, goodnight. Have a good day tomorrow, don’t start any wars or anything.”

Mycroft laughed. “I assure you, that is the least of my concerns.”

Greg laughed. “It worries me that I almost believe that’s true.” He grinned.

“Would you like the car?”

“No, I’ll walk, but thanks. See you sometime. Don’t be a stranger, yeah?”

Mycroft smiled tightly and Greg nodded at him before walking to the door. Part of him wished Mycroft would call him back. He never did, so Greg never turned around. He walked out of the flat. Should have kissed him, should have kissed him, his head chanted. Shut up head, Greg thought to himself. 

 


 

Nothing was different about June 7, 2006. Greg got up, Greg showered, Greg put on a nicotine patch (29 days down), Greg got dressed and Greg went to work.

It was a pleasant walk. Greg carried his jacket, pondering his lunch options.

He got to the Yard. When Greg got in, he headed straight to his office. He checked the overnight logs. It had been a quiet evening. He hadn’t been left with much paperwork. He checked his diary, his emails (only seven overnight, result). He browsed BBC News, then got up to speak to Sally.

She was on the phone, a stony expression on her face.

“You alright?” Greg mouthed to her, walking over to her desk.

She picked up a pen and scribbled on her notebook as she asked for a telephone number on the phone.

Greg looked at the note.

Kid’s body, beaten and killed.

Greg closed his eyes, swallowing. Oh God, Christ, no. Please no. Sally looked up at him as she continued to listen on the phone. Greg sunk down into Edmund’s usual chair. He listened as Sally took more details before she hung up.

“The body was discovered during the shift crossover,” she said. “Half our team were there and half of Carter’s.”

“So, who’s got it?”

“We have, sir?”

“Why the bloody hell have we got it?” Greg asked, frowning.

“Because they’re going to bed, sir.”

Greg rubbed his face. “Shit.”

“The body has been taken to Bart’s. Forensics are on the scene, do you want the detai-”

Greg cut her off quickly. “-No. No, I don’t.”

Sally bit her lip. “Carter said if you needed to be taken off this one, he’d lead it for you. He said… He said you’d know why he was making the offer.”

Greg shook his head. He felt sick, the familiar tightness in his chest was almost overwhelming. But no way was Carter taking over. “No, I can do it. I can do it. I just need a minute.” He stood and walked to his office, though his head was spinning. He closed the door and beat his fist against the wall. He closed his eyes. It wasn’t like he’d not come across similar child cases since the first one. Since… since him.

But not one that sounded so similar, just so… Greg swallowed. Sometimes he hated the world with every ounce of his being. He gave himself 10 seconds to calm down, to try and swallow back the sickness he felt in his stomach. He sat down at his desk. And tried to work.

He went through the rest of the day in a daze. It took him half an hour to build the courage to start going through the notes. Another half an hour to text Carter and tell him he and his team would take the case. An hour until he finally had the stomach to look at the crime scene photos.

He was aware Sally was working on the case like she would tackle any other. She was speaking to the family, she had officers out doing jobs. Greg was on some sort of horrible autopilot, where he wasn’t functioning or acting like he should have been. He poured himself a coffee. He genuinely thought he’d got over all of this. It was such a long time ago. He tilted his head back, closing his eyes and rubbing his hands over his face.

Sally walked into his office and closed the door. “You alright, sir?” she asked.

Greg looked up at her. “Not brilliant, but I’ll be much better if we catch the arsehole who did this. Are you alright?”

“Glad I wasn’t on duty.”

Greg nodded. Him too.

“Lestrade, you don’t have to tell me. But what did Carter mean? Why did he offer to take the case?”

“It’s nothing. I’m more than capable of doing it. We need to treat it like any other case.”

“It’s not though, is it?” Sally asked.

Greg shook his head. “Media attention will be massive. And it’s hard to stomach at times. I’m sorry I’ve not been fully with this so far this morning. I’m better now. Where we at?”

Sally presented Greg with all the facts they had so far. The interview with the parents, the CCTV they’d requested which would take a few hours to come through, the evidence Bart’s had pulled together so far.

At 4.55pm, Greg lit a cigarette near the bike rack. He felt some of the tension drain away, just for a few perfect minutes where all that mattered was the nicotine and the way it shut off his brain for a few blissful moments of release.

That would have to be the second Sherlock strolled towards the Yard. He raised his eyebrows at Greg from across the car park, disdain written across his face. Greg knew instantly he’d broken his trust. Greg dropped the cigarette and stomped it out. Sherlock folded his arms.

Greg sighed and walked over. “Look, I’ve had a fucking terrible day,” he said. “Don’t lecture me right now, Sherlock.”

Sherlock eyed him for a few moments before he spoke. “I’m offering to help,” Sherlock finally told him.

Greg nodded and whispered. “Thank you.” Sherlock followed him into the Yard. They sat in silence for the next hour going over the facts. Sherlock left without a word at 6.12pm.

Everything was different about June 7, 2006. Greg left work as late as he could, Greg had three beers in quick succession, Greg had another cigarette (I’m sorry I lapsed, Sherlock), Greg changed into some shorts and a t-shirt and he opened the windows, hoping the wind would blow the thoughts straight out of his head.

He stared out at the street, his arms wrapped tightly over his chest. His head was telling him to go to bed, but he knew what would be haunting his dreams all night.

A knock on the door lifted him from his thoughts, and he frowned, padding over to the door. He opened it and felt his mouth drop when he saw Mycroft there, an umbrella in one hand, a bottle of scotch in the other.

“Good evening,” Mycroft murmured, holding the drink up.

“You didn’t have to,” Greg mumbled, stepping aside to let the other man in. Mycroft leaned his umbrella against the wall and carried the bottle through to the kitchen.

“Nonsense. Sherlock told me you had a cigarette. He was quite unimpressed, I assure you.”

Greg slumped down on the sofa, listening as Mycroft pottered around in his kitchen. He didn’t want company. He really wasn’t in the mood. He automatically lifted his hand as Mycroft handed him the glass and he took a long sip.

Mycroft sat down on the opposite sofa, watching him. “I’m sorry, Greg,” he said.

Greg shook his head, staring at his knees. “Just need to catch them.”

He felt Mycroft’s eyes on him, but he didn’t look up. A few minutes of silence passed between them, in which Greg felt like he was a zoo animal, observed as part of some horrible experiment.

Finally Mycroft spoke. “If you need me to look over the case, ask.”

“And what are you going to do about it, Mycroft?” Greg snapped, looking up at him. “Take it off me? I’m not that fucking incompetent.” Anger pumped through his veins.

“That isn’t what I-”

“-What are you doing here?”

“I heard about your case. I knew it must have affected you.”

“You and your bloody deductions,” Greg muttered, not willing to admit he was enjoying the scotch, even as it burnt the back of his throat. He looked up at Mycroft. The man’s expression hadn’t changed, but he seemed… well, maybe there was a faint trace of concern there, if Greg squinted really hard. He’d brought the scotch over. Hell, he’d brought himself over. “Sorry. I’m just…” Greg shook his head. He didn’t exactly know what he was, except fucking miserable.

“I know,” Mycroft said, compassion in his tone. Greg leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes.

He opened them again quickly, when the images of the crime scene were all he could see. “When it’s a kid, it’s worse,” Greg explained, his voice quiet.

Mycroft nodded. “What can I do?”

Greg shook his head. “Nothing. There’s nothing. It’s just a case me and my team need to solve. Just like every other case.” Greg swallowed. He looked up at Mycroft again. Why the hell was he here? “Is this a friendly visit? Or is this a sex visit? I need to know the difference, because I don’t want to make things awkward.”

Mycroft raised his eyebrows. “I didn’t-”

Greg held his hands up. “-I know. I’ve had a really shit day, Mycroft. And you’re here in that suit. With scotch. And to be honest, I’m not really good company right now if you’re here on a friendly visit.”

Mycroft nodded. “I understand.”

“I’m a bit drunk, I won’t lie.”

“I know.”

Greg swallowed, and looked him up and down. “And I really want you right now.”

Mycroft looked up at him, intense eyes staring into Greg’s soul. He finally replied. “As do I.”

Greg felt his breath catch and he stood up, putting the scotch down on the table between them. He looked at Mycroft, who held his gaze. Greg could feel his heart beating, his skin heating. His mouth was dry. He licked his lips as he looked down at that well-dressed man in front of him. Greg felt the overwhelming urge to smash their lips together. Mycroft’s eyes were wide, assessing, watching.

“Take your tie off,” Greg said firmly. Mycroft’s hands stayed still for a second and Greg was sure he was about to tell him no, before he moved his hands to his tie, slowly loosening it and pulling it free of his collar. “And the jacket,” Greg added.

Mycroft leaned forward as he slipped it off his shoulders. The jacket slid off his shoulders easily, and he placed it down onto the side of the chair. He didn’t look away from Greg for a second. “Waistcoat,” Greg muttered. He bit his bottom lip as he dictated how Mycroft should undress in front of him, amazed he was following the instructions.

Mycroft began to unfasten the buttons. Greg swallowed. The waistcoat was folded and placed on top of the jacket. “Oh fuck,” Greg said as he couldn’t wait any longer and he walked over to Mycroft. He straddled his lap. Mycroft must have anticipated his actions as one arm wrapped around his back immediately. A hand tangled in Greg’s hair. The other ventured under his t-shirt as their mouths slammed together.

Heady. Hard. Heated. Mycroft bit Greg’s bottom lip, Greg moaned, heard it, somewhere around his consciousness. Lost. Just lost in a moment. Needing. Desperately needing.

Mycroft’s nails scratched at Greg’s back. Someone, him, Mycroft, wasn’t sure, was pushing down his shorts, Mycroft’s hand. On his cock. A sharp nip to his neck, a kiss, a bit of tongue. A hard kiss, tongues meeting, teeth clang, shit sorry, my fault.

Greg pulled Mycroft’s shirt free of his trousers. It took a hard tug. He unfastened Mycroft’s belt as quickly as he could, his hands shaking. He dropped it on the floor. Mycroft kissed him hard, Greg groaned into it, leaning into Mycroft’s touch as his hand found a nipple. They kissed like it was a war. Unrelenting and desperate. Neither surrendered.

It was all too much, yet not enough at all. “Bed,” Greg finally muttered, pulling away from Mycroft’s wonderful hands. He slid onto the sofa, before standing up, brushing a hand through his hair. Mycroft was breathing hard and accepted his hand, standing with him.

Swallowing his nerves and the anticipation of what might happen, Greg led him towards the bedroom, his heart thumping in his chest. He lifted a hand to touch the door handle, but he turned, looked at Mycroft, stared at his flushed cheeks. Gorgeous. And he needed it.

Greg let go of the handle, stepped back towards him - that stunning man - and kissed him again, a hand reaching for his arse and grabbing. Mycroft’s arms wound around him, and Greg shuffled backward. Greg found his back flush against the wall. His hands were tangled in Mycroft’s shirt, Mycroft pushing down his shorts and underwear and wrapping a hand around him.

Greg shuddered, a low groan leaving his mouth. He undid Mycroft’s trousers as fast as he could through trembling fingers, pressed his hand against his prick over the silk of his boxers, a wet patch under his thumb. Mycroft’s cock was hot, throbbing. It took all of Greg’s self-control not to come at the feel of Mycroft in his hand. Greg slid his hand inside the fabric, Mycroft gasped.

They kissed. Greg’s lips were swollen and sore, but he kissed like he would die without it. Mycroft’s teeth found his neck. Light traces of stubble rough against the delicate skin, scratching, contrasted with soft lips, wet tongue and their bodies pressed together, like a jigsaw, fitting. Hand around each other’s cock, mouth’s connected, panting, desire, desperation, and God, and fuck and bloody Christ, Greg’s mouth connected to Mycroft’s with frenzied kisses. He needed release, release from everything. The day had been too much, his head was full of screaming and misery. And he was climbing, reaching, peaking, Mycroft’s hand stilling on his cock after he came. Released.

Greg kept up the movement of his hand on Mycroft’s prick, half-unaware of what he was doing as Mycroft’s load spilled over his fingers and his teeth found Greg’s neck. Mycroft’s knees shook and Greg’s arms wrapped around his waist, holding him there. It wasn’t a hug, not really, it was necessary, it was clinging on for dear life as they got their breaths back.

Greg’s heart pounded. He closed his eyes, a blissful fog in his mind as all he could concentrate on was a hot, shuddering body pressed against his.

Greg pressed his forehead to Mycroft’s shoulder and chuckled a little. “So, we didn’t exactly make it to bed,” he muttered, his voice muffled in Mycroft’s shirt.

Mycroft chuckled lightly, his cheek on Greg’s shoulder. Greg tightened his hold on him. Mycroft lifted his head and Greg looked up at him, his face perfectly relaxed. Greg brushed his bruised lips against Mycroft’s in a lazy kiss. Mycroft’s mouth moved against his to lightly kiss the corner of Greg’s lips.

“How are you?” Mycroft asked, pulling back to pull up his trousers. Greg bent down to do the same with his shorts.

The fog was beginning to lift. The stress seeping back inside his pores. His limbs felt heavy.“Like I could probably sleep,” Greg admitted. “So. Thanks. I didn’t think I ever would.”

Mycroft moved to the sofa, taking a sip of the scotch he’d poured Greg. Greg moved and took a seat beside him. Mycroft looked at him. “What happened to make this case so awful?”

“It’s a kid.”

Mycroft looked at him. “No, I mean, what happened to you?” His tone was almost gentle, but not quite.

Greg shook his head. “Nothing.”

“You’ve never lied to me before, Greg. Let’s not start now, shall we?” Mycroft asked, his voice sharp.

Greg looked down at his knees. He took the scotch from Mycroft’s hand and finished it. Greg felt the other man’s eyes on him, not looking away. Greg shook his head. “Fine. There’s stuff. But I can’t talk about it.”

“Have you ever spoken about it?” Mycroft asked.

Oh God no, why would he? “No. I mean, people know about it.”

“Your colleagues,” Mycroft said.

“And Caroline.”

Mycroft nodded.

Greg set the glass down on the table. He couldn’t look at Mycroft. “Look, it was years ago, alright? It was a case, it bothered me, I took some time off, I got over it.”

“Evidently not.”

“Stuff happens to people,” Greg said. “It’s not always good stuff.”

Mycroft nodded. “Mm.”

Greg rubbed his face. “I’m alright.”

“Very well,” Mycroft murmured. “I should leave.”

“Alright,” Greg replied stiffly.

There was a small pause before Mycroft asked: “Will you be okay?”

Greg nodded. He had to be. “Yeah.”

Mycroft stood, putting his tie back on and smoothing down his jacket after he had dressed. He looked at Greg, his eyes drifting over his face and his body. “Sleep in your bed, Greg. Not on the sofa, you’ll give yourself a bad back.” Greg frowned at him. “You always sleep on the sofa when you’re miserable,” Mycroft explained.

“How the hell do you know these things?”

Mycroft just smiled tightly at him. “Goodnight.”

Greg kept frowning but nodded. “Yeah. Night.”

He watched Mycroft walk to the door and he sighed. Mycroft hesitated for a second. Greg tilted his head. “What?” he asked roughly.

He saw Mycroft’s shoulders lift and fall as he took a long breath before speaking. “This cannot continue."

Greg rolled his eyes. “What can’t?”

“Our… arrangement.”

“For God’s sake,” Greg muttered. He leaned forward on the sofa. “And why is that, exactly?”

“It is affecting our working relationship.”

“What working relationship? We don’t work together.”

Mycroft turned round to face him. “It will bother Sherlock.”

“You breathing bothers Sherlock. What’s really the problem?”

“I haven’t had sex with anyone for five years,” Mycroft said plainly. He said it so resolutely, but Greg saw the tension in his jaw. The way he held his chin out, defiantly - a defiant smokescreen for some other emotion.

Greg folded his arms over his chest. “Well, I haven’t had sex with a bloke in nearly 20 years. What’s the problem?”

“You said so yourself, Greg. The lines between friendship and sex are blurred.”

Greg shrugged. “No they’re not. It’s not like we’re falling asleep together.”

Mycroft watched him. “I’m using you, Greg. I have no desire to become emotionally intimate.”

He was using Greg? Wasn’t that ironic when Greg had needed sex with him so much a few moments ago just to make the pain go away. “That’s fine, because I’m using you too,” Greg said evenly.

“Very well,” Mycroft murmured.

“Very well what?”

“If you want to see me, you only need to ask,” Mycroft said, his mouth a cold line.

Greg nodded. “Alright. Likewise.”

“I won’t always be able to accept.”

“Neither will I,” Greg said.

“So, that’s settled.”

“Yup.”

“I will be in contact.”

Greg nodded. “Good. Me too.”

“Goodnight, Greg.”

“Night.”

Mycroft turned and walked out of Greg’s flat. Greg slumped back into the sofa. That was odd. But okay. Arrangement sorted. He stretched out over his sofa and pulled the throw over himself. He’d just rest here, just for a few moments… 

Chapter Text

June, 2006

Greg woke up with a start at 4.07am, his body coated in sweat and breathing hard. His dream had left him feeling nauseous and he squeezed his eyes shut to try and block it out. The image of that eight year old child was fading now, but he could still feel the trappings of the dream, edging around his consciousness. As Mycroft had promised, his back hurt from lying on the sofa and he was horribly uncomfortable. Groaning, he slid off the chair, wrapping the throw tightly around himself as he shuffled into the bedroom. He slid under the covers but he didn’t want to fall asleep. He didn’t want to see the boy again.

He leaned over and turned the lamp on, rolling his shoulders. He didn’t want the case to affect him like this. He wanted to treat it like he would any other, but it never was. Not just because it was a kid, but because it was likely to have been done by someone close to him. A family member. They couldn’t rule out anyone, not even the parents, even with the interviews they had already carried out.

Greg picked up his phone and put it down again. He was awake now, might as well get up. After showering and dressing he left straight away to go to work.

He told himself he was going to cut himself out of the case. He needed to maintain full professionalism, and that meant not caring about the kid. It meant cutting out the anger he felt and looking at it objectively.

And so he began to watch the CCTV CDs which had been left on his desk.

 


 

His team started arriving at 7.30am. Sally walked into his office when she got there, bringing him a coffee in the Bunny Suicide mug. Greg glanced at it and couldn’t help his smile as he remembered the last time Mycroft had drunk from it.

“You seem better,” Sally said.

Greg shrugged. “A bit. I’ve been watching the CCTV from the streets around the scene and there hasn’t been any…” He glanced at the computer. His shoulders sunk. “Holy shit.”

Sally walked around to look over his shoulder. Greg heard her sigh beside him. “That’s the mum,” she said. Greg rubbed his head.

“It’s the mum. Has someone checked out her alibi yet?”

Sally shook her head. “The phone number for the friend kept going to voicemail.”

“It’s the mum,” Greg said again, leaning back in his chair. It was surprising in a way, but not unexpected it was a family member. “Do you think the dad knew?”

“No,” Sally said.

“Christ, poor bloke.”

“I’ll put a call into forensics and see what they’ve got from the scene,” Sally told him. “We’ll pick the mum up and bring her in in half an hour.”

Greg smiled gratefully at her. “You’ve been great during this.”

“Let’s just get a charge and conviction and I’ll be happy.”

Greg nodded and rewound the CCTV. “I’ll keep looking at this. There’s a few more streets we might have some video from. I’ll get all the details together for when we question her.”

“You and me?” Sally asked.

Greg nodded. “You and me.”

 


 

There was never any justice in a case involving the murder of a child. Even with the perpetrator locked away, there was no good there. Just a death, far too soon, and a family torn into a thousand shreds. But wrapping it up brought closure to a difficult situation, and Greg and Sally worked long into the night to get the details together to give to the Magistrates’ Court for the following morning.

By the time the sun rose, the arrest of the mother was all over the front of most of the papers. Greg heard she offered no plea in court, and it would be going to the Crown in the next month or two. By then, Greg knew, they’d have everything they would need to pretty much guarantee a conviction. They were mostly there already, it was just about tying the evidence up in a bow and handing it to lawyers to do their jobs.

Greg pressed a fresh nicotine patch to his arm.

Sorting the case without having a big breakdown felt like an achievement considering how he’d reacted when it had first come up.

The next few days went by without incident. Body-less and quiet, they were days Greg clung to, knowing it could all change very suddenly.

 


 

Greg was awoken by his phone ringing at 5.54am. It wasn’t an unusual occurrence, but what was unusual was the identity of the caller. Greg rubbed his eyes before answering. “Lestrade,” he said, his voice sounding unusual to his ears, not quite adjusting to being awake.

“Greg, thank you.” Mycroft sounded relieved over the line.

“Are you alright?” Greg asked, rolling over onto his back. His eyes began to adjust to the light.

“Yes. Fine. Unfortunately this is not a social call.” As if it would be a social call at 5.55am. “We have a situation.”

Greg licked his bottom lip. “Sherlock. Is he-”

“Sherlock’s fine,” Mycroft reassured him quickly. “But there has been a break-in at the National Archives at Kew. A team from Scotland Yard is here, however, I would appreciate it if you could cast your eye over the scene.”

Greg frowned. “It’s not really my call, Mycroft. If there’s a team already there then…”

“I’ll smooth it over,” Mycroft said. “Can you come?”

Greg sighed and rolled over in bed. He looked at the time. “Yeah, give me half an hour. Can you get Sergeant Sally Donovan there as well? If I’m on this, I want my team.”

“Certainly. I await your arrival. Thank you.” Mycroft hung up.

Greg groaned and dragged himself out of bed, stumbling over some clothing he’d left on the floor, and making his way to the bathroom. He had no doubt that whatever strings Mycroft was currently pulling, all the puppets would be in place by the time Greg got there.

He showered, trying to rub his drowsiness out of his head. He savoured the hot water before stepping out, shaving and getting dressed. He had a quick slice of toast before getting in his car and driving to Kew.

Outside the Archives were a number of police cars, as well as a few members of the press. Greg got out of the car and walked towards the building, flashing his badge. He was led to a reception area where Anthea was waiting for him. “Detective Inspector,” she said, her face blank. “Follow me and I’ll explain what we’re doing.” Greg stepped beside her, letting her lead him through a room full of bookcases.

“The National Archives is the official archive and publisher for the Government,” Anthea explained. “There are documents dating back more than 1,000 years. It collects digital and paper records. Last night, security cameras were switched off at 2.11am. They were turned on again exactly 20 minutes later. We can’t be sure what was taken yet, but all the evidence points to documents which are not yet available to the public.”

“Secret documents?”

“Unreleased documents,” Anthea corrected. Greg saw Mycroft stood by a wall, watching as officers carried out some forensics tests. Greg waved at him and Mycroft nodded his head. “I’ll leave Mr Holmes to explain everything you need to know,” Anthea said, walking back the way she had come.

Greg strolled over to Mycroft. “Hello.”

“Good morning, Greg. Thank you for coming so swiftly.”

“No problem.” Greg looked around. “What do you need me to do?”

“I want you to run the case.”

“Sure, okay. Any particular reason?”

Mycroft went to speak but at that moment Sally walked over to them, a frown on her face. “What’s going on, Lestrade?” she asked, casting a quick look over at Mycroft.

Greg glanced between them and decided to make the introductions. He decided to hide just how well he knew Mycroft. “Mr Holmes, this is Sergeant Sally Donovan, Sally, this is Mycroft Holmes. He works for the Government.”

“Holmes?” Sally asked. Mycroft held his hand out to her, and she shook it. “Holmes?” she asked again.

“I understand you are acquainted with my brother, Sherlock,” Mycroft said. “I do apologise.”

She laughed a little, still frowning. “Too late for apologies,” she muttered. “Lestrade, what are we doing?”

“We’re taking the case,” Greg said. “I was just finding out some details from Mr Holmes.”

“There is not much to say,” Mycroft said. “But we do believe the documents were classified. I have people working on that particular matter as we speak. Please do your jobs, as you see fit.”

“Are we reporting to you?” Greg asked, frowning.

“No.” Mycroft glanced at Sally. “Detective Inspector, can I take a few moments of your time?”

“Sure.” Greg nodded at Sally and followed Mycroft towards a bookcase. Mycroft glanced around before speaking.

“This is more than an elaborate break-in,” Mycroft murmured, keeping his voice down.

“What d’you mean?”

“I can’t explain it here. Can you come by my office this evening?”

“Which one?”

“The Coeur de Lion Offices.”

“Sure, course I will. So, why did you want me to lead this?”

“Because I trust you,” Mycroft said. “And because our jobs are about to intersect, and I would rather work alongside you than another Inspector.”

Greg nodded. “Okay.”

“I need to get back to work. I’ll see you this evening.”

Mycroft held out his hand and Greg shook it, watching him. He had a feeling the gesture was all for show, but Greg paid it no mind as Mycroft walked away, murmuring “nice to meet you Sergeant Donovan,” as he walked past Sally.

Sally walked towards Greg. “That’s Sherlock’s brother?” she asked, frowning.

“Yup.”

“But. He’s so. Polite.”

Greg grinned. “I know. It’s like they come from different planets.”

“So why is he involved?”

“Government’s worried about the confidential files, I guess,” Greg said. “Time to carry out some interviews. Speak to the security guards, find out who was on duty last night. I need a full timetable of where they’re supposed to be and when.”

 


 

Greg met with the manager of the Archives, finding out about the security measures and protocols. He and Sally spent the day there, interviewing seven security guards, all of whom had long and distinguished records in various jobs and all seemed devastated it could have happened on their watch.

Greg took a huge number of documents back to the Yard with them, each detailing how files were kept guarded. He paid particular attention to the protection of classified files and priceless documents which were hundreds of years old, as each were the most important to the Archive and therefore the most tightly controlled.

He heard there were some questions being asked on the news about how this could have happened and whether some of the nation’s most important documents were safe after all.

Edmund walked into his office with a box of iced buns and Greg took one from him with a thanks. “I was at court for one of old cold cases today,” Edmund said, sitting across from Greg.

“How’d we do?” Greg asked, sipping his coffee.

“Prosecution lawyer is doing a good job presenting our evidence. I think we’ll get it.”

“Never know with juries,” Greg said, taking a bite of the bun.

“The case is solid, sir.”

“You did a good job on that one,” Greg said, looking up at him. “Look. I know it was disappointing, not to get Sergeant. But if you keep doing stuff like on this cold case, you’ll get there.”

“Sherlock Holmes did all the work, sir.”

“Yeah, but you pulled a case together. You got us the evidence. Sherlock Holmes is a genius, he sees things we don’t. But the police force wouldn’t work if every officer was just like him.” Edmund stayed quiet and Greg turned to the map of the National Archives. He shook his head. “What’s the point of CCTV if someone can find a way of shutting it down? First the Kirkcudbright case and now this one…”

Edmund frowned. “Weird that we have two cases like that at the same time.”

“I know,” Greg said. “I’m not sure how often that happens.”

Edmund shrugged. “Why have we got this one anyway? I don’t understand. It seems too big for us.”

Greg glanced up at him. “Someone has to do it,” he said. “We’ll be working with a lot of other agencies I expect. Depends how secret those documents were.” Greg glanced at the time. “Look, I’ve got to go, I’ve got a meeting to go to. Don’t stay too long tonight, yeah?”

Edmund nodded and stood up. “Sure, sir.”

Greg shut down his computer and frowned. “Ed, is everything alright?”

Edmund nodded. “Course.”

Greg smiled at him and stood up, collecting his phone and wallet. He patted Edmund on the shoulder and held the door to his office open as they both walked out. He strolled to his car, sliding in and turning on the radio.

He found a car parking space not too far from the Coeur de Lion Offices and he found the security card he had been given last time. One flash to the security was all he needed to gain entrance to the building and after a quick walk through the metal detector he was left to his own devices to find Mycroft’s office.

A few of Mycroft’s ‘underlings’ were sat at their desks this time, each typing on computers in resolute silence. One was listening on a phone but not saying a word. They were quite robotic in their actions and although Greg felt their eyes on him, none of them said a word.

Greg knocked on Mycroft’s door, and it was opened a few moments later by Anthea who had a grave expression on her face. “Everything alright?” Greg asked as he looked at her.

“Nothing we can’t handle,” she said, stepping aside to let him into the office. She turned to look at her boss. “I’ll go out and set up a meeting.”

Mycroft nodded and looked up from his laptop and at Greg for the first time. “Do come in,” he said. His face appeared tight and drawn.

“What’s going on?” Greg asked as he took a seat opposite. Mycroft waited until Anthea had shut the door before speaking.

“We found out what files are missing,” Mycroft explained.

“Is it bad?” Greg asked.

Mycroft hesitated. “Yes, I suppose so. And strange. Would you like a drink?”

“I wouldn’t say no to a coffee actually,” Greg said. Mycroft typed something onto his computer.

“It’s on it’s way,” Mycroft said. “First, please tell me about your day. What did you find out?”

“Not much,” Greg conceded. “We interviewed the security guards and to be honest, all of them seemed really affected by it all. You get a feel for people sometimes, and they seemed to be feeling guilty for something it doesn’t look like they had a lot of control over. They weren’t told the CCTV had gone out. And they were all in the right places during their shifts.”

“Can you work out who turned off the cameras?”

Greg shook his head. “We’re looking into where it’s all controlled and who has access to it.”

Mycroft pressed his lips together and looked up as a man walked in with a tray. It was beautifully laid out, with a stainless steel cafetiere, a cup and saucer, a small jug and a sugar pot. The man laid it down on the table. “Shall I pour, sir?” he asked.

“No, that’s quite alright,” Mycroft said. “Thank you.”

Greg thought the man almost bowed his head before he scurried out of the room. “That’s amazing,” Greg said, looking at the neatly laid out tray. Mycroft smiled and pressed down the plunger of the cafetiere.

“You will have to tell me what you think of the coffee. It’s a new blend we have not had in the office before,” Mycroft told him as he took control over pouring their drinks. Mycroft had chosen a tea.

Greg accepted the mug and inhaled the coffee scent. It was rich and bitter and heavenly. “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy coffee again after this,” Greg muttered.

Mycroft smiled at him and sipped his tea. “The files were classified,” he said. The stony look returned to his face.

“How bad is it?” Greg asked.

“The documents in themselves are not particularly interesting. I don’t think their release would lead to any particular embarrassment.”

“Then what’s weird about it?” Greg asked.

Mycroft took a long pause before speaking. “The meeting in question was the first Government meeting I ever attended.”

Greg looked up at him. “That is a bit weird.”

“Yes,” Mycroft agreed. “I am not on a Government salary, Greg. I am an employee, officially, of MI5. And so my name has never been in the public domain before.”

Greg frowned. “Never?”

“No. What interest is there in a civil servant in the Department of Transport?”

“I take your point,” Greg said. “But there are a lot of people who know you, surely?”

“Yes, but they don’t often appreciate my full range of responsibilities.”

“What was the meeting?” Greg asked.

“The consideration of the threat to the United Kingdom if it were to engage in patrolling no-fly zones in Iraq.”

Greg frowned. “That was your first meeting?”

“I was there not as a Government official, but as someone with experience both in MI5 and MI6. The meeting itself was primarily looking at potential outcomes and risks. We were not condoning or confirming a particular military strategy but rather doing mathematics.”

“Maths?”

“Probability,” Mycroft corrected.

“Well, I can see why people would be interested in reading about it,” Greg said. “People talk about the Iraq war a bit.”

“Yes, I suppose the idea a meeting happened at all would be of interest. My recollection, however, is that much of the meeting was unrecorded. It was not an official gathering. There was an agenda and a set of minutes, but they were not comprehensive. My name will, however, be on them.”

“In what job?” Greg asked.

“What do you mean?”

“How are you listed? As an expert or what?”

“Oh. I believe I was cited as an adviser on national and international security matters. Not even regarded as an expert.” Mycroft looked put out at this.

“Is it bad? If your name gets thrown up?” Greg asked.

“In the short-term I very much doubt it. It is the mid-term and long-term which concerns me.”

“Do you think that file was picked on purpose?”

“Almost certainly. It was in a large box containing minutes from other similar meetings. It was the only one taken. When given the opportunity to sell a number of documents to the national papers, wouldn’t you take more than one?”

“Yeah, I would,” Greg agreed, leaning on the desk.

“Exactly.”

Greg frowned, tapping a finger on the table.

“It will be leaked,” Mycroft said. “I imagine it will be put onto the internet and seized upon by whichever paper pays the most and they will claim they found it for themselves.”

“It might not be a big deal. You’re just a name.”

“Perhaps,” Mycroft said. “It’s impossible to be certain.”

“We’ll keep plugging away our end. We’ve got loads of leads to chase at the moment.”

“Anthea will keep you up to date with what we unearth,” Mycroft said, sipping his tea. “I would prefer if you don’t share the nature of the document with your colleagues just at present. It is best for all concerned if we don’t share how closely we are working together.”

Greg nodded. “That’s fine.” He took a long sip of his coffee, savouring its rich flavour. Mycroft was looking at his laptop. “How late are you working tonight?” Greg asked.

“Quite a while yet,” Mycroft said. “The break-in took priority this morning, but it’s thrown everything else off schedule.”

“So, what do we do now? Wait and see what happens?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. It will be published. It’s about waiting for when and where. This theft isn’t just about who. It is about why.”

Greg nodded. “Yeah, I get that,” he said, finishing his drink. “I’ll leave you to it.”

Mycroft smiled tiredly at him. “I hope to finish work at a reasonable time on Friday.”

Greg frowned at him for a second. “Friday? You want to do something?”

“Perhaps,” Mycroft said.

Greg smiled and stood up, putting his mug back onto the tray. “Sounds good, if you’re free. Just let me know, yeah?”

Mycroft nodded.

“Don’t worry, okay?” Greg said as he reached the door. “I’m sure it won’t be a disaster, whatever happens.”

Mycroft smiled tightly at him. “Goodnight, Greg.”

“Night, Mycroft,” Greg smiled and walked out of the office. Anthea glanced up at him as he walked out and gave him a once over before returning to her phone. Greg nodded at her before walking down the stairs and leaving the offices.

He drove home, thinking about what Mycroft had told him. He didn’t think he completely understood the magnitude of the document or what it meant for Mycroft, and the man certainly hadn’t seemed like he was in a mood to explain. He’d been perfectly civil actually, but there was a tension on his face which made Greg uncomfortable. Mycroft himself didn’t seem to know what the outcome would be of the document’s publication. And his uncertainty over why it had happened bothered Greg more than he wanted to let on.

He didn’t like seeing Mycroft unsure about anything. He was usually so certain, like he’d weighed up every outcome. He always seemed to know what was going to happen next, whether it was Greg kissing him, or the result of a referendum.

Greg got into bed, his mind racing but he somehow managed to drift off to sleep.

 


 

Greg wanted to do everything he could to help Mycroft, which is why he got to work early to start assessing the 24 hours of CCTV footage they’d pulled from the inside and outside of the building. He also had pages of security notes to plough through.

An email from Sally, sent from her home address, appeared on his computer. It contained only a link and a quick message saying ‘Here we go. Read this.’

 

A SECRET meeting on threats to the United Kingdom if it were to go to war with Iraq was organised TWO YEARS before the military operation even began, confidential documents leaked onto the internet show today.

Among other details, The Daily Mail can exclusively reveal how:

* Experts believed the probability of an ATTACK on the United Kingdom if it created a no-fly zone over Iraq was 68 per cent.

* Intelligence and security experts briefed back-bench ministers on the risk of TERRORISM in the United Kingdom if it followed the United States’ plan to create a no-fly zone.

* The likelihood of SUCCESS during a war was judged to be only 32 per cent.

* The Prime Minister WAS NOT informed of this meeting, which was held in secret in a Whitehall office.

The meeting was held in December 2001, where members of MI5, MI6, civil servants and ministers sat to discuss the probability of an attack to the United Kingdom if it went to war with Iraq.

The document - stolen from the National Archives at Kew two days ago - has been leaked onto the internet where it is publicly available for download.

Put onto a website called the MORnetwork, the document reveals discussions on the war had been taking place years before the United Kingdom officially announced it would send troops to Iraq.

A Government source exclusively told the Mail: “This document reveals discussions took place outside the public domain of Parliament.

“The document shows unelected officials were responsible for assessing the risk of attack.

“Unelected officials were tasked with assessing how likely British citizens were to being victims of a terrorist attack in a secret meeting not even senior ministers - including the Prime Minister - were aware of.”

 

Greg chewed his lip as he read the story. The headline was big and brash, with STATE SECRETS REVEAL WAR COVER-UP making a big impact on the front page. But Greg felt the story wasn’t an easy one to understand. So what if the secret services were holding meetings? Surely their job was to assess and inform the Government on potential risks? And surely the information was eventually passed onto the Prime Minister anyway?

There was no mention of Mycroft, and Greg hadn’t expected there would be.

But what the hell was the MORnetwork? Greg knew he needed computer experts better than him to figure it out, and the case was bigger than him. Indeed, once his team had sorted through the cameras and everything to come up with a way the break-in might have occurred, he expected it would be passed onto the secret services to figure out what the MORnetwork was. They had the technology to trace it.

Another email popped up.

 

From: Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Story

Dear Greg,
I do not know if you have seen this story: http://www.thedailymail.co.uk/state_secrets_reveal_war_cover_up.htm
The investigation will be handled from my office. I would request you send all your files to Anthea.
I apologise profusely for getting you involved.
Anthea will visit the Yard later today to take your documents. I wish I could come myself, but I will be in briefings all day. I will do my very best to explain when I see you next.
I hope to still be available on Friday. I hope to see you then.
Kindest regards,
Mycroft Holmes.

 

Greg sighed. It wasn’t unexpected. And to be honest, Greg felt over his head. He was happy to hand this one over, and that made a change.

 

To: Holmes, Mycroft:
Subject: Re: Story

Hi Mycroft,
No worries. If you need anything, drop me a line or give me a call. I’ll be in the office all day (unless there’s a murder, obviously).
I’ve got Friday off so let me know,
Cheers,
Greg

 

Greg started collecting the paperwork together. He was concerned. Concerned about Mycroft, and about something else, but he didn’t know what it was. He had a strange sense of foreboding lurking on the edge of his subconscious.

He wouldn’t describe himself as someone who over-thought an issue. He took the pieces together bit by bit as they came, rather than considering what other pieces could emerge in the future. And so all he saw was the break-in, the theft and the leak. But there was more to it, and Mycroft’s expression yesterday and email today told him all he needed to know about the possible threat of something bigger.

Something above him, that was for sure. And maybe something even bigger than Mycroft, or certainly something he wouldn’t be able to get a handle on.

Anthea said very little when she got to the office an hour later. She handed Greg a piece of paper to confirm he was to hand everything over to her. Greg asked her if she needed to wipe his computer and she told him no, without an explanation. Before she left she looked at him.

“I’m very sorry we brought you into this, Detective Inspector,” she said.

“It’s alright,” Greg said.

She nodded at him before leaving with the files. Greg sent an email around his team to explain in light of the leak and the nature of the file, the case was being taken over by another investigating team. He left the email deliberately vague.

None of his team questioned him on it, much to his surprise. Instead they seemed relived it was gone and they could get back to focusing on what they did best: murder.

And there was plenty of that to go around.

 


 

 

In the evening he found an envelope on his mat. He opened it. His divorce had been confirmed. He read the few words enclosed on the letter and ripped it up before throwing it away.

 


 

Greg arrived at Mycroft’s office on the Friday incredibly hungry. He was let in without a fuss at the door and made his way up the stairs. He wore a white shirt with some jeans and was definitely looking forward to seeing where Mycroft had chosen for them to eat that evening. He expected it would be outlandishly expensive, but worth every penny.

He knocked on Mycroft’s door and heard the ‘yes’ call come from inside. As Greg entered, Sherlock was the first person he saw, stood behind Mycroft’s chair. Mycroft looked up from the laptop screen and murmured a ‘good evening’ by way of a greeting.

Greg frowned at them and Sherlock ignored him entirely. “What’s going on?” he asked.

“We will be leaving shortly,” Mycroft told him. “But I need to show you something first.”

Greg nodded. “Okay.”

“Would you like a drink?”

“No, I’m alright.”

Mycroft nodded at him and Greg walked around to stand behind Mycroft. Sherlock was tapping avidly at the keyboard. “What’s this?” Greg asked, peering at the map.

“This is the National Archives on the night of the break in,” Mycroft said, pointing to a dot on the screen. “Move, Sherlock,” he said. Sherlock frowned and skulked to the other side of the desk, slumping down into the chair. Greg leaned on the desk. Mycroft pressed a few buttons. “These green lines show the CCTV camera network, stretching across London. Two minutes later…” Mycroft pressed a button and some of the lines turned red. “The power was turned off here,” he said, pointing to a tiny building on the map.

“What is that?” Greg asked.

“It’s a house containing three flats,” Mycroft said. “It’s deserted.”

“So the cameras were turned off from that house?”

“Hacked,” Sherlock said. “They were hacked into and switched off.”

Mycroft brought up a new document – CCTV images. Greg frowned. He knew that room. “That’s the Kirkcudbright study. How the hell did you get that?” Greg asked, his voice raising slightly. Greg had seen this video a number of times. Hadrian Kirkcudbright reaches for his pen, looks at his desk. The camera goes blank as the power is cut. “You shouldn’t have this,” Greg said. “This is crime scene evidence for God’s sake.”

Sherlock snorted from his seat and Mycroft raised one questioning eyebrow at him. “Mycroft is accumulating power by the day, haven’t you realised that yet, Inspector?” Sherlock questioned, an amused smile on his face.

“Be quiet, Sherlock,” Mycroft said. He brought up another map. “Here is the same map, the moment the cameras were switched off in the Kirkcudbright household. I need to zoom out, I’m afraid.”

He reduced the image, showing more of London. Greg could see the green lines linking the National Archives to the house where the cameras were hacked. Mycroft pressed a button and yellow lines stemmed from the Kirkcudbright estate. And then he pressed a button. And a single red line linked the Kirkcudbright building to the same house.

“Jesus,” Greg muttered, staring at the screen. “You’re making this up. They’re linked?”

“Yes,” Mycroft said.

“It’s not a coincidence?”

“No,” Mycroft agreed.

Greg continued to stare at the screen. “The MORnetwork. Whatever that is.”

“Yes,” Mycroft said. “I have the best people working on the problem as we speak.”

Greg shook his head, standing up straight and leaning against the wall. He nudged the portrait of the Queen with his head, but didn’t bother trying to straighten it. “How the hell did you get the Kirkcudbright CCTV?” Greg questioned. He was angry. He didn’t want to be, but he was, because it was his case and people not in the police shouldn’t have access to it. This bizarre link between the Government and the Yard was wrong. The Government should not be interfering in a case like this.

Of course Mycroft was more than a Government official, he was a spy or something like that, but despite that, despite that, it was all wrong.

“The how and the why is irrelevant. But this is not a mere coincidence, however you assess the problem,” Mycroft informed him.

Greg’s stomach rumbled. He patted it awkwardly.

Mycroft closed down the lid of his laptop, leaning back into his chair. “We have a mutual problem,” he said. “You need to find a killer and I need to find a thief of classified documents.” Greg walked around to the other side of the room and began pacing. Mycroft was watching him, while Sherlock sat disinterested in his chair. “Are you ready to go to dinner?” Mycroft asked him.

Greg frowned. “I guess so,” he muttered.

“We can discuss this tomorrow.” Mycroft stood up. “Sherlock, will you be joining us?”

Sherlock stared at him. “Joining you? Both? At dinner?”

“You are more than welcome,” Mycroft said.

“Not a chance,” Sherlock said, getting out of his seat. “I have far better things to do than watch you both…” He pulled a face, “do whatever it is you do.”

“We don’t do anything,” Greg protested.

Sherlock grabbed his phone from Mycroft’s desk. “Mycroft, instruct your driver to take me home.”

Mycroft stared at him for a few long moments before picking up his phone and requesting a driver take Sherlock back to his flat. Greg watched as Sherlock left, his coat billowing behind him.

Greg folded his arms as Mycroft took his laptop and locked it away in a drawer. “Stop looking so angry, Greg,” Mycroft said. “I’m not taking the Kirkcudbright file off you. You will be able to solve it without the MORnetwork link. I just wanted to impress upon you the importance of us working together on this.”

“Consider me pressed upon,” Greg muttered. Mycroft looked hard at him, raising his eyebrows. Greg pointed at him. “Don’t look at me like that.” Mycroft looked at the portrait of the Queen and straighted it before walking to the door and holding it open. Greg rolled his eyes as he walked through it. “I’m warning you, Mycroft, piss me off again tonight and you can pay for the very expensive lobster I’m going to order.” His remarks caught the attention of one or two of Mycroft’s minions who probably had never seen a man mutter to Mycroft in that way in their whole working lives.

Greg followed Mycroft silently out of the building and slid into the car. Greg turned and looked at him. Oh, if looks could kill… “What was that?” Mycroft questioned through gritted teeth.

“It was a comment directed at the fact that you walk around like you can do whatever you want. And maybe you can, I don’t know. But I’m not going to sit there and say it’s okay for you to control the universe, because it’s not.”

“Don’t be prone to such hyperbole,” Mycroft hissed.

Greg snorted. “Me? Says Mr ‘my name isn’t in the public domain’ Holmes.”

“It is a matter of national security.”

“Your name is a matter of national security?”

“Yes,” Mycroft spat.

Greg laughed and shook his head. “You are so full of yourself.” Mycroft continued to glare at him. Greg raised his eyebrows challengingly back. “What?” Greg asked. “Are you going to have me sacked for standing up to you in front of your minions?”

“Don’t be so ridiculous,” Mycroft muttered.

“That’s exactly what you think, isn’t it? That me and those people, we’re all ridiculous because we’re not as smart as you are.”

“You’re all people, Greg,” Mycroft spat back. “And you all live in the world so obliviously. You don’t see anything. You walk around with your mouths open like gormless apes.”

Greg folded his arms. “Didn’t mind having your cock in my open, gormless mouth though, did you?”

Mycroft’s cheeks flushed a bit. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Nothing,” Greg said. “Except you’re not so un-human as you like to make out. Your ‘I’m better than you’ routine doesn’t wash with me.”

Mycroft’s lips formed a thin line, his eyes dark with unspoken anger. Greg unclenched his fist. He began to count down in his head, taking long deep breaths. 10. He’s a bastard. 9. Fuck, I could kill him. 8. So bloody pompous. It’s a bit sexy. 7. Christ, I hate that. 6. Hate him. 5. Chill out, Greg. 4. No point being pissed off. 3. Could get laid if you chill out. 2. Sex is good. 1. Calm down. Now. 0.

Greg let out a long breath, allowing the tension to leave his body. Mycroft, who was still staring daggers at him, began to frown, as though confused at Greg’s reaction. “So where we going for dinner?” Greg asked, looking out of the window.

He saw Mycroft’s reflection in the car window, his lips apart in confusion. “Dinner?” he asked stupidly.

Greg turned to grin at him. “Yeah, dinner. I’m starving. Or did you miss my stomach growling back there?”

“You’re… not still angry?” Mycroft asked hesitantly.

“Oh, I’m furious,” Greg said. “Figured a bottle of wine would cheer me up though. A good one, none of that Pizza Express crap.” Mycroft continued to frown. Greg smiled. “C’mon. Let’s have dinner. Night off from murder and national security. What do you say?”

Mycroft glanced to Greg’s side. “We have arrived,” he murmured. Greg looked out of the window and grinned.

“Brilliant. I can’t wait.” He got out of the car, and Mycroft elegantly rose from the other side, an amused smirk on his face. Greg laughed and waited for Mycroft to walk around to join him on the pavement.

“You are quite remarkable,” Mycroft murmured as he stepped beside him.

“Is it my amazing good looks or sparkling personality?” Greg asked, grinning.

“Neither,” Mycroft said. “It is that I have absolutely no idea what on earth you’re going to do next.”

Greg chuckled and held the door to the restaurant open, letting Mycroft lead the way towards the maître d. They were shown to a table in the corner and Mycroft wasted no time in placing their wine order. Greg smiled across the table at him. Mycroft still looked sceptical. “What’s up?” Greg asked.

“It’s been a long week,” Mycroft replied.

“Tired?”

“No.”

“You’re like me,” Greg said, and Mycroft stared at him like such a thing was not possible. “You don’t switch off,” Greg explained and Mycroft’s face softened as he looked down at his menu.

“It’s impossible.”

“I know,” Greg said.

“The noise,” Mycroft murmured, pressing three fingers to his head. Greg watched him.

“I thought you delegated your thoughts or something?” Greg asked him.

“Yes, usually. There’s been a lot happening at once.”

“How’d you switch off?” Greg questioned.

“I don’t.”

“What about when you’re listening to music or reading?”

“I rarely get the chance to,” Mycroft admitted.

“So, you just… spend every minute thinking?”

Mycroft’s face flushed a bit. “I find our… sexual activities help.”

Greg grinned a bit, looking down at his menu. “Oh good. Here I was thinking I needed to improve my technique.”

“No,” Mycroft murmured, looking down at his own menu. Greg risked a glance at him before looking at the options.

“Three savoury courses?” he asked.

“Well, you are hungry,” Mycroft replied.

The waitress brought over the wine and Mycroft did the honours of tasting it before she poured it. She left the bottle on the table before asking if they were ready to order.

Greg looked down at the menu. “The quail egg for one, the mackerel for second, and… Hm. Lamb or beef?”

“The lamb,” Mycroft said.

“Lamb,” Greg agreed, smiling at her.

“The salad, the langoustine and the lamb also,” Mycroft said, handing her their menus. She smiled and walked off. Greg sipped his wine, closing his eyes for a few brief seconds to savour it. He wasn’t always a wine drinker. But when Mycroft was buying him bottles like this, he was never going to say no.

Greg smiled at him, leaning on the table. He frowned. Elbows on tables. Wasn’t there a rule about that? He sat up again and fidgeted. Mycroft was watching him, an amused smile on his face. Greg grinned and sipped more of his wine. “I’ve never been to restaurants like this.”

“Does it bother you?” Mycroft asked.

“What?”

“These walls, this food. These… people, many of them with more money than sense?”

“No,” Greg said. “No, it’s fine. It’s their money.”

“It used to bother you.”

“Yeah, it did.” Greg shrugged one shoulder. “When you grow up with nothing you forget that some people didn’t.”

Mycroft eyed him for a few moments before picking up his wine and drinking from it. “You’re claustrophobic,” he remarked. “What happened?”

“First, tell me how you know,” Greg said, shuffling in his chair.

“The desk in your office used to be on the other side of the room,” Mycroft said. “It faced the wall. The floor has light patches where the table legs were once, which shows how the office was laid out for many years. And where you would have sat, had you kept the furniture as it was, you would have been facing away from the door. The table was moved very recently, when you were first promoted. Because you need to see your escape route. You have never once taken the lift at Crusader House.”

“I didn’t know there was one,” Greg said.

“Nonsense. I live almost at the very top. Most people would have asked.”

“It’s not a happy story,” Greg said.

“The stories behind why people have phobias rarely are.”

Greg nodded briefly before speaking. “It was one of the first foster homes I actually have a memory of. They had an older kid, maybe 12 or 13 or something. He didn’t like me much. Anyway, we were playing this game on a single bed. And for whatever reason, I had to go under the covers. But he covered the top of it with his body so I couldn’t get back out. And the covers were so tightly packed in at the end that I couldn’t get out at the sides. And the kid, y’know, he didn’t know how scary I found it, being stuck. I felt like I was drowning, I guess. I was small and the bed felt massive. And then, a bit after I got adopted by the Lestrades, I went on holiday with them to see some of dad’s family. We went swimming in this outdoor lake. And, dad’s brother. It was just a joke, and he pushed my head under but…” Greg trailed off, taking a sip of his water.

“It’s suffocating,” Mycroft finished for him.

Greg nodded. “Yeah. I avoided lifts and stuff ever since. Even the tube, when it’s busy, I’d rather walk.”

Mycroft stayed quiet for a few seconds and Greg stared at his glass. He wasn’t sure he had ever really spoken about that before, and now Mycroft was just being so quiet and then… then Mycroft spoke. “A boy held my head under water in a swimming class when I was 12.”

Greg glanced at him. “You don’t take the lift in Crusader House either,” he murmured, understanding.

“Correct,” Mycroft said.

“That’s how you knew,” Greg said. “It wasn’t just because I moved my desk around. It’s because you would have done the same thing.”

Mycroft nodded. “Yes.”

Greg offered him a half smile and Mycroft smiled warmly back. Greg grinned and looked up as the waitress brought them their first course. He started tucking in straight away, making a delighted sound. Mycroft was watching him, not yet beginning his food. “Is it to your liking?” he asked.

“It’s amazing,” Greg said. “Never had an egg which tasted like this one before.”

“It’s quail,” Mycroft said.

“It’s just a nice-tasting egg,” Greg grinned, gulping down his wine and topping his glass up. Mycroft had hardly touched his, but Greg added more to his glass anyway.

Mycroft chuckled before starting his own food. Greg chewed his down quickly, making delighted noises as he ate. He was so hungry and it was so flipping good. Greg finished his starter first, ready and waiting for the next course. He watched Mycroft eat. He made precise cuts of his food, not cutting the next part until the mouthful was gone. Greg smiled to himself and enjoyed his glass of wine, looking around at the other customers.

“So how many people have you told about your claustrophobia?” Greg asked.

“You’re the first,” Mycroft replied, finishing his food.

“I’m honoured then. So, I can’t imagine you as a kid.” Mycroft looked amused. “What did you want to be when you were growing up?”

“A veterinarian,” Mycroft told him.

Greg grinned. “A vet?”

“Yes. And yourself?”

“A footballer. What about Sherlock?”

“A pirate,” Mycroft said, and he smiled at that, sipping his wine.

Greg laughed. “Yeah, I can imagine that. How many years are between you two?”

“Seven.”

“What was Sherlock like as a kid?”

“Ghastly,” Mycroft said. “Our parents had no idea what had happened.”

Greg laughed and sipped his drink as the dishes were cleared away. “Speaking of Sherlock. He told me you have his violin.”

“Yes,” Mycroft said. “It would have been stolen within moments of him moving into that horrendous flat of his.”

“Do you play anything? Any special talents?”

“The piano and the cello. But Sherlock possesses a natural gift.”

Greg frowned a little. “I’ve never seen a piano in your flat.”

“I never enjoyed it,” Mycroft said.

“You like reading though?”

“I do, when I have the time.”

“Do you have a favourite book?

“The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James.” Mycroft smiled wistfully. “As a child, I was both terrified and intrigued by it. As an adult, I see the different interpretations, the difficulty in determining the exact evil he was hinting at. He didn’t write about ghosts who slashed and killed. And somehow that was far more horrifying.”

Greg smiled, hanging on every word. He’d never heard Mycroft talk so earnestly about something. Something he enjoyed and loved. Mycroft ducked his head. “Apologies,” he murmured.

“No,” Greg said quickly. “No, I could listen to you talk about that all night.”

The waitress brought over their second courses and Mycroft smiled tightly at her. Greg watched him. “You okay?” he asked. Mycroft nodded. “It’s alright,” Greg said, cutting into his fish. “I’m not going to start telling people about you. I mean, who would I tell?”

Mycroft smiled slightly.

They ate in near silence through the course, listening as the restaurant’s hired musician played. Mycroft murmured the name of each piece as he changed from one composition to another.

Greg sat back in his seat, relaxing into the atmosphere. He topped up their wine. “We’re going to need another bottle,” he said. Mycroft smiled at him, a real, genuine thing that had Greg smiling even wider in response. “How many times have you eaten here then?” Greg asked.

“This is the first,” Mycroft said. “It was recommended to me.”

“Well I recommend it right back.”

“I’m glad. How are you enjoying being a Detective Inspector?”

“Love it,” Greg said. “I have a great team, it’s interesting. I’m always busy.” He grinned sardonically. “Sometimes a bit too busy, but I remember to sleep sometimes.”

Mycroft chuckled. “That does sound familiar.”

“It’s changed a lot since I started though.”

“How so?”

“Government messing around mostly. The bottom line is always more cops on the streets. That’s what we all want. But it seems like every year we get more and more paperwork. And when there’s less cops on the streets and crime goes up, people, rightly, complain. So what do they do? Invest in more policemen and more paperwork. And loads of it is arse-covering in case someone puts in a complaint about something. Sally Donovan was just promoted. She’s a brilliant copper. She’s smart, street-savvy. She’s got everything you need. And I want to help bring up a new young policeman or woman to be just like her. But we don’t have the money to do it. So we’re a man down. There’s only one thing I’ve got going for me that the other DIs don’t.”

“And what is that?”

“Your brother.”

Mycroft smiled. “I’m sure that isn’t always an advantage.”

Greg laughed. “You’ve got that right. He’s bloody lucky he met me. He’d have his arse in jail by now, I reckon. Well, unless you’d have bailed him out, I guess.”

Mycroft smiled. “I am truly grateful he met you.”

“You’re grateful you met me too, right? I mean, who would you have called after that break-in at the Archives?”

Their main courses were put in front of them and Mycroft asked for a second bottle of wine for the table. Greg looked down at his lamb. “This was a great choice. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“No, Mycroft. Really, for bringing me here. Thank you.” Mycroft looked at him, his lips parted in mild surprise. “I mean,” Greg continued. “I was so hungry I’d have been happy if you took me to McDonalds.”

Mycroft laughed and began cutting into his potatoes. “I’ve never had the pleasure.”

Greg laughed heartily. “What a shock that is,” he grinned. “You’re not missing out.” Greg took a bite of his lamb. “Jesus. I’m in food heaven.”

“Have you any plans for the rest of the week?”

“Nope. A few days off work, and I’m playing football on Tuesday night assuming nothing massive happens. And you?”

“A few days abroad.”

“Sun, sea and sand?”

“Conference rooms and long meetings.”

Greg smiled sympathetically. “You work too hard.” Mycroft raised an eyebrow at him. Greg laughed. “Alright, pot, kettle, I get it. But when was the last time you had a holiday?”

“When was the last time you had a holiday?”

“I had a week off a few months ago.”

“And what did you do during your week off?” Mycroft asked him.

Greg frowned a bit and rubbed his face. “I was looking at cases.”

“You should go on a date, Greg,” Mycroft said, watching him.

“Date?”

“Yes. I’m sure there are plenty of men and women who would enjoy time in your company.”

“I’m sure there are, but I’m not interested.”

“Why?”

“I’m not lonely or anything.” Greg forced a smile. “You trying to get me out of your hair?”

Mycroft looked at him for a long moment and Greg was sure he was going to say yes. After all, this didn’t seem like an arrangement Mycroft was looking to keep forever. And why would he? He was a bit out of Greg’s league anyway, with the posh dinners and the fancy flat.

“No,” Mycroft finally said, his voice low. “But this will not go on indefinitely. I would request you do not start caring, Greg.”

“Caring? For you?”

Mycroft nodded.

“Mycroft, I’m not going to fall for you for God’s sake.” Mycroft frowned and pushed a piece of meat with his fork. Greg swallowed, his face flushing. “Fuck, that came out wrong. I don’t mean I couldn’t fall for you. Because Christ, if I could get past your armour then I’m sure I could pretty easily. But I know where I stand and so do you and we’re friends. I know that, and you know that, and I’m not going to let sex turn into something more. If I think it’s going that way then I’ll stop.”

The light piano music was the only thing Greg could hear as he fidgeted in his chair. Mycroft was avoiding his eyes. Greg put his knife and fork down and watched Mycroft’s expression as he appeared to wrestle with the words. Greg nudged his arm with his hand. “Mycroft? Are you going to reply to me anytime soon?” he asked.

“I doubt it,” Mycroft replied.

“Friends, Mycroft. We’re here tonight as friends. And some sort of weird colleagues or something.”

“Sex confuses matters.”

“Then let’s stop having sex.” Greg sort of regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth.

Mycroft looked at him surprised. “Very well,” he murmured.

Greg nodded. “So, now that’s sorted.” Greg finished his food in silence, savouring his wine. Mycroft seemed to still be avoiding his eyes. Greg watched him. He must drive Mycroft mad, he realised. The man was so ordered, so perfectly in control that having Greg rush into his life with his bluster and his candidness probably threw him right off kilter. And although he said Greg was ‘extraordinary’ and ‘remarkable’ it wasn’t necessarily a compliment. Because while Greg surprised Mycroft and he loved doing it, he realised at that moment Mycroft didn’t do surprises. Greg realised at that moment his impulsiveness - the very thing which kept Mycroft on his toes - was also the very thing which made him uncomfortable and unsure. And Greg didn’t like the idea of doing that to him one bit.

Greg’s personal life was lost in a world of reckless abandon. Pick something up, throw it away and find something new. While Mycroft’s life was built on steady, solid walls which stood in the same position with an unending permanence. Mycroft spent his life attempting to control the uncontrollables. And Sherlock was probably the most uncontrollable of all. And the image of Mycroft and Sherlock’s childhood clicked into place. And who ever said Mycroft, it isn’t your fault your brother is a druggie? Who ever said Mycroft, it’s not your fault your brother is heartless and uncooperative?

It was right to end their ‘arrangement’, Greg realised suddenly. Because Greg would fall if given the chance. While at the moment he was keeping his heart tightly locked away, he wouldn’t - couldn’t - do it forever. And if given a few inches into Mycroft’s life he would fall. And he wasn’t sure he’d be able to claw his way back up again.

No more sex. It was definitely for the best.

Greg smiled at Mycroft and topped up his glass. “It’s alright, you know?”

“Mm?”

“Whatever is going on in your head right now. It’s all okay.”

Mycroft nodded.

“And, look, contact me whenever you want. Whatever it is, whatever time it is. If you need me, just tell me.”

“I cannot possibly ask that of you,” Mycroft said.

“Yes you can, Mycroft. Because who do we have otherwise?”

“You should have more friends,” Mycroft said.

“But I don’t.”

“I cannot understand why not.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “You’re Mr Deduction. I’m sure you’ve come up with some big conclusion based on the way I write my name or something.”

Mycroft pressed his lips together. “I haven’t given it much thought. But it must be living in the care homes and foster homes, the bonds you made never lasted a very long time. The friends you had left one way or another and you never had a consistent companionship.”

“Sounds about right,” Greg said.

“Friends,” Mycroft murmured, like it was a surprising idea which had never occurred to him before.

“Yeah. That’s all it is.”

Mycroft gestured for the waitress and she asked if they’d like to see the dessert menu. Greg leaned back in his chair. “I am stuffed. Thanks though. Mycroft?”

“No, thank you,” he murmured. “We would have the bill, please,” he said.

The waitress smiled and left them to it.

“I hope your trip is successful,” Greg said, looking at him. “I’ll find a case to keep Sherlock busy. I think he needs something new to really get his teeth into.”

“I’m sure the murderers of London will oblige,” Mycroft said, amused.

“Yeah, they don’t seem to have off months,” Greg grinned. “As long as I don’t get any more dead kids, I’ll be happy enough.”

The waitress put the bill down and Mycroft handed over his card. Greg ate the complimentary chocolate.

They left in silence, walked out towards the car. Greg glanced over at Mycroft. His face was neutral, but his jaw looked tense. Greg chewed his lip as they sat in the back of the car, each watching out of their own window. The desire Greg had to reach for his leg or wrap a hand around the back of his neck and pull him into a frantic kiss was all the proof he needed that it was the time to put a stop to this immediately. So when they said goodbye with barely a word at the end of the night, it was because it was for the best. 

Chapter Text

July, 2006

The weeks passed by in a blur of long hours and time spent sweating outdoors, the sun blasting out heat. Greg took to enjoying a sandwich in the park when he had time to grab some lunch. On a rare day off he decided to go for a jog. He was sat there now, on a bench in his shorts and a t-shirt, watching a couple stroll by with their young child.

Nearby, a pigeon was pecking at the ground and hunting for scraps. He didn’t often take time out to be quiet and ignore the rest of the world but on this occasion he allowed himself to sit and relax. He put on some sunglasses, stretching his legs out in front of him. He sipped his coffee, closing his eyes for a second.

“Greg?”

Greg looked up when he heard the woman’s voice and he stared when he realised it was Caroline there, one hand on a pram.

“Caroline,” Greg murmured, looking at her. He looked at the pram. “You… had the baby.”

“He’s two weeks old,” she said, glancing into the pram. “He came a bit early, but he’s healthy.” She smiled warily at him. “Do you want to see him?”

Greg hesitated before standing up, walking towards his ex-wife. She looked healthy, if a little tired. He looked down into the pram, the small infant sleeping. Greg smiled as he gazed down at him. He had a tiny nose. “What’s his name?” he asked quietly.

“Brandon.” Caroline smiled tiredly, reaching in and adjusting the blankets.

Greg grinned. “He’s... a baby. Nice looking kid.”

She looked at him with a bright smile. “Thank you. Can we join you?”

“Yeah, sure.” Greg sat back down on the bench and Caroline moved the pram to sit down beside him.

“So what are you up to?” she asked.

“I just came for a jog.”

“Good run?”

“Yeah, the weather’s been good. How’s…” Greg frowned, trying to recall the name. “Mark?”

“Martin,” Caroline corrected. “He’s good. We’ve set a date.”

“A date?”

“A wedding date. February.”

Greg nodded, taking another sip from his coffee. It was lukewarm now, but he tried not to show it on his face. So, she was getting married again. Their marriage had only been annulled a few weeks ago but Greg found he actually felt happy for her.

“Are you… with anyone?” Caroline asked hesitantly.

“Nah. I’ve been on a date. In February. But I’m just focused on work at the moment.”

“Don’t neglect yourself, Greg. There’s so much more to life than work.”

Greg glanced at her. “I’m not. There’s just a big case.”

“There’s always a big case,” she said. “You get lots of little ones, but there’s always a big one and you always use it as an excuse. But you need to be happy.”

“I don’t need a relationship to be happy.”

“I know,” Caroline said softly. “But I’m worried you’re lonely. Are you going to the pub with friends or anything?”

“I go out with people from work.”

She nodded. “I could set you up with-”

“-Oh no. Don’t even finish that sentence.”

Caroline laughed. “But I have a friend. She’d be great for you.”

“No. No, no, no.”

“That’s a no then?”

Greg grinned. “It’s a no.”

Caroline smiled and gently pushed the pram. “Well, call me if you change your mind. I know I could find someone who would be perfect for you.”

Greg laughed and shook his head. “Well, this is weird. My ex finding me dates.”

“We used to be good friends. Even before we got together.”

“We were,” Greg agreed.

“I’m not saying we’ll ever get that back. But I do care for you, whatever happens. I just want to see you find someone who loves you and can take care of you.”

“I don’t need taking care of.”

“We all need taking care of. And with the job you do and the things you see…” She trailed off, watching a jogger run past them. “Sometimes I think you lost yourself, Greg.” He frowned. She looked at him. “I just mean you were… what’s the word? Filled. No… overcome, no, consumed. You were totally consumed by the things you saw. And you blocked it out during the day, but at night you’d just thrash about.”

“Everyone has nightmares.”

“Not like you do, Greg.”

He frowned. “I’m alright.”

“I know. You’re a tough cookie. I always loved that about you. I knew you’d protect me against anything. You need someone as independent as you are.”

“I do, do I?” Greg asked.

“Yeah. Someone who doesn’t mind if they barely see you, because they understand work is important. You don’t like needy people.”

“You’re not needy, Caroline.”

“I know,” she said. “But I’m not independent either.” She smiled. “But now I have a tiny bundle who depends on me.”

“You got everything you wanted,” Greg murmured.

“You can have everything you want too,” she said. “You just need to figure out what that is.”

Greg nodded. Caroline looked at the pram as the baby made a sound. “I should get home,” she said. “Please don’t be a stranger, Greg. I know you’re still hurting after everything-”

“-I’m not-”

“-But please give me a call anytime. It would be great to have a catch up. And set up a date for you. I really could find you the perfect woman for you.” Greg rolled his eyes but smiled tightly at her as she stood. “Enjoy the rest of your day,” she said.

Greg nodded. “You too.”

She flashed him a wide smile before walking, murmuring happily to Brandon. Greg smiled to himself as he watched her go, and stood, collecting his rubbish and throwing it in a bin.

As he got to his flat, he felt a small longing in his chest that when he got home, someone else’s shoes would be by the door, with a second toothbrush in the glass by the sink. He pushed the thoughts away as soon as he could. He didn’t need anyone at all.

 


 

On the Saturday night, Greg enjoyed a five-a-side game, running around a field under floodlights. He relished getting out of breath, of clearing his head and just concentrating on the ball and the camaraderie.

He sat by the side of the pitch savouring a can of ice cold Diet Coke. Edmund Bullock gave him a half wave from across the pitch and Greg nodded his head in response. He sat, the breeze playing across his face. He watched the other players get into their cars before getting up and stretching his own muscles.

He drove home and showered before collapsing into his bed and lying on his back listening to music on his radio. He fell asleep with the music playing.

 


 

On Sunday, Greg called his dad. He hadn’t done so for two months and after a couple of coffees he decided it was time to do it. Their conversations were never particularly meaningful. Greg was convinced his dad had only agreed to adopt him because his mum was keen on having children.

He stretched across his sofa listening to the ring tone before his adopted father picked up. “Allo?”

“It’s Greg.”

“Greg. Hello. How are you?”

“Good thanks. You?”

“Rosa and I are on our way out. We’re going for a meal.” Rosa. Greg frowned, trying to work out if he knew that name. He didn’t ask, just in case he was supposed to remember it.

“That sounds good,” Greg said.

“How is work?” his dad asked.

“Everything’s fine. How’s the farm?”

“Busy.”

“So everything is okay?” Greg asked.

“Yes, Greg, everything is just perfect. I’m terribly sorry, I have to go. Can you call next week?”

Greg hesitated. “Sure. Yeah, okay. I can call next week.”

“Goodnight, Greg.”

“Night dad,” he murmured, ending the call. Greg sighed and turned the TV back on, where the build-up for the Arsenal game had begun.

 


 

Greg was back at work on Monday, sat looking at some of the cases which had been written on the whiteboard when Sherlock stormed in, his coat billowing behind him. “Lestrade!” he called out. Greg groaned, watching as the officers in the room averted their eyes and all made themselves look busy, while casting brief looks between them.

Greg stood up, folding his arms as Sherlock stormed towards him. “What’s up?” he asked.

“I need a case,” Sherlock growled. “What have you got?”

Greg eyed him curiously. His hands were clenched at his sides, his eyes dark and furious. “I’m not sure I’ve got anything you’ll want but come into my office and we’ll see what I can find,” he said.

Sherlock glanced at Edmund on his way in. “Another night of drinking, Bullock?”

Greg frowned and looked around at them both. “What?” he asked.

“I wasn’t… It was a few pints,” Edmund said, rubbing his head.

“And the rest,” Sherlock muttered, walking into Greg’s office. Edmund looked down at his paperwork.

Greg pressed his lips together and closed the door. He crossed his arms. “Sherlock, you can’t do that to people.”

“Why?”

“It’s just… People keep things to themselves for a reason, you can’t just embarrass them like that.”

“If you actually observed you’d see it for yourself anyway. I need a case, Lestrade. Give me anything. I need a good one. I need one now, right now.”

“Sherlock, chill out,” Greg warned.

“Case! Give me a case!”

“You can’t just come in here and demand-”

“Anything. I’ll take anything you’ve got.”

Greg stared at him. His arms were practically shaking, but he didn’t appear high. “Sherlock, I don’t think I have anything for you,” he said softly. “Just calm-”

“-You have to. You’re all stupid. There must be something you’re working on.” Sherlock grabbed a file from Greg’s desk and furiously flicked through the paperwork, his eyes skimming the words and the pictures. “It’s the receptionist. Boring. Come on, Lestrade! Case! I need it.”

“What do you mean it’s the receptionist?” Greg asked with a frown, taking the paper from him.

“She stole the money. Lestrade. I need a case.” Sherlock slammed it hand down on the desk. “I’m bored! I can feel my mind dying. I need a case. I need it. Do you have any idea what it’s like to feel your brain filling with space and matter and details and everywhere, and I need to concentrate on a case. It’s overwhelming, Inspector, I need it.”

Greg frowned, rifling through the papers on his desk. Sherlock was an addict. And apparently he could move from one fixation to another. “Sherlock, it’s all boring,” he said. “There’s nothing here that will interest you. I promise, when I find you something-”

“I need it now!”

“I don’t have anything now, Sherlock. I’m sorry. I wish I did but I don’t. I will call you as soon as anything happens.” Greg planted his hands on Sherlock’s shoulders but he stepped back straight away. He huffed before turning and storming back out, slamming the door behind him. Greg chewed his lip before sending a text to Mycroft.

 

MESSAGES
9.47am: Worried about Sherlock.
He’s very wired. Just to let you
know.

 


 

Greg kept his phone close all day but he didn’t hear from Mycroft. He had intended to go straight to Sherlock’s flat as soon as he finished work, but he had spent a long afternoon sat in the Crown Court giving evidence. The mother was finally found guilty for the death of her child. The day had been draining but a relief, which meant he was exhausted by the time he finally got home.

He crashed onto his bed after eating some pasta and his phone chimed.

 

MESSGAES Mycroft Holmes
10.23pm: Can you please come to
Crusader House? I need some help
with Sherlock. M

 

Greg swore and slid off the bed, grabbing a jacket from the side.

 


 

Greg was let through the door. At first he didn’t see them. Then he saw it.

Sherlock had Mycroft pressed against the wall, one arm held tightly, twisted painfully, around his back. Sherlock’s other hand was pressed against his throat. 

“Oi!” Greg rushed forward, catching Sherlock off guard, and grabbing the arm he had wound around Mycroft’s neck. He yanked Sherlock backward, tightening the grip on his arm and hooking a leg around his ankle to pull him off-balance. He pushed Sherlock down to one knee, gripping one arm tightly in the air, holding it to deliberately inflict some pain. “What the fuck are you doing?” Greg demanded, pulling the arm tighter.

He heard Sherlock’s exclamation of pain but Greg’s eyes flicked to Mycroft instead as the man pushed away from the wall, reaching to gingerly touch his throat.

Greg let go of Sherlock’s arm, but pulled him up by his coat, pushing his back into the wall. Sherlock’s eyes were dark but unfocused. Greg slammed him harder into the wall by his shoulder. “You bloody idiot,” he muttered, staring at him before letting him go. “Mycroft, d’you have a room I can shove your idiot brother in?” Greg didn’t look at Mycroft, staring aggressively at Sherlock instead.

“The spare bedroom beside to the bathroom,” Mycroft whispered hoarsely, and Greg tightly held Sherlock’s shoulder as he marched him to the room. He all but pushed him in, turning on the light and slamming the door closed behind them.

“What the hell was that?” Greg demanded as Sherlock stumbled towards the bed.

Sherlock rolled his eyes as he slumped onto it.

“No,” Greg said, pointing at him. “No, you do not try and throttle your brother and then roll your eyes at me. You do not get high and threaten him like that, do you hear me? It is not on.”

Sherlock huffed and curled up on the bed. “Do shut up, Lestrade.”

Greg took a deep breath, staring at him. “What the hell are you doing?”

“He irritated me,” Sherlock said.

“Yeah? Well you irritate me too, but I don’t get high and beat you up.”

“Aren’t you the moral one?” Sherlock said, bitterly.

“You stay in this room, Holmes, until I figure out what the hell I’m doing with you.” Greg turned on his heel, shutting the door with a bang. He looked across the room to where Mycroft stood, staring out of the window.

Greg bit his lip and collapsed into one of the chairs. He rubbed his face and glanced at his watch. 10.56pm. He looked at where Mycroft stood, where he could make out just a bit of his face. His head was tilted down, his shoulders slumped. Greg swallowed as he watched. He wanted nothing more than to approach him and to - what?

They’d set the boundaries and though he wanted to - something - he couldn’t do it because he didn’t want to face the inevitable rejection. And though Mycroft looked defeated, he couldn’t just walk over there and say it was okay.

God, fucking Christ, it wasn’t okay because his brother had him against a wall with violence on his mind and there was no way on earth that was ever going to be okay.

Greg looked down at his knees and closed his eyes for a second. He couldn’t lie and say he hadn’t seen it coming. Sherlock back on the drugs made sense, especially after the fanatical state he’d been in earlier that day. Greg was stupid if he thought it was over.

But Mycroft must have believed, hoped, no matter how stupid that hope was, that Sherlock would be cured. And that he wasn’t, that something had happened to cause him to push him into a wall like that…

Mycroft hadn’t moved. Greg knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to go over there and wrap his arms around his neck and tell him they’d get through it. And tell him they’d yank Sherlock through it too. It might be a lie to say Sherlock could be sorted out. He was an addict. And how much energy could they possibly give to curing him? How much time could they give before it broke the both of them? If Mycroft wasn’t smashed to smithereens already.

He wanted to pull him close. He wanted to make him feel like it could be alright, even if it was a lie, even if the chances of it being true were far, far away. But how could he? They were just friends, and men didn’t just go and hug their friends. And that hug in the hospital all those months ago had been unplanned and strange really, when you thought about it.

But it was Mycroft. And just look of him. Tortured and angry. Greg looked at his watch again. Five minutes had passed and neither of them had moved. Greg felt like they’d stay in this silent stand-off forever, both fuming inside and both wondering what the hell the next move would be.

He let out a long, slow breath before peeling himself away from the comfort of the chair. He walked gradually towards Mycroft. The man hardly flinched as he edged closer. Greg moved until he was beside him and Mycroft’s head turned to look at him. His face was expressionless, his eyes empty and distant.

“That wasn’t the first time he did that, was it?” Greg asked, keeping his voice low. Mycroft shook his head.

Greg wrapped an arm around his shoulders, rubbing his thumb against his shirt. Mycroft’s eyes met his for a brief second. He looked lost and anguished. Greg stepped closer and wrapped his arms around the younger man, bringing him in close.

Mycroft stood stiffly against him before his arms lifted to wrap around Greg’s waist, securing their position. Mycroft’s head lowered to his shoulder in a defeated gesture which hurt Greg’s heart.

Greg sighed and closed his eyes, inhaling the faint smell of Mycroft’s aftershave as he dropped his own head to Mycroft’s shoulder. His hands stroked Mycroft’s back, feeling the muscle and some of the bones of his spine.

They held steadfastly to each other, securing each other to the spot. And while Greg was willing to stand there as long as necessary he wondered if it was time to let go, whether this lingering hold was lasting a few too many minutes.

But neither of them moved.

One of Mycroft’s hands clenched and unclenched against his back. Greg sighed and pulled back a bit, keeping his hands on Mycroft’s shoulders. Mycroft’s eyes lifted to meet his, his arms still resting against Greg’s back.

Greg moved one hand, cupping Mycroft’s face. He wanted to tell him, show him, they’d sort it, but the words were dead on his lips. He couldn’t even utter a comforting lie.

His thumb brushed against Mycroft’s cheekbone and Mycroft’s eyes fluttered closed, his lips parting. Greg’s breath caught in his throat. He was exquisite.

Mycroft’s eyes opened again and he leaned forward just a fraction and Greg moved his face closer too. Mycroft’s hot breath shuddered against Greg’s cheek and he was so close to brushing their lips together…

“Mycroft!” came Sherlock’s shout, cutting into the silence.

Greg swallowed.

“I’m sorry,” Mycroft murmured.

“It’s okay,” Greg whispered back. “Do you want me to check on him?”

“Please,” Mycroft said so quietly.

Greg gave his arm one brief squeeze before strolling to the spare bedroom. He opened the door and closed it behind him. He leaned against the wall.

Sherlock was curled up on the bed, his hands fisted in the covers. His eyes opened and he looked at Greg, his brows pressed close together. “I have seen you do a lot of shitty things Sherlock. But that is the worst,” Greg told him.

Sherlock shook his head. “Mycroft is ridiculous.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“Well that was a brilliant argument, Lestrade. Your wit knows no bounds.”

“You are a spiteful, horrible bastard,” Greg spat. “What were you thinking, taking drugs again?”

“The substance was different,” Sherlock said. “The noise turned to lights and colour. Heroin used to make it silent, but it was something new. It made everything bright and painful. Mycroft feels like knives on every inch of my skin.”

“So you thought it would be acceptable to shove him into a wall and strangle him.”

“Mycroft is despicable. He always has been.”

Greg shook his head. “You realise you’re taking everything out on the person who cares about you most in the world, right?”

“Mycroft doesn’t do caring, Lestrade.”

“I beg to differ.”

Sherlock frowned at him. “You’re getting sentimental.”

“No, I’m not. I’m not.”

“You’ve stopped having physical relations and yet you still spend time with him. I don’t understand.”

“I like him, Sherlock, he’s a nice guy.”

“No, he’s not.”

“Maybe not to you because you decided to attack him.”

“He deserved it.”

“No, he didn’t,” Greg said, shaking his head.

“How would you know?”

“Because I know him.”

“How many men have you killed, Inspector?”

Greg shoved his hands into his pockets. “None but what’s that got-”

“How many men do you think Mycroft’s killed? Had organised to have killed? He is the most dangerous man you will ever meet and you’re getting sentimental about him.”

Greg shook his head in disbelief. “You’re trying to play me.”

“I’m high, Lestrade, but that doesn’t make me stupid.”

“You can’t stay here,” Greg said.

“Obvious,” Sherlock said.

“You have drugs at your flat, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“You’re coming back to mine.”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes at him. “I just tried to strangle your lover and you’re inviting me back to your flat.”

“He is not my lover.”

“No. But who’s decision was that? Not yours, that is clear. Fetch me a blanket.”

“What?”

“Get me a blanket. The drug is almost out of my system and I’m about to start shaking and craving another hit. So get me a blanket.”

Greg sighed. Why did he do these things? “Stay there.”

Greg walked out of the room, closing the door behind him. Mycroft was sat in his chair, a glass of brandy in his hand. “Mycroft, I need a blanket,” Greg murmured.

Mycroft looked up at him, swallowing. “The airing cupboard in the bathroom,” he said quietly.

Greg walked over to him and knelt down in front of him. “I’m taking Sherlock to mine. You’re not safe around him right now and he’s a liability to himself. I’m going to come around tomorrow to see you, okay?”

Mycroft nodded. Greg started to stand and Mycroft reached out to touch his shoulder. Greg looked up at him. “I am terribly sorry, Greg. For involving you in this.”

“It’s alright,” Greg said. “We’ll solve this. Is your throat okay?”

“I’ve experienced worse.”

“By Sherlock?”

“In my work.”

Greg nodded. That was a conversation for another day. He stood and touched Mycroft’s arm. “I want to stay here with you. But I need to get Sherlock to mine. If you need anything, text me.”

Mycroft nodded and Greg reluctantly moved away, walking into the bathroom. He found the airing cupboard and retrieved a red blanket from the pile of towels and sheets. Mycroft had retreated into the kitchen by the time Greg left the bathroom and he wandered back to the spare room. Sherlock was sat up on the bed and Greg tossed him the blanket.

Sherlock hung it around his shoulders.

“We’re going now,” Greg said. “So get up.”

Sherlock rose to his feet, his legs shaking. Greg ignored the urge to wrap an arm around him and support him. He despised him right now. He and Sherlock left the room and Greg called out to Mycroft, telling him he’ll text when he got home.

Greg led the way down the stairs, not bringing himself to sympathise when Sherlock lost his footing on the bottom few steps and slid to the bottom, hitting his head against the wall. “Get up,” Greg snarled. He held his arm out to help but Sherlock shrugged it off, dragging himself up.

He got in the back of Greg’s car, lying along the seats. It was a brief drive and Greg parked outside the flats. Sherlock followed him without a word, holding tightly to the blanket.

Greg opened the door to the flat and left Sherlock standing in his living room as he went to the bedroom. He grabbed two pillows from his bed and dumped them on the sofa. “You can sleep there. Do you need anything?”

“No,” Sherlock said, lying down on the sofa, pulling the blanket over himself. Greg saw him shaking. However much he hated him right now, he still couldn’t help but care.

“Sherlock, seriously. If you need anything, shout now.”

“Water,” Sherlock said.

Greg went to the kitchen, pouring them each a glass. He put it down on the table in front of the younger man and watched him for a few moments. “I’m going to bed,” he said. “If you’re struggling then wake me up.”

He turned the light off and went into his own bedroom. Rubbing his face, he undressed and turned the light off, sliding under the covers. He adjusted his own pillows and sighed. He was shaken by what he’d seen that evening.

He grabbed his phone and text Mycroft.

 

MESSAGES
12.03am: We’ve both got to bed.
I think Sherlock has calmed down
a bit. I hope you’re ok. Tell me
when you’re free and I’ll pop over
tomorrow.

 

When he didn’t hear anything for half an hour, he closed his eyes and went to sleep.

 

 

Chapter Text

July, 2006

Greg awoke to the sound of clattering from his kitchen. He frowned for a second, trying to remember why someone was in his flat and then recalled Sherlock. High Sherlock who decided strangling his brother was the best way to deal with his boredom. Fantastic…

It was 5.20am, but Greg wasn’t going to leave him in the kitchen unsupervised. He’d probably blow it up or something. Greg slid out of bed, grabbing the dressing gown from the back of the door.

Sherlock was stood in the kitchen spooning a number of sugars into a cup of tea. “You’ll rot your teeth doing that,” Greg said. Sherlock strolled back to the sofa, tea in hand. “You going to offer to make me one?” Greg asked, already knowing the answer.

Sherlock sipped from his cup, looking up at Greg with a single raised eyebrow. Greg let out an exasperated breath and moved to the kitchen, turning the kettle on and spooning out some coffee. “Well, at least you didn’t try to strangle me in my sleep.”

“It was tempting,” Sherlock said.

“It was tempting to do the same to you, so I’ll let that slide.” Greg poured the milk and sat down on the opposite couch. He frowned at him. “Are the drugs out of your system?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“What was it?” Greg asked.

“What?”

“What did you take, Sherlock?”

“I’m not sure. Some sort of hallucinogenic.”

Greg rubbed his face. “I don’t even know what to say to you right now.”

“Finally. Silence. Give me your laptop.”

“What? No way. Not going to happen.”

“I got bored so I took drugs. I’m bored now. If you give me your laptop I might get less bored and I might be less likely to take drugs.” Sherlock held his hands out. “Give.”

Greg sighed and stood up, walking to his bedroom and retrieving it. “I’m not your slave, Sherlock!”

“Don’t type in your password!” Sherlock called from the living room. “I’ll deduce it for myself.” Greg handed the laptop to him, collapsing back into the chair.

He watched as Sherlock looked around the room and then at him. His fingers tapped the keyboard without actually pressing a button. Sherlock glanced at him again and then back at the computer before typing. He smiled sardonically and Greg heard the sound of the computer giving him access. So apparently he’d need to change his password. scotlandyard was a bit obvious for Sherlock Holmes, he supposed. Next time he’d come up with something really random. Like the first thing to pop into his head or something. 

He left Sherlock on his laptop and went to the bathroom for a shave and a shower. After dressing he looked at him. “Are you going to sit there all day?”

“Probably,” Sherlock murmured.

“Well, don’t… mess everything up.” Greg put some bread in the toaster. “Do you want breakfast?”

Sherlock didn’t reply and Greg put another slice in anyway. He left the plate in front of Sherlock on the table and walked to his room to grab the spare key. He put it down on the table beside the uneaten toast. “Make sure you lock the door if you leave,” Greg said. “And if you’re tempted to take drugs then can you please just text me so I can grab you and find something for you to do?” Sherlock said nothing as he began to type. Greg sighed and ate his toast in silence before grabbing his phone, keys and wallet. “I’m going to work. Please stay out of trouble until I get home.”

Greg text Mycroft when he arrived at the Yard. He had been expecting a message from him and had been concerned to find no such correspondence.

 

MESSAGES
6.20am: Sherlock is still at mine.
Text me and let me know you’re ok.
What time can I come over?

 

MESSAGES Mycroft Holmes
6.25am: There is no need to come.
I am fine. M

 

MESSAGES
6.27am: I don’t care, I’m coming
round anyway. When?

 

MESSAGES Mycroft Holmes
6.28am: I really must insist that
you don’t. M

 

MESSAGES
6.29: I’m not good at following
orders. Even yours. When?

 

MESSAGES Mycroft Holmes
6.50am: 8pm. M

 

Greg smiled a little and made a coffee for himself and Sally as they sat down at his desk to discuss their next move in a domestic abuse case.

“You’re in the papers today,” Sally said, passing a copy of the Mail over the desk. “Page 13.”

Greg frowned and opened it. It was a report on the child murder case, story continued from the front page. Inside the text was a small picture of his face. Lead investigator: DI Greg Lestrade, the caption read. 

 

“SOLVING this heinous crime so quickly and so conclusively was the result of outstanding work by officers,” said the Commander of Scotland Yard yesterday.

Commander Scott Ireson was speaking to reporters outside The Old Bailey after the sentencing of Katie Wilson.

He said: “Led by Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade, our officers worked swiftly and over many hours to bring about a quick conclusion to this terrible crime.

“It is never easy to process so many leads in such a manner, and though the sentencing of Katie Wilson today will bring no relief to her family, nor bring Peter Wilson back, London can be safe in the knowledge that officers at New Scotland Yard have the necessary skills to bring perpetrators of terrible and violent crimes to justice.

“At a time when the police is facing budget cuts, losing staff and receiving a raw deal in the press, it is appropriate to thank the leading officers in this case and the hundreds of others which are processed through our court system every year.” 

 

Greg stared at the report. The Commander just made a political statement about budgets. And used his name to make it. Greg frowned. “Sally, I’m sorry I got a mention in this. I was crap in that case.”

“You weren’t.”

“Yeah, I was. I mean, I know I technically led, but I didn’t do much in the way of leading.”

Sally shrugged. “I don’t care about the glory. I just thought you might like to keep it. Frame it or something, now you’re famous.” She smiled across at him. Greg smiled and put the newspaper into a drawer. “You should speak to Ed, by the way,” Sally said. “Sherlock upset him yesterday.”

Greg rubbed his face. “I know. He looked pretty miserable all day. Is his drinking that bad?”

Sally pulled a face. “I don’t want to say it, but Sherlock did have a point.”

“Shit,” Greg muttered. “I was afraid you’d say that.”

“It’s a tough job, sir,” Sally said. “People get stressed and deal with it in different ways.”

“How do you deal with it?” Greg asked, looking across at her.

“Same way you do.”

“And what’s that?”

“Take work home with me.”

Greg smiled a bit and nodded. “Yeah. I try not to.”

“Even when you don’t take paperwork home, it’s not easy to just switch off,” Sally said.

“I know.” The phone rang and Greg reached for it. “Lestrade.”

Edmund told him there was a body at a crime scene. Probable suicide but they were being requested to check there weren’t any suspicious circumstances.

 


 

Greg managed to finish work on time, casting one last look at his emails and shutting down his computer. Sherlock was still on his sofa when Greg got there, sat in the same clothes and typing away on Greg’s laptop. The toast lay uneaten on the table, but he had at least got up to make another cup of tea.

“You going to get dressed anytime today?” Greg asked, looking through his fridge for something to eat. “Do you want any food?”

“I’m not hungry,” Sherlock said, his fingers not stilling for a second on the keyboard.

“What you doing anyway?” Greg asked, leaning on the back of the sofa.

“Finishing the blurb for my perfume study. The results are ready for publication.”

Greg read some of the words over Sherlock’s shoulder. ‘Perfume could be key to working out someone’s habits’, ‘could be key to solving a crime’, ‘key to working out how rich or poor someone is, how proud they are of their appearance’.

“You have been busy,” Greg said going back into the kitchen and putting a pizza into the oven. “So, when is it going online?”

“Tomorrow,” Sherlock murmured. “You’re going to see Mycroft, aren’t you?”

“I am,” Greg said, leaning on the door frame. “You want me to say sorry for you?”

“No, don’t bother. Mycroft won’t be interested in false apologies.”

“It doesn’t have to be false.”

“But it is.”

Greg sighed. “You’re bloody impossible, you know that?”

“Drive me back to my flat, Inspector.”

“I will, just let me eat my pizza first.” Greg poured himself a glass of water and took a seat on the other sofa. He turned the TV on and Sherlock made an exaggerated sigh. “What now?”

“How do you expect me to work with that on?”

Greg turned the volume up, kicking his shoes off and stretching out along the furniture. Sherlock huffed and began typing even more furiously on the keys in response.

After 15 minutes of watching the news, Greg got up and went into the kitchen for his pizza. He sat down with it, while he and Sherlock sat in silence. He finished his food and went to go and find his car keys. “Come on then, Holmes. I’ll drive you home.”

Sherlock shut down the laptop, holding it in his arms. “Finally,” he muttered.

Greg looked at the laptop. “You’re not taking that with you.”

“My blurb is on it.”

“Then email it to yourself.” Sherlock continued to stare at him. “You’re a nightmare,” Greg said, conceding. “I give you an inch and you take the whole flipping motorway.”

Sherlock offered him a fake half smile. Greg picked up his keys and phone and held the front door open for him. They both walked down the stairs and Greg led the way to his car. Greg couldn’t believe he’d let Sherlock keep his laptop. He must be getting soft. They drove to Sherlock’s road and Greg followed him up the stairs without any protest from Sherlock.

Sherlock disappeared into his bedroom and returned with a pile of drugs which he promptly handed to Greg. Greg looked down at them and sighed. “Is this everything?”

Sherlock looked around. “Yes.” He set Greg’s laptop down on his desk and took a seat there. Greg grabbed a plastic bag from the kitchen counter and dropped everything into it. He proceeded to carry out a thorough search of the flat, despite Sherlock’s protests that there was nothing to find there. Finally convinced there was nothing, Greg looked at him.

“If you get tempted again, you need to call me,” Greg said, looking at the back of his head. “Will you look at me a minute, please?” He bit his lip. “Fine. Don’t. Are you sure you don’t want me to say sorry to your brother from you?”

“No.”

“Right.” Greg walked to the door, taking another brief look at him. He put the assortment of drugs into the car’s glove compartment and drove back home. There, he had a quick shower and a change of clothes, exchanging his smart trousers for a pair of more comfortable jeans. He watched the television for a while, playing Solitaire on his phone.

At 7.33pm, he stood and checked his face in the mirror, putting on some aftershave (he and Mycroft may not have been sleeping together anymore but that didn’t mean he couldn’t still smell nice) and left his flat.

He chose to walk. The 15 minutes between his flat and Pall Mall was a good one with busy roads and plenty of noise to stop him from thinking too much.

He reached Crusader House quicker than expected and earlier than the time he and Mycroft had agreed upon but he was allowed straight up anyway. The butler did make him wait at the door, telling him Mr Holmes was on the phone but he would be allowed in shortly.

Greg tried to make small talk about the weather, but the man was having none of it. Greg couldn’t figure out why the man hated him so much. Maybe he hated everyone.

At 7.58pm, Greg was let in. Mycroft was sat in his seat beside the fire. Greg took a seat on the couch. “How is Sherlock?” Mycroft asked.

“A pain in the arse. I’ve confiscated a load of drugs from his flat, I’ve got them in my car at the moment.”

Mycroft pressed his hands together. “It wasn’t heroin,” he said.

“No. Some sort of hallucinogenic. Are you alright?”

“Mm. Yes. Would you like to share a bottle of wine? I find I’m rather in need of some.”

Greg nodded. “Sure.” Mycroft stood and padded into the kitchen. Greg followed, watching him closely. Mycroft reached into the drinks cabinet with his left arm. Greg may not have been Sherlock Holmes but even he noticed he was using the opposite arm to normal. Still in pain then.

“Has anyone looked at your shoulder?” he asked.

“It isn’t injured,” Mycroft said. He retrieved two glasses, setting them down on the table and pouring the bottle out. Greg sat down at the table, keeping a close eye on him.

“So, can you tell me what happened last night?” Greg asked.

“It was a minor disagreement.”

“It didn’t look minor from where I was sitting.”

Mycroft took the other chair, inhaling his wine before taking a long sip. Greg looked closely at his neck. There was a small bruise to the left of his windpipe. Mycroft swallowed and looked down at the table, pressing two fingers to his temple.

Greg frowned at him. “Come on. What happened?”

“He came over asking for money.”

Greg sighed. “I’m sorry,” he said.

“What on earth for?” Mycroft asked.

“He came to my office demanding cases. He was really manic. I’d have thought he was high if I didn’t know different.”

“He must have been taking them all day,” Mycroft said. He took a breath and touched his head again. “We had a disagreement and I wasn’t quick enough and he had me against the wall.”

“What were you disagreeing about?”

“Oh, what do Sherlock and I ever disagree about? Everything and anything.”

“But he’s done that before? Attack you like that?”

“Yes. His intention was not to harm me, I assure you. It was a warning.”

“Warning to what?”

“Keep away. Ironic, really, when he was demanding money from me. I told him to find a job. He is under the impression he has one already.”

“Consulting detective,” Greg muttered.

“Quite. I told him to use his website to find himself cases. Apparently that was too much effort.”

Greg chuckled and took a long gulp of wine. Mycroft winced and rubbed two fingers against his forehead. “You got a headache?” Greg asked.

“Work has been problematic.”

“Have you taken any painkillers?”

“It’s not a headache.”

Greg frowned, trying to work out what else it could be. “Too many thoughts?” he asked.

“I can’t turn it off,” Mycroft murmured, touching his temple. “It’s noise, it’s exhausting.”

“Is it because you’re stressed?”

“Almost certainly.”

“What can I do?”

“There’s nothing.”

Greg watched him for a moment. “But I can turn it down, right?” he asked, his voice low. “Just for a while.”

Mycroft looked at him sharply. “We made a decision, Greg,” he warned.

“I know. We did. But we can change our minds. Let me help you.” They gazed at each other for a long time before Mycroft finally nodded. Greg grabbed his chair, pulling it over in front of him. “You said sex helps. Takes your mind off it.” Mycroft nodded. “So, just let me be in charge, alright? Don’t think, just feel.”

Greg reached out, tracing his index finger along the outline of Mycroft’s jaw. Mycroft briefly closed his eyes, tilting his head into the touch. Greg pressed his thumb lightly to Mycroft’s lips, tracing the light curves of it. “Just relax,” Greg whispered.

He rested his hand on Mycroft’s thigh and tilted his face towards him. He brushed their lips together and heard himself sigh at the contact. Mycroft’s hand reached up to touch the side of Greg’s neck, drawing him in closer and depending the kiss.

Greg heard his own soft groan as Mycroft slid further forward on his chair, one of his legs pressing in between Greg’s. Greg let Mycroft dictate the pressure between their mouths and felt his lips part, allowing Greg to swipe his tongue against his.

Greg pulled back. “Shall we go somewhere more comfortable?” he asked.

Mycroft nodded, standing. Greg followed him to the living room where Mycroft took a seat on the sofa. Greg sat down beside him, cupping his cheek with his hand and drawing him back into a kiss. It was slow and undemanding. Mycroft’s hand found his leg and stroked light patterns on the inside of his thigh. Greg hooked his hands in Mycroft’s waistcoat, bringing them together.

He wanted the other man to be comfortable. He quickly thought to their other encounters where Mycroft had pushed Greg onto the sofa. So, perhaps he wanted to be in charge, to control the pace. Maybe he didn’t want to completely trapped underneath - his claustrophobia may be worse than Greg’s - so Greg lay down on the sofa, pulling Mycroft down on top of him.

The kiss deepened and Greg threaded his fingers in his soft hair, and under his waistcoat to feel his shirt. It was as close to the skin as he could access.

Greg dropped his hands to Mycroft’s belt, quickly unfastening it, breaking the kiss briefly as he pulled it free. He unfastened Mycroft’s fly and kissed the side of his neck. “Use my mouth,” Greg murmured, looking at him.

“Greg-”

“I want you to. You like to dictate the pace, right?” Mycroft’s eyes lowered, as though embarrassed. “Just lose yourself,” Greg whispered. “It’s okay. It’s what I want.”

Mycroft’s lips parted at his words, his eyebrows furrowed. “Are you sure?” he asked, stroking his thumb against Greg’s eyebrow. Greg pushed his hand inside Mycroft’s trousers, cupping his cock. Mycroft gasped.

“I’m definitely sure,” Greg said. “I want you to stop thinking, as much as you can, and just have everything you want from me. Okay?” He looked Mycroft straight in the eye, trying to prove how much he meant it. He felt Mycroft’s hips press forward and Greg squeezed his cock through his boxers. “That’s the way,” Greg murmured, grabbing his tie and pulling him down for another kiss.

Greg pushed down Mycroft’s trousers and they broke the kiss to allow Mycroft to kick them off. He straddled Greg’s hips and Greg looked up at him. What a fine specimen of a man, he thought, looking up at his flushed cheeks and neck, his red silky underwear tented, his thighs dusted in light hairs. “You are gorgeous,” Greg said, looking at him.

He hooked his thumbs in Mycroft’s underwear, easing them down over his cock. He could see how aroused the other man was, his cock leaking with precome, his thighs trembling.

“C’mere,” Greg said, sitting up a bit. He put one hand on Mycroft’s hip, dropping one down onto his arse.

Mycroft swallowed, shuffling up until his cock was level with Greg’s mouth. Greg wrapped his hand around the base and Mycroft shuddered. Greg broke the gap, flicking out his tongue to lick the bead of precome away. Mycroft let out a gasp, one hand curling tightly against the back of the sofa.

Greg leaned forward to take the head into his mouth, and he watched as Mycroft’s eyes fall closed as he emitted a deep sigh of pleasure. Greg flicked his tongue out, experimenting with different licks. And finally Mycroft moved his hips forward, pushing more of himself into Greg’s mouth. Greg groaned around him, stroking Mycroft’s hip in encouragement. Greg looked up at him, where he seemed lost in his own pleasure, beginning to move his hips. Greg kept his hand in place to ensure he couldn’t push too far down his throat, pumping the base of cock in time with Mycroft’s movements.

Mycroft’s eyes opened and looked straight into Greg’s. Greg moaned around him again and saw Mycroft tremble, lowering one hand to rest on the side of Greg’s face. Their gaze was fixed on each other’s as Mycroft sped up his gentle thrusts. Greg faintly felt his own arousal, tight and nearly painful in his jeans, but pleasuring Mycroft, letting him switch off, was the only thing he was fully conscious of.

He heard Mycroft whisper his name and Greg moaned again at the beautiful sound of it, flicking his tongue as hard as he could against his cock. Mycroft’s head dropped, his fingers tightening in Greg’s hair as he pressed forward one more time and came with a gasp. Greg held him in his mouth, slackening his jaw as he swallowed what the younger man gave. Greg let Mycroft out of his mouth and the other man leaned forward, dropping his head onto Greg’s shoulder and lying down on top of him. Greg adjusted his position in the chair, wrapping his arms around Mycroft’s waist and stroking his back. He turned his head, pressing his lips against Mycroft’s hair but not actually kissing there for fear it was too intimate a gesture.

He listened to Mycroft’s shaky breaths as Greg closed his eyes. They lay like that for a while, Mycroft’s body relaxed against him while Greg kept him there, not willing him to move for even a second, even when he felt his foot beginning to cramp, even when he began to feel pins and needles in his thigh. If Mycroft needed this then Greg would let him have it. Eventually Mycroft moved and Greg’s hand rested on his arm as he moved to the other side of the sofa and pulled up his underwear.

They looked at each other and Greg smiled at him. “Okay?” he asked.

“It worked,” Mycroft whispered back, closing his eyes for a second. Greg leaned forward to rest his hand on Mycroft’s shoulder, squeezing it in reassurance. “I truly did not think…” Mycroft started and shook his head.

Greg smiled again and let go of him. “Shall I get our wine?” he asked.

“Mm. Do.”

Greg stood up, taking one last quick look at him as he tilted his head back. He walked into the kitchen and adjusted himself in his jeans. He was desperate to come, but he was perfectly content with it being a one-sided affair that evening. He carried their glasses through. Mycroft was still sat in his underwear, his shirt, tie and waistcoat out of place. His head was resting on the back of the sofa, his eyes closed.

Greg grinned and put the glasses on the table. Mycroft opened his eyes at the noise and looked at Greg. “Would you like me to-”

“-No,” Greg said quickly. “Not that I don’t want you to, because you’re amazing. But I just want you to look after yourself right now.”

Mycroft nodded. “I don’t think I’m capable of movement right now,” he said. “Let alone thought.”

Greg laughed and took the seat beside him, sipping some wine. Mycroft reached out to touch his face and Greg shuffled closer to him. Mycroft moved his face closer to Greg’s and then stopped. Thinking he was about to pull back, Greg closed the gap, drawing Mycroft’s bottom lip between his own. The faint hum of approval made him smile and they pressed light kisses to each other’s lips before Mycroft eventually turned his face away. Greg sat up to return to the opposite end of the sofa, but Mycroft’s hand touched his thigh and they looked at each other.

Greg settled back into the chair, letting Mycroft’s hand rest on his leg for a few seconds before Mycroft retrieved his trousers from the floor and pulled them on. “Would you like to watch a film?” Mycroft asked suddenly.

Greg stared at him. “A film?”

“Yes, people do that on occasion, do they not?”

Greg grinned. “Yeah, sometimes they do. What film were you thinking?”

“I’m not sure what I own. My parents insisted on buying me a collection for Christmas one year. I’ve never even taken them out of the plastic.”

Greg laughed. “Let me see what you’ve got then.”

Mycroft led the way to his office, and knelt down beside a cabinet. He pulled out a box and Greg took the lid off. He took the DVDs out as Mycroft stood, spreading them out on the desk. “I don’t know any of these films,” Greg said, looking at them. “But I’ll go with whatever you want. This one looks creepy,” Greg said, picking it up.

“El Espiritu de la Colmena. The Spirit of the Beehive,” Mycroft murmured. “It’s a Spanish film, considered quite the masterpiece of Spanish cinema I believe.”

Greg turned it over and read the synopsis. A sensitive seven-year-old girl living in a small village in 1940 rural Spain is traumatised after viewing James Whale’s Frankenstein and drifts into her own fantasy world. “Definitely creepy,” Greg said. “How about Frankenstein then?” he asked, picking up the case.

“I enjoyed the book,” Mycroft said. Greg smiled and handed him the case.

“Frankenstein it is. I’ll bring the bottle of wine out and you can put it on. Where exactly is your TV?”

Mycroft chuckled and left the room. Greg followed him out, a curious expression on his face, and watched as he moved towards a painting. “Wait,” Greg said. “What is that?” He moved closer to it. He’d seen the painting on the wall, but he’d never really paid it much attention before. It depicted a misty scene, a monument to one side and a bridge on the other as cloaked figures walked through the fog. It was dark and haunting, as the hooded figures trailed into the distance.

“It’s by Ernst Ferdinand Oehme,” Mycroft said. “It’s a print, not an original.”

Greg looked at it more closely. “It’s… not nice, really. I don’t know what the word is for it. It seems. Sad.”

“It is the Procession In The Fog, from 1828. A group of monks walking through the fog. There is no deeper meaning than that,” Mycroft said. Greg frowned, but said nothing. Mycroft reached out to hold the picture frame and lifted it carefully from the wall. Greg’s mouth dropped open when he saw the television behind it.

“You’re kidding me?” he asked in disbelief. “You keep your TV behind a painting?”

“A print of a painting,” Mycroft corrected. “But for all intents and purposes, yes.”

Greg laughed and walked into the kitchen, shaking his head. He retrieved the wine bottle and carried it back into the living room. Mycroft had a television remote in his hand and was flicking through the channels.

Greg sat down on the sofa, topping up their glasses. Mycroft pulled the curtains shut and dimmed the lights. “So, Mycroft,” Greg said. He looked round at him. “I know you like your horror books and stuff. But this film is from the 1930s. So if I laugh at it, I’m saying sorry now.”

Mycroft laughed and turned off the lights. He sat down beside Greg on the sofa, closer than Greg was expecting him to sit. He pressed start and picked up his wine. “You are forgiven in advance,” Mycroft smiled, stretching his legs out in front of him, one leg hooked over the other. Greg glanced at him, grinned and leaned against the arm rest. “You can stretch across the seat if you’d like,” Mycroft said. “I know you often sit like it.”

Greg tilted his head. “You sure?”

“I wouldn’t have offered otherwise.”

Greg grinned and adjusted the cushions behind his back, extending his legs out across the sofa and over Mycroft’s lap. One of Mycroft’s hand fell to rest on his thigh, just above his knee. “Let me know if I’m squashing you,” Greg said.

“I will.”

Greg smiled, feeling the warmth of Mycroft’s hand through his jeans. He turned and began to watch the film.

Greg didn’t laugh as much as he expected. He became so engrossed, in fact, that he sipped from his glass only to find he had finished all his wine. Mycroft chuckled at him and topped the glass up.

Half-way through, Mycroft’s thumb began to move against his leg, a slow rhythmic movement which Greg felt and never wanted to end. He glanced over. Mycroft appeared enraptured in the film, hanging on every word of dialogue. Greg wasn’t convinced he’d even realised he was making the small ministrations against Greg’s leg. It was all a bit close. All a bit too friendly, and more than friendly, but there was no way Greg was going to move. He’d been separated from Caroline for eight months, and aside from the few times he’d been sexually involved with Mycroft, he had very little physical contact with another person at all.

He knew he should put a stop it, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. So he kept watching the film, ignoring how his jeans started to feel tight again. And ignoring the feeling of emptiness which fell upon him every time Mycroft’s thumb stopped moving for a few brief seconds.

The credits began to roll and Greg finished his wine. They sat in silence through the music before Greg spoke. “I wasn’t expecting to enjoy that.”

Mycroft smiled warmly at him. “I haven’t sat and watched a film all the way through for many years,” he said.

“Maybe we should do it another time.”

“I would like that.”

Greg looked down at his watch. “I should go. Is everything okay?”

“It’s fine,” Mycroft said. “I need to do some work before bed, but I’m sure it will come together.”

Greg reluctantly stood up, stretching. “Call me if you need me.”

“I will,” Mycroft said.

Greg smiled at him. “I had a really good time tonight.” Mycroft nodded in response. Greg swallowed. “Right. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Greg,” Mycroft murmured.

Greg nodded and walked to the door. A brilliant night. Except he wanted to kiss him. God help him, he wanted to be close to him. And he didn’t like what that said about him much. 

Chapter Text

August, 2006

“Lestrade! Lestrade!”

Greg swung open the door to his office when he heard Sally shouting. She was rushing through the office, papers in her hand. She brushed past him, dropping some CCTV images down on his desk. “What’s up?” he asked.

“There was a break-in at a jewellery shop in Oxford Street,” Sally informed him. “They found a body. The CCTV was switched off.”

Greg stared at her. “What?” He picked up the pictures and reached the last page of the CCTV she’d printed off. There it was. The moment it went off, and the moment it came back on again. There were six minutes in between both sets of images. “How much was stolen?”

“About £10,000 worth.”

Greg exhaled loudly. “God, that’s not good. It’s probably linked, I need to…”

“Linked?” Sally asked, confused.

Greg frowned. Had he not told her about the link? “Yeah, the Kirkcudbright cameras and the National Archive cameras were all hacked in the same place.” She stared at him. “Shit, Sally, sorry, I was sure I told you that.”

“No, sir,” she said.

Greg frowned. “I’m sorry. Look, I need to make a quick phone call. Can you get to the scene with Bullock? I’ll meet you there. We need everything on the security tapes and find out how the cameras work.” She nodded. “I’ll explain everything later, I promise.”

“Is it to do with Sherlock Holmes?” she asked.

“Actually, this time it’s not,” Greg said.

Sally nodded and walked out of the office. Greg closed the door behind her and found Mycroft’s number on his phone.

“Good afternoon,” Mycroft said as he answered.

“Mycroft, there’s been another break-in where the security has been turned off.”

He heard a pause on the other end of the line before the other man spoke. “You believe it’s linked to the MORnetwork?”

“I don’t know,” Greg said. “I only just found out about it.”

“I will have some experts begin work immediately,” Mycroft said.

“If you hear anything I need to know right away,” Greg told him.

“I will share all I can.”

Greg sighed. “I guess I’ll have to accept that, won’t I?”

“I will be in touch.”

“Cheers,” Greg said and Mycroft hung up the phone call. He grabbed his phone and text Sherlock.

 

MESSAGES
2.57pm: Had a break-in and
body at Oxford Street. The
CCTV was all off. Coming?

 

MESSAGES Sherlock Holmes
2.58pm: Yes.

 

Greg grabbed his phone and keys and jogged to his car, driving to Oxford Street. He despised driving to this part of London, the crowds getting in his way, hapless tourists staring at his car as though he wasn’t supposed to be there. He finally found a parking space and walked to the shop. It was surrounded by police tape, and he thought he saw Anderson walking into the building.  

Sally approached him. “In his mid to late 50s, identified as Dimitri Grasty. They reckon he might have come back to the shop to get something and found the men stealing. He was shot right through the head, dead aim.”

Greg winced. “Alright, what have we got?”

He ducked under the tape, following Sally in. She spoke as the entered the premises. “The employees were out at a retirement dinner down the road. They think this man went back to get something. We haven’t found a family to contact yet.”

Greg nodded and looked down at the body, the bullet had gone straight through the centre of his forehead. “Guy was a good shot,” he murmured. “I’ve got Sherlock coming in, hopefully he can give us something we’ve missed.”

Anderson looked up from the floor. “Undermining us again, Inspector?” he questioned, crossing his arms.

“I’m not trying to undermine you, Anderson. Give me something to help me catch this guy and I’ll tell Sherlock to go away.”

“He was a good shot.”

Greg slid his hands into his pockets. “And?”

“And this guy worked behind the counter,” Anderson said.

“And?”

“And he’s in his mid to late 50s. And we have identified him as Dimitri Grasty. Cause of death: gun to the head.”

“I got that bit for myself,” Greg muttered. He heard a commotion outside and instantly knew what was going on. “That’d be our favourite Holmes brother.”

Sally snorted. “Give me his older brother any day,” she said with a grin. Greg frowned at her tone on his way out. “What?” she asked to his retreating back.

Greg chuckled to himself. Sherlock was pretty good looking he supposed, but he agreed with Sally on this one. Mycroft was the better one, for all sorts of reasons. He found the officer who was only doing his job in keeping Sherlock away from the scene, but Sherlock was ranting about his poor hygiene as the reason his girlfriend left him. Greg grabbed Sherlock’s shoulder, steering him away. “What did I tell you about keeping things to yourself?”

“Why? He should get himself a shower.”

Greg guided him into the shop. “Don’t touch anything without the gloves on,” he warned. Sherlock looked down at the body and around the shop.

“Have you identified him?” he asked.

Greg filled him in on the details he had. Sherlock span around looking through the shop windows and the single bullet hole through the glass. “You’re looking for a man with military training. A sniper. He was there in case someone intervened during the robbery.” Sherlock looked at the body. “I need to see the CCTV,” Sherlock said. “The body won’t tell you much. Perhaps there will be a serial number on a bullet but I don’t expect it will be traceable. The sniper knew what he was doing.” Sherlock turned around. “The sniper was in the room above that café.”

Greg nodded. “Alright. Donovan, you coming over the road?”

She nodded and followed them out, keeping a close eye on Sherlock as they went. They approached the woman leaning bored against the till. “Hungover student with a puppy,” Sherlock murmured to Greg as they walked. “It’s been keeping her up all night. She had cannabis last night.”

Greg frowned, wondering why that was ever going to be useful as they approached her. Sherlock just liked showing off. Greg presented his badge and she sighed. “What?” she asked tiredly, chewing her gum.

“Who owns the flat upstairs?”

“No one,” she said. “It’s empty.”

“Did you see anyone go up there yesterday?”

“I wasn’t working yesterday,” she said. “You need to try the owner.”

“Okay. Where’s the owner?” Greg asked.

“He’s not working today. I can give you his number. He only bought the place a week ago. I don’t know if he owns the flat upstairs though.”

“What’s his name?”

“Seb,” she said, flicking through her phone. Sally took out a notebook and wrote the number down.

“What’s the second name?” Greg asked.

The student shrugged. “It’s just Seb. I only met him for about 30 seconds on Monday. Do you want the manager’s number?”

“Yeah, please.”

“It’s Louise Evans. Hang on.” She read out the number. Greg thanked her and guided Sherlock out.

“I need to see the flat, Inspector,” Sherlock protested.

“I know,” Greg said. “But there’s a process. It’s alright, I’ll get a warrant.”

Sherlock flung his arms in the air. “Why do I bother when you’re so keen on all your protocol? What was even the point in asking me here? Useless!”

Sally rolled her eyes.

“Come on, Sherlock!” Greg shouted after him. Sherlock stormed out of the cafe and Greg followed him. “Sherlock!”

“I have work to do, Inspector!” he called back, hailing a taxi and getting in it. Greg clenched his fist and Sally raised her eyebrows.

“I don’t know why you’re so surprised,” she said.

“Shut up, Donovan. Let’s just organise this bloody warrant.”

 


 

Greg was still on his computer trying to fill out forms for a warrant when Mycroft called him. Sally was sat on the chair opposite and looked up briefly when his phone rang before returning to her notes. “Lestrade.”

“How is the case?” Mycroft asked. Straight to the point then.

“We’ve got a name,” Greg said. “Have you had any luck with the CCTV?”

“Not yet. Who was it?”

“Dimitri Grasty.” Mycroft fell silent. “Mycroft? You there?” Sally looked up and frowned at him.

“Yes. Dimitri Grasty? You’re certain?” Mycroft questioned.

“Yeah. You alright?”

“I need to go. Will I see you this evening?”

“You want me to come over?” Greg asked, surprised.

Mycroft paused again before speaking. “No, it’s fine.”

“You want me to come over?” Greg repeated. Mycroft remained silent. Greg licked his bottom lip, deciding to push his luck. “I’ll come when I’ve finished work, alright?”

“Very well. See you this evening.”

“See you later.” Mycroft hung up the call and Sally raised her eyebrows at him.

“Mycroft? Sherlock’s brother?” she asked, appearing baffled. “What you doing going round Sherlock’s brother’s house?”

“We’re… we’re friends.”

“Friends?” She raised her eyebrows. “You and that stuffy Government guy are friends?”

Greg laughed. “I don’t know why that’s so hard to believe.”

“Because he talks like he has a plum in his mouth and you don’t?”

“We have a mutual interest,” Greg said, keen to change the subject.

“And what’s that?”

“Sherlock,” Greg explained.

Sally snorted and looked back down at her paperwork.

 


 

Two hours later and Sally and Greg had found the cafe owner. Louise Evans was leading them through the back of the cafe, past the counter. “Seb? Hardly met him,” Louise said. “We had a very brief conversation where he told me to keep doing what I was doing but that was it.”

Greg frowned. “You got a new owner and he didn’t tell you about the business?”

Louise shrugged. “It was weird, I agree. But I’ve run this place for 14 years so I guess he thought I knew what I was doing.” Greg and Sally followed Louise up the stairs and she opened the door to the flat. “The previous owner – that’s Mahmood Samady – spent three years trying to rent this place out but no one wanted it. It’s a bit cramped, so I don’t blame them really. This is it.”

Greg looked around and put some gloves on. It was pretty chilly, as though the heating hadn’t been on for months, but the carpets appeared new. He and Sally walked to the windows and looked down at the street.

Greg unfastened one of the windows, pointing his hands through the gap as though he was holding a gun. “Direct line to the shop,” he said. A forensics team appeared a few seconds later. “We need swabs of the glass here,” Greg instructed. “And any other surfaces. Did you see anyone come up here, Louise?”

“No,” she said. “Or come down either.”

Greg moved to give the swab team access to the window.

“What’s Seb like?” Sally asked.

“Tall, dark hair, a bit gingery. Pretty fit actually,” Louise grinned. “In his late 30s, I suppose. Tall. He’s quite… gruff. Seemed like the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to mess with.”

“What did he wear when you met him?”

“Um. A black shirt and some black jeans, I think.”

“English?” Sally asked.

“Kind of Irish actually,” Louise replied, considering.

“Have you got a contact number for Mahmood?”

“Yeah, I should,” Louise said. “Let me go downstairs and I should be able to find it for you.”

Sally nodded and let Louise go. She walked up to Greg and looked around. “So, I guess we need to find this ‘Seb’ then.”

“How does no one know his surname?” Greg asked irritably. “Seriously, if someone takes over a business you question them a bit, don’t you?” Greg said a quick goodbye to the forensics team and walked down the stairs with Sally. They took the number for Mahmood and drove back to the Yard.

 


 

There wasn’t much more they could do that day when Mahmood was not picking up his phone.

Greg went home to shower and change before heading to Mycroft’s. He drove there; the rain just beginning to fall as he left his flat.

Mycroft was no where to be seen when he was let in, so he decided to try the office, knocking lightly on the door. “Come in!” Mycroft called and Greg opened it. Mycroft was sat behind his desk, flicking through some papers. His shirt was rolled up to his elbows, without a waistcoat or jacket, though he was wearing a tie. He put the papers down. “I lost track of time,” he said.

“It’s fine,” Greg replied. “Anything new on our CCTV?”

Mycroft stood and started to walk from the room. “Not as yet.”

Greg followed as Mycroft strolled towards the kitchen. “That smells good,” Greg murmured as they walked in.

“I can’t take credit for it,” Mycroft told him. “A colleague prepared a casserole for me. All I was instructed to do was put it in the oven.” Greg smiled and took a seat at the table and watched as Mycroft knelt down to take the pot out. “Would you like a drink?”

“Coffee?” Greg asked. “I’ll make it, it’s alright.” He got up, remembering where the cups were kept. He turned the kettle on as Mycroft took out a cafetiere and put it down on the counter. “I don’t think I know how to use this,” Greg admitted.

“Quite alright,” Mycroft told him, setting the casserole down on the side. “It’s very simple.” Mycroft stood behind him and handed him a bag of coffee. Greg felt the warmth of Mycroft’s body almost against his back and through his thin shirt and he leaned slightly into it. “Put some of the coffee in…” Greg did as instructed. “And once the water has boiled, add the water and put the lid on.”

Greg laughed. “I can manage that.” He heard Mycroft chuckle and his hand brushed Greg’s back as he moved to open a cupboard to the side. Greg shivered and Mycroft took out some plates and Greg poured the water.

He leaned against the counter as Mycroft dished up the food. “That looks great too.”

“Apparently my colleagues think I work too hard,” Mycroft said, smiling. “But when this is the reward, I don’t complain too much.”

Greg laughed and inspected the coffee. “Can I plunge this now?” he asked.

Mycroft glanced over as he opened a drawer for the knives and forks. “Yes.”

Greg poured their coffee, carrying the drinks over to the table. He sat down just as Mycroft was bringing over their plates. They glanced across at each other as Mycroft sat down and started eating. “Oh this is good,” Greg said. “Please pass my compliments to the chef.”

“I will.” They ate in comfortable silence, Greg filling the gap with appreciative sounds as he ate the food. “Greg?” Mycroft asked after a while.

“Mmmhmm?”

“I must tell you something.”

“What’s up?” Greg looked up, sipping from his coffee.

“Dimitri Grasty was investigating the murder of Tatiana Garzone. Remember the Russian woman your team found dead at a bus stop?”

Greg stared at him. “What?”

“Hadrian Kirkcudbright, the document at the National Archives and now Dimitri Grasty. I’m beginning to see a pattern emerge with a common denominator.”

“And what’s that?” Greg questioned.

“Me.”

Greg blinked. Mycroft. Common denominator. “Are you in danger?” he asked after a few seconds, once the words had started to sink in. “Do you need more security or something?”

“I am not in danger. Not as far as I’m aware.”

Greg frowned and finished his food, putting his cutlery down on the plate. “It’s a lot to take in, Mycroft.”

“I know.”

Greg frowned. “We’ve got some leads to follow tomorrow. Some guy who bought the cafe, but no one seems to know who he is.”

“What was his name?”

“Just ‘Seb’.”

Mycroft shook his head. “That means nothing to me.”

Greg rubbed his face. “God, this case. The rat run was a walk in the park compared to this.”

“How can I help?”

“Just keep working on your end,” Greg said, admitting Mycroft’s contacts and knowledge could be useful this time around. Especially if he was a - what? Target?

Mycroft stood and cleared their plates away. Greg watched him. His shirt had become untucked on one side and it made him smile. So he wasn’t so immaculate every second of every day. Greg licked his lips. So he knew what he was supposed to do. He was supposed to keep his hands to himself. And he knew what he wasn’t supposed to do. He wasn’t supposed to get up and snog him senseless. But this was Mycroft Holmes and damn, if he wasn’t the most enthralling person he’d ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Greg stood up as Mycroft turned on the taps and Mycroft turned and looked at him. Greg leaned against the kitchen counter as he poured in the washing up liquid. Mycroft Holmes. About to do his own washing up.

It was so normal, so very, very un-Mycroft Holmes that Greg couldn’t help himself. He pressed his hand to Mycroft’s jaw and kissed him.

Mycroft didn’t pull away. Their lips stilled against each other for a few seconds before breaking apart, but their faces remained close. They shared the tableaux for some drawn-out moments before their lips met again and neither was sure who initiated it.

They explored each other’s mouths in the kiss, Mycroft stepping away from the sink to press his body against Greg’s, pushing Greg back against the counter. Greg wound his arms around him, not thinking, just luxuriating in the feel of his tongue, his hands on his shoulders.

Mycroft pulled away first, a breathy ‘oh’ escaping his lips as he did so. He looked over at the sink. The water was close to the top and he hastily turned off the taps. He looked back at Greg, his lips apart, eyes cast wide.

Greg reached out and touched his hip, tugging him closer. They shared some brief, light kisses. “This wasn’t-” Mycroft murmured, Greg cutting him off with another kiss. “This wasn’t-mmff, Greg.”

Greg held him tighter against him and felt his shiver as Greg’s erection pressed against his body “What?” Greg asked huskily.

“This wasn’t the plan,” Mycroft managed as Greg cupped his arse, squeezing it.

“I know,” Greg said. He tipped his head back and took a deep breath as he closed his eyes. He looked back at Mycroft who appeared expectant and uncertain. “I know,” Greg repeated. “I know, I know, I know, this wasn’t the plan, but God, Mycroft.”

“I know,” Mycroft said, reaching up and touching the side of Greg’s neck. “I know.”

They stared at each other. Greg let out a shaky breath. He couldn’t bear to remove his hands from Mycroft’s arse, and he felt the other man’s arousal pressed against him. Greg’s own need was tight between their bodies and he knew it left Mycroft in no doubt of how turned on he was.

Mycroft gave him a sardonic smile. “Just once more,” he murmured, and Greg grinned at him.

“Yeah, just once more. I mean, it doesn’t hurt, right?”

“On the contrary, Greg. If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.”

Greg laughed and Mycroft gave him a broad smile in return. They kissed again, Greg slipping his tongue between Mycroft’s lips. Mycroft shuddered against him.

Greg smiled against his mouth and murmured “But what about the washing up?”

“Bugger the washing up,” Mycroft said, drawing him into another kiss. Greg groaned and held firmly onto Mycroft as he began to walk him backwards, out of the kitchen. Mycroft pressed kisses and nips to his neck as they moved. Greg kicked his shoes off.

“Where’d you want me?” Greg asked.

“Get on the sofa. And take your jeans off now.”

Greg grinned, quickly unfastening them. “Desperate, Mycroft?”

“I’m not in the mood to wait.”

Greg groaned at his words and kissed him hard, tangling his fingers in his shirt. Mycroft’s fingers nimbly opened Greg’s fly, pushing his jeans and boxers down a bit. Greg stumbled back towards the sofa, grabbing Mycroft’s tie and tugging him towards him. Greg pushed down his jeans and underwear, collapsing down onto the sofa. He looked up at Mycroft, breathing hard, and wrapped his own hand around his cock.

Mycroft’s mouth fell open as he watched. “Stop that,” Mycroft murmured.

“Make me,” Greg whispered, rubbing his thumb deliberately against the head. Mycroft walked towards him, straddling his hips and tugging Greg’s head up by his hair. Their lips were a breath apart but Mycroft kept Greg’s pulled head back. Greg pretended to fight it, tried to push him for a kiss but Mycroft’s lips closed around his neck instead, sucking on the spot it met his shoulder. Greg’s erection was pressed between them and Greg tried to move his hips but the other man was having none of it. “Christ, Mycroft,” Greg groaned.

Greg reached for the other man’s trousers, unfastening them and pushing them down as fast as he could. Mycroft stopped the assault on his neck for a second to help, pushing his trousers and boxers down his thighs. Their bodies pressed together, cocks aligned between them. Mycroft moved his hips and wrapped a hand around them both.

Greg glanced down and groaned at the sight, looking back up at Mycroft and kissing him again. Greg’s hand joined Mycroft’s as they moved together, lost in the sensations. Their foreheads pressed together and Greg gripped Mycroft’s arse with one hand, speeding up the movement on their cocks with the other. Mycroft’s heavy breaths filled the gaps between Greg’s eager moans.

Greg dropped his head onto the back of the sofa and looked at the other man, and fuck, “Mycroft, you’re unbelievable,” he whispered. Mycroft kissed him again. Greg felt Mycroft’s hips buck as he let go, and the feel of Mycroft coming over their joined hands was enough to tip Greg over the edge too. They panted together, their bodies relaxing as they caught their breaths. Mycroft’s cheek rested against Greg’s forehead and he held him there. “Mmm, Mycroft,” Greg murmured and Mycroft started to pull back. “No, no, you don’t need to move. Not yet.”

Mycroft sighed and settled against him, his nose pressing into the side of Greg’s neck. Greg’s hand moved from his arse to his back, rubbing in slow circles. Mycroft kissed the side of his neck and Greg smiled.

Mycroft eased off him, taking a seat on the sofa and using a handkerchief to wipe himself. He looked over at Greg. “Would you like to borrow a shirt?” he asked.

Greg looked down at himself and laughed. “Yeah, that was a bit messy… Please. Thanks.”

Mycroft leaned over and Greg kissed him, watching as he rose and wandered to what Greg supposed must be his bedroom. Greg pulled his boxers back on and sat waiting.

He returned wearing a new shirt, without his tie, and carrying a black one for Greg. Greg quickly stripped off his shirt, and caught Mycroft watching him with parted lips. He made purposefully slow work of buttoning up Mycroft’s shirt, enjoying the soft fabric against his skin. He left the top two buttons undone.

Mycroft took a seat beside him, their thighs pressing together and they shared a lazy, drawn-out kiss. Mycroft flashed him a dazed smile.

“Can’t blame us for doing this when it’s so good,” Greg said.

Mycroft chuckled and looked at him. Greg lightly kissed the side of his mouth. Mycroft exhaled and pulled Greg into for a deeper kiss. Greg realised all too quickly how he couldn’t get enough of his mouth. The feel, the taste of him was drawing him in and he was sinking into the texture of soft, relaxed lips, the flick of tongue against his. It must have been a few minutes they sat like that, Greg turning his body and tracing his fingers over Mycroft’s cheek, jaw, shoulder and back up to his neck and into his hair.

He wanted to lie Mycroft down and strip him and map every mark on his body so he could actually work how what it was about him which was so enigmatic and making him melt. If this was falling - if this was falling - then it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Greg’s hand dropped to Mycroft’s chest. Secure and firm.

Greg gave him one last sweet kiss before reluctantly pulling back.

Mycroft gazed at him. “Greg, I am so very sorry but I need to do some work.”

Greg nodded. “Yeah, that’s fine, I understand.”

Mycroft reached out and squeezed his shoulder. Greg watched him as he dropped his head and licked his lips. “This wasn’t the last time,” he murmured.

Greg frowned, daring himself to believe he’d just heard Mycroft correctly. “It… wasn’t?”

Mycroft looked up at him again, a challenging look on his face. “Was it, Greg? Can you honestly say it was the last time?”

“I know I don’t want it to be,” Greg admitted. “It’s good, Mycroft. It’s really, really good.”

“I know.”

“Just sex?” Greg asked.

“Yes, of course.”

“I feel like we’ve had this conversation a few times now, Mycroft.”

Mycroft smiled stiffly. “I’m aware. I rarely change my mind.”

Greg studied him. He leaned forward and moved so his lips brushed Mycroft’s ear as he whispered. “Good. Because I want to feel you inside me.” He heard Mycroft’s breath catch and Greg kissed a spot behind his ear before pulling back. He traced the outline of Mycroft’s lips with his thumb. “I’ll leave that thought with you for another time.”

He went to move, but Mycroft’s fingers curled in the top of the shirt, pulling him in for a hard kiss. Greg groaned and just as he began to lose himself, just as he thought maybe he’d be able to get it up for round two in about 10 minutes time Mycroft released him. “Goodnight, Greg,” he murmured.

Greg’s face broke into a slow grin as he stood up and adjusted his trousers. “Don’t work too hard,” he said as he walked to the door and began the journey back home.

 


 

When he got to his office in the morning, he found Sherlock was already there, sat in his chair on his computer.

“Get out of my seat,” Greg said, frowning at him. “Are you on my computer? Get off.”

Sherlock looked up at him. “We need to go through the Kirkcudbright case.”

“That’s fine, but get your skinny arse out of my chair first.”

Sherlock sulked but moved to the other chair anyway. Greg sat down and frowned at his computer. “Have you been reading my emails?” He clicked through his inbox. It wasn’t like he had anything to hide, but it was the principle of the thing.

“They’re boring. It’s all boring. Everything’s boring.”

“Brilliant,” Greg muttered. He hated Sherlock when he was in this kind of mood. Sherlock slammed his fist down on the desk. “Oi! Stop that,” Greg warned.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Come on, Lestrade, what are we missing?”

“I don’t know,” Greg said. “I’ve gone through this about a hundred times. I don’t know.”

Sherlock stood, looking around the room. “Imagine you’re Hadrian Kirkcudbright.”

“What?”

“Shut up,” Sherlock snapped.

Greg sighed and watched him.

“No, don’t just shut up, I need you to bounce ideas off,” Sherlock told him.

“Okay…” Greg said.

“Don’t just say ‘okay’, say something useful. Relevant. For once in your life try and use your brain. Imagine you’re Hadrian Kirkcudbright.”

“I’m Hadrian Kirkcudbright,” Greg muttered irritably.

“He’s working, he’s been working for four hours. And then someone - his killer - walks into his office and stands behind him and slashes his throat. It’s someone he knows, he’s seen them before, he’s not surprised.”

“Staff?”

“All accounted for.”

“Family?”

“Not the wife. Not the brother. Not the kids. It has got to be the staff,” Sherlock muttered, flinging his hands in the air. “But it’s not. Why not? Because they can’t get there quick enough. It’s not them, they’re not left handed - come on, Inspector, work with me! What are we missing?”

“The MORnetwork turned the cameras off?” Greg offered, trying to sound more certain than he was.

“Irrelevant. They’re not his killer, they just aided someone. They brought someone time. But who? Someone who knows about cameras. They know the room, the metal detector, they know the security.” Sherlock gasped throwing his hands in the air. “Security! Security.” Sherlock frowned. “Give me the layout of the house.”

“Layout? I don’t have a layout.”

“Describe it to me.”

Greg sighed, thinking. He mentally walked through the building in his head as he described it. “Hallway, living room, kitchen, dining room, downstairs bathroom, a second living room. Upstairs, landing, office, two bedrooms, bathroom, control room, third floor, two more bedrooms-”

“-Control room?” Sherlock questioned.

“Yeah, where the CCTV goes.”

“Idiot! Why are you only telling me this now?”

“It’s just a control room, I didn’t think it was relevant.”

“Of course it’s relevant! It’s all relevant. You imbecile. How do you get by in life with so little inside your brain? Lestrade! Who guards the guards?”

Greg shook his head. “Who guards the guards? I don’t get it, Sherlock.”

“Why didn’t you tell me the CCTV room is in the house?”

“I don’t know what you’re getting at.”

“The security guards, Lestrade! He was killed by a CCTV operator.”

Greg frowned. A CCTV operator. “But why-”

“Why, why, why, all you care about is why but who, it’s obvious. So obvious. A security guard watches the cameras, he knows where everyone in the house is. He sees Kirkcudbright, who’s not surprised to see him and he sets the metal detector off, but it’s safe because he’s security. And he tells Kirkcudbright he saw something on the CCTV, they get the images up and he slashes his throat and walks back to the control room, calling to say the cameras have turned off, but they’re on now and Kirkcudbright is already dead.”

Greg nodded, humouring him. “That’s brilliant, Sherlock, but where’s my motive?”

“The wife.”

Greg frowned. “The wife?”

“Paid to have him killed.”

“The wife paid to have him killed?” Greg repeated.

“You are so slow. He beat her, remember. Keep up.”

“That doesn’t mean she wanted him dead though.”

“Of course she wanted him dead. Did you miss the part where he used to hit her?”

Greg frowned. “Fine. Let’s go find our suspect then.” He got up, looking for the files.

“What are you doing?”

“Finding the names of the security guards.”

“Sebastian Moran and Laila Jones,” Sherlock recalled quickly. His eyes abruptly widened in surprise. “Oh!”

“What now?”

“Sebastian Moran.”

Greg sighed. “Come on, Sherlock, as much as I hate to admit it, you have to spell this out for me.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Seb.”

“Seb?”

“The cafe owner, Lestrade. And Sebastian Moran, the CCTV operator and security guard.”

Greg dropped the paperwork on his desk. Shit. “This is one of those coincidences where it’s too much of a coincidence to be one, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed.

Greg stormed to the door and opened it. “Donovan! I need a team looking for Sebastian Moran right now. He was a security guard at the Kirkcudbright house and a suspect in the Dimitri Grasty killing.”

“On it, sir,” Sally said, typing frantically into her computer and not questioning the sudden announcement of a suspect.

Edmund looked up at Greg. “Would you like me to go to the Kirkcudbright house, sir? I’ve met Mrs Kirkcudbright before, she made me tea.”

“Yeah,” Greg agreed. “Yeah, good plan. I saw Sergeant Dimmock around somewhere. Get him to go with you.” Ed got up straight away, jogging out of the office.

“We’ve got a building, sir!” Sally called out. “Not a house, it’s a warehouse.” Greg and Sherlock looked over her shoulder at the map she brought up.

“I need a team right now!” Greg shouted. “Uniformed officers, we’re going after a suspected double murderer. We need bullet proof vests. This guy’s potentially a sniper and likely to be armed.”

The next 15 minutes went by in what could only be described as organised chaos as Greg’s team and others got ready to move out. He was in command on this and calling the shots and he was relieved to see how easily people took his orders without question.

“I’m coming with you,” Sherlock said.

“No way, Sherlock,” Greg said, pointing at him. “I can’t risk it this time, I’m sorry, alright. Stay here and I’ll give you a lift home when I get back, or go home, whatever. But you cannot come, you hear me? I’m serious, Sherlock.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Fine.” He stormed to the door, slamming it closed.

Greg glanced at Sally before looking back around the people in the room. “We’ve got a murderer to catch, hurry up!”

 


 

Half an hour later Greg was sat in his car, listening and watching his team surround the large industrial warehouse. Aside from armed officers, the space around it was deserted of both people and cars. “No one here, sir,” came a crackle over the radio.

“Check everywhere,” Greg demanded.

“We have, sir. It’s just a massive, empty space.”

“Shit!” Greg jumped out of his car, and hurried into the building. Sally was leaning against the wall shaking her head. Greg looked around the warehouse. It was cold and damp, without any indication of what it might have been used for. He spotted a single poster on the wall and frowned, walking towards it.

It was a plain white piece of card, and words were hand-written on it in red paint.

Some other time, Detective Inspector Lestrade was all it said. It was so personal that it shook him to the core.

Sally stood beside him and looked at it. “Take this as evidence,” Greg murmured. “Photograph it first.”

She nodded. “You alright sir?”

Greg continued to stare at it. A horrible feeling of self-awareness and vulnerability flooded through him. Those six words were a personal attack. A warning, a threat. It was mocking. Greg could almost hear the laughter coming from it. “Who the hell is this guy?” Greg spat, turning his back from the poster.

Sally shook her head. “It’s just words, sir. It’s a lucky guess or something.”

“He knew I was onto him. He knew this was my case.” Greg frowned. “Right, I’m driving back to the station. I need to work out our next move. Sally-”

“I’ll deal with everything here.”

Greg nodded. “Cheers. Shit.”

He walked out, muttering under his breath before getting into his car. He turned the volume of the radio up loud. He wasn’t sure how he was going to explain away this one.

He drove away from the warehouse, and down a few side streets. He noted the red Mini in his rear view mirror. He indicated left. He had to wait behind a bicycle with no opportunity for overtaking. The bike and Mini turned right. A silver Jaguar was behind him now. Nice car. Shit, how was he ever going to explain how they lost a suspected double murderer and possibly someone who broke into the National Archives? And why the hell was his name on that bloody piece of paper? He turned left onto a busier road. He stopped at the traffic lights. He noted the Thames on his right right hand side. London was stunning.

The setting sun was just starting to blind him and Greg put the sun visor down. He found the car’s biting point just as the lights changed colour and drove into the centre of the road. All too late he saw the black SUV on his left-hand side. It sped towards him, hurtling, not hesitating as it rammed into the side of Greg’s car. He swore, desperately trying to turn the wheel and put his foot down on the break, but the car kept ramming him.

Greg’s car went through a plastic barrier and down, down straight into the Thames. He managed to put himself into the brace position just in time as the car landed in the water and the air bag smashed into his body.

Chapter Text

August, 2006

Greg’s car went through a plastic barrier and down, down straight into the Thames. He managed to put himself into the brace position just in time as the car landed in the water and the air bag smashed into his body.

He breathed hard, his heart pounded. He lifted one hand to his nose and saw the blood on his hand.

Oh crap the car was sinking. Dark water began to obscure the windscreen as the car tipped forwards. Oh God. No, fuck. He was going to die in a car in the Thames and it was going to be horrendous and nobody was going to miss him. It felt like the car was shrinking, like he was crammed into the tiniest box in the world. His heart was beating furiously in his chest. He was a kid all over again, held under water, not able to make a sound, not even able to find his way out.

No. No, not like this. This wasn’t meant to be like this.

Don’t die. Don’t die. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Think, Greg, you stupid bastard.

Through shaking hands he managed to unbuckle the seatbelt. One of his wrists was throwing shards of pain down his body but he ignored it. He furiously tried to open the door but the pressure from the water was already preventing it from swinging open.

Escape route. Need an escape route. Windows. Made of glass. Need to smash it. He looked around the car. Kicking probably wouldn’t work. Car keys? No, not really.

He saw the headrest. He pressed the buttons either side of it, feeling the car tilting futher forward as he wrenched it out of the seat. The water was already beginning to pool around the window. He turned his head to the side, away from the glass, as he smashed the metal prongs of the headrest against the window. It cracked.

He took one deep breath and with all the energy he could muster, he smashed it. The water began to fill the car and rushed into his face. Holding his breath he swam through the gap in the window.

He felt his shirt catch on the glass and rip and he thought perhaps he’d caught his leg on the way out but he had to look for the light and swim up, up, up.

His clothes were heavy and he felt himself being drawn down but he kept swimming up, up and up until finally he reached the surface and panted for breath, treading water for a few seconds before kicking and swimming and pulling himself to the side. In the distance he saw an orange boat. RNLI. Oh God.

He hauled himself onto some steps leading out of the water, lying face down on the concrete. He was lucky the tide was in or the fall would have been even greater. He looked down to where there was a large slice in the right side of his shirt. It was red. He’d cut himself on the window. Weird, though, because he didn’t feel any pain. There was a dull ache in his wrist. He squeezed his eyes shut. The boat reached him, and two of the crew were coming out, wrapping a blanket over him and checking his injuries. He stared down at the water, where his car must be now. How deep was the Thames? Would it have touched the bottom by now? Were there fish in the river? Mycroft and Sherlock would know. He heard the sirens and heard the pounding of feet on solid ground as the paramedics reached him on the water’s edge.

They were asking him his name and his age and if he had any medical conditions, and it was Greg Adams. No. Lestrade. It was Greg Lestrade, he hadn’t been Greg Adams since he was 17. And he was 39 now and he didn’t have any medical conditions, he was a police officer. Detective Inspector in fact, and he felt fine and no, there was no one to call. He was being injected with morphine, two more blankets wrapped over him as they inspected the wound on his side and someone was cutting his trouser leg and that was his favourite pair, and he looked up and saw the massive gash there and he winced as pressure was applied to it.

He was put into an ambulance, and he murmured that perhaps someone should call Scotland Yard, because he was an officer there and maybe they needed to know what had happened.

But no. There was no one else to call.

“You need to relax, Greg, you’re hyperventilating.” Was he? “Breathe in with me, Greg. Like this. And out. And in, come on, copy me, Greg. We’re just going to put some oxygen on you now.” The mask was put on his face and Greg wanted to pull away from it because it felt too restricting, like drowning all over again, but he fought the impulse to turn away, knowing it was beginning to help. He breathed, his hand tensing on the stretcher. “That’s great, Greg. You’re doing really well.” The paramedic was cutting into his shirt. “Doesn’t look too deep,” she said, looking at the long cut on his side. “You’re going to be just fine, Greg, okay?”

The morphine was kicking in, not that he needed it because he didn’t feel in too much pain. Just cold and numb.

He was wheeled out of the ambulance and into the hospital, through to a room where a consultant was there to look him over. He was changed out of his wet clothes, given a hospital gown and new dry blankets. “You’re going to need stitches on your leg, but the cut on your side isn’t as bad as we first thought,” the doctor said. “You’ll have to be careful, it’s going to be painful for a while and you won’t want to move too much. Looks like you’ve got a broken wrist. We’re going to need to get you an X-Ray.”

Greg took the oxygen mask off his face. “I need… I need to give them a description of the car that rammed me off the road,” he rushed out, his voice sounding foreign and shaky.

“The police will be here shortly, but let’s get you fixed up first.”

“He’s still out there, I need to-”

The doctor pushed him back down onto the bed. “-Not yet, Greg. Just let us do our jobs, then you can do yours.”

He closed his eyes and let the staff work around him as they dressed his side and stitched up his leg and gave him painkillers and antibiotics.

He looked up as Sally walked into the room an hour later. Her eyes widened. “God, boss,” she said, walking over. “Are you alright?”

“Not great,” Greg winced.

“What happened?”

“I dunno. I was driving and this nutter just rammed my car right off the road and into the Thames.”

“What was the car like?”

“Big, black SUV thing. I didn’t get a good look at it.”

“We’ve got people looking for the CCTV now,” Sally said, taking a seat beside the bed.

Greg nodded. “I don’t… I don’t know what happened. It’s like they hit me on purpose.” He frowned. “I think I was the target.” Why the hell was he the target?

“You’re lucky you’re not worse injured.”

“I know,” Greg said. “Lucky it barged me on the left. It didn’t just hit me, Sal, it kept shoving.”

“Is there anyone I can call?”

“No.”

“Parents?”

Greg frowned. Dad? “No, it’s fine. I won’t worry him.”

Sally nodded. “What about your ex-wife?”

“No.”

“Greg, I want to stay with you but… I want to catch the bastard who did this more.”

Greg smiled gratefully at her. “Yes. Do that. I’m alright. I’ve got to go and have an X-Ray or something anyway.”

“I’ll call you, alright?” she said, lightly squeezing his arm.

“My phone’s in the Thames, Sally.”

She laughed and Greg grinned at her. “I’ll bring you a phone.”

“Cheers.”

She gave his arm another squeeze and he sighed, closing his eyes and trying to find a comfortable position to lie in.

 


 

Over the next few hours he took a few more drugs, was X-Rayed (confirmed broken left wrist, bugger,) and given a plaster cast.

He fell into a deep sleep, aided only by the drugs.

He woke at around 6am, disoriented and angry he didn’t know the time because his watch was broken. He lay in the bed, listening to the noises and the pacing and the groaning and the coughing. He had to get out of here and quickly.

He drifted in and out of sleep over the next few hours, being checked over by various nurses who told him he’d be able to leave after breakfast, before Sally arrived, carrying grapes and a new mobile phone. It was only an old one of hers, but it was better than nothing. She’d brought him a shirt, some underwear and pyjama bottoms and Greg didn’t question who they belonged to. “Did you find anything out?” he asked as she took a seat.

“We followed all the CCTV we could, but we lose the car once he gets out of London. The number plate’s fake.”

Greg sighed and shook his head. “I thought that might be the case. It was done on purpose. The more I think about it, the more I think I was the target.”

“Why?”

The MORnetwork. His connection with Mycroft. Moran. All of the above. But somehow he knew, and couldn’t say it aloud. “I don’t know,” he said instead. “Can you give me a lift home?”

Sally nodded. “Course.”

After dressing in the shirt and pyjamas which were both slightly - gratefully - too big for him, Greg followed Sally to the car park. His leg wasn’t hurting and nor was his wrist, but he had a stabbing pain in his side with every step. They retrieved Greg’s spare key from a neighbour (thank God he’d thought to do that) and he shuffled straight to bed to lie down again. His body was beginning to ache more and more.

“Do you need anything else?” Sally asked after giving him some toast and a coffee, and fetching him his laptop.

“No. Donovan. You’re amazing. Thank you.”

She smiled at him. “If you need anything, just call me.”

Greg nodded. She rubbed his arm and left him alone on his bed. He sighed, closing his eyes. He tried to get comfortable but winced at the splinters of pain from his side.

A few hours later, he was woken by the shrill tone from Sally’s mobile phone. He frowned at it. Withheld number. He accepted the call. “Lestrade.”

“Greg, I understand you encountered a problem at work.” It was Mycroft. Greg felt himself relax at the sound of his voice. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” Greg said, closing his eyes again.

“Sherlock thinks otherwise.”

“I’m fine, Mycroft. How’d you get this number?”

“Where are you?”

Greg sighed. “I left the hospital a while ago. I’m at home.”

“A car will be round in half an hour. You are staying with me. Sherlock’s orders.”

“Since when do I take orders from Sherlock?”

“Very well. My orders.”

“I’m not taking orders from you either,” Greg said, but he couldn’t prevent the smile on his face.

“Oh, really now? That certainly wasn’t the case the other night.” The other night… now there was a memory.

“That’s different,” Greg mumbled.

“Don’t make me beg. Get in the car.”

Greg shivered at the commanding tone. “Can I make you beg later?”

“Unlikely,” Mycroft replied.

“But not out of the question, yeah?”

“Are you coming?” Mycroft asked.

“Yeah. I’ll see you later then.”

“Allow the driver to pack you a bag. See you this evening.” Mycroft hung up.

 


 

Half an hour later and there was a knock on Greg’s door. Greg pushed his body through the pain as he moved from his bed. The cut on his leg was beginning to hurt when he moved and as for his side, well, he could do with some more painkillers right about now.

He opened the door to one of Mycroft’s drivers, one he recognised from a few trips between his flat and Mycroft’s offices, and let him in. He was carrying a suitcase. “Thank you,” the man said, looking around the flat. “Can you show me to your clothes?” Greg nodded and led the way, sitting down on the bed. “Is there anything particular you would like to take?” the driver asked.

“Just underwear, socks. I’ve got some tracksuit trousers in the bottom drawer over there. And t-shirts in the drawer above. I know Mycroft’s all about suits and shirts but…” Greg trailed off, not really sure why he was trying to justify himself to Mycroft’s driver.

The driver took out a selection of Greg’s clothing, re-folding them all before putting them in the bag. Greg told him where the bathroom was so he could get a toothbrush and other toiletries. Greg looked down at the suitcase. He’d lost count of what had been packed and he wasn’t sure exactly how many nights’ worth of clothes he had. Unsure of Mycroft’s motives, he found the whole thing quite disconcerting. It wasn’t like he had been planning to fall in the Thames so Mycroft could swoop in and be his nurse.

The image of Mycroft as a nurse amused him and he almost laughed until his side reminded him that movement of his abdomen was uncomfortable and sore.

Greg gave the driver his laptop and a few other necessities before they began to leave the flat. The driver pressed the button for the lift. “I’ll get the stairs,” Greg said. The man folded his arms.

“You can’t get the stairs, Detective Inspector.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’re in pain.”

“I can’t get in that lift.” The doors slid open and Greg looked inside. Somehow that box looked more like a torture chamber than ever before and he could visualise himself inside it as it filled with water. “Not doing it,” Greg said. “I’ll meet you at the bottom.”

“You’re as stubborn as Mr Holmes,” the driver muttered, and began to walk to the stairs. Greg smiled gratefully and followed him. The journey down took a long time with every part of his body aching with even the smallest movement. He knew his chest was bruised from the air bag and without being allowed to take another painkiller for one more hour, his limbs were beginning to remind him of what he’d just gone through.

They eventually reached the car and the driver held the door open for him as he slid in. “How long have you worked for Mycroft?” Greg asked.

“Three years,” the driver replied.

“Is he a good boss?”

“The very best,” the driver said.

“What’s so great about him?”

“I was a drug dealer and a thief. He rescued me from an early grave.”

Greg frowned, looking out of the window. That was an unexpected answer. “Why?” Greg finally asked.

“I had skills he said would be useful to him. And I haven’t looked back since. And now I have a new skill money can’t buy.”

“What’s that?”

“Undying loyalty,” the driver said as the pulled up outside Crusader House. “Now, Detective Inspector, how can I persuade you to take the lift this time?”

“You can’t.”

The driver gave an exasperated sigh as he held the door open. “I can see why he likes you anyway.”

“Why?” Greg frowned, slowly getting out of the car.

“You stick to your principles. Even if your principle is to cause yourself more pain.”

Greg didn’t say a word as they began the gradual ascent up the stairs. Greg wished Mycroft lived on the bottom floor. His legs were like lead. The driver stayed behind him all the way up until finally they reached Mycroft’s door. He was shown through and the driver opened the door to the spare room.

“The bed’s been made up for you,” he said. “There’s a TV on the wall there. I will get you a drink and some food and Mr Holmes said he’d be home as soon as he could.”

Greg nodded and shuffled to the bed. The room had red wallpaper and a window which opened out to the street below. The sheets were a deep silky grey, with intricate patterns along the sides. Greg pushed some of the cushions aside, slipping under the cover. His body sank into the mattress. It was moulding around his body and he almost groaned in delight. He had to get a mattress like this one.

He took the TV remote and switched the television on the wall on. There was nothing on but boring mid-afternoon programming, but it was comforting to have some noise fill the void. The driver brought him a coffee, a glass of orange juice and an assortment of sandwiches and fruit. “Do you need anything else?” he asked.

“No, I’m fine,” Greg told him. “Cheers for this.”

The driver smiled and put a piece of paper down beside the bed along with Greg’s mobile phone. “This is the best number to reach Mycroft on in an emergency. If you need anything less urgent, then try the number on the back. See you soon, Detective Inspector.”

“Thanks.”

 


 

Greg spent the day watching terrible television, making his way through the food and trying to sleep. His body felt in a constant numbing sort of pain which prevented him from moving and stopped him from getting up and making himself a coffee.

It was also uncomfortable being in a strange, albeit very comfortable, bed. Yes, Mycroft had ordered him here, but a lack of understanding of why and what it meant made Greg uneasy.

In the afternoon, he finally called his dad. He had to leave an answerphone message to say he’d been hurt at work, but he was alright and not to worry and to call if he wanted to talk.

At 5.23pm, Greg heard the sound of a door opening and closing. He turned down the volume of the television, listening out. He heard the footsteps moving closer before the soft knock on the door came. “Come in.”

The door opened and Mycroft walked through. “How are you?” he asked, standing by the wall.

“Bit of pain but not too bad considering. How did you find out?” Greg asked.

“Sherlock went to New Scotland Yard in the morning and was informed. I would have contacted you earlier, had I known.” Mycroft pressed his lips together.

“It’s alright,” Greg said. “It’s not too serious, really. The wrist’s a bit of a pain but I’ll take a few weeks off. I’ll be right as rain in four to eight weeks.”

“What precisely happened?”

“Sherlock didn’t tell you?”

“I’d rather hear it from you,” Mycroft said.

“We went to a warehouse Sebastian Moran was meant - wait, did Sherlock explain about Sebastian Moran?”

“He did,” Mycroft confirmed.

“Right. Well. We went to the warehouse and there was nothing there.” Greg paused. He contemplated telling Mycroft about the poster with his name on but stopped himself before the words came out. Mycroft already thought he was being targeted in this nightmare and if he thought for a second Greg might somehow be in danger because of him… well, it didn’t bear thinking about. “So, I left in the car to go back to the Yard. And out of no where, this massive car just barged me and shunted me off the road and into the Thames. And here I am.”

Mycroft studied him. “A broken wrist and bruised ribs and chest from the air bag, a gash to your leg and a cut down the right side of your body from the glass on the window.”

Greg nodded. “Sums up the injuries, yeah.”

“Did you use a headrest to escape?” Mycroft asked.

“I did, actually.”

“Very quick thinking.”

“I thought I was going to die,” Greg admitted. “Took a little while to stop panicking. Apparently I was hyperventilating in the ambulance, but it’s all a bit of a blur. Mycroft, why am I here?”

“I heard about your broken wrist. I thought it might be better if someone could make you meals and keep an eye on you.” Mycroft frowned and pressed his lips tightly together. “And you may be in danger. And you will be safe here until my people have analysed the footage of your accident.”

“Do you think I was the target?” Greg asked.

“Almost certainly, taking into account the nature of the accident and the way your car was pushed into the Thames.”

“Have you got it?” Greg asked.

“Got what?”

“The video?”

“Yes.”

“I want to see it,” Greg said.

“It’s most distressing,” Mycroft said. “I’m not sure it’s for the best while you are recovering.”

“Mycroft, I have a broken wrist and some bruises. I’m not that bad.”

“Nonetheless. You should remain calm and allowed time to recover.”

Greg narrowed his eyes at him. “You’re actually worried about me.”

“Nonsense. Sherlock was worried about you. I am merely keeping an eye on you.”

Greg smiled. “Sherlock isn’t worried about me. I bet he thinks he has no control over whether I’m fine or not fine so he’s probably pissing everyone else at the Yard off instead.”

Mycroft offered a half smile and moved to sit down on the side of the bed. He pressed the back of his hand to Greg’s forehead. Greg looked up at him and started to sit up, deciding kissing Mycroft would be an excellent course of action to take his mind of his pain.

He winced.

“Stop moving,” Mycroft murmured, pushing him back down.

Greg glared at him. “This is bloody irritating, you know?”

“How can I help?” Mycroft asked.

“You’re offering to help?”

Mycroft raised his eyebrows. “Would you like any painkillers? A drink?”

“I want a blowjob.”

Mycroft chuckled. “Is that so?”

“I thought I’d give ordering you around a try. How’s it working?”

Mycroft rolled his eyes, but he reached down to feel Greg’s pulse. “I am concerned about infection.”

“I don’t have diseases. I was tested months ago.”

Mycroft raised his eyebrows again. “An infection of the wound, Greg. Or pneumonia, or goodness knows what disgusting viruses live in the Thames.”

“Well, I won’t give those to you either.”

Mycroft shook his head. “You’re going to be an unbearable patient, aren’t you?”

“Good job you make a sexy nurse to make up for it then really,” Greg grinned.

Mycroft looked sternly at him, but even he couldn’t manage hide the smile threatening on the corner of his lips. Greg grinned and Mycroft shot him an amused smile. “Are you feeling well enough to move to the living area? I thought we could watch a film.”

“That would be amazing,” Greg said. “TV is rubbish.”

Mycroft stood up and pried the covers back. He held his arm out so Greg could lean on him with his good arm as he got up. Mycroft’s arm circled around his waist as they walked to the door. He let go as they walked to the living room and Greg limped to the sofa.

“Let me see,” Mycroft murmured as Greg sat down, kneeling down on the floor and pushing Greg’s pyjama trouser leg up. He inspected the wound.

“Actually, Mycroft,” Greg said. “Can I use your shower?”

“Of course. Would the bath be easier?”

“Yeah, that would be amazing actually.”

“I’ll run it for you and then find something plastic to cover your cast with.”

Greg smiled gratefully at him as Mycroft went into the bathroom. Greg heard the sound of running water before Mycroft went into the kitchen and returned with some clingfilm, plastic bags and sellotape.

They both walked to the bathroom. Mycroft unbuttoned his shirt for him, helping him slide it over the cast. Mycroft winced as he saw the bruises covering his chest and stomach.

“It looks worse that it is,” Greg said.

Mycroft nodded and began to cover his cast in the plastic. Greg watched his long fingers on his arm, but saw how he was looking distractedly at the deep bruising. Mycroft’s attention turned to the dressing along the side of his body. “It’s a longer wound than I imagined,” he murmured.

“Yeah, I properly caught it,” Greg said. “I guess I just saw the gap in the window and went for it.”

Mycroft’s fingers lightly touched beneath his eyelid. “You’re developing some black eyes.”

Greg groaned. “I’m going to look horrendous in a couple of days.”

“Unlikely,” Mycroft said, turning the taps off. Greg smiled at the compliment he thought he’d just been given. “I will re-dress the wounds for you after your bath. Do you need anything else?”

“No, I’m fine. But don’t lock the door in case I get stuck and need help getting out or something.”

Mycroft laughed and checked the water’s temperature. “Towels are over there on the heater and the shampoos and soaps are in the basket. Please call for me if you need anything.”

Mycroft left Greg alone as he finished undressing and he sat down on the edge of the bath, carefully turning around and sliding his body into it. It wasn’t quite as hot as he would have had it – he loved the tingle of water which was a little too warm – but the feel of the small ripples of water around his body was certainly easing some of the pain.

He tilted his head back, closing his eyes. It wasn’t easy to be comfortable while trying to hold a cast out of water. It was heavy and annoying and he’d only be wearing it 24 hours.

He looked down at his chest and the bruises which had begun to turn a deeper shade of purple.

He reached into the little wicker basket and at the small, expensive looking bottles of gels and lotions. He managed to pop open the lid of one with his thumb and held the bottom of the bottle in his mouth as he poured some of it into his hand. He carefully rubbed it against his body, feeling where the muscles were sore and sensitive to the touch.

It looked as though his ‘I want to feel you inside me’ comment was going to be put on hold for a while because there was no way any position was going to be comfortable for the time being. He was disappointed at that.

The scent of the gel opened his airways and he wondered if it was Mycroft’s usual one, or whether he changed his scent regularly.

He looked at the shampoo. Ah. Hair washing. This wasn’t going to be an easy task. He didn’t really want to call Mycroft to come and do it for him. For one, he was too proud to. For two, he was going to be wearing the cast for a while and didn’t want to start relying on Mycroft’s help. For three, Mycroft had never seen him totally naked before and although he’d seen everything there was to see, it was still a pretty vulnerable position to be in when he was clothes-less and in the bath and Mycroft was dressed in clothes suitable for the Queen.

He touched his hair. It felt greasy, and he felt generally unclean. He sighed. “Mycroft!”

He heard footsteps before he replied through the door. “Is everything okay?”

“Can you… can you wash my hair?”

There was a pause before Mycroft replied. “Of course. Let me find a jug. I will be there in a moment.”

Greg grabbed a flannel from the side, using it to cover himself. Mycroft had seen it before, but this was different somehow. Mycroft knocked twice before walking in. He had taken off his jacket, waistcoat and tie, his shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows.

“This is really embarrassing,” Greg mumbled.

“Nonsense. I wouldn’t have invited you here if I wasn’t willing to do things for you. Which shampoo would you like?”

Greg looked at the bottles and handed over the first one he saw. Mycroft rolled up his trouser legs to his knees and sat on the edge of the bath, putting his feet into it. Greg couldn’t bring himself to look at him, so sat holding the flannel in place in his lap.

Mycroft scooped some water into a plastic jug. “Tip your head back and close your eyes.”

Greg did as instructed and sighed as the warm water was poured over his hair and Mycroft began to smooth it back. He leaned into one of Mycroft’s legs, aware he was probably getting the fabric wet but Mycroft didn’t comment. Instead, he poured more water over his head and began to rub in the shampoo. Greg groaned. A low, deep groan, which started to make him hard while Mycroft’s fingers rubbed his scalp.

So maybe a broken wrist wasn’t so bad after all. (He probably wouldn’t be thinking that in a few days time when he was back to living alone and trying to cover his own cast in a plastic bag). Mycroft used the jug to pour away the soap, and his fingers continued to move through his sodden hair. Greg moaned again and curled his good hand around Mycroft’s leg, letting the flannel float to the side. He was aroused but without a desperate desire to have his need seen to. Instead, he rested his wet head against Mycroft’s knee and sat there silently with Mycroft’s fingers stilled in his hair.

He wished he could read his mind the way he imagined Mycroft was reading his.

It was still and easy, hearing the gentle ripples of the water when he moved and the sound of their breaths as the steam hung in the air, filling his lungs with warmth.

Mycroft’s calf was firm and tensed, hairs brushing against the palm of Greg’s hand. And though Greg knew he was getting Mycroft’s trousers all wet, he hadn’t even started to move. Greg tilted his head backwards to look up at Mycroft. He was gazing down at him, his face in neutral mode.

“I’m glad you escaped,” Mycroft said, his fingers moving over Greg’s forehead.

Greg smiled, looking at his face from upside down. “Yeah, I’m pretty glad too.”

Mycroft smiled amusedly at him, before he started to move. Greg sat up to let him. “Call me if you need anything else,” Mycroft said as he stood and patted down his wet legs with a towel. Greg watched him go, and leaned back against the space where Mycroft had been.

His cock was soft again now, the water cooling. Greg closed his eyes. He moved his leg. The image of water crashing into his face as he fought to escape the window flashed before his eyes.

He caught himself before he could shudder and he instantly moved, desperate to get out of the bath. It wasn’t easy with one hand, and he wasn’t used to not using his injured one yet, but he managed to get himself out and wrap a warm towel around himself.

He wiped the steam from Mycroft’s mirror and inspected his face. He could see the bruises forming. He held the towel around his waist and knocked on the bathroom door with his foot. Mycroft returned a minute later.

“Can I have some pyjamas?” Greg asked. “There should be some in the suitcase.”

“Of course.”

Greg followed Mycroft out and towards the bedroom. Mycroft knelt down and opened the case and rummaged through it before finding a large t-shirt and some tracksuit bottoms. “These?” he asked, holding them up and frowning at the garments.

Greg grinned. “My pyjamas not good enough for you?”

Mycroft laughed and held the trousers out so Greg could step into them. Mycroft sat up onto his knees as he lifted them up and Greg dropped the towel as the trousers reached his hips. Mycroft was looking up at him through his lashes. Greg shuddered. It should have been ridiculous. Him standing there half naked with a sodden wet dressing down half his body and a cast on his arm.

But there was nothing funny about the way Mycroft was gazing up at him. Mycroft leaned forward and pressed his cheek against Greg’s crotch. The fabric was too thin to hide anything and Greg’s cock hardened against the warmth of his face. “Fuck. If you’re going to do that, I need something to hold onto.”

Mycroft smirked and Greg shuffled backwards until the backs of his knees found the bed and he sunk down onto it. Mycroft’s eyes were fixed on his as he practically crawled towards him, curling his fingers in the tops of Greg’s trousers. Greg lifted himself off the bed so he could pull the offending clothing down. Mycroft pushed Greg’s legs apart so he could kneel between them. Greg’s breath shook.

And Mycroft took him straight into his mouth. Greg tipped his head back, squeezing his eyes shut.

Mycroft didn’t hold back, using one hand to stroke him roughly, his lips pressed tightly against his length as he moved his head just so obscenely. Greg watched him and reached out and curled his fingers through his hair.

Pleasure built up in his stomach and he knew he couldn’t last. The tension of the past 24 hours had been too much and now the chance to let it go…

“I can’t-” he whispered and Mycroft sucked harder, not letting go as Greg flooded his mouth.

Greg panted between groans, lost between trying to push into Mycroft’s mouth as he came and pull away from the overwhelming sensitivity of it. Mycroft let him go and looked up at him, slowly and deliberately licking his bottom lip. Greg’s mouth opened as he watched. There were no words for how hot that was.

“Stand up,” Mycroft instructed, and Greg did so, though his knees were close to crumbling. Mycroft pulled his trousers back up and stood.

Mycroft’s hand curled around the back of his neck and Greg shuddered as his head was pulled towards him. Mycroft stopped moving when their faces were inches from each other. Greg leaned back into the possessive grip around his neck. There was tension there. Real heat simmering between them. But rather than pull Mycroft in for a rough kiss, Greg nudged their noses against each other. He felt Mycroft’s catch of breath against his lips. Their mouths were a whisper apart, and Greg brushed them together. It was a stroke of mouth against mouth, until he tilted his head and pressed the softest of kisses to Mycroft’s top lip.

Mycroft’s hand dropped from his neck. “Yes. Well. I shall put some dinner on.” Mycroft turned and walked straight out of the room. Greg swallowed and watched him go. Which bit of that was not the right thing to do?

He looked down at his t-shirt and pondered the best way to get it on.

After several minutes and a bit of a cricked neck later, Greg had sorted himself out and ruffled his hair in the mirror. He found Mycroft in the kitchen, stirring some pasta. Greg took a seat at the table and watched him in silence. Mycroft didn’t turn to face him. Greg thought he’d overstayed his welcome already, and it hadn’t even been 12 hours.

They didn’t say a word as Mycroft prepared them dinner. Greg stared listlessly at the table and read the label on the back of an empty bottle of wine.

Mycroft set some pasta and tomato sauce in front of them both. It had been a good choice, Greg found. He could just stab his food and didn’t require two hands.

Greg got through half his meal and realised he couldn’t take it anymore. “What did I do?” he asked.

“Do?”

“Yeah, why are you so angry at me?”

Mycroft’s mouth opened and closed twice. “I’m not angry, Greg,” Mycroft said, shaking his head and frowning with a bemused smile.

“Then why aren’t you talking?”

“I could ask you the same question,” Mycroft replied.

“Smart arse,” Greg muttered, taking another bite of his pasta.

“What would you like to watch?”

“I don’t mind. I actually enjoyed Frankenstein. So any kind of film like that, if you want.”

“American Psycho?”

Greg grinned. “That sounds cheerful.”

“I apologise. Most of the films I have been given are horror films.”

“No, it’s good. I heard it’s a good film.”

Mycroft nodded. “I believe it received mixed reviews at the time.”

“I’m not fussed about reviews. I usually watch easy films. Like Die Hard and Star Wars.”

“I have never seen either,” Mycroft said.

Greg stared at him. “You’ve never seen Die Hard?”

“I believe people watch it at Christmas. I have never understood why.”

“It’s a classic, Mycroft. Give me Die Hard at Christmas over White Christmas any day of the week.”

“Is that a Christmas tradition of yours? To watch Die Hard?”

“I don’t have any Christmas traditions. I don’t have any traditions at all, actually.”

Mycroft nodded awkwardly and finished his food. “Let me redress your cuts, and then we can watch a film.”

They did the washing up in silence, Mycroft doing the washing and drying and Greg putting things away, one item at a time. Mycroft retrieved a first aid kit from the bathroom and Greg allowed him to inspect the cut along his side and affix a new bandage to it. He did the same with the cut on his leg before they each sat on the sofa, Mycroft dimming the lights and turning the film on.

Without Mycroft asking, Greg stretched his legs out along the sofa and over Mycroft’s lap. Mycroft’s hand rested on his leg as they sat back and watched the film.

It was disturbing and humorous in equal measure. Mycroft’s persistent thumb began to rub against his knee three-quarters of the way through. Greg found it relaxed him.

Greg glanced at Mycroft every time he laughed. It was stunning. And he was enthralling when he laughed. When it was over and the credits rolled, Greg quoted the “are you wearing a raincoat?” line from the film. Mycroft was nearly doubled-up. Greg laughed with him, watching his bright eyes and the creases at their corners.

Greg yawned. Mycroft looked over at him and stroked his knee. “You should get some rest,” he said. “I have plenty of work to do this evening.”

Greg nodded. “Yeah.” He rolled off Mycroft. His eyes were definitely heavy. He wandered to the spare bedroom, mumbling goodnight and shuffled towards the bed.

Just as he began to close the door he heard Mycroft’s voice, more angry and aggressive than he’d ever heard him. “Turn up the surveillance. I want a whole team on high alert for Moran. Don’t argue, just do it!”

Greg quietly shut the door and walked over to the bed, laying uncomfortably on his back. He wanted to question what he’d just heard. But sleep overtook him within minutes. 

Chapter Text

August, 2006 

The car crashed into the water. Greg thrashed around in a blind panic. It was filling with water and he had to get out of there and he was going to die.

The water was filling up around his ankles. It was so dark in there. He was smashing his fists against the window, begging for them to crack. “Help!” he was shouting, but who could hear him when he was trapped in a car under the water and watching it - feeling it - go down, down, down.

The river, lake, ocean, wherever he was, was bottomless. He was just going to sink to his death. He pounded on the window again. No, he refused to die like this. He wouldn’t do it because there were too many people to…

But there weren’t, were there? There weren’t any people out there who cared if he drowned.

But even so. He wasn’t going to give those people who didn’t care the pleasure of still not caring. The window broke under the impact of his fist. The pain grabbed him in its tentacles but he hit it again and it broke and he swam out, blood pouring from his fist.

He glanced back at the car.

He was there. An eight year old child in a red t-shirt in the back seat as the car filled with water. The child stared at him through the back window. “No! NO!”

Greg pounded on the window, treading water, desperate, God, no, no, no, this couldn’t be happening, why was he there? Greg was screaming for help, but how could anyone hear him at the bottom of this ocean?

The kid was going to die all over again and he was helpless and he couldn’t help him and “Get him out!” Greg was screaming and the car was filling with so much water and sinking and strong arms were wrapping around his waist, dragging him up out of the ocean…

“Greg-”

And he was kicking down, trying to reach the car, he had to rescue that kid…

“Greg, you’re safe.”

He was kicking hard, swimming, pulling himself down towards the bottom of the river, ocean, lake, whatever, he’d seen him die too many times and he was going to save him this time, he had to, he had to…

“Greg!”

Greg jolted awake, a yell of “no!” on his lips. He was sat upright, his good fist clenched in the covers. He was mildly aware of his whole body shaking.

An arm wrapped tightly around his waist and Greg turned into the embrace, his shirt clinging to his body, drenched in sweat. Mycroft’s hand tangled in his hair and Greg trembled.

“Nothing is going to hurt you,” Mycroft murmured as Greg clung onto him.

Mycroft was solid and warm. Mycroft existed. Mycroft was real and he was not drowning. The kid was not dying. He was already dead. So, of course he wasn’t in pain. Not anymore.

Greg wiped his face. “I’m sorry,” he said, his voice shaking.

“Don’t be,” Mycroft said, his arms tightening.

“Did I wake you up?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“I’m sorry,” Greg repeated.

“It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine.”

Mycroft’s hand reached for Greg’s cheek and he lifted his face so he was looking at him. In the dark, he was just a comforting, solid silhouette. Greg pressed their lips together and Mycroft responded to the light kiss.

“What time is it?” Greg asked, resting his forehead against Mycroft’s temple.

“Almost 4.30am.”

“Christ, I’m sorry I woke you.”

“What do you need?” Mycroft asked.

“Need?”

“What makes this better?”

“Nothing,” Greg said, his voice lost somewhere in the room. “Nothing makes this better.”

Greg lifted his head as Mycroft moved away. “Lie on your back, Greg,” he instructed.

Greg frowned, but did as he was told, lying down on top of the covers. Mycroft moved close to him, pressing his body against Greg’s side. Greg looked at him. “Lift your head.” Greg did so, and Mycroft slid one arm under his neck, the other extending over his chest. Greg leaned into into Mycroft’s reassuring body. One of Mycroft’s legs stretched out over his.

Greg sighed, listening to the beats of Mycroft’s heart. He didn’t close his eyes, just stared into the darkness.

“What did you dream about?” Mycroft asked.

“Drowning,” Greg said. “In a car.”

“You were shouting ‘get him out’.” Greg stayed quiet. Mycroft didn’t ask anymore questions, but rubbed his thumb against Greg’s shoulder. They lay like that for a while, until the images began to leave Greg’s mind. “I am going to have a shower and go to work,” Mycroft finally said, extracting himself.

“Can you get me a book?” Greg asked. “Any book? I just need something to do.”

“Of course.” Mycroft stood up. “I’ll turn the light on. Close your eyes a moment.”

Greg did as instructed, not opening them until he had adjusted to the light. Mycroft had already left the room, but returned minutes later with a selection of his beautifully old books under his arm. He set them down on the table. “I chose these for you. You’ll have to let me know how good my deductions are. If you need anything at all, I will be in my office for the next hour.”

Greg forced a smile. “Thank you. I’m sorry I was all…” He waved his good hand in the air.

“Don’t apologise.” Mycroft left the room and Greg adjusted the pillows behind his back as he sat up. He switched the television on and flicked idly through the channels.

 


 

At 10.22am, Greg was woken by a loud crash and the sounds of “he’s my brother for God’s sake.”

Greg groaned. He really was not feeling up to dealing with Sherlock right now. He listened out, hearing raised voices. It sounded like Sherlock and the butler were having a fierce disagreement. Eventually a door slammed, and Greg hoped that would be the end of the disruption. Then the door to the spare bedroom swung open and Sherlock stormed in.

“Donovan won’t work with me.”

Greg raised his eyebrows at him. “And you’re surprised about this?”

“I’m willing to offer my assistance to find the man who knocked you off the road and she refuses to work with me.”

“Maybe that’s because you’re annoying,” Greg said, trying not to grin.

“But I could figure it out if she let me have the video.”

“Sherlock, even I haven’t seen the video and Mycroft has a copy.”

“Mycroft has a copy?” Sherlock asked, his eyes widening. “I’ll find it.”

“No! Sherlock!” Greg groaned, tipping his head back against the pillow. He wasn’t in a position to stop him. And if Mycroft came back and was angry, it was all Sherlock’s fault. Greg was too injured to fight with him after all.

Greg switched the channel and watched the television presenters try and make a syrup steamed pudding.

Sherlock barged back in with a laptop in his hands and plonked himself down on the bed.

“Ow!” Greg yelled, clutching his side and shuffling over to get away from the invader. “Sherlock! Injured here.”

Sherlock opened the laptop and stared at the screen. His fingers tapped the keyboard but he didn’t press any buttons. “Mycroft’s far harder to deduce than you.”

“His laptop’s probably programmed to self-destruct,” Greg muttered, turning the TV off. He picked up his painkillers and a glass of water, downing them while Sherlock’s eyes danced around as he tried to figure out the password. He finally typed something in and smiled.

“Mycroft. So predictable,” Sherlock muttered. “Do you want to know?”

“No, I don’t,” Greg said. “You shouldn’t be doing this, Sherlock.”

Sherlock, of course, told him anyway. “Roderick Hudson is a character from a Henry James novel called Roderick Hudson. The character is superbly gifted, but unstable and unreliable.” Greg smiled. Yeah, that description sounded eerily like a younger Holmes brother… Sherlock shook his head as he searched on the computer. “This is it.”

Greg looked over his shoulder. There was his car, at the lights. It was strange watching it, knowing what was to come. He saw the moment the SUV smashed into his car, saw the damage on the side of it. He was so bloody lucky it struck him from the left side.

The car was pushed into the river. Greg swallowed and took another sip of water to cure his dry throat.

Sherlock played it again. And again. And again.

“Sherlock, I can’t watch this anymore.”

“This is useless,” Sherlock finally said. “Why is this the only angle? Ridiculous.” Sherlock shut the lid of the laptop down. “What happened at the warehouse?”

“There was nothing there.”

Sherlock pressed his lips together. “It was Moran. Moran was the Kirkcudbright killer.”

“We don’t know that.”

“He was though,” Sherlock said. And just as quickly, a change in tack. “What new case have you got for me?”

“Sherlock, this case isn’t over.”

“I solved it, what does it matter?”

Greg groaned. “He needs to be behind bars. It’s not just about solving the sodding puzzle. It’s about putting a killer in jail.”

“It’s all procedure.”

“A bloody good procedure. You know what your next case is? Find me Sebastian Moran. Then you’ll probably find out who tried to kill me.”

“When are you going back to work?” Sherlock demanded.

“In about a week or so.”

Sherlock huffed. “I can’t wait that long. Make Donovan work with me.”

“I can’t make Sally do anything. You’d probably kill each other within an hour.”

“I need a case.”

“And I need time to get better again. Go to Bart’s.”

“I need something to do,” Sherlock said. “I need something specific.”

“Like a project?” Greg asked. “Like the perfume?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t know, Sherlock. I’m sorry. I will try and think of something. Give Molly a ring. Or, I don’t know, take Mycroft’s advice and ask people to give you cases.”

“Effort,” Sherlock muttered.

Greg rubbed his face. “My laptop should be on the floor in here somewhere. I’m pretty sure I have some old cases on there or something.” Sherlock looked at him expectantly. “Oi, don’t be lazy. I have a broken wrist. You want my laptop, get it yourself.”

Sherlock stood and hunted around the room before he found it and sat back down, cross-legged on the bed. Greg took it from him. “Turn away. I’m not having you guess my password again.”

“It’s custodysuite.”

Greg groaned and typed it in. He opened up some of the documents on his computer, looking through the things he’d downloaded to work on at home. “This might interest you,” he finally said. “It was a fascinating case.”

And so they sat, Sherlock and Greg, reading an old file from the 1990s which Greg had been told about early on in his career. The files had ended up in his office somehow, and he’d taken it home just after he and Caroline had broken up as some way of taking his mind off the failure of their marriage. He’d completely forgotten about it, having used it more as a practice exercise than anything real.

He and Sherlock read through the notes and looked through the pictures together. Greg was glad to see Sherlock pointed out many of the same things in the crime scene photographs as he had noticed. Sherlock did, of course, have a certain knack for making links where there appeared to be none, but when there were three dead bodies with no seeming connection, Sherlock’s links could prove crucial.

They didn’t really solve it after three hours of working through everything. But actually, Sherlock didn’t seem too bothered about it, because as he said, “there’s not enough data here.” It was the enquiring and the questioning and searching for connections which had kept him interested the whole time.

And just as soon as he’d arrived at Mycroft’s flat, Sherlock declared it was time to go. “Tell Donovan to work with me.”

“I can’t. Find something to experiment on.”

Sherlock looked thoughtful. “Can I have some money to buy livers?”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “Livers?”

“Yes. I can buy all sorts of animal livers and conduct experiments.”

“If you buy drugs,” Greg warned, reaching for his wallet, “you and me are done. I mean it.”

Sherlock reached out to take the £20 note from Greg’s hand but Greg held it back. “Look, I know you’re not going to apologise to Mycroft. Or me. And for some annoying reason you don’t see your drug-taking as anything serious. But I’d quite like it if you didn’t die.” Sherlock rolled his eyes and Greg handed him the money. “Seriously. Buy as many animal organs as you want. But no drugs of any description.”

Sherlock left the room and Greg heard the slamming of the door. Shuffling over in the bed, Greg made his way to the bathroom. He looked in the mirror and was truly astounded Sherlock hadn’t made any comments about the state of his face. He looked like he’d done rounds with Mike Tyson, Mohammad Ali and George Foreman, one right after the other.

He washed as best he could, muttering about his arm and whoever the tosser of a driver was. After brushing his teeth and struggling into some clothes he sat down along Mycroft’s sofa with a book against his bent legs and using one hand to turn the pages. He was grateful the books were old, with worn spines so the pages lay flat and it didn’t require too much effort to work his way through The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde.

After a while he closed his eyes, dropping his head onto the back of the couch.

He woke with fingers softly stroking his temple. He opened his eyes and smiled. “Afternoon,” he murmured, as Mycroft removed his hand and glanced at the book.

“How are you enjoying it?” he asked.

“It’s good. Really good.”

“What did Sherlock want?” Mycroft asked he went into the kitchen and turned the kettle on. Greg smiled. Of course Mycroft knew Sherlock had been there.

“For me to get Donovan to work with him. He stole your laptop.”

“I am well aware. I tend to take my work laptop around with me for that very reason.” Mycroft stood behind the chair. “How are you? Your bruises are quite prominent.”

Greg subconsciously touched his face. “I know. I look terrible. You don’t have to look at me if you don’t want to.”

Mycroft gave him a polite smile and returned to the kitchen. Greg accepted the coffee he brought him. “Have you been sleeping all day?” Mycroft asked.

Greg frowned a bit. “Sorry. I’m really worn out.”

“It wasn’t an accusation, Greg. I’m glad you’re resting. Are you feeling better after your dream?”

“I barely remember it,” Greg said. It wasn’t exactly a lie, but as he sipped his coffee (burnt his tongue, as always) he avoided Mycroft’s eyes.

Greg lifted his legs to let Mycroft take a place on the sofa and put his legs over his lap. It was comfortable like this. Now they’d done it twice before, maybe it was an acceptable way for two friends to sit.

“I have a lot of work to do after dinner this evening,” Mycroft said. “But I would like it if you wished to stay in here and watch some films or television.”

“You sure?” Greg asked. “I’ll leave tomorrow. Get out of your hair.” Mycroft didn’t say anything but he stroked Greg’s knee. Greg looked at his tired eyes. “What’s up?”

“We will discuss it later. I have other things to confirm first.”

“But there is something?” Greg questioned. “Is it to do with my accident?”

“In part.”

Greg frowned but said nothing as he drank his coffee. He put his mug down on the table and reached out to touch Mycroft’s shoulder. His chest and side ached at the movement but he rubbed his thumb against Mycroft’s waistcoat. “You look stressed,” Greg said. “There’s more going on here than you can tell me, isn’t there?”

Mycroft didn’t reply.

Greg sighed. “Do you want a hand with dinner? I mean, only one hand, obviously.”

Mycroft half smiled. “If you’d like.”

“It’ll be good to do something useful,” Greg said, sliding his legs off Mycroft’s lap and getting up. He flinched in pain and Mycroft’s hand lightly touched his lower back.

“What’s hurting?”

“My side, mostly.”

“May I take a look?”

Greg nodded and lifted his shirt up, turning his body so Mycroft could see. Mycroft parted his legs so Greg could stand between them as he carefully peeled away the dressing. “It looks to be heeling,” Mycroft said. “But unfortunately it’s covering muscles, so it hurts when you move.” Mycroft put the dressing back on and his fingers touched a bruise just beneath Greg’s sternum. His hand flattened against Greg’s chest with the lightest of touches and Greg turned his head to watch his disconsolate expression.

“It’s alright,” Greg said, not with anything specific ‘it’ in mind. “I’m okay.”

Mycroft dropped his hand and Greg let his shirt fall back down. Mycroft stood. “I will explain later,” he said, before walking into the kitchen.

Greg followed soon after Mycroft had finished chopping some vegetables and meat, and was given the task of stirring the stir-fry. It was hardly the best job in the world, but it made him feel useful as Mycroft gracefully moved around the kitchen from one task to another, filling up some glasses of water and laying the table.

They sat down, Greg struggling to twirl his noddles around the fork but it was thankfully not too hard a meal to eat with one arm. He stretched one leg out and his sock-covered foot found Mycroft’s under the table. Acting as though he hadn’t noticed, Greg left his toes resting just on top of the other man’s. Mycroft didn’t move his foot.

It was the smallest touch, hidden from view, and yet Greg felt anticipation and even the faintest anxiety in his chest. He never wanted to analyse this too deeply. The little touches, the big gestures. Like the way Mycroft had held him in the early hours of the morning, Greg still so attached to his nightmare that it seemed as though it hadn’t truly happened. But then there were the little touches too, such as the joining of feet under the table. Or Mycroft’s thumb which seemed to enjoy smoothing out an invisible crease on his trousers, just on that spot above his knee.

Greg looked up from his plate as he decided he was fighting a losing war with the last of his noodles.

Mycroft was still eating. He was methodical with his food, savouring bite after bite and not cutting or collecting his next morsel until he was done. Greg found he rather enjoyed discovering his idiosyncrasies.

Mycroft’s foot moved and Greg took a sip of the water to shield his disappointment. Then Mycroft’s whole foot covered his, and Greg was sure that was not an accident.

Greg sipped his water. “You know, Mycroft, if you can find Sherlock something to do for the next few weeks it might help him out.”

Mycroft nodded. “I did give that some thought. The problem is I don’t particularly trust him with anything.”

“Yeah, I know that feeling. I’m convinced one day he’s going to pick evidence up at a crime scene without gloves. I’m always reminding him.”

“I wish I could remember what Sherlock used to do before drugs.”

“I bet he found something else to do,” Greg said.

“Cigarettes. Sneaking bottles of whiskey and rum to his room. Carrying out experiments on his own body. Burns and cuts.” Mycroft shook his head. “It was easier when I was home. He never really enjoyed my company much, but he did love to argue.”

Greg smiled. “That’s not changed.”

Mycroft smiled fondly. “Sherlock finds it difficult to relate to people.”

Greg nodded. “I know. I’ve seen that.”

“And yet he allows you to be a part of his life in some way,” Mycroft said, frowning. “He was willing to stay at your flat and to give you his stash. He’ll never share his feelings, indeed, he tries very hard to pretend he has none. But he doesn’t push you, Greg. Not like he pushes everyone else.”

Greg shrugged. “He can deduce whatever he wants about me. I haven’t got anything to hide.”

“That’s not strictly true.”

“But you know it all,” Greg said. “So does Sherlock. I mean, he’s never used any of it against me. Not yet anyway. Telling me about Caroline’s affair was a bit of a low blow, but I’m glad he did it.”

“Are you aware Sherlock despises our association with one another?”

Greg tilted his head. “What do you mean?”

“Sherlock has incorrectly deduced the depth of our feelings towards one another. He believes when I inevitably break your heart, he will no longer be allowed to work with you. Couple it with Sherlock’s - and my own - belief that sentiment is unnecessary and inconvenient then he cannot understand the friendship we have. He feels he has rather claimed you as his own ‘toy’ to play with. You give him things to do and make him feel useful and, I suppose, worth something.”

Greg pushed the remainder of his food around his plate. “You’re not going to break my heart. It’s just sex.”

“You and I know that. But Sherlock doesn’t understand sex.”

“I dunno, Mycroft. I’m pretty sure he’s tried to scare me away from you. But, I mean, without this…” Greg gestured in the air. “Without this thing between us, I go home every night at 10pm and fall asleep on the couch.”

“I know,” Mycroft said. “It’s beneficial for us both to have some human contact. And I mean that as more than contact with people. It’s a physical human contact neither of us has otherwise.”

“Yeah,” Greg nodded. He didn’t completely understand Mycroft’s separation of people and human. But if ‘human’ was about heart and body and connection, then yes, he and Mycroft both needed something like that. Something unique to the two of them.

“Just like my foot on yours right now,” Mycroft murmured and Greg looked up at him. “It isn’t romantic. It isn’t even friendship. It’s a physical connection to the world. You and I make life and death decisions on a semi-regular basis, and we stare death in the face in one sense or another almost daily. Sherlock doesn’t understand or relate to the hollowness which comes from that.”

“But you do?” Greg asked, looking across at him.

“My foot is on your foot, Greg. You may make of that what you will.” Mycroft stood and tipped the remains of their plates in the bin before turning on the taps for the washing up. “Find a film to watch. I will be with you in a moment.”

“Mycroft?”

“Mm?”

“You’re right. What you said about being physical. It’s nice.”

“I know,” Mycroft almost whispered, pouring in the washing up liquid. He said it like he resented it.

Greg left him to it, finding Mycroft’s film collection and choosing Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train. He put the film in and stretched out along the sofa. Mycroft joined him minutes later, retrieving his laptop from his office and taking a seat beside the fire as he worked.

Greg enjoyed the film almost as much as he enjoyed the sound of Mycroft working on the other side of the room. The tapping of his fingers on the keyboard was soothing. Twice, Mycroft looked up over the top of it and Greg looked at him as the movement caught his eye. Both times they shared a brief smile before returning to their activities.

As the film ended, Mycroft closed his laptop. “That’s enough for the moment,” he said. “I am grateful to you, for distracting me from work on the evenings you come here.”

Greg smiled. “You’re welcome.”

Mycroft looked up at the ceiling for a second, stretching his neck before he turned his attention back to Greg. “I believe I promised you an explanation.”

“You don’t need to.”

“I do. You look uncomfortable, Greg. Do you require more painkillers?”

Greg nodded, rubbing his face. “Yeah.”

Mycroft stood, walking over to him and pressing the backs of his fingers to Greg’s forehead. “You’ll be more comfortable in bed.” Mycroft held out his arm to help Greg up. He kept an arm loose around his back as he guided them to the spare room.

“I’m fine on the sofa,” Greg protested.

“Then perhaps I would like to be comfortable,” Mycroft replied, picking up Greg’s painkillers and handing them to him. “I’ll just get the water.”

Greg sat down on the bed, wincing. There was a nagging pain in his side and his chest felt tight and uncomfortable. At least it was distracting him a bit from his wrist, which was definitely itching inside the cast. Mycroft returned with the glass and Greg swallowed the tablets.

Mycroft slipped off his waistcoat and tie, hanging them over the back of the chair. He collected his laptop before sitting down beside Greg on the bed. He propped up all of the pillows and cushions, and Greg moved closer to him, so their shoulders brushed together every time one of them moved a fraction.

“I believe Sherlock showed you a video of your accident earlier,” Mycroft said, typing into his computer. “We have found two more angles. They have been shared with Sergeant Dimmock, who I believe has taken over the investigation. Sergeant Donovan was regarded to be too close to the victim. In this case, yourself.”

Greg frowned. Victim. He refused to be that. Refused to be regarded as a victim of a crime.

“This is the first,” Mycroft said, pressing play. Greg watched the black SUV tore down a street, picking up speed as it went. The camera just caught the moment it collided with Greg’s car on the edge of the screen, but not the aftermath.

“And finally, this one.” Mycroft pressed play, but his hand reached for Greg’s thigh in a tight vice-like grip. Greg understood why he’d reached for him. The camera was trained perfectly on that spot of the river. Greg watched as his car was pushed in, almost front-first at the point of the fall. He watched with wide eyes as he imagined his own struggles inside the vehicle, watching as less and less of the car remained visible.

Mycroft’s grip on his thigh tightened. Greg swallowed, a nauseating tension in his head. And then he saw himself swim out, towards the side. The camera didn’t spot when he reached the edge, but he saw the RNLI boat come into view and the crew slip out to go to his aid.

“It doesn’t feel like that was me,” Greg said as Mycroft paused the video. He dropped his head onto Mycroft’s shoulder.

“We have tried tracking the car’s journey through London. It begins near the road the house the CCTV for the National Archives and Kirkcudbright Estate was switched off. There is no CCTV in that area, a situation which is being rectified as we speak.”

“You think it’s linked then,” Greg murmured. “Kirkcudbright, the Archives, the jewellery store. And me.”

“We know it’s linked, Greg, because of the poster left at the warehouse.” Mycroft’s voice was firm and pointed.

Greg swallowed. “I didn’t want you to know about that.”

“You were a target, Greg. And here is what we assume so far. None of this information has been shared with Sergeant Dimmock, and it must remain that way. Our intelligence has reason to believe an operation calling itself the MORnetwork has been hired to put out a hit. Kirkcudbright, the Archives, the jewellery store and yourself are the warning shots.”

“Warning of what?” Greg asked.

“Warning me,” Mycroft replied, closing down the laptop.

“I was targeted because we know each other?” Greg asked, frowning.

“Yes. I have reason to believe there is an informant among my staff.”

“Jesus,” Greg muttered.

“I don’t know who the warning is from, or what they are after. But I will find out.”

“And then what?”

Mycroft went quiet, resting his cheek against Greg’s hair. Greg decided he didn’t really want to know. He closed his eyes, relaxing as the painkillers took the edge off the pain.

“I don’t necessarily think the aim was to kill you,” Mycroft said after a while. “The words on the poster, ‘some other time’, implies a later encounter has been planned. I suppose if you did die, it wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world as far as their plans went, but they certainly were not aiming to kill you. If they wanted you dead, they would have shot you.”

“Well, that’s comforting,” Greg muttered.

“We will be keeping a closer surveillance on you.”

“I’m a police officer, I don’t need your surveillance.”

“Need I remind you of your broken wrist, stitches in your leg and enormous gash up the side of your body?”

Greg sighed. “Good point. But even so.”

“Even so,” Mycroft said. “Your life and mine is inexorably linked at present.”

“Mycroft, am I safe in my own home?”

“I don’t know,” Mycroft admitted, his voice low. “Nor do I know about Sherlock’s safety, or the safety of your staff. But the problem is being treated as a priority.”

A ‘problem’. Greg shook his head. It was the biggest understatement he’d ever heard.

“You’re shaking,” Mycroft murmured after a second, lifting Greg’s good wrist and inspecting his hand. “Lie down, Greg.”

Greg was about to tell him where to stuff it, but he found his body complied with the suggestion - no, order - and he slid down until he was on his back. Mycroft shuffled down onto his side, holding his body up on his elbow. He leaned forward, pressing soft kisses to Greg’s throat and Greg closed his eyes, emitting soft sighs. Mycroft’s kisses were light and tender as he moved to brush his lips against Greg’s jaw and over his cheekbones, avoiding the bruising covering his face.

Greg turned his head and their mouths found each other, connecting in undemanding kisses. It was only when Greg sunk into the kiss that he realised how much he needed the connection. At the point of nearly dying, he had thought about how he had nothing. No one. But he had something here, some sort of point of physical contact keeping him anchored to the earth.

So when Mycroft’s breath drifted across his lips, it reminded Greg he could still breathe and he wasn’t trapped inside the car in the Thames. And when Mycroft’s hand rubbed the front of his trousers he knew right now, he was in no danger.

He shivered, arching up into Mycroft’s touch. He didn’t know how Mycroft did it, how he unravelled him piece by piece. But the kissing, the kissing was like nothing else. Greg’s good hand rested on the back of Mycroft’s neck. He made soft noises as Mycroft’s tongue pressed into his mouth and flicked and he nibbled his lips. There was nothing forced there. Greg’s brain was in off-mode, unthinking and silent, just listening to his whimpers and Mycroft’s shuddery breaths.

Mycroft’s hand eased inside his trousers and felt Greg’s cock over his boxers and Greg pressed up, groaning. He hated it being a one-way thing, he wanted to pleasure Mycroft too, but his damned wrist…

“Mycroft,” he whispered as the man began to trail kisses over his neck and ever so lightly down his chest, through his t-shirt. Mycroft looked at him, his lips parted, eyes glazed. Greg reached for his face and caressed his cheek with his thumb. “I want to, together, I want… Can I suck you and you…” Greg’s face flushed. “Use your mouth on me?”

Mycroft’s body seemed to tremble as he leaned up to kiss Greg again, and Greg heard him unfastening his trousers and pushing them down. He heard the moment they slid onto the floor and Greg reached for his arse, squeezing through his boxers. Mycroft’s body hovered beside his and Greg opened his eyes to gaze at him. “It’s alright,” he said. “I’ll tell you if anything hurts.”

Mycroft nodded and eased Greg’s trousers and boxers down, letting them fall beside the bed. They kissed again before Mycroft moved so his head was in line with Greg’s cock, and Greg stroked his arse through his boxers, moving his hand so he could stroke the inside of one of his thighs. “Mycroft, get your underwear off and straddle my face,” Greg groaned. The man complied, and Greg shuffled down a bit, grasping Mycroft’s cock and rubbing the head against his lips.

He felt Mycroft shake as he dipped his own mouth to lick Greg’s prick. Greg groaned again, and Mycroft lowered his hips, as Greg tilted back his head, allowing Mycroft to push more of his cock into his mouth. And then Mycroft’s lips closed around Greg’s cock too, and the sensation was intense, his lips tingling as he tried to focus on pleasuring Mycroft, while Mycroft did things with his tongue which were so good they should have been illegal.

Not that Greg would have arrested him even if it were illegal. He’d keep him as his little illegal secret so he could have access to that mouth and God, he didn’t know Mycroft could take quite so much of him into his mouth.

It was dirty, debauched and oh so erotic, Mycroft hovering above him as Greg sucked and licked his length and Mycroft rocked his hips as he fucked Greg’s mouth.

Pleasure built up in the pit of Greg’s stomach, and he curled his toes, groaning around Mycroft’s cock. He came, pools of white light behind his eyes, and everything was beautiful tones of purples and yellows behind his eyelids and Mycroft moved once more, coming onto Greg’s tongue and onto his lips.

Greg relaxed into the mattress, licking Mycroft’s bitter come from his mouth and swallowing and closing his eyes. Tension had all melted away.

Mycroft moved to lie beside him, trailing gentle kisses down his cheekbone. Greg turned his face and their foreheads pressed together, eyed closed. Greg sighed and stroked Mycroft’s soft hair. Greg opened his eyes and looked at them both, naked from the waist down, both still wearing black socks, lying on the bed with Mycroft on his side next to him.

Mycroft shuffled a bit and they were barely touching, just heat radiating between them. Greg made a contented sound, wriggling a little closer so Mycroft’s forehead touched his shoulder.

Everything was just so still. So still and easy. Mycroft’s breath brushed against his arm with every exhale and Greg hardly felt the parts of him which had caused him pain while blood cells rushed around his body trying to cure him.

He yawned and he felt the mattress move as Mycroft sat up and pressed a kiss to his chin and then finally his mouth. Greg looked at him tiredly.

“You’re going to do more work, aren’t you?” Greg murmured, holding Mycroft’s chin between his thumb and index finger.

“I am,” Mycroft said, but he kissed Greg sweetly before getting up and dressing. He helped Greg into some pyjama trousers. “Would you like me to bring you anything?”

“No, I’ll just sleep,” Greg said. “I’ll try and leave sometime before you get back tomorrow.”

Mycroft nodded. “You’re still welcome here. Any time, any day, if you need me.”

Greg smiled at him. “Cheers.”

Mycroft smiled back and turned the light off as Greg settled under the covers. Mycroft quietly closed the door behind him.

Greg smiled to himself, still feeling Mycroft’s lips against his own. He pondered the new development as he began to dose. As if someone asked “so what exactly is the nature of your relationship with Mycroft Holmes?” And the answer was it was a physical one. A sexual relationship, which had developed into a physical one, with more than just orgasms and frantic kisses.

It was nice, was what it was. It was good. 

Chapter Text

August, 2006

In the morning, the same driver as before helped Greg with his things before driving him back to his flat. Mycroft had left early and Greg scribbled out a note saying: Thank you for letting me stay. It really helped. Talk soon.

It was just a few words, which hardly said thank you at all but it was good enough for now. He knew Mycroft knew anyway. And it was good not to seem too grateful, too needy.

Greg managed to shower and lie on the sofa, watching pointless television and letting his mind switch off.

At lunchtime, Sally visited. She brought bags full of supermarket shopping, stocking up Greg’s fridge with plenty of easy-to-cook meals. She sat down on his sofa.

“How are you feeling?” she asked, looking at him.

“Not brilliant, but better. How’s the investigation going?”

“It’s stalled,” she admitted. “We can’t get any details on the car or where it came from or where it went or anything. There’s no leads going anywhere. And we tried everything to find Moran and it’s like he barely exists. The Kirkcudbrights took him on someone else’s advice, but even that person has vanished.”

Greg sighed. “So, that’s it then.”

Sally shrugged. “Just get better, boss. There’s nothing else you can do right now.”

And that was the theme of Greg’s day, when he received a phone call from Edmund who told him he went to the Kirkcudbright house and found nothing. “There’s nothing we can do, boss,” he said.

And Carter called too and told him he’d kill the bugger who knocked him into the Thames if they could find him. “We’ve done all we can, mate, but we’ve run into a brick wall.”

Dimmock, who Greg had barely spoken to, dropped him an email on his personal account which said “we’ve had to suspend the case for now. But we’ll keep our eyes and ears open.”

By the end of the day, Greg was tired of hearing how impossible the case was. He text Mycroft to say he was feeling a bit fed up, but he didn’t hear anything. In one way it was comforting, thinking maybe Mycroft hadn’t run into a brick wall. That maybe he was still trying.

 


 

September, 2006

Two days later and Greg was going stir crazy in his flat. Which is why, when there was a knock on the door, he got his hopes up it was Mycroft, or even Sherlock would have been better than the monotone and silence.

But he was stunned to see his dad there.

Christophe Lestrade looked older than the last time Greg had seen him, but tanned and healthy in a dark green cardigan and smart grey trousers. He had bright green eyes. Greg’s mother had blue eyes. It had always been the stark reminder that Greg’s dark brown ones didn’t quite fit in. That he was never really one of them. “Come in,” Greg murmured, stepping aside. “What are you doing here?”

“Well, I couldn’t get through to you. Your phone kept going to voicemail, so I thought I would come straight over.”

Greg frowned for a second before realisation smacked him in the face. “Oh, I’m sorry. I gave you my old number. That phone is in the Thames. I meant to give you the new number but… I was pretty out of it.”

“Not to worry, Greg,” his dad said, looking around. “This is a nice flat. Little out of your price range, perhaps?”

“A friend of mine had some contacts,” Greg said, turning the kettle on.

“I see. How is Caroline?”

“She had a baby with her new partner. They’re getting married in February.”

His dad sighed, but didn’t comment. Greg handed him a tea and sat down with a coffee.

“How are your injuries?”

“Healing,” Greg replied. “I’ll be back at work in a week. I’m going a bit mad to be honest.”

“Have you got a girlfriend?” Straight to the chase then…

“No, I haven’t. How’s Rosa?”

“Very well. Looking after the dogs and the chickens as we speak. Wonderful woman, Greg, you should come and meet her.”

“I will sometime.”

His dad smiled coolly. Greg looked down at his coffee. “I haven’t got a spare room-”

“-I booked a hotel,” his dad cut him off.

“Oh,” Greg said. “That’s alright then.”

“Have you visited your mother’s grave, Greg?”

Greg frowned and looked up. “No.”

“When was the last time?”

“Probably last time you were here.”

“Five years ago.”

Greg nodded. “Yeah, then.”

His dad sighed, shaking his head. “You should visit her, Greg.”

“It’s just a grave, dad.”

“I dread to think of how overgrown it has become.”

“Mum hated cemeteries,” Greg said by way of an explanation.

“Still, no excuse. There she lays, and there she should be accorded due respect.”

“I’ve been busy.”

“Yes, I can see that,” his dad said, looking pointedly at his cast. “Honestly, Greg, the divorce. You were a perfect couple, so happy on your wedding day. What did you do wrong?”

Greg bit his lip. “I didn’t do anything wrong. Circumstances went wrong. Our relationship wasn’t working anymore.”

“Working too hard?”

“Like you told me to, dad,” Greg muttered bitterly.

“Don’t take that tone, Greg.”

“Sorry. Look, yeah, I work hard. I’m a DI now and I reckon maybe in with a shot of DCI one day. So, yeah, maybe I was 50% responsible for our marriage failing, but so was she.”

“But you have not met anyone else?”

“No.”

“You’re going to end up alone, Greg. Alone and miserable, just like you were when we took you in.”

Greg stared down at his knees. This is why he hated conversations with his dad. It always went back to his childhood, a reminder he should be more grateful for what the Lestrades did for him. Well, he was grateful for his mother. She was kind, though not altogether physically affectionate. She taught him to cook, taught him to clean up his scrapes and how to treat women. His dad expected good grades, good posture and good manners. He was brisk. He’d never wanted children. And when they did meet, and rare though it was, Greg always felt he never particularly wanted him at all. So it wasn’t unusual to feel unwelcome, when 50% of the people who claimed they wanted him enough to adopt him hadn’t been particularly forthcoming in that want.

Greg looked at his dad. “So, how’s the farm?”

“Wonderful. We are very self-sufficient. Eggs and milk by the bucketful.”

“That’s really great.”

“It’s much better in France than London. London was all very well when we had you, but it was your mother’s home, not mine.”

“I like London.” Greg paused before adding, “I am grateful you came.”

“Thank you.”

“I’m fine though,” Greg insisted.

“You have friends?”

Greg rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I have friends.”

“You never really had friends at school, Greg. It worried me. I remember at the wedding how much of the congregation were Caroline’s relatives and acquaintances.”

“I have friends, dad. Sally brought me loads of food and gave me a new phone and Mycroft let me stay at his for a few days.”

His dad nodded. “Good. I’m glad that’s the case.”

“Is there anything you want to do while you’re here?”

“I want to visit your mother’s grave.”

Greg nodded. “We can go now if you want? We’ll have to get the tube, I can’t drive.”

His dad stood. “Off we go then.”

Greg put some shoes on. It was difficult to put a jacket on with the cast in the way, but gratefully the weather wasn’t too cold. They walked in silence to the nearest station, Greg using his Oyster card and his dad buying a travelcard.

The tube was thankfully quiet and Greg’s dad read the Metro newspaper while they travelled. They walked out into the sun and made the silent walk past the rows of graves until they reached the final spot of Alice Lestrade.

It was a bit overgrown, but nothing a bit of clearing couldn’t cure. They stood and looked at it.

“I cannot believe she has been gone more than 20 years,” Greg’s dad murmured, kneeling down to remove a dandelion. Greg folded his arms as he watched.

They stayed quiet for the next 10 minutes, Greg taking only a few of those to think about his mum. She used to go to him when he had the nightmares. And she used to take him to school and pick him up. She even took him to his first Arsenal game. So it would have been nice if she’d lived longer. It would have been good if she had seen him settle down with Caroline and find a good job.

Greg’s dad stood and sighed. “Shall we go and get a cup of tea?”

Greg led him out of the cemetery and they found a tea room a few streets away. They shared a pot of tea and some toasted teacakes. Greg’s dad buttered Greg’s teacakes for him.

“I remember the day when we first met you. You were a stubborn, obnoxious child.”

Greg laughed despite himself. “Cheers.”

“Quietened down though, once we got you home. You couldn’t have said more pleases and thank yous if you’d tried. You were keen to impress us.”

“I was tired of moving around,” Greg admitted. “I lost count of how many different homes I’d been to. I wanted one to stick.”

“Despite appearances, Greg, I am very proud of what you have achieved in the police force. Your mother would have been too. It’s good of you to call me dad, although I know you don’t find it easy.”

Greg looked down at his drink and stirred it.

“It was your age which was the problem,” his father continued. “You were 12 when we adopted you, and you were at the age where you genuinely didn’t need anyone else. You’d got by that long without parents, why did you need them now? Greg, is everything okay?”

Greg looked up at him. There was true concern in his green eyes. Greg nodded. “I haven’t really given anything much thought to be honest. Things aren’t…” He took a bite of his teacake as he tried to find a way to phrase it. “Things aren’t brilliant, I guess. But I love my work. It’s the best thing I could have done. And I’m pretty good at it too, although there’s this guy who comes in and solves all my cases and makes me feel like an amateur.” Greg frowned. “He’s a drug addict. And he drives me up the wall, but I like him. He gives me something to do.”

“Someone to care about,” Greg’s dad murmured as he poured more tea. “You are stubborn, and you act with your heart and not with your head. And you are hot-headed. But you are a kind man.” He reached out and touched Greg’s arm. Greg looked down at the contact.

“You and I have never really got on,” his dad said thoughtfully. “We’re very different. Both very driven, but we drive it in different ways. It’s why I ran my own business. I liked to do things my way, and not as part of a team. But you’re a leader, Greg. People follow you. And on the day we took you home, if someone had said that scared little child was going to turn into a brave and upfront human being, I would have thought they were crazy.”

Greg smiled a bit.

“You’re not scared anymore, Greg. And yes, I think it’s a pity you got divorced. But you need to find someone who loves you.”

“People keep telling me that,” Greg muttered. “But I don’t really think…” He shrugged. “I work too hard. I know I do. But I love my work.”

Greg’s dad smiled at him. “I am proud of what you have done with your life. So next time you and I have a big argument, please try to remember that.”

Greg smiled and patted his dad’s arm. “You too.”

They grinned at each other and finished their tea. They went for a walk around London during the day. Greg’s leg still hurt a bit so they sat in St James Park and talked about France, the farm, Rosa and Nicolas Sarkozy.

At 5.23pm, Greg’s dad went to meet some old friends from when he used to live in London and Greg made his way back to his flat. He made some pasta and tipped in a tomato sauce which he ate in front of the TV.

Mycroft called at 7.05pm. “Good evening. How are you feeling?”

Greg muted the TV. “Not bad. Saw my dad today.”

“How is he?”

“He’s good. You alright?”

“Exhausted. I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch sooner, this is the first time I’ve had five minutes to myself.”

“It’s alright. I didn’t expect you to call or anything.”

“I wanted to ring and say we are working tirelessly to find out who hurt you.”

Greg smiled a bit. He knew it. “Cheers.”

“You may notice some people around your crime scenes in the next few weeks. They are added security for both you and Sherlock. Sherlock will undoubtedly notice their presence and he will rebel in a way only my brother can. Will you keep an eye on him?”

“Yeah, not a problem. I don’t need security though.”

“I wish that were true,” Mycroft murmured. “But until we know the full extent of this, I am taking no chances on our safety.”

Our safety. Greg, Mycroft and Sherlock. When had they become an our? A unit.

“I must go,” Mycroft said. “I will probably be home tomorrow. I will visit you on the way home. Goodnight, Greg.”

“Night, Mycroft.”

Mycroft hung up and Greg sighed.

 


 

A tide was washing over his bed, dragging it out to sea. Greg was stood in the centre of it, screaming as he was surrounded by only miles and miles of ocean.

Alone. In the centre of a vast and expanding sea, cold and shivering. With only his thoughts for company.

 

Sherlock was lying on Greg’s floor in a red t-shirt with two syringes in his left arm. Greg was slapping his face, desperately trying to wake him up. Blood pooled from his head and Greg’s arms were covered in it.


Greg woke up twice from nightmares the day after he saw his dad. He didn’t see that eight-year-old child in either dream. He put it down as a good night’s sleep.

He went to St Pancras International Station to see his dad get on his Eurostar train home.

Mycroft knocked on his door that evening.

“Hi,” Greg smiled as he opened the door. Mycroft managed a smile. His shirt was unusually creased and his eyes had dark circles beneath them. Greg thought he might just fall down any second. “Come in.”

Mycroft’s head and shoulders hung down as he trudged over to Greg’s sofa, collapsing into it and pressing two fingers to his forehead.

Greg stared at him. “When was the last time you slept?”

“I don’t remember,” Mycroft said looking up at him. “Are you well?”

“Yeah, I’m alright. Not that I mind, but why are you here? You should be in bed.”

“I wanted to check up on you.”

Greg sat down beside him. “I don’t need checking up on, Mycroft. Have you eaten?”

“No.”

“Good, neither have I. I’ll order a takeaway and then I’m getting your driver to take you home.”

Mycroft’s cheek dropped onto Greg’s shoulder. Greg smiled affectionately and pressed his cheek against Mycroft’s hair as he rang for a Chinese. He ordered a selection of courses before turning his attention back to Mycroft.

“Do you want a nap before the food comes?” Greg asked, trying to get a good look at his face. “You can sleep on my bed. It’ll be a good 40 minutes before it gets here.” Mycroft’s fingers curled in Greg’s shirt. “Is that a no to the bed then?” Greg asked, smiling. “Alright, hang on.”

Greg leaned forward to grab the TV remote and Mycroft made a Sherlock-like huff as he moved. Greg turned the television on to keep himself occupied, and opened his arm out. “Right, come here. My chest doesn’t hurt so much anymore.”

Mycroft tilted his body back into him, dropping his head back onto Greg’s shoulder. Greg wrapped his arm around him and rested his cheek against the man’s hair. He seemed to be asleep just moments later.

Greg relaxed against Mycroft as he curled into him. The news was on but he hardly watched it. Instead he concentrated on Mycroft, his sleepy breaths and the way he had become a dead weight against Greg’s side. His fingers remained curled in his t-shirt. Greg wanted to block the questions - of which there were many - out of his head. He didn’t want to ask why Mycroft had been so desperate to see him even when he was practically a zombie at this moment. It was just enough he had come, and just enough he trusted Greg enough to fall asleep on him.

Greg shifted him slightly and Mycroft moved with him, his body adjusting to Greg and if anything, pressing in closer towards the warmth of his body. Greg stroked his fingers through his hair, gazing at his eyelids and his lips.

We won’t talk about it anymore, Greg thought. We won’t talk about what this means, or if it’s just sex or just physical or if there’s that bloody ‘sentiment’. We’ll let it be and let it lie.

It was whatever it was anyway. It had got to that stage long before this moment. Who needed to label everything anyway? Who decided you had to have a conversation about what you felt?

They were two people, two lonely people who’d found each other in the chaos of their lives. And if they had to cling to each other to find a way through the chaos and make it seem slightly less daunting and less overwhelming then that was okay. It was absolutely brilliant, in fact.

Because where would Greg be now, without Mycroft in his life? How many nights would he have put his back out in his chair at work because there was nothing to look forward to at home? How many days off would he have spent working and drinking too much and trying not to ponder the pointlessness of his life? When all he had was work, and those he worked with.

He was stupid to have let his life get like that. To keep everyone he knew at an arm’s length because they’d all go and leave him eventually. Everyone always did. He knew Mycroft would too.

But for now, for the time being, he’d allow this. He’d bathe in it. Because God knows, Mycroft would wake up one day and realise Greg was just a person without any super powers. All he had was his skin and a fucked up childhood. So what could he ever offer anyone except his body?

He held Mycroft tighter against his chest. And this man was beautiful.

A knock came at the door and Mycroft woke with a start. Greg smiled at him. “It’s just the takeaway.” Greg got up and paid for the food and Mycroft helped him lay the boxes out along the table. Greg brought some plates and cutlery in. “You feeling any better?”

“Mildly,” Mycroft murmured. “Are those won tons?”

“I think so,” Greg said, piling food on his plate.

“I was in South Korea,” Mycroft said out of the blue.

Greg stared at him. “You were where?”

“South Korea, in East Asia. It is a country of 100,032 square miles with a population of approximately 48,846,823.”

Greg snorted. “Mycroft, I know where South Korea is.”

“Of course, I was just putting it into context.”

Greg laughed and savoured a prawn cracker. “Go on then. Tell me about South Korea.”

“Ban Ki-moon is expected to be the Secretary-General of the United Nations. He is South Korean, and the first person from Asia to hold the position for more than 30 years.”

“Good for him,” Greg murmured. “What did that have to do with you?”

“I was on the vetting panel.”

“And how good was he?”

“He sees himself as a harmoniser, a balancer and a mediator. Supporters believe he is all of those things and a good administrator.”

“And what do you think?” Greg asked, looking at him. Greg didn’t care what the world thought. He cared what Mycroft thought.

“He is too low-profile and uncharismatic to lead in difficult times. But he is all of those other things.”

“No one’s perfect,” Greg said, putting some duck and hoisin sauce on a wrap.

“Quite. He performed admirably under intense scrutiny.”

“How scrutinising were you being?” Greg grinned.

“He hardly knew I was in the room,” Mycroft said.

“But you deduced him, right? You weren’t there to question him, you were there to analyse him.”

Mycroft gave him a secretive smile. “Why would you assume these things about me, Greg?”

“Maybe because I know you have super powers.” Greg wiped a bit of sauce from Mycroft’s top lip with his thumb and turned back to his food before Mycroft could react to the touch.

“He will be confirmed in the post in October,” Mycroft said.

“Then I look forward to seeing the result of your long hours on the news.”

Mycroft smiled warmly, if not tiredly at him. Greg grinned and passed the prawn crackers to Mycroft. He took one and ate it.

“I’m going back to work next week,” Greg told him. “I can’t stand being cooped up in here anymore. I can feel my brain dribbling out of my ear from daytime telly.”

“You could read.”

“I don’t have any books.”

“You should have taken some from mine,” Mycroft said. “I’ll bring some over for you.”

“Thank you.”

“How did you find Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde?”

“It was good. I knew the story a bit before, but it was the first time I read it.”

“You must find my interest in Gothic horror incredibly tedious.”

“Why would I think that?” Greg grinned. “I like it about you. It’s interesting. I mean, it’s about more than being scared, right? That’s why you like it?”

“There are layers and meanings, yes.”

Greg nodded. “I know it’s easy to think I’m a bit stupid because compared to you and Sherlock I am, but-”

“-Don’t finish that sentence, because it’s absurd.”

Greg looked at Mycroft, surprised by his abrupt tone.

“I don’t think you’re stupid,” Mycroft continued. “So, let’s not compare your mind to mine and Sherlock’s, shall we?”

Greg nodded. “Alright then.”

Mycroft put his plate down and reached out, stroking his index finger against Greg’s temple. Greg looked at him and he dropped his hand.

“I would like to kiss you,” Mycroft murmured. “Because it has been a few days, and I’m going to be busy for a while, and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do it again.”

Greg’s breath caught in his throat. It was a lot more forward than he’d expected, but he put his plate down without question and closed the gap between them. Greg wrapped his hand around Mycroft’s cheek and kissed him.

He got lost in the sensations as their lips moved easily against each other, a familiar feeling now, Mycroft’s mouth. Soft and warm. It was a slow burn of a kiss, starting with the gentle touches, the hesitant flicks of tongue against lips which disappeared again in a fraction of a second. The drawing of one lip between two others, the releasing of it. The drift of Mycroft’s breath against Greg’s mouth as they parted before moving together again. Soft pressures, harder, then soft again. Nothing building, nothing needy, just the sharing of contact.

Their bodies only touched in two places. Greg’s palm to Mycroft’s cheek and their lips, but the heat there was palpable. All emotion, all feeling, all - there was that word again - sentiment, was about the physical. It was about the touching of their mouths, the touch of tongue against another, the pleasurable nip of tooth against compliant lip.

And all too soon it was over, and Mycroft’s face was relaxed, but also half asleep. Greg kissed the corner of his mouth.

“Come on,” he said reluctantly. “It’s time to put you in a car and get you home.”

Greg let Mycroft lean against him a little as he walked with him down the stairs. The car was waiting for him and Mycroft slid onto the seat. His hand gripped Greg’s good arm and he looked at him. “Thank you for the food,” Mycroft murmured.

Greg smiled at him. “You’re welcome.” He shut the door and watched the car drive away. And there it was. Greg was crazy about Mycroft Holmes. And when Mycroft inevitably ended it all, it was going to hurt like hell.

 


 

Greg reached out to hold onto the headboard as Mycroft thrust inside him. He curled his toes, groaning. Mycroft’s face, lost in pleasure, was the sexiest thing he’d ever seen.


Greg woke at 12.01am. He looked at the time. That was a great dream. He shuffled to get comfortable and drifted back to sleep.

 

The child was dead, covered in blood but still screaming.


The image was burned into Greg’s brain when he woke at 3.32am. He didn’t even bother trying to get back to sleep.

 


 

Greg was back at work. It wasn’t easy not being able to drive, but he was managing to do most things he needed to do, albeit more slowly. Typing with one hand was a pain. He could sign his name, but he couldn’t hold the paper still with his left, so it wasn’t simple.

He had a lot to catch up on. Too much. But even without Moran, he was looking to get one conviction in the Kirkcudbright case. Which was why he was fuming about when he realised no progress had been made since his injury.

Greg stormed out of his office, the door swinging open and smashing into the wall. “Has anyone got the documents on Mrs Kirkcudbright’s bank accounts?” Greg looked around at everyone’s blank expressions. “Anyone? Has anyone thought do that?” They continued to stare. “Jesus Christ, do I have to do everything? Do I take a few weeks off and everyone stops thinking for themselves?”

Greg slammed his door behind him as he went back to his computer. Fucking. Actual. Hell. And these people were supposed to be police officers.

So Greg did everything for himself by himself, working late into the night. His team had been avoiding his office all day, leaving him to it. Perhaps they knew how angry he was. Perhaps they didn’t think he should have been at work at all. They’d made the right decision anyway.

He was tired and frustrated, and the paperwork was taking him double the amount of time it should.

 


 

Greg was in a room studying a crime scene. There was a body on the centre of the floor, the person’s face wrapped in a black bin liner.

The room was a perfect square.

Then the door slammed shut. And water began to seep underneath it.

Greg pounded on the door, tried to smash the window with a fire extinguisher. But there was no escape.

 


 

It took a few days for the warrants to come through. ‘Unnecessary procedures’ Sherlock would have called it. But it gave Greg access to Mrs Kickcudbright’s bank statements, which he printed off while Sally was in the office. They looked over them together over a three hour period.

It was all pretty usual and as expected. Greg slammed his fist on the table. “Bastards!” He rubbed his face. “It’s not meant to be… we should have wrapped it up. There should be a huge bank transfer or lots of small ones or something but there’s nothing.”

“Maybe it’s not the wife?”

“It’s got to be.”

“Because the freak said so?”

“No, because… well, yeah, a bit because Sherlock said so. But I can think for myself and it made sense. There’s got to be something else. There’s got be.”

Greg pushed his chair away from his desk, storming through his office. He didn’t consciously notice how everyone avoided his gaze as he made his way to the bike rack and lit a cigarette. He let in a long breath. It tasted like delicious heaven.

 


 

He and Mycroft were in the shower. Greg was kissing him like he never wanted to stop. It was warm and wonderful.


He woke up hard, and smiling.

 


 

Another day, another one where he locked himself in his office. He was certain there was another bank account. So he took advice from an officer who specialised in fraud cases and learnt a few tricks of the trade. But nothing came to light.

Onto his third cigarette of the hour, he ignored Donovan calling to him as he walked back to his office. The only thing he saw were more hours of paperwork.

 


 

Greg was trapped in a lift. He could hear the ceiling creaking. A large bang, and the water flooded in.

 


 

He slammed the door in Edmund Bullock’s face. The man was incompetent. Donovan stormed in and shut the door behind her.

“Oi, this is my office,” Greg said, folding his arms.

“You have got to stop this,” she said.

“Stop what?”

“Acting like a complete arsehole.”

Greg raised his eyebrows at her. “Don’t forget who your boss is.”

“Stop treating us like we’re stupid and let us in. You shouldn’t be at work. It was too soon.”

“What do you mean I shouldn’t be at work? Where else would I be?”

Sally folded her arms. “You could have died. You’re probably in shock or something.”

“I am not in shock.”

“Then start being Greg Lestrade again. Because at the moment you’re scaring every single person in that room. They don’t even want to talk in front of you because you just bite their head off. If you need more time off then take it. But if you don’t, then start acting like our boss and not someone who needs to spend some time in anger management classes.”

Greg stared long and hard at her. “Fine,” he finally muttered.

“Good. I think you should give the Kirkcudbright case to Carter or Dimmock.”

“What? No. I’ve been working on this for two years.”

“You’re too close to it. Let someone else have a look. Because I swear, right now, it looks like it’s driving you crazy.”

Two hours later, Greg sent an email around his team to say he was sorry if he had been a bit short with them. It wasn’t personal, and if anyone wanted to have a chat, his door was always open. No one took him up on the offer, but no one sent an email to say he’d been too off with them either. Greg supposed they’d all seen the video of his accident and given him more leeway than perhaps they would have done otherwise.

 


 

Greg was swimming. He was doing lengths, and he thought how he’d never been so fit in his life, going back and forth. He dived under, holding his breath and enjoying how relaxing it felt.

He didn’t notice someone had began to cover the pool until he swam up to breathe. And couldn’t.

 


 

 Greg sat in front of the television until 2.36am when he finally took himself to bed. He was so exhausted he slept through the entire night.

As he looked in the mirror in the morning, he resolved to put it all behind him. There was nothing he could do about it now except let his body do its thing and cure his injured wrist. So taking one deep, long breath he let the anger go. Because there was nothing else he could do. 

Chapter Text

October, 2006

Greg finally had his cast taken off. The past six weeks had been infuriating and difficult, but it was finally off. He needed to do exercises to get it back to full-strength, but the signs were good.

On the day before he took a few days off, Sally walked over to him during lunch. Greg was enjoying a sandwich with his Costa Coffee cappuccino. Sally set a tea and panini down opposite. “Alright, boss?”

“Yeah, good.” Greg looked at her. “You good?”

“Yup. So. How long ago was it when you and your wife broke up?”

Greg frowned at her abrupt questioning. “Before Christmas. Why?”

“I have a friend of a friend who is looking to go on a date. And I suggested you.”

“Oh no,” Greg said quickly. “No, no, no. I am not letting you set me up with anyone. I went on a date a few months ago, it was all very nice but I don’t feel like it.”

“She’s really pretty, Lestrade.”

Greg shook his head. He wasn’t ready for a relationship. Or looking for one. “Donovan, no. I’m really not interested.”

“It’s just a date.”

“And if it goes terribly, your friend will hate me and so will you.”

“It’s a friend of a friend,” Sally said. “So even if you sleep with her on the first date, it won’t bother me.”

Greg pulled a face. He wasn’t looking to sleep with anyone else either. Well, except Mycroft, obviously. “I dunno…”

“One date. When was the last time you went on a date?”

“A proper one?” Greg asked. Mycroft definitely didn’t count. In fact, seeing as Greg hadn’t heard from for a couple of weeks, Mycroft counted even less as date material. The bastard. Not that he was holding it against him. Sherlock had muttered something about him being out of the country, but a message would have been nice…

“Yes, a proper date,” Sally said.

“February,” Greg admitted. “I went on a date in February.”

“And what was wrong with her?”

Greg shrugged. “Nothing. I just wasn’t interested. She was nice.”

“And so is Lucy. Go for a date, Lestrade. Buy her dinner, have a conversation with someone who isn’t from work. And then see what happens.”

Greg sighed. “Fine. Fine, I’m free for the next three days. I’ll go.”

Sally smiled and ate her panini in triumph. Greg rolled his eyes.

 


 

The next evening, Greg found himself sat in an Indian restaurant near work, looking for the mysterious Lucy. He was a few minutes early and had bought himself a beer while he waited. He looked up as a woman was led over to their table and Greg stood, flashing her a grin. She had dark hair, tied in a bun. She had a nice figure. Nice face. Yeah. Sally had done alright for him. “Alright?” Greg smiled as she slid into the chair.

She nodded, a shy smile on her face. “Yeah, hi, thanks. Have you been here before?”

“No, never,” Greg said.

The waiter asked what she would like to drink. Greg handed her the drinks menu and she murmured a thanks before ordering some wine and some water. She laughed awkwardly as the waiter walked away. She smiled and bit her lip. “So, um. Greg, right?”

“Yeah. And Lucy?”

“Mmmhm, yep.” She glanced at the table and back at Greg. “Sorry, this is really weird, I’ve never done this before.”

Greg smiled, relaxing into his chair. This might not be so bad after all. “It’s alright. I haven’t done much either.”

“So…” Lucy accepted the wine from the waiter and murmured a thanks. “So, what are you going to have? Are we doing starters?”

Starters. Starters were a dating minefield, Greg thought. If you say yes, you have both the starter and main course to get through. If you’re getting along, that’s great. But if not, it can be two courses of hell.

“Whatever you want,” Greg said.

“I can’t resist the Indian finger food,” she said. “I went there two years ago. It is just unbelievable.”

“You went to India?” Greg asked.

“Yeah, I travel a lot,” she smiled.

Greg nodded and looked down at the menu. “I never really have,” he said. “Couple of holidays in Spain and France, but that’s about it.”

“Where did you go in France?” she asked. “I was there quite recently with work.”

“Normandy,” Greg said. “My dad lives there.”

“Oh wow. That’s amazing. I’ve never been. Is it nice?”

“It’s alright,” Greg shrugged. “I never really looked around, I was just visiting my dad.”

Lucy smiled at him and looked up at the waiter. They both ordered their food. “So, what do you do, Lucy?” Greg asked.

“Oh, lawyer. You?”

“Police officer,” Greg smiled. “So, are you responsible for trying to get my murderers off their charges?”

Lucy laughed. “No, I work in civil law. Do you like your job?”

“Yeah, it’s alright. I mean. Sometimes it’s not, but I’m pretty good at what I do.”

“What rank are you?” she asked.

“Detective Inspector.”

“Oh. Wow. That’s impressive.”

“Thank you.”

The waiter put their starters down in front of them and Greg broke off a poppadom.

“What was the toughest case you’ve solved?” Lucy asked.

“Oh God, we had this case with a load of bodies around London. Loads of drug dealers. Anyway, we found out there were two killers.”

“Two?”

“Yeah, a drug gang and then this total maniac who wanted to cleanse the world of drug addicts or something.”

“And what do you do outside of work?” she asked.

“Outside of work?”

“Yeah.”

“Um.” Greg frowned. What did he do outside of work? “I don’t know really.”

She looked bewildered. “You don’t know?”

“Well, I watch football. Sometimes I go to the pub with people from work. And I go round my friend’s house sometimes to…” To have sex. “To hang out.”

“You’re a workaholic, aren’t you?” Greg knew it was true, but she made it sound like a horrible accusation.

“I’ve been called that, yeah,” Greg confirmed.

She nodded and ate a pakora. “So, any brothers and sisters?”

Greg swallowed and shook his head. “No.”

“Aw, spoiled only child,” she grinned.

Greg smiled awkwardly. He hardly ever talked about the fact he was adopted. And he hardly knew her well enough to start explaining it now.

“I have two brothers,” she said. “One is in the military, and the other is a filmmaker.”

“What sort of films?”

“Documentaries.”

Greg nodded. “So do you enjoy your work?”

“Mostly. It funds the travelling. Which is what I really love to do.”

“Where did you go recently?”

“I went to Serbia,” she said.

Greg looked up, surprised. “Really? After the referendum?”

Her eyes widened in confusion. “What referendum?”

“The Montenegrin Independence Referendum,” Greg said. “It was a couple of months ago. Serbia and Montenegro were one country. They had a referendum in May and they split and then the rest of world recognised Montenegro as a country later on.”

“Oh. No. I was there when they were one country.”

“It’s really interesting,” Greg said. “It was the last bit of Yugoslavia. At least, I think that’s what it was, I can’t totally remember. And when they voted, they had lots of debates about how it should go. And they decided it should be 55% in favour as long as there was a 50% turn-out.” Greg opened his mouth to carry on but saw her frown. “Sorry. I’m boring you.”

“I’m not really a history person,” she said. “I like different foods and parties in different cultures. I don’t really have an interest in politics.”

“Neither do I,” Greg said. “But I have this mate. I can’t tell you exactly what his job is, because I don’t know. But he knows all this politics stuff, and it’s really interesting.”

“Oh,” she replied, looking around the restaurant.

“It’s amazing, he must be dealing with loads of international events a week, half of them we probably have no idea about. I mean, with this Montenegro thing, a diplomat nearly screwed everything up so that-” Greg felt his phone buzz in his pocket. “Sorry.”

Greg took his phone out and looked at.

Calling: Mycroft Holmes.

“I need to take this,” Greg murmured. “It’s work,” he added. He pressed the answer button. “Lestrade.”

“Good evening,” Mycroft said. Greg smiled despite himself at the sound of his voice. He forgot to be mad that they hadn’t spoken in weeks.

“Hello, is everything alright?”

“You’re at a restaurant,” Mycroft said. “I’m interrupting.”

“No, it’s alright,” Greg said, breaking off another poppadom. “What’s up?”

“I found myself with a spare two hours. I wondered whether you were able to come round. But I understand you’re busy.”

Oh God, not too busy at all. “Is it urgent?” Greg asked.

“No, Greg, it isn’t.”

“Alright. Sure. I’ll be there right away,” Greg said.

“Greg-”

“I’ll be there. Send the car over to The Indian Diner in Rochester Row.”

“Very well.” Mycroft hung up and Greg looked apologetically at Lucy.

“I’m so sorry, we’re short-staffed at work and…”

She put her hand up. “It’s fine, don’t worry.” She didn’t seem overly fussed about him leaving.

Greg pulled his wallet out and put some money down on the table. “Enjoy dinner, please. I’ll call you.”

She smiled tightly at him. “Likewise.”

As Greg stood up and walked away from the table he realised neither of them had each other’s number. Oh well. It wasn’t that great a date anyway.

The car was already there when Greg got to the front entrance and he slid in, dropping Mycroft a text to say he was on his way. He felt the excitement in the pit of his stomach as he watched out of the window, wondering where he was being taken this time.

In the end, it turned out to be Whitehall. Greg was shown the way by the driver where he found Anthea waiting by the door. She barely looked at him. “Follow me, Detective Inspector,” she said.

Greg did so, looking around the long dark corridors. A man Greg recognised walked past and Greg looked over his shoulder at him. “Was that-”

“Alistair Darling,” Anthea confirmed. “This is Mr Holmes’ official office.” Greg couldn’t help his grin as he realised he’d seen the unofficial one. The secret one. Anthea opened a door. “And here we are, Detective Inspector.” She smiled, raising an eyebrow at him. “Have a nice time. Don’t tire him out too much, I need him ready to go to the airport again.”

Greg nodded faintly, deciding to ignore her innuendo, walking through and closing the door behind him. Mycroft was stood by the window, a glass of something in his hand. He turned and smiled at Greg.

“What was wrong with your date?” he asked as he took in Greg’s appearance.

“She was a bit boring,” Greg said. He looked around the office. It was brighter than the Coeur de Lion Offices, but with another large desk. There was a large bookcase full of files and another smaller one. The lamps were on, offering the room a warm glow. “So, I didn’t think you ever had a loose end,” Greg grinned, leaning against the wall.

Mycroft chuckled. “No, I suppose I don’t really. But I’ll work on the aeroplane.”

“Where you going?” Mycroft didn’t answer. Greg bit his lip. “Well, good luck, with whatever it is.”

“Thank you.”

Greg strolled over to him and Mycroft put his glass down on the windowsill. Greg hesitated for a second before resting his hands on Mycroft’s hips. Mycroft offered him a half-smile in return, keeping his arms down by his sides.

Greg frowned a bit. “Did I get this wrong?”

“Not at all,” Mycroft replied. “Not at all.”

Greg smiled and pressed a chaste kiss to Mycroft’s lips. Mycroft’s body relaxed instantly, one hand resting at the side of Greg’s neck, the other snaking around his waist to draw him closer.

They exchanged slow, experimental kisses as Greg decided to take his time to work out whether Mycroft liked a bit of teeth on his bottom lip, whether he liked a tongue to swipe against his mouth. Greg found he rather liked everything Mycroft did with his tongue as his light flicks drew Greg in as he melted into their joined embrace.

Their tongues touched, and Greg tasted the bitter tobacco mixed with brandy, while his nose caught a whiff of that heady aftershave. Mycroft’s hand moved into Greg’s hair, his fingers roaming through the strands and Greg let out a soft sound against his lips.

Greg’s arms wrapped around Mycroft’s waist, their bodies pressing together, aligning somewhat perfectly. They were a great height for one another, neither straining their necks too much as their lips met. Greg felt Mycroft’s smile against his lips and Greg pressed soft kisses to his jaw. There wasn’t much neck available to press his mouth to, with collar and tie in the way, but Greg kissed the skin he could reach, flicking his tongue out to taste.

Mycroft sighed against him, one hand moving under the bottom of Greg’s shirt to stroke his back. His fingers traced the length of Greg’s spine and Greg kissed him again, more deeply this time.

Greg lowered one hand to feel Mycroft’s arse through his trousers and he gave it a small squeeze before moving his hand over his chest.

He rested his hand at the side of Mycroft’s neck as he savoured each kiss. There was nothing demanding about it. Mycroft’s lips found Greg’s neck and he tilted it, as the man found the sensitive spots that made him sigh.

Greg smiled blissfully and glanced down at his hands as he began to unfasten Mycroft’s belt. Mycroft teeth scraped against his neck and Greg shuddered as he pulled the belt free of the loops. He put it down on the windowsill, and touched Mycroft’s chin, lifting his face so he could kiss him again.

Their lips brushed together, and Greg unfastened Mycroft’s trousers. He gave him one long kiss, savouring his taste, before dropping down to his knees. He heard Mycroft’s surprised gasp, and he leaned against the wall. “Greg you don’t need-” he started, but Greg looked up at him with a grin.

“I know I don’t need to. I want to though.”

Greg felt his erection through the two layers of fabric. Mycroft shuddered, and Greg smiled, pushing his trousers down. He bent forward to rub his cheek against the front of Mycroft’s underwear, and he groaned as the silk brushed against his skin. “You need to tell me where you get these from,” Greg said. “They’re amazing.”

Mycroft stroked his fingers through Greg’s hair. Greg looked up at him. His head was tilted back, his lips parted, half-lidded eyes watching Greg from above. Greg let out a low moan as he pulled his underwear down, admiring his cock. He stroked his hands on the insides of Mycroft’s thighs, taking in the sprinkling of hair. He hadn’t really taken much chance to look before, too lost in the moment. But he looked now, drawing a slow circle on the back of Mycroft’s knee with his finger.

Mycroft was breathing heavily, his fingers tightening and relaxing in Greg’s hair. Greg rested one hand on his hip and wrapped the other around his prick, giving it a few slow strokes. Mycroft was quiet above him, but his change of grip on Greg’s hair, his deep breaths and shaking knees told everything Greg needed to know.

Greg licked the head of Mycroft’s cock and the taste of him reminded Greg of his own arousal, hot in his jeans. He let go of Mycroft for a moment, quickly unfastening his jeans to release some of the tension. He wrapped his hand back around Mycroft’s cock and licked along the length, flicking his tongue. Mycroft gasped, and Greg glanced up at him. Fuck, he was stunning like this.

Greg drew the head into his mouth as he hollowed his cheeks. He kept his head still for a few moments, pressing his tongue in different places at different pressures, trying to figure out how Mycroft might like it.

He reached up to touch Mycroft’s hip and encouraged him to move. He heard Mycroft’s stunned gasp, but he pressed forward a bit, pushing more of his cock into Greg’s mouth. Greg groaned around him and Mycroft shuddered.

Greg pushed one hand inside his own jeans, wrapping his fingers around himself and making another low sound as he fisted his cock and started to move his own hips. He looked up at Mycroft’s face as he fucked his mouth, but never too much, never pushing Greg too far. However lost he was in his own pleasure, he was attentive and considerate, which is more than Greg could say of some of his partners while he had been at university.

Greg moved his head more quickly, one hand gripping Mycroft’s hip, the other working his own cock hard. Mycroft’s fingers pressed against Greg’s cheek to warn him he was close, but Greg never stopped his movements, taking as much of Mycroft’s prick as he could.

Mycroft gasped and trembled as he came and Greg swallowed all he gave, keeping his mouth around Mycroft as he softened and relaxed. Greg gently released him, thrusting his hips into his own hand.

Mycroft knelt down with him and Greg let him wrap his hand around his cock. The feel of Mycroft’s long fingers wrapped around him was enough to push him over the edge and he thrust once into his hand as he came, watching as he spilled over the other man’s fingers. He kissed Mycroft messily.

Mycroft let out a relaxed sigh as he dropped down onto the floor. Although he pulled his boxers back up, he left his trousers down around his knees. Greg joined him on the floor, pulling his own underwear up. They glanced at each other before quickly looking away. Greg glanced at him again and smiled. He leaned forward and kissed the corner of Mycroft’s mouth.

Greg leaned back on his arms, stretching his legs out along the floor. “So, was that a good enough welcome back and going away again present?”

Mycroft smiled at him. “Yes, it was.”

“How long you going to be away this time?”

“A week at most. Hopefully.”

Greg smiled. “Thanks for interrupting my date. This was better.” Mycroft chuckled and shook his head. Greg grinned and pulled his jeans up, fastening them. He looked at Mycroft. He seemed perfectly content. Greg stroked his thigh.

They looked at each other and smiled before Greg got to his knees and stood up. He held his hand out to Mycroft who accepted it and stood before fastening his trousers.

“Well,” Greg said. “I should head back home.”

“Enjoy your days off.”

“I will,” Greg said, not even questioning how he knew. Without thinking about it, Greg cupped his cheek and kissed him, drawing his bottom lip between his. Mycroft’s arms wound around his body as he deepened the kiss. Greg groaned, pressing their bodies back together. He knew he should go, but he was unwilling to stop.

A knock on the door had them breaking the kiss. Mycroft smiled sympathetically, pressing one last quick kiss to Greg’s lips before stepping away and putting on his belt. Just as he’d tightened it, Anthea walked in. She looked between them both, but her face bore no expression. “The car’s here early, sir,” she said. “The pilot said there are some strong winds forecast and we should leave sooner rather than later.” With that, she turned and walked out of the office.

Greg shoved his hands in his pockets. “Right, well, have a good trip.”

“Thank you.”

“Be safe, yeah?”

Mycroft looked at him, surprised. “I will,” he replied.

Greg reached over, squeezed his shoulder, and then let go. Giving Mycroft one last lingering look he walked out of the office, past Anthea who didn’t give him a second glance, and got into the car which took him home.

 


 

 

Greg stared down at the two bodies. Two twin bodies to be exact. Both lying on their backs, arms by their side, placed head to toe. He looked around the room, considering the blood stains on the floor where the bodies had been dragged. He picked up his phone and called Sherlock.

“I’ve got two bodies here-” Greg started.

“I’m not interested.”

“Hang on, now wait-”

“No. You already knew the case wouldn’t interest me or you wouldn’t have tried to sell it from the moment I answered the phone. I’m not coming.”

Greg frowned. “Look, this is right up your street and-” Sherlock had already hung up. Greg rubbed his face. “Alright, we’re doing this one without Sherlock Holmes.”

“About time too,” Anderson muttered.

Greg glanced at Sally and knew she shared that sentiment. “Alright, so we’ve got two bodies. Maybe two killers, unless the killer came back for the second one later. They wouldn’t have been able to kill one with the other one still in the room I suspect. Anderson, I want full analysis of the blood stains and where they come from and where they go. Sal, come with me.”

Greg and Sally left the bedroom to go downstairs, where the landlord who found the bodies was sat on the sofa. They both took a seat across from him. “You alright?” Greg asked.

The landlord nodded. “Bit of a shock.”

“What were you doing here?” Sally asked.

“I came to collect the rent. They hadn’t paid me in two months and I have a mortgage to pay. So, I got here about 45 minutes ago and found them like that.”

“How much did they owe you?”

“About £1,800.”

“Is it the first time they’ve skipped paying the rent?” Greg asked.

“No. But they pay it eventually. They’re not the worst tenants I’ve ever had. I had to evict the last lot. But I didn’t kill them. You know that right? I got here and they were already like it.”

“When we’ve confirmed time of death we will be back in touch. I need your contact details.”

The landlord nodded and gave them both his home phone and mobile numbers. Greg let him go and shook his head a bit at Sally. “Don’t think that’s your guy but there’s motive.”

Greg went back up the stairs. He picked up one of the evidence bags. “What’s this?”

Anderson looked up at him. “It’s a betting slip. We’ve found quite a few in this one’s pockets. This one is George Klein and the other is Marcus Klein.”

 


 

He solved the case the old fashioned way. Without Sherlock Holmes. It took nine days, but it was nine days of good, solid police work which reminded him of the days before his life was invaded by Holmeses.

The gambling lead was a good one. When he and Sally finally tracked down the head of a casino George Klein owed a lot of money to, they were both struck by the symmetry of the house.

The matching columns, two vases, two pictures, two everything. So when they contemplated the nature of the twin murder, it all fit nicely together. He wondered if he hadn’t known Sherlock whether he would have noticed it. He liked to think he would have done.

It filled him with confidence that he was still able to do it. So Sherlock was useful, but he wasn’t strictly necessary at every crime scene. And now he fully appreciated that.

It was true that his extended absence was a concern. If he were bored and about to dive back into old drug habits then Greg’s time off and Sally’s refusal to work with him may have sealed it. So after yet another unanswered text or phone call, Greg did try Mycroft but had to leave a message with an assistant. That was three days ago, and he still hadn’t heard anything from either Holmes brother.

It was four days before Mycroft returned his call.

“Lestrade.”

“Good... afternoon.”

Greg laughed. “Is it a different time where you are?”

“Evening. A long one,” Mycroft replied wearily. “I will be home in the early hours of this morning if you would like to come round to discuss Sherlock.”

“Yeah, that would be great. Thanks. You okay?”

“Exhausted.”

“You sound it.”

“How kind of you to say.”

Greg grinned. “Have a good flight back from wherever you are.”

“Thank you. See you tomorrow.”

“Looking forward to it.”

Mycroft hung up and Greg smiled. He wasn’t keen on how such a quick conversation with Mycroft improved his day, but improved it did. It was a bit embarrassing.

 


 

The butler let Greg through and he walked in, smiling at Mycroft. He frowned at Sherlock. “Hi,” he said, taking a seat on the sofa. “I didn’t know you were going to be here.”

“I wish I could have said the same,” Sherlock muttered, rolling his eyes at him.

“Play nice, Sherlock,” Mycroft warned, looking across at Greg. Sherlock covered his face with a cushion. “How was your day?” Mycroft asked.

“Not bad actually.”

“It’s nice to see you.”

Greg smiled over at him. “Is everything alright?” he asked, eyeing Sherlock.

“Yes. Would you like a drink?” Mycroft asked, already standing.

“What are you having?”

“Brandy.”

“Then that’s good for me too.”

Mycroft walked to his small drinks table and poured them each a drink. He handed Greg a glass and their fingers brushed together. Their eyes each flicked up from their glasses and they shared a secret smile. Mycroft walked back to his seat.

“So, Sherlock, how’ve you been?” Greg asked. He didn’t get any response and rolled his eyes.

“Sherlock has been ‘experimenting’,” Mycroft said, a sneer on his lip.

“Experimenting?”

“Yes. Apparently heroin was ‘boring’.”

Greg stared at Sherlock. “Heroin got ‘boring?’ What the hell did you replace it with?”

“Homemade experiments,” Sherlock, said, throwing the cushion the floor and sitting up. “Mycroft, I didn’t come here for a lecture.”

“Then what did you come here for?”

“I want my violin.”

“You may have it. When you stop acting like an insolent child.”

Sherlock glared at his brother. “Perhaps if I had my violin, I wouldn’t need to experiment.”

“As much as I would like to believe that, I think your past record proves that would be unlikely.”

“I know you moved my dealer on.”

Mycroft tilted his head. “And how would I possibly do that, Sherlock?”

“You know how,” Sherlock muttered. The brothers stared at each other from across the room. “I can find another dealer.”

“That I do believe,” Mycroft replied.

“I never take too much,” Sherlock said. “I’ve calculated my body weight and my heart rate precisely. I know just the perfect amount to give myself.”

“And yet still you’ve almost killed yourself in the past,” Mycroft replied.

“I test it now,” Sherlock retorted.

“One day that will not be enough.”

Sherlock offered a big fake smile. “Oh, I don’t know. One day, too much might be just enough.”

“Do not talk about your death like that.”

“Why? Like you would mind having me out of your hair. What’s left of it.”

“Do not try and test the level of my affection for you,” Mycroft warned.

Sherlock snorted. “Affection? Is that what you call interfering in my life?”

“Stop being a dickhead,” Greg finally cut in. “Look, shock tactics don’t work. Taking away your favourite things doesn’t work. What’s it going to be, Sherlock? Wait until you choke on your own vomit?”

Sherlock looked at him. “You both have such a power complex. Why don’t you both just leave me alone?”

“Because we want you clean,” Greg said.

“And why is that, Detective Inspector? So you feel better about yourself? So I solve all your cases for you so you get a promotion? Just ask Mycroft, I’m sure he can arrange that for you without any trouble.”

“Sherlock!” Mycroft warned.

Sherlock turned to his brother. “You always ruin everything. Why can’t you leave me alone?”

“Because you cannot be trusted.”

Sherlock pointed at Greg. “He trusts me.”

Greg held his hands up. “Keep me out of this.”

Mycroft stood and stared at his brother. “Sherlock. You will resume work with the Detective Inspector. What he and I do outside of working hours is none of your concern.”

“And what happens when you destroy everything?”

“Oi,” Greg cut in. “We’re only shagging. No one’s destroyed anything.”

Sherlock snorted and continued to look at Mycroft. “You always take my things.”

“Things?” Greg asked, raising his eyebrows. “Wait, what I’m not your ‘thing’, Sherlock.”

“Sherlock, do grow up,” Mycroft muttered.

Sherlock stood up. “The pair of you are disgusting. Carrying on as though your relationship means anything. You know something’s coming, Mycroft. We all know Lestrade was nearly killed because of you, so how long as you going to allow this facade to continue? He probably believes you care about him. But we both know you are incapable of that.”

Greg swallowed and looked down at his knees.

“Don’t do any more drug experiments,” Mycroft warned, but Sherlock snorted again before storming out of the room and slamming the front door.

Greg sighed. “He’s going to use again,” he murmured, avoiding Mycroft’s eyes.

Mycroft sank down into his chair and sipped his brandy. “I know. It’s the only battle I’ve ever lost.”

“It’s not lost yet.”

“I worry about him.”

“I know. So do I,” Greg admitted.

“I know.”

Greg sighed. “God knows, I wish I didn’t. I wish I thought he can do whatever he likes, but I don’t think that because I do like him.”

“Greg, the things Sherlock said-”

Greg held his hand up to cut him off and looked over at him. Mycroft’s face lacked an expression. “We don’t want to have a talk about it,” Greg said. “Let’s just carry on the way it is, yeah? It works that way.”

Mycroft nodded. “Very well.”

Greg sipped his drink. Mycroft slipped off the sofa and walked over to him, holding his hand out. Greg frowned.

“You prefer whiskey,” Mycroft said. “Let me change it for you.”

Greg grinned and handed his glass over. “Deduced it?”

“Yes. Having seen you drink both on separate occasions.” Mycroft poured Greg’s brandy into his own glass before pouring a glass of whiskey for him. Greg took it from him and to his surprise, Mycroft took a seat on the sofa beside him. “What are we going to do about Sherlock?” Mycroft asked.

Greg shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“Have you got your cigarettes?”

“Er, yeah.” Greg reached into his jacket pocket and handed Mycroft the box.

“Would you like to join me on the balcony?” Mycroft asked as he stood up, carrying his drink. Greg nodded and followed him, checking his pocket for his lighter. He sipped his whiskey as Mycroft opened the doors and they stepped out. Greg watched his breath disappear into the air.

Mycroft held a cigarette in his mouth and Greg lit it for him, feeling the warmth of Mycroft’s face against his palm. Mycroft nodded as a thank you and leaned onto the railing. Greg stood beside him, inhaling the cigarette smoke as Mycroft exhaled. Mycroft handed it over to him and Greg took a drag before giving it back. Greg watched the cars down on the road below.

They stood in silence, ignoring the chill of the air, and swapping the cigarette between them until Mycroft finally stamped the light out with his shoe. He stood up straight, taking a long sip of his brandy. Greg glanced over at him. He reached out and wrapped a hand comfortingly around the back of Mycroft’s neck. Greg rubbed gently and smiled as Mycroft turned his body towards him.

Mycroft cupped Greg’s jaw in his hand and pulled him into a slow kiss, sharing the bitterness of their cigarette and mix of the brandy and whiskey. Mycroft dropped his hand and turned back to the railing. Greg licked his lip and shuffled closer and Mycroft wrapped one arm around his waist, holding him there. Greg rested his cheek against his shoulder.

“Sherlock was right,” Mycroft finally murmured. “Something is coming. The signs are perfectly clear.”

“What are they after?” Greg asked.

“An untold number of things. Secrets, power, control.”

Greg glanced at him, and knew he wasn’t even being hyperbolic.

“The more I know about the world, the more I wish I didn’t,” Mycroft said, frowning. “I am almost 37. And I am only just fully appreciating the things people will do for power. They don’t care about nations, and status quo. They care about money in their pockets and bribery and deceit. And my instinct is to protect Sherlock from that. But of course, he is no longer a child. Despite his petulance.”

Greg stayed quiet. He hardly knew what to say.

“So, when Sherlock says this cannot continue, he is quite correct,” Mycroft continued. Greg frowned and took a long drink of whiskey. If Mycroft was ending their - whatever it was - here and now, he’d rather he didn’t do it while their bodies were pressed close together. “But what might we deduce about me, Greg? When my drug of choice is falling into bed with you?”

“I don’t know,” Greg replied quietly.

“Nor do I. But it’s far more agreeable than Sherlock’s heroin habit.”

Greg smiled a bit. “Yeah, that’s true.” Mycroft looked at him and smiled, tightening the hold on his waist. “You have a tough week?” Greg asked and Mycroft nodded.

“Being a veterinarian would have been far simpler.”

Greg laughed. “Hey, you said nearly 37? Is it your birthday soon?”

“Next week,” Mycroft said. “Tuesday.”

“You want to go for dinner?”

Mycroft hesitated before speaking. “Very well. I suppose it’s your turn to choose.”

“It’s your birthday, we can go wherever you want.”

“Then I would like you to decide.”

Greg nodded. “Alright. I’ll think of something.”

Mycroft set his drink down on the table, and took Greg’s from him, putting it down too. Greg turned to look at him and Mycroft’s arms slid around him, underneath his jacket. Greg watched him, lips parted. Mycroft leaned forward, drawing Greg’s bottom lip between his, pulling their bodies flush together. He trailed kisses along Greg’s jaw and up to his ear. “Do you think they can see?” he whispered, sliding a hand under Greg’s shirt and over his lower back.

“Who?” Greg asked, sighing as Mycroft’s lips found his neck.

“The world down below.”

Greg glanced around. “I think if your living room light was off then it would be too dark.”

Mycroft nodded and stepped away from him. “Wait there.”

Greg shivered and nodded, watching as Mycroft retreated back into the living room.

He looked back down at the road, with the cars tearing past. The sound of people entering and leaving The Golden Lion pub down the road. His cock twitched at the thought of getting hot and steamy with Mycroft here, so close to where anybody could see them.

Greg saw the living room light go off and Mycroft returned seconds later. He stalked towards Greg, cupping his face in his hands and drawing him into a hot and hungry kiss. Greg groaned deep in his throat as he pulled Mycroft closer to him, wrapping one hand in his tie and squeezing his arse with the other.

Mycroft backed him into the wall, breaking the kiss for a few seconds to look at Greg with desire in his eyes before reigniting the kiss, full of need. Their bodies were pressed flush together, Mycroft occasionally moving to give Greg’s rapidly-hardening cock some much-needed friction.

Mycroft’s dexterous fingers made swift work of Greg’s trousers, pushing them down as far as his knees as he bit the side of his neck. Greg tipped his head back, fighting the sound threatening at his lips. Mycroft was mesmerising in this dark, the only light coming from the lampposts lined along the street below.

He unfastened Mycroft’s belt, dropping it down onto the stone. The cold air was surrounding him, but where his body met Mycroft’s he was anything but. Lost in the sensation of Mycroft’s cock pressing against his through their underwear, he lost track of whether he was shuddering in pleasure or shivering in cold.

Mycroft kissed behind his ear and whispered. “Do you hear it? The noise?”

“Yeah,” Greg murmured, gasping as Mycroft’s fingers rubbed lightly against his balls through the fabric.

“They’re all so unobservant,” Mycroft whispered as he began to peel down Greg’s underwear. Greg shuddered and pulled Mycroft’s down too, groaning as their pricks rubbed against each other without the confines of fabric. Mycroft rocked their hips together as he kissed Greg again.

Greg lost himself in Mycroft’s mouth, one hand tangled in Mycroft’s clothing and the other stroking and scratching wherever he could reach. Mycroft’s hand closed around their cocks and Greg moaned into the other man’s mouth.

“Shh, now,” Mycroft murmured against his lips. Greg trembled as his thumb swiped over the head of his cock.

“How can I be quiet when you’re doing that?” Greg murmured back, grazing his lips over Mycroft’s throat. “It’s like you know all the things to do to drive me crazy.”

“Oh, but I do,” Mycroft whispered back. He flicked his wrist, just a bit, and Greg shook against him.

“God,” Greg gasped.

“Just look,” Mycroft said softly, lightly nipping his ear lobe. “Just look at the street. All those people walking past. Unobservant. Oblivious, as I make you come undone right here, in the open.”

Greg bit back a moan as he listened to Mycroft’s words as his hand moved quicker against their cocks. He looked past the other man and over the balcony. There was a fight beginning outside the pub. He heard the cars racing past. The sound of laughter as two people walked down the road. And there was Mycroft, pulling Greg with him in waves of ecstasy.

His knees shook as he drew close to coming and then Mycroft’s hand stopped moving. Greg glanced at him, breathing hard. Mycroft was practically smirking.

Greg swallowed. “What-”

“You are very rarely patient,” Mycroft murmured.

Greg kissed his jaw. “I’m bloody desperate here,” he said, shivering as a cold breeze passed them.

Mycroft kissed him and swept his thumb over Greg’s cock again. Greg gasped and moved his hand, brushing his fingers against Mycroft’s balls. Mycroft’s breath shook and he looked at him, his eyes filled with desire.

“I might not be patient,” Greg murmured, taking control of the sexual powerplay they’d found themselves in. “But I know how to get what I want.”

Mycroft pressed his body up against Greg’s, pushing their cocks more firmly together. Greg held his eyes, and pressed his finger against Mycroft’s perineum. Mycroft began to move his hand again and Greg let out a low groan as he moved to his head to kiss Mycroft.

Mycroft’s hand was unrelenting this time, and Greg moved his own hand to join his as they laced their fingers together. They moved in time, lost in messy kisses and panting breaths as Greg finally came, biting down a bit too hard on Mycroft’s bottom lip. Mycroft shuddered against him as he came too, his forehead pressed against Greg’s cheek as he let go.

Greg thought perhaps he’d been too loud, but Mycroft didn’t try to quieten him. They stood leaning against each other for a few minutes before the cold got too much and they wordlessly straightened their clothes. Greg wiped his hand on his jeans. Mycroft raised his eyebrows at him.

Greg grinned and picked up their glasses, strolling inside and collapsing onto the sofa. Mycroft followed, closing the balcony doors and turning on a lamp.

Greg smiled widely at him, patting the place beside him on the sofa. Mycroft shook his head in amusement before walking over. Greg nuzzled his neck, breathing warm air against the cold skin. “Where did that come from?” Greg asked, rubbing his thigh. “You’re unbelievable.”

Mycroft turned his head to kiss Greg’s cheek. “You spend your life abiding by rules. I thought you might like a bit of danger.”

Greg chuckled. “Alright. Yeah. It was good. I’ll give you that.”

Mycroft kissed Greg’s smile and Greg kissed him back lazily. He got up and walked over to the drinks table, bringing the two decanters over and topping up their drinks. He handed the glass to Mycroft and straddled his lap, sitting up on his knees with both leg either side of Mycroft’s. Mycroft chuckled and rested his free hand on Greg’s hip.

“What on earth are you doing?” Mycroft asked as though the whole situation was absurd, but smiling nonetheless.

“I’m sitting on you,” Greg grinned.

“And why, may I ask, are you doing that?”

Greg kissed him and grinned. “Because it felt like the right thing to do.”

Mycroft laughed and sipped his drink. “Incorrigible.”

“You use that word a lot around me.” Greg took hold of Mycroft’s hand and sipped from the glass, before pulling a bit of a face. “Yeah, you’re right, I don’t like brandy.”

“I know,” Mycroft smiled.

Greg laughed and rolled off him, sitting back beside him on the sofa and drinking his whiskey.

Mycroft smiled bemused at him. “You drank brandy the night we played cards, do you remember?”

“I remember that night,” Greg agreed. “I didn’t remember it was brandy.”

“You were quite tipsy.”

Greg laughed. “So were you, I think.”

“It was in January,” Mycroft murmured.

Greg frowned, thinking. “Yeah, I guess it was.”

“It was.”

Greg nudged him. “What are you thinking?”

“I was thinking sex with you was excellent to start with and seems to be getting better, and far surpassing any of my previous experiences. And in the past 20 seconds I have just solved a frankly ridiculous conundrum we were trying to deal with at work this week.”

Greg laughed. “You just thought all that at once?”

“I was solving the puzzle in the background of my mind, I assure you. I was completely engaged in the sex.”

Greg laughed harder, curling into him and smiling as Mycroft’s arm wrapped around his shoulders. “How the hell do you even do that?”

“I imagine my mind to be very much like a machine. I input information and explanations and conclusions appear from the other end. And like any number of machines, mine can do a number of different tasks simultaneously.”

“But everyone’s brain does stuff at the same time.”

Mycroft just smiled and drew Greg closer.

“So, how many people have you slept with?” Greg asked.

Mycroft frowned for a second before replying. “You are the seventh.”

“All men?”

“Yes.”

Greg nodded. “You’re the best sex I had too.”

Mycroft glanced at him, his lips parted in surprise. “You were married for 16 years.”

Greg shrugged. “It must be your deduction skills or something making you amazing in bed. It’s different with women. Not bad-different or good-different, just different.” Greg kissed his neck, moving his legs to cover Mycroft’s lap as he rested against him, closing his eyes.

Mycroft held him more securely, leaning forward to put his glass down on the table as he rested his other hand on Greg’s thigh.

Greg smiled and let out a soft sigh. “Should go home,” he murmured.

“Mm,” Mycroft replied, noncommittally.

“You’re warm.”

“I’m convinced your body temperature is a degree lower than the average person’s,” Mycroft said, closing his own eyes as he tilted his head onto the back of the sofa.

“Don’t know for sure, but I don’t think that’s scientifically possible,” Greg replied.

“The idea every person is the exactly same temperature is one of many lies adults tell small children,” Mycroft informed him, playing with Greg’s hair where it met his neck.

Greg smiled. School was full of scientific rules which proved not to be true. “It was very depressing when Pluto stopped being a planet a couple of months ago,” Greg said.

Mycroft chuckled. “Why was that?”

“Because I used the rhyme. You know the one? My Very Easy Method Just Shows Us Nine Planets? Well, now my easy method just shows me nine nothings. No more planets. No more Pluto.”

Mycroft kissed his head. “Why did that bother you so much?”

“Pretty much the only thing I remember from school. And how to spell ‘because’.”

“Because?”

“Big elephants can always understand small elephants.”

Mycroft laughed. “I’ve never heard that.”

“Probably because you were a smart kid who could spell.”

“Yes, that’s possibly correct,” Mycroft agreed.

Greg grinned, hitting him playfully. “Bastard. Didn’t have to agree.”

“I had trouble with mathematics,” Mycroft murmured.

Greg opened his eyes and looked up at him. “Really?” Mycroft had a half smile on his face, his eyes still closed. Greg smiled to himself as he looked at him. Christ, he was gorgeous.

“Really. Long division. And quadratic equations. All terribly embarrassing, especially as our mother is a mathematical genius. Sherlock was incredibly gifted at it, of course. Thankfully he never saw the trouble it gave me at school.”

“I was good at PE.”

“I was good at fencing. Sherlock ended up being better.”

Greg laughed. “Did he beat you?”

“On the one occasion we thought it would be a good idea to compete against one another, yes. I’m sure you look wonderful in shorts when you play football.”

Greg grinned and settled back down against his chest. “I don’t know about that.”

Mycroft’s fingers brushed through his hair. “I’m convinced you’re always attractive.”

Greg laughed. “You’re good for my ego.”

“Likewise.”

Greg smiled and kissed his chin. He looked down at his watch. “Right.” He stretched his arms and rolled his shoulders. “Right, I’m really going this time.” He rolled out of Mycroft’s hold and stood up.

Mycroft stood too. “I’ll walk you to the door.”

Greg smiled and followed him the few metres to the door. He put his hand on the handle and Mycroft reached out and brushed the backs of his fingers against his cheek. Greg’s breath caught and he turned before kissing Mycroft lightly, sweetly, on the mouth.

“Goodnight,” Mycroft murmured. “I’ll see you Tuesday.”

“Looking forward to it. Night.” Greg smiled at him before stepping out into the corridor, basking in the fact they’d just kissed goodnight for the first time. 

Chapter Text

October, 2006

Greg slid into Mycroft’s car at 7.31pm. He was wearing a suit Greg didn’t recognise, a red tie, with a pocket watch Greg didn’t think he’d seen before.

“Happy birthday,” Greg smiled over at him as he put his seatbelt on.

“Thank you.”

“Have you had a nice day?” Greg asked.

“Nothing out of the ordinary, so I suppose so. Where would you like to go?”

“I was planning a Mexican place in Covent Garden. Cantina Laredo. We went there for Carter’s birthday a few years ago and it was great.”

Mycroft leaned forward to speak to the driver and relay the instructions. The driver pulled out of the space and Greg touched his jacket pocket. He wrinkled his nose before taking the small gift out and handing it over to Mycroft. “You don’t need to open this now. Actually, it’s probably better you don’t.”

“Why is that?”

“You’ll probably hate it and then I’ll feel stupid,” Greg said. Mycroft began to peel the balloon-covered wrapping off. Greg groaned and rubbed his forehead. “Alright, so you’re doing that anyway.”

Mycroft folded the wrapping paper up and put it on the seat between them. He opened the small grey box and looked down at the gift.

“It was stupid, wasn’t it?” Greg asked, leaning back a bit so he could look at the tie pin he’d bought. It was silver in colour, though not that expensive - Mycroft’s clothes were probably worth thousands, what the hell was he thinking buying a cheap(ish) piece like that? In the centre of the pin was a sovereign’s orb. It had seemed appropriate before. Now it seemed unnecessarily ostentatious.

“You really shouldn’t have,” Mycroft murmured as he slid his thumb over the metal.

“I know, it’s… it’s not good, is it?” Greg agreed. “It’s really tack-”

“-Perfect,” Mycroft interjected.

“Perfect? Oh.” Greg smiled a bit. “Really?”

“Truly.” Mycroft took it out of the box and clipped it perfectly onto his tie.

Greg smiled over at him. “Really? You actually like it?”

“You shouldn’t have. But it’s wonderful.”

Wonderful. It was wonderful. And it looked pretty wonderful on Mycroft too. Greg had a day off on Saturday so decided to buy Mycroft a present. He was torn between buying him something ludicrously stupid and something the other man might like. The novelty black mug with Batman wings had been tempting. And he thought the ‘grow your own Venus fly trap’ would have made an amusing addition to Mycroft’s office.

Then he went to Debenhams and considered the cufflinks. And that was where he’d seen the tie clip. Which Mycroft was now wearing. Willingly. Greg smiled and without thinking, reached forward to slide his hand against Mycroft’s thigh.

“Thank you,” Mycroft said softly, glancing between Greg’s mouth and the hand on his leg. “It is a very thoughtful gift.”

Greg grinned and watched him. “You’re welcome.” He squeezed Mycroft’s thigh once before letting go and watching out of the window. “I love Covent Garden.”

“Perhaps we should go for a drink afterwards,” Mycroft suggested. “After all, it is only my birthday once a year.”

Greg smiled and tightened his scarf. “Sounds good.” He got out as the car stopped right outside the restaurant. Mycroft stepped out of the car and Greg joined him on the pavement outside. They walked into the restaurant and Greg asked for the table he had reserved. They were led to the table for two by the window. “Busy in here,” Greg remarked as he looked around. He asked for a bottle of red wine for the table.

“How are you?” Mycroft asked, opening the menu.

“Yeah, good. Not seen your brother around though.”

Mycroft shook his head. “I am keeping an eye on him, don’t worry.”

“Your security is keeping well away though. Barely notice they’re there.”

“Sounds as though they need some training. You shouldn’t notice them at all.”

Greg laughed and looked at his menus. “Do you want starters?”

“Do you?”

“Yeah, definitely. We could have one of the sharing dishes if you want?”

“The botanas platter?” Mycroft asked.

Greg looked at it. Tacos, chicken, beef, tiger prawns and vegetable skewers. “Brilliant, yeah.”

Mycroft smiled and and Greg volunteered him to taste the wine the waitress brought over. She poured it into their glasses. She left them to it and Greg sipped his drink.

“Have you ever been to Mexico?” Greg asked as his eyes skimmed the main meals.

“Twice.”

“What’s it like?”

Mycroft paused for a moment. “Chaotic. Loud.”

“Too loud?”

“I prefer London,” Mycroft said. “What do you recommend?”

“I think I had the spiced pork tamales last time.”

“I may have the sea bass,” Mycroft said. “Is that okay?”

“Of course. Have anything you want. It’s the camarones escondos for me.”

“Escondidos,” Mycroft corrected.

Greg grinned. “Escondidos. Yeah. That.”

Mycroft laughed and sipped his wine. Greg smiled back at him until the waitress appeared and took their food orders. “When are you 40?” Mycroft asked.

Greg groaned. “Did you have to remind me? November 29th.”

“Are you planning anything?”

“No. Not really. I guess I’ll have to do something since it’s a big one.”

“I’m sure it won’t be as bad as you are expecting.”

“That’s because you’re only 37.”

“Actually, I’m still 36 until 10.45pm.”

Greg laughed. “Don’t need to rub it in, Mycroft.”

Mycroft laughed too and sipped his wine. “You look quite wonderful. For an older man,” Mycroft added, his eyes playful.

Greg nudged Mycroft’s shin with his shoe. “Watch it. I might be older but I have the stamina of a 20 year old.”

“Is that so?” Mycroft asked, smirking. “I believe I need a practical demonstration.”

“Have you not had enough of those yet?” Greg grinned.

“Not even close,” Mycroft murmured.

Greg let out a hearty laugh, shaking his head. “You’re incorrigible.”

Mycroft laughed at that, and Greg watched him with a grin. “You look so good when you laugh,” Greg said. And then quickly changed the subject before Mycroft could reply. “Tell me what you’ve been up to at work. I saw the bit in the news about that Korean bloke, by the way.”

“Ban Ki-moon?”

“Yeah. Good job.”

Mycroft smiled. “I am ultimately pleased with how that went. North Korea has been causing a lot of headaches recently.”

“Oh, the nuclear test? Yeah, read about that.”

“And you heard about the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718?”

Greg shrugged. “Maybe. Not enough to remember what it is.”

“It is imposing economic and commercial sanctions on North Korea.”

“You helped write it?” Greg asked.

“No,” Mycroft smiled. “All United Nations states must freeze the overseas assets of individuals and companies involved in the weapons programme. This isn’t a sanction they’re particularly pleased about and I have been sat in all sorts of ridiculous conversations.”

“I can’t figure you out.”

“What do you mean?”

“You just do so much. You’re involved in anything and everything.”

“It was never what I set out to do,” Mycroft said.

“What did you set out to do?”

They fell quiet as the waitress set an enormous platter down between them and handed them a plate each. Mycroft waited for her to walk away before speaking. “Protect the security of the United Kingdom.”

“And now?” Greg asked, thinking of Mycroft’s history in MI5, MI6 and now the Civil Service.

“I continue to help protect the security of the United Kingdom,” Mycroft replied. “With a few more fingers in a few more pies.”

Greg nodded and started taking some food from the platter and loading up his plate. “It’s amazing. Terrifying. You know that right?”

Mycroft nodded. “Yes, sometimes it bothers me too.”

Greg looked up at him. “I like that you’re involved. I feel like the country owes you a massive favour and we don’t even know it.”

Mycroft laughed and shook his head. “Nonsense.”

“Well, I think I owe you a massive favour. For making the past year a lot more bearable after my divorce.” Greg held up his wine. “So, happy birthday, Mycroft.”

Mycroft smiled and tapped their glasses together. “Thank you, Greg.” They held each other’s eyes as they sipped from their wine before beginning on the starter.

Greg ate a prawn and watched as Mycroft glanced at a couple being led to the table behind theirs. Mycroft’s eyes followed them, frowning. “Will you excuse me for a few moments?” Mycroft asked, not looking at Greg.

Greg nodded, looking around at the couple sat on the table behind him. “Course,” he said.

Mycroft stood and took his phone out of his jacket pocket and putting it to his ear as he walked out of the restaurant. Greg watched him through the glass, curious. The conversation looked heated and Mycroft’s jaw was set firm. Greg glanced at the couple again. They looked completely oblivious and incredibly ordinary.

“Everything alright?” Greg asked as Mycroft retook his seat.

“Yes, of course,” he replied, but his voice was firm. Greg knew not to ask any more questions. Greg nodded and continued to eat his food.

Mycroft’s hand reached out to touch Greg’s hand before his fingers slipped under his sleeve and touched his arm. Greg frowned and looked at him. “You alright?” he asked.

“Testing a hypothesis,” Mycroft murmured.

“What hypothesis?”

“I will tell you another time.” Mycroft smiled at him, but it wasn’t a genuine one. Greg had learnt to tell the difference.

“What’s going on, Mycroft?” Greg whispered, glancing at his arm as Mycroft’s thumb stroked against his wrist.

“We are two people enjoying a quiet birthday dinner,” Mycroft replied. “Please, don’t ask me anymore.”

“You’re the one practically holding my hand in public,” Greg muttered.

“I may need to kiss you later too, but I’ll warn you first.”

Greg stared at him. “What the heck is going on?”

“I can’t tell you.”

Greg pulled his arm back and whispered. “Like hell you can’t. You can’t use me in some bizarre game.”

“I’m being watched, Greg,” Mycroft replied. “And you are infinitely safer if they believe we are lovers.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “I’d have thought I’d be safer if they thought we hardly knew each other.”

Mycroft shook his head. “As lovers you are far less likely to betray me, and therefore will be left alone. Please, Greg, don’t ask anymore.”

“Is it to do with…” Greg tried to look pointedly at the wrist he had broken but Mycroft frowned at him. “You know,” Greg whispered. “The… the stuff that’s been going on. The car crash.”

Mycroft shook his head. “Please, Greg. Don’t ask me anymore.”

Greg pressed his lips together before putting his arm back up on the table. “Fine,” Greg muttered. “But you owe me one hell of a blowjob for going along with this.”

Mycroft smiled across at him, another fake smile, and placed his hand on top of Greg’s as he took a bite of chicken. Greg tried not to look at their joined hands. It was nice, that was for sure. Bit like being in a relationship. A relationship they weren’t supposed to be in. A relationship Greg wanted - did he? Did he want a relationship? One with Mycroft?

Greg glanced up at the other man as he finished his half of the starter. Mycroft’s relaxed expression from earlier in the evening had all but melted away and was frosty and stern.

“Mycroft, if we’re a couple enjoying a birthday dinner, you’re going to have to at least make it look like you like me,” Greg whispered.

Mycroft nodded and licked his lips. He entwined their fingers together and Greg resolved not to look. Because it felt too good. Too right. And it felt like it was some sort of game Mycroft was playing. And Greg was just a playing piece in that game. A playing piece easily put back inside the box once it was finished.

“What have you been doing at work?” Mycroft asked.

Greg took a large swig of wine. “Solving cases,” he replied irritably.

“Greg,” Mycroft warned.

Greg sighed and looked up at him. He looked so apologetic, Greg really wanted to get up and hug him. “Sorry,” Greg whispered.

“No, I’m sorry. Let’s just enjoy dinner, shall we?”

Greg nodded. “It’s your birthday.”

“It is.”

“So, if I have a party for mine, are you coming?”

Mycroft’s thumb began to rub against Greg’s. Greg looked down at their hands, his nails bitten to the quick, while Mycroft’s looked almost as clean and neat as Caroline’s used to. Mycroft’s fingers were so long, Greg thought his own rather stubbly.

“What sort of party are you planning?” Mycroft asked.

Greg couldn’t help himself. He smiled across at him, relaxing back into his chair and for the first time, allowing himself to hold Mycroft’s hand in return. “I’ve got no idea. Maybe just have people round my flat.”

“Any particular people?” Mycroft asked, smiling.

“Could be just you and me,” Greg grinned. “And takeaway and chocolate cake. You’ve got to be naked, obviously.”

“We could do that anytime. It’s your 40th birthday, you should celebrate it properly.”

Greg rolled his eyes playfully. “Fine. You, me. Donovan and Bullock and Carter. And I guess Brockhurst. And then, there’s a couple of mates I play football with. A few from uni as well. Sherlock?”

Mycroft raised his eyebrows. “If you can get Sherlock to go to a party you can chain me up naked to your bed for a week.”

Greg grinned. “Is that so?”

“Yes. But is an impossible task.”

“I’m a stubborn sod.”

“I had noticed,” Mycroft smiled. He let go of Greg’s hand as the waitress approached and began to take the plates away. Greg instantly missed the feel of Mycroft’s thumb stroking his.

“Was everything to your liking?” she asked.

“Wonderful,” Mycroft agreed.

She smiled at them and took the plates away. Greg topped up their wine glasses. “God, why am I going to be 40?”

Mycroft laughed. “I promise when I’m 40 you may tease me mercilessly to make up for it.”

“Can I chain you naked to a bed then too?”

Mycroft looked momentarily taken aback, as though the mention of a date three years in the future when Greg would still want to tie him naked to a bed was inconceivable. Greg was just about to qualify it when Mycroft spoke. “I doubt you would want to. You will of course be 42 then, and I’m not sure you will still have the stamina of a 20 year old.”

“You bastard,” Greg grinned.

Mycroft laughed and sipped his wine.

Greg grinned back and stood up. “I’m just going to use the bathroom.” He walked past the tables to the toilets.

He looked in the mirror, frowning at himself as he washed his hands. What have you done, Greg Lestrade, he asked himself. What the hell were you thinking, believing spending all this time with that man would ever end up anywhere good. Idiot.

Yeah, but it is good, the other half of him said. It’s so bloody good, you’re going to put yourself the emotional wringer for him. Idiot.

Greg walked back to their table and Mycroft smiled at him. Their meals had been brought out to them and Greg took his seat, starting straight away. He nodded appreciatively around a mouthful and Mycroft started his own food soon after.

“You always do that,” Greg said.

“Do what?” Mycroft asked.

“Wait for me to eat first.”

“Oh. I didn’t realise.”

Greg smiled. “It’s not a problem. Just one of the things you do.”

Mycroft smiled, glanced back at the table and then back up at him. “Greg, I-”

“-Is everything okay with your meals?” the waitress asked, interrupting.

Greg nodded. “Yeah, great, cheers.” She smiled and left them to it. Greg looked at Mycroft. “Sorry, what were you going to say?”

Mycroft cut a piece of his food and pressed his lips together. He looked up at Greg. “Only that I wanted to say thank you for this evening.”

Greg smiled. “You’re welcome.”

“This is a very good place. Thank you.”

Greg nodded. “Yeah, it’s alright, isn’t it?”

“What particular eras of history did you study at university?” Mycroft asked.

“Modern history really. From about the Napoleon Wars onward.”

Mycroft nodded. “Driving on the right side of the road is associated with Napoleon.”

Greg grinned at him. “Really?”

“Yes. Before Napoleon, horse riders would stay left on the road and the left would always attack in battle first, as they held their swords in their right hand. Napoleon believed this method of war was out-dated, and changed sides to surprise his enemies. Britain, never conquered by Napoleon, still drives on the left.”

Greg laughed and poured the remainder of the wine. “Genius.”

Mycroft smiled. “He was an excellent tactician.”

“It’s a shame you weren’t around at university. I’m sure you’d have helped me pass my exams.”

Mycroft laughed. “I fear you would have been a bad influence on me.”

Greg tried to look affronted but laughed. “Why’s that?”

“I think you may have tried to keep me in bed rather than attend lectures.”

Greg nodded and shrugged. “Can’t argue with that. What were you like at uni?”

“Much the same as now. I worked long hours.”

“But you had a boyfriend.”

Mycroft nodded. “Yes, Ethan. Although, I would hardly consider him a boyfriend.”

“Why not?”

“I wasn’t interested in a relationship with him.”

“Oh,” Greg murmured, finishing his food. Well, that sounded familiar.

“You lost your virginity young, I assume?” Mycroft asked, putting his knife and fork down.

“Yeah, 16.”

Mycroft nodded. “I was 19.”

“I was 18 with my first guy,” Greg said. “During Freshers Week.”

Mycroft chuckled. “What was he like?”

“Don’t remember,” Greg grinned. “I don’t think we made it out of the club.”

Mycroft laughed. “You were quite a handful, weren’t you?”

“Yeah, definitely,” Greg nodded. “I was the guy parents warned about, I think.”

“While I’m sure that’s true, I imagine you were very well-liked.”

Greg nodded. “Yeah, I guess so. I was part of quite a big circle of friends back then. Not close friends, just… people I went out with.”

“I have changed my opinion. You would have been a good influence on me,” Mycroft said. “I would have welcomed the distraction.”

Greg smiled at him. “I’ll distract you anytime you want.”

Mycroft reached across and stroked Greg’s fingers. The waitress came and took their plates. “Would you like to see the dessert menu?” she asked.

Greg looked over at Mycroft. “D’you want to just go and get a drink somewhere in Covent Garden?”

Mycroft nodded. “Certainly. We will have the bill, please.” The waitress went away and Greg took his wallet out. “Allow me,” Mycroft said.

“No. It’s your birthday, I’m treating you,” Greg insisted.

“You’ve already bought me this,” Mycroft said, gesturing to his tie.

“It looks bloody good too,” Greg grinned. “Seriously. Let me. You can buy me a nice present next month.”

“Greg, when we leave, I would request that we are affectionate with one another.”

Greg looked at him and frowned. “Being spied on still?”

“Almost certainly.”

“How affectionate are we talking?”

“It’s better we don’t plan it and make it look as natural as possible.”

“Being affectionate with you is always bloody natural,” Greg muttered, crossing his arms. “Maybe that’s just me, but I don’t put any thought into it, I just do it.”

“And as I have told you before, I enjoy the physicality of our arrangement.”

“I don’t do it for show, Mycroft. And I kind of hoped you wouldn’t either.”

Greg tried to smile at the waitress as he handed over some cash. She took it to the till and Mycroft put a tip down on the table. They each stood and put their coats on and Greg wrapped his scarf around his neck. Mycroft held his hand out to him. Greg hesitated for a moment before taking it and letting Mycroft lead him out into the street.

Mycroft stopped outside the restaurant and turned and looked at Greg. Greg had seen that look before, the moment he knew Mycroft was going to kiss him. “Please don’t do it,” Greg murmured, looking at him. “I deserve better than that, and you know it.”

Mycroft leaned forward and brushed his lips against Greg’s cheekbone. “Greg, I am sorry,” he whispered against his skin.

“I feel fucking used, Mycroft.”

“I know.”

Greg frowned for a second before turning his head and pressing his lips to Mycroft’s in a brief, chaste kiss. “That wasn’t for show,” he murmured as he pulled back, letting go of Mycroft’s hand. He looked at him, sticking his hands in his pockets. Mycroft’s lips were parted, but the rest of his expression was guarded. Your move, Mycroft Holmes, Greg thought. It’s your move this time.

Mycroft pressed the backs of his fingers to Greg’s cheek, but Greg didn’t move an inch, not leaning into the other man’s fingers, though he wanted to. Mycroft closed the gap between them, bringing their mouths just inches apart. Greg let out a shaky breath, but kept his hands buried in his pockets. Mycroft’s hand closed around his cheek. Mycroft tilted his head and kissed him. Greg sighed and parted his lips as they held the kiss for a few seconds. Mycroft pulled back a little.

Greg looked up at him and swallowed. And he knew Mycroft knew. He must do. Because Greg had just told him not to do it for show, and Mycroft must know it was because for Greg, nothing was show. He’d let himself fall, probably too hard, and now here he was. His face frowning but knowing he was staring at Mycroft with adoration despite himself. And it was going to end, here and now, after a brilliant meal and on Mycroft’s birthday. Because there was no way Mycroft could look at him and not know. So, all in all. Not a brilliant end to the evening. “You know, right?” Greg asked, frowning because he knew Mycroft would understand the question. You know how I feel about you.

Mycroft just nodded. “I know,” he replied, holding Greg’s eyes.

“So this is over,” Greg said, biting his bottom lip.

“No, Greg. Not unless you want it to be.”

Greg shook his head, just a little, barely even hearing Mycroft’s words. Mycroft looked at him for a few seconds before stepping back away from him. “Shall we find somewhere to drink?” he asked.

Greg nodded. “Yeah, let’s do that.” He began to walk away.

“Greg.”

Greg hesitated for a moment before he turned back to him. “What?”

Mycroft was staring at him, his hand curled at his side. Greg swallowed. He remembered seeing Mycroft once, stood beneath a lamppost, a silhouette stood in the dark all alone. He looked small then. Fragile. He looked that way now, somehow. He was the most powerful man Greg had ever met. But he was also just like one of those Greek statues. The muscled ones, with determined faces and made of solid, impossibly strong stone. And broken. Missing limbs and noses. The most beautiful art of their era, and so devastatingly incomplete.

Mycroft pressed his lips together. “You should know too,” he finally said.

Greg felt his mouth drop open and he frowned. “You what?” he managed to ask.

“I know, Greg. And you should know too.”

Greg frowned and then allowed himself a half smile. “So. You knew what I meant.”

“Yes.”

“And you’re… the same. You. The same. As me.”

“Yes.”

“Well, that’s. Enlightening.” Greg laughed, a bit of relief flooding through him. “Enlightening, that’s a word you would use. I’ve been spending too much time with you, Mycroft Holmes.”

Mycroft started to smile.

Greg tried to smile back, but he knew confusion was still etched into his face. “So, wait, wait, wait. Wait.”

Mycroft watched him. Waiting. Greg frowned. He wasn’t sure what he was telling Mycroft to wait for. Wait, so Mycroft had feelings for him too? Was that… was that what they’d been getting at? God, this was confusing. And stupid. And unnecessary, because of course Mycroft definitely knew Greg had feelings for him, because Mycroft was Mr Genius and Mr Super Hero and Mycroft knew everything about everything.

“Wait, so, we had a sexual arrangement,” Greg said.

“Yes.”

“And a physical arrangement.”

Mycroft almost began to look exasperated. “Yes.”

“And you know what I… about you.”

“Yes.”

“And you… I should know that it’s… you too.” It was completely inconceivable. There was no way Mycroft had developed… feelings or anything of that kind.

“Quite,” Mycroft agreed.

Greg frowned again. “Right. Hang on. Wait a sec.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes and stalked over to him, cupping Greg’s face in his hands. He looked right into his eyes. Greg swallowed as Mycroft spoke. “You care about me, and I care about you, and none of that in there was for show, and so can we please go and get that drink now?”

Greg began to smile. “So, hang on…”

Mycroft started to laugh. “Oh, shut up.” He kissed him, and Greg laughed against his lips, until they were laughing together, Mycroft’s hands still holding his face and their lips still brushing together as their bodies shook with laughter.

Greg grinned and shook his head. “You’re ridiculous,” he said, looking at him.

Mycroft appeared bemused. “Thank you.”

“Are we still being spied on?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think that was realistic enough?” Greg asked.

Mycroft smiled, a genuine one. “Yes, I do.”

Greg smiled and touched his arm. “C’mon. Let’s get a drink.”

They began to walk together, their arms occasionally brushing against each other’s. Greg glanced at him, and Mycroft smiled back, pressing his hand against the small of his back as they walked together.

They found a small, dark bar where a man played a piano in the corner. Mycroft found a small table in a corner while Greg ordered them each a whiskey. He brought them over and found he couldn’t take his eyes off the other man for a second. Mycroft raised his eyebrows at him.

“Sorry,” Greg grinned. “I’m still a bit…”

“Bewildered.”

“Yeah.”

Mycroft shuffled his chair closer to Greg so he could get a better view of the pianist. He rested his hand on Greg’s knee. Greg placed his hand on top of Mycroft’s and entwined their fingers.

“This is not a relationship,” Mycroft murmured. “I can’t do promises and flowers and hours spent together in a honeymoon period. I’m finding this hard enough as it is, without the commitment to call you five times a day.”

Greg nodded. “It’s okay. I guessed that already.” He looked at Mycroft and smiled. “And you would never need to call me five times a day.”

Mycroft smiled at him. Greg smiled back and leaned his body against his. The fact his feelings were reciprocated was good enough for Greg for now. Like every step they’d taken together, the moment where they’d finally say ‘yeah, we’re together’ was likely to take a while and come out of no where. Greg knew it would be easier for him. But that Mycroft could be willing to try, sometime, maybe, was an amazing thought. Mycroft rested his cheek against Greg’s hair. They sat together in silence, watching the pianist as they sipped their drinks, hands entwined on Greg’s knee.

 


 

At 10.48pm, just after Mycroft officially turned 37, they left the bar and Mycroft held the car door open for Greg. Mycroft sat directly beside him, pulling him into a kiss as soon as the car began to move. They couldn’t take their hands off each other during the journey. Greg thought it was impossible how kissing Mycroft could be better than before. The act was the same. But there was something else there, somehow, some intensity he couldn’t place.

They stopped outside Greg’s block of flats in Petty France. Greg kissed him sweetly. “See you soon, yeah?”

Mycroft nodded. “Goodnight.” He kissed Greg once more, pulled back and then kissed him one final time, smiling. “Now go to bed before I kidnap you.”

Greg laughed and got out of the car. He bent over and touched Mycroft’s cheek. “Night.” He smiled at him and stood on the pavement as the car drove away. His heart light, he walked up the stairs to his flat. 

Chapter Text

November, 2006

Greg was walking to work when his phone rang. He smiled when Mycroft’s name popped up on his screen. They hadn’t spoken for a couple of weeks, nothing unusual about that, except Greg had missed him. Not that he’d tell him that, no way.

“Lestrade.”

“Good morning,” Mycroft said.

“Morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. You alright? How’s… wherever you are?”

“New York. And it’s fine. Thank you.”

“Busy?” Greg asked.

“Always.”

Greg smiled. “Me too. Sherlock’s being a pain in the arse.”

Mycroft chuckled. “Of course.”

“When are you back?”

“Two days. I’ll come over.”

“Alright. I’m at the Yard, I need to go.”

“I need to go too. Have a good day.”

“And you. Save the world or whatever it is you’re up to.”

Mycroft laughed. “You have such strange ideas about what it is I do.”

Greg grinned and let himself into the building. “See you in a few days.”

“Of course.” Mycroft hung up and Greg walked to his office, smiling to himself. He caught the grin he was wearing when Sally frowned at him and he smiled sheepishly at her before heading into his office.

Sherlock burst in at 1.45pm. He took one looked at Greg. “Ugh,” he said, shaking his head.

Greg raised his eyebrows at him. “What now?”

“You’ve spoken to Mycroft.”

Greg leaned back in his chair. “Yeah, I have actually. He’s fine, thanks for asking.”

Sherlock shook his head. “I have a case.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “You have a case?”

“Yes.”

Greg grinned at him. “You do know I’m the cop and you’re the annoying brat who calls himself a consulting detective, right?”

Sherlock raised his eyebrows. “Do you want the case or not?”

“I don’t know. Why do you have a case?”

“From my blog.”

Greg grinned even wider. “You took Mycroft’s advice. You actually listened to your brother. Bloody hell.” Sherlock turned and stormed towards the door. “Hang on!” Greg called after him, stopping himself from laughing. “C’mon, tell me about the case, I’m listening.”

Sherlock turned back around and sat opposite Greg. He handed over a large wad over papers. Greg frowned and started flicking through them. “What is this?”

“My client found it in a park bin.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “Your client? God help us all if you have clients.” He looked down at the papers. “Looks like business documents.”

“They’re all invoices,” Sherlock said. “Dating back 10 years.”

“Abernetty,” Greg murmured, looking at the header on them. “Why do I know that name?”

“They run a chain of cafes, there’s one a few doors from your old flat.”

Greg nodded. “Abernetty’s Cakes and Teas, I remember. Good place. The smoothies were-” He looked at Sherlock’s face. “Right. Not interested in smoothies.” He looked back at the transactions.

“The cafes have been closed for two weeks,” Sherlock informed him.

Greg frowned. “All of them?”

“Yes. I need to go in and investigate but I can’t have one of your policemen arresting me for breaking and entering, so I need you to let me in.”

“I can’t just go and let you into a load of cafes across London.”

“Why not?”

“Because I need evidence of some sort of wrong-doing or something.”

“Go on then.”

Greg stared at him. “You really have no idea how this all works, do you?”

“Your procedures are boring,” Sherlock informed him. “Anyway. The family is missing.”

“What do you mean the family’s missing?”

“No one’s seen them for weeks.”

Greg sighed and looked at Sherlock. He wouldn’t be interested in a stack of paperwork unless there was something more to it. “I need to get in touch with a different department to see if they’ve tried the cafes, maybe the landlords are after their rent money or something,” Greg said, typing the family name into his computer. Sherlock stood and read the computer screen over his shoulder. “Someone called a missing person’s report,” Greg read off the screen. “Called in by an employee at the Wentworth Street cafe. No one turned up to work two weeks ago. Said all the furniture had been cleared out but no note.” Greg frowned. “Did you read all the invoices?”

“Yes.”

“And?”

“Nothing unexpected or out of the ordinary.”

Greg nodded. “Alright then. I’ll sort out a warrant and we can go and check these out together.”

Sherlock nodded and walked to the door. “Donovan and Bullock are together. Did you know?”

Greg frowned. “No. When did that happen?”

Sherlock shrugged and walked out, leaving Greg to it.

 


 

Greg asked Sally about her and Ed’s relationship the next day. He knew they’d gone for a date once, but that was months and months ago.

“So, how’d it happen?” Greg asked as they drove to a crime scene.

“How’d what happen?” she asked, turning the radio up.

“You and Ed.”

Sally shook her head. “Holmes told you, didn’t he?”

“Yep.”

“His car broke down so I spent a week giving him a lift. We had more in common than we thought.”

Greg smiled. “I’m happy for you.”

Sally smiled and proceeded to talk about the scene they were going to.

 


 

Greg took the Abernetty files home with him, along with a stack of other paperwork he needed to complete. He was still waiting for permission to go and look around the cafes, but he decided to look through the invoices himself. Sure, Sherlock would probably have seen something out of the ordinary, but it was worth a look anyway.

He had the television on as he stretched out along the sofa, a beer in one hand, paperwork on his lap. He smiled when he heard the knock on the door and got up, smoothing down his shirt as he went to open it. He stepped aside to let Mycroft in.

Greg grinned at him. “Hi.”

“Good evening. How are you?”

“I’m good. You?”

“I’m well.” Mycroft looked across at the sofa. “You’re busy.”

“Nah, it’s alright. Just working on something Sherlock brought over the other day.”

“A case?” Mycroft asked, walking over to the sofa and picking the papers up.

“Yeah, he took your advice.” Greg grinned at Mycroft’s stunned expression. “I was shocked too.”

Mycroft laughed and put the papers back down, putting his own briefcase onto the floor. He looked at Greg and smiled. Greg wandered over to him and kissed him lightly. Mycroft’s arms wrapped around his waist as he deepened the kiss, pressing their bodies close together. Greg relaxed against him, savouring the taste of him, the firm body against his.

He pulled back and touched Mycroft’s cheek. Mycroft leaned in and kissed him again. Greg groaned and stroked the side of his neck. “It’s good to see you,” Greg said, kissing his jaw.

“Yes,” Mycroft murmured, stroking Greg’s back through his t-shirt. They looked at each other.

“You want to-” Greg started.

“Lord, yes,” Mycroft agreed, slamming their lips together. Greg moaned as he stepped closer to Mycroft, backing him into the sofa. Mycroft’s fingers were tugging at his shirt and Greg reluctantly broke the kiss to allow him to take it off. Mycroft stared at him, pressing his fingers against Greg’s chest and preventing him from moving back into a kiss.

Greg laughed. “What?”

Mycroft’s fingers stroked down the centre of his chest, through the hair there. Greg sucked his stomach in as Mycroft’s fingers brushed over it, tickling. Mycroft flattened his hand, moving it back over Greg’s ribs and up to his left pectoral muscle. Greg watched his face, the way his eyes followed his hand moving along Greg’s body.

Greg held Mycroft’s hips, sighing softly as Mycroft’s fingers brushed over his nipple. Greg licked his lips and Mycroft glanced back at his face. “Can we go to your bedroom?” Mycroft asked.

Greg nodded, swallowing. “Sure. Yeah, this way.” He picked his t-shirt up from the floor and took hold of Mycroft’s warm hand, leading them to the room. He threw the shirt into the dirty washing pile and watched as Mycroft leaned down to untie his shoes and take them off. He was wearing the tie pin. Greg’s face broke into a delighted grin. Mycroft frowned for a second before he realised what Greg was smiling at.

“I told you it was wonderful,” he said, stepping closer to Greg.

Greg smiled and grabbed his tie, tugging him closer. “It looks good.” They smiled at each other before kissing again, Greg guiding him towards the bed. Greg lay down on the blue sheets, licking his bottom lip as Mycroft knelt down beside him. “You’re wearing too many clothes,” Greg grinned, unfastening the buttons on Mycroft’s jacket and pushing it off. Mycroft took it from him and put it carefully down on the floor. Greg unbuttoned his waistcoat next. “Getting you naked is like bloody pass the parcel,” Greg laughed.

Mycroft smiled. “I hope we won’t be doing too much… passing.”

Greg grinned and handed the waistcoat to Mycroft to put somewhere. “No chance. I’m not sharing you.”

Mycroft leaned down and kissed the corner of Greg’s lips, his hand cupping the side of his face as he moved to teasingly kiss every inch of Greg’s mouth. Greg chased his kisses, laughing as Mycroft kissed his throat instead. Mycroft moved to lie over him, pressing their bodies close together.

Greg pulled Mycroft’s shirt out of his trousers, his hands wandering up over his back, his finger tracing the curve of his spine. He felt Mycroft shiver against him, the movement pushing their hips together and Greg hooked a leg over Mycroft’s.

And there was the promise of something new there, in that action. It felt like they were both ready to move to the thing they knew was inevitable but put off for the last few months because it almost meant it was more than just a few handjobs between friends. It wasn’t that anymore, and they both knew it.

Greg opened his eyes to take in the sight above him. Mycroft’s cheeks were flushed and Greg kissed lightly there, on each cheek, letting his breath linger against his face. Greg lifted Mycroft’s wrists, one by one, unfastening the gold cufflinks. Those he placed carefully on the side. Mycroft straddled Greg’s hips, sitting up to unfasten his tie. Greg watched him with parted lips, breathing hard.

He stroked Mycroft’s thighs, feeling the soft fabric beneath his fingers. Mycroft closed his eyes as Greg started to unbutton his shirt, and dropped his head down onto Greg’s shoulder. Greg turned to kiss the side of his head, feeling his soft hair against his chin, playfully biting his ear. He heard a soft gasp of approval from Mycroft, as he finally reached the last button.

He felt Mycroft tense as he slid his shirt off, Greg’s hands moving down his back. Greg kissed his neck, flicking his tongue out a fraction to taste the flushed skin. He tossed the shirt to the side.

Mycroft’s face was hot against his shoulder, his ears pink. If it were a woman Greg were about to have sex with, he would tell her she was beautiful. But with no recollection of the words he was supposed to say to another man in such a situation, he finally breathed out “I had dreams of you like this.” He touched Mycroft’s chin, lifting his head to look straight at him. “The reality’s better,” Greg grinned, kissing Mycroft’s top lip. Mycroft smiled a little at the corner of his mouth and Greg just smiled wider.

Greg let his hands wander over Mycroft’s back, the areas of his body he suddenly realised he’d neglected until now. He moved one hand to Mycroft’s chest, feeling the soft hair there. Mycroft watched him intently, and Greg brushed a nail over Mycroft’s nipple. His mouth widened, just a fraction, his tongue flicking out to wet his bottom lip and Greg immediately decided it was the sexiest thing he’d ever seen.

He curled his hand around the back of Mycroft’s neck, pulling his head down for a deep kiss which left them both breathing hard. Their erections pressed together, straining against the fabric of their trousers. They kissed like the world might stop spinning if they stopped, Greg stroking every inch of skin he could find, so many parts of Mycroft he hadn’t touched until now.

How had he not known that Mycroft shuddered when he stroked his nipples. How had it been 10 months, and he hadn’t discovered the way Mycroft gasped when Greg licked the hollow of his throat.

Mycroft sat up, looking down at Greg’s body. Greg smiled at him, a possessive hand on the side of his neck. Mycroft leaned down and flicked his tongue against Greg’s right nipple and Greg arched up to him. “S’good,” Greg murmured reassuringly, running his index finger down Mycroft’s spine. Mycroft shivered and looked up at him. Greg felt himself tremble.

Greg sighed in delight and finally said “I want to touch you all night. But seriously, will you please just…”

The words died on his lips. He wanted to say ‘please just fuck me’. He hoped that Mycroft could look into his eyes and catch his meaning, but instead they spent the next few long seconds staring at each other, testing each other. Greg swallowed as he got lost in Mycroft’s grey eyes. “In that drawer,” Greg finally murmured, inclining his head to the left. Mycroft continued to look at him.

After a short time, Mycroft suddenly moved his arm, wordlessly reaching for the drawer and opening it, and Greg took the moment he was looking away to rub his own face and try and steady his nerves. He sat up a little to kiss Mycroft’s neck, felt the man shiver beside him. He watched as Mycroft retrieved the lube and a condom from the drawer.

Greg made swift work of pulling off his own trousers, laughing as he got his leg stuck around his foot and muttered a swift, slightly embarrassed apology which was cut off by Mycroft’s lips against his. Mycroft’s fingers touched the greying hair on his chest, and he leaned down to kiss across his torso.

His fingers lingered on a scar on Greg’s stomach and Greg mumbled “attempted stabbing” before Mycroft lowered his head to kiss, lick and stroke the mark.

“Eight years old,” Mycroft murmured, licking a line along it.

Greg nodded. “About that, yeah.”

Mycroft continued to study him and Greg watched, his fingers tracing the light freckles on his shoulders. Mycroft kissed a chicken pox scar by his belly button.

Greg smiled, brushing his fingers through Mycroft’s hair. It occurred to him they had been having intermittent sex since January. But like inexperienced partners, they had always rushed to the main event. Stupid, really.

Greg took hold of Mycroft’s shoulders, and used his thighs and strength to push him down onto the bed and straddle his hips. Mycroft frowned at him and Greg grinned and kissed his nose. “My turn,” he said, kissing down Mycroft’s neck. He licked the hollow of his throat again, grinned at Mycroft’s soft inhale of breath.

He kissed down his sternum, kissed around his pectoral muscles, the hair lightly tickling against his cheeks. He looked up at Mycroft’s face as he flicked a tongue against his nipple. Mycroft’s body was shaking as he curled a hand on Greg’s shoulder. Greg continued to kiss down his chest. He looked at a faint scar under Mycroft’s right nipple.

“Fencing accident,” Mycroft murmured. Greg kissed lower, and licked a long white line just underneath his ribs. “Ah. Time in Iran.” Greg found another circular scar on Mycroft’s side. Unmistakable cigarette burn. “Sherlock,” Mycroft whispered. “On heroin.”

“Shit,” Greg muttered, kissing the mark a few times. He found another scar on his stomach.

Mycroft chuckled a little. “Fell off a wall.”

Greg grinned up at him. “Tell me you were drunk and there’s a hilarious story to go with it.”

“No such luck. I was five.”

“Roll over,” Greg said. “I want to see all of you.”

Mycroft stayed still for a moment. “You won’t like it,” he said.

Greg kissed his hip. “It’s you. I’ll definitely like it.”

Mycroft nodded before rolling over. Greg stretched back up, nuzzling Mycroft’s neck. He sat up a bit, at first taking in the sight of those delightful freckles over Mycroft’s back. Then he saw the deep scars, five of them, stretching from one side to the other.

“Iran again,” Mycroft murmured. “10 years ago.”

“You’re never going back to Iran then,” Greg muttered, tracing the long lines with his fingers. “Bloody hell.” Greg kissed the back of his neck. “Can you tell me what happened?”

“They were just getting started,” Mycroft murmured.

“Started on what?”

“Torture.” Mycroft rolled over, closing a hand around Greg’s cheek. “I’m not going back to Iran.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.” Greg leaned down to kiss him. They shared a few tender kisses, Mycroft’s hands wandering over Greg’s back and against his boxers. “Lie down, Greg,” Mycroft said softly and Greg rolled off him, lying down on his back.

Greg unfastened Mycroft’s trousers as he straddled his body, pushing them down as far as they would go from that position, leaving him to finish the job and take his socks off afterwards.

He caught Mycroft’s eyes, felt his own shoulders shake slightly in apprehension, as Mycroft stretched up, brushing his lips against Greg’s cheekbone as they pressed their bodies together.

Greg lifted his hips when Mycroft moved to pull Greg’s boxers down, precome leaking onto the hair surrounding his cock.

Mycroft just gazed at his face, his red lips parted. Greg reached out, touching his cheek. He nodded in consent, parting his legs, feeling his body tense up slightly in response, the knowledge of what was to come both making him feel more desperate, yet more nervous at the same time.

He didn’t watch as Mycroft reached for lubricant on the pillow, instead he focused on eyeing up as much of the man’s body as he could, his fingers dancing over the light freckles on his shoulders, his eyes tracing the wrinkles on his forehead and the light pink mark Greg had left on his neck.

He didn’t need to say ‘take it slow’ because he knew Mycroft knew.

Mycroft picked up one of the pillows, and Greg lifted his hips to help him place it underneath him.

Greg closed his eyes for a second as he spread his legs slightly further, expecting a firm finger and cold lubricant to press against his hole but gasped and groaned and opened his eyes wide when Mycroft’s lips closed around his cock instead.

“Oh please,” Greg moaned wantonly, one hand curling in the sheets, the other reaching to touch Mycroft’s shoulder. Pleading, desperate, for something he already had.

Mycroft’s finger pressed against his entrance, and Greg felt the muscles tense and relax against it. He let in a long breath as Mycroft took him deeper into his mouth, easing his finger gently up to the second joint. He lifted his mouth, licked a line along Greg’s cock and Greg gasped as he pushed his finger completely inside him. They both stilled.

They held each other’s eyes.

Greg let out a few long, steadying breaths. Mycroft seemed to be reading his expression. Greg didn’t try to hide anything from his face, he wanted Mycroft to know, to see, how good it was, how right he felt.

Mycroft moved his finger, just slightly and it didn’t feel quite as foreign as it had just moments before.

“That’s good,” Greg murmured, squeezing Mycroft’s shoulder.

Mycroft smiled a little, slowly, so tortuously slowly, withdrawing his finger most of the way before pressing it back in again.

Greg let out a quiet, embarrassing whine. “Mycroft, we’ll be here all night if you do everything at that speed.”

Mycroft smiled, kissing Greg’s stomach. “Do you mind if we do?”

“No,” Greg admitted, grinning.

Mycroft chuckled, moving his finger and making Greg gasp. “We can take all night.”

“Maybe you can, but I’m going to die if you don’t fuck me soon.”

“You’re always prone to such hyperbole, Greg,” Mycroft said softly, and started to add a second finger.

“Only bloody you would say hyperbole in bed,” Greg muttered, spreading his legs a little wider, biting his bottom lip. “Just, hold there a sec,” he said, as he felt the slight burn.

Mycroft kissed his hip, reaching with his other hand to touch Greg’s arm. Greg looked down, moving his hand to entwine his fingers with Mycroft’s.

Somehow, even with two of Mycroft’s fingers buried inside him, months of orgasms in rooms and on furniture all over Mycroft’s home, holding their hands together in such a way continued to be the most intimate thing they had ever done together.

Greg’s dark eyes met Mycroft’s grey ones, and Greg pressed his hips down against Mycroft’s fingers, forcing his body to relax. “Go on,” he said.

Mycroft gently squeezed his fingers, and Greg looked back down to where their hands were joined, long fingers wrapped around his own. He glanced at Mycroft, his flushed face, his eyes solely focused on Greg’s expressions, checking for any signs of discomfort or pleasure as he carefully, so carefully stretched the tight muscle.

His finger moved unexpectedly and Greg lifted his hips, a stream of indistinguishable curse words leaving his mouth. It had been years, years since he’d felt that. And he’d forgotten how wonderful it was.

From between his legs, Mycroft was smiling, repeating the action as Greg gripped tighter to his hand.

“Greg, you’re going to break my fingers,” Mycroft murmured, but his face was warm, relaxed.

Greg laughed. “Take it as a compliment,” he said, relaxing his grip but refusing to let go of Mycroft’s hand. Instead, he let his thumb rub against Mycroft’s. Mycroft continued to move his fingers for a few more moments, and just when he applied pressure with the third, Greg said, “no, just do it.”

“Are you sure?” Mycroft asked.

“Hundred percent,” Greg replied, gasping as Mycroft withdrew his fingers.

Greg picked up the condom and slowly ripped open the packet. He dropped the foil down beside the bed reaching for Mycroft.

Mycroft moved up to him, kissing Greg square on the mouth and shivering as Greg sheathed his cock. Greg left Mycroft to deal with the lubricant, as he adjusted the pillow beneath his hips, watching as Mycroft stroked the thick liquid over his member.

Greg lifted one leg slightly as Mycroft pressed against him, and Greg prepared himself for the burn, the stretch. The memory that the first time he ever did this he thought ‘never again’ only to realise just before he came that the burn, the stretch was part of it.

The pain was more than he expected, and Greg felt his face scrunch up. Mycroft’s fingers returned to his, taking hold of Greg’s hand again. “Try not to tense,” Mycroft said, and Greg listened to him, sitting up a bit to press his lips to Mycroft’s chin.

Mycroft didn’t move, just kissed over Greg’s jaw as Greg forced his body to relax into the mattress. Relax against Mycroft.

There were many thoughts that raced through his mind as Mycroft slowly pressed deeper into his body. His first time, that last time he’d been with a man, two nights before he met Caroline, God, Caroline, that felt like an eternity ago, and how on earth had Sherlock Bloody Holmes led him to this man and this moment and oh God, he felt Mycroft press into him fully and Greg relaxed as he let the other man into his body.

And in that moment, all the thoughts went back to the present day, and this man with his fingers wrapped around his own.

With his other hand, Greg reached up to touch Mycroft’s face, and he leaned to kiss him. It was a messy kiss as Mycroft began to rock his hips, and Greg thought it was perfect to watch him change from precise, measured kisses to those desperate, almost sloppy ones when he was too far gone in his own pleasure - and Greg’s pleasure - to think of the perfect place his lips should go, when to use his teeth and how to move his tongue.

Greg tried his best to take in the scene, but as so often, he found he struggled to tear his eyes from the intense gaze above him. He heard his mouth give way to groans of pleasure as Mycroft tilted his hips just there, and he listened to Mycroft’s near-silent gasps, the shudders of his breath. 

Having Mycroft Holmes inside him, staring at him through those intense eyes of his, was like nothing he’d imagined. Those damned feelings he’d been denying for so long rushed into his consciousness as he moved his hips with Mycroft’s movements, desperate to keep him close.

Mycroft wrapped his hand around Greg’s cock. It was too much, having Mycroft inside him, watching his face, parted lips, wide grey eyes. Stunning, beautiful, perfect man. Greg let go soon after, his body shuddering, feeling his muscles tighten around Mycroft’s prick, and although his eyes were tightly shut and he didn’t see it, he knew the moment Mycroft let go too a few uncontrolled thrusts later.

Greg breathed hard and watched Mycroft try his hardest not to just collapse onto him.

It was only when Greg felt his toes uncurl against Mycroft’s leg just after he began to come down from the high, that he realised he was still wearing his socks.

As Greg traced small patterns over Mycroft’s back with his index finger, he felt oddly comforted by that thought. Like they still hadn’t had sex completely naked. Completely exposed.

Greg winced slightly as Mycroft withdrew from him, feeling sore as he moved.

Mycroft moved to sit on the edge of the bed, removing the condom and cleaning up. He handed Greg a tissue, and Greg made a contented sound as he cleaned himself up. Greg sat up, and pressed a soft kiss to Mycroft’s shoulder. “Alright?” Greg asked, kissing his neck.

“Mm,” Mycroft agreed, turning around to face him. Greg lay back down on the bed, stretching out across it. Mycroft moved to lie beside him, extending one arm along his chest. Greg stroked his skin, closing his eyes for a few brief seconds. He needed to get up and use the bathroom in a moment, but he wanted to wait, just savour this for as long as he could.

Mycroft kissed his chest. “I’m just using the bathroom,” he said. “And I have work to do, I’m afraid.”

“You can do it here,” Greg told. “I’ll grab my paperwork too.”

Mycroft kissed him lightly. “Very well.” He got up and picked Greg’s dressing gown up from the cupboard door handle. He wrapped himself in it as he left the room to go the bathroom.

Greg stretched and smiled as he grabbed a clean pair of boxers and his pyjama trousers. He put on a t-shirt and walked into the living room. He kissed Mycroft’s cheek as they swapped places for the bathroom.

He walked out 10 minutes later and found Mycroft in his trousers and shirt on the sofa, paperwork already open. Greg sat down beside him and leaned over to give him a quick kiss before picking up his own work. Mycroft glanced at him. “Come on,” he said. “Put your feet up here.”

Greg grinned and stretched out along the chair, putting his feet in Mycroft’s lap. Mycroft rested his paperwork on Greg’s legs and they sat working, the only sounds the rustling of paper and occasional murmur.

“So, what you up to?” Greg asked after around an hour.

“Preparing for a G20 summit. I’m supposed to be going in some sort of advisory role, although goodness knows why, it is totally out of my remit. Can you pass me that pen?”

Greg picked it up from the table and handed it over. He turned a page in his own paperwork. They sat in silence for another half an hour, both working.

“Would you like a drink?” Mycroft finally asked.

“Yeah, that would be great. I think I’ll have a beer. I still have that whiskey you brought over once. Do you want that?”

“I’ll get it,” Mycroft said, rubbing Greg’s shin before standing up. Greg smiled as he watched him go into the kitchen. Mycroft returned with a tumbler and beer for Greg. He put them down on the table before bending down and giving Greg a sensual kiss. He sat back down and returned to his work.

“This is utterly ridiculous,” Mycroft said after another half an hour had passed. “Who in their right mind thought this fell under my jurisdiction?” He dropped the papers on the table.

“Your jurisdiction is always expanding,” Greg grinned at him.

“Well, I wish it wouldn’t. As though I have nothing better to do than travel to Australia to watch people discuss economies, pretending any of them have the power to do anything about it.”

Greg shook his head in disbelief. “Your insights into the way the world is governed worry me.”

“True power doesn’t lie in conversation. It lies in action and making the correct decision at the right time. A skill most politicians are sadly lacking.”

“I think you’re pretty good at conversation and action. And at the same time.”

Mycroft smirked. “I couldn’t possibly understand what you are referring to.”

“Sure, you couldn’t.”

Mycroft leaned across and kissed him, pulling Greg’s files out of his hands and dropping them onto the floor. He pressed into Greg’s body, pushing him down onto the sofa.

“Supposed to be working,” Greg reminded him.

“But it’s tedious.” Mycroft nipped his bottom lip and Greg shuddered. “And I know it all. I could tell you. You said you believed I was ‘pretty good’ at conversation and action.”

Mycroft’s hand found the front of Greg’s trousers and he rubbed there, kissing down his jaw. He pinned Greg’s arm down with one hand. “The G20 was formed in 1999, made up of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors.”

He squeezed Greg’s cock through the fabric and he shuddered, trying to chase Mycroft’s mouth as he pressed kisses to Greg’s filtrum, jaw, cheekbone and then back to his neck.

“Collectively, the G20 economies account for 85 per cent of the gross world product, 80 per cent of world trade and two-thirds of the world’s population.”

Mycroft bit down on Greg’s neck and he groaned. God, listening to Mycroft talk politics should not be making him this hard.

“This year, they will be discussing the outlook of the global economy, the impact of demographic change on global financial markets and further reform of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.”

Mycroft slowly pulled down the zip of Greg’s trousers. “And the aim is to take advantage of the present strength,” Mycroft gripped Greg’s arm tighter, pushing him harder into the sofa as though to make the point, “in the global economy to get policy settings right.”

Mycroft began to kiss down Greg’s throat, letting go of his arm as he went. Greg tipped his head back in disbelief at the situation he found himself in. “And markets between two or more economies are characterised by clear signals,” Mycroft murmured, rubbing his cheek against Greg’s cock. “Open trade…” He unfastened the button and Greg lifted his hips to help him pull his trousers down to his ankles. “Market transparency.” He breathed over Greg’s cock through his boxers and the sudden heat made him gasp and writhe on the chair. Mycroft held his hips still. “Good governance,” he whispered huskily, rubbing his thumb over the head through the cotton. “And effective competition.”

Greg groaned and almost laughed in delight and amusement at this insane one-way conversation Mycroft was initiating with him. Although he couldn’t concentrate on a single thing Mycroft was saying right now he was trying to, really he was, but his voice was making him melt. Was Mycroft comparing them to economies? It was all confusing but oh so, so wonderful. Mycroft’s dirty talk was the very opposite of dirty, yet ridiculously arousing. It shouldn’t have been possible.

“And how do we do that?” Mycroft asked slowly peeling down Greg’s boxers. “We must allocate our most productive resources to their most highly-valued uses.” He licked a line down Greg’s cock and Greg cried out, gripping the sofa.

“Oh God,” Greg moaned, tangling his fingers in Mycroft’s hair.

“On the contrary, Greg. Economics, not religion.” Mycroft wrapped his lips around Greg’s cock and took him deep in his mouth, humming around him.

“Fuck,” Greg said, curling his toes. “God, your mouth.”

Mycroft lifted his head and looked up at him. “As I said. We must allocate our most productive resources to their most highly-valued uses. And this is a demonstration of such economic questions those incompetent ministers will be attempting to resolve in Australia.”

Mycroft’s mouth returned to Greg’s cock, his tongue flicking out against him. Greg shuddered, watching him. That was it. It was official. Mycroft’s mouth was the best invention the world had ever seen no question, whether he was using it to solve economic crises, order people around or suck Greg’s cock so hard he was seeing stars.

Oh and Mycroft knew how to get him. Knew those spots which drove him absolutely wild. He was trying to hold his hips still but it was desperately difficult, and Mycroft’s hand cupped his balls and it took so much power to not just come on the spot. He didn’t want it to end but needed it at the same time, and then Mycroft’s finger dipped behind his balls, pressing that spot there.

“Oh holy fuck,” Greg cried out. Mycroft lifted his head and gazed up at him. “Wait, what?” Greg breathed, staring at him. “Why have you stopped?”

“Economic policies are not so easily resolved,” Mycroft murmured. “Sometimes during those conversations, the ministers believe they are close to a resolution, when someone suddenly puts an amendment on the table.”

“Amendment?” Greg laughed, almost hysterically as he tried to get some purchase on his cock. “What’s the amendment?”

“There are other resources,” Mycroft said, as though it was obvious. He wrapped his hand around Greg’s prick and squeezed. “There are other uses.”

He took hold of Greg’s leg, lifting it up as he brushed his tongue against his balls. Greg thought he knew what was coming. Apprehension began to mix with his pleasure, and then Mycroft pressed his tongue against his hole. He was so sensitive after the sex they’d had earlier, sore but the sensation of Mycroft’s tongue brushing against him, not too hard, was enough to make him forget it in an instant.

Greg shuddered, almost incapable of sound now as Mycroft’s tongue darted against him, flicking and licking and then returning to his balls. He was totally unable to think as Mycroft’s tongue returned back to the tight muscle, pressing against him as he began to stroke his cock. Greg’s fingers scrambled against Mycroft’s shoulder as he pressed down towards Mycroft’s tongue and then back up into his hand it was all too much as he curled his toes as he came hard over Mycroft’s fingers.

Mycroft stroked him through before crawling up and kissing him. Greg relaxed into the kiss as his body slowly relaxed.

“So, who said the G20 was boring ‘ey?” he grinned, stroking Mycroft’s face. “You’re unbelievable.” Mycroft smiled and kissed him again before sitting up and handing Greg his paperwork. “Don’t you want…”

“I’ve distracted us both enough,” Mycroft said, but kissed his cheek.

Greg smiled, cleaned himself and pulled his boxers up before turning the page. They returned to their work in silence.

It was an hour later when Greg put his paperwork down on the table. Mycroft was still scribbling notes on the side of his, so Greg swung his legs off his lap, shuffling up to the other end of the sofa to lean a bit into his side.

Mycroft wrapped an arm around his shoulders, drawing him in closer. Greg smiled and closed his eyes, just resting against Mycroft’s side. After several minutes, Mycroft put his work down on the table, pulling Greg closer to him. Greg kissed the side of his neck. “S’late,” he murmured, stroking Mycroft’s thigh.

“Mm.” Mycroft turned his head, capturing his lips with his own. “I should go in a moment.”

“You could stay.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Greg nodded and nuzzled his neck. He understood where Mycroft was coming from. Sex, then hugging, then sex and hugging with feelings were one thing. Staying the night. Now that was a relationship. And for a man with massive intimacy issues, Greg supposed that was one line they wouldn’t get to yet.

But even so, Mycroft closed his eyes as he rested his cheek on Greg’s hair.

Greg sighed, putting his legs back on Mycroft’s lap as they curled up together. Closing his eyes had made him tired, relaxed against the other man’s warm body. He could stay like this for hours. He wished they could stay like this all night. Or even better, all night wrapped up in his bed. But Mycroft wasn’t his to push. And he really didn’t want to push so hard that Mycroft gave up and ran away forever.

“Greg?”

“Mm?”

“I am moving in a moment.”

Greg smiled, amused. “Okay.”

“I will move. In a moment.”

Greg nodded. “I believe you.”

Mycroft nodded too and tightened his hold. Greg sighed and took hold of his hand, linking their fingers together.

“Greg?”

“Mm?”

“I find myself unable to move.”

Greg laughed and kissed Mycroft’s jaw. “Stay.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“It’s not that I don’t want to,” Mycroft murmured, looking at him and stroking their fingers together.

Greg nodded. “I know. It’s okay, I get it.”

“I will,” Mycroft said, so quietly, like saying the words was physically difficult. “Another day.”

Greg looked up and kissed him. “It’s alright. Honest. I know.”

Mycroft smiled and let go of Greg’s hand. Greg sat up to let him move, and Mycroft walked into the bedroom, collecting his clothes. He put his jacket on and Greg stood up to wrap his arms around his neck.

“Call me sometime, yeah?”

Mycroft smiled and kissed him. “I will.”

“Tonight’s been amazing.”

“Yes. I am looking forward to the repeat.”

Greg grinned and gave him one more quick kiss before leading him to the door. “See you soon, right?”

“Perhaps your birthday.”

Greg smiled and kissed his cheek. “That would be good.”

Mycroft nodded and smiled tiredly at him before opening the door. “Goodnight.”

“Night.” Greg closed the door behind him, sighing from the loss of him going, but the delight of the evening they had spent together.  

Chapter Text

November, 2006

The next day, Sherlock and Greg were stood outside Abernetty’s Cakes and Teas. Cafe number one on their list. Greg folded his arms as he waited for the building’s landlord to open the doors and let them in. They followed the landlord into the building and looked around. It was completely empty. Greg frowned. No tables, no chairs, just empty floors and plain white walls.

The landlord frowned. “That’s weird.”

Sherlock began to search every inch of the former cafe, leaving Greg to watch and talk to the landlord, who said he pretty much left the family to their own devices. He told Greg how they’d never missed a rent payment, but he had no idea how long the cafe had been closed for. Greg was just considering wandering outside to ask some of the neighbours – and weighing up the dangers of leaving Sherlock alone – when his phone rang from a New Scotland Yard number.

“Lestrade.”

“It’s Ed.”

“Hi. Everything alright?” Greg asked him.

“We’ve got a body of an old woman in Orsman Place. We’re being called in to go and see if it’s natural causes or not.”

“Meaning there’s a possibility it’s not.”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“What’s the name?” Greg asked.

“Margaret Abernetty.”

Greg stared at Sherlock, who saw his expression and frowned. “What?” Sherlock asked.

“Margaret Abernetty?” Greg repeated.

“Yeah. Why?”

Sherlock started walking towards him, a hand outstretched as though he was about to tear the phone from Greg’s ear. Greg leaned out of his reach. “Nothing, just I’ll meet you there in about 20 minutes.”

“See you, boss.”

Greg hung up the phone. “Body of a Margaret Abernetty has just turned up.”

“Don’t recall a Margaret Abernetty,” the landlord said. “I remember a Joan, and Marcus, he was the main man. He paid the rent and ran the cafe.”

“We need to go,” Greg told him. “Thanks for your help.”

“It’s been closed about 12 days,” Sherlock said as they walked out. “Based on the amount of mould on a cake on the floor.”

Greg nodded. “Alright, I’ll believe you on that one.”

Sherlock got into the car and Greg watched the landlord lock up before driving away towards Orsman Place.

The bungalow they were looking for was obvious from the police car outside. Greg and Sherlock got out – Greg had to give him another quick warning about gloves, just to be on the safe side – and they walked up to the property. Ed was there overseeing the operation.

Greg collected the forensics gear, passing it to Sherlock, who only grumbled a little.

The dead woman was slumped forward in her kitchen chair, her head resting in a baking tray. There was some green mould growing on the uncooked biscuits.

Sherlock walked over and began inspecting, while Anderson watched him from a distance, glaring. Sherlock knelt down as he inspected her clothes, her hair, her fingers. He looked at the table. “She’s been dead around two days. Someone’s stolen her jewellery.”

“How’d you know?” Greg asked.

“She wore three rings, you can see that from the hard skin around the bottom of her fingers and the tan lines. Worn for years, by the looks of it. But they’re all missing.”

“Could have taken them off to cook,” Greg pointed out.

Sherlock shook his head. “Then she would have kept them somewhere safe. Somewhere nearby. Any jewellery, Anderson?”

Anderson’s head snapped up as he was addressed. “No,” he said, folding his arms.

“She has a lot of money, but she lives well below her means.”

“Explain it to me,” Greg said, looking around.

“This is an old property, inexpensive in London-terms. But the coats, bags and shoes by the door are all designer, some hardly worn, so they’re not second hand. There’s a receipt here on the table for a dress costing £6,250.”

Greg leaned over and looked at it. “Right. So she liked the finer things in life then.”

“She had money – a lot of it – and someone has taken her rings. They’ve left the earrings and the coats, so it looks like they weren’t after the majority of her possessions. So what were they after? Money, probably. They’re probably named in the will. Abernetty family comes over, she’s expecting them. Look, she’s made them biscuits. Cinnamon biscuits. And then they poisoned her, took her rings and now they will sit and wait for the will to be processed so they can take the money. They’ve closed Abernetty’s Cakes and Teas. Who needs to run a cafe with the amount of money they’re set to inherit?”

“Relatives then,” Greg said.

“Almost certainly.”

“Find the Abernetty family, find the killer. Looks like this one’s come together quite nicely. If we can find the family.”

“There’s a clue in the invoices, I’m sure,” Sherlock said. “They’re obsessed with money, they wouldn’t just leave their profits sitting in a bank account. I’ll need another look at them.”

Greg frowned. He’d read those documents backwards and forwards and sideways. “Kent,” he said.

Sherlock’s eyes widened as he looked at him. “Yes.”

Greg started to grin. “I just worked something out quicker than you.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Oh, so you’re marginally less idiotic than everyone else you work with, congratulations.”

Greg continued to beam as he followed Sherlock out of the bungalow. “Ah, but the key word there, Holmes. Less idiotic.”

Sherlock turned and raised his eyebrows at him. “Are you finished?”

Greg continued to smile, but nodded. “Yeah. You’re going to leave this case to me now, aren’t you?”

“Yes. It’s boring now.”

Greg nodded. “I need to make some calls to people down in Kent to wrap all this up anyway. If we’re right and it goes to court, you can shove it up on your blog.” Sherlock began to walk away. “Oi! Sherlock!”

Sherlock turned around. “What?”

“Cheers, mate. Couldn’t have done it without you.”

Sherlock half-smiled. “I know.” He began to walk away and Greg wandered back into the bungalow to kick the investigation into the next gear.

 


 

Solving cases felt like winning the lottery. Two weeks later, signed, sealed, delivered.

Greg received an email from his Commander with a list of statistics from his department for the past four years. The past 12 months had been significantly better than previous years. Greg passed the figures around. Even the most die-hard Sherlock hater had to admit the man had done them a few favours during that time.

 


 

To: Donovan, S; Bullock, E; Brockhurst, S; Carter, G
BCC: Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Birthday

Hi,
I’m turning the big 4-0 next friday and fancied a get together at mine. I’m inviting you lot and some football and uni friends. Boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, husbands etc all welcome.
BYOB, RSVP, etc.
Cheers,
Greg.

 

Mycroft never replied to the email. Greg knew how busy he was, so never questioned it. He couldn’t really imagine Mycroft hanging around all those people anyway.

 


 

Greg got out of the shower and hurried to his bedroom. He was almost running late for his own birthday party. He quickly towel-dried his hair, rifling through his shirts until he found a stripy one he liked and putting it on with some jeans. He fluffed his hair and turned the music on just as the first knock came on the door.

Donovan and Edmund were the first to arrive, each carrying a bottle of wine. Greg smiled. “Come in. Make yourself at home.”

“So, how you feeling, old man?” Sally grinned at him.

Greg rolled his eyes. “Right. Get out. You’re uninvited.”

Sally laughed and handed him a card. “Happy birthday, boss.”

Greg smiled and opened it. “Cheers.”

He looked at the card. It had 1966 written in the middle with all the big events from that year he was born written around it. He opened it.

To Greg,
Only as young as the man you feel.
Happy birthday.
Love Sally & Ed.

Greg smiled and stood the card up on the table. “Cheers, guys. Nibbles are over there and glasses and cups are just here.” He handed them each a wine glass. “Go mad.”

Sally laughed. “You went to a lot of trouble.”

“No, I just bought a lot of booze.”

Edmund patted him on the back. “Happy birthday, Lestrade.”

Greg smiled and picked up a beer. “Cheers.”

Sally and Ed put their coats down on the floor beside the sofa.

Carter and his wife were next, bringing him more beer and adding to the coat pile. Sam Brockhurt brought a bottle of sambuca and shot glasses. Greg eyed them warily. “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea,” he said, looking at it.

Sam grinned at him and patted his arm. “It’s for later. You’re only 40 once.”

“Thank God,” Greg muttered. He and Sam spent a few minutes talking about the Premier League table and predictions for the season before some of Greg’s university friends arrived.

The evening passed smoothly and quickly. Several beers later and Greg was chatting to Ed and Carter about football again, debating the merits of Theirry Henry’s style of play. That was when Sam brought the sambuca over.

“No, no, no!” Greg said, laughing when he saw the bottle. “No chance. Not happening. Nope.”

Sam sat down on the table opposite the sofa. Greg watched past him where Sally was in hysterical laughter as she talked to Carter’s wife and one of Greg’s university friends. He glanced at the door. Still no Mycroft. He looked at his watch, where it read 11.23pm. No Mycroft for the whole evening then, more than likely.

“Too old?” Sam asked, grinning. “C’mon, just one shot. I’ll never call you old again.”

“And what are you, 30?” Greg asked.

Sam looked put out. “27. For that insult, you can do a shot.”

“Bloody hell,” Greg groaned, holding his hand out. Not like Mycroft was going to see him this plastered. “Go on. One.”

Sam laid the shot glasses out on the table, pouring each of them a glass. “I propose a toast,” he said. “To Arsenal winning the Premier League and to Lestrade not getting bashed into the Thames this year.”

Greg laughed and picked up a shot glass. “I will drink to that.” He tapped the glass to Sam’s, knocking back the clear liquid. He pulled a face and quickly had a swig of his beer. “Uch. Why did you make me do that?”

Sam started pouring more sambuca. “Carter and Ed, your turn.”

Carter held his hands up. “I’m even older than Lestrade. You won’t catch me on that stuff in a million years.”

Sam pressed the glass into his hand, and gave Greg and Ed each other.

Greg groaned. “Really? Do I have to?”

“Let’s play a game,” Sally said, walking up to them and sitting on the arm of the sofa. She leaned against Greg’s shoulder.

Greg looked up at her. “What are we, 18 all of a sudden?”

“C’mon, boss,” she grinned.

Greg rubbed his hands over his face. “Someone please wake me from this nightmare.”

“We could, but you’ll still be 40 in the morning,” Sam said, beaming at him.

Greg laughed. “I’m liking you less and less with every minute that passes.” Sally picked a shot glass up and handed one to Greg. “Sally, no, I cannot do another one of these,” Greg groaned. She tapped her glass to his.

“On three,” she said. Greg rolled his eyes and did the shot with her. He finished his beer and the conversation moved to films and to football and back to work.

Which was how, at 12.54am, Greg found himself alone of the sofa with Sally. Carter and his wife had gone home and Ed and Sam were playing some ridiculous game with plastic cups with some of Greg’s football mates.

“How’ve you been?” Sally asked, sipping her wine.

“Good, yeah.”

“Been a while since we had a proper chat.”

Greg looked at her. “Been busy I guess.”

She nodded. “Being a DI and Sergeant will do that for you. How’s your love life?”

Greg laughed. “Cut to the chase, Sal.”

She smiled and nudged him. “C’mon, let me fix you up with someone.”

“Nope. I’m fine, honestly. Now tell me about you and Ed.”

Sally laughed. “What do you want to know?”

“Just… explain it to me.”

“It was after your injury. His car had broken down and he was cycling into work but he lives quite a trek away so I picked him up for a week. And we just… talked. A lot.”

“You went for a date before though, right?”

Sally nodded. “Yeah. But it was too soon after Rich.”

“Ah. Forgot about Rich.”

“Anyway, it’s good. C’mon on, Greg. There’s got to be a woman somewhere you like.”

Greg chuckled. “There’s not.” There really was not at all. Very opposite in fact. The thought made him smile, though he wished Mycroft was there. He stretched his legs out. God, the world was spinning, music reverberating through his ears.

“Why not? It’s been about a year. You should find someone.”

“Maybe I already have,” Greg grinned and looked at her. “Not saying a word though.”

“You’ve met someone?” Sally stared at him. “Why don’t I know about this?”

“I’ve not really met… we’re not… together or anything.”

“But you’re seeing someone?”

Greg shrugged. “Sort of. I haven’t seen… them for a while but, yeah. When we’re both free we get together.”

“What’s her name?”

Greg laughed nervously. “What’s your obsession with my love life recently?”

“I just want you to be happy,” she said, and Greg looked at her and knew she meant it.

He sighed. “I like someone. Alright, I do. It’s good, whatever it is.”

“You’re not together though?”

Greg shrugged. “He’s not really the relationship type.” Sally didn’t reply. Greg looked at her frown and she was staring at him open-mouthed. Greg rewound the conversation in his head. Oh shit. “Uh… I just mean…”

“You’re seeing a bloke?” Sally whispered, still staring at him.

Greg sighed and nodded. “Yeah, but keep that to yourself, alright? And we’re not seeing each other exactly, we’re just…” Shagging. A lot. “Spending time together.”

“Since when?”

“Since January.”

“No, I mean since when were you gay?”

“I’m not,” Greg laughed. “I’ve always been interested in men and women, Sal.”

She laughed and nudged him. “You dark horse. Now you have to tell me. Is he fit?”

Greg laughed. “He’s alright, yeah.”

“Who is he? Where’d you meet?”

“We met… at work, kind of. He’s not from work,” he added quickly. “We just met sort of because of work.”

“Do I know him?”

Greg sighed. “You’ve met him, yeah.”

“Is he here?”

“No. I kinda hoped he would be, but he’s busy.”

“Greg.”

“Yeah?”

Sally stared at him. “It’s not the freak is it?”

Greg burst out laughing. “No!”

Sally laughed. “Oh thank God. I was worried for a second.”

“It’s just his brother,” Greg said.

Sally just laughed harder for a few moments. Then she looked at him. “Oh God, you weren’t kidding.”

Greg pressed his lips together and shook his head. “Nope. Not kidding.”

Sally nodded, taking it in. Greg bit his lip. It felt good to say it. To get it out, like it was no longer some dirty secret only he, Mycroft and Sherlock knew anything about. He might regret mentioning it to Sally once the alcohol was out of his system though…

“Is he nice?” she finally asked.

Greg nodded. “To me anyway.”

“But he won’t have a relationship with you?”

“Not yet. But I’m not ruling it out.”

Sally smiled. “Well. I’m pretty shocked. And I don’t shock easily.”

“Yeah it… it just sort of happened.”

She nudged him with her shoulder. “I know how that happens, believe me. As long as he treats you well then I’m good with it.”

Greg nodded. “He does, you know? At least we’ve not rushed this.”

Sally smiled at him. “Come on. I challenge you to a game of whatever Sam and Ed have got going on over there.”

Greg grinned and stood up, holding his arm out to her to help her up. They spent the next half an hour playing the ridiculous drinking game.

Eventually the party fizzled out. It was late and Sally gave Greg a tight hug before they left. Greg leaned against the wall as he closed the door. He smiled to himself as he pulled away from the wall and started collecting up some of the empty bottles and putting them in the kitchen. He switched CDs, turning Jeff Buckley’s Grace album on. He started unbuttoning his shirt as he wandered into his bedroom and he heard the knock on the door. He assumed someone must have forgotten something.

He wasn’t expecting Mycroft when he finally got it open. He grinned slowly. “Hello there, stranger.”

Mycroft smiled. “I didn’t think you would still be awake.” Greg stepped aside to let him in. Mycroft slipped his coat off, adding it to the coats other people had forgotten to take home.

“I was just going to bed. What you doing here?”

“I wanted to say happy birthday.” Mycroft held out long thin gift wrapped in black shiny paper. Greg carefully took it from him and set it on his lap when he sat down on the sofa.

“You didn’t need to do this,” he murmured as he pulled back the paper. It was a large picture in a frame. He stared at it. It was the Arsenal cup winning team from the 1990-91 season. Signed. “Is this…”

“It’s real,” Mycroft said, taking a seat beside him.

Greg stared at the names. David Seaman and Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon and Tony Adams. “Thank you,” he whispered. “This is amazing. Too much. But amazing.” He turned to look at Mycroft. He was smiling, though he looked quite tired.

Greg kissed him lightly.

“Happy birthday,” Mycroft whispered. Greg set the picture down carefully on the table. He looked at Mycroft just as So Real switched to Hallelujah in the CD player. He hesitated for a second before standing up and holding his hand out. Mycroft looked at his hand and up at his face.

“C’mon,” Greg said. Mycroft frowned and took his hand.

Greg led him to the centre of his living room and wrapped his arms around his neck. Mycroft chuckled. “Greg, what are you doing?”

“It’s my birthday,” Greg grinned. “And this is Jeff Buckley playing. This is my favourite song. And you’re dancing with me.” Mycroft’s arms wound around his waist.

Greg smiled and kissed him briefly before dropping his head onto Mycroft’s shoulder. He felt Mycroft’s laugh, but he held him close, swaying with him. Greg sighed as he kissed Mycroft’s neck, pressing their bodies together. Mycroft’s cheek pressed against his hair, one hand gently stroking his back.

They moved so slowly, Greg allowing the words to wash over him as he inhaled Mycroft’s aftershave, felt his suit jacket under his fingers. Mycroft sighed ever so quietly, just moving with him. Greg’s head was so still. Just drifting, relaxed and certain. And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch and love is not a victory march.

“I didn’t think you were going to come,” Greg said softly.

“I was never going to miss it,” Mycroft replied quietly.

“I’m not 39 anymore,” Greg said.

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“Probably,” Greg said.

“You don’t know your real birthday,” Mycroft murmured, a statement, not a question.

“It’s the best guess,” Greg said, closing his eyes. He felt Mycroft kiss his hair. And every breath we drew was hallelujah.

They stood still as the music turned to gentle string sounds, as if the song were drawing to a close, one note playing after the other. Just wrapped in each other’s arms.

The singing resumed. And Mycroft’s arms wrapped tighter around him, swaying slowly with him. But all I’ve ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you. Mycroft pulled back, resting one hand on Greg’s hip. Greg looked at him as Mycroft lifted his hand, pressing his index finger against Greg’s jaw as he traced his top lip with his thumb. Greg closed his eyes and Mycroft kissed just above his lip, his mouth lingering there. Greg’s breath caught in his throat. He looked at the other man. Mycroft appeared so impossibly torn.

“What’s up?” Greg asked. Mycroft shook his head. Greg kissed him tenderly. “It’s alright,” he said. “Whatever it is, it’s-”

“-Inconvenient.”

Greg frowned. “What is?” Mycroft stared past him. “Oh. You and me. Feelings. Unnecessary and pointless, right?” Greg sighed and pulled Mycroft close to him. “Just shut it off, Mycroft. Whatever bit of your ridiculous brain is freaking out right now, just shut it down.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes you can. Your head isn’t like other people’s. You don’t want to think it then just shut it off. Not your feelings. Just switch off the bit which says feelings are bad for you.”

Mycroft nuzzled his neck. “It is never so simple.”

“I’m making it simple.” Greg rubbed the back of Mycroft’s neck. “What the hell happened to make you think you weren’t allowed to be happy?”

Mycroft didn’t answer. Greg didn’t expect him too.

“Come to bed with me,” Greg said, pulling back to look at him.

“I can’t-”

“Can’t stay, I know. That’s fine.” Greg took his hand. “But you like getting me naked, right?”

Mycroft nodded. “Yes.”

“Come to bed with me. For an hour. Or less, depending on whether I’m able to get it up with the amount of alcohol I’ve had.”

Mycroft chuckled.

Greg squeezed his hand. “Come on.”

Mycroft nodded and let Greg lead him to his bedroom. Mycroft sat down on the edge of the bed, wringing his hands. Greg knelt down in front of him and untied his shoes. Mycroft brushed his fingers through Greg’s hair. Greg glanced up at him and stroked his thighs before resting his head against his leg. Mycroft’s fingers continued to stroke through his hair.

“Tired,” Greg muttered, hating himself a bit for feeling it.

“Come up here,” Mycroft said, holding a hand out. Greg took it, collapsing down onto the bed and curling up. Mycroft laughed and began undoing his shirt.

Greg groaned. “Why was I fine five minutes ago and now…”

“It was the sambuca.”

Greg struggled out of his shirt and groaned, closing his eyes as Mycroft began to unfasten his trousers. He lifted his hips to help him take them down. Mycroft pulled the covers back for him and Greg struggled under them.

Greg reached up to stroke his arm. “You’re pretty gorgeous.”

Mycroft sat down beside him and stroked his forehead. “Go to sleep, Greg.”

“But y’gonna go.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I like you,” Greg mumbled.

“I know.”

“I broke your rules. Your feeling rules.”

“As did I,” Mycroft said softly.

Mycroft stood up and bent down to kiss his forehead. He turned the light off. “Go to sleep.”

“Mycroft?”

“Mm?”

“I really like you.”

“It’s mutual,” Mycroft whispered as he stepped out of the room. He returned a few moments later with a glass of water which he placed beside the bed. He lightly kissed Greg’s lips. “I will call you. Goodnight.”

Greg smiled a bit, closing his eyes. He faintly heard Mycroft retrieving a jacket from the coat pile and fell fast asleep before he even heard the door close.

 


 

Ow. Ow. Ugh. The pain. And the sick feeling. Why? Why why why?

Greg rolled over and felt the world spin with him. No more moving. Moving bad. He reached out and his hands grasped the glass. He took a sip and pulled a face. Ugh. Disgusting water. Disgusting breath.

Good job Mycroft couldn’t see him like it.

Oh, Mycroft stopped by last night, didn’t he? And they danced. To Jeff Buckley. To a really romantic Jeff Buckley song. Ah holy fuck, he told Sally. Shit.

Ow. Don’t think about it. Too much pain, too much gross.

He was going to get Sam Brockhurt demoted for causing dangerous liver upset, intense sickness and achy head.

Bloody Sam Brockhurst. Oh, why did the world hate him so? And why did it just keep spinning, on and on and on and on.

Ow. Just ow. So much ow.

 


 

 

He woke to the sound of his phone ringing. He pressed answer without looking at the screen. “What?” he asked irritably.

“I’m sorry, I woke you.”

Greg half smiled. “Sorry.”

“How are you feeling?” Mycroft asked.

“Like I’m trapped under a bulldozer.”

“Sambuca will do that to you.”

“Never again,” Greg muttered.

“Would you like to come to mine for dinner later?”

Greg almost forgot his headache. “Yeah. Yeah, definitely.”

“About 8?”

“8 is good,” Greg said. “What time is it now?”

“Almost 2pm.”

“Ah, shit. I’ve been sleeping all day.”

“If you couldn’t sleep all day after your 40th birthday then when could you?”

“Yeah, true. You need to me to bring anything?”

“Just your good self. I have painkillers if you still require them.”

“I’m sure I’ll feel a bit more alive after a shower. Thanks for coming last night.”

“I’m just sorry I couldn’t be there sooner.”

Greg smiled, and tried to imagine Mycroft being there for the plastic cups game. “Me too, but you came, so. Good birthday all in all.”

“I’m glad. I’ll see you at 8.”

“Later.”

Mycroft hung up and Greg rubbed his face, smiling.

 


 

 

Greg ran out to his car with his coat held over his head, trying to shield himself from the rain. Thunder rumbled as he got into it.

He turned the radio up loud as he drove through the hurtling rain to Crusader House. The doorman had the doors open before Greg had even arrived at them and he shouted a thank you as he ran across the road and into the building. He wiped the water off his face and nodded appreciatively at the man.

He jogged up to Mycroft’s flat and the butler let him in with a curt nod. Well, that was an improvement on his usual attitude.

Mycroft was stood by the drinks table, pouring a whiskey when he walked in. He smiled. “Alright?” Greg grinned, taking in his more casual appearance, a shirt rolled to his elbows, the top button undone. The fire was roaring and warm.

Mycroft set down the decanter and walked right up to him. Without a word, he touched Greg’s cheek and kissed him. Greg made a sound of surprise against his lips before drawing Mycroft closer, pulling him tighter against him, pushing his tongue into the other man’s mouth. They kissed in desperation as Mycroft pushed him up into the bookcase, Greg wrapping one leg around Mycroft’s to keep him there.

Greg groaned into his mouth, his fingers fumbling with Mycroft’s shirt buttons, trying desperately to get them undone. Mycroft’s lips trailed kisses down his neck, occasionally biting, once harder than Greg was expecting, and the surprise of it made Greg gasp and then groan as he wrapped one hand tightly around Mycroft’s neck to make him kiss him again.

Mycroft pushed him harder into the bookcase, their hips pressing together, and Greg heard some books clatter to the floor. Greg managed to get three of Mycroft’s buttons unfastened, and Mycroft tugged at his t-shirt, stepping back for a second to allow Greg to pull it off.

They stared at each other for a moment, breathing hard, before their mouths connected again, devouring each other, biting, licking in frenzied kisses, as though they’d been deprived of them for years.

They stumbled back, Mycroft’s fingers flicking Greg’s left nipple as they walked across the living room floor. Greg turned his attention to Mycroft’s neck, flicking his tongue against his pulse point as Mycroft’s fingers ably undid his jeans. Mycroft’s fingers curled in Greg’s hair, tugging his head up for another kiss as Greg pushed him into a wall beside the spare bedroom door, hastily unfastening the last of his shirt buttons. He pushed the shirt apart, bending his knees as he trailed kisses through his chest hair and then back up, closing his mouth around Mycroft’s nipple and flicking his tongue against it.

Mycroft’s nails scratched his back as he leaned to the side, sticking his arm out to open the door to the spare bedroom.

Greg pushed Mycroft’s shirt off, letting it fall onto the floor as he grabbed Mycroft’s hand and tugged him into the bedroom. Greg stumbled onto the bed, tugging his jeans down as Mycroft stared at him from the doorway, his chest rising and falling with every deep breath.

Greg stopped to gaze at him. He grinned and shook his head. “You are just. I can’t even describe it. You’re just too good to be real.”

Mycroft dipped his head in mild embarrassment and walked over to Greg, standing between his legs as Greg unfastened his belt. Greg leaned forward and kissed just above Mycroft’s belly button, looking up at his face through his lashes.

Mycroft’s eyes were glazed, and he shuddered as Greg eased down the zip of his trousers, pushing them down and letting them fall to the floor. Mycroft stepped out of them before taking hold of Greg’s shoulders and pushing him down onto the bed.

Greg laughed and took hold of Mycroft’s arms, pulling him down on top of him. Mycroft laughed with him, kissing him messily. Mycroft pressed their hips together and Greg groaned at the pressure against his cock. The kiss deepened as their laughter died down, Greg’s hands grabbing Mycroft’s arse under his boxers - he had the best arse on the planet, had anyone ever told him that? - and moving their hips together.

“I want you,” Mycroft murmured between kisses, reaching a hand between their bodies to squeeze Greg’s cock through his underwear.

Greg’s body shook, and he nipped Mycroft’s bottom lip. “Yeah, take it,” he muttered. “Anything, have it.”

Mycroft’s breath shook as he looked down at him. “Lie down on your front,” he commanded, his voice husky. “And take the last of your clothes off.”

Greg stared at him as he breathed out “oh God,” and wriggled out from under Mycroft’s body. He looked at him over his shoulder as he teased his boxers down over his arse, sliding them down his legs and letting them drop onto the floor. He lay down flat on his stomach in the centre of the bed, letting out a relieved sigh as his cock came into contact with the sheets.

Mycroft straddled his hips, kissing lightly over his neck. “You’re not to touch yourself,” he murmured. “You’re not to move a muscle without my say so.”

Greg trembled. “Yeah,” he managed, tangling his fingers in the sheets. “Yeah, I… Oh God, Mycroft.”

Mycroft’s lips began to tease their way down his spine and Greg closed his eyes, honing his senses so all he could feel was his mouth and his hot breath and oh, his tongue. Mycroft’s lips pressed above cleft of his arse. “Move your legs apart, Greg.”

Greg complied without a word, burying his head in the pillow. Mycroft’s hands stroked and squeezed his arse and Greg bit his lip, unable to make a sound as he waited. And waited. Knowing what was likely to happen next, but unable to get any purchase as Mycroft’s lips just traced haphazard patterns over his skin and his hands dipped to the backs of his thighs.

Greg shook as Mycroft’s thumbs rubbed the inside of them. He felt Mycroft hesitate before repeating the action. “Oh, Christ, yes, there,” Greg moaned, desperate to move his hips against the sheets, get some sort of purchase on his cock. But he wouldn’t, because Mycroft had told him not to. Ordered him not to. God, if this was how Mycroft did his job, with so much precision and commanding presence, he’d probably have the power to rip entire countries in two.

He was tearing Greg’s resolve to stay still in two. His fingers tracing patterns and nails scratching against the inside of his thighs. It was fucking perfect. That Mycroft had realised how much Greg loved that part of his body being touched was no surprise to him at all. Mycroft kissed the backs of his knees. He licked the thin skin there. He kissed down the back of Greg’s calf. And he rubbed the arch of Greg’s feet before kissing back up the other leg.

His hands took hold of Greg’s arse, gently spreading the cheeks apart. Greg swallowed. Still just waiting. And then Mycroft’s tongue swept down between his cheeks and Greg couldn’t make heads or tails the garbled nonsense which came out of his mouth.

Mycroft’s tongue was unrelenting as it swept and flicked against the tight muscle. Greg was trembling against the covers, his fingers tightening and then letting go of the fabric. One of Mycroft’s thumbs was still rubbing the inside of his thigh. “Mycroft,” Greg breathed out, pinching his eyes closed. “Mycroft. Mycroft. Fuck. Please. Please, please. Just, oh. Oh, I can’t, I can’t, please.”

He felt Mycroft move, and opened his eyes as the drawer slid open. He watched as Mycroft retrieved the lubricant and a condom and Greg smiled, trying to get his breath back. “Yeah, that’s… perfect, yeah.”

“Onto your hands and knees, Greg,” Mycroft murmured, stroking one hand down his back.

Greg did as instructed, his knees shaking. “You always know,” he marvelled. “You just… you just get it, you just…”

Mycroft kissed the small of his back. “Shh, it’s okay,” he whispered. Greg heard the sound of a lid being taken off, a few moments passed, and Mycroft’s finger pressed against him.

With Greg already so relaxed, his finger slid in easily. Mycroft’s voice shook as he murmured “you’re so perfect.”

Greg swallowed, pushing back against his finger. “More, please.”

“Patience, Greg,” Mycroft said as he curled his finger. Greg cried out, tugging at the covers.

“I can’t. Please.”

“Patience.”

Mycroft began to move his finger, so tortuously slowly and almost completely out of him before easing it back in.

“I don’t know how you’re so bloody patient,” Greg managed. “You’re just… please, Mycroft, please.”

Greg was completely undone.

He had never been so undone in his entire life.

Mycroft eased another finger into him, spreading them, pressing one against his prostate. Greg’s knees almost buckled at the sensation, but Mycroft’s arm wrapped around his chest and kept him up.

“I need you so much,” Greg said. “Mycroft.”

Mycroft kissed his back and just kept fucking him slowly with his fingers.

Greg cried out, just clinging to the sheets. Mycroft withdrew his fingers and what should have been relief was just desperate desire to have them back. He heard the ripping of the condom foil. He closed his eyes.

He let go of a tension he didn’t know he was holding when Mycroft’s hand rested on his hip, before his cock pressed against him.

“Please,” Greg choked out. Mycroft’s cock eased into him so slowly. Greg couldn’t contemplate how he had this much self-control. Mycroft stilled when he was buried inside him.

“You are beautiful,” Mycroft whispered, and then he pulled nearly completely out before he drove his cock back inside Greg.

Greg cried out, his head falling to rest on his arm as Mycroft thrust unrelentingly into him before suddenly stilling, then torturing him with impossibly slow and small strokes.

Greg was so lost, he couldn’t catch where his groans began or ended, he just listened out for Mycroft’s breaths and gasps.

Mycroft began to thrust hard into him again, before stopping. And then withdrawing from him completely. “On your back,” he said.

Greg collapsed onto his arms before he turned over and looked up at Mycroft. There was a faint trace of sweat on his forehead, a bit of hair clinging to his skin. Greg reached for him and pulled him into a kiss as he wrapped his legs around his waist.

Mycroft pressed back inside him as they kissed. Mycroft’s movements were deep and graceful, Greg arching up with every thrust as they moved together. Rocking and moving, clinging for dear life.

Mycroft touched Greg’s cock and Greg came with a deep groan into the other man’s mouth, letting go, just letting go, and it was perfect, like the beautiful white lights of utter bliss. Mycroft came just one thrust later, shuddering against Greg’s body as he gasped.

Greg kissed his lips. He brushed his mouth against his jaw. Filtrum. Lips. Chin. Lips. He kissed all the places he could reach and fought to kiss those he couldn’t.

Unsteady now on his arms, Mycroft collapsed onto him and Greg held him against his body.

His heart was pounding. He closed his eyes and kissed Mycroft’s hair. He hadn’t been making it up when he said they had the best sex he’d ever had.

He nearly lost track of how long they lay like that, legs entwined, Mycroft wrapped around his body. Greg opened his eyes to gaze at him. So peaceful like this now. His lips were parted a fraction, his breath warm on Greg’s skin.

Greg made a quiet sound. Mycroft’s mouth twitched into a smile. “Mm,” was the only sound he made in response.

Greg grinned and hugged him tighter to his chest. “Mm. Yeah.”

“Quite.”

“Amazing.”

“Mm.”

Greg kissed his hair. “Mycroft. You are. I can’t even.” Mycroft chuckled and rubbed his cheek against Greg’s chest.

“I need to move.”

“No,” Greg grinned. “No moving.”

Mycroft laughed. “I really need to move.”

“Kiss me first.” Mycroft leaned up on his arms to press their lips together.

“Wonderful,” Mycroft whispered against his lips before he rolled away, handing Greg a packet of tissues and taking the dressing gown off the back of the door. He smiled at Greg before leaving the room.

Greg stared up at the ceiling as he let out a long breath. He was pulling at thoughts in his head, but all of his words ended without a thread. Completely void of any thought at all, Greg rolled over and cleaned himself up.

He pulled on his clothes. His body felt weightless as he wandered into the living room and into the bathroom. After washing his hands he stared at himself in the mirror. He hardly recognised the man staring back at him. There was no tension there.

He walked out and found Mycroft dressed in the kitchen, putting a lasagne into the oven. “Did you make that earlier?” Greg asked, watching.

“I did. I was expecting we would be eating earlier but…”

“Well you kind of jumped me,” Greg said, laughing.

“I did not jump you.” Mycroft crossed his arms. “I merely-”

“-Got carried away?”

“I find you quite irresistible at times.” He drew Greg into a tender kiss before stepping away. A loud bang came from outside the window.

“Storm’s pretty bad,” Greg said, watching as Mycroft stepped away from him and out of the kitchen to look out through the doors leading to the balcony. Greg followed, stepping behind him as they watched a fork of lightening behind the rows of houses. Greg wrapped his arms around Mycroft from behind, pressing his chin to his shoulder.

They listened to the rain together as Mycroft’s fingers linked with his.

Eventually Mycroft turned in Greg’s arms. “Shall we move the sofa closer to the fire and put a film on?”

Greg smiled and kissed him. “You’re a genius. Anyone ever tell you that?”

Mycroft chuckled. “Occasionally.” Mycroft moved away to take hold of one side of the table. Greg helped him move it to the side of the room before they turned their attention to the sofa, dragging it forward and closer to the fire. “Can you stomach a glass of wine or would you prefer something else?”

“No, I’ll have some water, but thanks,” Greg replied.

“I’ll get that and check on dinner. Can you find a film?”

“Any preference?”

“I will leave it in your very capable hands.”

Greg grinned and went into Mycroft’s office, kneeling down to take the box out of the cabinet. “Shawshank or the Green Mile?” he called out, looking through the cases. “Or Hitchcock’s Spellbound.”

“I don’t mind, I’ve not seen any of them.”

“You’ve never seen Shawshank? Really?” Greg carried the DVD through to the living room and took the picture down from the wall to reveal the television. He put the film in before finding Mycroft in the kitchen. “Can I help with anything?”

“There’s nothing to help with.” Mycroft turned and handed Greg their drinks. “Dinner will be another 20 minutes.”

Greg grinned and walked back into the living room, stretching along the sofa. Mycroft collected a blanket from the bathroom and nestled between Greg’s legs, resting his back against Greg’s chest. Greg grinned and nuzzled his neck. “Comfortable?”

“Nearly,” Mycroft said, drawing the blanket over them both. “You may turn the film on now.”

Greg laughed and reached for the remote. “May I now?”

Mycroft chuckled. “Yes, I give my permission.” Mycroft turned and looked at him, smiling warmly. Greg laughed and kissed him and pressed play before wrapping his arms over him and tangling their legs together. They watched the first 15 minutes of the film before Mycroft got up to dish up their dinner. Greg joined him in the kitchen and put some salad on the plates.

He carried the cutlery through while Mycroft carried the plates and they enjoyed their food in front of the film. “That was great,” Greg said as he took the dishes back to the kitchen and turned the main light off. They returned to their original position on the sofa, occasionally turning and exchanging kisses and adjusting the way they were sitting. The film was 142 minutes of warmth. The only light came from the pictures on the television and the fire.

The credits began to roll and Mycroft turned in Greg’s arms, touching their foreheads together. Greg smiled and kissed him. “How was it?”

“Excellent.”

Greg smiled. “Yeah, it’s a great film.” They shared a few gentle kisses. Mycroft turned more completely in his arms and Greg sighed as he pulled him closer, brushing his fingers through his hair. They smiled against each other’s lips. “Mycroft,” Greg whispered, kissing his jaw.

“Mm?”

“I don’t know. I just wanted to say cheers.”

“What for?”

“Well, y’know-” Greg groaned as his phone started to ring. “Sorry.” He picked it up off the floor and looked at the screen. Sally. “Lestrade.”

“Hi, boss. Bad news.”

“Oh, shit, what?”

“There’s been a triple shooting. Gang-related. There’s a lot of trouble brewing, they need all hands on deck.”

“Really? Really? Now?”

“I’m sorry,” Sally said.

Greg sighed. “No, it’s fine. Right. I’ll be at the Yard in 20 minutes, alright?”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine.” Greg hung up.

“Trouble?” Mycroft asked, stroking his cheek.

“Apparently. I’m sorry, I’m going to have to go.”

Mycroft nodded and sat up. “I understand.”

Greg moved with him, kissing his shoulder. “I really don’t want to, but they need man-power right now, and God knows what else.”

Mycroft turned his face and kissed him. “No one understands work pressures better than I do. It’s quite alright.”

Greg looked surprised. He remembered something Caroline said. That he needed someone who understood work was important. Well, he’d found them. He’d found him.

Greg stood up retrieved his coat. Mycroft stood and kissed him long and hard. “Greg?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m going to be away all of December for work. I leave tomorrow.”

Greg felt his heart sink but he tried not to show it. “Oh, right, sure. Okay.”

“Look after Sherlock?”

Greg hugged him. “I promise.” The hug lingered for a minute before Greg pulled back and gave Mycroft one last quick kiss. “Message me, whenever you get five minutes.”

“I will.”

Greg took a deep breath and looked at him. He wanted to tell him he would miss him. But he couldn’t bear to scare him away. Instead he forced a smile. “Right. Look after yourself.”

“And you, Greg.”

Greg nodded and opened the door. “See you in January, yeah?”

“I promise.”

Greg closed the door and jogged down the steps. From overhead, the lightening flashed. 

Chapter Text

December, 2006

The next few days were tense and difficult. Most of the Yard staff were working long hours and unusual shift patterns, trying to ease the tensions which had erupted in light of the shootings.

With two dead and one still in intensive care, it was a volatile situation but one they’d dealt with before. It was about containment of a problem, while also trying to get to grips with what had happened.

Gang crime was difficult. No one wanted to be accused of being a grass, so everyone protested they did not know anything about it. CCTV images were blurry. And anyway, most of them were wearing hoods and hats.

On the 7th December, Greg received the first contact from Mycroft in the form of an email.

 

Sender: Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Tedious

Dear Greg,
I hope this message finds you well. I have been in meetings all week. Many of them have been rather lengthy, and it has been difficult to fit meals in, let alone sleep. These people all appear to suffer from constant insomnia. Meetings spontaneously start at 4am in an assortment of hotel rooms and bars. It is quite bizarre.
I hope everything is well in London, and you are busy but not overly so. I trust Sherlock is behaving himself?
I don’t know if it’s acceptable to tell you I’m counting down the days until January. Not only because it means this constant tedium draws to a close and I’m finally able to get some sleep, but because I’m looking forward to seeing you again.
Anthea took a surreptitious photograph of someone fast asleep in a meeting. I thought it was amusing and attached it to this email.
Kindest regards,
Mycroft Holmes.

 

Greg smiled and hit reply straight away.

 

To: Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Re: Tedious

Hi,
It’s good to hear from you. Make sure you get some time to eat and sleep!
Work’s fine, thanks for asking. Busy, yeah, but most of the murderers seem to have got into the festive spirit, so mostly they’re all pretty obvious crimes of passion and family fights gone wrong.
Lots of shoplifting though.
Sherlock’s fine - bit bored. I’m keeping a close eye on him. No more ‘experiments’ recently. But I’ll keep him busy.
It’s more than acceptable to tell me that. I’m looking forward to seeing you too.
Great pic! Tell Anthea to get one of you and send it to me! I’d like that more than pics of random sleeping men! Talk when you can.
Cheers.
Greg.

 

Later that morning, some of Greg’s team were called to the Kensal Rise area, where a freak tornado had wreaked havoc, leaving six people injured and destroying 150 houses.

It was eight days later when Mycroft finally messaged him back. At first, when Greg opened it and didn’t read the words, he thought the message wasn’t long enough. All those days had passed, and Mycroft had managed to type only six lines. Then he read it.

 

Sender: Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Re: Tedious

Dear Greg,
I am exhausted. I’m eating. Don’t worry.
Sherlock has ignored both messages I sent him. Check on him please?
I continue to miss you.
Kindest regards,
Mycroft Holmes.

 

‘I continue to miss you’. Missing. He missed him. Greg missed him too. More than he allowed himself to think.

 

To: Holmes, Mycroft
Subject: Re: Tedious

Hi Mycroft,
Get some sleep you silly sod.
Sherlock’s being annoying, but he’s fine. He interviewed a member of the public yesterday. I didn’t give him permission, he just started doing it. It was awful. Won’t happen again, believe me. He made a grown man cry. I wanted to smack him one. (I didn’t actually do it, but Sally was even closer than I was, believe me!)
He solved it though. Abernetty case is all wrapped up now. He put it on his blog. Did you see it? He cut me out of it completely even though I remembered the Kent bit and he didn’t! The git. Typical Sherlock.
I miss you too. Don’t be a stranger when you get back. Talk soon.
Cheers.
Greg. 

 

The days passed with no big surprises, and no drama. And no further contact from Mycroft. No further contact from the other Holmes either, which was a worrying situation in itself.

Greg tried Sherlock’s phone again. Four days running and no response. Not a text, not an email. It wasn’t really unusual. But still, Greg felt uneasy.

Eventually he decided to go to Sherlock’s flat. It had been a while since he’d been there.

He didn't particularly trust him, that much was true. And apparently Mycroft didn't either since he'd asked him to check on him. Not that texting Mycroft was high on Sherlock's priority list, Greg imagined. He rather expected Sherlock delighted in not messaging him just to make him stew. Greg expected Sherlock had no idea how much his brother cared about him.

Greg knocked on Sherlock's door but didn't get a response. He was about to walk away, but it had been a while since he'd done an unannounced drug raid on Sherlock's flat and he would hate the man to think he was slacking.

He took his keys out of his pocket and opened the door to Sherlock's flat. The man was lying on his back on the floor, his legs bent at the knees. He was only wearing a black dressing gown and pyjama trousers. Sherlock didn't even open his eyes. "Go away," he said.

Greg saw the paper on the floor beside him. The table with a packet of powder. So when it wasn't heroin, it was experiments, and when it wasn't heroin or experiments, it was cocaine.

And Greg couldn’t even be angry. Disappointed, yes. Concerned, even more so. But he couldn’t do angry.

He sat down on the floor beside him. "How long's this binge been going?" he asked.

"Lost track of time," Sherlock replied. "I've never done cocaine before and I don't like it, it's sending my brain into overdrive. Everything hurts."

Greg was surprised. "You've never done cocaine?"

"I found heroin. How could anything else ever compare?" Sherlock smacked his palm against his head. "Get out of there!" he all but screamed, rolling onto his front. His body started shaking. "Lestrade! Go!"

"No chance. I'm not leaving you like this."

"Go."

"No."

"Wriggling colours and sounds, so many sounds. Your breathing is painful, stop it."

Greg raised his eyebrows. "My breathing is painful?"

"Everything hurts!"

Greg stood and walked into Sherlock's bedroom. He picked a blanket up from the bed. He knelt down beside Sherlock and wrapped his arm around his shoulders. Sherlock didn't complain, but he didn't help as Greg tried to sit him up. He draped the blanket over Sherlock’s shoulders. “Come on. Come to my place.”

Sherlock got up without a complaint, his head drooped forward as he murmured “please don’t tell Mycroft.”

Greg glanced at him. “You’re in luck. Your brother’s out of the country.”

“Uch. The fact you know that. I find your relationship incredibly disturbing.”

“Yeah, I got that part,” Greg said, and he helped Sherlock down the stairs. They got outside and Greg held the passenger door of his car open for him. Sherlock opened the back door instead and sprawled out along those seats. Greg shut the door for him and got into the driver’s seat.

Greg quickly turned the radio off and drove them to his flat. He guided Sherlock, who was shaky on his feet trying to find purchase against walls which were further away than he expected them to be, all the way up the stairs.

Greg had never seen someone on cocaine act quite like this before. The idea that Sherlock was an exceptional case in these circumstances did not surprise him in the slightest. But he wished he was better. He wished he wasn't killing his mind.

Sherlock sprawled out on the sofa and Greg brought him another blanket before taking a seat on the opposite couch. They looked at each other for a moment before Sherlock closed his eyes.

“Still high?” Greg asked.

“Coming down.”

Greg pressed his lips together and nodded. They stayed in silence for a while, Greg sat staring at the wall, contemplating a case he was working on.

“Have you got a cigarette?” Sherlock asked.

“Yeah,” Greg said, supposing if Sherlock was going to flick from one vice to another, smoking was the lesser of the evils. He took a packet out of his jacket and threw it over, closely followed by the lighter.

Sherlock lit up and tossed them back. Greg lit his own cigarette and stretched out along the sofa.

“I’m building a mind palace.”

Greg frowned and rolled onto his side, staring at Sherlock from across the room. “You’re doing what?”

“Building a mind palace,” Sherlock replied irritably.

“Okay,” Greg muttered. “Are you going to explain that?”

“I keep losing knowledge. I can feel it leaking out, it’s annoying.”

“Just a thought, but it could be the cocaine.”

“No. I just need to find a more logical, structured way of retaining it. The Greek poet Simonides made a lucky escape from a collapsing banquet hall. He realised how, by visualising the room where it happened, he could perfectly recall the names of the squashed people.” Greg almost laughed. “He later associated things he wanted to remember with buildings he knew well.”

Greg nodded. “So. What’s your head like now?”

Sherlock rubbed his eyes. “Can you turn down the lights?”

Greg nodded and turned a single lamp on before getting up and turning the main one off. Sherlock stumped out his cigarette into a mug.

“It’s a library with hundreds of textbooks with hundreds and thousands of words. But it’s too much. I need a better way to access it.”

“So, are you building an actual palace?”

“No. I have bricks but I can’t decide what building to create.”

“Your flat?”

“Too small. It needs to be somewhere clear, somewhere I can walk through and find the answers.”

“I dunno, Sherlock, this is completely beyond me and you know it.”

“It’s too much, Lestrade. There’s too many words and thoughts and meanings and links, it’s buzzing, it’s endless, all those sentences and numbers and science and history and this and that and hydrogen, lithium, beryllium, Si Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice-”

“-Sherlock-”

“I can’t do it!” He threw his hands up in the air. “I need heroin.”

“No.”

“Give it to me.”

“No way.”

Sherlock’s hands clenched in the blanket as he pulled it up over his face. “It is just endless, endless noise!”

Greg’s heart broke for him then. He didn’t have anything he could do, nothing he could say because he didn’t understand. How could he possibly?

“I am high, Lestrade, I am high and it still doesn’t stop. It never stops. How does he do it?”

“Who?”

“Mycroft. How is he so… so… quiet. People think I’m crazy and I’m not, I’m not, they’re just unobservant and they’re the ones who don’t understand. What is it like? To be still? How do you just… How does he do it?”

“I don’t know,” Greg said quietly. “I don’t know what he does.”

“He does something. He has to. I can’t shut it off. I tried deleting things, I thought I was getting the hang of it but it’s there, it’s still all trapped in my head.” Sherlock hit his palm against the side of his head. “I want to erase something! Anything will do, just to get rid of all the words and the noise. Just the buzzing. The constant, endless buzzing.”

Greg opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.

“Why can’t it just be quiet?” Sherlock asked mournfully. “The heroin used to make it so silent.”

Greg sat back in his chair and rubbed his face.

“I thought the cocaine would help. Bright colours and sounds, but it’s just noise and aggravating. Deafening. My brain is deafening me and only the heroin makes it stop.”

"You can't get back on that stuff, Sherlock."

"Don't you think I know that?" Sherlock snapped. Well, no, actually, Greg thought. Actually, I didn't think you knew that. I was beginning to think you had a bit of a death wish to be honest. But he didn't say it aloud. "I need it, Lestrade. Nothing is quiet without it."

Greg sighed. He'd seen addicts so many times. Heroin often seemed to be the worst. The track marks, the illnesses they gave themselves because of unclean needles. It had become trendy. Heroin. The new fashion for those rich and stupid and lonely. Because ultimately, that's what linked them. The loneliness, the despair, the thought it could never get better. And the heroin made it quiet. It turned the lights down and made it bearable.

And Sherlock's mind - the 'deafening' mind in Mycroft's words - must have been chaotic and painful at times. Greg couldn't even hope to imagine it. "What do you need?" he asked. "Except heroin."

"A mind palace."

"How can I help?"

"You can't. No one can."

Greg nodded and rubbed his face. That was the answer he expected all along. But it still it cut a bit. He was used to doing something. To being useful.

Sherlock's hand suddenly reached out into the air and his hand closed, as though he was grasping for something. "The person who knocked you into the Thames knew where you would be and when. You're being followed."

Greg stared at him. "Where the hell did that just come from?"

"Words and patterns are currently streaming through my head. They're uncoordinated and constant. As I said. Loud. I imagine you have a bug device in your jacket. Perhaps all of them. You have four. You should check them all." Sherlock held his arm out to him.

"What?"

Sherlock made a beckoning gesture with his hand. "Give."

Greg shook his head. Sherlock made the gesture again. Greg growled deep in his throat and took his jacket off, throwing it over. He laughed when it landed on Sherlock's face. He stopped laughing when the younger man started to rip the lining.

"Oi! I happen to like that jacket."

Sherlock continued to tear with a strength Greg hadn't realised he possessed. Or perhaps the stitching was just really weak. Cheap jacket. But still. Comfy jacket. Sherlock threw it on the floor. "Coat! Coat! You always wear your coat."

"No, no, you are not tearing up more of my clothes."

"You're being bugged, Lestrade. And when have I ever been wrong?"

Greg pressed his lips together. He was torn between curiosity mixed with a desire to prove Sherlock wrong and the need to keep his coat in one piece. He hardly realised he had got up to pick his coat up until he was already on the other side of the room. He handed it to Sherlock.

Sherlock began to pull at the lining again, then tore into the inside pocket. He dropped the device down on the table, a self-satisfied smile on his face. Greg stared at it.

"No, nothing here," Sherlock said looking pointedly at him, and Greg frowned at him before replying.

"Yeah, told you so," Greg said, going along with it. "Sometimes even you get it wrong."

They both continued to stare at the device on the table. Greg shrugged at him, mouthing 'now what?'

Sherlock shrugged in response. Greg pressed his lips together. "Well, thanks for ruining my coat. I'll have to chuck that now, no use in trying to repair it."

He stood up and carefully took hold of the device, wrapping it in his coat to hopefully muffle the sound a bit. He carried it through to the bathroom and closed it in there.

"What now?" he whispered irritably.

"I don't know," Sherlock said. "I wasn't actually expecting to be right."

Greg stared at him. "You just wanted an excuse to rip my coat up, didn't you?"

"It was a hideous coat," Sherlock informed him.

"So, what now?"

"I don't know. When's Mycroft back?"

"January."

Sherlock nodded. "Act like nothing happened. Mycroft will know. I’ll contact him."

Greg sighed. "There was a couple at a restaurant we went to. Mycroft was really weird about it."

Sherlock nodded. "Mycroft's always weird."

Greg rolled his eyes. "I'm off to bed. Are you going to be alright? Do you need anything?"

"No."

"What should I do about the coat?"

"Leave it for now. Then throw it away tomorrow, but don't destroy the bug."

Greg nodded. "Night, mate." He went into the bathroom to brush his teeth and stared at the offending item of clothing. Who'd done that? And for how long? And more importantly, why?

He had a restless sleep. He dreamed he was running through a maze, a dark figure chasing him, but he could never find out quite who it was. He never saw them. But the sense of foreboding followed him throughout the entire dream.

In the morning, Greg took the coat over to a charity bin a few roads away. He pushed the garment in, considering the bug and how much someone may have heard. He wore that coat regularly, that much was true. And he and Mycroft had shared a lot while the coat was in the room.

With no way of knowing how long it had been in there it made him feel sick. Like if Mycroft were to be in any sort of danger, it was his fault for bringing the bugged coat into their lives. 

 


 

 

Mycroft called two days later. "Lestrade."

"Don't say a word, just listen to me. Sherlock told me what happened. Don't do anything unusual. We are on top of it, I promise you."

"Myc-"

"-Don't say anything. We are on top of the problem."

Greg bit his lip. There was so much he wanted to say.

"Trust me."

And then Mycroft hung up. Greg stared at his phone as though it had just electrocuted him.

He trusted Mycroft, he really did. But this was all over his head. He was the one in trouble, and he was being kept in the dark. He really did not like it one bit.

 


 

Four days later, Greg received a letter from Mycroft in the post, typed onto thick paper.

 

Dear Greg,
I am terribly sorry about the phone call the other day, I was trying to ease your concerns and not alarm you. I realise now it may have had the opposite effect.
There are many things I want to explain, but I can’t until I see you in person. I hope you understand.
I hope to see you soon.
Kindest regards,
Mycroft Holmes.

 

Greg sighed.

A few days later, Greg picked up the silver envelope in his letterbox. He opened it. It was a Christmas card from Caroline.

 

To Greg,
Merry Christmas,
With love Caroline and Brandon.

 

She’d left the name of her husband-to-be off, which Greg supposed was out of kindness to Greg rather than a sign of the state of their relationship. Inside was another envelope. And the invitation to the wedding reception in February. He threw it away immediately.

Greg was used to days and weeks when he never heard from Mycroft. They didn’t owe each other anything in the messy circumstances in which they had formed some sort of confusing companionship.

So the Christmas card he sent was altogether unexpected and wonderful. On the front was a cartoon reindeer, looking thoroughly miserable as he said “Please stop playing Christmas music.” Greg laughed and opened the card. 

 

Dear Greg,
I will not be offended if you throw this in the bin after reading. I am well aware of your distaste for this time of year - we are very similar in that regard. Nonetheless, have a good Christmas and do not spend the whole occasion alone.
Have a wonderful new year.
Kindest regards,
Mycroft Holmes

 

Out of the envelope, Greg pulled out two tickets to the Arsenal game on the day before Christmas Eve. He stared at them for a while before smiling. He didn’t throw the card away. He placed it on the table, beside the other cards he had been given from Sally, Anderson, Edmund, Carter, Caroline and his dad and Rosa. Of all the cards, the one from Mycroft was the most perfect. It was the only card from someone who seemed to actually know him.

Greg sent a card to the Coeur de Lion offices. He had no idea if anyone would pick it up, but with Mycroft away, it seemed the only way he might be able to get some festive correspondence to him. 

 

To Mycroft,
Merry Christmas. Or Merry belated Christmas if you don't get this until January.
Thank you so much for the gift.
See you soon,
Greg.

 


 

On the day before Christmas Eve, Greg and Sam Brockhurst went to the Emirates for the game. They arrived early to avoid the tube being too packed and spent several hours in the pub down the road.

Greg learnt a lot about Sam throughout the afternoon. First that he was quite a fun guy. Second, he moved to London from Manchester two years ago, and he didn't really know anyone either. He had split with his girlfriend a month ago.

And he supported Arsenal. So all in all, a very good man. And potential mate.

Arsenal won 6-2.

They celebrated at a Wetherspoons, Greg keen to avoid the packed tube, though he never explained why to Sam. Sam was more than happy to go along with it and have another pint.

 


 

He did work over Christmas.

He started with the night shift on Christmas Eve. He slept much of the day, nursing a hangover.

He went to work at 6pm, hoping for a quieter year than the one before. He tore down the tinsel someone had left for him on his computer.

Christmas was, and always would be, the worst time of year for him.

The night shift wasn’t so bad. He heard how terrible things had been for those working the day, and he was grateful for the quiet.

 


 

He went shopping a few days after Boxing Day. He managed to pick up a new coat and several new shirts and jackets in the sales.

He lay in his bed one evening, lying on his back and wishing he was curling up with Mycroft. It caught him by surprise that he wasn’t imagining them having sex. He was imagining something more domestic. Something more relationship-like. Of course, when he came over his hand later that night, it was Mycroft’s name on his lips.

 


 

Mycroft called him on New Year’s Eve. He was sat on his sofa with a beer watching Jools Holland’s annual Hootenanny with Rebels For The Cause: The Alternative History of Arsenal Football Club by Jon Spurling, a book his dad had given him for Christmas, when his phone rang.

Greg smiled at the screen, so glad just to see the name pop up. “Lestrade.”

“Good evening.”

Greg smiled wider. Mycroft wasn’t going to tell him to not talk this time then. “Hello. You alright?”

“Very well, and yourself?”

“I’m good. Being lazy.”

“Good. Thank you for the card.”

“Oh, you got it? Good. Well, thanks for the tickets to the game. It was brilliant.”

“6-2 was it?” Mycroft asked.

“It was. Amazing.”

“I’m glad. Happy new year, Greg.”

Greg smiled. “You too.”

“I’m already in 2007.”

Greg laughed. “I’ve got another half an hour to go.”

“I’ll be home on January 4th.”

“Great.” Greg smiled. “Great.”

There was a pause on the line. “Will I see you?”

“Yes. Yeah, of course. Try and keep me away.”

“Oh, I have no inclination to do that. I need to go.”

“G’night. Thanks for calling.”

“You’re welcome. See you very soon.” Mycroft hung up and Greg sighed, his body warm and content. 

 


 

 

January, 2007

Greg took a long sip of his already-cold coffee and wandered across the room to pour another one when one of the duty constables approached him.

“Sir, we’ve got a kid out in the reception. Claims he killed his step-dad.”

Greg frowned. “A kid?”

“He looks about 16.”

Greg nodded. “Alright. I’ll come out and speak to him.”

He followed the PC through to the reception area where he saw the teenager sat in one of the seats. His head was bowed, arms resting on his knees. Greg took a seat beside him. “My name’s Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade. And we’re talking about something very serious here, so I need you to be straight with me and tell me what’s going on.”

“I just killed my step-dad,” the boy said, his voice so quiet Greg hardly heard it. He looked up and Greg saw the black bruise forming on his eye.

Greg swallowed. “Okay. What’s the address?”

“13 Rutherford Street.”

“I’m going to send some of my team there now. I need you to stay with me, is that alright?”

“Yes, sir.”

Greg raised his eyebrows, surprised at how polite he was being. “What’s your name?”

“Dion Martin.”

“How old are you?”

“14.” Christ, he looked older.

“Have you got a parent we can contact?”

“Mum’s in hospital.”

“Alright. Is there a number we can get her on?”

Dion nodded and read it out. Greg quickly scribbled it out into his notebook. He couldn’t just sit with a 14-year-old kid. He needed a woman. Needed Sally.

Greg beckoned the PC over. “Right. I need you to call Sergeant Donovan and get her out here. I need social services. I need Bullock and Brockhurst to go to 13 Rutherford Street. And I also need someone to call the mum on this number.”

The PC nodded. “Yes, boss.” He went back around to the other side of the desk and called Donovan first. She walked out just a minute later. Greg looked at her, his face grave, and she took a seat on the other side of Dion.

“We can’t question him without his mum or social services present,” Greg told her.

Sally nodded. “We can’t just sit out here either.”

Greg frowned. “Alright, Dion. Here’s what we’re going to do. You, me and Sergeant Donovan here are going to go to my office. I can’t arrest you for anything unless we know what we’re arresting you for. We’ve got two officers going to the address now. But I don’t want to sit out here either. So. We’re going to sit in my office, alright?”

The teenager nodded. “Yes, sir.”

“First, I need Sergeant Donovan to check you for weapons, alright?”

Dion stood, and Sally did the checks. “He’s clear.”

Greg nodded. “Right, my office then.” Sally began walking in front and Greg left Dion in between them as they walked through the building and into his office. Greg sat at his desk and told Dion to take the other chair.

Sally brought another chair to the wall nearby, crossing her arms. The boy sat with his head down.

Greg bit his lip. “You a football fan, mate?” he asked.

Dion looked up at him and forced a smile. “Tottenham.”

“Ah, mate. Arsenal.”

The boy smiled a little. “Rough game the other week,” he said.

“Tell me about it,” Greg agreed. “I was watching it on the TV but my voice was completely gone by the end. What a nightmare. I went to the Blackburn Game though.”

“The 6-2? That was wicked.”

Greg smiled. “Yeah, it was. Berbatov’s been good for your lot.”

“Yeah. I met him last month.”

“Yeah? What’s he like?”

“Decent,” Dion said. “Proper nice guy. He signed my top and had a picture. Do you want to see?”

Greg nodded. “Go for it.” Dion handed his phone over and Greg looked at the picture. “That’s great, mate,” he said, handing the phone back.

“Wish we had Drogba though.”

“You and me both,” Greg agreed. “Do you play?”

Dion nodded. “Twice a week. Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings.”

“Any good?”

“I’m alright.”

“What position?”

“Defence.”

Greg smiled. “I’m a midfield. Or pretend to be.”

Dion laughed, but it sounded hollow.

Greg’s phone rang and he picked it up. “Lestrade.”

“Hi, it’s Ed.”

“Hi. What’s up?”

“We’ve got a body of a man. Stabbed in the stomach twice. The knife’s still here to get fingerprints from. Anderson’s on his way to the scene now.”

Greg felt his heart sink. “Alright. Keep me informed.”

“Yes, boss.”

Greg hung up. The desk officer knocked on the door and Greg nodded for him to come in. He walked over and handed Greg a note.

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

Mum’s in hospital, victim of a domestic assault. The victim is Laurence Martin and he’s the one who assaulted her. She’s in hospital receiving treatment. She was unconscious until half an hour ago, they want to keep her in. Social services on their way. Mum confirms Dion Martin killed Laurence Martin. You are fine to question the kid, with social services present. 

Greg sat back in his chair and nodded. “Alright, thanks.” He passed it to Sally who nodded despondently.

The boy had bowed his head again, his hands folded in his lap. It was a cut and dry case as far as the murderer was concerned. But the murderer was a 14-year-old kid, who had probably just killed his violent and abusive step-dad when he couldn’t take it anymore.

Greg saw it played out in his head without needing to be told what had happened. The step-dad was beating the mum. So badly, she ended up unconscious. The kid intervened, got a smack around the face for his trouble and he just couldn’t take it anymore. So he grabbed a knife and stabbed him twice. He probably took the mum somewhere safe, called for an ambulance. And then handed himself in.

Greg couldn’t blame him. It was devastating. Knowing this polite teenager would be going to prison was a sickening thought.

He couldn’t arrest or question him until the boy had representation, so he did the only thing he knew how. He talked.

“What’s your favourite subject at school?”

“D.T.”

“D.T?”

“Design and technology. We do woodwork and metal work. I’m really good with metal. I want to be a mechanic.” He bit his lip and smiled wistfully. “Well, I did. S’pose there’s not much point wanting that now, is there?”

Greg saw Sally look towards the door to avoid his eyes. She was biting down hard on her bottom lip. Greg swallowed. “C’mon. You can be a mechanic. Why’d you want to be a mechanic?”

“I can’t be a mechanic in jail.”

“We can’t talk about this without social service, mate. Talk to me about school.”

Dion nodded. “Okay. I just like doing stuff with my hands. I like cars. Fast cars.”

“Formula 1?”

“Love Formula 1.”

“I never got the appeal myself. Just cars going round and round a track.”

“It’s the skills. The drivers are amazing. I was reading about the history of it. I have this book, it’s like this thick.” He held up his thumb and index finger. “It’s about the history of F1. And the stuff they did. It was so dangerous.”

Oh God. This wasn’t just a polite kid. This was an intelligent one too, with hopes and dreams and a horrible, violent step-dad he’d just killed to protect his mum.

“Like what?” Greg asked.

“Like there was a massive certainty of dying. They went on the track thinking it would happen every time. Some of the tracks were real dangerous. And the cars weren’t safe either. Jackie Stewart – you know Jackie Stewart?”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of him.”

“He used to tape a screwdriver to the steering wheel in case he had to get himself out of the car.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “Wow, that’s not good.”

“He was amazing,” Dion said. “Such a good racer. I’ve seen videos on YouTube. He was awesome.”

Another knock on the door came, confirming a woman from social services had arrived. She walked into the room and smiled sympathetically at Greg before introducing herself.

“My name’s Anna Rowe,” she said, walking over to Dion. “I’m going to explain the procedure to you now and I’m going to be sat with you the whole time. If you’re tired or finding it difficult, we can ask for a time out, okay?”

Dion nodded. “Yes, mam.”

Greg stood. "We need to go to the interview room now. Anna, I'll give you a bit of time with him if you want it?"

She nodded. "Thanks, Lestrade."

Greg led them all through the office and through to the room. He'd worked with Anna Rowe a few times. She did her job well, and she and Greg had a lot of respect for one another. She was brilliant with the kids, whether they were suspects, witnesses or victims. And Greg trusted her to tell this kid everything he needed to know, while pressing on him the fact that anything he told her wasn't a secret. She could be called in as a witness too if necessary.

Greg and Sally gave them five minutes in the room. Sally shook her head. "I want to just let him walk out of here," she said. "I know how this is going to go."

"Yeah, me too," Greg said. "Brave kid. Brave, smart kid."

They stood in silence outside the room before finally walking in and taking some seats. Anna smiled politely at them and Greg turned on the tape.

"This is Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade with Sergeant Sally Donovan at-" he checked his watch. "-4.23pm on January 4, 2007. In here with me is Anna Rowe from social services. We have Dion Martin, a suspect in the murder of Laurence Martin. Can you state your name, age, date of birth and address for the record please?"

Dion did as he was told. His voice shook a bit. Greg nodded encouragingly at him.

He read him his rights.

"Alright. Can you tell me your relationship with the deceased. That's Laurence Martin, please."

Dion rubbed his eyes. "He was my step-dad."

"How long for?"

"Four years."

"Can you tell me what happened today?"

Dion swallowed. "I killed him."

Greg saw Sally's lips pressed tightly together, one hand gripping the table. Greg knew exactly how she felt. Anna was sat calmly opposite her. Thank God someone in this room was holding it together.

"What happened?" Greg asked gently.

"He... he beat my mum." Dion’s bottom lip trembled.

"It's okay," Anna said.

"He was proper battering her. I've seen him do it loads of times but not like this it was... She was screaming and crying and trying to get me to go away. And then he gave her another hit and she fell and I... I lost it. I just lost it." He shook his head. "I lost it."

"What happened?"

"I grabbed a knife and I... I just stabbed him."

"How many times?"

"Twice, sir."

"Did he strike you?" Greg asked.

"Yeah. Yeah, once round the head, but it doesn't hurt."

"What room were you in?"

"The kitchen, sir. He's been beating my mum up since they got married. I just... I lost it, I couldn't deal with it anymore. And she's safe now. She's safe."

"What did you do after you'd stabbed him?" Greg asked.

"I picked my mum up. I carried her to the church down the road, and called an ambulance. I sat outside hiding 'til it came and then... then I came here, sir. I broke the law and mum brought me up proper, y'know? She said people who do wrong things should be punished for them. So. So, I'm here now."

"We're going to take prints from the knife. Who's will they be?" Greg asked.

"They'll be mine."

"Where was the knife when you took it?"

"It was on the side. Mum had been making dinner when he started smacking her around." Dion rubbed his face. "But she's safe now," he said resolutely. "She's gonna be safe now."

“Alright, mate. Here’s what we’re going to do now. We need to wait for some fingerprints to come through. Sergeant Donovan will take your fingerprints and go through some paperwork. Anna will be here the whole time. If you want to pause at anytime, just tell her and she’ll sort it.” Greg stood. "Anna, will you talk him through the process?"

"Of course." 

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

 

Greg nodded at Dion and mouthed 'good lad' at him. He stood up and made for the door.

"What's prison like?" Dion asked.

Greg turned and frowned at him. "It's no walk in the park. Look, I shouldn't probably say this, but I like you, kid. You've got stuck in a shit situation, and you did what you could to protect your mum."

"Lestrade-" Anna cut in but Greg shook his head.

"No, I need to say this. Prison, even youth prison, is a tough place to be. But you do something for your mum, yeah? You listening?"

"I'm listening."

"Keep your head down. Stay outta trouble. Do your GCSEs. They might even do mechanics training courses, I don't know. Work hard, alright? Don't just fall into the traps the other kids do. Make your mum proud."

"I'll make you proud too, sir. I promise."

"You don't owe me anything, mate."

"I was really scared, Inspector. I'm glad it was you who spoke to me."

Greg stared at him and swallowed. "Alright. Make me proud. I'll be keeping an eye on you, y'hear?"

Dion smiled a bit.

"Good lad," Greg said softly and walked out because he couldn't bear to look at him anymore. Greg walked briskly to his office and shut the door. He rubbed his hands over his face, closing his eyes. God damn it.

Sally walked in a minute later. "That was amazing, Lestrade. How you were with him."

"It's killing me," Greg admitted.

"I know. Are you coming to the pub tonight?"

Greg hesitated. "No. I'm going to. Something else."

"See Mycroft?"

"Yeah."

Sally smiled. "Good. Too many of us are lonely around here. I'm glad you won't be another one."

"He's going to struggle in jail. He's too nice."

"I know."

"It's not right to kill people, Sally. But that bloke had it coming."

Sally nodded. "How long will he get?"

"I'm not sure. Mycroft will know. I'll ask him."

 


 

Greg drove to Crusader House at 7.54pm. He didn't know if Mycroft would be there or if he'd want to see him or would be busy, but he was the only person in the world he wanted to see right now. So even if it was just for a minute, it would be worth it.

The butler was having none of it. "You don't have an appointment, sir."

"I don't need a bloody appointment to see him."

"You do, sir. Everyone needs an appointment."

"He will want to see me. And if he doesn't then I will come straight back out. Look, I’ve been coming here for months. Have you ever seen him kick me out?"

The butler stared at him. "Very well. On your head be it."

Greg rolled his eyes and strolled through the door. Mycroft was sat on the sofa, and Greg smiled a bit even just at the back of his head. Mycroft turned to look at him. He smiled warmly for a split second before his face fell. “Oh, Greg. What happened?”

Greg sat down on the other side of the sofa. He wanted nothing more than to feel Mycroft's arms around him, but he needed to explain first. He needed to explain without falling apart.

"We had a 14-year-old kid come in. Killed his step-dad. He was violent and abusive for years and. Well. Kid came in to confess."

"I am sorry."

Greg shook his head. "Just a really shit day. He is such a good kid. Bright and polite and he wanted to be a mechanic. It just. It got to me, that's all."

"I understand."

Greg looked at him. "How much time will he get?"

"A good lawyer will instruct him to plead guilty to murder. They will use the defence of provocation. Was the killing premeditated?"

"No. It happened in the kitchen, and he just grabbed a knife off the side."

"Good. That will help. His confession and plea will contribute to a lesser sentence. Has he been in trouble with the law before?"

"No, totally clean record."

"No more than five years then," Mycroft said. 

"Five years in jail?"

"Maximum. Has he got a lawyer?"

"Only on legal aid."

"I will see to it that he has a good one."

Greg stared at him. "You don't need to do that."

"I know. But I want to. Please. Allow me."

Greg was too exhausted to try to argue. "Yeah. Please. Thank you."

"No need to thank me."

Greg looked down at his knees and then back at Mycroft. "I missed you."

"And I, you."

Greg smiled a bit and shuffled over the sofa towards him. They looked at each other for a second before Greg finally kissed him. He savoured the feel of his soft lips against his. They shared several small kisses, just enjoying each other. Mycroft touched his cheek. Greg forced a smile and pressed their foreheads together. "Enough about me. How was your day?"

“I worked with secret services in three separate European countries to prevent a coordinated terrorist attack.”

Greg raised his eyebrows. “Holy shit. That’s… that’s unbelievable.”

Mycroft's face fell a bit. It meant a lot to Greg that he wasn't masking anything. “There was an unexpected explosion in a fourth country," he murmured, his voice distant and lost. "120 people died and counting.”

“Mycroft… God. I’m so…” Greg shook his head. There weren’t any apologies or condolences he could give to make that better. So instead, he dropped his head to Mycroft’s chest, entwining Mycroft’s fingers with his own as he listened to his steady heartbeat. Mycroft’s lips were pressed against Greg’s forehead as they lay there, legs wrapped up in each other’s.

What else could they do, what was there ever to say?

"I'm sorry," Greg whispered. "I just barged in here and-"

"Shh. No apologies. I'm glad you're here."

Greg looked at him. "Me too."

Mycroft wrapped his arms around him and held him close to his chest. Greg surreptitiously inhaled his scent. He knew he'd missed him. He hadn't realised it was this much.

They lay together in silence, their legs entwined and Mycroft's thumb caressing his knuckles. Greg allowed himself to relax, just enjoy. He was so relived to be back here. Back in his arms. And though he didn’t want to let those thoughts into his head, though he wanted to pretend it hardly mattered, he couldn’t do it. This was where he wanted to be.

“Would you like a tea or a coffee?” Mycroft asked.

“Coffee would be good, thanks.”

Mycroft kissed his forehead and stood up. Greg watched him go, brushing his hand through his hair. He sat for a few moments, just looking around the familiar living room, before getting up and wandering to the kitchen.

Mycroft was just pouring their drinks when Greg stepped behind him, resting his chin against Mycroft’s shoulder. Mycroft leaned back against him.

“Sorry,” Greg murmured.

“What on earth for?”

“I’m being needy,” Greg mumbled. “It’s not a… a good thing really.”

Mycroft turned around and looked at him. “You’ve had a difficult day.”

“So have you.”

Mycroft’s arms wrapped around his neck and Greg dropped his head onto his shoulder. “It’s alright,” Mycroft murmured. Greg wrapped his arms around his waist, sighing.

Mycroft pulled back from the hug and Greg glanced at his face. He felt like Mycroft was trying to read his mind so he looked past him, staring at the oven instead. “It’s perfectly normal,” Mycroft said. “To think things will be different after a month.”

Greg frowned and looked back at him. “What?”

“I still want to have sex with you, Greg.”

“Oh. I wasn’t. I don’t think I was worried about that.”

“No?”

Greg bit his lip. “Okay, I didn’t realise I was worried about that.”

Mycroft smiled and stroked Greg’s cheek with the backs of his fingers. “Let me finish making these coffees and then you can tell me all about your Christmas.”

“Not much to tell,” Greg said, stepping aside to let Mycroft reach for the milk.

“I very much doubt that. But I will fill you in on my month if you’d prefer. Oh, and talk to you about the bugging equipment.”

Greg had almost forgotten about that. “Right, yeah, okay.”

He stood and watched as Mycroft finished making their coffees and found a biscuit to put on either side of the saucers. Greg took his own cup from him and carried it back through to the living room where Mycroft joined him on the sofa.

“So, what have you been up to?” Greg asked him, dunking his biscuit in the hot drink and taking a bite.

“Numerous things. It’s expected the Kazakhstan president will head the Organisation For Security and Cooperation In Europe in 2009.”

Greg frowned. “I have no idea what that is and why is that being decided now?”

“Because of oil. It’s a security-orientated organisation, preoccupied mostly with arms control, freedom of the press and human rights. Kazakhstan has oil, so Nazarbayev is likely to get the post. Belgium and the UK are behind his campaign. The United States is not.”

“Because we want cheap oil?” Greg asked.

“Any oil will do,” Mycroft replied. “So that was the first thing. There were some unexpected security matters I cannot discuss. I spent time in Russia the majority of the month. We have been trying, with some difficulty, to convince them to extradite suspects associated with the radioactive poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. He died in London in November after cooperating with MI6 on various matters.”

“I remember,” Greg said. “It was all over the news.”

Mycroft nodded. “It’s going to rumble on for years, I assure you. Eliza Manningham-Buller stepped down from her position at the head of MI5. And I think that is all I can discuss with you.”

Greg smiled a bit and sipped his coffee. He pulled a face as he burnt his tongue. “Sounds like you’ve been busy.”

“Very. Greg, you’re incredibly impatient. You can’t drink water which has just reached boiling point. You do it every single time you drink a hot drink, I can’t understand how you haven’t learnt by now.”

Greg looked at him and laughed. “Shut up.”

Mycroft chuckled and ate his biscuit. “How has your month been?”

“Not bad. Easily wrapped up cases, a few days in court, I did the night shift over Christmas. That was better than last year. Just watched sport on TV and was quiet really.”

Mycroft nodded and sipped from his coffee. “There, you see. Perfect temperature now.”

Greg laughed and gently nudged his thigh. “Stop it.”

Mycroft smiled at him. “How do you do it?”

“Do what?” Greg asked, looking at him.

“Make it so quiet.”

“Funny that,” Greg murmured. “I had your brother asking me how you seemed so quiet when his brain was so loud.”

Mycroft frowned a bit. “Is he okay?”

“The usual, I think. I haven’t seen much of him. I’ve done a couple of drug hunts at his flat. He’s ignoring you on purpose.”

“I know.”

Greg nodded and sipped his drink. It was a tolerable temperature this time. He noted that burnt feeling on his tongue. It never lasted too long anyway. Greg placed his spare hand on Mycroft’s thigh and smiled when the other man threaded their fingers together. They sat and enjoyed the rest of their coffees and biscuits in the quiet, watching the fire flickering on the other side of the room.

Greg eventually put his cup down on the table and tilted his body closer into Mycroft’s. Mycroft leaned forward to put his own cup down.

They curled up again, Mycroft’s hand finding Greg’s upper back where he rubbed slow circles with his fingers, easing away the tension of the day. Greg gradually relaxed against him.

“Greg," Mycroft whispered after a while.

Greg looked at him. “Yeah?”

“I want you.”

Greg's breath caught at those words. His chest clenched. Oh God. ”You’ve got me," he managed to say as he looked up. Mycroft's lips found his. The kiss was slow, exploring, hesitant. Greg wished he could say everything would be okay, just with a kiss.

He couldn’t. But he’d try.

They kissed as though it was the only thing in the world that could keep them alive. Greg moved closer, sliding a hand around Mycroft’s neck.

Their bodies found a comfortable position against each other as a hard kiss became more tender again, lips exploring with different pressures. It felt so normal to be kissing Mycroft again. Like they hadn’t ever been apart.

Greg lifted his head and Mycroft’s thumb stroked his top lip as his other fingers pressed tightly against his jaw, like he was trying to keep Greg right there, so he knew he was real. Greg flicked his tongue out, licking his thumb before drawing it into his mouth. Mycroft’s eyes widened as he sucked on it, holding Mycroft’s eyes. Mycroft moved his hand away, kissing Greg with urgency. Need took over all of Greg’s senses as they deepened the kiss, Greg pulling at Mycroft’s clothing but getting no real purchase nor making any real effort to push it aside.

Mycroft’s teeth grazed his bottom lip and he pulled back, holding onto Greg and keeping their faces close. “Alright?” Greg asked.

“I believe we should move to the bedroom,” Mycroft murmured, his eyes ducking to Greg’s lips.

“Oh yeah,” Greg breathed out. “Yeah, that’s good. We should.”

He untangled himself from Mycroft’s embrace, adjusting his clothes. Mycroft stood and Greg followed him to the door. Greg took in a long breath as he realised he was about to be let into Mycroft’s bedroom for the first time.

Floor-to-ceiling wood panels lined the room, surrounding a bed with deep red sheets in the centre. The furniture - a cupboard, a chest of drawers and a bedside cabinet either side of the bed - were all dark wood.

Greg let out a soft breath as Mycroft closed the curtains, turning on a single lamp so the room was filled with its warm glow. They looked at each other from across the room. Greg smiled slowly, raking his eyes down his body.

Mycroft stalked towards him and Greg drew him into a kiss, wrapping his arms around his waist and walking them towards the bed. Greg sat down on it, kicking his shoes off and lying down. Mycroft bent down to untie his own shoes, leaving them neatly beside the wall.

He looked down at Greg for a few seconds before crawling onto the bed and kissing him again.

Greg had his body pressed against Mycroft’s, his hands lingering over his hips, moving to touch his backside, feeling him shift more firmly against his body as he did so. His mind felt as though it was running in slow motion, every action realised a few moments after it happened.

Greg heard himself let out a soft, desperate sigh as Mycroft’s tongue made one long strong lick down the side of his neck, and he reached up to thread his fingers through Mycroft’s hair.

Hard lingering kisses replaced his tongue, and they moved to Greg’s throat, and Greg felt his breath sound shaky as it exited his mouth and he closed his eyes. They lay there for a while like that, fully clothed, just kissing and enjoying the feel of being this close to somebody again after what had felt like so long.

Mycroft’s lips pressed against his, closing against his bottom lip and sucking it gently. Greg moved his hands to Mycroft’s waistcoat, carefully unfastening the buttons with as much care as he possible while trying to push his tongue into his mouth.

Greg made soft sounds in his throat as their tongues flicked together. Bitter, coffee-flavoured kisses intermingled with sweetness