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Reflections

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Hushed voices were like hammers against his head. He couldn’t make them out, only that they were drifting from nearby. As he slowly woke, Greg regained some awareness of his body. Pain radiated from his head, and he felt some discomfort in his chest. Blearily, he opened his eyes.

The light was harsh, but he managed to make out that he was in a room – possibly a hospital – and that he was lying in a bed.
Right, so, a hospital is likely.

“Greg?”

He moved his eyes towards the voice, to see a man sitting in the chair beside him. He squinted, taking a moment to ascertain his identity. It was none other than Mycroft Holmes, albeit looking a far cry from how he usually did. Instead of pristine clothing, his attire was rumpled and askew. His tie had been pulled out and seemed to be hanging limply on the chair behind him, upon the shed grey jacket. He sat there with his sleeves rolled up, elbows resting on his knees. Greg couldn’t remember seeing him more dishevelled in his life, and he’d seen him at his worst.

“It’s ok Greg, you’re alright, you’re safe,” Mycroft said softly, sitting upright. Greg frowned, confused. He tried to speak, but it proved more difficult than anticipated.
“Your throat will undoubtedly be sore. I’m afraid I can’t give you water at the moment; I will have to wait until John or the nurse returns.”
Greg gently nodded his head. He winced at the pain. The moment he did, Mycroft’s hand clasped his. He frowned in confusion again, his eyes questioning Mycroft.
“I-I thought… I was so worried, Greg,” he admitted, not releasing his grip.
Worried about what? What happened?

“This must be a lot to take in, I realise, however I cannot pretend I do not care about you to the extent that I do any longer. I believe it would be a pointless endeavour,” Mycroft chuckled, casting a glance down at himself. “Particularly since the nurses all believe me to be your partner. We… we can talk when you’re more awake, but I thought it best to be upfront with you from the start.”

Greg remained dumbstruck. He’d barely opened his eyes, and the man he’d spent the last six or so years pining over was admitting feelings towards him? More than that, to being his partner? No, it had to be a dream. Yes, he decided, it was all a drunken dream and he was in his bed with a hangover about to wake up. Perhaps there would be a filthy interlude before the necessary waking up…

“Oh, Greg, you’re awake.”

John’s voice resounded in the small room loudly, at least, for him. He wished his friend closed the door quieter too. He winced at the noise. Greg turned his head slowly to see John Watson walking towards him, a smile on his face.

“You’ve been out for some time, Greg, so try not to be alarmed that your body isn’t responding as you want it to.”
“He’s having trouble speaking,” Mycroft said.
“Understandable,” John responded, sitting down on the chair near the door. “That should clear up soon now that you’re awake. How long?”
“Only a minute or so,” Mycroft answered.
“Oh, good timing then.”

Greg pursed his lips. He was confused, and it was starting to feel less like a dream and more of a nightmare. He started to feel panic swell in his chest, and he tried to speak again. The air rasped his dry throat, and he managed only a moaning sound amidst reflexive coughs.

“Calm down, Greg. It’s ok. You’re safe now. You don’t have to worry.”

Why did everyone feel the need to reassure him that he was safe? What the hell happened? His memories were blurry at best, and he couldn’t discern which were his most recent ones before waking up. It was unsettling, but he found focusing on Mycroft’s grip of his hand was comforting. He took a deep breath and tried to talk again.

“What – what happened?”
“What’s the last thing you remember, Greg?” John asked. Greg could only frown and shake his head.
“Why can’t he remember?” Mycroft asked, sounding concerned.
“It’s not unusual, Mycroft, for someone to have difficulty remembering things after coming out of a coma. This isn’t an indication of damage. Just give it a bit of time, alright?”
Coma? Did he say coma? How long have I been here? Judging by Mycroft’s appearance, it could have been a while… the man looks like he’s barely slept for a week.

“Hurts,” Greg murmured, lifting his hand up to his head, only to find it bandaged.
“I can speak to the nurses, but I think you’re on about as much painkillers as you can take right now. I’ll go and tell them you’re conscious. I’d recommend Mycroft leave so you can get your bearings in the quiet, but wrenching him away from your bedside has been nigh impossible since you got here.”

Greg watched silently as John walked away. He turned his attention back to Mycroft, and squeezed his hand softly to show that he didn’t mind the comfort.

“John has been wonderful this past week,” Mycroft said distantly. “I know I have hounded the staff more than I strictly should have. He managed to placate them when I was unreasonably brash, and so they understood it was not personal, merely due to the stress I was under. They permitted me to stay with you, and inform me of anything I wanted; I admit I was a most difficult partner of their patient until they did so,” he mused, but then frowned at his knees. He then cleared his throat and turned his attention solely back to Greg. “Regarding my feelings. I know I behaved somewhat aloof towards you in the past. Or, at the very least, confusing. I attempted to maintain a professional distance from you, and I must admit that it was both for your perceived benefit as well as my own cowardice. But then my world was thrown into disarray when you… well.”
“Mycroft… I don’t remember anything.”

His friend gave him a concerned grimace. “Just give it some time, as John said. He’s a psychiatrist after all, and so I trust his decisions.”
“Alright. I just… it’s unsettling. Why am I here? Why does it hurt?”
Mycroft just stared into his eyes. There was something in them that grabbed Greg’s attention. It was more than pity; it was a deep worry.
“We almost lost you,” he spoke softly. “Your throat likely hurts because of the intubation tube. We had not anticipated–” Mycroft clasped his mouth shut, as if he’d not been aware of the words spilling out. “You received a severe head injury,” he said, changing the topic. Greg was still feeling too groggy to question him.
“Ah,” he vocalised, connecting that with the bandage he’d felt earlier. “How?”
“I believe it better not to say at this point. However, I will say that I am immensely relieved that you are so alert so soon. I was afraid there was going to be some damage done, or at the very least that it would take some time for you to return to yourself.”

Before Greg to ask more questions, John returned with whom he assumed was his doctor. She asked both Mycroft and John to leave the room whilst she conducted her tests, and Greg felt the loss of contact with Mycroft’s hand more than he expected.

By the time Mycroft returned, Greg was feeling exhausted. His entire body was sore from the strength and movement tests done, and he was mentally drained from answering questions. He could tell from the doctor’s expressions that some of his answers were concerning, and it was playing on his mind. He wanted to talk with Mycroft more about the sudden revelation of feelings towards him, and where exactly they stood (he wasn’t about to decline a relationship, since it was everything he’d been dreaming about for years – it was just difficult to wake up and suddenly have a partner), but found himself drifting to sleep as soon as the man took his hand again.

He woke again to find that Mycroft hadn’t moved, even though the light from the window suggested it had been some hours.
“Hello, again.”
“Hey, Mycroft,” he answered groggily. “You stayed here the whole time?”
“Of course,” Mycroft said, and lifted a book from his lap. “Simply doing some reading.” He set the book aside. “How are you feeling?”
“Like shit,” he answered honestly. “You being here makes it better, though.”
Mycroft’s smile warmed his heart. It was so genuine. “I’m pleased.”
“Before, when I first woke up, I thought I was dreaming.”
“I suppose that’s not particularly unusual. You were in a strange place with no recollection of arriving.”
“No,” he chuckled, “because of you. I woke up and suddenly the man of my dreams was there telling me he cared for me. I’m sure you knew. I am not the best at keeping things hidden.”
“You wear your heart on your sleeve, this is true. However I was unaware that your affections towards me were in fact genuine until John mentioned it after you arrived. I believe I dismissed the signs as wishful thinking on my part.”

Greg closed his eyes and lay back in the bed with a smile. He didn’t know what had happened, but at least whatever it was had caused Mycroft to take the first step. Suddenly he was concerned about what it all meant, and what was expected of him in the not too distant future. He tensed and moved to sit upright.

“Relax, Greg. I can tell you’re upset concerning yourself with questions regarding us. Don’t be. I’m here however you want me, however you’ll have me, and for however long you want. I would prefer it if we proceeded slowly, so you are more settled with the situation. Given, of course, you want this. I realise this has all been thrust upon you. For now, your main focus should be just healing. We can discuss everything else later.”
Greg swallowed. “Thank you,” he said, feeling the knot in his chest loosen. “It’s all a bit… much, right now.”
“The doctors have recommended you stay here for a further two weeks for observation before you can be released. I wanted you to consider coming back to my home for your recovery. You should not be alone, at least initially, and I would very much welcome your presence.”
“So first you say you want to go slow, then ask if I will move in with you?”
“No, that’s not– I didn’t – ah, I see, you’re making a joke. At least your sense of humour has remained intact.”
“Unfortunately for you,” Greg snickered. He stopped once the movement aggravated his head, and groaned instead. Mycroft’s hand squeezed tighter. “Sorry. I’m alright.”
“You will be. John has said he will oversee your health for the indeterminable future. I understand the Yard doesn’t exactly permit friends to be also the consulting professional in medical matters, but they have consented that John may overlook your progress provided that you also report occasionally with someone else here at the hospital.”

“I don’t want to think about work right now,” he mumbled. Now that it was brought up, he was wondering how things were at Scotland Yard. If he’d been gone a week as suspected, then someone would have had to have stepped in for him. He wasn’t sure if he had enough sick leave saved up, but he guessed it was extenuating circumstances. Well, if he was injured while on duty, he’d get the leave. Not being able to remember a thing about what happened was still gnawing at him uncomfortably.
“Apologies,” Mycroft said, and fell silent while Greg pondered. A thought suddenly struck him.
“Aren’t you supposed to be working?”
“I have taken leave,” Mycroft answered matter-of-factly. “Anthea arranged it. I believe I have another week of no duties, and a further three days of working from home, or here, barring attendance at important meetings. Admittedly, I rather just fled the building once I had been informed.”
“Are you going to tell me what happened yet?”
“No.”
“I’m sorry? Why not?”
“John and the staff believe it better for you not to know.”
“Why bloody not?” Greg snapped, agitated.

“Because,” John said as he entered the room, “if your mind has suppressed the memory, then bringing up that trauma could inhibit your recovery. When you remember on your own, you’ll be ready to know.”
“Sounds like some of the bullshit you spout off in the pub,” Greg sneered, but his anger was more a reflection of the terror bubbling away in his gut over the lost memories. “Sorry,” he mumbled, seeing the affronted expression on his friend’s face.
“That’s alright. I know it’s going to be a lot to process for a while and you’ll get frustrated you can’t know everything right now.”
“All you need to know is that whatever happens, you’re safe here with us, and you’re not alone.” Mycroft added. His words were comforting, and helped ease the tension inside him. Greg nodded. In actuality, he already felt less alone than he had since his divorce seven years ago – just from the supportive grip of Mycroft’s hand.

Chapter Text

“Good morning, Mr Lestrade.”
Greg smiled cordially at the doctor entering the room. She had a file in her hands, and took a seat at his bedside.
“I’m here to just assess some of your memory, if that’s alright?”
Greg nodded. He’d found that his memory had returned well in the three days he’d been awake, aside from anything to do with what had hospitalised him in the first place. No one would tell him what happened after he arrived, either. He therefore didn’t expect this doctor to.
“Wonderful. I’m just going to ask you a few general questions, then some about yourself, ok?”

Greg was able to get the year and month right, but struggled with the day. She said that it was to be expected, and it wasn’t an issue. He answered the questions about his life, such as growing up in Essex, when he’d joined the force, and when he was promoted to Detective Inspector. She thankfully steered clear of the train-wreck that was his past marriage.
“Well, that all seems good. Now, are you able to tell me who has been visiting you?”
“Mycroft,” he answered immediately.
“Mhm,” the doctor hummed, making a note. “And who is he?”
“He’s…” Greg had to frown. What was Mycroft to him now? They hadn’t really had a conclusive conversation about that. Or, at least, one Greg could remember. Recent events were still rather foggy. Were they partners now? He knew the staff thought so, and Mycroft talked of having feelings for him. Greg certainly wasn’t opposed to being Mycroft’s partner, but he at least wanted to be a part of the conversation deciding to begin a relationship. Doubt still nibbled in his mind that it was all a ploy to trick the staff into giving Mycroft what he wanted.  

“Why don’t we skip that for now,” she said gently, writing more notes in his file.
“I know who he is, I just… don’t know where I stand with him right now,” Greg said indignantly. He watched as the doctor raised her eyebrow. “I’ve known him for almost ten years, and he’s been a good friend for at least seven of those. We met through Sherlock.”
“Ok. That’s good. And Sherlock is?”
“Mycroft’s younger brother. He works at the Yard, as a forensic toxicologist. But when I met him, while on a case, he was just a junkie kid. I helped him, with Mycroft, to turn his life around and eventually get the job at the Yard.”
“That’s good of you. So Mycroft also works with you?”
“Oh, no; I have no idea what he does. Something in the government. And,” Greg added pointedly, “I never really knew; I haven’t just forgotten.”

The doctor smiled at him, and it just occurred to Greg that he actually didn’t know her name. She’d probably introduced herself at some point.
Oh well, I’ll just keep that to myself.
“That’s fine, Mr Lestrade,” she chuckled. “I see you have had Dr Watson visit you frequently.”
“Yeah; he’s a mate, also from work. The Yard’s trauma psychiatrist. I think he’s worked here before or something,” he answered. He received a courteous nod. “His friend, Mike Stamford, has come up from the surgical theatre to say hi too. Well, I say ‘his’, but he’s really mine as well; we just met through John. Old medical school buddies or something. Mike’s a good bloke; it was nice of him to drop by.”

That was it for the list of people seeing him. He had a sneaking suspicion that John was keeping anyone else away for the time being. He didn’t particularly mind, since he was rather exhausted most of the time. The doctor asked a few more questions before leaving, and Greg had the feeling that he’d passed the test albeit with a few mistakes.

~

Mycroft visited at every opportunity. Greg was grateful, as it gave him some company at the very least. He knew a lot about Mycroft already, more so than most people seemed to, but in the hours sitting alone in the room with him Greg found that he bonded more and more with the man.

They did end up having a semblance of a conversation regarding their relationship; it was mostly just Greg agreeing that he wasn’t upset by the situation. He would have preferred more details to be explained, such as what it was Mycroft wanted, but found himself unwilling to bring it up. Mycroft tended to spook easily, and Greg feared stopping him from being demonstrably affectionate to ask questions would cause him to back off entirely.

It seemed that once the ice had been broken, that intimacy barrier shattered, Mycroft was a very tactile person. Greg was surprised, given Mycroft’s general aversion to familiar contact, but thrilled. He enjoyed having his hand stroked softly whilst Mycroft read, the gentle stroke of a thumb over his skin, and even fingers running through his hair as he listened to stories Mycroft told him. It was the most relaxed he’d been in a long time, even if he found himself longing for more. There was still a question looming over how close to be; he ached to cuddle with him and to kiss him, but Mycroft seemed still too hesitant for him to try bridging that gap.

He found that he was regaining the strength to sit upright longer, and to walk briefly about the ward. He still had a killer of a headache and aching in his ribs and gut, but the doctors didn’t seem too concerned. He’d managed to return to somewhat normal function-wise, despite the pains and lethargy, and apparently he was making good progress for the time. It had been a week, and he was itching to get out of the hospital. He considered himself well enough to leave now, but Mycroft reminded him to stay. He obliged, if only to keep his new partner happy.

“Are you going to tell me what you do for a living yet, or am I never going to know?” Greg asked out of the blue, while Mycroft was typing away at his laptop. He’d started having to work from the hospital today, since his two-and-a-bit week absence was up.
“You know what I do, Gregory,” he muttered, not taking his eyes off the screen.
“I know you work for the government.”
“Yes, I’m a Civil Servant.”
“That’s not an explanation.”
“It would be if you knew what one did,” Mycroft mumbled, rolling his eyes dramatically as he often did. He then smiled at Greg, so he knew it was all done kindly. “I liaise with the government in multiple departments, therefore it is difficult to explain the exact nature of my work.”
“Difficult because of the Official Secrets Act?”
“Well,” Mycroft laughed, “I admit there is an aspect of that. However it is not what you are undoubtedly picturing.”
“What am I picturing?”
“Something akin to the James Bond films, I imagine.”
“I’ve seen you in a tux. You look better.”

Mycroft flushed bright red, and adverted his eyes. Greg grinned. He had always enjoyed giving Mycroft compliments. The man always shied away from them but managed to swell with pride as if it was the first time he’d ever heard them. In a way it made Greg sad to think that, but it motivated him to be bolder and praise his friend where he could. Mycroft deserved to feel better about himself. It was only now that his comments were actually received how he’d intended them.

“I sit in on meetings and analyse the people there, then give recommendations to my superiors. I have little to do with the content of the meetings.”
“Analyse how? I think you’ve told me this before, actually… it’s ringing a bell.”
“I don’t mind. It’s only been a week; you’re bound to need some reminders,” Mycroft mused, leaning back in his chair. Greg missed the soft touch of his skin already. “You know how my brother is hyperaware of details, and can make dramatic conclusions from observing those details?”
“Yes, of course; I’m not that far gone as to forget the reason I took interest in him, the little Poirot.”
“Indeed,” Mycroft chuckled. His smile was fond, remembering those years ago. “Well, I do the same with people, and their intentions. I can tell instantly when people are lying, or hiding things. The little nuances people make are second nature to me, and I can tell if they have honourable intentions or if they are not to be trusted.”
“Oh, yeah, right. I think I knew that. Didn’t I call you a… what was it? The lady from Star Trek? Betazoid?”
“You did, indeed. It’s not… an entirely inaccurate descriptor on the face of it. I can read a person’s emotions and mental state as easily as a newspaper, just like my brother can make startling deductions based on obscure details coupled with his seemingly boundless knowledge of pointless facts.”

Greg nodded to himself. He didn’t think he’d gotten much more out of Mycroft before, despite his suspicions there was something more going on. He shrugged mentally, remembering he’d decided years ago that Mycroft just naturally had an air of mystery to him. Maybe because he knew how to detect emotions and subtleties about people that he knew how to hide it, and that’s what made it seem like he was being secretive.

“My brother has been harassing Sally Donovan for access to crime scenes,” Mycroft stated.
“Good luck to him. Sally’s the best Sergeant I have, and does not like Sherlock. If she’s the one filling in for me while I’m away, then Sherlock’s going to have to just deal with only getting the information he needs to do his job.”
“I was not asking you to speak with her,” Mycroft said, pursing his lips.
“No, I know; sorry if I sounded upset. I guess I just wanted to explain. Sherlock doesn’t really understands boundaries.”
“Never has,” Mycroft reminded him. “As a child, he was very much disliked for that reason. Did you know he once broke into his bully’s bedroom in the night to see if he slept differently to cause the seemingly irrational hatred of him?”
Greg laughed, and then had to hold his head. “No, but it does sound like something he’d do. I mean, he’s broken into my flat often enough.”

They fell back into a comfortable silence as Mycroft continued to work on his laptop and Greg rested in the bed. He heard voices from outside the door, but couldn’t tell what they were saying. They were faint, but sounded aggressive.
“Sounds like someone’s upset,” he commented, looking at the door.
“Hm? What makes you say that?”
“Oh, just the shouting.”
“What shouting?”
“That,” he said, indicating towards the door.
Mycroft looked at him with concern. “Greg, no one is shouting.”
“Not in here, no, but somewhere in the ward.”
“No,” Mycroft countered, “it’s completely silent, Greg.” He stood up and bent over the bed to look directly into Greg’s eyes. “Are you feeling alright?”

Cold washed over him at the realisation that Mycroft wasn’t lying, and that he could still hear voices that apparently weren’t there. He swallowed uncomfortably. “I-I can still hear it,” he uttered. “The voices.”
“What are they saying?”
“I can’t tell; it’s muffled noise, like someone’s shouting through a door. Oh, god, Mycroft, it’s not there is it? It’s in my head. Something’s wrong, isn’t it? The injury broke–”
“Gregory, calm down,” Mycroft urged, but the panic in Greg’s chest didn’t oblige. He started to gasp for breath. He felt shaky.

No, I can’t have brain damage… I just can’t, I can’t deal with that. I have to be fine, I have to get my life back, it was just starting to turn out how I wanted it, what with Mycroft… he’s not going to want a crazy man! The Yard won’t want me either, and I need that… it was all I had after the divorce, it’s such a big part of my life…

“Greg, just focus on us, ok? It’s ok. Everything is fine. Just breathe for us, ok?”
Greg was suddenly aware that there was another person in the room, but he didn’t recognise them. Mycroft’s hand squeezed his shoulder, and it made it easier to focus on his concerned expression hovering over him. He did as he was told, and copied Mycroft’s breathing pattern, until he was settled once again. He wasn’t sure where all that had come from.

“Greg, have you had a history of panic attacks or anxiety in the past?”
He shook his head at the nurse. “Job gets stressful at times, but no, not anxiety like that… it was like I couldn’t breathe, like I was being suffocated.”
She looked pensive for a moment before returning to a smile. “I’ll let the doctor know, but I think it’s just a reaction to the situation,” she said in soft Irish tones. “You’ll likely be just fine in a few days. It’s all a bit much to take in all at once, eh?”

Greg nodded and cuddled into the bed. He felt strangely exhausted from the experience. He didn’t miss Mycroft stopping and holding the nurse by the elbow to have a hushed conversation, however. Undoubtedly it was about him hearing voices earlier which caused the panic attack. Greg felt his cheeks redden from embarrassment, and he could only hope that it was a one-time thing caused by the stress of the situation. However, he was powerless to stop the fear creeping into his gut that some of the noises he’d been hearing since waking – things he dismissed as background noise of the ward – weren’t real either.

John came by a few hours later. He’d been informed about the incident, and wanted to talk to Greg alone. Mycroft had been reluctant, but agreed.
“Can you tell me what happened, Greg?”
“I was just sitting in the quiet, and then heard shouting noises. I commented on it to Mycroft, but he couldn’t hear it. Then… I dunno, I suddenly couldn’t breathe.”
“Is this the first time you’ve heard voices?”
“Well, I don’t know, John; I can hardly tell if it’s real or not since it all sounds the same to me,” Greg snapped. He wasn’t usually short-tempered, but the situation seemed to have shortened his fuse. He prided himself on being patient and rarely snappy, so he took a deep breath to re-centre himself.
“I admit it is sometimes difficult for people with schizophrenia to discern between reality and hallucination, particularly when they are alone and thus without external confirmation.”
“You’re saying I have schizophrenia now?”
“No. That would take a much more thorough diagnostic process–”
“Could you stop being a therapist for like, five minutes?”
John pursed his lips, and was notably attempting to reign in his own, often wildly out of control, temper. “Greg, I am here as a therapist,” he said carefully.
“Sorry… I just… it’s embarrassing.”
“Why?”
“I don’t want to be labelled as crazy.”
“No one does, Greg. This is just one incident. I don’t think you have to worry about that just yet.”
“No?”
“No,” John said firmly. “You’ve had a serious trauma, and so some abnormalities are to be expected immediately after. If they persist, then we’ll start looking at it as a new problem. Until then, try not to worry about it too much. You just have to tell us when these things happen.”

Greg narrowed his eyes, but had to admit that it was within John’s jurisdiction to be told. He was just uncomfortable telling his friend things when it was his therapist listening; one whom could report back to his work. He understood why it was not a good idea to have them be one and the same person. But, he knew he wouldn’t be honest with a stranger, and so it probably was for the best. All he could do was hope it really was just a single incident; or, better still, just Mycroft being deaf… as well as all of the nurses, he added dejectedly.
Ok so I really just have to hope it was just the one time hearing voices.

Chapter Text

Greg found that he could take no more of sitting about in the bland room, and so insisted he be discharged four days early. The doctor hesitantly obliged, on the grounds that Mycroft would be around to watch him and John was going to visit for check-ups. The wound on his head still had some stitches, but it was healing well.

He didn’t want to admit he was feeling rather nervous about suddenly living with Mycroft. He wanted to talk to John about it, and his concerns about the voices he’d heard, but the fact that he was now his ‘observational therapist’ (as Greg had dubbed him) meant that he was a bit more hesitant to be so open with him. He guessed it would just be a while before adjusting to the change.

“I hear they’re letting you out,” a voice with a Newcastle accent said from behind him. Greg smiled when he recognised it, and turned around to greet Mike.
“Yep, free man now.”
“Ha, good to hear, pet.” Mike strolled in, still in surgical scrubs but with a coat on, and sat down. “So you’re feeling alright?”

Greg eyed the man suspiciously, trying to decide how much he knew about the hearing-voices incident. Mike just innocently grinned back at him. There was only mild concern there, without an intent to fish for more information. Greg relaxed. Mike was always genuine and kind. Given he spent most of his day with people trying to lie and hide things from him, he’d found Mike’s open honesty a breath of fresh air when they first met. It were those qualities which had drawn Greg to keep in touch and develop a friendship.

“Yeah,” he answered. “I’m going to Mycroft’s for a while. He’s going to be keeping an eye on me.”
“Good. I’m sure he’ll take good care of you. I hear from John that you two are…?”
“Yeah,” Greg mumbled as he flushed red.
“’Bout bloody time,” Mike laughed. “You’ve been dancing circles around each other for years. Still, it’s not uncommon… I see a lot of people suddenly realise what they almost missed.”
Greg clenched his jaw and turned away, back to the bag of his belongings upon the bed. He leant forward and rested both hands on the mattress, head stooped.
“Greg?”
“People keep saying things like that,” he said slowly. “But they never tell me anything more.”
He felt a hand on his shoulder. “Would knowing change it?” Mike asked softly. Greg slumped and sighed.
“No, I guess not. You’re always so… reasonable and down to earth like that. But I guess I just don’t like not knowing something about myself.”
“Something else is bothering you,” Mike stated, knowing it wasn’t a question. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Greg turned to look at the man’s soft round face, a hopeful yet concerned expression in his eyes behind the glasses. He trusted Mike, so he nodded and hopped up to sit on the bed. “Something happened that’s got me thinking. Worrying, more like.”
Mike nodded at him, inviting him to continue. Greg ran his hand through his hair, the silver strands a bit longer than he remembered. “I heard some muffled shouting noises, and Mycroft couldn’t hear them.” He avoided saying ‘hearing things that weren’t there’, if only to make himself feel better about it.
“I see,” Mike said carefully. “What about it is worrying you?”
“Well, what if it’s just the tip of the iceberg? I can’t go back to work if I start seeing things.”
“It could be, but it could also not be. The more you worry about it, the worse it’s going to be for you, Greg. I’m not saying that figuratively, either, since stress can impact upon the brain and cause those kinds of things. I know I’ve told you this before, but don’t let things you can’t change bother you.”

He nodded a few times, but said nothing. Mike opened his arms out for a hug. Greg grinned and slipped off the bed to receive one. Mike gave great hugs, given the soft padding around his middle, and Greg wasn’t self-conscious enough to resist.
“I know you’re a bit impatient when it comes to yourself, Greg. You can talk to me any time, about anything – provided I’m not in surgery, of course. You know that. I’m sure you know that Mycroft and John are there to talk to as well.”
“I–”
“Want to be fine in their eyes, yes, I know,” Mike finished for him. “I’ll let you know that I think they both can see right through you. And it’s not going to help you any to keep it a secret, in the end.”
He stepped back from the hug and nodded. “We’ll see how things go,” he said, slinging the bag on his shoulder. “Mycroft said he’d come and get me, but I honestly just want to get out of here.”
“I should get back downstairs, myself.” Mike gripped Greg’s arm and shook it softly. “Be kind to yourself, pet.”

He’d only just gotten the discharge papers sorted when Mycroft strolled up the hallway, looking much more like himself than a week ago. His three-piece suit was crinkle-free, his auburn hair was smoothened against his head (even the stray curl on the top of the receding hairline was tamed today), and he carried his umbrella happily. They didn’t say much as they walked out of the ward and into the car.

Greg found himself to be rather uncomfortable; his head still ached dully, but it was more because he wasn’t sure how to behave around Mycroft anymore. It had all happened so fast, in the midst of everything else that overwhelmed him, that he’d just accepted the closeness. He wasn’t sure where they were now that they weren’t in the hospital. The level of intimacy they shared in his room seemed like it was a separate situation to life outside. He wanted to be able to hold Mycroft’s hand while they sat there in the car, but he wasn’t able to judge if it was appropriate yet. He huffed quietly, then resigned himself to just looking out of the window. He then felt Mycroft’s hand take his, and so he looked back over to him.

“You’re struggling to understand the boundaries now,” Mycroft stated, eyes looking over him. Greg nodded. “It’s ok, Greg.”
“Is it? I don’t really feel like myself, and I can’t tell how I’m supposed to behave.”
“You aren’t ‘supposed’ to behave in any way. You just… be how you feel. Don’t try to live up to expectations you imagine others place on you.”
“Easy enough to say,” Greg grumbled. “What if I do the wrong thing? You haven’t been with anyone in the whole time I’ve known you. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable because I can’t tell–”

“Greg, stop.” Mycroft held his gaze in the silence of the car, and then looked over him. He then sighed. “Perhaps it was too early to leave the hospital,” he suggested, slumping forward.
“No! It was terrible. I’m not… I’m not anxious or upset about leaving, I’m just not sure how things are going to work now.”
“Something we should have settled in a safe environment,” Mycroft countered, looking up at him with a frown.
“Would you all stop treating me like I’m made of glass?” Greg couldn’t help but be a little peeved. “I just need to get back to my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for where this goes with us. I meant… me, going about my day like I did before without worrying about what could be wrong with me.”

Mycroft pursed his lips, and squeezed Greg’s hand. “If that’s what you want,” he said cautiously, “I support you. The doctor agreed to the release because you’d be under supervision and John suggested you would improve best in familiar environments. And, well, they legally couldn’t stop you leaving. I had my reservations, and still do. It is only because I care for you, Gregory.”

Greg closed his eyes and leaned across the seats of the car to rest his head on Mycroft’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. I’m not used to being taken care of. I guess I keep thinking it’s done patronisingly.”
“Hardly. You remember the year following your divorce? None of that was done with condescension. Neither is any of this. I’m not here out of pity, Greg.”

He found he really needed to hear those words. He hadn’t realised he’d been worried about it. He hummed softly when Mycroft ran his hand up and down his arm. Greg was shocked at how easily the simple touches Mycroft gave made the worries and questions fade away. His mind was all too happy to focus just on the ministrations of Mycroft’s slender hands, the warmth of his body, and the closeness that filled his chest from the contact. He knew this situation would have been a hell of a lot scarier without someone he could lean on – literally and figuratively.

Mycroft’s home was nice. He’d been there often enough, but every time it surprised him that it was so neat and orderly. His own flat was like a bomb had gone off in it most of the time; clothes laying upon the floor of the bedroom (a mix of rarely worn and almost time to wash, but not quite dirty enough to put in the laundry basket), dishes on the sink, papers over the table, and generally just clutter hanging about. He didn’t think he’d ever seen dirty dishes on Mycroft’s sink… although he had a dishwasher, so that probably helped.

Greg had to admit he was rather jealous of it all. It was spacious for one, but would be perfect for two; it was decorated in neutral tones with a focus on natural wood and stone; the kitchen was modern, but the lounge was cosy with a fireplace… all in all, somewhere Greg pictured himself living one day. He made a decent living as a DI, and had managed to save well by living in his small flat, but hadn’t seen fit to do anything about it since the divorce. He just didn’t have the motivation, as there wasn’t any particular reason to work towards something better.

“I’ve had the linens in the guest bedroom washed and made ready for you,” Mycroft said as he went about making tea for them both. “Please consider it yours while you are here.”
“Thanks.”
“Everything, in fact; this is your home while you’re here.” Mycroft gave him a hesitant smile, as if he was worried about pushing their budding relationship too far. It was a strange predicament, Greg had to admit, to be thrust into living together within a week and a half (for him, at least) of starting the relationship, even if they’d known each other for a decade.
“Would it be alright if we go back to my flat and get some things soon?”
“Certainly. Before that, I hoped we could sit and have a discussion regarding the situation.”
Greg’s heart suddenly beat faster in his chest at the rush of adrenaline. He wasn’t sure exactly what Mycroft meant by that. “Alright,” he murmured, trying to pretend the statement hadn’t affected him.
“Nothing bad, I assure you. I just wanted to clear the air regarding expectations and proceedings.”

They sat at the table, sipping their teas, as Mycroft began to talk. “I will need to check in on you frequently for the first few days. You may close doors, but I request you do not lock them. I will, of course, knock before entering, but I need to be able to access you if something were to go wrong.”
“Reasonable,” Greg decided, understanding.
“I will be returning to work completely on Monday, by which time I believe it would be appropriate to leave you unattended–”
“Mycroft,” Greg interjected, “I’m not a danger to myself. You can stop talking about me like I am.”
Mycroft stopped and shut his mouth. “My apologies,” he offered. “That was not my intention. I find myself attempting to protect and care for you instinctively, and it may occasionally come across as overbearing.”
“It’s alright,” Greg said, reaching over the able to pat Mycroft’s hand. “I understand. I just… it’s difficult.”

Mycroft nodded and continued. “John will be visiting once a day until the end of the week, where he will cut back to once every two or three days. You have been given a further month of leave from the Yard, with an assessment prior to your return. There will be no qualms in extending your recuperation period, and so do not need to worry about returning before you are ready.”
“I’ll be going stir-crazy by a month; I think that’ll be fine.”
“Provided you continue to improve,” Mycroft reminded. Greg winced to himself. It felt more like a condition, to ‘be fine or you won’t get your job back’. He clenched his hands together in front of him on the table as he nodded. He knew Mycroft could tell he was uncomfortable, but thankfully he said nothing about it and instead changed topics.
“You may spend your time reading, or any other similarly sedate activity, whilst I am gone.”
“Ok. Um… can I ask some questions?”
“Of course. I will provide answers where I can.”

“Well, it’s mostly about us. I know we’ve spoken a little before, but I’m not… like, I don’t really know where we are? I just woke up and you’d decided you wanted to be with me.” Greg continued to wring his hands as he said it, and felt a stab in the chest when Mycroft’s features fell. “No, that’s not to say I don’t want to be with you! Christ, I’ve been fantasising about it all for years. I did tell you already that I want this, I’m just not sure exactly what you want.”
Mycroft’s cheeks flushed, and he looked up at Greg. “Right now? I want to kiss you.”
“Er… yeah, yeah that’d be nice,” Greg responded, a little off-put by Mycroft’s forwardness. He felt his own face reddening. “I’d like to be able to hold you close,” he ventured. He found the shy cheerful reaction from Mycroft utterly adorable. He felt emboldened to continue. “I want to lay with you, cuddling. I want to hug you, to come up behind you and slide my hands around your waist.”

“I– I’d like that,” Mycroft stuttered. Greg grinned and stood, walking around to the other side of the table, continuing to stare into Mycroft’s blue eyes. “I know it’s soon, Greg, but I want to be like a normal couple. No hiding away or refraining from intimacy,” he whispered.
“We’ve known each other long enough,” Greg said, standing before Mycroft. He took the man’s soft hand in his own. “I’ve wanted you long enough.”
“I… since I met you,” Mycroft uttered, standing. “I couldn’t keep my distance, like I should have, because I was instantly attracted to you.”
“I’m glad you didn’t,” he said, his nose now hovering mere millimetres from Mycroft’s.
“You were married,” Mycroft reminded. “Unhappily, yes, but still married. I wasn’t about to… well, I was contented to be a friend.”
“She thought I was, though. Shagging you. I never told you, since… well, I’m not sure why. I guess I was afraid of making it awkward. And you know what? I wished I had been. It was only after she was gone did I realise she was right… that I cared more about you than I did for her. Makes me sound terrible to say, I know–”

“No,” Mycroft interjected. “She was the one sleeping around since the start of your marriage. She never paid you attention. She only complained you took work home, instead of trying to make time for the two of you herself. She was the one who decided that because you preferred men, you didn’t like her and thus treated you as if you were a fraud. I’ve said it for years, and I’ll keep saying it, Greg. Given that situation, of course it was alright to find you cared more for someone not emotionally abusing you.”

Greg was intensely aware of the hot breath he felt on his skin, standing so close to Mycroft. He wanted to bridge the gap, to finally press his lips against Mycroft’s, but he had to know something first. “Why didn’t you do something after the divorce?”
“You were in a vulnerable place and needed a friend. After that? I believe I can only admit to being a coward. I was too afraid to lose you entirely to take the chance.”
“But… if you can read people as easily as you say, then it wouldn’t have been much of a chance?”
“Anxiety regarding the emotional connection between us is not rational, and clouds my judgement. The fear, the what-ifs… they gripped me tightly and refused to let go. Only the fear of having missed the chance entirely broke me free of that.”

Mycroft’s voice was barely a whisper, his eyes constantly flickering to Greg’s lips. His heart was pounding, thundering in his ears. He felt satisfied with the answer, since it was really the same one he’d had. He flickered his tongue between his lips, wetting them slightly. Even now, being this close, part of him was screaming alarms in his head that he’d cock it up and lose Mycroft.
Go for it… I have to just go for it. He needs me to make the first move.

He leant in and pressed his lips to Mycroft’s, and it was like setting his body alight with electricity. His nerves all fired, sending tingles down his spine. His heart still pounded, but he refused to breathe, opting instead for continuing the kiss. Mycroft kissed him back, the sensations filling up every corner of his mind. Every press, every gentle pull, the slick flicker of tongue upon his lips, the feel of soft skin mixed with the rougher abrasion of stubble… he was lost in it. He stepped closer, so that their bodies pressed together, and wrapped one arm around Mycroft’s slender waist. The other hand snuck around the back of his neck. He felt as wonderful as Greg had imagined. A soft hand cupped his cheek as they continued to kiss, the thumb slowly stroking his skin.

By the time they broke apart, they were panting. Greg nuzzled Mycroft’s long nose, his eyes closed, still enjoying the feeling of being pressed up against him. Mycroft leant forward to steal another kiss, and Greg didn’t object.

Chapter Text

Greg jolted awake. The first thing he registered that it was dark. The second was that there were arms wrapped around him. He quickly realised that the other person was Mycroft, and he was speaking soft words of reassurance to him. He blinked rapidly, trying to catch his breath.
A dream. It was just all a dream. But… what, exactly, was I dreaming about? I can’t… remember.

“Gregory?”
“Jeez, sorry, Myc, I… did I wake you? What time is it?”
“It’s quite alright. I was glad that I heard so that I could come and rouse you. It’s just gone four in the morning.”

Greg managed to calm his breathing down. Mycroft’s embrace was nice and affirming. It was that moment that Greg realised that Mycroft was in soft cotton pyjamas, and he was just in his pants. The first time his partner saw his underwear, and it was like this. He tried to shuffle the covers discreetly over himself.

“It’s fine, Greg,” Mycroft uttered. He released his hold, and leant back to look into his eyes. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah. Strange thing is I can’t even remember what it was about. It was all so vivid at the time…”
“That’s good. You don’t need to remember things that cause you such trauma. Now, why don’t you go shower? I’m sure you’ll feel better afterwards.”

Greg nodded, still not convinced that it was better not to know. He’d never really been one for the mantra of ‘ignorance is bliss’, but he could understand the logic. Mycroft had made it rather clear a few times in the past, whilst he was in the midst of meetings of international crises, that the general public was far better off not knowing the difficulties behind red lines. As a detective, he tended to agree. He’d always found himself as an exception to that rule, however. Supposing he’d have to just live with it, he slid out of bed and gathered some more clothes (electing to wear a shirt as well as pants, this time). He made his way to the shared bathroom between his and Mycroft’s bedrooms.

He turned on the water and stripped. Suddenly an image flashed across his mind: a bar, metal, being brought down upon his stomach. His body jumped and his breath caught in his throat. His stomach was sore, as if it really had been hit, and he had to fight the urge to vomit. He wrapped an arm around his middle, but the pain faded away. He blinked a few times to steady himself, and then inspected his skin. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Did I really expect anything else? Just fragments of a nightmare… that’s all it was.

He was about to step under the water when he heard a voice again. Cold dread washed over him and he froze, listening. It was muffled, like last time, but calmer. He looked about the room, but there was no source of the voice. It sounded close. Leaving the water running, he padded over to the door to Mycroft’s room, and opened it silently. Relief flooded over him when he saw that Mycroft was standing by the window, talking on the phone.
Good. Not hearing things. Well actually… just hearing things really well.

Greg moved the door a fraction to close it before he stopped at Mycroft’s words.
“He had a nightmare.”

He was talking about him. Curiosity got the better of him, and he remained just back from the cracked open door to eavesdrop on the half-conversation.
“No, he said he couldn’t remember. Yes, of course. I don’t think that’s necessary at this point. Ultimately it’s up to me. And you have yours. No, we continue as planned.”

Greg frowned, and closed the door. ‘Up to him’? ‘Planned’? He didn’t like the way Mycroft had said that. It was… authoritative. He stepped into the shower to mull it over. Mycroft could have been talking about anything, but Greg couldn’t help but feel there was a more sinister meaning behind it.
No, I’m being silly. He probably meant that we continue as planned, as in, me staying here instead of the hospital. Or that John sees me regularly, so that I could have this much freedom, and my staying here was up to him. Yes, that has to be it, along those lines.

~

By later that morning – Thursday, he reminded himself – Greg had let go of his suspicions. Mycroft had prepared him croissants with cheese, with orange juice and coffee. He’d also given him a quick kiss before joining him at the table.

“What’s the plan for the day?”
“Well,” Mycroft said, closing the paper. “I have managed to secure today off to ensure you are settled. John will come by during his lunch break. Other than that, I haven’t made any concrete plans. Is there anything you would like to do?”

A dozen images flashed across Greg’s mind, none appropriate for breakfast. “Uhh,” he hesitated, trying to stop the blood escaping his brain. Mycroft seemed to have noticed, and chuckled while his cheeks reddened. “I haven’t given it much thought.”
Mycroft’s eyebrow quirked up at him, but he said nothing. Greg suddenly realised that it was going to be a new experience altogether to be in a relationship with someone who could read him so well. At least his partner didn’t seem to mind the implication. Or, he was so used to reading everyone’s thoughts and intentions that he’d become dulled to it.
“We shall get there eventually,” Mycroft said quietly. He then cleared his throat and spoke louder. “For today, might I suggest we take a stroll in the park?”
“Yeah, that sounds nice. Um, question,” Greg said, staring at his croissant. “What are your, er, thoughts on public affection?”
“I guess it would depend on the kind of affection,” Mycroft mused. “I am assuming you are referring to innocent things such as hand holding?”
“I did think about that, yeah, for when we’re walking. And maybe wondering if I could kiss you in public?” Greg asked shyly, his eyes darting up to Mycroft’s. He saw a loving smile in return, which helped to ease the worry he felt over asking.
“I’m not ashamed to be seen with you, Gregory. Nor am I fussed about being openly gay. I have made no attempt to hide the fact, really, for my entire life. I was bullied for a plethora of reasons already in school, so being gay was just another one on top of it all and didn’t really make much of a difference. Besides, I believe the extent of mocking that would occur would be how someone as attractive as yourself would want to be seen with someone like me.”

“Mycroft,” Greg said gently, taking his hand. “We’ve been over this. You’re gorgeous. And, since we’re technically dating now, I can call you that all I want.” Greg huffed to himself. “Really, I don’t understand how you couldn’t have noticed how utterly smitten I was with you. I’m forty-three now, so that means for my whole forties – and a good chunk of my thirties – I was openly complimenting another man’s appearance repeatedly, and in detail.”
“I… noticed,” Mycroft mumbled. Greg just shook his head good-naturedly.
“I’d started thinking you weren’t interested in me. Or, well, anyone.”
“Only you, Greg. Only ever you.”
Greg cleared his throat. It was still a lot to take in, to suddenly be in a relationship with Mycroft, and to find out that the pining had been mutual all that time. He sighed, letting go of the confusion, deciding that whatever the reason that kept them apart, they were together now at least.

Greg stopped dead in his tracks. He looked about, seeing the trees beginning to shed their leaves, the people walking about on various paths, and children playing on the grass. Mycroft’s hand was holding his, and the man himself was standing beside him looking concerned.
“How did we… get here?”
“Greg?”

Greg continued to swivel about on the spot. They seemed to be walking through the park. He had absolutely no recollection of arriving there, or starting their walk. He didn’t even know what time of day it was. Weren’t they just having breakfast?
“Greg, what’s wrong? What do you mean, ‘how did we get here’?”
“I… I don’t…”
“Here, take a seat,” Mycroft said, ushering him to a nearby bench. He sat, and watched as Mycroft squatted before him, still holding both of his hands. “Are you feeling ok?”
“I’m… I’m not sure. I mean, I feel physically alright, I just… can’t remember getting here.”

Mycroft frowned in concern. He stood and sat next to Greg on the bench. He lifted his wrist and put it to Greg’s forehead, humming.
“You don’t have a fever,” he mused, while reaching up along Greg’s wrist for his pulse. “A little elevated, but within normal.”
“You’re a doctor, now?” Greg snapped, more from panic than annoyance.
“I have some medical knowledge,” Mycroft countered. “You should know that.” Mycroft’s tone was more concerned than accusatory.
“Sorry, I–I guess I’m still having trouble remembering,” Greg mumbled, rubbing his face with his hand. He let it drop into his lap. “I’m not as ok as I wanted to be, am I?”
“No,” Mycroft agreed sadly. “But that’s alright, you know. You’re allowed to need time, Greg.”

“Fuck,” Greg exclaimed, groaning and slumping forward. “What the hell even happened to me? I know, I know, you guys won’t tell me. But… it’s hard, Myc. It’s been a week and a half, and I thought… but it’s not.” He didn’t know how to express how he felt. Mycroft would just have to settle for broken sentences.
“I’m here,” Mycroft hummed, pulling him into a warm embrace. “We’ll get through it.”
“You gonna tell John?” Greg mumbled into Mycroft’s wool coat.
“Of course; it’s important for him to know. Greg, you can’t keep us in the dark when we’re trying to help you. You’re going to have to put your pride aside for the sake of your health this time.”
“I think I want to go back inside,” he said, still holding onto Mycroft. He felt his partner nod, and then he was being pulled to his feet. He felt really unsettled, so much so that he didn’t even care about sounding like a clingy child. He was certain to keep his eyes out on the trip back to the car to ensure he was aware of where he was going to end up.

Chapter Text

Greg lay in bed with the blanket covering him. He felt miserable. At first he thought things were improving well, and then it turns out not. Seemingly the opposite. John had given him the spiel on Friday about being unfit for duty and needing to return to the hospital for care if the symptoms worsened. He wanted to decline the MRI scan that Mycroft was insisting on, but figured it would be counter-productive. He didn’t want to upset his partner, who seemed to also be taking things rather harshly. Greg could see the worry oozing out of him, and it made him feel so guilty. He agreed to go that day with John, so that Mycroft and John would have the results on Tuesday – today.

Mycroft had needed to go into work yesterday and today, and so Greg had no pressure to actually get up and do anything. He remained in bed, still trying not to think about the impending results, utterly depressed over the situation. The curtains were drawn, and so he really didn’t have much sense of time passing. His head hurt occasionally, and so he’d drink some water out of habit more than anything else. He’d sleep often, even if he didn’t want to; his body demanded the rest, but then he’d have nightmares and wake pumping with adrenaline and covered in sweat.

He heard a knock on the door. He didn’t bother responding. He really didn’t feel like it. The door opened after a few seconds, and Mycroft’s head peered in the crack.
“Gregory?” His voice was timid, and Greg sighed at the worry he heard. Upon seeing that he was awake, Mycroft opened the door and walked in.
“How’s the pain?” Mycroft asked, sitting on the bed. He reached out and softly stroked Greg’s shoulder, which soothed the unsettled feeling that had been stirring in his gut all day.
“Manageable,” he grumbled. In truth it was tolerable, but he was just sick of it.
“Have you gotten up today?”
“No.”
“Gregory, you need to eat.” Mycroft lowered his head and sighed. “I know it’s a difficult time for you, to be going through this, but you still need to try taking care of yourself.”
“Why?” he snapped.
“Because I can’t,” Mycroft all but whimpered. “I want to be able to stay here and take care of you, but my work doesn’t permit it. It kills me to see that when I’m gone, you go without care because you are unable to provide it for yourself in my stead.”
Great, Myc, just keep piling on the guilt.
“I can organise your stay at a private care facility, if you would permit it,” Mycroft offered cautiously.
“No.”
“Then, Greg,” he pleaded, “you need to take an active role in your care. Please.”

Mycroft sighed, and bent forward to place a kiss on his forehead. Greg could feel the warmth remain long after Mycroft sat back up. “The results came in, and there were no abnormalities.”
Greg was actually deeply relieved to hear that. He groaned, agreeing to put the effort in despite low feeling that had gripped him suddenly. He felt more able to more forward now that he had some proof he could lean on saying he was fine. Well, not damaged, at least.
“Thank you, darling,” Mycroft said, and Greg’s heart swelled at the pet name. He loved the way it sounded in Mycroft’s velvet voice. “I’ll make up something for you to eat. Come downstairs as soon as you’re ready,” he said, patting Greg’s arm.

He shuffled into the kitchen, having thrown on a shirt, jumper, and tracksuit pants. He smiled when he saw Mycroft at the stove, in his waistcoat, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Fuck, Mycroft really was incredibly hot. He swallowed down the stirrings of arousal, and came up to cuddle behind him. He slid his hands around the slender waist, and pressed his shirt against Mycroft’s back.
“Hello there, gorgeous,” he murmured into Mycroft’s ear.
“You’ve perked up,” Mycroft chuckled, tilting his head back.
“Involuntary reaction to seeing you like this.”
“Then I shall endeavour to dress down in your presence more often.”

Greg kissed him on the cheek before nestling his chin between Mycroft’s shoulder and neck. “What are you making?”
“Spinach and leek frittata,” Mycroft answered. “I know I don’t have your skills in the kitchen, but I believe you enjoyed this last time I made it.”
Greg smiled. Mycroft really wasn’t much for cooking, and so the fact he was trying so hard for him was endearing. For Greg, such a dish would be on the ‘quick and easy’ side of cooking, but for Mycroft it was a challenge. He definitely appreciated the effort. “Thank you, gorgeous,” he said, deciding that was now his pet name of choice for Mycroft.
“You enjoy saying that, don’t you?”
“Yep. It’s true and I can finally say it out loud.”
“I don’t object,” Mycroft said softly, and Greg knew it was as much of an admission that he enjoyed the endearment as it was possible for the man to say. He placed another kiss on Mycroft’s cheek. He’d help the man’s self-confidence, of that he was sure.

“This feels so right, so normal,” he commented, revelling in the feeling of Mycroft’s body held against his own. It was true; he’d been anxious about taking that step from good mates to something more, whether it would be awkward to suddenly be closer and touch more, but it wasn’t. It was as if they’d been doing it for years already – aside from the thrill Greg felt that he was finally able to do what he’d imagined doing for so long.
“I concur,” Mycroft said, turning the gas off on the stove and putting the pan in the oven. “It is quite comforting.”

Once Greg had started eating, he realised that he was actually ravenous. He’d managed to eat three quarters of the frittata, plus some toast, and then some biscuits he’d found. Mycroft had warned him that he’d be sick later, but Greg, as usual, paid no heed. Mycroft had been right. His stomach complained with the sudden intake of food, and he found himself lying in bed with Mycroft gently stroking his head.
“Urgh, if you knew this was going to happen, why not just stop me?”

“I believed it was an important lesson for you to learn on your own,” Mycroft answered. “I did tell you that even if you had not just had a week of nasogastric feeding, it would have been too much for you. I warned that you’d get cramps if you filled your stomach so much after two days of little to nothing passing through it.”
“Alright, alright, I’m a moron, I get it,” Greg grumbled, holding his belly. Mycroft pressed a kiss on his lips, and Greg longingly chased it as Mycroft pulled away.
“Even when unwell you are insatiable,” Mycroft giggled. Greg decided that Mycroft Holmes giggling was officially the most adorable thing he’d heard. He was snapped out of his thoughts by a particularly strong stomach cramp.

“Why me?” he groaned, laughing uncomfortably at the pain.
“I think the lesson is well learned,” he said, patting Greg’s stomach gently.
“I dislike your teaching methods,” Greg huffed. “That you would willingly let a student suffer in the name of education…”
“I don’t want you in pain, dear. I had not anticipated the result to be this extreme. Perhaps a film would help distract you? We can lie in my bed. There is a television screen in there.”
“You have a telly in your bedroom? You? The man that rarely watches anything?”
“I had it installed for work purposes,” Mycroft answered. If Greg hadn’t suddenly felt like vomiting, he probably would have made a quip about what kind of work he did in the bedroom. Instead, he quickly grabbed the bucket Mycroft had put beside the bed. Thankfully he didn’t need to use it.
The film they watched was one Greg hadn’t heard of, but it didn’t matter since he found himself drifting off to sleep midway through.

He woke when there was movement around him. His eyes darted open, to realise that he’d spent the night in Mycroft’s bed, and the man was getting up to prepare for the day.
“Shh, it’s ok, go back to sleep, darling.”
“I’m–I’m awake,” he mumbled, yawning.
“How are you feeling?”

Greg stopped and took stock of himself. His head was only mildly throbbing, the best it’d been, and he didn’t feel sick at all. “Good,” he responded, sounding surprised. “I feel much better, actually.”
“I’m glad.” Mycroft kneeled on the bed and gave him a kiss. “You slept much better than the other nights, too.”
“How do–”
“Sound travels through the walls,” Mycroft answered before he had a chance to ask. He blushed. “No, that’s a good thing, Greg. I appreciated being able to keep an ear out for how you were travelling. I could then assist if it got too bad.”

Well, that explained why sometimes when he woke, he woke alone, and other times, Mycroft had appeared out of nowhere at the right time to comfort him.
“I’m sorry the first night sharing a bed wasn’t very exciting,” Greg said. He sat up and stretched.
“It’s fine; we have plenty of time for that. Besides, I don’t think it appropriate to continue applying normal-relationship guidelines to ours. I’m perfectly content with sleeping together well before we have sex.”
“Oh, um, yeah, good,” Greg sputtered. The word ‘sex’ threw his sleep-addled brain off-centre. Mycroft chuckled at him, pressed another kiss to his lips, and then continued to get ready for work. He was actually glad that Mycroft left the room to shower, since it meant he could go back to his bedroom without the embarrassment following his morning wood that had been encouraged to linger.

Chapter Text

He made porridge for lunch, trying to be kind to his stomach. It seemed to be working. He’d settled down with a novel in the lounge without issue, enjoying the warm glow from the fireplace. It had been ages since he had been able to just lie back and relax without worrying about cases. He inevitably took the work home with him, even if he supposedly had set hours to be on the job. His mind never really stopped thinking about it all. This time, however, all of the previous cases he’d been working on had been taken out of his hands in the week he’d been unconscious, and he didn’t have any new ones, therefore his mind was free of detective work for once.

He heard a door close in the house, and he couldn’t help but look out of the lounge door towards the noise. He shrugged it off as the wind catching a door. A part of his mind was wary and on alert, still listening for noises, which was why he noticed the thudding sounds of footsteps. His breath caught in his throat and his heart jolted. Was there an intruder in the house? He knew he shouldn’t be afraid – he’d been on the force for over twenty years and could take down a perpetrator with ease – but that didn’t stop the fear spreading through his chest.

He put the book down on the floor and slowly sat up, careful not to make any noises. He crept to the doorframe and peered out into the hall. He couldn’t see anything amiss, but he could still hear the footsteps. He strained his ears, but he couldn’t pinpoint where they were coming from. He therefore didn’t know if they were upstairs, giving him a chance to dart into the kitchen, or if they were in the next room.

Another door slammed, closer this time, and Greg jumped. He reached out for the first thing he could grab, a stray bookend, and ventured out into the rest of the house. His socked feet made no noise on the wooden floors, and so he was able to creep with ease to the bottom of the staircase. The footsteps shuffled, oddly sounding like boots scraping along concrete. The sound was definitely distant enough to be from upstairs, and not the nearby kitchen. There isn’t any concrete upstairs, right?
He contemplated ducking into the kitchen to grab a knife from the block, but the footsteps were receding. His instincts were to follow before he lost the suspect, and so he crept up the stairs.
 
The sounds disappeared. He searched every room for signs of disturbance, but found none. He checked all the windows and doors. No windows were unlocked, and, strangely, no doors were shut bar the front and rear entrance doors (which were also both locked). Whilst it was reassuring that there wasn’t a burglar in the house, it did make Greg worry more about hearing things again. He was sure it was real, but the evidence suggested otherwise. Admittedly, the fact that he could hear concrete-scraping inside the house supported the hypothesis that it was, in fact, a hallucination.
“Fuck,” he mumbled to himself, rubbing his forehead with the back of the arm still gripping the bookend.
It’s just temporary, Lestrade. Just temporary.

He returned to the lounge to continue reading, but he elected to put on some soft music in the background this time. He tried to focus on the plot of the novel, but found that he was still partly being conscious of all the sounds around him. It was incredibly unsettling. 

~

 
Greg pulled Mycroft on top of him on the sofa the moment the man sat beside him. Mycroft huffed in surprise but was apparently more than happy to reciprocate the deep kiss that Greg gave him. He’d been feeling vulnerable since the hallucination, and he just wanted Mycroft close. In the hours waiting for him to arrive home from work, the feeling shifted from wanting a supportive cuddle to a desire to snog him senseless.
“Hello,” Mycroft managed to mumble between kisses.
“Hey,” Greg responded breathily, and returned to press his lips against Mycroft’s and run his hands through the man’s hair. “Missed you.”
“So it seems,” Mycroft hummed, tilting his head back as Greg’s mouth explored his pale neck. “I’d have waited until tomorrow to file those last reports if I’d known you were waiting for me like this.”

“No work talk.” Greg returned to kiss Mycroft’s mouth, sucking on his lower lip and brushing his tongue over teeth. Mycroft granted him entrance, and tingles ran down his spine as he touched Mycroft’s tongue with his own. He groaned into the kiss, savouring the taste and texture. Mycroft didn’t fight for control; he merely submitted to Greg’s force. The idea of Mycroft Holmes, Mr Always-in-control, submitting to him made Greg’s blood boil. His hips twitched involuntarily, seeking friction. Any thoughts of pushing things too fast had long been shoved from his mind. All that remained was a hot desire to have Mycroft as close as physically possible to him.

“Greg,” Mycroft breathed, running his hands tantalisingly down Greg’s sides whilst remaining lying atop him.
“Mm?” he hummed, still too preoccupied with sucking and pecking soft kisses on the man’s neck.
“’S nice.”
Greg grinned. He usually was the one to keep asking for reassurance that what he was doing was welcomed, and he’d no doubt continue to do so, but it was good to hear it without prompting. He ran his tongue up to the base of Mycroft’s ear, and Mycroft actually moaned.
“Like that?”
“Yes,” Mycroft answered, tilting his head to invite more. Greg obliged, and slipped the earlobe into his mouth to suck gently. Mycroft’s hands gripped him tighter. He released the soft flesh and ran his tongue up along the cartilage, then slipped it inside. Mycroft’s shoulder tensed at the feeling, but he made an obscene noise to show how much he really did enjoy the sensation. Greg continued to probe, alternating between licks and breathing hot air against the moist skin. He found that Mycroft actually didn’t enjoy the puffs of air, but seemed to love his tongue exploring his ear afterwards – and so Greg changed to giving licks and kisses.

He ran his nose along Mycroft’s neck to move to his other ear. Mycroft sat upright in tandem with Greg sitting up, so Greg could lean him back against the couch while he kissed him. “So gorgeous,” he breathed. “’Can’t believe I can do this now.” He shuffled so he was straddling Mycroft’s lap, still pressing him back into the couch.
“Greg, it’s… it’s been a long time, for me,” Mycroft said.
“Just what you want, yeah? Tell me to stop anytime, and I will.”
“I trust you.”

Greg stopped what he was doing, and moved to look into Mycroft’s eyes. His cheeks were flushed, his lips red, and his normally pristine hair was sticking out in all directions. The image of him so debauched made his cock pulse harder. “I trust you too, Myc,” he said softly, leaning in to nuzzle his nose. “But trusting me still means you can tell me to stop.”
He leaned in to kiss him again. He couldn’t get enough of that man’s soft mouth. He wanted to feel the skin beneath his hands; he wanted to see the dusting of freckles he was sure lay beneath that shirt and waistcoat. But first and foremost, he wanted Myc to feel safe. “Tell me what you like. You can ask me to do things as well as to stop.”

“I…” Mycroft began, but his voice caught in his throat. “I like you to be in charge,” he uttered. Greg nodded against him. He could understand that, even if it was rather a contrast to the persona Mycroft wore to work. He always seemed so commanding that it seemed only logical that he might like to be dominant in the bedroom as well. But Greg knew him better than anyone, he guessed, and knew how deeply vulnerable Mycroft felt most of the time. He wore the three-piece suits as armour to face the outside world. He pretended to be indifferent and unfeeling so that he wouldn’t feel the pain of their insults. He kept himself at an arm’s length from most people, because he was afraid of getting attached and then hurting when they left or turned on him. He was really a deeply sensitive soul, trying to function in the cruel world around him. To Greg, it made perfect sense that what Mycroft needed was someone to make him feel safe, loved, and whom he trusted enough to relinquish that protective control.

“I like being in charge of you,” Greg spoke huskily, “but only in regards to taking initiative. I’m not going to order you about. I might be leading, but you’re still in control, love.”
Mycroft grabbed him and kissed him hard as a response to that. Greg smiled into the kiss, knowing that it was something important for his partner to hear. Faintly in the back of his mind he felt a twinge of sadness; Mycroft being so grateful to hear he was actually considered, even if submissive, must mean that there was a time in his past where that was not the case.

Feeling emboldened by the conversation, Greg began to fumble at the buttons on Mycroft’s waistcoat. He felt that it was appropriate to shed that armour. Myc didn’t protest, and so Greg continued until all of the buttons were undone and he could slide his hand over the pectoral muscles below.

“Mmm, yes,” Myc hummed, breathing deeply as if a tormented part of his soul was being stilled. Greg filed that away in his mind, that Mycroft enjoyed feeling the pressure of a hand on his chest. He ran his hand up to slide around Mycroft’s neck, and then back down again to run over his belly. He noted that Mycroft tensed the muscles there, tucking in his abdomen. Greg pressed his lips together, but as he had his forehead pressed to Mycroft’s chest, the man couldn’t see him. He didn’t like how deeply ingrained Myc’s body issues were. It wasn’t a secret between them, but Greg was hoping that showing physical appreciation would be enough to silence that demon in his mind.

“Lovely,” he praised, running his palm over the softer tissue. He kept his forehead pressed firmly against Mycroft’s sternum as he continued to stroke over the smooth fabric covering Mycroft’s belly. He tugged at it, pulling the tails out from his partner’s trousers, and slowly ran his hand up underneath the shirt. He listened intently for any sign that it was unwelcome, but none came. He didn’t want to push too much, and so just let his hand rest below the belly button, his rough thumb stroking softly against the skin and hair.  

“Can I…”
“Can you what, Greg?”
“Unbutton your shirt,” he answered, realising that Mycroft required specifics rather than hints.
“Yes,” he answered, somewhat hesitantly. Greg picked up on it and sat back up.
“Myc, if it’s uncomfortable, you can say no.”
“I’m not… I want you to, I just…”
“I know love, but you’re fucking hot. You don’t have to listen to that monster in your head. And you know I don’t give a damn about weight.” Greg reached out and took Mycroft’s hands firmly. “This is just you and me. No need to feel shy when it’s just me.”
Mycroft smiled at him. “I’ll get there. It’s just been a long time, Gregory.”
“I know,” Greg chuckled, “I can feel it.” He hoped a bit of humour would help ease the tension. Mycroft blushed profusely, but before Greg let him start making excuses and feeling embarrassment, he pressed his own crotch into Mycroft’s. He smiled slyly as Myc’s eyes blew wide and his breath hitched slightly. “I’m glad for it, you know. Means I’m not the only one.”
“I want you,” Mycroft breathed into Greg’s ear, and Greg shivered.
“I want you, too.”
“But, perhaps we could move this to the bedroom?”
“Yeah,” Greg agreed breathily. “Much better. Plenty of time to christen the couch later. The bed’s better for our first time.”
That idea presented a new problem: stopping, and then actually walking upstairs with a raging hard-on. Part of his mind offered a way out, to finish quickly there and then go for something slow and sensuous upstairs, but he shook the thought away. No, whatever this was with Mycroft was special, and he wanted the first time they had sex to be more than a quick wank on the couch. He wanted to explore every inch of his skin, to kiss him everywhere, to make him so lost in pleasure that he cried out. The ideas were only making him harder, and so he stood and offered his hand for Mycroft to take.
 
The bed was much more comfortable. For starters, he had room to lay out beside Mycroft and kiss him while stroking down his body.
“Oh, you are so handsome,” Mycroft groaned as he gently tugged at Greg’s hair. He responded to the kiss given, enjoying the feeling of his partner’s deft fingers threading through his hair. He ran his hand down Mycroft’s side as they kissed, stopping to rest it on his hip.
“What do you like, Myc?” Greg asked again.
“I-I don’t know,” he answered, indecisive more than not having an answer. Greg decided to take a different approach.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Anything, I guess.”
“You can tell me, you know,” Greg chuckled. “I’m not going to be offended by being told what to do or about something you like that I don’t.”
“I know, I just…”
“Want me to decide, yeah, I think I understand,” Greg answered. He hadn’t quite anticipated Myc’s insecurities to be this strong during sex. He could work with that, and hope that Mycroft would be willing to be slightly more assertive as they progressed. He had to remember that Mycroft was really rather inexperienced, despite being only two years his younger. He’d only had one relationship that he knew of, and that was almost twenty years ago.

Greg began to undo Mycroft’s shirt buttons. He pressed a kiss to the newly revealed skin after each button until the shirt was open. He moved to straddle Mycroft again, stopping to admire the man laying before him before running his palms up and down the milky skin. He shed himself of his own shirt in one swift motion. Mycroft’s hands lifted up and ghosted over Greg’s skin, sending tingles running through his body. He laid back down so he was pressed chest-to-chest with Mycroft, and kissed him deeply again. He rocked his hips against Mycroft, humming appreciative noises into his partner’s mouth. Mycroft reciprocated, albeit less enthusiastically. Greg didn’t care, since he guessed Mycroft would be a quiet lover. He sat up slightly to shimmy his way down lower, trailing kisses as  he went.

“This alright?” he asked, and then remembered to be more specific. “Me kissing down you.”
“Yes,” Mycroft answered, still threading his fingers through Greg’s hair.
“You alright with me being noisy? Cause it’s only gonna get louder… that is, unless it makes you uncomfortable.”
“Oh, yes,” Mycroft groaned, and Greg raised his eyebrows.
Likes the noises, then. Good to know. Really good, in fact.
“Can I undo your belt?”
“Greg,” Mycroft said, “you don’t have to ask permission for every step of the way. I do consent to this, all of it, unless I tell you to stop.”
“Oh, ok, good.”

He undid the belt, but didn’t bother sliding it out from the trousers. He flicked open the button to expose Mycroft’s underwear, eyeing the large bulge in the navy fabric. He groaned as he ran his palm up and down over the length, not realising just how much, deep down, he’d missed this. Mycroft arched his back gently at the touch. He ran both hands up to rest upon his belly, then used his thumbs to slide the pants down. Mycroft lifted his hips, allowing Greg to slide both pieces of clothing down to his knees.

“Oh, fuck,” he exclaimed as he watched Mycroft’s cock bob, now exposed. He was glorious. There was a smattering of ginger hair around the base; a myriad of different hues. The gold and bronze hair dusted over his lean thighs. Greg’s mouth watered at the sight of the slender prick glistening at the head with pre-come. “You’re magnificent,” he murmured, reaching out to touch the cock before him. He was uncut, like Greg himself, and had only very slight veins running along the pink-toned shaft. The head was a darker red again, the drop of fluid beading at the top still tempting Greg to lean forward and lick it.

He realised he was still wearing his bottoms, and so shed himself of the remaining clothing, pulling Mycroft’s off while he was at it. He returned to kneeling over Mycroft, but kept upright to allow his partner to view him.
“Lovely,” Mycroft said quietly. “Greg, oh, I want to touch you.”
“Fuck, yes, please.”

Mycroft sat upright, leaning one hand on the bed, and reached a hand out to gently clasp over his cock. Greg’s muscles tingled at the slight touch. He had to physically stop himself from thrusting forward. Mycroft’s touch was still light as he gave a cursory stroke. Greg exhaled with a gentle whine. He decided he couldn’t resist touching Mycroft any longer, and cupped the man’s face before kissing him. He rolled his hips as he kissed, Mycroft continuing to stroke him.

“Oh, Myc, yes,” he breathed, pressing himself against Mycroft’s chest. He snaked his hand between them to finally grasp Myc’s penis. It was slender, like the rest of him, but longer than Greg’s own. He pumped his hand a few times; he could feel the warmth of Mycroft’s moan upon his skin and the writhing motions of the body beneath him. It made him press even harder into Mycroft, whose arm buckled under the pressure and sent them both down to lay on the bed.

“Yes, mm, perfect,”  he muttered, taking the chance to lay there and kiss Mycroft. He withdrew his hand, and Mycroft did the same; Greg splayed his arms either side of Myc’s shoulders, whereas Mycroft gripped him firmly on the back and buttocks.
“Geez, yes, that’s good,” Greg exclaimed as Mycroft squeezed his cheek. He pushed his chest upwards and thrust forward, his cock sliding against Mycroft’s exquisitely. He moaned loudly, Mycroft gasping instead. “Fuck, I-I don’t think I can last long, Myc.”
“Neither,” Mycroft admitted, starting to pant. Greg kissed him roughly, continuing to rock his hips. Mycroft’s body jerked in time with the movements to create even more delicious friction.
“Lube?” Greg asked, knowing just a little bit would help turn it from wonderful to mind-blowing. Mycroft’s expression hesitated, an eyebrow twitching into a frown. “No, love, not that yet,” Greg whispered. “Just to make it all… move a bit better.”

Mycroft relaxed and nodded. “In the drawer, bottom one.”
“Right,” he said, pressing another firm kiss to Mycroft’s lips before slipping off to fetch the lube. Greg decided it was a good sign that Mycroft even had lube. He squirted a little on himself, then smeared it over the skin. He wiped his hand on his thigh, not wanting to soil Myc’s sheets, before returning to his position.
The lubricant definitely helped, and he could tell Mycroft was pleased with the result as well. “Oh, oh my,” he uttered, thrusting up into Greg. “Hnng, yes.”
“Fuck you make hot sounds. Don’t hold back on me,” Greg spoke. “I bloody love hearing you.”
“And I you.”

He panted heavily as he rutted slowly against Mycroft’s body. He grunted and groaned with each thrust, and revelled in the quiet noises he received in response. He wanted to kiss him, but he found he was too worked up to spare the oxygen. He lowered himself down from his hands to his elbows and rocked in quick, short thrusts. Mycroft ran his hands up Greg’s back and into his hair, pulling his head down to meet his forehead. Greg stole a few brief kisses between gasps. His muscles were starting to shake with need, and he could feel his abdomen start to tense.

“Myc, I’m, god, ah, I’m close.” He received a rather loud moan in response, and so he assumed Mycroft was as well. He felt himself jump off the plateau and start climbing rapidly to climax. He couldn’t tell what was  happening anymore; there was just Mycroft beneath him, a desperate urge to hold him tight and fuck him hard, and the distant noises of shouting and moaning. He closed his eyes as he reached his peak, giving one hard thrust forward and spilling between them. His entire body pulsed as he spurted. He groaned and gasped, his movements now only slow as he rode his orgasm, blissful aching exhaustion overcoming his abdomen and bollocks.

Mycroft was still on the edge, thrusting erratically beneath him, sending harsh jerks of both pleasure and pain from his sensitive cock. He opened his eyes to look down before him, seeing Mycroft’s face crinkled and tense. Greg thrust a few more times, coaxing his partner to orgasm. “Come for me, Myc,” he uttered sensually, moving to lick inside Mycroft’s ear. Hands grabbed his body with a firmness Greg hadn’t expected from the man, and then all of the tension left Mycroft’s face. It was utterly precious to see Mycroft so let go, so overcome with pleasure. Greg’s body shook, gooseflesh breaking out over his skin, hearing the obscene groan that escaped Mycroft’s mouth as  he came.

“Yeah, that’s it, gorgeous,” he cooed, kissing him haphazardly between gasps of air.
“Greg,” Mycroft breathed, his body going limp beneath him, “that… that was… my god, it was…”
“Yeah, it was,” Greg agreed, sliding himself to one side so he could collapse boneless without cutting off his partner’s airway. He was still breathing heavily; they both were. “Fuck I haven’t felt that good in… bloody ages.”
“Neither. I can’t remember it ever being that… good.”
“Mycroft Holmes reduced to simply ‘good’? Sounds like I did a good job then,” Greg joked, laughing. He snuggled up close.

If he’d never experienced it this good, then that’s… well, sad. I know he hasn’t had a relationship in a long time, and random encounters (if he’s even done that) don’t have the same connection that makes it amazing. I should know. At least I can make him feel like this as often as I want since we’re dating. Hm, we’ll have to clean up soon before this mess gets too sticky or dry. But I just want to lay here…
“There’s some wipes in the drawer as well, along with a towel and tissues,” Mycroft spoke, as if reading Greg’s mind again.
“You’re prepared for anything.”
“I suppose. I just dislike being dirty.”
“You were fucking fantastically filthy a moment ago,” Greg commented, flickering his eyebrows.
“I admire your alliteration,” Mycroft responded, smiling at him. He still looked more relaxed than Greg had ever seen him. Utterly sated.
“Damn, effect’s worn off. I’ll have to try to make you speechless again.”
“Perhaps dinner, first,” Mycroft suggested. At the mention of food, Greg’s stomach rumbled. He laughed and nodded. He wasn’t about to decline an invitation like that, not when he was filling so completely… whole, and happy, for the first time that he could remember.

Chapter Text

John sat on the chair across from him at the kitchen table. They had a mug of tea each, and Greg continued to sip it despite it being too hot, out of nerves. He scolded himself for being anxious about seeing his mate, but John was there to ask questions as a doctor, and it shifted the dynamic uncomfortably for Greg.
“So, how’s things?” John asked casually.

“Good,” Greg responded, remembering to flick a smile the man’s way afterwards. “Things with Mycroft are great.” He smiled genuinely at that comment. It was true; the whole week so far they had been inseparable. They’d spent a lot of time in bed, just languidly exploring each other’s bodies, as well as general cuddles and touches while going about their day. Greg didn’t like that Mycroft had to be separated from him for these ‘sessions’ with John, but was comforted knowing his partner was just in the lounge reading.

“I’m glad to hear. How are you doing, though?”
Greg shrugged. “Much the same as Friday. No headaches or other pains.”
“No more voices or blackouts?”
“No.”
“Good. That’s really good. Nightmares?”
“Yeah,” he admitted. “Still have those. I don’t know what they’re about even. I just sort of wake up in a panic. I think there’s a theme of… being taken somewhere? It’s like, I sometimes remember flashes of it, and it’s like I’ve been drugged or something… or sometimes it’s just a picture of a dark room, like a facility of some kind.”
“Hm,” John hummed, tapping his pen on the table. “But you don’t have any concrete recollections of them?”
“No, just strange flashes.”
“Alright. And you’ve spoken to Mycroft about it?”

“Yeah. I’ve found that it’s all gotten a lot better since we started sharing a bed. That kind of just… happened. I fell asleep in his room one night when I ate too much, and then the next night we… yeah, I slept there until morning, and that’s been every night since.” Greg cleared his throat uncomfortably. He wasn’t opposed to John knowing he was having sex with Mycroft, not at all, but it just still felt a bit strange to talk about when John was there as his doctor. “It’s been comforting having him there when I sleep and wake.”

“That’s good, then. I would imagine the nightmares are just your subconscious trying to come to terms with what happened. Try not to worry too much about them. The images you’re seeing could just represent some deep-seated anxieties you have about yourself and the situation you’re in.”
“So you don’t think that they’re memories resurfacing?”

John paused and pursed his lips. “Ultimately it doesn’t matter, since you are safe and Mycroft is here to comfort you in the wake of it. It’s sounding a lot like you are improving in the comfort of his care. Your mind is bound to try to process what, I imagine, you spend the day trying to avoid thinking about. It’s actually really good you have him there.”

As a detective, Greg instantly recognised the deflection. He let it pass, since often he found his interrogation skills bled over into his day-to-day conversations, and it only served to make him paranoid regarding his friends’ intentions. Usually they weren’t aware of the signals they were giving off, and their intentions weren’t malicious. Greg just smiled and nodded his agreement, warming his hands with the mug.

“It’s easier with him around.”
“I’m glad you finally got him, mate.”
Greg chuckled. He’d complained, he’d whined, he’d professed his undying love while drunk, to John about Mycroft. “Me too. I wonder though if you’re happier that I’m happy, or that I’m now likely to be a more cheerful mate at the pub.”
John laughed and took a swig of his tea, not responding. Greg exhaled, some of the tension leaving his body. He’d been glad there hadn’t been any ‘incidents’ after the footsteps one, of which he hadn’t told Mycroft. He was hoping it was all just part of the healing process and had now passed.

“So, how’s Sherlock?”
“Good. Reclusive as ever, but occupied with a series of new chemical experiments at least. He came to visit you in the hospital while you were unconscious.”
“I know. I appreciated it. I haven’t seen him since, but I think he’s feeling a bit uncomfortable with my new relationship with his brother.”

John tilted his head to the side, considering. “Well, I think he’s alright with it actually. He does care for Mycroft, even if he refuses to show it, and I think ultimately he wants you both to be happy. I think his exact words when I brought it up were: ‘Finally I don’t have to listen to them pining anymore’. I think that’s as much approval Sherlock is capable of saying.”
Greg felt a faint warmth spread in his chest. He hadn’t expected Sherlock to be ok with their relationship, so to hear that he was supportive was a blessing.

“And how’s life treating you, John?”
“Oh, you know, the usual. Sherlock keeps me on my toes. I think I spend as much time treating wounds and acting as a voice of common sense as I did in the army.”

Greg pulled an amused face but nodded. He knew Sherlock could get rather self-destructive with his insane experiments. He was shocked, really, that John had not only agreed to live with him but had actually stayed. He guessed being in the army desensitised John to the gore that was often a part of Sherlock’s experiments. Then again, he knew that generally psychiatrists weren’t put near the action, so Greg had a suspicion that John had actually wanted to be out there as a combatant instead. That theory was supported by the obvious thirst for adrenaline and danger the man had. Really, it was a miracle the universe saw fit to throw him and Sherlock together. He didn’t know anyone else that would not only be fine with but actually enjoy the complicated dynamic of their relationship.

“He’s still…” He tried to think of the right word to say. “Sherlock?”
“Yep. Still an arrogant prick that doesn’t give a damn about other people, still does his own thing, still spouts off random deductions about the world around him and asks equally eerie questions.”
Greg couldn’t help but laugh. “Yeah, that’s him, but I guess I meant more… towards you.”

Greg kept his gaze on John. They’d often find themselves in deeper conversations regarding John and Sherlock’s relationship, since it was something his friend had needed a lot of support about. John was predominantly straight; he had been convinced he was entirely heterosexual for his whole life up until meeting Sherlock, and then fought hard to maintain that illusion for two years into sharing a flat with the man. Sherlock was, from what Greg could tell, gay but asexual. It was clear to anyone that Sherlock thought John was his entire world, so the love was there, but he wasn’t one for physical intimacy. It had worked, at the start at least; John wasn’t comfortable being intimate with a man and Sherlock wasn’t comfortable being intimate with a man.

Still Greg had worried that it would wear on the both of them; John being a sexual person and not getting that from his partner and Sherlock not coping with being unable to fulfil his needs. He ended up providing a sympathetic ear to the both of them.

“Yeah, it’s um, still going good. He’s, er, trying, and so am I. It’s slow going but that’s right for us both, you know? ‘Cause both of us have issues, so it’s not… there’s no blame, yeah? It’s good.”
“I’m glad.” And with that, the topic ended. The silence that followed was rather uncomfortable. Greg searched his brain for something else to say. He ended up falling short, since all he could think of to ask was how Mike was doing, and he wasn’t sure if John had seen him lately.

Thankfully Mycroft chose this moment to tap on the door and peek into the kitchen. “Things are going well, I trust?”
“Yes, I believe he’s making good progress. You were right; him staying with you has done him good.”
Greg was confused at what Mycroft had said to John to make him ‘right’, as well as the pointed expression Mycroft gave John in response.
“I’m always right. Don’t forget it,” he said coldly. Greg frowned and shook his head at Mycroft, silently asking what the hell was going on. Had he missed something? John was just being friendly, and suddenly Mycroft sneers at him and says that?
“Yes, well. I think, er, I think I’ll be going.”
“John–”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah, Greg? Lunchtime.”

Greg watched John shuffle out of the room. As soon as the door shut, Greg turned his attention directly to Mycroft. “What the hell was that?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Mycroft answered casually, putting the kettle on.
“You’re serious? That. The whole ‘I’m always right, don’t forget it’ statement. John’s a mate and just looking out for me.”
“Merely a reminder, darling. There was a disagreement between Dr Watson and myself recently. He dismissed my wishes, and acted without my consent, despite my warnings of the result.”
“What disagreement? What happened?”
“Nothing you need concern yourself with now, Gregory.”
“I don’t like being kept in the dark. And you know what? You’re as bloody arrogant as your brother.”
“I believe we have concluded such in the past.”
“See? There you go again with the arrogance,” Greg snapped, crossing his arms over his chest.
“No need to get defensive or upset, Greg.”
“Really? So tell me.”
“There are things I cannot; you know this.”
“Yeah, stuff about your work. When it’s about me I have a right to know.”

Mycroft grumbled and sighed, leaning heavily on the countertop. Greg had taken a shot with the disagreement being about him, but it seemed to have been on-point.
“Had I known it would upset you this much, I would have said nothing,” he mumbled, rolling his shoulders before standing up to look Greg back in the eyes. “While you were in the induced coma, Dr Watson had decided that you were fit to be taken out of it two days earlier than initially planned. I disagreed. He informed me without reservation that I was not a medical professional, nor had I assumed legal rights over you, therefore my opinion did not matter. He instructed the doctor to attempt taking you out. It… did not end well, and you were intubated and induced again. I admit my emotions are affecting my behaviour towards him because of it, but I hope you can at least appreciate my reasoning.”

Greg said nothing. He’d expected it to be some bickering over Sherlock’s behaviour. They seemed to enjoy blowing off steam over Sherlock’s annoyances by fighting with each other. Greg had let them, since they ended up fine again a day or so later, and Sherlock remained intact. He hadn’t expected… that. “Oh,” he uttered, unable to decide anything else to say.

“I apologise if I have made you uncomfortable.”
“He cares for me too, Myc. You can’t hold this grudge against him, since he probably feels terrible about it as well.”
Mycroft carried his tea over to the able and put it on a coaster. “You are always so considerate of others,” he said softly, before pressing a kiss to Greg’s head. He paused and looked closer. “I believe your stitches can be removed tomorrow.”
“Oh, good. John can do it when he comes.”
“John is no longer a general practitioner.”
“Yeah but he was, once, before moving into psychiatry, and so I’m sure he can remember how to do it.” Greg grinned at Mycroft reassuringly. “Don’t worry.”
“If you’re sure,” he answered, and pressed a kiss to Greg’s lips. He then took a seat beside him at the table. “I’m afraid I have to go out for a few hours this afternoon. Work.”
Greg nodded. He could understand work commitments. Sometimes he’d be called in on a day off to assist with a new case that came up. He’d never really minded too much, which was probably why the Yard kept doing it.

Greg looked about, and sat up. He’d had his head resting on Mycroft’s bare chest, while they lay in bed together. His head flickered from side to side to take in his surroundings. He didn’t know how he got there. Again.

It was night, judging by the darkness of the room. He’d missed half the day. Mycroft was looking at him with a confused expression, his eyes bleary and his hair mussed. He looked like he’d been asleep for hours. Greg tried to hide the panic that was spreading over him.
“Gregory?”
“Sorry, yeah, just… need to pee.”
Mycroft chuckled. “Don’t let me keep you.”
The explanation seemed to appease Mycroft. He got out of bed and walked carefully to the bathroom. He gripped the sink and panted to try overcome the anxiety welling up.
Shit. Fucking bugger shit.

Chapter Text

Greg swirled his phone in his hand. John had come by for the scheduled Thursday session and they’d chatted like before. Greg hadn’t brought up missing half of Sunday either time the doctor had come to see him this week; he was too afraid of sharing it with John in case it got back to work. He knew John could tell something was up, but he just said that he wasn’t sure what to do during the day to occupy his time. Greg didn’t know if the John bought it or not.

Still, he wanted to talk to someone about the experience, since he wasn’t able to keep it to himself and do so convincingly around Mycroft. Especially considering Mycroft’s… talents. He didn’t know why he was keeping it from Mycroft exactly, other than expecting him to panic, overreact, and then tell John about it who would then tell the Yard, and possibly the hospital. Mycroft could even demand Greg return to the hospital for tests and observation. He couldn’t deny that it was probably the best thing to do, but he just would rather forget it was happening at all.
It could all just disappear, right? It’s just temporary. No point worrying everyone or getting sectioned over it.

The question was, who could he call? There was Mike. He could talk to Mike, and the man had offered even. But he was a doctor, and could potentially override his right to privacy for the sake of his health. He wasn’t sure he wanted to risk that just yet. He wanted to just… talk it out. Get an idea of where he stood with it. Not have someone else decide they knew what was best and take over. Maybe he’d talk to Mike later after getting it through his head himself.   He scrolled through his contacts. He didn’t talk to most of them, and there weren’t even that many people there. His mother was out of the question. Sally too. He paused at Sherlock’s number. Sherlock would likely give him the most options out of anyone he knew, and not just fixate on what Greg didn’t want to hear. Unfortunately, he was also John’s partner. Greg tapped his phone with his thumb while he considered the consequences.

He guessed he could ask Sherlock to keep the conversation between the two of them – lord knows Greg’s done the same for him enough in the past – but he didn’t want to put his friend in a position of hiding things from both his partner and his brother.
Then again, he reasoned, Sherlock was more than happy to do so without needing to be asked or with much reason. He’d kept John in the dark and blatantly lied to Mycroft about things as insignificant about taking dancing lessons as well as (thankfully rare) relapses into drugs.

Greg pressed dial, and hoped that Sherlock was in a good mood.
“Bored already, Greg?”
“Hello to you too, Sherlock,” Greg answered with a smile. The fact that he was calling him ‘Greg’ and not any other name beginning with the letter G was an encouraging sign. “I’m not bored yet, mate.”
“Good. I take it you are calling for a specific reason, and not merely to gloat of your time off.”
“Um, yeah, I have a reason, actually, I’m just, er, not sure how to–”
“What’s bothering you, Greg? You’re not usually this unsettled.”

Greg took a breath. Sherlock was being surprisingly considerate, and so Greg knew he had to take the chance. He gathered the courage to speak, hoping he wasn’t going to dismiss him. “I wanted to talk about something, but I don’t feel comfortable talking about it with… most people. I hoped that you might listen and… and not tell John or Mycroft.”
“I see,” Sherlock hummed in his deep baritone. Greg could picture his face in his mind’s eye, the piercing blue eyes squinting in curiosity.
“It’s nothing about them,” Greg added, biting his lip. “It’s… about me.”
“Yes, I gathered as much. What I can’t deduce is exactly why you would wish to keep something from my brother. You are quite contented to share everything with him now, after all.”
“I’m… I’m worried, but I don’t want to worry Myc or talk to John in case he says something to the Yard and I am refused returning to work.”

There was silence as Sherlock thought. Greg found he was waiting with baited breath.
Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea.
“If it’s something that would make you unfit for work, then you shouldn’t keep it hidden. That said, I anticipate you are dramatizing the situation and believe yourself to be incapable of performing your duties to your usual standard, when in actuality the reasons behind your concerns are in fact negligible.”
Greg had to blink a few times as he processed that. “Right. So that’s basically you saying it’s probably not as bad as I think?”
“Yes,” Sherlock groaned. “I know your job is important to you, even if your ability to do it to any adequate degree is at times questionable.”
“Oi, be nice,” Greg snapped. “We can’t all be super geniuses.”
“Quite. I admit your absence has been noticeable. Donovan is a stickler for procedure, but lacks your… finesse. You combine what intelligence you have with your understanding of human nature, and, more importantly, realising when you need to seek help from higher powers.”
“And by that, you mean you.”
“Certainly. That is what you are doing now, is it not?”

“I…” Greg made to argue, but he had to admit that he was indeed seeking Sherlock’s help, of sorts. He didn’t want to bait the man into an argument and lose the opportunity to speak to him while he was being this receptive to conversation.
“Greg. As long as you are not putting yourself or others at risk, then you should be fine.”
He frowned. “It’s not… I don’t think others would be at risk. I’m not, like, contagious or anything.”
“There are other ways to put people at risk and you know it. Alright, so what’s going on?”

Greg wanted to tell him about the voices and blackouts. He’d remained hearing the arrant noise or two for the entire week while Mycroft was away at work. He was, however, still concerned about information getting back to Mycroft and the Yard. Sherlock might disregard most rules, but he knew deep down that the younger Holmes did care for him and would go above his head if he felt it was for his overall benefit.

“I don’t know what to say,” he admitted.
Sherlock sighed dramatically, and Greg could hear the eye-roll. “Shouldn’t you have thought of that before calling me?”
“It’s… hard.” Greg winced as he heard Sherlock’s annoyed click. “It’s more that I’m worried about things, than things actually being wrong.”
“Then why can you not talk to Mycroft?”
“You know Myc,” Greg said with a gentle sigh. “He tends to fuss and make things out to be more than they are. I’m already doing that; I don’t need more added on. I guess I need a voice of reason.”
“I’m always happy to provide you with such,” Sherlock said, pride in his voice.
“With this head injury… I’m worried that I won’t be the same. That I’ll lose it completely all of a sudden, or slowly go mad. I mean, what if I can’t remember more than just the accident? What if I have permanent amnesia and keep forgetting things? What if there’s stuff I’ve already forgotten since waking up? I can’t be like that and be a detective. I can’t–”
“Greg, calm down,” Sherlock instructed. Greg nodded despite being on the phone, and took a few breaths.
“It’s easy to lose yourself in what ifs,” Sherlock said slowly. “You have to learn to ask the right questions at the right times, and accept everything else as simply being.”
“I… what does that even mean?”
“This is obviously distressing you. Given you have no evidence to support any of your worries, then the most appropriate course of action would to simply stop asking the question which incites such fear.”

Greg clenched his jaw and had to stop himself hissing with an intake of breath. He did have evidence to support his concerns.
“And if I do?”
“Then you reveal what evidences you have acquired and we shall discuss if they are conjectural or cause for concern.”
“You’d listen to me, for that?”
“Of course,” Sherlock replied. “I do want to help you, Greg. You’ve helped me in the past. I am not always as heartless as I appear.”
“No, sorry. Of course.”
“Greg,” Sherlock started, and Greg knew what was coming. “Do you have validated reason for these concerns?”
“I… uh, that is… well, I can’t remember the accident still, can I? Just keep getting nightmares, and sometimes flashes of memory of those dreams… but nothing solid. Makes me wonder, is all.”
“Hmm,” Sherlock hummed, not sounding convinced. Greg was glad that this was a phone conversation, and that Sherlock couldn’t start analysing him by his appearance.
“If you think I’m just making a bigger deal out of this than I need, then that’s all I have to know to try calm the paranoia, you know,” Greg said. He tried to make his tone falsely light-hearted.
“I believe you should talk to Mycroft, as it is a significant concern of yours.”
“No, not yet.”
“If you have other examples that cause these fears–”
“No, Sherlock,” Greg interrupted. There was an awkward silence following the forceful reprimand.

“Very well,” he conceded. “My advice remains the same. Stop asking yourself questions that only serve to worry you. Do things that will help alleviate your fears. You are not in danger of compromising cases if the extent of your issues is not recalling a traumatic event and having subsequent nightmares.”
“Thank you, Sherlock,” Greg said, his tone much softer.
“You’re welcome, Greg. I won’t tell John or Mycroft, as I agreed, however I reiterate that I believe you should. My brother will notice your upset and undoubtedly internalise it as a failing on his own behalf if he does not know the reasons behind it,” he warned.
“He might not. He’s a bit distracted with being happy, for once. Besides, he couldn’t tell I was hitting on him for years. I don’t think he’s going to notice anything amiss.”
“Yes, that was rather pitiful to watch,” Sherlock grumbled. “I have to go. The mass spectrometer has completed its analysis and I have to review the data.”
“You’re taking personal calls while at work?”
“Where else would I be at two pm on a Thursday? Besides, I consider talking to you work, therefore I can honestly answer no.”
“Shove off, you,” Greg laughed and ended the call. He honestly did feel better after that talk.

~

Kissing Mycroft remained fantastic. He felt like a teenager again, making out on the sofa at every opportunity. He knew Mycroft enjoyed it, although he’d said he didn’t feel like a teenager doing so since he never did that in his teenage years. Greg was determined to make up for what the man had been missing out on, and had grabbed him at every opportunity throughout the week.

He ran his hands along Mycroft’s body, whispered sweet nothings in his ear, kissed all over his neck… he didn’t hold back letting his affections known, in any case.
Mycroft was slowly starting to reciprocate more. It warmed Greg’s heart every time his partner initiated a kiss, or a touch. He was obviously still timid, but definitely gaining confidence. Greg was sure to encourage him as much as possible, since he obviously enjoyed being able to do as he felt without fear of rejection.

“Brother… erhg,” a deep baritone voice sounded from the doorway, while Greg had Mycroft on his lap and was kissing him passionately. Mycroft jumped and swung his head around, and Greg just chuckled.
“Hello, Sherlock. Normal people knock and wait to be invited in,” he said, laying back against the couch, paying no mind to his dishevelled state.
“I doubt you would have heard me Lestrade, even if I had, due to your…” he curled his lip upwards, as if in disgust, “activities with my brother.”
Greg held Myc’s hands firm to stop him trying to run and hide. “Well people who knock don’t have to be confronted with such images, or worse.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes and strode into the living room. His long coat billowed dramatically behind him, and Greg suspected he kept his hands in the pockets to puff it out for even more dramatic effect. The younger Holmes was tall like his brother, taller even; he was more skinny than lean like Mycroft, and had a mop of seemingly untamed dark curls atop his head instead of Mycroft’s gingery auburn colour.
Sherlock brooded in the corner chair, saying nothing as Mycroft slid off Greg’s lap to sit beside him on the sofa. Greg couldn’t stop seeing him as the petulant teenager he’d seen in photos Myc had shared with him; it was better than the first image he had, of the emaciated twenty-four year old heroin addict. He had to admit that Sherlock had mellowed a lot since John came into their lives, particularly since starting their strange relationship three years prior.

“Did you actually want something, brother mine, or are you here solely as an annoyance to this originally fine Friday evening?”
“I want information on the cases Sally is conducting starting Monday.”
“No,” Greg answered simply. He smiled, knowing the real reason Sherlock had paid a visit. He was, in all likelihood, concerned about Greg’s wellbeing and wanted to get visual data to confirm or refute any conclusions he’d made by yesterday’s phone call.
Sherlock raked his eyes over Greg, who sat there grinning and relaxed, before giving an almost imperceptible nod.
So, he’s convinced now that I’m actually ok. I’d think he was sweet, if he weren’t so insufferable all the time.
“But the snippets of information I’m given to formulate my reports are so… dull. John’s also not been impressed with the additional experiments in the flat that I’ve had to do in order to occupy my brain before it rots.”
“Ah, so you’re here because you want to keep John happy,” Greg said. Sherlock flashed him a dangerous glare.
Oh, so that is a real reason for being here, and not just an excuse to come over and investigate me.

Greg continued, trying to seem as friendlily-helpful as possible. “Why don’t you start trying to do more,” he waved his hand in the air, “couples-based things instead?”
“You mean what you two were engaging in just a moment ago?”
“Well, I wasn’t suggesting you snog him senseless, but I’m sure it wouldn’t necessarily hurt. John might actually enjoy it.”

Sherlock turned his nose up in disgust, but the fact he didn’t start shouting a list of reasons why he wouldn’t told both Greg and Mycroft that he was considering it. Keeping John happy was the one thing that seemed to be able to make Sherlock do things that were outside of his comfort zone. Not playing the violin at four in the morning, for example, was one thing Sherlock had done for his partner’s comfort.

“It wasn’t a problem to let me in on the cases, the whole story, when you were in charge.”
“Gregory is not in charge for now, Sherlock, and you will have to accept that. He has no communication with work.” Mycroft returned Sherlock’s glare.

Greg had to be careful, since sometimes the Holmes brothers got rather petty and hurtful in their conflicts. Sherlock would resort to horrid insults and physical violence, and Mycroft would become the most unbearable egotistical prat. He didn’t want to act as intermediary between them this time. “Alright, Sherlock, you’ve heard it as it is. I don’t have any say in it. You’ll have to wait until I’m back and then I can bring you along.”
“How inconvenient,” he rumbled, looking away. Greg put his hand over Mycroft’s to stop him snapping; his partner always seemed to have a shorter fuse in relation to his brother. There was a lot of history there, and he knew that Mycroft hadn’t let go of a lot of it.
“Perhaps you can occupy yourself in other ways, that do not involve encroaching upon Dr Watson’s personal space.”
Sherlock’s head snapped to focus directly on his brother’s. “Yes, perhaps I’ll come by tomorrow and adjust all of your furniture a few centimetres out of place. Seeing you flustered is always amusing.”
“Sherlock,” Greg warned. He gripped Mycroft’s hand tighter. “Be nice. There’s no need to upset your brother like that.”
“Yes, Mummy,” Sherlock grumbled sarcastically. Greg snorted his annoyance, but didn’t try argue. Sherlock delighted in arguing. “Ergh, is this how it’s always going to be from now on? Facing down the pair of you as a united force?”
“I’m not against you, Sherlock,” Greg said patiently. “Neither is Mycroft. I’m still your friend, even if I’m seeing your brother. My priorities have just shifted now.”

Sherlock turned to give Greg a very unsettling stare. “Almost doesn’t seem real, does it? This,” he waved his hand in their direction, “domestic bliss.”

~

Greg lay in bed with Mycroft. Sherlock’s words had echoed through his head since the younger Holmes left. He couldn’t shake it. He didn’t even know why it unsettled him this much. Sherlock seemed to have noticed, and had left without another word but with a smug grin on his face.

It wasn’t unusual to begin a conversation with Sherlock on friendly terms, and end it being insulted. Greg just wasn’t sure exactly what he’d done to make Sherlock disgruntled with him; but then again that wasn’t usual either. He hoped that Sherlock hadn’t been deliberately trying to rattle Greg as much as he had, but Greg couldn’t put it past him.

He cuddled up to his partner’s side, his cheek pressed against the pale skin, looking down to their feet. He didn’t want Mycroft analysing him. He was content to mull over his thoughts while Mycroft absent-mindedly stroked along his back.

“Something’s troubling you,” Mycroft said into the quiet.
“You’re quiet as well, love,” he answered, not moving.
“Yes, well. My brother’s unexpected visits tend to dull my mood.”
“You’re imagining him coming in and making all your furniture crooked, aren’t you?”
“It is ghastly, Gregory. And not beyond him.”
“Yeah, I don’t doubt it. He doesn’t understand it, though. He doesn’t know how much it really affects you. He thinks it’s just irritating that he would do it. I don’t think he realises you can’t sleep until it’s all back how it’s supposed to be.”
“Just the thought makes me cringe. He used to do it to me as a child. He’d mess up my desk, and eventually he decided to see how far he could go. An experiment, he said, to see how much something needed to be moved to bother me. I’m sorry, darling, I don’t mean to–”
“Hey, it’s fine. So you’re a little OCD. I didn’t care about that when we were just friends, so why would it bother me now?” Greg turned his head to look lovingly into Mycroft’s eyes. “I’ll learn to adapt to doing things the way it makes you comfortable, and you’ll do the same for me with my issues.”

“I– thank you. So what is bothering you?”
Greg had rather hoped his partner would have forgotten the start of the conversation. “Just thinking about work,” he said. It wasn’t entirely untrue. “It’s only two weeks and a bit until I’m back on the job. I guess I was just wondering if I’ll be ready?”
“If you’re not, then you’re not. You just take more time; that’s no issue.” Mycroft bent forward and pressed a kiss on Greg’s head. “You still have two weeks.”
“Yeah,” Greg breathed softly. “Two weeks.” He knew that time could fly by in the happy daze that had been his life with Mycroft, and suddenly he’d be faced with returning without having really given it any thought at all.

He nestled in to sleep, still thinking about Sherlock’s words and how far he was willing to push his integrity to return to work as desired whilst there being the risk of compromising his cases.

 

Chapter Text

Greg relaxed in his usual chair at the coffee house on a calm, albeit slightly chilly, Thursday afternoon. He’d just seen the doctor at the hospital, who had told him he was making good progress and would likely be cleared next week for work. It was a relief deep down to not only go back to the Yard, but that he was coping well enough.

He was fine. He still heard the voices and noises occasionally, but he managed it so that it wasn’t a problem. In fact, that was why he had a ‘usual’ chair; on Monday when Mycroft had headed off to work, Greg had found he could hear the distant noises in the house again and had decided that the best way to dull them out was to surround himself within a bustling atmosphere.

Unfortunately, he’d blacked out and found himself suddenly in the café, waiting at the counter to order. The barrister had noticed his distress and that was how he’d gotten to know Elaine – she’d asked if he was alright, and he’d just said that he still had some pain from an accident. They had introduced themselves, he’d ordered a coffee, and sat down at the table tucked at the back of the shop behind the coffee machine.

He watched as Elaine smiled his way. He returned the smile, but she had people to attend to and so couldn’t start a conversation with him. He returned his gaze to the coffee he cradled in his hands.

Elaine chatted occasionally with Greg when there weren’t customers to serve. It was nice; he usually talked of Mycroft or his work, and how he was looking forward to returning in a week or two. Elaine was friendly and seemed to have taken a liking to him, bringing him coffee and tea without him needing to order.

She often she spoke to Greg of wanting a boyfriend, but how she only ever received interest from men her age that drooled over her body or older men hitting on her while ordering. She did have that classical magazine-worthy image, but didn’t seem to obsess over it like some women he knew – it was just natural to her, and she didn’t give it much thought beyond the comments she received.

Greg figured she felt comfortable being herself around him since she considered him ‘gay’ and ‘taken’, and therefore not ogling her but actually enjoying her company. Not that he would otherwise, but he could understand her thought process. He found he was rather enjoying being someone else’s again. Not that he’d really been looking beforehand, what with his hopeless attraction to one Mycroft Holmes.

“Hey there! You look lost in thought.”

Greg looked up from his coffee to see a woman in bright red standing before him. She helped herself to a seat at his table, without an invitation. Greg instantly felt ill at ease around her; she was obviously inconsiderate of boundaries, and her gaze was positively predatory.

“Just… thinking,” he answered distractedly, taking in her mannerisms. She obviously thought highly of herself, and Greg was disquieted by the way she displayed her breasts so blatantly.
“That’s bad for you, you know,” she laughed. Greg didn’t say anything, keeping his jaw clenched. “I’m Catrin. I don’t often bother hanging around here, but how could I resist someone so rugged and handsome?”
Greg had to suppress his flinching. He was sure he still showed flickers of disgust, but this Catrin was too self-absorbed to notice. He didn’t want to be rude, but he really wanted her to leave.

He’d had a few women seat themselves across from him whilst he was there this week, but so far they’d all either seen his discomfort and left or smiled politely and walked away when he told them he was seeing someone.
“I’m flattered but I am taken,” he managed to say with a strained voice.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that with me. Even if you are, you can’t say you aren’t interested. Who wouldn’t be? And let me tell you, you’ll be glad you gave me a shot.”
“No, I am not interested. I am happy with my partner. Have a good day.”

The woman didn’t seem to believe him, nor did she make any indication of leaving. Greg sighed; he generally didn’t want to play the ‘gay’ card, since he didn’t believe that should be the only reason anyone respected a person’s wishes, but this woman was proving difficult.
“Yet you’re here on your own. Don’t be shy; come out with me tonight. You know I’m better than what you’ve got.” She grinned at him, her false teeth clearly visible amidst her real ones. Her face was pointed, her eyes looking as if they were popping from her head, and really she looked more like a skeleton with skin than anyone attractive. It saddened him that society was so obsessed with being thin that this garish woman went about her day thinking she was the pinnacle of beauty and therefore better than everyone else. 

“Madam, I am simply enjoying a relaxing afternoon while my partner is at work. I fully intend to be home by the time he arrives.” There; he’d said that he was both seeing a man and it was serious enough to be living with him. He didn’t lie… it just could be interpreted as a longer-standing relationship than it was.
She scoffed at him. “Don’t give me that ‘I’m gay’ nonsense.”
He really didn’t want to leave since the ambient noise of the café was doing wonders for his anxiety regarding the errant noises, and he still had a full four hours until Mycroft would be home. Thankfully, Elaine had noticed his distress and came to his rescue.
“Hey, Greg, are you and your Myc still good for dinner tomorrow?”
“Eh, yeah, Elaine. We’ll be there.”
“Great! You two are just the most adorable couple ever,” she cooed, a happy grin on her face. She then turned to the offending woman. “They’ve been together through thick and thin those two. It’s heart-warming. I can still remember the day they first came in here. I’d just started and I mixed up Myc’s order. He was so nice about it.”

Greg couldn’t help but grin smugly at the woman as she sneered at him. She grabbed her purse and left in a huff, mumbling about not wasting her time.
“Thanks, Elaine, I owe you.”
“Nah, you don’t. It goes both ways, doesn’t it? I know what it’s like to get that kind of attention and so of course I’m gonna help.” She grinned at him pleasantly, which Greg returned. Elaine turned back to the orders counter, and Greg told himself he’d keep a better eye out to help for when next a man gave her trouble.

~

When Greg had told Mycroft about the encounter with the woman at the café, he’d been rather upset. The next day, Elaine had said Mycroft had come in to thank her. Greg didn’t know why, but it tugged at his heart to know that Mycroft was that protective over him, and appreciative of people helping him. They’d had some incredible sex that night as a result.

Greg had, before consulting Mycroft, invited Sherlock and John over for dinner. The doctor had sounded so frustrated yesterday during their Friday session that Greg had taken pity on him. Sherlock was creating more mayhem than usual in his boredom. He’d left a container of eyeballs in the microwave Wednesday, resulting in John reheating them and almost eating them for Thursday’s dinner; he’d turned the bath into a mould-culture incubator; and that Friday morning he’d covered every inch of bench and table space with poisons extracted from supermarket items and left for work early. It had been the last point that had prompted Greg into offering a poison-free meal for his friend.

However, he’d been too preoccupied once Mycroft had returned home to tell him of the offer. It had been a rather startling announcement for his partner this morning.
Greg promised to handle the cooking, much to Mycroft’s relief, and to act as the peacekeeper between him and Sherlock. It wasn’t all that different to his everyday life, really.

Mycroft was still anxiously cleaning the house. Greg didn’t know why he needed to, as the place was generally immaculate, but left his partner to it. Sometimes it was better to just let the man do what he needed to calm himself. He knew better than to offer to help, since no matter what he did it’d be wrong and it was more the act of occupying himself that was helping than completing tasks.

He’d made Thai for dinner. There was a vegetable green curry and a tofu and cashew nut stir fry. He was rather proud of his recipe for the latter; it had always been a show piece when he’d cooked for others. Normally he made it with chicken, but found the fried tofu worked just as well.

“You might want to shower now, love, before they get here,” Greg said whilst checking on the coconut rice.
Mycroft paused while getting himself a glass of water, looking down at his sweaty person. “I er, yes, yes that’d be prudent.”
“Relax, gorgeous. It’s just your brother and his boyfriend.”
“Exactly. You know Sherlock and his insistence on pointing out my flaws and making fun–”
“Hey,” Greg interrupted, and pecked a kiss on the man’s lips. “No. It’s going to be fine. We’ve spent plenty of time with them in the past. He’s not your mother; he doesn’t actually hate you and think badly of you for x, y, z. He just likes teasing you, like all annoying little brothers.”

Mycroft was still tense and fidgety. Greg enveloped him in a hug. “It’s just our first dinner hosting as a couple,” he said quietly in Greg’s ear.
“Don’t fret about that,” Greg responded, stifling a laugh. “This is just helping my mate get a break from your crazy little brother.”

Mycroft showered and dressed, unfortunately in his usual three-piece battle armour. Their guests arrived on time and the dinner began promptly before too much idle chit-chat could happen.

The Holmes brothers bickered occasionally, but Greg found the evening was going well. John was grateful to be eating something both enjoyable and not potentially lethal. He was glad that John and Mycroft seemed to be getting along much better than the last time he’d seen them together.  

When dinner finished, Mycroft insisted upon cleaning up immediately. Greg decided to help, and asked John to pick out a film that they could watch with some coffee. Sherlock seemed disgruntled at the idea, but stormed off into the lounge anyway.

“That went well,” Greg commented as he put the wine bottles in the recycling.
“Indeed. Sherlock might be reaching the end of his ability to bite his tongue, however.”
“Probably. All the wine hasn’t helped that either, I guess.”
“You are aware that you and John shared the majority of the alcohol tonight, aren’t you my dear? Sherlock barely drank. Or ate, for that matter.”
“Oh.” Greg only recalled having two glasses and yet he’d just disposed of two bottles. He shrugged. “Oh well.”

Mycroft was bent over loading the dishwasher, giving Greg a spectacular view of his pert backside. Greg’s crotch responded gleefully. He stood behind Mycroft as he closed the door and pressed himself up flush against his body.
“Mmmm, you look fucking stunning,” Greg uttered into Mycroft’s ear. “I am going to have fun unwrapping you later.”
“Gregory,” Mycroft hissed, but without any real bite. Greg could see his cheeks flush red. “We have company.”
“Mhm, company who know I’m fucking you.”
“You are inebriated.”
“You are sexy,” Greg counted.
Ok I think I know where the rest of the wine went. What else am I supposed to do when he stands there in just his waistcoat with his sleeves rolled?

“Ergh,” Sherlock’s deep groan sounded from behind them. “I believe you invited us solely for dinner, not dinner and a show.”
Greg didn’t release his grasp of Mycroft until he was sure his trousers had returned to somewhat normal. He filled those moments with a dramatic sigh and another kiss to Mycroft’s cheek.
“What’d you pick?” he addressed John.
“Um, I think you’ll like it. It’s about a detective that has to leave the city because a case gets too much for him, but finds that the case follows him; and, well, he ends up working on it while working the other one he’s assigned and like, the local one helps him solve the first one.”
“So you want me to relax from my day job by watching a movie about it?” Greg asked, laughing. John suddenly looked embarrassed.
“No! No, you’re right, sorry. That’s, er, yeah we… er, we can pick something else,” he rambled into his chest.

“John,” Sherlock announced forcefully, “we are leaving. I have no wish to witness something that would require me to scour my brain.”
“Hang on, I don’t want to go back to that chemical lab of a flat yet! Maybe if you kept some space for living then it wouldn’t be so hard to stay there.”
“You would rather stay and watch my brother have sex in the kitchen?”
“They were just cuddling, Sherlock.”
Greg bit his lip, unwilling to let John know just how close Sherlock was to the truth.
Sherlock set Mycroft with a deathly glare, accentuated by the blue in his eyes. “I don’t know how he even fits given the stick permanently lodged up there,” he sneered.
“Sherlock!” both Mycroft and Greg shouted. The younger Holmes seemed satisfied and smiled smugly. Greg rolled his eyes.
“Trying to get yourself thrown out isn’t going to work either, mate. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing,” Greg warned. “Apologise to your brother.”
“No.”
“Sherlock.”
“I don’t apologise.”

Greg was getting angry, possibly because of the wine, but he could see that Mycroft was starting to shake from the conflict and so he closed his eyes and exhaled through his nose. He took Mycroft’s hand and held it tightly. It was upsetting, really, that the man was so affected by family. Mrs Holmes was even worse, the few occasions Greg had witnessed them in the same room as each other.
“If you want to leave, Sherlock, you can. We’re not stopping you. John doesn’t have to accompany you, though. How about instead of insulting my partner, you try and butter-up yours?”

John ended up taking Sherlock home without much fuss. He shot Greg and Mycroft an apologetic grimace as he left, which Greg appreciated. Greg suggested that he and Mycroft still watch a movie, as it’d help Myc to wind down. He wasn’t particularly interested in watching a detective movie, however.

Most of Mycroft’s film collection was a mix of international cinema, political dramas, and documentaries. Greg preferred action and, secretly, romantic films. He didn’t find learning about things to be relaxing, especially after however many glasses of wine he’d had.

Mycroft lay on the couch as Greg searched through the shelves of DVDs. He opened a cupboard in the cabinet, only to hear Mycroft quickly shout out ‘no’. It was too late, and Greg had opened the door to reveal a secret collection of films. His first thought was that he’d found Mycroft’s porn stash.
“I…” Mycroft started, but didn’t finish.
Greg looked at the titles. They were all Disney films. He broke out into a wide grin. “No way! You like Disney?”
“Gregory, I, that is, um…” Mycroft stuttered, still frozen in embarrassment.
“That’s brilliant!”
“It is?”
“Yeah, I love Disney. No need to be ashamed, Myc. They’re classics. I used to watch them as a kid over and over… even now, there’s something comforting about watching them. The storylines get dark and about the sort of stuff I deal with during the day, and so it’s good to kick back and watch everything actually have a happy ending.”

Greg pulled out a handful of titles. They were obviously used, but the original versions. He lifted up ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to show his partner. “I love this one. Shall we watch it?”
“What do you mean they’re about what you deal with in your job?” Mycroft asked, frowning.
“Imprisonment, Stockholm Syndrome, and, in a way, bestiality,” Greg said as he lifted the DVD into the air for Mycroft to see.
“Murder, trespassing, fleeing a crime and living as a fugitive, assault, incest,” he listed, holding up the ‘Lion King’. “Identity fraud.” He showed ‘Mulan’ to an incredulous Mycroft. “This one has identity fraud as well as petty theft, attempted murder, and the experience of slavery,” he said as he pulled out ‘Aladdin’. “This one, geez. Kidnapping, Underage drinking and gambling, vandalism, and I’m sorry but I can’t un-think ‘paedophilia’ when I hear of a man collecting boys to go to somewhere called ‘Pleasure Island’. Not to mention the whole slave labour thing,” Greg said, brandishing the cover of ‘Pinocchio’.

“Yes, yes; you’ve made your point and ruined my childhood films,” Mycroft groaned.
Greg laughed and put the extra titles back in the cupboard. He put the first disk into the player, took the remote, and then snuggled up with Mycroft on the couch. “The point is that everything can work out for the better even if it’s hard at first,” Greg muttered as he nestled against Mycroft’s chest.  
Greg was content to just remain in Mycroft’s embrace. The irritating voices and noises abated in Mycroft’s presence, and so Greg let himself unwind completely.
Definitely getting better.

Two hours later, Greg had Mycroft naked on the bed, moaning. He flicked his tongue over the head of his cock, lapping at the bead of liquid forming, before engulfing him again. Mycroft drew another sharp intake of breath. Greg rubbed his tongue up and down the shaft as he sucked softly, eliciting deep guttural noises out of his partner. He hummed, and those noises increased into a loud shout.
“Greg,” he breathed, tugging at Greg’s hair. He noted how Mycroft’s hands were trembling slightly. He released Mycroft’s prick with a soft pop, turning to look at the flushed face above him. “I want you.”
“You got me, love,” Greg answered cheekily. “What do you want?”
“I–” he hesitated. “I want you… inside.”

Greg froze, the husky voice washing over him. His cock pulsed eagerly. Greg swallowed and nodded. It was the first time either of them had moved to penetration, and Greg knew it was a significant event for Mycroft. “Fuck, yes, I want that too, gorgeous,” he breathed, sitting back on his heels. “But I have to know first… have you done this before?”
“With a partner? A long time ago. Back then it was not, um, particularly enjoyable.”

Greg frowned at that, a wave of anger towards whomever it was that had done what Mycroft was implying. He let it pass, and focused instead on finding the information important for his next moves. “Alright. I’m then assuming that you’ve done stuff yourself since. Recently?”

Mycroft looked affronted by the question. He twisted his face uncomfortably, and averted his eyes. Greg ran his hands up and down the man’s thighs soothingly. “Hey, sweetheart, it’s ok. I only needed to ask to know how slow to take this for you. I want you to enjoy this, and I certainly don’t want you to hurt from it. Contrary to popular belief, anal sex isn’t supposed to hurt. Be a bit uncomfortable at first, yes, but if it hurts you’ve gone too far too fast.

“And,” Greg added a little pointedly, “I’m your partner. Nothing you say is cause for embarrassment, particularly regarding sex. I’m a bit of an open book with a partner when it comes to this stuff. I would like you to feel ok talking about it with me as well.”
“Thank you. That’s, er, good. I’m not quite so used to… sexual conversation. I have had a single encounter since my relationship in university. The predominant form of enjoyment was, well, privately shared only with myself.”

Mycroft still sounded uncomfortable, but at least he was sharing. Greg bent forward and kissed him deeply. He continued to touch him wherever he could reach. “Self-love is good, Myc. You learn what you like, what you don’t… and if there’s no one in your life you have sex with, you still get that release that we all need,” he whispered. “So I’ll go slow and you tell me if it’s getting too much, ok? It’s been a while since I did this, so you’ll have to bear with me as well.”
“I’m sure it’ll be like riding a bike,” Mycroft mumbled.
“Dunno what crazy-arse bikes you rode, Myc,” Greg quipped. His partner groaned at the joke, but the tension of the prior topic had left his body. Staying relaxed was the most important part to traversing into anal sex for the first time in a while.

He took the lube in his hand, popped the cap, but just held it in his hand while nuzzling and kissing Mycroft’s neck. He ground down his hips, moaning himself, and Myc twitched and hummed beneath him. He slid further down, peppering kisses along Mycroft’s chest, stopping to lick and nibble at his sensitive nipples (Greg’s weren’t, and he’d often wondered what it would be like to have more sensation there since some of his partners, Mycroft included, seemed to really enjoy it) before nuzzling down the soft belly. He skipped over the belly button, now knowing that his partner didn’t like tongues in there, and continued down.

He licked a stripe up from the base to the head of the penis while using his left hand to rub up and down Mycroft’s thigh. He swallowed Myc again, bobbing his head a few times. He was pleased at the catching gasps his partner made. Greg then fondled his balls, gently rolling them with his fingers, before rubbing against Myc’s perineum. He pressed down, and Mycroft moaned loudly. He rubbed a gentle circle and did it again, earning him the same response. It was then he squeezed some lube onto his finger and smeared it over Myc’s hole.

Mycroft tensed briefly, but Greg didn’t press harder. He just swirled his finger around the puckered muscle. Mycroft’s body relaxed, and then he started to moan softly.
Perfect – he enjoys the feeling there. He probably will enjoy the rest of it too. Seems he also had the opinion the aim was to get the cock inside as soon as possible.

Greg licked and sucked Myc’s shaft as he teased the anus, not passing the first ring, letting Mycroft enjoy the sensations. He applied some more lube to his finger. He positioned himself so he could take his cock in his mouth at the same time as pressing the first finger inside.
Fuck,” Mycroft moaned. It was the first time he’d heard him swear. Their previous encounters had involved a lot of moaning, calls of his name, general enthusiastic agreement, and shouting to a deity… but never blunt cursing. Greg felt a sense of accomplishment.

He left his finger in Myc’s entrance as he sucked up and down his cock, letting the muscle adjust to the intrusion. He slowly moved it out, not all the way, and then back again. He did it in time with the movement of his head. Mycroft seemed to be enjoying the sensation if the soft movements of his hips were anything to go by. He buried his finger in deeper, still moving in time with the ministrations he gave with his mouth.

Greg pulled his hand away to lube up again, ready to try for two fingers. He didn’t say what he was about to do, since he was afraid of breaking the spell that had taken a hold of his partner. He just pressed slowly against his entrance again, his fingers slipping in without much resistance. Greg sucked hard on the pink head of Myc’s prick, getting a sharp jerk and a shout in response, before returning to the slow and languid blow-job he was giving.
Yeah, Myc, like that. Enjoy it. Nice and slow.

He knew he had to move on to three fingers to properly prepare him for Greg’s cock. He had a thicker than average penis which wasn’t the best for starting anal with. He shivered thinking about Mycroft’s long, slender cock sliding into him.
His cock is just fucking perfect for anal. No, Greg, focus on giving Myc what he wants first.

He released Mycroft’s cock and instead turned his attention to his balls and thighs, alternating between them. Mycroft was equally enjoying the attention in those places. Greg knew he wanted to return to stimulating his penis when trying the third finger, since the extra pleasure would help overcome the stretch.
Mycroft was starting to pant. He was trying to rock down on Greg’s fingers.
Jesus, Myc, you are enjoying this.

“Yeah, that’s it gorgeous. Fuck, you’re spectacular,” he praised, the image of Mycroft rocking on his fingers sending shockwaves down to his abdomen to his cock.
“Gregory, hn, yes, it’s nice,” Mycroft replied breathily.
“God I can’t wait to bury myself in you,” he said, moaning. Mycroft yelped at his words. A smile tugged at Greg’s lips, and continued. “I bet you feel fucking fantastic. I want to feel you all over me. I want to drive hard into you.”
Mycroft moaned again, and Greg watched his cock bob from the excitement his words caused.
Time for three. Fuck I want him. This is harder on me than him.

He lubed up his fingers again, and pressed three in just as he gripped Mycroft’s cock with his other hand and stroked it quickly. Mycroft made a strangled cry, but it was one of pleasure. He arched up into the air, lifting his hips off the bed. Greg had saved pressing into his prostate for this part, even if it was more difficult to do with three fingers than two. He started thrusting his hand inside, altering his aim slightly until he found it.

“Fuck, Greg, oh god,” Mycroft shouted, his body shaking. “Again. Jesus, again.”
Greg obliged, swallowing hard. He hit Mycroft’s prostate a few more times. He was now panting from sheer anticipation. Mycroft continued to make obscene noises that ran right through to his cock.
“Fuck, Myc, I-I can’t, I have to… you ready for me?” Greg asked, stilling.
“Yes.”

Greg fumbled at the condom wrapper, his hands shaking. He ripped it open and rolled it on quickly, smeared the lube over himself, and then lined himself up. He paused, remembered to tuck a pillow under Mycroft’s hips, and then pressed his head against Myc’s entrance. He pressed forward, his heart pounding and his breath caught in his throat.
God,” he groaned, feeling the heat encase him. He wanted to close his eyes and simply just feel, but he couldn’t tear his gaze off his partner below him. He went slowly and was pleased that Mycroft didn’t show any signs of pain. He actually looked to be enjoying it as much as Greg. “Myc, fuck, you’re so good.”
Oh God, it’s like every inch of me is on fire. I want to just hold him and pound into him. I’m inside him. I’m actually inside him… fuck.

“Greg, yes,” Mycroft breathed. “Lay on me.”
Greg put his hands either side of Mycroft’s head and continued to sink further down until he was buried to the hilt. He let his weight down onto Mycroft, not completely, but as much as he’d learned Myc enjoyed. A wet groan in his ear and hands gripping at his back sent shivers down his spine. He drew back slightly and thrust down.
“Urf, yeah,” he panted. The blood was rushing through his body. He thrust again. He withdrew further. Mycroft continued to enjoy it.
God, yes, take it, love. Take all of me inside you.

Greg grunted on each thrust, occasionally tilting his head back and crying out Mycroft’s name. The man below him gripped onto him tightly, joining in the chorus of groans. His arms were shaking, sweat was running off him, but every cell in his body urged him to fuck Mycroft harder. He’d wanted to be gentle and take his time but the sensation of being so deep inside Mycroft sent him wild. The muscles in his abdomen ached as he thrust in. The rhythmic slap of skin encouraged him. Rational thought was lost to him. There was just Mycroft below him, making exquisite noises.

He could feel himself approach the climb to orgasm. His abdomen tensed and the urge to grab Mycroft and thrust deep became overwhelming.
No, I have to… him… he needs to feel good. I can’t finish until he’s screaming.
He somehow managed to slow himself, lift himself up while remaining buried in Mycroft, and thrust with determination at the angle he memorised from before.

Yes, oh yes, Greg, there, fuck, more, more…” The words washed over Greg and set him alight. He continued to pound into Myc’s prostate, shouting out each time along with his partner. He reached one arm down and started stroking Mycroft’s cock.
“Yeah,” Mycroft whimpered, “Please, Greg, please…”
“Fuck Myc, yes, come for me, yeah. I’m gonna come while inside you, you want that?” Greg teased, encouraging Mycroft to plead more.
Yes,” he wailed, latching onto Greg’s forearm in a death grip. “Greg… I’m… arrhhg.”
“Yeah, Myc,” he breathed as he felt Mycroft pulse below him. “Oh, yes.” Mycroft spilled in his hand. Greg continued to stroke him through his orgasm.
God I might just come now with that clenching.

He resisted the urge to keep pounding into Mycroft, knowing it’d be overstimulating him. Barely. Mycroft writhed and panted under him; Greg sliding himself slowly in and out languidly as he continued to coast Mycroft through.
“Greg,” he gasped. “Greg, please, now.”
He wasn’t sure exactly what Mycroft meant, but he took it as what he needed. He let go of Mycroft’s cock to rest both hands on the bed again, and thrusted wildly into him.
“Yes, yes, yes, fuck, yes,” he chanted on each thrust. His arms shook. He gave a single, hard thrust and remained buried inside.
Almost… just… Myc…

He thrust once more and exploded. He shouted, not sure exactly what, but it was loud. His balls pulsed along with his abdomen and cock as he spurted into the condom, deep inside his partner. He retracted and slid back in, the extra sensitive tip sending electricity through the hazy bliss in his body.

Greg thrust slow and sensuously as he drifted through his orgasm, before pulling out to collapse beside Mycroft. There was nothing but the ecstasy coursing through his veins and the need to gasp air. He felt the distant ache of relief as he floated on his high. He only just remembered to pull off and tie the condom before he softened.

“Greg, that was… unlike I could have imagined.”
“No pain?”
“None.”
“Good.” He kissed Mycroft as long as he could while still getting his breath back. He let his head fall on Mycroft’s shoulder. The last thought he remembered having was this was more real than anything he’d had in his life so far.

Chapter Text

The weekend passed in a haze of kisses and moans. Greg was now worried about his appointment tomorrow to determine if he was fit to return to his job. He desperately wanted to return to work, but he was terrified that his hallucinations were going to compromise his cases. He knew he couldn’t talk to Mycroft, definitely not John, and he wasn’t game to try asking Sherlock again.

There was one other friend Greg had that might be able to give him some advice: Mike Stamford. The man was a doctor but not his doctor, and therefore Greg hoped that he could get some advice without risk of the Yard or Mycroft finding out. He asked Mike if he had time to meet him for coffee over lunch, at Greg’s usual place. Mike hadn’t been able to on Monday, but was lecturing Tuesday, today, and could spare an hour or two.

Greg waited out the front of the shop until he saw Mike approach. He wore his beige coat over his shirt and tie, his usual attire for lecturing, and it billowed behind him in the chilly October wind.
“Alright, Mike?” Greg greeted, shaking the man’s hand.
“Alright, Greg. Nice to see you.”

He led them inside to the counter, where he grinned at Elaine serving him.
“Hey, Elaine. I’ll have the usual and a ham sandwich, thanks. Mike? What’ll you have?”
“Wait, this is Myc? Then who was that other guy that came in to see me?” Elaine asked, confused, looking between Greg and Mike.
Greg laughed. “No, this is Michael, a mate of mine. The man you met before was Mycroft, my partner.”
“Oh, ok. Sorry, I just got a bit confused. So, what’ll it be, Greg’s mate Mike?”
“Long black with one of those schnitzel rolls, thanks, pet,” Mike responded with a pleasant smile.

Greg shuffled through the shop back to his usual table, glad that it wasn’t taken. He leaned back in the chair and stretched. Mike took his coat off, hung it over the back of his chair, and then seated himself.
“Thanks for coming out, mate.”
“Any time. I enjoy our catch-ups. So, was there anything in particular you wanted to talk about or did you just want some company?”
Greg hesitated, but took a deep breath. “There is something I’d like to chat about, but I-I don’t really know how to start. I guess I have to know if it’ll stay between us, first.”
“Alright… I can’t necessarily promise that without knowing what you’re about to tell me. I can say that if it’s not threatening anyone’s life or isn’t illegal, I’ll do my best.”
Greg grinned amicably. Always the honest man, Mike. “No, nothing illegal or life-threatening. It’s about me. I just… I don’t want it getting back to John or Mycroft.”
“You shouldn’t really keep things from your partner, Greg, but I can’t tell you how to go about your relationship. It’s not like I’m much of an expert in that regard.”

Greg grimaced softly. He felt sorry for Mike. The man was wonderful; kind, honest, accepting, genuine, and dedicated to an important job. But he also was very timid, and had shockingly low self-esteem because of his weight. Sadly, that was the thing most women saw first and didn’t bother digging further to appreciate who he was beyond all that. Greg knew Mike longed for company, but had resigned himself that he wouldn’t get it, and focused on his job instead. Sometimes it amazed Greg how dismissive Mike could be about it all, talking as if none of it mattered to him, when Greg knew otherwise. He never sounded bitter or jealous when talking about other’s love lives, only faintly sad. Still, he decided not to comment. There were other more pressing things he’d like to talk about.

“It’s… well it’s not a big thing, really. I just know Mycroft would take it as more than it is, and I don’t want him to worry unnecessarily. And John… well, I would probably consider talking to Myc if I didn’t think he’d tell John, but he would, and I want John not to know.”
Mike frowned. “Alright,” he repeated slowly. “So why don’t you want him to know?”
“Well, because he’s basically the treating doctor for my care and he works at the Yard with me. Whatever I tell him, he’ll report to my superiors. I have an appointment tomorrow to see the other doctor who will give me clearance or not to return to work; but even if he clears me, John could still keep me on leave. I’m going stir-crazy without my job, Mike, and while Mycroft gives some relief in the evenings and the time he’s around on weekends, I have spent every day in this coffee house because I can’t take it alone in the quiet at Myc’s.”
“Fair enough.”

Elaine brought their orders to them, telling them to enjoy. They stopped conversing to take a bite of their respective lunches and finally drink some coffee.
“All this doesn’t really tell me anything, though,” Mike said after swallowing a large bite of roll.
“I… well, there’s another reason I came here, specifically. It’s… I keep hearing things, Mike. I’ve… it’s mostly when Mycroft isn’t around, and I don’t know if that’s just because I focus on him instead when he’s there and don’t notice the noises, or if I feel safe and secure around him so it doesn’t happen or something. It started out in the hospital, and everyone said it could be just me adjusting and it might go away. But it hasn’t, Mike, and I haven’t told anyone because I don’t want them committing me. It’s not interfering in my life, as such, it’s just… I get unsettled when I’m alone. Here there’s so much noise and talking about that I don’t notice it.”

Greg waited with baited breath for Mike to process what he’d just told him. The man just bit his lower lip and nodded slowly. “Ok. What kind of noises?”
“Um, random things, really. Voices, sometimes, but I can’t make out what they’re saying. It’s all muffled, like it’s through a door or wall. I can tell if it’s angry, or just casual chatter, but it’s not like I’m being told to do anything. Footsteps, scraping, bangs, I think I heard a chain once, doors slamming… that kind of thing.”

Mike tapped at the table with his thumb. Greg’s heart hammered in his chest. His food remained forgotten before him as he awaited Mike’s opinion. He seemed to be thinking hard, and Greg hoped it wasn’t about whether or not he’d tell John.
“I admit this is concerning, Greg. I’m told you had quite a serious head injury, and this is a sign that not everything is working as it should. I’m not a neurosurgeon, or psychiatrist for that matter, so I don’t know a whole lot about what it means or how to help.”
“I guess I’m saying I can manage it. I don’t feel pain or anything. It’d be like someone adjusting to their ears ringing. I feel like I can go about my life like normal. But there’s always that niggling feeling in the back of my mind asking if something is real or not. I know it’s a bit early to tell if it’s getting worse or better, but–”
“Are there any other symptoms?” Mike interrupted.
“Um, I suppose there’s the nightmares? And the odd little… I don’t know how to describe it… flashbacks to the nightmares, I guess? I still can’t remember what happened to me, and I think the nightmares are about it but I can’t remember those either. I will just get random flashes sometimes of what were in them, and it’s so brief that I don’t have much context to know anything.”

Greg kept his mouth shut regarding the blackouts. He knew that would be pushing things too far. Mike continued to eat his roll while tapping on the table.
“You seem to be sleeping well enough, despite the nightmares, just by looking at you. Are you?”
“Yeah. Myc helps to calm me down after and I usually sleep well when he’s there.”
“Good,” Mike commented with a mouthful. He swallowed and took a breath. “Well as a friend, I can only say to be wary of the condition worsening. As a doctor I’m more concerned with what damage has been done, and I want to do what I can to treat it; but I believe you when you say you feel like you can manage as things stand.
“But Greg, I will say this: if you go tomorrow, get cleared for work, return to work, and find that the stress of the job is causing the symptoms to get worse, then you have to do something about it. You need to take care of yourself, and while you have Mycroft there to do that for you, and John watching over you too, they can’t help you like you need if you keep things from them. It’s not just your health that’s at risk, pet. You could compromise your cases. I know that’s a big concern for you.”

Greg grimaced and nodded. Mike gave him a sympathetic smile and continued in a supportive tone. “For now I don’t see too much harm being done that would stop you being able to do your job or that would cause me to tell John the truth. I want you to keep me apprised, though, ok? I am happy for you to confide in me, and I can at least tell you when I believe it’s time you need to get help.”
Greg exhaled and nodded. He took a large gulp of coffee. “Thanks, mate. It was eating me up inside to not be able to talk about it. You get in your head, you know?”
“Yeah. Speaking of, you should eat your sandwich. Greg… I want to just remind you that Mycroft is going to work out that something’s going on. That man can tell if you’re lying and hiding things better than I can suture, so you’d better work out what to say to him.”

~

Mycroft kissed him softly. “Congratulations,” he said, “on your return to work.” He pressed his lips on Greg’s again, and Greg hummed in delight.
“Monday, not tomorrow,” he reminded. “There wasn’t much point going back on a Thursday.” He nuzzled Mycroft’s nose and kissed him again. Greg enjoyed it when Mycroft came home and joined him on the couch. He’d not said anything regarding how his appointment went; Mycroft took one look at him and kissed him.
“Then we have the whole weekend just to ourselves again,” Mycroft muttered into Greg’s ear. “I rather like that idea.”
“Oh yeah, me too,” Greg admitted. He’d actually been concerned regarding when he was supposed to leave; he’d assumed Mycroft would want him to go back to his flat over the weekend. Greg honestly didn’t want to go.
“Although, you don’t generally work weekends when you are working full time.”
“No. Everyone seems to think that all DIs work all hours every day until the case is solved. Bloody telly,” Greg laughed. “We have to adhere to the government’s work regulations regarding hours, including overtime.”
“I know, dear,” Mycroft hummed. “However I have no doubt that you would be one of those DIs who did work until the case was solved, if you were permitted. Therefore, I am thankful for the legislation. You already brought the cases home with you enough.”
“I have something better to do at home instead now,” Greg said, and Mycroft stilled.
Fuck. Why on earth did I say that? He’s going to kick me out now for getting too familiar. This isn’t our home, it’s his. We aren’t living together. Stupid.

Mycroft looked into Greg’s eyes with an expression Greg couldn’t read. He then leant forward, pressing his chest into Greg’s, and whispered into his ear, “Yes, you do; so do me.”
Greg swallowed. That wasn’t where he thought that was going. Shivers ran down his body and his cock throbbed. Yes, it seemed he was very interested in doing… Mycroft. He remained stunned as his partner kissed his neck and ran his hands through his hair. Want was overriding the confusion over exactly when he was supposed to go back to his own flat. A particularly well-aimed thrust from Mycroft’s pelvis shot all other thoughts out of his mind, and Greg reciprocated the heated kiss.

Greg looked up from where he lay in a daze upon the bed to see Mycroft begin to dress. He still felt the glow from the aftermath of their lovemaking, and couldn’t quite understand why Mycroft was eager to put on clothes. Greg stopped paying attention and instead focused on the fact that he’d just thought of the passionate sex they’d had as lovemaking.
I… fuck, I love him. I mean, that’s good, isn’t it? I’ve really been in love with him for years… but it’s different now. It’s different to love someone when you actually have them to love. God, if I tell him too soon, though, he’ll freak out and maybe leave and I’ll lose him. I have to be careful to say nothing.

“Greg?”
“Hm?”
“Something’s bothering you. You have the most peculiar expression on your face, like you just realised you were in a relationship.”
Damn. That’s right. Human-reader. Fuck. If I lie he’ll know that too and think it’s for a worse reason than… well, than being loved. “I…” Greg started, blinking rapidly. “I just…” love you. That’s what I just. “You’re stunning. I can’t believe you’re with me.” Yes, that’s a truth.

Mycroft grinned, leaving the shirt draped over his shoulders unbuttoned, and returned to him. He kneeled up on the bed and kissed Greg deeply. “You are the most perfect human being I know, Gregory. Your silver hair gives you a distinction beyond your years, your brown eyes are like gazing at chocolate, and your body is the perfect blend of muscle and soft spots to cuddle. More importantly, you are kind, caring, devoted, and a deeply good man. Believe me when I tell you that it is I who cannot believe his luck at being loved by someone as amazing as you.”

Greg flushed at the praise, but then froze when he realised what Mycroft said at the end. His mouth fell agape.
He just… he definitely just said love. He knows I love him?
“It was rather obvious, darling,” Mycroft said, coming uncannily close to reading Greg’s thoughts again. It should have been unsettling, but Greg just smiled widely.
“I love you,” he said plainly. Even if Mycroft worked it out, he wanted to actually say it.
“I love you too, Greg.”
Greg pulled Mycroft by the unbuttoned shirt down upon him. He kissed him with fervour, tongue breaking into Mycroft’s mouth. “I know it’s soon,” he breathed between kisses.
“I count the time I pined you from afar,” Mycroft spoke gently into his ear. “Then it’s perfectly reasonable.”
“I’m good with that,” Greg answered and returned to kiss Mycroft deeply while running his hands up and down Myc’s body. He could feel interest stirring again, surprisingly. He was pleased to find Mycroft was also returning the sentiment.

“Gregory,” Mycroft said once the kiss was broken. “We have a dinner reservation.”
“We do?”
“A surprise dinner reservation.”
“Can’t blame me for wanting to stay in bed with you then,” Greg chuckled. He licked Myc’s ear. “Are you sure you want to go?”
“Significantly less than a few minutes ago,” he uttered, exhaling. “But I had rather wanted to take you out to celebrate.”
Greg sat up on his elbows, his eyebrow quirking. “And when exactly did you make this reservation?”
“Monday,” Mycroft answered with a sheepish grin. “I had every expectation that this would be the result. However, should you not have been cleared for duty, then I would have kept the reservation as a cheer-up dinner.”
“Always prepared,” Greg mused, kissing him again. “Alright, well, if you’re certain you’d rather go out for dinner than have sex again, then I guess I should let you continue dressing.” He eyed Mycroft mischievously. He was pleased to see how torn Mycroft appeared.
“Shrewd, darling. However I must insist that you’d appreciate this dinner greatly.”

Greg playfully sighed, overdoing the dramatics. “Fine,” he conceded. Mycroft shuffled off him and stood beside the bed. Greg followed, still giving him a roguish smile. He slid his hands up along Mycroft’s chest, around his shoulders, and then down his sides as he pecked a kiss to his soft lips. “But afterwards, I want you to take me to bed and fuck me,” he breathed into Mycroft’s ear. He revelled in the hitch of breath he heard.
“You… seriously?” Mycroft asked, swallowing.
“I want you to pound me, Myc,” Greg said just as seductively, brushing his fingertips down Mycroft’s front. “I want to feel you inside me. I want you to make me breathless and boneless, to forget my own name, only remembering yours enough to scream it in ecstasy.”
He stepped away from Mycroft and walked towards the drawer containing his clothes, intently aware that Mycroft remained rooted to the spot. He eyed him impishly, watching him try to regain control of his body – he’d put pants on before the shirt, and they were now bulging impressively. It was a difficult sight to see whilst putting on clothing.

Chapter Text

Greg returned to his flat on Sunday evening. He had hoped that Mycroft would put up a fight, and had been disappointed that the man let him go without a fuss. Greg tried to tell himself that it was expected, that they were only starting their relationship and therefore it was expected that they shouldn’t be living together.
Greg despised being alone on a good day. Being in that dark, dreary flat with nothing but emptiness and longing for something he now had… he didn’t envision managing it well.

The first night was about as he anticipated. He curled up in his bed and slept early. The nightmares woke him twice, and both times it took him a while to settle himself again. He continuously reached out to Mycroft’s side of the bed and had to remind himself that it wasn’t Mycroft’s side; it was all his bed. It had only ever been his.

Sally had given him only five minutes of ‘welcome back, boss’ before returning to her normal self on Monday. Greg appreciated it. He felt much less out of place when the surroundings were exactly as he remembered them. He was pleased to find that the paperwork for his old cases had been done and filed. However, they had been replaced with new reams of paper for him to fill out. Greg knew that his team were trying to ease him back into work, and he thanked them for it, but he really hated paperwork.

The day actually flew by. He caught up on their cases, all of which were being handled and didn’t need his input. He looked over some of the work that they’d been doing in his absence, and found nothing amiss. It was as if he’d never left. That thought was both warming, in that his team were doing so well, and a kick in the gut to know that it really didn’t matter if he was there or not at all.

He returned to his lonesome flat, determined not to cave and go see Mycroft. His partner called at dinner time to ask how his first day went. Greg secretly wished the man would ask to see him, but he could tell he was respecting the boundaries which were undoubtedly were expected now that Greg had returned to work.
In other circumstances, he would have been glad for them. If they’d agreed over a shared meal to try a relationship, he wouldn’t be feeling uncomfortable not sharing a house or bed at this stage. He’d be happy to have someone to visit occasionally and to talk to throughout the day. It was the fact that he now had to go without it that was hard; and, he had to admit to himself, he was feeling vulnerable without Mycroft’s reassuring presence.

The next two days went much the same. One minor case came up that Greg attended, much like a stepping stone to his usual work. It was open and shut murder; sad for the loss of life, but not mentally challenging. They had the culprit in custody within an hour of the call and they had signed a written confession that same day. All in all, it was really a good week for Greg to get back into the swing of it.

He visited Mycroft on Tuesday, wherein they shared a nice meal at an upper-class restaurant Mycroft insisted he took Greg to. They went back to Myc’s flat for some more wine on the couch, which led to cuddling and kissing, which then led to some lavish sex in the bedroom. The fact that Greg had to leave back to his own flat hung heavily in the air afterwards. He didn’t want to leave Myc’s warm embrace, but he knew he was overstepping the boundaries by staying the night. He didn’t have any clothes for work the next day, anyway.

Wednesday Greg had been on edge from the previous evening. Going back to his flat alone had resulted in barely three hours of broken sleep. The noises plagued him in the night, and he couldn’t place the deep-rooted fear that gripped him in the dark hours. He’d arrived on the job and Sally had questioned if he was fit for duty. Greg hesitantly agreed she had a point, and took a brief nap in his office. The ambient noise was proving to be calming for him, and he woke much rested for the remaining hours of the day.

Greg was at his desk, finishing off the last of a pastry that he’d caved and bought on the way into work, when Sally poked her head in.
“Happy Thursday, boss.”
Greg gave her a flat stare. “Why?”
“Because,” she smiled, “it’s your first case since getting back.”
“I went on that one on Tuesday,” Greg protested. It wasn’t his case, and the fact that the forensic tech was Anderson meant that he couldn’t sneak Sherlock on-site with him. Those two did not cooperate; Anderson didn’t get on with Sherlock more than most people at the Yard.
“That was just a taster, since it was technically Dimmock’s case. This is the first that’s yours.”
“Alright, alright, you can stop acting like you’re the boss giving the junior his first big case.”
“Sorry, sir. It was fun stepping in for you, I admit. Anyway, front desk says they have a lady on the line wanting to report that their neighbour’s dogs are chewing human bones.”
Greg let out a disappointed sigh. Sally expected him to take the call, that was obvious. She looked smug enough. “Alright, put her through.”
“We have two interns with forensics at the moment, sir, so I’m sure they’d love to go on a fool’s errand. Seriously, someone needs to show these old ladies how big human bones actually are.” Sally nodded and smiled while walking out of the office.

It was true; they often received calls from paranoid elderly persons, surprisingly often they were women, reporting their neighbours in for having human remains in their backyards when said neighbours had bought their dog a bone. Procedure demanded that they respond to the call and investigate, but it was always awkward to barge in on families for that accusation.
Still, Greg found that he was actually feeling apprehensive about it. It could be the fact it was technically his first case since returning, or that he now had to talk to someone on the phone, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that this would be different.
“Detective Inspector Lestrade,” he said, picking up the phone.
“Hello? Um, I, er, I saw something that, like, um, I thought I should report.”
Greg frowned. The woman sounded nervous, and young – he had gotten a feel for how people of different age groups spoke over the phone.
“What is it that you need to report?”
“It’s, well, you see, I live in a flat on the second floor. I can see into the neighbour’s yard. Not that I look, you know, but I can see it. This week I’ve been seeing, um, bones. Like, given to the dogs. They have three. I didn’t think anything of it, but, the more I look, the more I thought… hey, that’s not right. Today there’s enough out there that I know they’re human.”
“Hm,” Greg hummed. This didn’t sound like a paranoid gossiping woman, but he had to be sure. “How can you be sure they’re human?”
“I-I’m a nursing student at the local university. I have been studying anatomy all year… I know what human bones look like, and I see them in that yard. I got my textbook out and looked them up, even.”

Greg felt a surge of adrenaline. It was sounding like a legitimate murder inquiry. “Alright, can you come into the station and give a statement? It’ll help with us getting a warrant to search the premises.”
“Sure, um, would you like me to send you the pictures?”
“Pictures?”
“Yeah, I, like, I got my phone out. I took photos of the bones, so I could match them up in my textbook.”
“That’d be perfect, yes. I’ll give you my email, can you send them to that address?”
“Yeah, I can. Do you want the annotations?”
“If you’ve got them, sure.”

Greg read out his email, made sure the woman had it right, and then asked her to come into the station as soon as possible. He ended the call and awaited the email. Within ten minutes, it arrived. He pulled out the images; the student had circled the bones, and included reference pictures of the bones she thought they were from her textbook. Greg had to admit it was rather convincing. Especially given that there were bones that the student hadn’t labelled, stating that they were ‘not human/unable to identify’. That meant that this person was only committing to what they were sure about and not just looking to make associations.

With the photos and the statement, Greg was able to get a warrant relatively quickly. He brought Anderson along with him. There was no need for more personnel until they were sure they were dealing with a body. It was a reasonable drive, the outer edge of their usual jurisdiction, and so Greg decided to let Anderson do it.

He was immensely glad that Anderson had driven, since he found himself standing out the front of the house with no recollection of the drive over whatsoever. Greg looked about nervously. It was an older single-story house that seemed to be having renovations done.
“Problem?” Anderson asked him as he stood on the lawn. Greg quickly shook his head, burying his worry. He took a breath and focused on the job at hand. He could worry later, although he still felt unsettled. 

They knocked on the door, and Greg noted the immediate panic that flashed across the man’s face when he answered. Greg had come to learn that meant he had something to hide rather than merely being shocked at having officers appear on the doorstep. The man, Jeremy Miller, allowed them into the house in stunned silence after receiving the blunt details of why they were there. His wife Joanne walked in to see what the fuss was about, and immediately cast Greg a suspicious glare.

Greg and Anderson followed the Millers through the house to the backyard. Greg felt like he knew that man from somewhere, but he couldn’t tell where. Just being in the house had a sense of familiarity to it. He wasn’t surprised by the layout or the fact the terrace was new and almost complete; it somehow was perfectly logical that Mr Miller didn’t work, and occupied his time with home improvements. It was a strange feeling.
“I’ll just grab the dogs,” Jeremy mumbled, walking out the sliding glass door and onto the patio.

Greg eyed a Rottweiler, a Staffordshire Terrier, and a Bull Terrier through the glass. They all wore spiked collars, and were very interested in the two strangers that were in their home. Greg loved dogs, and found he had a natural understanding of their behaviour. He could tell they were unsettled by strangers, but not aggressive. The Rottweiler barked defensively, but seemed happy to be doing his (yes, his) job of alerting the family rather than being upset.

The dogs were taken into the shed, and Jeremy returned to grant them access to the yard. Greg continued to wrack his brain trying to work out where he knew Jeremy from. The only thought that his mind supplied was ‘drugs’. He made a mental note to look him up in the system to see if they’d brought him in before. It wasn’t necessarily pertinent to why they were there, but it seemed too much a strong feeling to dismiss entirely.

Anderson walked out an started eyeing a large bone on the ground.
“I don’t understand, why are you here?” Joanne asked Greg as they stood and watched.
“We received an anonymous tip that there could be human remains on the premises,” Greg answered. “The warrant allows us to search any and all areas. Interfering in such would be obstruction of justice and cause for arrest.”
“Yes, I heard that the first time; I just can’t understand why someone would think there’s a body here.” Joanne seemed to be trying hard to come across as friendly, but Greg could hear the sinister undertone to her voice. At least, he thought he could. As much as Greg knew it was wrong to judge people based on appearance, a good portion of his job did deal with making quick decisions regarding a person’s character from first impressions.

Joanne and Jeremy both seemed like they were hiding something, and trying hard to make it look like they weren’t. Their mannerisms, appearance, and he had to admit, choice of dogs, indicated a favour towards a rougher lifestyle that could very well include drugs and violence. It certainly wasn’t enough to suspect them being capable of murder, but it was enough (along with Greg’s nagging feeling of familiarity) to keep him suspicious of his envisioned drugs association.

“This is pointless,” Anderson rumbled as Greg crouched beside him. “This is a cow tibia. I mean, look at it.”
“What about the other bones in the photo?”
“Well there’s fragments about from where the dogs have been chewing. It’s hard to say what they used to be. I’ll have a look over there, but I’m thinking this is just another case of paranoia.”
“Be sure to give it a good look, Anderson. I just have–” Greg shut his mouth, knowing it wouldn’t sound good to Anderson to say he had a ‘feeling’ about it. He lowered his voice again, as if his cut-off was intentional. “I have my suspicions about these people, and reasonable belief that the nursing student’s observations are credible.”

Greg stood up and started wandering in different parts of the yard. The Millers stood in the patio, in front of the new barbecue, and so were partially obstructed by the plants in the top of the mid-height wall that ran along the edge of the freshly-paved area. It was likely not indicative of a subconscious desire to hide, Greg had to tell himself. He wandered back over to them, standing beside the lounge chair.

“Detective Inspector, as you can see, these are dog bones from the butcher’s. The dogs are getting restless. Is this going to take much longer?” Joanne asked, crossing her arms defensively. Greg could hear the barking and banging from the shed. Still, Joanne’s demeanour was agitated, and her husband seemed anxious. Both could be just from the intrusion, but Greg’s stomach didn’t let him forget it could be more.
Are they worried we’re going to uncover drugs? I don’t know why that thought keeps coming back to me. We’re here looking into a potential murder and all I can think of is how the father is involved in drugs. Wait… father? Why do I think he’s a father?

“I will have to just let my colleague work until he’s done, Mrs Miller. I’d like to ask you a few questions. Is it just the two of you living here?”
“Well, I guess now, yeah,” Jeremey answered. He then received a pointed look from his wife. Greg raised an eyebrow at him to continue. “Our son just suddenly buggered off. Gone travellin’, he said. We could hardly stop ‘im, he’s twenty-three. Still, it’s nice ta have the space ta ourselves again…  ‘least ‘til he decides ta come back.”
“He didn’t elude to taking a trip?”
“No,” Joanne said with a shrug. “Just suddenly off he went. Who knows what’s going on in his life. It’s his business. We pressured him to get out of the house and find his own place, so maybe he’s decided he wants to see the world before having to pay rent.”

Greg nodded, but it still sounded suspicious to his ears. People up and leaving without warning, and then a suspected body in their backyard not long after, generally were connected events. He looked back over to Anderson, who was poking around bones near the kennels. He wanted to go over and ask how it was going, but he knew he would only be in the way and he’d only asked one question when he’d said ‘questions’.
“You said you bought bones for your dogs at the butcher’s. Do you do that often?”
“Well, we don’t buy them often. I go and get a huge bag of scraps and bones, along with a heap of meat. Between the three of them, it’s more economical to just get the huge box and freeze bits to give them slowly,” Joanne answered. “They have strong jaws and go through bones quick enough.”
Greg nodded, putting his hands in his pockets as he looked about. Thankfully, before he had to think of another question, Anderson called him over.

“It’s hard to tell, given how damaged all these bones are from the chewing,” Anderson mumbled, pointing to some bones sticking out of the ground. “There’s a cow femur as well as that tibia – nothing else would be that big and bulky – and a few vertebrae that could be cow or pig. There’s not much hope to work out what the smaller fragments used to be. These though,” he said, wafting a hand over the exposed bones, “are definitely human.”

Chapter Text

Greg called out Sally and a full forensics team before returning to talk to the Millers.

“We have confirmed human remains. My team will be arriving shortly. As of this moment I’m afraid that neither of you can leave the premises.”
Greg watched the reactions closely. Joanne paled and her eyes blew wide. Jeremy looked closer to panic, and ground his teeth. They both appeared shocked at the discovery, as if expecting the investigation thus far had been just an inconvenience into their lives.
“H-how can that be? Jeremy, say something!” Joanne snapped, and her husband jumped.
“I don’ know! This is… when? The bones… that bag o’ bones you bought, Joanne. The dogs have been gettin’ ‘em all week.”
“Yes. I will need to see the remainder of the bag you said you stored in the freezer,” Greg stated. His eyes flickered over to the shed that housed the rowdy dogs. Jeremy nodded, and made to move to the shed.
“Uh, ya can come if ya like, but the dogs don’ like strangers much. It’d be safer if I just got ‘em an’ brought ‘em out. Don’t want ya bit,” he said, tense. “’Specially since ya wanna take their bones off ‘em.”

Greg nodded curtly and watched as Jeremy slipped into the shed, cursing all the while at the dogs as they attempted their escape. A moment later he returned, a large bag in his hand. He passed it over to Greg, who pulled gloves from his pocket before taking it.
“Thank you. Please wait inside while we continue the investigation, and show my team through when they arrive,” he said in an authoritative tone, before taking the bag over to Anderson.

Sally and the rest of his team arrived and began to dig up the backyard. The dogs had been moved inside, since Greg insisted they needed to search the shed. They found no more bones in the freezer, just sealed bags of red meat that had been separated into three sections – one each for the dogs. There was a fair bit in there, but Greg knew it wasn’t uncommon for people with three large dogs to buy bulk. His mind drifted back to drugs, again, as he wondered how a man without a job could afford to buy so much meat – even when in bulk.

Greg oversaw the proceedings as the remains found in the yard was exhumed, catalogued, and separated into animal and human categories; the contents of the bag were also sorted through in the same manner. Sally took a few constables with her to the butcher’s where the bag had been bought to continue the investigation. Greg knew, logically, that the butcher was now the prime suspect, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something more was going on in the Miller household. He ended up asking for a search to be done on Daniel, the son, to find his whereabouts and activities for the prior fortnight.

Jeremy and Joanne had been under supervision since the team arrived, and the constable watching them said they seemed still shaken that they’d been feeding a body to their dogs. Greg didn’t want to share his suspicions with them regarding their son.

He ended up returning to the Yard almost at six, and clocked some overtime to get the paperwork going for the morning. He had barely started when Sherlock burst angrily through the door and stormed to his office.
“You said you’d take me when you had a case!” Sherlock shouted, his expression more akin to a pouty child than a reasonable adult.
“I can’t just bring you in when it’s only starting, and we barely have a body to look over. So far there’s nothing much to do with toxicology, so Sherlock I’m sorry but I can’t get you involved yet. You know the deal. I can give you the full story for the work that comes across your desk but not bring you in on cases that you aren’t involved in at all.”
“But I’d have the damn thing solved before the rest of your idiots found the right way up of the pen they wanted to use,” he snapped. Greg groaned and rubbed his face. He was exhausted. Utter, bone-deep exhaustion had gripped him since before he left the Miller’s. He had considered it was too much for him to take so suddenly, but he shoved that voice away quickly. It was his job and he wasn’t going to shy away from it, even if his body screamed protest.

“Go home,” Sherlock said, his voice quieter. Greg looked up at him, incredulous at the tone of concern.
“What?”
“It’s past the time you are obligated to stay, and so don’t make things worse for yourself by pushing too far.”
“You… you’re concerned about me?”
“Really, Lestrade, you need to pay attention. I won’t get any cases at all if you’re not here to give them.”

Greg nodded. He knew that Sherlock was being honest in saying that, but he also knew it was a cover-up of him also being actually concerned for Greg’s wellbeing. He sighed again. If Sherlock was going to make comments about it, then he really should get himself to bed. He must look as terrible as he felt.
“Fine,” he conceded, “but you’re still not getting in on this case. At least not until there’s cause for it.”
“Call Mycroft,” Sherlock stated. There were no further words spoken. It took Greg a moment to register what it meant.
“Is there a reason why?”

Sherlock cleared his throat and looked at the floor. “When I am having a particularly trying day, I find John’s voice helps,” he mumbled, then quickly strode out of the room. Greg was left feeling too tired to be overly shocked by the situation. Sherlock indicating care for him, and then gave advice based on a personal situation? Maybe he’d fallen asleep at his desk.

Greg told himself he’d leave once he finished filling in the last form in the ‘urgent’ pile. He heard a bang in the silence, and looked up to see what Sherlock had decided to get into. The floor was empty. His heart started beating faster. He heard the bang again, closer this time. Still, there was no-one around, and Greg swallowed uncomfortably. The noises hadn’t been this loud for days. He decided to leave the paperwork as it was and grab his coat.

He managed to make it home without endangering himself or others while driving, something he found rather a significant feat given how simultaneously tired and on-edge he felt. He elected to just take a shower instead of finding dinner. He hoped he’d feel better afterwards. He dropped his jacket on the bed, walked into the bathroom and shuffled to the basin. He ran water over his hands and splashed some up into his face before exhaling deeply and gripping the sink tightly. He let himself look up at his reflection in the mirror, and instantly jumped backwards, a startled cry escaping his lips.

He couldn’t believe his eyes. The reflection that looked back at him had carried the same expression, except there had been blood running down his face from the now-healed wound on his head. It had only been for a split second, since he’d wrenched his face away as he jumped backwards and he couldn’t bring himself to look back to confirm.

He ran his hand up to the wound, and as expected, there was no liquid running down that he could feel. His heart was still hammering loudly from the adrenaline. He panted. He knew he had to look back at the mirror, but he was overwhelmed by fear over what he’d see.

He took a deep breath and looked. Nothing. Just him. He took a step closer, back to the basin, and eyed his reflection. It was as he expected; he looked tired, but didn’t have any bags under his eyes like he felt he should have. He just had a demeanour of exhausted defeat, as well as a slick sheen of sweat and a panicked look in his eyes.

“Fucking hell,” Greg breathed, gripping onto the sink once more. He wanted to get away from the house, but he was effectively stuck there. Honestly, he wanted to be in Mycroft’s arms hearing that it was all ok. He couldn’t do that, though. He couldn’t let on that things had worsened.
Just once, Lestrade. It’s just one time. It’s not going to get worse and worse just because of a single flash. Calm down. It’s just because you’re tired.

I’m going to just have a shower, and then get some food in me, and go to bed. I haven’t eaten in ages… starvation can give hallucinations, can’t it? Yeah. I’ll have food first, just to be sure.

He turned and scurried from the bathroom, faster than he’d like to admit. He realised he was shaking slightly as he rummaged about the kitchen for something to make for dinner. He wasn’t up for anything even mildly complex, and yet he didn’t really have much in that was within the two-minute-cooking-time range.

Greg continued to offer himself platitudes to calm his body as he stood there, staring at the sink. Pizza. He’d get pizza. First, he wanted some water before having to speak over the phone to order. He froze after he turned back to the bench. A glass of water sat there. He looked about uncertainly. He couldn’t remember pouring it. He was almost certain it wasn’t there before.

“No, it’s fine, I probably just didn’t notice it there before. Or was in my head and got it out without thinking. It’s fine,” he mumbled to himself.

He reached out and chucked the liquid into his throat. Except, it never came. He should have downed the whole half-glass in one go, but he upended the glass entirely and no water flowed into his mouth. He frowned and put it back on the bench, and flinched away from it as if burnt. It was still half-full. He stared at it, but it remained the same.

“Fuck,” Greg uttered. He shook his head.
Jesus I’m really losing it. This isn’t just a mind trick. This is… this is serious. Fuck, fuck… what do I do?

He stood there staring at the offending drink while he devolved into a panic. He bit down on his lip until it hurt.
I haven’t eaten since breakfast. It’s just the food. I have to rule that out first. Order food, Greg.

He pulled his phone out with trembling hands and somehow, dialled Mycroft instead. He didn’t question it.
“Gregory?”
“M-Mycroft,” he stuttered.
“What is it? What’s happened?” Mycroft’s tone instantly went from genial to worried.
“Nothing,” he responded, and hoped that it didn’t sound as defensive as it felt.
“Gregory tell me what is wrong,” Mycroft ordered. Greg did really want to be able to tell him, to run to him and get the comfort he desperately craved. Deep down he knew he couldn’t. Not yet.
“It’s… I’ve had a big day,” he said, not lying. “I’m exhausted. I-I wanted to hear you.”
“I’m coming over,” Mycroft declared in a tone that meant it wasn’t up for debate. “You are never this rattled. Do you need me to stay on the line while I make my way over?”
“No, it’s–” he swallowed, “it’s fine.” He eyed the glass of water. “When will you be here?”
“Twelve minutes, given current traffic conditions.”

Greg nodded, then shook his head at having nodded to Mycroft over the phone. Twelve minutes. “Good, uh, yeah. Good. I will see you then, then?”
“Gregory?”
“Hm?”
“I…” He heard hesitation in Mycroft’s voice. “I shall see you soon.”

Greg sighed in relief once Mycroft rang off. He returned his attention to the glass on the table. Hallucinations weren’t supposed to be so long lasting, were they? He picked it up and swirled the water in it, watching. It seemed real enough. He tipped it, and watched the water splatter over the bench.
Oh, shit. Great. Now I have water everywhere. And I’m still thirsty. I’ll just clean this up and get some more.

He turned and got the dishcloth to soak up the water, but when he cast his eyes back upon the glass, it was half-full again. The water wasn’t spilled all over the bench anymore, but back inside the glass. The tension that had been relieved from Mycroft’s voice instantly returned. He grasped the glass with a firm hand and threw it against the wall. He watched, satisfied, to see the glass shatter. He remained standing, panting, looking at the pieces and water that now coated the floor over on the other side of the kitchen.

Mycroft let himself into the flat after knocking. Greg thought he called out, but wasn’t sure. He just had sat at the table with his head in his hands. He could hear Mycroft approach.

“Sorry about the mess,” he mumbled without looking up.
“Oh, darling,” Mycroft winced, and walked up to him. He then grasped Greg in a hug. “You just pushed yourself a bit hard today. That doesn’t make you a mess.”
“No, not… I mean…” Greg said, looking up to point at the shattered glass, only to find it had disappeared. He must have paled, since Mycroft pressed his wrist to his forehead.
“Are you feeling alright?”
No. I’m really not feeling alright, Myc. “I think I’m… just tired.”
“Why do you not go to bed to sleep?”
“Can’t,”  he groaned, leaning back into Mycroft’s wool coat. “My mind’s racing. Haven’t eaten.”
Mycroft tutted. “That won’t do. Why do you neglect yourself so?”
“I don’t know, Myc. I just… I didn’t expect the case to turn out like it did today. I got distracted. I really only just got home. I was going to order pizza before turning in. I just… I needed you.”

Greg’s face flushed red at the admission. All week he’d felt like a part of himself was missing. He hated that he’d gotten so attached to Mycroft that he physically hurt to be separated from him after work. In truth, he didn’t really hate it at all; what he honestly hated was being unable to be with Myc when he got home.

“Come. We’ll talk about it in the lounge.” He led Greg by the elbow up out of the chair, and onto the sofa. “You really must be more aware of the strain you place yourself under.”
“I know. I guess I just forgot it’s been a while since I did this. It all takes a bit to work back to the energy output I used to have.” Greg leaned heavily against Mycroft on the couch. He closed his eyes and enjoyed feeling the warmth radiating off Mycroft’s hands as they held him. His partner’s presence calmed the panic and fear that had risen since leaving the office.
“Indeed. You have to take things slowly, dear.”
“I tried! We all thought this call I got was just another paranoid old woman, but it was a legitimate inquiry. We found human remains in some family’s backyard, along with cow bones, that they’d been giving their dogs out of this butcher’s scraps bag.”
“Grisly,” Mycroft murmured. “I assume you’re investigating the butcher?”
“Of course,” Greg snorted. He then coughed.

“Oh, dear. I’ll get you some water. Hold on a moment.” Mycroft stood and Greg slipped down onto the couch. He said nothing about the water, but remained tense. Mycroft returned with a glass and Greg tried to remain passive as he took it. He sipped at it, and was relieved to find that he could actually touch the contents. He took a larger gulp and put it on the coffee table. Mycroft returned to his former seat, and cuddled Greg back up against him.
“Thanks,” Greg said softly.
“Always. So, your day; tell me more about it.”
“Well, we got the call from the neighbour. She was a nursing student, and had pictures she’d taken of the bones she thought she could see. We brought her in, got a statement, and then got a warrant to go check it out. All pretty standard. Anderson came with me to identify the bones.”

He heard Mycroft huff.
“Yeah, I know Anderson really doesn’t get along with your brother, but he’s good at what he does. Usually. The couple living there had three fairly formidable dogs, and there were bone fragments everywhere. Anderson identified some of it as human, we closed off the area, started digging up what we could, and sorted through the remains in the bag from the butcher’s that was in the freezer. I sent people out to question the butcher. I’ll know more tomorrow. I spent some overtime working to get the paperwork ready for tomorrow so we might have some answers soon.” Greg stopped as he realised that no, he actually didn’t get the paperwork done.  

“It does sound exhausting,” Mycroft conceded. “But honestly it sounds as if things are progressing nicely. I admit, it may be difficult to find your murderer, if it is not the butcher. It is possible that they do not cut all of their own produce, and therefore it could be easy for anonymous persons to deposit human remains amongst the animal scraps designated for pets.”
“Yeah,” Greg groaned. “I know. Sally’s working on that. Lots of questioning to be done tomorrow.”
“I might suggest you take it off,” Mycroft hummed, threading his fingers through Greg’s hair. “You don’t look well. I don’t want you endangering your health.”
“I’ll be fine,” he retorted, but appreciated the concern. “I just have to take it a bit easier. To be honest I… well, never mind.”
“No, tell me.”
“It’s just… the whole time, I… that’s to say, um,” Greg fumbled, not sure how to bring it up. He looked into Mycroft’s eyes, and felt more confident to speak. He reasoned that if anyone would understand feelings coming from nowhere, but possibly meaning something, it’d be Mycroft. Understanding those kinds of things was practically his job.

“I had a feeling,” he started. Mycroft didn’t hint at being disparaging. Greg continued. “I don’t know where it came from. From the moment I saw the man, Jeremy Miller, I couldn’t get it out of my head that he was involved in drugs. Everything just felt… familiar. Like I’d seen him before. But not just him, it was the whole place. He was building an outdoor patio thing, and I just… it was right, like, that was how it should have been. Not in that I expected anything else, but… like… you know when you come home and you know Sherlock’s been there because the frame in the hallway is tilted?”
“Yes,” Mycroft grumbled.“Yeah it’s like that. You see the frame tilted and you know it was Sherlock but it’s happened so many times it’s just normal to right it again? You don’t stand around wondering why it’s crooked or how it happened? That’s kinda the same feeling. I just knew that Jeremy didn’t work, and that obviously he renovated the house in his time during the day. And every thought I had was related to drugs. It was… annoying. I was trying to think about the murder, but I was just instinctively looking about for drugs or evidence of it. I looked at the bloody plants, Myc, to see if they were marijuana! That’s beyond just copper’s instinct.”
“I agree,” Mycroft said quietly. He’d started rubbing his thumb over Greg’s thigh, and it was soothing enough for him to continue.
“I looked him up in the system when I got back, but there wasn’t anything listed. I will look more tomorrow, since it was just a cursory thing today, but I’m also a bit worried that I’m focusing on something that’s not a part of the investigation and wasting time and resources.”

Mycroft looked pensive. “Well, you have always had good intuition before. I believe you shouldn’t discredit your gut instinct so quickly. Even if this feeling is new and strange, if it leads somewhere that you wouldn’t have found otherwise, then it’s a benefit, right?”
Greg didn’t realise how much he needed to hear that validation until the words breached Mycroft’s lips. He buried his head into Mycroft’s chest and hugged him hard.

“The separation has been really upsetting you, hasn’t it?” Mycroft said, and Greg could hear the rumble in his chest. He just nodded. “Why did you not speak to me earlier?”
“Thought I was being silly,” Greg said. He still knew not to mention anything regarding the hallucinations, and that it was the real reason for his upset. “I’m a grown man; I shouldn’t need to be held by my partner every day after work.”
“You are welcome to it, Gregory. Don’t decline yourself something you need because of interpreted expectations. If you need that physical support right now, then you do.”

Mycroft was smiling at him when Greg looked up, and he felt his heart lurch. He responded by kissing him deeply.
“Pack a bag,” Mycroft uttered once their kiss had been broken.
“I’m sorry?”
“You’re coming back with me. You are obviously struggling to be alone right now, and even though you are a grown man as you say, it is reasonable for you to need company in the aftermath of your injury. We may discuss the living situation when you have settled at work.”

Greg had a feeling that Mycroft just wanted to be able to watch him at all times, but honestly, Greg couldn’t care. He couldn’t explain the need to have Mycroft close to him beyond feeling more at peace and safe around him. The hallucination incidents were markedly minimised when Mycroft was around, and Greg wanted as much of that treatment as he could get. He held his jaw closed tightly and just nodded. He was moving in with Mycroft indefinitely it seemed, and he didn’t want to say anything that might sound either needy or dismissive. He settled for showing his appreciation with another kiss.

Chapter Text

It had been another exhausting day. Sally hadn’t made much progress investigating the butcher. They brought him in for a statement, but it yielded no further leads. The elderly gentleman claimed to have no idea of the body parts in his produce, and everything in Greg’s intuition told him the man wasn’t lying. He did have two employees, both of whom were brought in for questioning, but neither of them seemed to be hiding anything either. Greg knew he couldn’t discount them, but his strange ‘feeling’ was back with a vengeance telling him that the butcher wasn’t involved. He could hardly tell Sally that she was wasting her time with them, however, and so had to let most of his team’s time and resources be focused on investigating the butchers.

The search for Daniel had come up with nothing, either. He hadn’t taken a flight out of the country, which meant that he was still somewhere within reach. There was no CCTV available anywhere near the Miller’s house, being so far out of central London, which made it difficult to determine the young man’s movements. Sally had agreed it prudent to find him, but argued that it was likely he’d just told his parents he was travelling and run off with a girlfriend – or potentially a boyfriend – and thus was hiding away.

The body, or, at least what they had of it, was  likely a male in his early twenties – DNA results would be in on Monday. They hadn’t found the skull or any parts of hands or feet, but the remains of the other bones were reassembled. Anderson had brought Molly, from St Bart’s, in to help identify the fragments.

While they worked, and Sally continued to investigate the butchers, Greg brought the nursing student Su Lin in again to ask more questions about the family to try find out more about Daniel.  

She told him that there were loud; that there was always shouting and screaming coming from the house. She didn’t take much notice of the son’s movements, since she tried to distance herself from their activities. She’d never been game enough to go near them, apparently, which told Greg more about the Millers than Su Lin realised. She did tell him how there were all sorts coming and going, however, and that was why no one would have noticed if strangers appeared recently and disappeared along with Daniel.

More evidence for Greg’s drugs suspicion came in the form of Su Lin stating she’d seen Jeremy counting large quantities of money in the backyard. He filed for a warrant to search for drugs, since it was technically not related to the murder inquiry and Greg wanted to be safe.

~

He left on time. Sally said she was going to stay longer since she had no plans, but at least she wasn’t acting critical of Greg leaving. He just didn’t have the strength to let the case be his single focus. He had a lot on his mind still, given the events of yesterday, and a man at home waiting for him.

“Good evening,” Mycroft said as Greg walked through the door.
“Oi, it’s not that late,” Greg responded playfully. “It’s only half-six.”
“True, however, had I said ‘afternoon’ the implication would have been that we had more than relaxation on the agenda.” Mycroft’s smile was laced with a deeper meaning, and Greg hoped he was reading it right. He sauntered closer, putting his jacket over the chair near the doorway, and settled himself kneeling over Mycroft’s lap.
“I think I want a bit more than just relaxation on the agenda for this evening,” he said slyly, leaning down to kiss Mycroft.
“I can accommodate,” Mycroft responded softly, pressing another kiss to his lips. He ran his hands through Greg’s hair and slid them to brush against the back of his neck. Greg shivered.

“How was your day?” he asked breathily.
“Dull, until now. Yours?”
“Tiring, a bit frustrating at times, but still making progress with the case.” Greg pressed closer to Mycroft as he kissed him again. “I’m glad you’re here. Well, this is your place, of course you’re here; I meant I am glad that I’m here.”
“Greg,” Mycroft chuckled, “you’re babbling. Are you uncomfortable?”
“Fuck no,” Greg responded happily.
“Good. Put no further thought to your living arrangements.”
Trust Mycroft to know exactly what I’m thinking. At least he wants me to be here, and going by the fervour he’s kissing me with, it’s not just for my benefit.

“Plans for dinner?” Greg asked, his head now tilted back for Mycroft to kiss at his neck.
“I think something more sustaining than what you have in mind,” Mycroft responded. He returned to kissing and nibbling Greg’s sensitive skin.
“Dirty man,” Greg playfully scolded. He was honestly shocked, still, how inclined Mycroft was to touch and sex. He was always so reserved and aversive to touch around everyone. It made Greg feel special that he was the exception, that Mycroft felt safe enough around him to let his vulnerabilities show and actually fulfil his desires. “I was thinking curry.”
“Will I get to continue to kiss you while you prepare it?”
“Of course.”
“Then I am in agreement. Curry it is.”

Greg giggled softly and pressed another kiss to Mycroft’s lips. He ran his hands down the man’s chest, letting his fingers linger over his sensitive nipples.
“Don’t have to start right away,” Mycroft said. “We have plenty of time.”
“It’d be better to get it done now and let it sit, so the flavours have a chance to develop,” Greg answered, enjoying the small sigh that escaped Mycroft. “It can sit for as long as you like,” he added.
“Well, then, lead the way, Chef.”
“Ha,” he laughed, “you can be my Sous Chef.”
“Oh, I have every intention of being under you,” Mycroft answered slyly. Greg flushed red and cleared his throat, attempting to keep enough blood in his brain to actually cook the meal.

Greg pressed Mycroft into the bed, gripping both of his wrists tightly. He pressed a forceful kiss upon Mycroft’s lips, grinding his hips down against the hot body below him. Mycroft groaned into the kiss, and Greg didn’t let his lips break free.
“Fuck you’re gorgeous,” he uttered as he moved his mouth down to lick at Mycroft’s neck.
“Oh, Greg,” Mycroft moaned, bucking his hips upwards.

Greg kept his hands pinning Mycroft to the bed, and found that Mycroft really enjoyed the restriction. “I want to tie you up,” he breathed. “Ensure you feel only what I make you feel.” He noticed the hitch in Mycroft’s breath. He smiled and continued. “Have you aching to be touched, but unable to do so yourself. I want to hear you beg me to touch you, to take you, to let you come.”
“God, yes,” Mycroft crooned, his chest lifting up off the mattress. Greg was torn between releasing Mycroft’s wrists and being able to lick at his chest, or continuing to pin him down and have him writhe more.
Is there anything here I can use as rope? I don’t have my cuffs on me, and they’d not be that comfortable anyway. Hm, Mycroft wears ties… I can use one of those? If he lets me, that is.

“In the closet,” Mycroft said. “Use the ones in the box.”
Greg flickered his eyebrow up questioningly, but obeyed. In said box were an assortment of ties, ones that he assumed were old unwanted ones. He returned to Mycroft, grinning. He let one of the ties run through his fingers, a deep red one that seemed perfect for what he was intending to do with it.
“Just your hands, love, or do you want your feet as well?”
“Just hands, this time,” Mycroft uttered, blushing. Greg leant in and kissed him.

“Wonderful.” He went about tying one hand up, threading the fabric through the headboard, and then finishing up tying the second wrist. “Give that a tug for me, sexy,” Greg said, and was pleased to find his knot held. “Perfect.”
“Greg,” Mycroft begged silently, lifting his chest up again.

“Oh, look at you, all flushed and tied up. I can do all kinds of dastardly things to you, now.” Greg knew that he could say it as they both knew that he’d stop without hesitation if Mycroft asked. Still he needed to know Mycroft knew he was in control. “But you tell me what you want, and if you don’t like something, still, yeah? A safe word, that’s what we need. Something you say and I will just stop immediately.”
“Alright,” Mycroft said, sounding annoyed that thinking was involved when he’d rather be feeling. “Sherlock.”
“I said safe word, not kill switch,” Greg laughed. Mycroft chuckled along with him.
“Indeed. Hm,” Mycroft pondered, his eyes looking about. “Belgium.”
“Belgium?”
“Yes, it’s a unique word and the meeting today-”
“Shh, love, it’s fine. Now, no more thinking about work. Let me take care of you.” Greg ran his hands down Mycroft’s sides and kissed his sternum. He continued to slide his body downwards until he was nibbling at his partner’s abdominal muscles, pointedly avoiding the bobbing erection. He heard Mycroft stifle a moan of anticipation as Greg moved lower down, only to then huff when Greg instead nuzzled his thigh.

He ran his hands over the lean muscle, fingers threading through the light dusting of hair and over the few freckles. Greg loved Myc’s freckles. They were sprinkled all over his body, more liberally over his shoulders and arms. He pressed his nose up to Mycroft’s crotch and flicked his tongue out to lap at one of his balls. Mycroft’s cock twitched. Greg did it again before taking the testicle gently into his mouth. He lolled it with his tongue, paying attention to listen to Mycroft’s reaction. So far, he seemed to be enjoying the sensation. He sucked ever so softly, barely a tug of his mouth, but it caused Mycroft’s body to jerk.

“Don’t hide your noises, love,” Greg said as he released one testicle and lapped up the other.
“Arhhh, yes, Greg, that’s… good. Different, but good.”

Greg released the scrotum from his mouth, and licked a stripe over his perineum. Mycroft moaned gently, and so Greg pressed his thumb into the area, eliciting a louder noise from his partner. He looked up with a grin as he did it again, seeing the pleasure on Mycroft’s face. His cock pulsed harder with the combination of hearing those noises and seeing the pre-come starting to leak on Mycroft’s head.

Without stopping his thumb, Greg took Mycroft in his mouth all at once. Mycroft cried out, his hands tugging at the tie involuntarily. Greg hummed in approval. Mycroft’s muscles shook as he tried to restrain himself from bucking up into Greg’s mouth.

“Greg, that’s, yes, god, oh that’s… god,” Mycroft mumbled, still tugging at the tie. Greg could tell how excited his partner was being denied the ability to touch Greg to coax him to go faster.
What do you want, love? Me to suck you until you spill down my throat? Have me thrust into you until you come without being touched? Rut on top of you until we’re grinding in a sticky mess?

Greg knew Mycroft wanted him to decide what to do, but Greg wanted to find out which Mycroft wanted. He sucked, then bobbed his head up and down; Mycroft began to pant small utterances of ‘yes’ over and over. He then released him, much to his partner’s dismay. Greg then shuffled back up so he knelt over Mycroft, his own hard cock dropping to brush against Mycroft’s flushed skin. He kissed him, deep and hard, all the while letting the tip of his cock flutter over Mycroft’s. The sharp sensations of pleasure made it hard for him to continue kissing, wanting to suck in breath, but he continued.

“Like that, darlin’?” Greg asked, met with a quick nod. “More?” Again, more nodding. He smiled and brought his body down so that his cock pressed fully against Mycroft’s belly.
“Ohhh, yes,” Mycroft moaned. Greg tested the waters with a few thrusts, but found it a bit dry to be overly enjoyable.
“Hang on, gorgeous, I’ll just get some lube,” he said, sitting up and reaching for the drawer. He used only a small amount to coat himself, rubbing the excess off his hand onto Mycroft’s prick.
“Yes,” Mycroft exclaimed at the contact. Greg grunted as he thrust for the first time slicked, the sensation rippling through him.
“Jesus, Myc,” he breathed. “Yeah.”

Mycroft used the tie as an anchor point as he curled his body upwards to thrust. Greg kissed him again, letting more weight lay on him. He slid his body up and down, panting, loving the feel of his whole length moving along Mycroft’s. His heart pounded enough to hear the rush of blood in his ears. He desperately wanted to thrust inside Myc, but had to know it would be equally enjoyable for his partner.

“I want to be inside you,” he breathed, still thrusting. Mycroft fervidly ground up against him at his words.
“Please,” he begged. His voice was tantalizingly desperate. “I want…”
“You sure, sweetheart?” Greg asked, and received another passionate nod.
“No condom,” Mycroft blurted out. Greg swallowed, more arousal stirring in his gut. They’d talked about it, but hadn’t done it before. “I want… I want to feel it,” Mycroft continued. “When you finish in me, I want to feel it.”

Tingles exploded through his body at hearing those words. He kissed him again, and found it suddenly excruciatingly difficult to stop his movements. His body craved more, and did not want to relinquish what lavish attention it already had. He mustered his self-control and sat up, slid backwards while running his hands down Mycroft’s body, and perched himself with a spectacular and arousing view. Mycroft’s cock glistened with the lube, dark and hard, bobbing up off his belly, with his face in the background looking completely unravelled.

“Fuck, you are heaven,” he enunciated, unable to stop his hands roaming along his partner’s long legs. He took the lube and coated a finger liberally, pressing it against Myc’s entrance. Mycroft was impatient and did his best to press down on his finger.
“Desperate, are we?”
“Yes, Greg, please…”
“Mmm I can’t say no when you ask like that,” he mused, pressing his finger into the tight heat. He wasted no time for his partner to adjust, seeing how desperate he was.
“More, Greg, please, more…” Mycroft rasped as he ground down. Greg pressed another finger in, much to Mycroft’s delight. He used his other hand to slide up along Myc’s cock, moving each slowly in time with the other. The result had Mycroft writhing beneath him, vehemently trying to sink more of Greg into his body.
Fuck gorgeous, you really love being filled, don’t you? I can’t wait to stretch you up and be that close to you.

Greg coated himself and then quickly aligned his body so that his head pressed against the muscle. Mycroft was trembling beneath him as he held onto the man’s knees. He pushed forward, breaching through the tight muscle, eliciting a guttural moan as he went. Mycroft shouted a curse, and struggled against his bindings.
“Oh god yes,” Mycroft cried as Greg buried himself to the hilt.
“Fuck, I love being in you, Myc. Gotta concentrate not to come from the first move,” Greg muttered. His body was on fire; he yearned to satiate the desire burning through his veins.
“Move, please, Greg. I need… please.”
Oh but isn’t it delicious when you beg like this? How am I supposed to make this last?

Greg began thrusting, slowly at first but the eagerness got the better of him and soon he was pounding deep inside Mycroft. Sweat dripped off him, but he hardly noticed over the consuming bliss. Mycroft babbled curses and nonsense; Greg grunting and groaning, unable to both breathe and form anything more than instinctual noises. He didn’t know how long they had been there, making the most erotic noises imaginable, as his entire focus was narrowed solely on the divine body below him.

The arousal heightened in his gut, and Greg started feeling the desperate tension to thrust harder into his partner; a primal urge that thrummed through his body to hold tight and release inside them. In his dizzying haze, he managed to reach down and grasp at Mycroft’s cock, pumping it furiously as he fucked him. He started shouting, along with Mycroft, the thrusts having become jagged attempts to remain buried deep inside his body.

Yes, yes, fuck, Myc, oh sweet lord yes.

The dam broke and Greg exploded in a wave of relief. The orgasm floored him; the euphoria blocked out all sensations other than the pulsing in his cock and balls. He continued to moan loudly as he filled Mycroft with his semen.
Oh, you like that, gorgeous? Yeah, take it all.

He’d share his dirty talk if he could form words. He coasted his orgasm by thrusting slowly, and then registered that Mycroft squealed. The ring of muscle around Greg’s cock began to pulse wildly as Mycroft came, spurting all over Greg’s hand and his own belly.

Greg collapsed on the bed beside Mycroft, panting. He wanted to cuddle, his chest filled with a warm contented love for the man, but his body was too boneless to comply.
“Fuck, that was…”
“Phenomenal,” Mycroft answered for him.
“Yeah,” Greg agreed. He nuzzled Mycroft’s neck. “Once we get our breaths back, shall we clean up and snuggle?”
“Perfect,” Mycroft hummed. Greg knew Mycroft liked things to be clean, and it was one of those things that Greg just accepted. He knew it was a comfort for his partner that doing so was not an inconvenience.

~

The remainder of the weekend went much the same. They read, they kissed, they enjoyed food, they went for leisurely walks, and they had heated, passionate sex. Greg was overjoyed that coming back to stay with Mycroft wasn’t weird. There wasn’t anywhere he wanted to be more than in Mycroft’s arms.

Greg knew that Mycroft still watched him closely, and so he tried to remain vigilant at keeping his paranoia at bay. He couldn’t help but wonder if some of the things he was seeing were actually there after the ‘water’ incident on Thursday. The longer he went without any further complications, the more relaxed he was that it had all been due to just stress.

Sipping wine on the sofa Sunday night, Mycroft turned to him. “Are you confident that the drugs are related to the case?”
Greg paused, a little surprised at the sudden question, but then continued his mouthful. “It’s just a feeling, Myc,” he said carefully. He swirled the red liquid around in his glass. “I’m just going to have a bit of a look while I’m there about the murder.”
“I am unsure as to whether you believe the drugs to be a separate investigation or if you think they are connected.”
“Why does it matter?” Greg asked, a little suspicious. Mycroft was not usually interested in the manner in which Greg conducted his job, nor about his ‘intuition’.

“A number of reasons; perhaps the most important to you right now is that if you believe the drugs to be connected to the murder inquiry, then you should find the evidence for it as quickly as possible. It would also give you cause for arrest of Mr Miller, and that pressure may cause him to confess information he’d otherwise keep to himself.”
“You think he has something to do with the murder?”
“I don’t see fit to exclude the possibility,” Mycroft said, tilting his head to the side. He looked up at the ceiling as he continued. “It is not my place to give you advice on how to go about your job. However I can only assume it common sense not to eliminate anyone from the pool of suspects until there is a confession made.”
“Of course not,” Greg huffed. “But it’s two very different things to suspect someone does have involvement, and to just not rule them out.”

“Quite,” Mycroft agreed cordially. He took another sip of wine. “I merely asked in order to suggest you take Sherlock with you. He will be able to spot evidence of a drug habit or dealings with greater accuracy than you will; and if it is important to confirm your ‘feeling’ sooner rather than later, then I believed it an adequate concession regarding your pride to have an answer even if not by you.”

Greg mulled over Mycroft’s words. It was true, and he had considered the option himself. However Anderson was heading up the forensics, and so he anticipated at least an argument should they end up in the same room; he would rather avoid that. Then again, he had promised Sherlock he’d take him on cases once he was back, and he wasn’t too proud to admit that Sherlock would notice things a lot more than he himself would.

“Alright, I’ll bring him along this week sometime, probably Thursday after we see where the trails go with the butcher. But I swear if he starts another fight with Anderson, I’m dragging him out by his ear.” Greg snorted and gulped the remainder of wine in his glass.
“Please call me first so I may watch,” Mycroft appealed. Greg chuckled and bent forward to kiss him. Greg assured him that Anderson would undoubtedly take a video should it occur, and he’d confiscate it as punishment for his misconduct. Mycroft deemed it acceptable, and kissed him back.

Greg snuggled against Mycroft’s chest, feeling utterly content with the turn of events in his life. Sure, there were some hardships regarding his mental health, but if it was managed by simply being in his partner’s presence, then it wasn’t that much of a difficulty.

Chapter Text

Greg steeled himself as he walked into Sherlock’s lab. It wasn’t somewhere he often visited. He’d heard many complaints about the man’s peculiar work habits, such as coercing Molly to let him have body parts to experiment on which he did between cases brought to him. Greg generally tried to avoid seeing that whenever possible. Sherlock’s brash attitude didn’t help lure him in, either.

“Ah, Gavin, so nice of you to visit,” Sherlock said without looking up from his microscope.
“Greg, you arse. You’re going to be in trouble if they catch you in here without your lab coat on, again.”
“Don’t talk to me as if I’m a child.”
“I’m not,” Greg huffed. “A child knows that lab coats are compulsory in a laboratory.”
Sherlock sneered at him from over the microscope. “Not all labs are equal, Lestrade. Geologists hardly wear labs when cataloguing their rocks.”
“And are you in a geology lab?”

“What do you want, Graham?” Sherlock bemoaned, and Greg smiled at winning the argument.
“You wanted to join me on a case,” Greg said, and chuckled at the way Sherlock jumped from his seat. “I was talking with Mycroft on Sunday night over wine and he suggested you would be better at finding signs of drugs than I would.”
“Ergh, spare me the details of your domesticity,” Sherlock griped. He then walked over to fetch his large wool coat, and Greg had to be glad that at least the man had taken that off before working. “My brother is right, though. Your observational skills are atrocious.”
“Oi, I’m trying, alright?”

Sherlock looked at him with a piercing expression, and then nodded. “What about your murder case? I still want to have a look. I doubt the dunderheads working it could find the whole body if it were under their noses, let alone the murderer.”
Greg snorted indignantly. “I’m working on that case, Sherlock,” he warned, but knew there would be no apology forthcoming. He sighed. “And it’s the one I’m bringing you in on.”
“I wasn’t aware there was a connection to drugs,” Sherlock said, leading the way out of the office.
“There's… not,” Greg said hesitantly. “I just have a feeling that the man is involved in drugs. So, technically, I’m not bringing you in on the murder. It’s something separate. I can’t find anything in any database about a drugs connection, and I can’t exactly make a fuss about pushing it without any evidence.”
“So you want me to find some,” Sherlock grumbled. He stopped dead in his tracks, causing Greg to almost walk into his back. He swung around, coat flaring out dramatically. “You haven’t had, or acted upon at least, merely a ‘feeling’ before.”
“Um, no, I-I guess not.”
“Why now?”
“I don’t know, Sherlock. Why does anything happen?”

Sherlock peered at him closely in that way that made Greg feel exposed. “Intuition is often the result of the brain’s processing of data on a subconscious level. People observe the information, but are unable to recognise its meaning. Usually, the information is forgotten as useless data. Sometimes the brain clings onto it, seeing it as important, thus intuition.”
“So?”
“So, don’t you think it strange that you are suddenly able to retain subconscious information pertinent to your work following a head injury you can’t remember?” Sherlock grinned unsettlingly, and began to walk away. Greg grabbed his elbow.
“Hang on, are you saying that this is because of what happened? That my brain isn’t working properly anymore?”
“Quite the opposite, Lestrade. You seem to be operating at a higher capacity than before.” He paused as he looked about, thinking, before returning to address Greg. “Perhaps it is coincidental, however I find there is rarely such a thing. Still, I suggest you pay closer attention to yourself. If the trauma has caused a leap in acuity, then my advice would be to embrace it all you can. You certainly need it,” Sherlock added with mirth.

Greg was left standing in the hallway, frowning. He hadn’t considered that there could be an upside to the injury. So far he’d only been panicking to stave off the negative aspects – the auditory and visual hallucinations. It was certainly possible that he was more aware, which would indeed be helpful to his job.
Maybe this can turn out for the better after all?

Greg filled Sherlock in about the case on the drive over. They hadn’t had luck locating the son, Daniel, but what little they’d uncovered about him thus far indicated that it might prove futile. Sherlock agreed with him that it would be difficult given he didn’t have much in the way of regular mates or locales, dealt with cash mostly, and was of age to be living independently without suspicion. Greg had put more people on it yesterday, since he was still convinced the boy could have something to do with the murder.

There was still nothing from Sally’s side of the investigation with the butcher since she’d started again on Monday. No further bodies had been found, or body parts. No one associated with the workplace had noticed anything suspicious, but even Greg was frustrated with the their lax attitude towards security. The bags of scraps weren’t checked, and were left out in the back fridge unattended for most of the day where anyone could walk in and access it. Really, it was an ideal target for a body disposal – no cameras, careless old owner, unwatched streets, unlocked doors. Greg had words with the old man about at least locking up at all times.

Sherlock strolled into the house. Greg didn’t tell the Millers that he was there investigating drugs, since he had reason to be there anyway and a warrant for it. Sherlock floated into the bedroom like a spectre, followed by an angry-looking Joanne and an anxious Jeremy. He started poking about the items in the room while Greg stood at the doorway. He said nothing, like usual, and so Greg just let him get on with it.

“Why are you here, Inspector? The rest of your team are out the back. There’s no purpose in riling through my underwear!” Joanne snapped, defensive.
“I have a warrant to search any and all areas of the premises.”
“What’s tha’ for, then? Ain’t nothin’ in here worth lookin’ at. Why ain’t youse lookin’ ‘round the butcher’s where the bones came from, eh?” Jeremy said, eyeing Sherlock’s movements carefully.
“I assure you, we are doing so.”

Sherlock stood upright, and then approached the Millers. “Lestrade, I believe you are required to inform them that I am performing a search for suspected drugs.”
“Yeah, alright, Sherlock,” Greg grumbled. He was confused as to why, this one time, Sherlock decided to follow procedure.
Probably just because it’s inconvenient for me this time.

Sherlock smirked, in that arrogant way that meant he’d outwitted someone. Greg flicked his eyebrow at him. “Your reaction is quite telling, Mr Miller,” he proclaimed before storming past them all and into the other bedroom. Greg looked at Jeremy, noticing he’d paled and started to sweat.
Clever bastard.

He followed Sherlock to find him in what was presumably Daniel’s room. “So did you find anything I can actually use as evidence?”
“Plenty, however I assume you mean something tangible that a jury of idiots would believe,” Sherlock answered, pulling the contents from under the bed out over the room.
“Yes, ideally,” Greg hummed. “What are you doing now?”
“Really Lestrade? You bring me here for a drugs bust then and question what I’m doing when I’m searching? Perhaps I was mistaken earlier regarding your mental acuity.”
“That’s not really fair.”
“Isn’t it? Look on the bed, Lestrade.”

Greg admittedly looked around the room for the first time. He was shocked to see, plain as day, a syringe laying upon the bedding. He berated himself for not being so observant. He took a photo, donned some gloves, and bagged the evidence.
“So it was the son doing drugs,” Greg said slowly. Why did he feel like it was the father’s relation to drugs that had been important? He hadn’t seen this room before, so how could he have noticed anything even subconsciously?

“Stole his father’s stock, yes. Has been doing so for some time, it seems, given the stash in the box in the back of the closet. Mr Miller is actually rather high up in the drug rings, by my estimate.”
“And how do you figure that?”

Greg listened as Sherlock explained the large safe in the closet, the receipt for bulk order medical supplies, and various other details which, in Greg’s opinion, were nothing that he would have encountered in the first few moments of meeting Jeremy. He remained confused as to how his brain had made the connection.

He arrested Mr Miller, despite the protests and angry cursing. Greg made him open the safe, which revealed a large quantity of heroin and cash. It explained how the Millers were so well off with only one of them having a job, Greg considered as a constable took Jeremy back to the Yard to be charged with drug trafficking.

Maybe this wasn’t an accidental find of bones? What if it was a drug cartel sending a message? Had Daniel stolen supply and run off, leaving an angry buyer? Was the body a message? Or perhaps a means to get the police involved enough to arrest Jeremy and remove him from the picture?

Sherlock appeared from the bedroom and headed straight for the crime scene in the backyard.
Anderson.

“Sherlock!” Greg called, jogging briefly to catch up. “Behave!”
“Don’t you see it, Lestrade?”
“What?”
“Ergh how can you all be as blind as Anderson?”
The weasel-like man, known as Philip Anderson, perked up at his name sounding out in Sherlock’s deep baritone. Greg groaned as he stormed over.

“What’s he doing in my crime scene?”
“It’s my crime scene, Anderson. He’s helped me make an arrest of Jeremy Miller for drug trafficking.”
“Well since that’s done, he can toddle off and leave us to do our jobs.”
“Pfft, you can’t do them either way.”
“Sherlock,” Greg warned.
“Look around you!” Sherlock shouted, flailing his arms about. “Surely it’s clear to you what happened!”

Greg took a deep breath. “Walk me through it, Sherlock. Anderson? Go back over to the body. Check in with Sally to see how she’s getting on with the butcher, and see if they’ve been able to locate Daniel Miller. Tell her to check known drug dens, since we found evidence of heroin use. I still think it’s highly suspicious for him to up and leave just days before human remains are found on the premises.”
“Correct,” Sherlock grumbled, but Greg held a hand up to silence him.
“Treat him as an official suspect,” Greg said, and Anderson nodded.
“Wrong,” Sherlock uttered under his breath. Anderson sneered at Sherlock but backed away to the tent. Both he and Greg watched him go. “Good, now we can get to it in peace,” Sherlock said, louder.

“I apologise for that, Mrs Miller,” Greg addressed the woman standing witness. She still seemed furious that her husband had been taken away, but nodded at him. “Sherlock, take me through everything you see,” he said with an air of being fed-up with his nonsense.

“Look here,” Sherlock said, indicating to the recliner. “This area is new, and still coated in building debris; specifically, dust from the concrete. As you can see, this corner here,” he indicated to the far wall, “is covered in concrete dust. However here, near the building, it has been swept clean. Why clean only half of the floor? The dust has been here some time, I’d say at least two weeks, given that the last time it rained was two weeks ago and you can see the line of wet concrete dust along the edge here, but no more dry powder has floated down on top.”
“You’re going to insult my cleaning skills now? Sweeping’s a bitch. I’ll do it enough to get to the windows but I’m not cleaning Jeremy’s mess for him!”
Greg had briefly wondered why only half the pavement would be cleaned, but that seemed a good enough reason.

“Perhaps,” Sherlock said, continuing. He eyed her carefully. “Or perhaps not. The dust also shows evidence of a struggle in the chair. Scrape marks evident with rocking movements, instead of simple laying down and standing again, are around the base. There’s also dirt as you can see here, just at the foot of the wall, but only in this one patch. You can see a smear on the concrete bricks of the wall were a hand has wiped dirt off. Innocuous on its own, but coupled with the marks on the ground, suggest a struggle were the only means to try gain leverage was to grab the edge of the wall, and urgent enough to cast the potting mix out of the garden. There is an abandoned  book here. Easily forgotten in the aftermath of a confrontation, but not likely left behind when merely returning inside from reading.”

“Does this have a point?” Joanne snapped, crossing her arms. Greg noticed she still seemed defensive, and looking over to the forensics tent.
“You are significantly aversive to looking at this chair, Mrs Miller. I would hazard a guess that it was you whom was in the chair during the struggle. Judging by the movements, and the torn shred of red lace here under the foot of the recliner, that it was a sexual encounter,” he said. He inclined his head while looking away, in the manner he often did when considering the information, before continuing. “While it is possible that this is unrelated, the fact that you are so unsettled suggest that it was indeed a struggle and not enjoyable. Or, it at least ended in a struggle.”

Greg’s eyebrows rose. An affair, perhaps? A familiar feeling gripped his gut, one that told him that the situation was unfolding to be much more sinister than he’d originally thought.
Could Joanne have been having an affair, and her husband walked in on them? Did Jeremy Miller murder his wife’s lover and hide the body in the bag of bones the wife bought, in a sick act of revenge?

Greg’s stomach clenched, but the feeling that Mr Miller wasn’t the murderer entrenched itself deep in his gut. The current evidence supported the idea that he could be, yet it didn’t sit right with him.
Why would Joanne be willing to hide the murder of her lover? How did Jeremy know which bag to put the remains in at the butcher’s?

“Moreover, there is a large scrape, here, on these pavers.” Sherlock squatted on the clean patch of floor and indicated to a mark on the pavement near Greg’s feet. “Made with a brick. It seems to have been dropped from a height. Given the dust remains are red, and the large concrete bricks used to construct the walls are yellow, I can assume this was one of the old ones torn up from what used to be here before the renovations. You can see them there, in the corner by the tent. Now, I know that even Anderson wouldn’t miss a bloodied brick in the yard with a body in it, so we can eliminate those from question. But you can see where the pile used to be, Lestrade, by your feet. Close enough to be in reach during a struggle,” Sherlock hinted.

“You’re saying the man was murdered here?” Greg asked, his heart starting to beat faster. His idea of Jeremy killing the wife’s lover was sounding more likely, even if it still didn’t sit right with him. Why didn’t he think Jeremy was a killer?
“If we look to the garden, at the back here, we’ll find the murder weapon.” Sherlock crouched by the little hedge shrubs. “These three bushes were planted about three weeks ago, judging by the clover sprouts in the soil at the base. But here there’s a patch without those sprouts.”

Greg watched as Sherlock carefully dug in the ground, revealing a single brick buried in the soil. He gingerly pulled it out, and held it up for Greg to see the blood stains on it.
“Christ,” Greg breathed. He called for Anderson and his junior to come and bag the brick. DNA analysis could prove if the blood was that of the body they had. He looked at Joanne, who for the first time looked afraid instead of angry.
“We don’t know it’s murder by just some dust and a bloody brick,” Anderson protested.
“It’s something, though,” Greg said, although he had to admit that Anderson had a point. “I don’t see how the son’s involved from all this, to just disappear…” Greg trailed off as a new thought came to him.

What if it was Daniel that did it? Killed the lover an ran? Hid the body in the bag his mother bought? Does Joanne even know her lover died? Daniel could have taken him to ‘hospital’ for a head wound only to kill him. How do drugs come into it? Something still doesn’t make sense.  

Greg was too wrapped up in his thoughts to realise that Sherlock was talking, this time trying to goad Anderson into a fight.   
“…Clearly shown by the blood, you imbecile,” Sherlock snorted.
“Sherlock,” Greg said, sounding distracted. “Anderson is right that it’s not solid evidence for murder. Someone could have attacked the victim, but not killed him. He could have left the house and then been killed.”

Sherlock rolled his head in frustration. “By whom? What would their motive have been to take the body out where it’s more likely to be seen?”
“Put us off the scent,” Anderson remarked. “Hide their tracks. That kid, Daniel, could easily have attacked someone and then killed them near the butcher’s shop his family frequented, all so he could deposit the corpse in the butcher’s fridge. It could be entirely coincidental that the body ended up back here!”
Think, you idiot! Coincidences like that just don’t happen, not even in a fantasy world!” Sherlock snapped, his eyes flickering over to Greg. “Even Lestrade is smart enough to know that!”

“Oi, leave me out of this,” he retorted. He didn’t know why he was being called out, but guessed that it was true that he didn’t have much ability in regards to fantasy. “I agree both that the brick isn’t solid enough evidence to support any accusations, and that it’s too coincidental that Mrs Miller just happened to buy dog bones from the butcher that contained the body of a man killed, or nearly killed, in her backyard.”

Sherlock threw his arms into the air and stormed off into the yard in typical Sherlock-tantrum style. “Sherlock!” he shouted to the man’s indignant back. “A speculative story and a brick isn’t a solid case. You need to give me something more.”
“Where do you think I’m going Lestrade?”

Chapter Text

Sherlock slid the door to the shed open and beckoned Greg to follow him in. Anderson also leered from behind Greg’s shoulder.
“Look. Here’s your evidence,” Sherlock said, waving his arms about.
“We’ve looked in here, you idiot,” Anderson grumbled. Greg turned and scowled at him, but received only an eye-roll in response. Sherlock was livid, however, at being called an idiot.
“How do you even keep your job? How many murderers have gone free because of your incompetence? Seriously, Lestrade, you’d be better off firing him and bringing me along instead. Just getting rid of him should bring the aggregate IQ of your team up a few notches.”

Greg put an arm out to stop Anderson storming past. He took a levelling breath, and then addressed Sherlock. “Please explain your findings,” he said carefully. He really only saw the inside of a normal shed, despite having a strange sense of foreboding that he couldn’t place. Sherlock would undoubtedly start to point out the obvious details.
“Even you, Lestrade? You can’t… oh, for goodness sake. There. We’ll start there, in that corner,” Sherlock moaned, pointing out a balled up tarp. He walked up to it and pulled it out of the corner, some layers unfurling. “See?”
“I don’t see anything peculiar, Sherlock,” he said, looking upon the black material.
Observe,” Sherlock insisted. “I know you have a propensity for general obliviousness, and elect to operate in an idealistic world where you ignore anything wrong in your life… but just observe. Tell me what you see.”
“It’s just a tarp. Black. A bit wet.”
“Yes! Exactly!” Sherlock snapped, and it took Greg by surprise. “It’s wet, that’s the key. As I said… the last time it rained was two weeks ago. So what is a tarpaulin inside a shed doing wet? The obvious answer is that it was cleaned.”
“Why?”

Sherlock smiled and raised an eyebrow. “Now you’re asking the important questions. Why indeed. It could be innocuous, but look about here. Everything is filthy. The backyard is tattered and there is building mess littered about for the renovations. To still be wet, it’d have to have been cleaned at most nine days ago, assuming it was folded and stored right away–”
“Nine days for something to dry?” Anderson interrupted. “That’s ridiculous!”
“It’s waterproof material in a dark corner in colder weather, Anderson. It’s not going to evaporate from the corners where liquid pools if the vapour can’t escape. It takes time for water vapour to penetrate through the material until dry, therefore after nine days there can still be remnants of water remaining. Kindly shut it.”

Anderson huffed, but Greg just shook his head. He nodded for Sherlock to continue.

“Judging from the area of the concrete floor in here, I’d say the tarp was laid on the ground there when it was cleaned. The rest of the shed is covered in dust, but the floor in this patch of space has been scrubbed and washed. So, something got on the tarp here in the shed that the Millers wanted off it. Now, have a look over in the corner there behind where the tarp was.”
“Pavers, like the ones put out on the patio,” Greg answered.
“Mhm. Why are they here? There is a pile of three more of that kind out in the backyard along with the old bricks. Assumedly, that’s where all the new ones were kept. Have a look at them,” he said, crouching closer. “They’ve already been laid. There’s concrete on the undersides and filler mix on the edges.”
“Ah, yes, so why would someone lay new pavers only to rip them up again and replace them with the exact same kind?” Greg said, joining Sherlock. The man looked at him with an impressed expression on his face, but said nothing.

He pulled one of the large concrete pavers off the pile and turned it right-way up, revealing a blood-stained surface. He quickly dragged out the remaining pavers with Sherlock’s help, all of them with blood on them.

“So it’s looking like the bloke was murdered on the patio with the brick,” he said, running his hand through his hair. Greg sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. It made him unsettled, even still, to realise how monstrous people could be. “Anderson, get Donovan on the phone. Tell her to leave the butcher and find Daniel Miller as soon as possible.”
“No,” Sherlock interrupted.
“What?”
“No. Daniel Miller isn’t missing. He never left, did he, Mrs Miller?”

Greg swivelled around to find Joanne Miller standing in the entranceway with a strained look on her face. Greg’s eyes blew wide.
It couldn’t be, could it? She might not know…

“Of course he did! Gone off travelling, he said,” she retorted, defensive. Sherlock just shook his head. He stood, and then walked over to the shelf by the freezer. He reached out with a gloved hand and pulled out a large kitchen knife.
“That proves nothing!” Joanne snapped. Sherlock glared at her.
“On the contrary, it does. This is one of the knives from your kitchen, not a utility knife for the shed. There’s a space in your knife block where a blade is missing, but there weren’t any dishes on the sink or lying about. This knife matches the others. Implication? This knife was brought from the kitchen to the shed for use.”
“I used it for portioning the dog food,” Joanne protested, and Greg noticed that her voice was starting to sound desperate.
“Mmm,” Sherlock hummed. “I would agree with you there.”
“Wait, what? I thought you were implying the knife was used to cut up the body here, on the tarp?”
“Indeed.” Sherlock straightened himself, putting the knife back on the shelf.

“Where’d they put it, then?” Anderson sneered. Sherlock raised a scrupulous eyebrow at him, indicating with a gloved hand to the freezer. Anderson shook his head. “We checked the freezer. Only pet mince, steaks, and off-cuts. All vacuum-sealed.”
“Mrs Miller just admitted to portioning the dog food. How idiotic to assume vacuum-sealing meant purchased. They undoubtedly have a home vacuum-sealer. Not completely uninspired a trick, given it was clever enough to fool you,” Sherlock rumbled.
“You’re saying the whole body is here, because they killed him here… but there’s been no skull, hands, or feet found anywhere; just bits and pieces,” Anderson protested.

Sherlock then tucked his hands behind his back and strolled two paces over to where the large tools hung on the wall. “And here is the other weapon used,” he said, lifting a sledgehammer off the hooks. “All the other tools are dirty and covered in dust, but this one has received a thorough cleaning.” He passed it over to Greg to inspect. “Smell it. Disinfectant. The tarp reeks of it too. I think you can deduce what happened here now from the information presented to you, Lestrade.”

Greg passed the tool back to Sherlock with a grimace. Knife and sledgehammer… fillet and break.
The man was killed on the patio and butchered in the shed. Fuck, that’s gruesome. But which of them did it? And why?

“Also to confirm that the body is, in fact, Daniel Miller… you saw his bedroom, Lestrade. He kept his syringes well hidden in the box in the closet, and yet he disappeared suddenly while leaving one upon his sheets? No. He left his wallet on the dresser, his keys in the bedside table drawer, and his phone connected to the charger under the bed. He didn’t know he wouldn’t be returning to his room.”
“You… why didn’t you say something while we were in there?” Greg asked, the nauseous feeling not leaving his stomach.
“I needed all the information before making a conclusion. Seeing the sexual struggle in the chair, the evidence for murder on the patio, and the butchery here in the shed leaves only one logical explanation for his disappearance.”

Sherlock remained staring at Joanne Miller, as if waiting for her response. There was silence for a moment during the staring contest, until Anderson broke it. “So we have the killer in custody already, then?”
“Not necessarily, or perhaps entirely,” Sherlock grumbled. “However I suggest you amend that uncertainty and arrest her, Lestrade.”
Greg looked to Mrs Miller who was standing glaring back at Sherlock.
Oh. Oh God. Daniel tried to rape her and either she, or her husband, killed him for it. Fuck, he was probably high as a kite when he did it, given the drugs he’d stolen from his father found in his room. Then they smashed his skull, diced him up, and fed him to the dogs. Fucking hell.

“Joanne Miller, I am arresting you on suspicion of the murder of Daniel Miller,” Greg stated, reaching around to cuff her. The rest of the speech came out of his mouth automatically while his mind reeled. He’d been right in thinking that drugs were involved somehow. He’d just come to the wrong conclusion, thinking the victim was actually the suspect.

“Wait, so where are the missing body parts?” Anderson griped as Sherlock and Greg began to walk away. “We’ve looked everywhere. It’s not like you can give those to the dogs in broad daylight; someone would definitely have noticed that.”
“The barbecue,” Sherlock answered. “There’s far too much carbon build-up on the new roofing for standard cooking use. They burnt the recognisably human elements of the body until they were nothing but charcoal. I’m sure you could find the remains of the bones in there.”

Greg checked the barbecue on the way out with Mrs Miller, and Sherlock was right. Remnants of bone confirmed as metacarpals, metatarsals, and skull fragments were there amongst the other debris.

He detained her in the cells, and then set his team up on filing the correct paperwork for her arrest. They did need to get a confession out of her or her husband, but he decided to leave that until tomorrow. Right now he just wanted to curl up with a stiff drink.

~

Greg was on the couch in the lounge. It was dimly lit, the only light being the small lamp on the side table. He had originally wanted to just watch some crap telly or a match, but couldn’t seem to bring himself to actually turn it on. He felt drained, and more than a little depressed. Gruesome cases generally made him unsettled, and melancholic, but for some reason this one was stirring up all kinds of negative emotions.

He lay in the semi-darkness just trying to work out why he was feeling so shitty, since it didn’t feel as if it was all directly from the case. He felt abandoned, defeated, and even tortured for some reason. He hated that he felt like crying into Mycroft, and the fact that his partner wasn’t home yet didn’t help abate the feeling.

He felt the tingling sensation running down his spine as if he was being watched, and so looked up to the entranceway. There stood a tall figure, cast in shadow from the light in the hall. Greg immediately jumped on edge, his body flooding with adrenaline. His stomach plummeted and he gasped loudly. He instantly was ready to flee, overwhelmed with terror.

“Gregory, it’s me,” Mycroft spoke, walking into the room.
“Myc?” Greg panted, realising the situation. His eyes darted over Mycroft’s features. His body was shaking as it came down from the adrenaline high.
“Yes; who else would it be? Are you alright, darling?”
“I… I don’t know why I did that. I mean, of course it’s going to be just you. I’m sorry. Don’t know what came over me,” Greg mumbled, rubbing his face. He hadn’t been merely frightened by Myc’s sudden appearance; he had been honestly terrified – as if he were about to be attacked.

“You’ve had a trying day,” Mycroft said, joining him on the couch. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Yeah, it was pretty shit.”
“You brought Sherlock in today, correct?”
“Mhm,” Greg hummed in agreement. He sighed and leaned against Myc’s chest.
“Did he cause issues with Anderson?”
“A bit, but generally they were both well behaved. It was just the case. Sherlock solved it, but I still have to get confessions out of one or both of the Millers – we don’t know which of them did it; and if it was Joanne, we don’t know if the husband even knows. Not looking forward to that tomorrow. Wanna know what happened?”
“Of course,” Mycroft said patiently, starting to stroke along Greg’s arm.

“The son Daniel stole some of his dad’s heroin, took it, tried to rape his mum, and then was killed for it. The body was cut up into dog meat in the shed. The bones were bought as a cover. They smashed his skull into pieces and burnt it along with the hands and feet. The rest they fed to the dogs.
“I know I shouldn’t let it get to me, but cases like this fucking wear me down, Myc. It… I really feel like it crushes the hope inside me that there are good people left out there. I know I just see the shit at the bottom of the barrel, but if the barrel’s that deep then how much scum is out there?”

Mycroft listened with a frown on his face, but didn’t comment. Greg wasn’t sure what he could say. It didn’t matter. Tomorrow started the process of getting the confessions, so they then could begin court proceedings. He honestly just wanted it over and done with. The hard part was in the past at least.

“I’m sorry you have had to deal with that today. It would cause difficulty for anyone. You are allowed to be upset by the things you see, Gregory. Take the rest of today. Take tomorrow. Take however long you need to process it and then step away. It is confronting and no one expects you to be unaffected. I just want you to tell me what I can do to ease these days for you.”  

“Thanks, love.” Greg squeezed his eyes shut and buried himself into Mycroft as best he could. His partner’s presence was enough to calm the emotions inside. Being able to hold him tightly did much more.
“How about I give you a massage?”
“Yeah, actually that sounds great right now.”

Mycroft swivelled and manoeuvred Greg to be sitting back to front along the sofa. He ran his fingers up Greg’s neck and through his hair, stopping once reaching his temples. He applied some gentle pressure and began rubbing slow circles.

The effect was instantaneous; calming pleasure radiated from Myc’s fingertips, easing tension he didn’t realise that he was holding there. He hummed happily, lifting his chin and closing his eyes. Mycroft ran his fingers around Greg’s scalp and returned to his temples. He then used his thumbs to rub at the top of his neck.

“Oh, that’s good,” he breathed. He inhaled and released the air slowly through his nose as Mycroft continued to rub up and down his neck. Tingles radiated down his spine in the best way possible, as if releasing tension as they went. He moaned softly as Mycroft moved to focus all of his fingers on the area. He couldn’t help but lean backwards.
“I’m glad I could help.”
“Ah, Jesus, you’re good at this.”
“Primarily due to knowing what I, myself, like to experience. I generally don’t make a habit of massaging anyone.”
“I’ll be sure to enjoy this to the full, then,” Greg chided.
“I believe I will be making an exception in your case,” Mycroft uttered into his ear. “You make such scintillating noises.”

Greg groaned as Mycroft moved his hands further down to begin working his trapezius muscle. He let out another groan as strong thumbs dug themselves behind his shoulder blades. He didn’t even care if Mycroft was doing it purely to hear the noises he made – he was more than happy to oblige.

“I think this is my favourite way for you to get me naked,” Greg murmured.
“Why do you think I’m trying to get you naked?”
“What good’s a massage through clothes? I expect the full treatment.”
“And would this treatment be in a supine position, on a bed, oil in lieu of clothing?”
“Absolutely.” Greg made a slightly exaggerated moan as Mycroft ran his palms down his back and heard the hitch in breath that it caused. He grinned, his eyes still closed and enjoying the sensations. “If you’re up for that,” he amended.
“Will I also be naked?”
“Of course.”

“Hm,” Mycroft hummed, digging his fingers into Greg’s back. “Am I up for rubbing oil all over my stunningly handsome and sexy partner’s naked body, with my own, and hearing the exquisite noises I can elicit from him? I shall have to think about this,” Mycroft mused, and Greg could feel the sly grin on the back of his neck.
“You can have your way with me when you’re done using your hands getting me pliant. I’ll be relaxed everywhere,” Greg pressed, playing along.

Greg could feel the hot breath on his neck as Mycroft answered. “I want you to lay there and enjoy everything I give you,” he whispered. Greg shuddered. “I want to stretch you slowly and slide my naked body up over your slick skin.”
“Fuck,” Greg uttered, his heart pounding in excitement. He swallowed.
“I’m going to make you boneless then fuck you senseless,” Mycroft added. Greg swore again, unable to stop himself from turning around and crashing his mouth onto Mycroft’s. Fire danced over his skin as he plunged his tongue into his partner’s mouth, pressing his body up against Myc’s warm chest.

~

Greg lay with his head on Mycroft’s shoulder, absent-mindedly tracing patterns onto the man’s chest. He felt calm and rested, his body both exhausted and relaxed. They’d showered afterwards, given the massage oil had ended up covering them both by the end of the vigorous and heated colliding of bodies. The warm water had been just the trick to lull Greg into a sated and rested repose.

“I don’t know how I would have managed all this without you, you know,” Greg mused. His voice was soft and quiet as he gently stroked his thumb over Mycroft’s sternum.
“It doesn’t matter, since you have me,” Mycroft answered lazily.
“I can’t help but think how this is all just… too easy,” Greg said, pursing his lips. It was something that had been on his mind all day.
“We’ve known each other well for a long time,” Mycroft answered. “It’s not unexpected to progress so far and quickly given how close we were before. We have already done the ‘getting to know you’ phase, as it were.”

Greg shifted so he could look at Mycroft’s face. “I wasn’t really meaning ‘us’, but you do make some good points. Alright… honestly, I had been thinking about that too. I had guessed we just really work together; I’d thought that for long enough, trust me. I’m glad that I was right.”
“Then to what were you referring?”
“The case. Something like that generally should have taken a while to sus out. But at no point did I really feel at a loss with it. I mean, sure, I was making some wrong assumptions at the start… but that’s normal. A part of me wonders why I didn’t make the connection that the missing son was the victim, but I didn’t really feel like I had no idea about what was going on.”

“Is that how you often feel when investigating a case?” Mycroft asked, his voice slightly amused.
“For ones like this, yeah. But that’s not me being incompetent, you,” Greg chided, playfully shoving his body forward to nudge Mycroft. “It’s just how it is. It takes a while to work out the finer details and get on the right path. This all happened quickly and without much opposition. I never really felt the element of mystery.”

“Hmm,” Mycroft hummed, frowning. He remained silent for a moment and Greg sat more upright in anticipation of the speech to come. “You are referring to your intuition.”
“Well, yeah, actually.”

“I suspect that this case would have been as you expected had you not had your ‘feeling’. You would not have had any inclination towards the drugs aspect, and therefore likely pursued the butcher’s lead far longer. Your search for the son would still not have proven fruitful, but it would not have been obvious so quickly that he was the victim instead of merely disappearing. When you ran out of avenues to pursue regarding the butcher, I suspect you would have felt at a loss and, as you say, the element of mystery.”

“I know, Myc, that’s my thinking too,” Greg grumbled.
“Why does that upset you?” Mycroft tilted his head to the side as he asked.
“I guess I just don’t know why I had the feeling at all. Sherlock said that intuition was subconscious analysis of data deemed significant; but I never really saw any of the evidence that would have given me that data in the first place.”
“Well, you might have not seen the evidence, but there are enough indicators in a person’s behaviour to signal things like that.”
“What do you mean?” Greg asked, sitting up.

Mycroft slid his body upright and rested against the headboard. “Do you remember how I would scold you for smoking whenever I saw you while you were trying to quit?”
“Yeah?”
“It’s like that. I read the indicators on your person that told me you had smoked. I didn’t need to see you actively taking a drag to know.”
Greg squinted slightly then huffed, rubbing the back of his neck. “I thought I just never did a good enough job of covering up the smell.”

Mycroft chuckled. “For me, no, but for the average person your efforts were sufficient. You know I have an acute sense of smell. I did not need it, however, as the visual cues were enough. The change in tension throughout your body told me when you’d last had one and if you were craving another. The subtle ash debris over your pants, the gentle tremor in your hand, the more frequent coughing… all these would indicate a relapse. Once I had deduced the signs specific to you, it was as easy to read as if you’d taped the butt to your forehead.”
“And you call Sherlock the observant one,” Greg mumbled.

“I am observant, my dear, but not to the deductive degree of my brother. I am not initially consciously aware of the signs I see, as it is instantly translated into a conclusion that is muddled along with the other feelings-based deductions. While he would simply list off your smoking along with your eating habits and a myriad of other annoyingly pointless facts, I instead would recognise that you are feeling under stress or in a dark mood and therefore smoked as a result of these.”

“You’d ask if I wanted to talk and he’d ask if I wanted another.”
“Essentially. The reasoning behind your smoking wouldn’t be an important consideration for him.”
“And that’s why you’re a better man,” Greg said with a smile. He leant forward and kissed him gently. “But I think we’ve drifted off-topic.”
“Are you concerned about changes in your mind, Gregory?”

Greg cleared his throat and looked down at his hand that was still resting in the middle of Mycroft’s chest. “Yeah, a bit. It’s still concerning me that I didn’t make the connection that Daniel was the victim. But I also picked up on other things I wouldn’t have before. I mean… it could be what Sherlock’s said, that the injury has just made me more aware, but how do I know that’s it? If stuff has all been re-wired, what if there’s things that aren’t working right anymore as well as better? What if that fog gets worse? I don’t want to screw up a case or get anyone hurt.”

Greg still said nothing about the hallucinations, but hoped that Mycroft might pick up on a concern about having them – just more hypothetically than Greg was meaning.

“I suppose there is that risk, but not all change has to have negative aspects accompanying it. You just have to tell me, or John, when you experience something distressing and we can go from there. As it is, if the extent of change is merely helping you do your job, then we are all better for it.”

Greg rested his head back down on Mycroft’s chest, his cheek absorbing the warmth radiating from Myc’s skin. It was comforting. He felt guilty for keeping his partner and friend in the dark about the true nature of his condition, but he couldn’t bring himself to face that. He’d had a successful case and was managing well enough in his opinion – he didn’t need to be taken off-duty again.

Chapter Text

Mr Miller sat in the interview room, hands clenching at his sides. He seemed nervous, but Greg had observed such behaviour since the first moment they met. He was left to wonder if the man was generally anxious or if it was merely Greg’s presence as a DI that had him on edge. It was probably the latter, since it took some strong nerves to deal with the drug classes of the criminal world. Still, Greg expected more of an aggressive attitude than anxious.

“Mr Miller, good morning,” Greg said as he entered after observing from the one-way glass.
“Mornin’,” Jeremy huffed.

“We have enough evidence of drug dealing to charge you without the need for a confession, Mr Miller,” Greg stated. He knew how this worked: play one against the other, but don’t let them know what you’re doing. Be the ‘friendly innocent bystander’, just relaying information, that they then interpret as they will. Guilty people tend to assume you know what they’re guilty over, and then either confess or attempt to conceal their involvement – provided your comments are precise in being true, but can be construed to insinuate.

“Then why am I here?”
“We have your wife in custody.” Greg left the pause hang in the air, staring intently at the reactions on Jeremy’s face. He was obviously trying to hide his fear, which indicated to Greg that the man knew why the wife was arrested.
So, he probably knew about the murder, at least. Now to see if he was involved.

“We will need to take a DNA sample from you, as well as her, to confirm that the remains found on your premises are your son, Daniel Miller.”
Greg had assumed that samples had been taken from both of the Millers on the first day, but when he’d gone looking for the results, he had found no record of samples from either of them. It was… odd, not to mention unprofessional. He didn’t like that he’d forgotten about it entirely despite the fact that normally he wasn’t involved in the process beyond receiving the profiles.

“Alright,” Mr Miller said slowly, shifting in his seat. He didn’t react like a parent should being informed that their son was dead, and so that confirmed to Greg that he was indeed aware of Daniel’s murder.

“We will collect that at the end of the interview.”
“I thought ya said that ya don’ need to do an interview?”
“I said we don’t need a confession out of you to charge you with drug trafficking,” Greg reiterated forcefully. He let the silence hang while Jeremy understood then why he was still there.
“I will tell you that cooperation will inevitably go in your favour. This case will be taken before a jury, and people generally look upon cooperation as a sign of remorse. Your long-term future is benefited by accepting, as well as fully disclosing, your involvement and then atoning for your wrongdoings. It can lead to less time in prison and better prospects once out.”

Greg sat back in his chair while Jeremy thought. He hadn’t said anything specific to Mr Miller’s case, but gave him enough to consider giving a confession.
“What has she told ya then?”
“A lot, really. She was quite… vocal… during the arrest. Not happy to be taken in, if you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, that’s Joanne,” Jeremy agreed. Greg didn’t tell him that most of what Joanne had said was cursing and shouting how wrong they were.
“She’s claiming not to have any involvement in your drug dealing, however. I wondered if you’d like to confirm or deny that statement.”
“She didn’, she’s tellin’ ya the truth.”
“And how do I know you’re telling me the truth?”
Jeremy shrugged. “Ya don’, I guess. But ya shouldn’ charge her for somethin’ she ain’ done.”
“Indeed. Even on top of a murder charge, drug dealing is considered serious.” He didn’t say that they were charging Joanne with murder, but gave enough away. They did have her under arrest for murder, but with her adamant denial of any involvement, they couldn’t be sure. It was possible that Jeremy was the one to kill and dismember Daniel, after all.
“Yeah. I guess it would. Murder’s worse, though, ain’ it?”
“Of course.”

Jeremy fell back into silence. After a few minutes of catching gazes, Greg took a deep breath and leaned forward on the desk, making a show about whatever he was about to say being difficult and more personal. “You sound very loyal to her.”
“I love her.”
“In my line of work, love seems to only go so far sometimes. People often are quick to sell each other out if they think it’ll get them off. They can love their partners but still throw them under the bus even if it was agreed to stick together before hand.”

Jeremy swallowed. It seemed he was assuming Greg was easing him into being told that Joanne had sold him out. He looked at the table, eyes flicking about, and then back up at Greg. “She’s tellin’ ya I did it, then? Does that mean she’ll walk away free, if I confess?”
Ah, he’s willing to take the fall for all of the crimes, regardless of his actual involvement, if it means his wife is released and exonerated. Admirable, but really you just told me that Joanne had reason to be charged. “No.”

It was true, since she had lied and obstructed justice even if she hadn’t committed the murder. She also hadn’t denied the accusation of cutting the body up when Sherlock presented her with the knife, even if she has proclaimed being completely innocent since arriving.

Jeremy hung his head. “Had to see, ya know? It was my fault, in a way, so I could of jus’ taken all the punishment for it, since I’m already goin’ away for drugs.”
“It doesn’t work that way, I’m afraid. But, the more details you give me, the more accurate your respective sentencing. You are right that people shouldn’t be charged with something they haven’t done, and so both of you shouldn’t be charged with murder if only one of you did the killing.”
However, if one of you killed and the other butchered, it will make very little difference. I just won’t tell you that. It will help if one of you did it all, and the other merely watched, though. Come on, take me through it all.

“Yeah, that’s fair.” Jeremy then frowned, looking at the table angrily. “It’s not fair, though, that she’s blamin’ me to get off scot-free when it was her that done it. An’ really, if she’s gonna say it was all me, then I should stan’ up for meself, ‘cause I ain’ gonna take the fall for it all when alls I did was give him the drugs. Loyalty goes both ways or not at all.”
“So why don’t you tell me what happened, from your perspective?” Greg asked with a soft smile. It seemed the ‘I’m on your side’ tactic was working. He still made sure to insinuate that they already knew what happened (which, they might do, if Sherlock’s deductions were right). Jeremy was already doing a good job of deciding his wife had told them everything, but blamed it on him instead.

“Danny was stealin’ some of my supply. I knew he did, so I told him to just ask me an’ I gave it to him so he weren’t takin’ what I thought I had for clients. Joanne didn’ know ‘bout it. She didn’ like how people got when high. I didn’ take it myself. She liked the money, though.
“Anyway… I wasn’ home when it happened. I was out doin’ business. I come back, ‘n Joanne’s there in a state. Said Danny tried to rape her while she was doin’ her readin’ in the yard. She then screamed a’ me, sayin’ it was my fault ‘cause he was high. That I gave him drugs when she’d said not to. She never really liked him, I think. I did. He was a dick but still my boy, ya know?
“I follow her out into the backyard, ‘n the dogs just start lappin’ up blood that was over the pavers. I take ‘em with me, see, jus’ in case. That’s when I realised, I think. She’d hit him with one o’ the old bricks I hadn’ put away. I asked her where Danny was; I guess I was hopin’ he were alrigh’. Just in hospital then gonna be charged or somethin’. But she took me into the shed, ‘n there he was, in the wheelbarrow. It… I…”

Greg suddenly felt pity for the man. Before this point, he hadn’t really considered that Jeremy was actually mourning the loss of his son, given what happened to the body. He’d let his prejudice against a drug dealer cloud his perception of a grieving father. Maybe that was why Jeremy was so willing to give the details now. He didn’t want to keep protecting the woman he loved, who killed his boy, if she was happy to throw him under the bus.

“Take all the time you need, Jeremy,” Greg said gently. Mr Miller nodded at him.
“Sorry. I-I can’ sleep, cause I see tha’. His face, broken ‘n bloody. I don’ really know what happened then, I guess, cause I was… well, I’d just found that, didn’t I? Joanne must’a left an’ come back, cause she had a knife from the kitchen. Said she had an idea. I didn’ wan’ part of it. I couldn’ watch. She saw how Satan licked the floor clean ‘o blood–”
“Satan?” Greg asked, mostly for the recording.
“Me Rottie. She said tha’ if I wanted to avoid prison too, I’d help her. That it was my fault cause I gave Danny the drugs, an’ owed it to her. I shouldn’t’ve given it to him, really. That stuff fucks ya up, that’s for sure.”

“She threatened to sell you out to the police about your drug dealing if you didn’t help her keep the murder quiet.”

“Yeah. ‘N I didn’ have much of a choice. Drugs is all I got in ways o’ work. Never learned anythin’ else… been doin’ it since I was a kid. Was learnin’ buildin’ ‘n stuff, so tha’ I could have somethin’ legit to do one day. I’m getting’ old, see, ‘n I know I can’ stay in the game forever. But once ya caught, that’s it, innit? No real way ta get back into it an’ it’s harder gettin’ other work with a criminal record. Sorry, goin’ off topic.
“Yeah so she cut him up, there in the shed. Fed the skin to the dogs, what they could eat, and used her vacuum sealer ta freeze the rest ta make it look like it was bought meat. It was easier, seein’ it as steaks, ya know? I couldn’ look at the blender after what she’d put through it, so I tossed it the bin the next mornin’ when I went ta get more pavers. I had to rip up the ones I just put down, and replace ‘em. Just shoved the old ones in the shed. I cleaned the tarp, an’ the sledgehammer. Then the floor. I couldn’ stand it. Joanne bought some bones from the butcher to put with the – with Danny’s – bones. I said to her, she can’ just give ‘em the human-y bits cause someone’d see. We’re surrounded by two-storey places. So what’d she do? She fucking barbecued it.”

Greg sat in stony silence as Jeremy finished. He felt sick to his stomach. He knew that had all gone down, but hearing it be confessed seemed to make it more real.
So Jeremy really was just involved in drugs. He did assist in the cleaning up of the murder, and hiding the truth, but didn’t partake in the actual killing and dismemberment. At least that might give him a more lenient sentence. Poor bloke.

He couldn’t help but feel sorry for Jeremy, despite his criminal actions. He looked very pale and trembled from the memories. The man must have been trying his best to keep it together but only barely succeeding. It was no wonder he decided to spill the story out to blame the wife, if he thought after all that, Joanne was going to feed him to the wolves.

Fuck, wrong metaphor. I’m not having lunch today. Not if I have to interview Mrs Miller after it.

~

“Well, you took your time.”
Greg frowned, seeing the disgruntled Mrs Miller addressing him while seated at the table in the interview room. He swivelled on the spot, confirming that he, also, was in the interview room.
“I was just interviewing your husband,” Greg said, cringing internally at how confused he sounded. Panic started to bubble away inside him.

Shit… it happened again. What time is it? I was still talking with  Mr Miller last I remember… fuck, did I get all of the details I needed?

He noticed that Mrs Miller was scowling at him, waiting for him to move or speak again. At least she was too pissed off to notice how confused and panicked Greg was feeling. He clenched his jaw and tried to exude confidence.

“I’m sorry if I kept you waiting, however the interview took longer than I expected,” Greg continued as calmly as he could while he seated himself. He was pleased to see panic flash across her face before her angry scowl was back in place.
“What did he say then?”
“Quite a lot,” Greg answered. Joanne’s tone was aggressive. He steeled himself for a difficult interview. Joanne Miller needed to confess to make the case strong for a judge, and for a jury. As frustrating as it was, a jury would be more likely to consider the father the killer than the mother. That’s just how it went, given how society worked.

Greg knew that if she pleaded not guilty, and put on a show of being the distraught mother of a murdered child, then they’d have a difficult time to prove it was her and not the husband.

The prints on the knife matched Joanne’s, but that was the only conclusive evidence (not the details Sherlock speculated the story from, or the husband’s testimony) for her involvement. Even that could be talked out of: she could claim she was just cleaning up the shed or cutting up dog food without being aware of what she was handling. Greg could only hope that she’d decide she was caught and they’d have a clear perpetrator. It was all still rather circumstantial and unsupported.

“Fucking liar, whatever he said.”
“How do you know he was lying if you don’t know what he said?”
“Because the arsehole is always lying. Told me he wouldn’t do drugs, but I know better. Then Daniel was taking them! Bastard lied to me about that, too.”
“You are quite upset with your husband, Mrs Miller. Would you care to tell me why that is?”
“Cause he fucking killed my son, that’s why!”

Greg groaned.
Fucking hell. Shit. It’s going to be like this, is it? Two stories, both align with the evidence except over who was the one that did the deed?

“Bet you he told you that I did it. I’m his mother!”
“You gender is irrelevant regarding your capability of murder, Mrs Miller. Now, we’re going to go through this carefully. You are claiming not to have killed Daniel Miller?”
“Fucking right, I am.”
“Ok. I would like to remind you that you initially told us that your son ‘up and left’ without warning to go travelling. Yesterday you maintained that premise when we were uncovering evidence of the murder. Now, you are telling us that your husband killed him. You see, there is a big inconsistency in your story here.”

Joanne clenched her jaw together. Greg patiently waited for her to speak next, which wasn’t long. “Jeremy said he’d left travelling too, so it’s the same gap in his story. You can’t scare me into thinking I’m the one without the story straight.”
“And why would you need to get your story straight, Mrs Miller, unless you were attempting to deceive us?”
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”
“I’m afraid you have to be clear in your meaning. This is being recorded as evidence to be given in court. The jury will determine your guilt from this interview. It is, ultimately, not me you have to convince that you are telling the truth.”

Joanne cried out angrily as she crossed her arms over her chest. “This is fucking ridiculous. My son is killed and you’re treating me with no respect for my loss. You should all leave me alone.”

Greg had to bite his tongue not to say that she wasn’t acting like she was feeling loss at all. He continued to stare at her with a stern gaze. “You are here because you are the prime suspect in a murder inquiry. You are given the respects due; the fact the victim is your son is not cause to stop the inquiry. Now, we must return to the matter at hand. I have heard two stories regarding the events of that evening, and I am giving you the opportunity to tell me yours.”

“I was reading, then Daniel comes out, off his god damned rocker on drugs, and attacks me. I try fight, but he’s already fucking me before I could get away. Jeremy comes out and sees, and clobbers him with a brick. I run off and hide in my room… I was fuckin’ traumatised. By the time I can come back out, I find that Jeremy has taken Daniel away into the shed. Says that he’s dead, but if I didn’t hide it from the police, he’d get his drugs crowd to get me. He’d do it, too, so I don’t call anyone. He says he’ll deal with it all and I just let him as I didn’t want to be involved.
"The next day, I’m told to get a huge bag of dog bones. Those bloody dogs were gonna eat the body. You know what the bastard made me do, just cause he knew it’d get to me? Get him my favourite knife and watch him cut the chunks up and bag them to freeze. He got some fresh pavers to replace the bloodied ones, and cooked the recognisable bits in the barbecue. You’ve found the evidence for all of this happening, I was there remember? Obviously I’m telling you the truth.”

Greg wasn’t convinced; he didn’t need his new ‘instinct’ to tell that there was something off with her account. Still, given his lapses in the case thus far, he wasn’t confident to entirely rule the possibility out that she was being honest. He focused on listing to himself the reasons behind his assumption that she was the killer.

Joanne seems a lot more blasé about the events, and doesn’t sound bothered at all by what happened to her child. She’s mostly angry about being detained. The story was short, and covered only the evidence that we’d revealed at her house. Generally, people put more details into lies than when accounting truths, but this account is so short that it feels disjointed.

He still wasn’t certain, however, that her story was false. He hated questioning himself because of his personal issues. To try prove that Joanne was lying, he had to point out discrepancies.
“Why didn’t you come to the police and explain the situation, including your fears of your husband’s threat?”
Mrs Miller paused. “I was scared.”
“You continued to uphold the fallacy that Daniel had gone travelling after we had your husband in custody, Mrs Miller. You had nothing to fear by coming forward with the information after that. There was no reason for you to remain concealing the truth once the threat was removed.”

Joanne Miller sat silent at the table, seething. Greg felt pleased to have gotten such a reaction from her, and seemingly stumped her in her tracks.
“You already believe that idiot’s account, don’t you? What’d he do? Cry? Pretend he cared to try get you believing him? Pathetic,” Joanne sneered. “Why bother coming in here to hear my side if you’ve made your mind up, hm?”
“Mrs Miller, I am not a judge nor jury. I am collecting evidence. It is my duty to find as much of it as possible to make a conviction against the right perpetrator. You can’t try sway me to believe you over your husband with insults.”

Joanne slammed her fist onto the table. Greg closed his eyes slowly.
This is going to take a long time.

~

The rest of Greg’s day was just as arduous. He’d been left feeling panicky and anxious at all times, even when alone in his office, because of his blackout. He was glad that he was finally headed back to Mycroft’s, even if he knew Mycroft wasn’t going to be there for another hour or more.

Walking into the house, he was greeted by a wall of delicious smells wafting from the kitchen. He could hear cooking noises and Mycroft’s (terribly off-pitch) voice singing. He smiled, the worries of his day falling to the floor to be left behind as he walked into the house.

He was greeted with the sight of Mycroft at the stove, clad in a navy apron over a white shirt rolled at the sleeves to his elbows. His stomach flipped as his heart lurched from affection.

“Oh! Gregory! Hello.” Mycroft beamed as he looked up at him.
Greg bridged the gap between them and kissed him. “Hey. I thought you weren’t gonna be home for another hour?”
Mycroft smiled while tilting his head from side to side. “Originally, however I finished work that required my attendance early, and decided to come home. I knew you were going to have a difficult day and thought that you’d appreciate a nice dinner upon coming home.”

He couldn’t keep the gentle wheeze from being heard as the air was squeezed from his lungs as he thought, home? He considers this is my home… with him?
Greg grasped onto Mycroft tightly and kissed him more forcefully than before. “I love you.” So much, Myc. So, so much.
“I love you too, darling.”
“So what’s for dinner?”     
“Guess,” Mycroft said proudly. He nudged the frypan he was stirring. Greg sniffed and peered down at the contents.
“Oh my god… Steak Diane? Seriously?”
“Mmm… essentially, but not quite.”

Greg couldn’t stop grinning as Mycroft wriggled himself from his grip and moved to the fridge. He pulled out a bag, unwrapped the paper, and revealed four enormous prawns. Greg’s eyebrows shot up.
“Surf ‘n Turf? With Diane sauce? Oh, I think you’re my guardian angel.”
“I suppose that is an accurate statement,” Mycroft hummed. Greg laughed and kissed him again.

“But love, what are you going to have? You’ve gone to all this trouble just for me.”
“Why shouldn’t I? You deserve it. I admit, it may fail in comparison to the way you make it. I… er… that is to say, I left the prawns until you got home to cook yourself as I would inevitably destroy them.” Mycroft cleared his throat uncomfortably. “There is also another steak in the fridge, should your meat have met a similar fate in my attempt to make this sauce.”

Greg found the shy blush utterly adorable and a bit arousing. He swallowed carefully. “The fact that you tried is enough for me, love, never mind that you put in place back-ups to ensure I enjoyed it. You are amazing.”

Mycroft shifted as he tried not to rebuke the compliment. Greg was glad to see that he was trying to accept it. He took the man’s slender hand in his own. “Thank you.”
“You are most welcome, darling. I will have the steamed broccoli, some of the chips, and I have bought an eggplant schnitzel in lieu of steak.”
“You can make those yourself, you know,” Greg giggled.
You might, perhaps, but I couldn’t do so without significant trial and error and coating of the kitchen.”

“Fair enough,” Greg agreed. He stepped so that he was pressed against Mycroft, slid his hands around the man’s waist, and then up to his chest. He leant his cheek against Mycroft’s back as he stood and held him close. He breathed deeply, smelling the spicy aromas of the sauce and Mycroft. It was heaven.

“I have this under control for now,” Mycroft murmured, and Greg could hear a tone of reluctance in his voice. “So, you may go get changed out of your work clothes if you so desire?”
“Oh, yeah, sure. I’ll just duck up and change and then come shell those prawns.”
“I would appreciate that, yes,” Mycroft said sheepishly. Greg decided that earned him another kiss, and so pecked one on his cheek before leaving to change.

He felt much more refreshed when he returned to the kitchen. Mycroft was frying his schnitzel in another pan and had put the chips into the deep-fryer. Greg smiled, noting that the deep-fryer was new.
Oh you adorable man. You wanted so much to get this right for me.

“Good idea, to use a deep fryer. Oven-fries are garbage, really. If you’re gonna be unhealthy, at least do it right.” Greg laughed and Mycroft’s non-committal noise. He reached out and lifted the basket out of the oil to view the chips inside, and then submerged the food once again. He instantly recoiled his arm as a sharp, burning sting radiated from on the top of his hand.
“Fuck,” he hissed, inspecting his hand.
“Love?”
“’S fine, just must’ve spat at me,” Greg said through gritted teeth. He couldn’t see any red marks, and yet he still felt the pain. He ran it under some cold water none the less.

“And I thought I’d be the first one injured from that infernal thing,” Mycroft joked. His expression turned more serious. “Are you alright, though?”
“Yeah, fine, like I said. Not even red, see?” Greg lifted his hand up to show his partner. Mycroft inspected briefly and then nodded.
“Be careful when you deshell the prawns, darling. The rostrum can cause significant damage if you’re not careful.”
“The what?”
“The… I believe you call them ‘horns’.”
“Oh, yeah,” Greg laughed, “I’ll be careful. I pinch and twist top part when I rip the head off; I don’t touch near it.”
“Charming,” Mycroft commented with a wince.

Greg chuckled again and set to work with the shellfish. As soon as he reached to grab the first one, he felt another sharp sting and saw blood seep from his hand.
“Jesus,” Greg mumbled, dropping the prawn on the bench.
What did he just tell you, Greg? How the hell did I manage that so quick?

“Dearest?”
Greg went to put his hand back under the water, only see that the blood had disappeared. He flipped his hand over and inspected it closely. He frowned. There was no wound anywhere. His heart started hammering.
No, no… not another hallucination. Mycroft’s here, for God’s sake! This shouldn’t happen!

“Greg?” Mycroft asked again, his tone serious enough to snap Greg out of his mind and look into his eyes.
“Yeah. Sorry. I guess it just stung again moving the skin when I grabbed the prawn. It’s – er, it’s – it’s fine now.”

Mycroft looked at him sceptically, but said nothing further. Greg knew he could see the increased anxiety, but appreciated that he made no comment. He returned to his deshelling duty, hyperaware of his hands. At least there were no further pains.

“Hey Myc… how long has the steak been in the oven?”   
“Erm… I don’t know. I put it in once I browned it for the sauce. Half an hour? A bit longer? I admit it took me a while to get the sauce going as I wanted to be sure I was doing it right. Why does it… why? Why are you making that face?”

Greg grimaced as he tried to suppress his groan. Mycroft had the oven on 220, which meant his steak wasn’t just no longer the perfect medium-rare he’d hoped for, but likely the approximate texture of his work boots.

Mycroft was clearly upset that something was wrong when he’d tried so hard. Greg smiled and tried to comfort him. “It’s fine, love, it’s ok. It’s just… a bit overdone, now, I’d imagine. Steak can cook quick, and you’d already seared it to make the fond for deglazing.”

Greg rubbed Mycroft’s arm, who looked confused.
Oh, right, he wouldn’t know what those terms mean.

“I mean it was probably already done when you took it from the pan, before the oven which was left way too high for keeping it warm. But don’t worry, you bought another one, remember? So everything’s fine.” Greg was sure to hold Mycroft close. He was looking rather upset.
“Mhm,” Mycroft agreed sombrely. “Sorry, I assumed I had to keep it at the high temperature used in the pan. I’ll get the spare.”

He left the schnitzel sizzling and moved to the fridge to get out the back-up steak. Greg flipped the eggplant, aware that it was actually starting to burn on the underside. Greg couldn’t understand just how a man as intelligent as Mycroft could be so utterly oblivious when it came to cooking, but he found it adorable none the less.

They sat at the dining table enjoying their meals. Mycroft kept the conversation light, which Greg appreciated. He learned that the Spanish Ambassador was annoying and not very subtle, and that the Greek one was driving Mycroft mental. He couldn’t tell Greg what the meetings were about, of course, but Greg enjoyed the little titbits about the people.

Mycroft had even gotten a dessert: some of Greg’s favourite ice-cream. Greg decided that he wanted to share it with him out of a single bowl. They held hands as they ate, occasionally feeding each other spoonfuls of the caramel macadamia ice-cream.

It was incredibly soothing to just be a couple like that. Greg never really had the chance to do so before; his ex-wife wasn’t really the romantic type, and never found such activities enjoyable. There were times Greg wondered how he could have been so thick, or perhaps desperate, to marry her. They really had nothing in common, not even respect for the other.

“Don’t think about her,” Mycroft said into the silence. Greg opened his mouth to protest, but then shut it again and flushed red.
“Sorry. I guess… it’s the only real relationship I have to compare things to; so when I look at how happy I am now, I can’t help but think how unhappy I was then.”
“I understand, dear, but you are better for it now. Leave it in the past as experience, but don’t focus too much on how it was a mistake.”
“Yeah. You’re right. Sorry. I shouldn’t think of her when I’m with you.”
“That’s not what I’m saying. I have no doubt that your affections for me are true, and have no jealousy regarding that woman. I just don’t want your past to keep causing you emotional torment.”

Greg smiled. Mycroft was very understanding, and he appreciated it. Still, he wasn’t about to put the man in the position of being compared to all the time – even if he always outshone the other option. He squeezed Mycroft’s hand tighter.

I’m so lucky to have this wonderful man in my life, as a partner now.

Chapter Text

Screaming. Straps, binding him. Restraining him.
Have to escape. Have to get away before they hurt me. I don’t know what they’re gonna do to me.
Greg struggled fiercely against the bindings, but they didn’t budge. He screamed again, throwing his head back at the person holding him.
Greg!

Greg panted and blinked. That sounded like… Mycroft. It wasn’t the voice he’d heard before. He looked about, noticing that he was in a bed. Sheets had twisted around his legs, and he’d been desperately trying to kick his way free of them. The person holding him was his partner. His heart still hammered as he tried to catch his breath. It was just a dream…
Fucking hell, I can’t remember it again. Something about being tied up? Someone was approaching, going to do… something.

“Myc?” Greg breathed, just needing it confirmed. The arms around his torso released at the inquiry.
“It’s me, Gregory. You just had a nightmare, that’s all. I suspect the stress of your case has influenced that. I tried to wake you but you continued to thrash about.”
“I-I… yeah, that makes sense, I guess.” Greg wasn’t sure, since it didn’t feel like it had to do with the case.
“You were screaming not to be ‘cut up and fed to the dogs’, so I am fairly certain.”
“Oh. Ok, yeah.”
Mycroft gently rubbed up and down his back. Greg felt unwell, and sore all over. “I’m gonna just freshen up, ok? Back in a mo.”

Greg could still feel the pressure on his wrists from being tied down in the dream. He shook his head and splashed some water in his face. The cold shocked his body into resetting, and he didn’t feel nauseated nor the phantom pains anymore. He rolled his shoulders and returned to bed.
Mycroft was sitting upright against the headboard. “Are you feeling alright?”
“Yeah. Sorry. Aren’t you going back to sleep?”
“No, it’s late enough that there isn’t any point in going back to sleep for me. I need to go into the office early this morning. There are some people I need to speak to before I go to the first meeting. I’ll lie here with you until you fall back asleep, but then I’ll be getting ready. I’ll be quiet, don’t worry.”
“Oh no, that’s fine, Myc. What time is it, anyway?
“It’s just gone five thirty-six,” Mycroft answered automatically. “Go back to sleep, darling.”

~

When Greg woke again, the house was silent. It unsettled him. He knew Mycroft had gone to work, but it didn’t make the silence any easier. He didn’t know why he was so uncomfortable being alone these days. He also was getting more and more concerned regarding the hallucinations. He still didn’t want to bring it up with Mycroft or John, but knew it had gone beyond the point where he could stay entirely silent about it. There was only one other person he knew he could trust: Mike. He decided to shoot his friend a text.

- Hey, Mike. How’s things? Do you have any time soon for a catch-up?

Greg then quickly got ready for work and headed out of the door, electing to buy something to eat with some coffee on the way to work. His phone buzzed not long after he’d gotten to his office.

- Hey Greg. Same old same old. I actually have this evening free, if you like?

Greg frowned. He wanted to see Mike, but he also didn’t want to sacrifice any ‘Mycroft’ time. Then again, he still really did want to talk to someone about his concerns.

- Yeah, sounds good. Pub night?
- Newcastle plays Arsenal tonight.

He chuckled to himself. It was always an interesting evening with Mike when their teams played. At the very least, he’d have something to distract them both if he brought up his problems and it ended up turning the conversation awkward. Part of him was panicking over bringing it up at all; he reasoned that he could always try again, if he changed his mind tonight.

He then sent Mycroft a text to let him know he was going out for drinks with Mike, and so wouldn’t be back until later. He omitted the use of the word ‘home’, simply because the implications were still rather overwhelming for him.

Greg jumped at the rapping on his door. He looked up and saw John there, smiling awkwardly. Greg suddenly realised that he was facing paperwork on his desk, case files had appeared to his left, and judging by the light coming in from the window, it was afternoon.
Shit bugger fuck. I’ve lost the whole morning. Just stay calm… it doesn’t look like anyone seems to have noticed. Ok yeah I have to say something tonight to Mike. No backing out.

“Hey, you got a minute?” John asked from the doorway.
Greg tried his best to give a genuine smile in return. “That depends on if you actually mean a minute or fifty-five.”

John laughed as he sauntered in and took a seat. Greg noticed that he’d shut the door behind him, which he rarely did when it was going to be a quick, friendly chat. So, it was looking like something more serious. He tried not to grimace.
“Well, I guess somewhere in between?” John answered. He crossed his legs and rested his hands on them; Greg had come to notice he did so when trying to be professional but approachable.

He waited for John to continue talking; the man couldn’t stand silences. “So, how are things? You doing alright?”
Greg narrowed his eyes. “Did you speak to Mycroft today?”
“Um,” John vocalised, a little flustered. “Yeah, I did, actually.”
“What did he say?”
“Whoa, Greg, calm down. There’s no need to get defensive. Mycroft was just worried about you, that’s all. He said you’ve been having nightmares still. Last night was a particularly bad one, apparently, and it was related to the case.”
“Oh, so you’re here to assess if I need to be taken off the case, now?” Greg snapped, irritated. He shouldn’t be so aggressive to his friend, but honestly the little sleep he’d gotten coupled with the lost time had put him on edge. That, and the fact that he was afraid it might actually be the right thing to do.
“No, Greg, I’m just here as a friend. I’m not trying to interfere. You are due for a follow-up with the specialist at the hospital, but I’m sure you’re aware of that already. I just want to see if there’s anything I can do to help.”

Greg sighed and rubbed his face with his hands. “Sorry, mate. I guess… I’m just a bit tired. This case is being somewhat annoying, in that there’s only really circumstantial evidence and both parties are using it plausibly to blame the other.”
“That must be difficult.”
“Yeah but it’s not unusual, unfortunately.”
“But you’ll manage. You have in the past. It’s not much different now, is it?”
“Well I guess not, I mean, in the past it would have been all even more difficult.”
“How so?”
“If we hadn’t gotten the drugs connection, we’d only have gotten half of the story, ” he answered. DNA would have confirmed the victim, but the why of it all would have been left in question… if they’d even gotten the samples at all; at least arresting Mr Miller for drug trafficking would have given them some eventually. He groaned inwardly.
Fuck I’m both screwing this case up majorly and saving it.

“Good thing you had the feeling, then.”
Greg’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. Not only had John had used his therapy techniques to get him to open up, but he mentioned Greg’s intuition without Greg saying anything about it.
“I never told you about the feeling.”
“Sherlock.”
“Right,” he hummed. He hadn’t exactly wanted Sherlock to talk about it with John, but in retrospect he hadn’t forbidden it, either.
“Yes, well, um,” John fumbled, shifting in his seat. “Did you, um, maybe want to talk about the nightmares?”
“Not really, no,” Greg responded flatly.
“That’s ok.”
“I can’t remember them, John. I don’t know how to talk about something I can’t remember.”
“That’s generally a good thing, though. Not being able to remember, I mean. It’s not going to help you any to have the memories of nightmares. I guess I just worry about you not working yourself too much with a lack of sleep and rest.”
You worry, or Mycroft does?”
“Both, Greg. We’re your friends; of course we worry about your health. We’re not out to get you or against you.”

Greg groaned softly and mumbled an apology. He had to stop thinking like John and Mycroft were paired up to go against his wishes. It was instinctual, given his desire to keep the hallucinations a secret from them both. He really did need to try harder at remembering that they both were just trying to care for him; the consequences were just something undesirable work-wise. Still, he couldn’t deny that things said to John weren’t done in confidence as a mate anymore, and that Mycroft would tell John things that concerned him.

“Right, well… that’s, er, good. You know you can come to me any time, and know where to find me, so I guess I’ll see you later on? Did you maybe want to go out for a pint like old times?”
“Yeah, that’d be good. I’ve got plans with Mike tonight, so maybe next week?”
“Sure, yeah,” John said, and it was obvious to both men that Greg was not inviting him along, like he often did. The atmosphere turned awkward.

John cleared his throat. “We’ll make a time. I’m usually free, since His Royal Grumpiness often just sits about the house doing some experiment or another.”
Greg chuckled. Sherlock indeed lived up to the title. “Sounds good, mate. You should try doing some experiments of your own, just to see what can be done to make him less annoying.”
“I deal with psychiatry, not magic.”
“Close enough,” Greg chided playfully.
“I take offence to that! I actually have run a few experiments of my own in that regard, but just for that I’m not going to tell you how I get Sherlock to stop talking. Well, maybe ‘forming sentences’ might be more accurate.”
“No, god, please, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know,” Greg groaned, waving his hands up in front of his chest. He was only making fun, of course, since he honestly didn’t mind listening if it was something John needed to share.

It was only relatively recently that the couple had ventured into a sexual relationship, and Greg had initially been one to hear about it from both sides.
He’d helped them get past the biggest road blocks, and since then, Sherlock had stopped discussing his sex life with Greg all together – and, honestly, Greg was rather thankful for it, given how he often felt like a strange father figure to Sherlock.
John, on the other hand, talked about sex with Greg fairly regularly; half the time it was serious conversation, as if needing external reinforcement that it was all still ok, and the other half was either just to tease Greg or a bit of fun.

“Well, in that case, maybe I should tell you. The trick was to–”
“Nope. Go on… out. Get back to work and stop scarring your colleagues,” Greg joked, and pointed to the door.
“I’m not working, though,” John protested, initially playfully until he saw Greg’s confused look. “It’s Saturday, Greg,” he added, a hint of concern in his voice.

Greg froze. Saturday? Was it? Shit, I had no idea what day it was. Well that’d make sense as to why Arsenal and Newcastle were playing.

“Oh, yeah, right. Sorry, forgot.”
“You sure you’re alright, mate?”
“Yeah, John, it’s fine. I’m just trying to get this case wrapped up soon. Gotta keep the pressure on the suspects and all,” Greg said, rationalising to himself that was why he’d come in to work today. “All the days feel the same when it’s this part of the case.”

John didn’t look convinced, but nodded and bid his farewells. Greg looked down at his desk again, and had to quickly double-check his phone to confirm that it was, in fact, Saturday.

He grinned when he seated himself at the table with Mike, the man clapping him on the shoulder fairly hard. He’d gotten himself a pint of larger before walking over, and had luckily put it on the table first.

“Greg, mate, good to see you.”
“Yeah, and you Mike. Things alright?”
“For me, yeah. Not so alright for a few of the poor bastards I saw today.”
“Sorry to hear,” Greg said, pulling his lips sideways as he took a sip.
“It’s fine. Happens, you know. Just a bit rough to lose three in one day.”
“Shit, Mike, I’m sorry.”

Mike shrugged, but Greg could tell that he was rather hurt by it. Mike had a warm heart and a caring soul; no matter how hard he tried to distance himself from it, he always did feel the pain of losing patients. It was only natural.

Greg remained still and silent as he stared into the amber liquid, thinking that they both saw too much death in their lives.

They ordered some food and sat with idle conversation as the game was televised. Greg was glad that the camaraderie always made the tension bleed from him when he and Mike were both invested in the match. He knew he needed to talk about his concerns, the main reason he wanted to meet Mike in the first place, but it was too tempting to merely sit and enjoy himself. Eventually, the gnawing at his gut wouldn’t let him ignore it any longer.

“Hey, um, Mike, there was something I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Oh?” Mike asked, his eyebrows rising up into his expanding forehead.
“Yeah. It’s, uh, about that stuff we talked about in the hospital and the coffee house.”
“Right, ‘course,” Mike said, sitting up straighter in his chair. “What’s been going on?”
“Um, I guess one thing is that I’m still having nightmares. I find I’m not sleeping well, and it’s starting to affect me in other ways.”
“What like?”

Greg didn’t miss the hint of doctor-ly concern in his voice. “Hard to focus at work. I mean, I’ve found that I’m apparently more perceptive now than I was before, which is a bonus even if a bit confusing.”
“Well, that’s understandable I guess. What are the nightmares about?”
“I still can’t remember. I thought it was to do with the accident, but I can’t remember that either. That was until Mycroft told me I was talking in my sleep about the case.”
“Why do I sense you’re not convinced?”
“I don’t know, I guess… I didn’t feel like that? I remember being tied down, and being worried about something or someone doing… something to me. It didn’t have the same feeling. Dunno.”
“I guess I’ll have to take your word for it, since that explanation didn’t really do much explaining.”

“Sorry mate,” Greg mumbled. He took a swig of his (fourth) beer.
“I’m just… are you implying that Mycroft was lying to you?”
“I-I don’t know,” Greg admitted. “I mean I don’t think he would do that to me, but at the same time it doesn’t sit right. Maybe it’s just because there’s all these little things that make me a bit suspicious.”
Mike looked at him to continue, but Greg just shrugged and sighed. “I guess I’m just being silly. It doesn’t matter, really.”
“You seem bothered, Greg,” Mike noted, looking at the way Greg downed the remainder of his beer.
“It’s not the nightmares or the weird snippets from Mycroft that’s bothering me,” Greg said, leaning forward to put his elbows on the table. “It’s… it hasn’t stopped,” he said, his voice hushed.
“What hasn’t?”

Greg glanced around him before answering. “The hallucinations. I still hear the strange out-of-place noises, and shouting, and muffled voices.” He paused, taking in his friend’s reaction thus far. Mike had frowned and pursed his lips in his typical concerned way, but hadn’t said anything.
Well, here goes. God I hope this isn’t a mistake.

“It’s gotten more than that. I’ve, er, I’ve starting seeing things. Only a couple of times, and only once did it last longer than a split second.”
Greg could tell Mike was keeping his features schooled. He waited patiently as his friend formulated a response.

“Greg,” he started slowly, “I am glad you’ve told me. I think this is something you really do need to talk at least with John about. What you share with your boyfriend is none of my business, but as a doctor I think you do need to get this seen to.”
“Can we not call him my boyfriend? I’m forty-three, I’m not a teenager anymore. Partner is fine.”
“Right, sorry. But can you understand what I’m saying?”
“Yeah, I know, but really… it’s been just a couple of times I’ve thought I saw blood on me, and one time there was a glass of water that I tried to drink but couldn’t because it wasn’t real. That’s all; it’s nothing major, and I can handle it.”
“The fact that you told me tells me that you can recognise that you need help.”
“It’s manageable,” Greg defended.
“Yeah, it is, mate. That’s the thing. You need some help to manage it and then things will be fine. Medicat–”
“No,” he interjected. “I can’t. That’d mean that I’d have to be diagnosed with some illness that has hallucinations as part of it, and that’d cost me my job. I need some time to just see if I can work around it.”

“Greg this isn’t something you can just work around. I know a lot of people think mental health issues can be controlled if you have enough willpower or motivation or some other tripe, but it’s not like that. It’s a real illness, and you can no more just stop suffering it than you would a broken bone. It’s all chemical and you’ve had an actual injury to affect it all, so it’s not even as seemingly inexplicable as some disorders.
“I’m sure John’d give you a good earful about it; it’s one of his more sensitive topics. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard him complain that people’d listen to him without question during those couple of years he worked as GP when dictating care requirements and restrictions for physical illnesses, but it falls on deaf ears in his psychiatric work.”

“People don’t look down on you if you can’t… I dunno… produce insulin or something, but they will if you can’t push through emotional crap or if you see things that aren’t there,” Greg grumbled.  
“Actually, diabetics face a lot of stigma and negative… no, that’s not the point. Greg. I’m trying to tell you that you can’t try manage this all on your own. Get help.”

Greg frowned into his chest. He didn’t look at Mike, not wanting to see the concern there. “I think I want another.”
“You’ve maybe had enough, mate. You have to take it easy on your body still.”
“Nope. Don’t care.”
“Greg…”

Greg left the table before Mike could stop him. He walked up to the bar and ordered a shot of whisky and a pint, downing the shot before Mike could see. He leant against the wooden surface heavily, the pit of his stomach swirling with anxiety.
I shouldn’t have said anything. What the hell did I expect him to say? ‘Oh that’s fine Greg no issue’? Fuck. I don’t feel so great.

He carried his beer from the bar, but stopped mid-way. He eyed a figure standing in the door, the light from outside pouring into the dark establishment. Greg swallowed as adrenaline surged and his heart bolted. The man was tall, overly bulky with muscle, and stood hunched over as if ready to attack. His body shook, and every cell screamed out for him to flee. The world around him faded and grew dark.

~

Pain. His head, stomach, and ribs bellowed in agony. He groaned, feeling dizzy and disorientated. He tried to open his eyes, but found it difficult. He wrenched them open to find that everything was blurry, but he could tell enough that things were sideways. He registered the left side of his body was pressed on a hard surface.
Laying on the floor, then.  

He blinked a few times and saw that the movement before his eyes was Mycroft’s face. His eyes focused and his vision returned to normal. Mycroft was looking at him with worry and concern, holding onto his shoulder gently.

“Gregory? Can you hear me?”
“Myc?” he croaked.
“Take it slow.”
“What…?”
“You collapsed,” Mycroft explained. “You’re in the pub. Don’t try to get up yet.”

Greg squeezed his eyes shut. He was thankful he could remain laying down, since he felt like he might be sick. He let his head rest against his shoulder, absent-mindedly noting that he’d been put in the recovery position.
How long was I out for?

Mycroft stood and began talking with someone else standing nearby.
Mike… that’s right, Mike was here. Probably a good thing I was spending time with a doctor when this happened. I wish it hadn’t at all, though. I can hardly talk my way out of this. Just falling to the ground doesn’t explain why I feel like I was on the losing side of a pub disagreement. Why did this happen, anyway? I… there was that man, in the doorway. That’s the last I remember.

Suddenly images flashed through his mind. A boot swinging in his direction and landing in his chest. Again, to the stomach. A burly man lifting him off the ground.
“Fuck,” Greg coughed, barely able to breathe.
Was I in a fight? Did that man attack me?
“Gregory?” Mycroft asked. “What is it?”
“Was… was I beaten up?”
“Not that I am aware of,” Mycroft responded, kneeling down to him. “Mike tells me that he saw you go rigid on your way back to the table from the bar and collapse. He took care of you and called me to take you to hospital once concluding an ambulance wasn’t necessary. Don’t worry, darling, I’ll have you checked over.”
“Did… uhm, did Mike tell you what we were talking about?”
“No, is it pertinent?”
“No,” Greg lied. “Just personal stuff.”

Mycroft raised a curious eyebrow at him, but didn’t question him further. “How about you try sit up?” he asked, and assisted in lifting him up off the floor into a seated position.
“Fuck my head,” Greg groaned, reaching up to hold his forehead.
“I’ll get you something for the pain as soon as I can,” Mycroft said gently. “I’ll ask the doctors at the hospital.”
“No I–” Greg tried to protest, but was instantly dissuaded by Mycroft’s glare. He swallowed uncomfortably. “It was probably just too much to drink,” he tried to rationalise.
“Whilst I am aware of your propensity for over indulgence of alcohol during your football viewing, that in of itself is not an explanation for your collapse. I’m sure it didn’t aid matters, but I worry there is something else at play.”

Greg whined to himself, frowning in concern – not about his health, but rather about Mycroft finding out Greg had been keeping the hallucinations from him. He met the man’s concerned blue eyes, which looked more grey in the dim light, and nodded.

Chapter Text

Greg stirred awake. He blinked into the darkness, making out the shapes of the bedroom he shared with Mycroft. He reached out blindly for his partner’s warmth, but found nothing but empty cold sheets. He sighed. He reached out and grabbed his phone, and noted that it was two in the morning.
Where’s Myc? He should be here in bed sleeping at this hour.

Voices drifted through the door, as if coming from downstairs. Greg’s throat went tight and he took a steadying breath.

It’s fine; the doctor said there were no obvious issues. Sure I didn’t actually tell her about the hallucinations, but she said the preliminary look of the MRI showed no obvious issues… that it was likely the stress of getting back to work mixed with too much alcohol.
Who the fuck am I kidding… it’s not fine. None of this is. Mike’s right. I’ve gotta talk to John. I… but… the case… no. No I can’t keep my head in the sand. Mycroft would want me to talk to him as well, and to get help. Jesus, he’s not going to take this very well.

The voices didn’t stop. He frowned, however, when he noted that they sounded familiar. Normally the mumbles were incoherent and strange, but this sounded like Mycroft. He decided to investigate.

Greg didn’t know why he was careful not to make any noise as he left the bedroom. He was feeling a nagging sense of suspicion as he headed towards the kitchen. The voices were hushed, little more than whispers… how could I hear them from the bedroom?
He peered through the door, and saw that he’d been right in thinking it was Mycroft; he was there in conversation with Sherlock and John. The paranoid feeling in his gut increased, and so he remained where he was to eavesdrop.

“Just because the results showed no abnormalities doesn’t mean we can dismiss the incident,” Mycroft said. Sherlock and John nodded in agreement.
“It’s unfortunate that Mike was there to witness it,” Sherlock uttered. “He’ll have questions now.”
“I can handle Mike,” John stated.
“How much does he know? I understand he is friendly with Gregory.”
“Nothing, as far as I know, Mycroft.”
“Good. We should endeavour to keep it that way.”

Greg screwed his face up in confusion.
What doesn’t Mike know, and why shouldn’t he know it? Do I know, even?

“Do we introduce any medication to try prevent any further incidents?” John asked.
“We don’t know what that will do to his altered brain chemistry,” Sherlock reminded. “We don’t want to risk his ability to work.”
“Or his health,” Mycroft interjected.

Bloody Sherlock, only ever caring about how I directly affect his life. Although it is good that he at least understands the dedication to my job. And it’s good Mycroft sounds genuinely concerned for me.

Sherlock sneered at his brother with a grin, which was both confusing and unsettling for Greg to see.
“Getting attached, brother mine?”
“I will not dignify your petty insinuation with a response,” Mycroft huffed.
“Leave Mycroft alone, Sherlock. You shouldn’t make him feel bad that he’s finally getting laid.”
Both Holmes brothers looked at John with disgust. Greg quirked his mouth in a smile at his friend’s attitude.

“Ergh, please don’t put that image in my head,” Sherlock groaned. “If my brother wants to subject himself to that, then–”
“The sex is unbelievable, actually,” Mycroft interjected, and Greg could see the joy in his face at making his brother uncomfortable. Those two always liked bickering, and it was good to see Mycroft embracing a topic that Sherlock generally was able to hurt him with. It almost made Greg forget about the fact he was eavesdropping a somewhat disturbing conversation about him. Almost.

“Back to the matter at hand,” John said, his voice raised.
“Shh, don’t wake him,” Mycroft hushed, and Greg was able to duck before the obvious eye-glance up towards the bedroom. “He can’t know we’re meeting. He’ll start getting suspicious.”
“Then why elect to meet here in the first place, brother mine?”

“Plausible deniability,” Mycroft snapped. “If I were to leave, and he found out, then I’d have to explain where I’d been. Here, if he were to wake, it can easily be talked out of.”
“Pfft, you have no issue lying to him every day, so why would another be an issue?” Sherlock grumbled, crossing his arms.

Greg’s stomach dropped when he heard the words. Mycroft was lying to him? And they all knew about it? Why? About what?

“That’s different. It’s for his own safety. I make it a point to be as honest as possible in regards to our personal lives.”

Oh. That’s… better, at least. Was it that Mycroft lied about his work? I know he doesn’t say much, but overtly lying? Is… wait, does that mean he’s not really just a civil servant? Could he–

“What are we going to do now, though? So far leaving Greg to get back to his old job as before has worked alright, but we can’t just let that continue if it’s going to cause more incidents like the pub tonight,” John said, sounding annoyed that he had to direct the conversation. “He’s talked about having more intuition than before, which is a sign that things are at least different.”
“Evidence of more advanced mental processing, yes,” Sherlock grumbled. “It’s possible this was an isolated incident. We should therefore not desist in encouraging this improvement.”

Well that would be concerning but that’s just Sherlock, isn’t it? Take advantage of the situation, look further, poke and prod… all in the name of science. Consequences to people and their feelings are minimal considerations.

Greg knew he shouldn’t feel bitter about it, given that it was just Sherlock’s way and didn’t mean that he valued him any less as a friend. He still did, however. He could appreciate that gaining a better intuition was a good change, and one he’d ideally like to keep, but not if it was going to damage his mind. He didn’t like how neither John nor Mycroft argued against Sherlock’s proposal to push him and just see what happened.

“I’m convinced that there is no need for altering the status quo. Let him settle more before we try intervene. There was always the chance that the initial phase was going to be difficult; hopefully the situation improves from here on,” Mycroft said, his tone authoritative.

It didn’t sound to Greg like he was merely suggesting, but rather ordering. He knew Mycroft had a tendency to take control of whatever situation he found himself in – that was just who he was, and Greg understood it was more related to the man’s anxieties and sense of responsibility than a need to dominate over others. For some reason, this situation felt more like he literally was in command.

At least he sounds to be on my side. I wish I felt more confident about that, though. Really, it’s horrible to think, but I don’t feel terribly comfortable about any of them.
I can’t talk to John; not now, after this. They could be just trying to help, but what if there’s more to it? I’m not ready to surrender any control I have yet.

The three men in the kitchen sounded like they were rounding their conversation to a close, and so Greg slipped back upstairs before he was discovered. His mind was swirling, but it wasn’t making much sense. He decided to sleep on it and think more about it when his head was clearer.

Mycroft entered the room mere minutes after Greg had settled himself into what would appear as sleep. The mattress dipped and Greg pretended to stir, cracking an eye open to see Mycroft’s face.

“Sorry for waking you,” Mycroft whispered.
“’S no problem,” Greg mumbled.
“Are you feeling alright?”
Greg had to think about that. “I dunno,” he admitted. “I could use some sleep, I think. You ok?”
“Fine. Merely drank too much liquid before bed, it seems.”

Greg tried not to frown at the lie. He’d done it so casually, and Greg was left wondering what else he’d said that wasn’t true. He drew a deep breath and tried to shove he paranoia from his mind. He focused on telling himself, whatever it is, it’s being done for my wellbeing. It has to be. He loves me. I trust him.

If only he were as confident as he tried to make himself believe.

~

When Greg woke later that morning, he was feeling rather miserable. He had managed to sleep reasonably well, but he just felt flat. Upon stretching out, he discovered that Mycroft wasn’t in bed. Instead of trying to go look for him, a part of his mind afraid of what he’d find this time, he remained tucked into the covers.

The conversation replayed over and over in his mind. He couldn’t tell if he should be suspicious, annoyed, or touched. He tried to think about it all rationally.

He wanted to be included in conversations about his health, but he was glad that his friends and partner cared enough to make the effort. He hadn’t exactly been forthcoming regarding everything himself, so it’d be hypocritical of him to be upset at them having a discussion behind his back – especially considering he’d just collapsed in the middle of the pub long enough for Mycroft to arrive before he regained consciousness.

The more he thought about it, and told himself not to be a detective and suspect his friends of misdeeds where there were none, the more he was contented to move past it and be glad that for the first time in a long time… he was honestly cared for.

Mycroft loved him enough to show his overbearing, controlling concern that was usually reserved only for his little brother. John seemed to be uneasy, looking for direction how to proceed, and Greg realised it was likely because he only knew what to do as a psychiatrist, but not as a friend. Sherlock was… well, himself.

A frustrated outcry came from the hallway, and it was enough to motivate Greg to get out of bed and head towards the kitchen. He walked in, clad in his dressing gown and slippers, to the sight of Mycroft Holmes at the table apparently waging war on a gift. He had tape over his arms and fingers, bunches of scrunched paper and tape littered over the table and floor, and a crumpled mess before him.

“What on earth are you doing?” Greg asked with a smile, despite the unease that seemed to have taken rest in his stomach.
Mycroft looked up in shock and instinctively tried to hide his (utterly miserable) attempt at gift wrapping. “Gregory! I didn’t hear you approach. Good morning. How are you today?”
“Don’t change the subject, Myc,” Greg scolded playfully. “Did Christmas piss you off?”
“Pardon?” Mycroft asked, cocking his head, confused. Greg nodded towards the mess that was before him. “Oh, no, this… that is, um, would you believe me if I said I was constructing a sculpture depicting the social commentary of consumerism?”
“No, I’d say you looked like you were fighting the wrapping over which of you – the present or yourself – is getting wrapped. My question is more why are you trying to wrap something first thing on a Sunday morning?”

Mycroft flushed red. “I had not anticipated the activity to be so… challenging,” he admitted. “My intention was for you to find the present upon coming downstairs for breakfast. The paper would not co-operate, and the tape would not re-adhere after an initial placement. Multiple refolding attempts, and frustrated outbursts causing me to start again, have resulted in this… mess… you see before you. I’m so sorry, darling. I tr–”
“Hey, no, it’s alright,” Greg said, instantly stepping in to hold Mycroft’s head to his chest when he saw how genuinely upset the man was. “You can’t be brilliant at everything.”
“It’s a mundane activity! Most people manage just fine. I should be more than adequate. However, the paper refused to align in straight edges and buckled unevenly in my attempts, the tape wouldn’t stick at right angles, and–”
“Shh,” Greg hushed, stroking Mycroft’s auburn hair. “Most people can do it because they don’t have your internal demands for precision. Generally if the paper covers the box, it’s good enough. Getting the edges all equal and at perfect angles isn’t a consideration for most of us. And you know how you get when things aren’t working out for you; you get flustered and distressed, and that makes you more incapable of doing it perfectly… a vicious cycle, love. That’s just how you are, ok? No issue.”

Mycroft nodded against his chest. Greg held him for a moment before sitting beside him, but maintained the closeness by taking a hold of his hand. He stroked the top with his thumb.
“You didn’t have to get me a gift, Myc. What’s this for, anyway?”
“I just wanted to,” Mycroft answered sheepishly. Greg grinned at him reassuringly, and was glad to see a smile returned.
“That’s sweet. So, can I open it?”
“I’m sure you can tell what it is already.”
“Not a clue,” Greg said honestly, looking at the mildly box-shaped mess before him. He reached for it, and Mycroft nodded permission.

He tore the paper off to reveal a clear plastic drawer. He frowned and pursed his lips, trying to work out what is was. His eyes flickered up to Mycroft, and then back to the drawer.
“It’s a freezer drawer,” Mycroft answered the unspoken question. He grinned happily at Greg, his eyes expectant.
“Thanks,” Greg spoke carefully. He didn’t know what to make of it. No one had ever given him anything like it before, and it was strange behaviour even by Holmes standards. He took a moment to formulate his next sentence. “Why are you giving me a freezer drawer, Myc?”
“It’s for you. Well, the drawer itself is more symbolic of the space within the drawer. That is, the space within the freezer. See? I’ve labelled it already for you.”

Mycroft was clearly excited. Greg inspected the front of the tub more closely, and noticed the label on the front now read ‘Gregory’. His stomach lurched as images of human meat cut up in a shed freezer flashed before him.
“Gregory?”
“Sorry,” he mumbled, pressing the back of his hand to his mouth. “Just…” He wasn’t sure exactly how to explain it. He didn’t honestly think that Mycroft was going to cut him up and put him in the freezer in his own labelled drawer (Mycroft labelled all the shelves and drawers in his fridge and freezer as per contents), but it was a strong enough connection for his body to react to. “Nothing.”

“It’s for you to put all of your products in. I-I had hoped you’d be excited, darling, as it means that you don’t have to feel like an intruder in our home by having no space to store your foodstuffs that otherwise have no assigned category.” Mycroft’s voice was sounding a little dejected and disappointed.

Greg then realised just what it all meant. It was a big deal for Mycroft to offer him this; it meant he was rearranging his life to accommodate Greg. It wasn’t just a freezer drawer, it was a sign that Greg was a part of his life now. Greg beamed up at him.
“I love it. Thank you, dear.”

The joy returned to Mycroft’s face as he took the plastic drawer back from Greg to put in the upright freezer. He quickly pulled open two other drawers to move items into Greg’s drawer. That was when a thought struck him.
“Wait… did you do this just because I put a frozen pizza in the veggie drawer yesterday?”
Mycroft paused for a moment. “Pizza is not a vegetable, Gregory,” he answered with a stern face. “Nor are frozen dumplings classified as bread.”
Greg burst out laughing and shook his head. Tension eased from Mycroft’s body as he re-joined Greg at the table. “I still love it,” Greg uttered, and placed a kiss on his partner’s lips. “Thank you.”

The sad feeling in his gut inexplicably took over, causing tears to start welling in his eyes. He shook his head and tried to hide his face, but Mycroft noticed. “I don’t know why,” he mumbled, sniffling.
“Oh, my dear… no, it’s ok,” Mycroft said, taking him into a gentle embrace. “It’s all ok.”
“It’s… this is a good thing, I don’t understand.”
Mycroft took a deep breath while he was holding Greg, resting his chin upon his hair. “Emotions are complicated,” he spoke softly. “They don’t always make sense.”

Greg nodded. He kept trying to hold back the tears but it was inexplicably difficult. “I just woke up with the feeling, and now it’s like the extra emotion just fuelled that instead of a happier one.”
“Shh. It’s all ok.”
“Why do I feel like I miss you?” Greg wailed quietly. “You’re right here… but… I feel it, inside, like I’m all alone and I want nothing more than you here with me.”
“You’re not alone, sweetheart. You’ll never be alone anymore.” Mycroft’s voice was gentle and soothing. He ran his hand through Greg’s hair, and the soft touch helped to calm the feelings raging up inside him.
“I don’t want to be alone again.”

Mycroft didn’t respond, but held him close still. There wasn’t much to say. Greg appreciated that Myc didn’t question why, didn’t demand anything of him – just provided support, like he had done in the other times in Greg’s life when he needed someone.

There had been some hard times after the divorce, occasionally with cases, and sometimes just bad nights for no reason. Mycroft had been there, always, no matter what had been going on. They might not have been as intimate those times, but the genuine care was there.

They’d had each other to lean on for a long time. Greg had done the same for Mycroft when he’d had a bad turn of anxiety, was under a lot of stress in times of work crises, or when Sherlock had gotten himself into trouble.  

He suddenly felt terrible for suspecting anything other than honest care for him on Mycroft’s behalf. The guilt added to the water behind the dam, and it broke. Greg leant his head against Mycroft’s shoulder and let the silent tears fall.

He held him close around his middle, but even that didn’t stop the ache in his chest that screamed not to be alone, to have Mycroft close and caring for him.
“I need you,” he whispered.
“I need you too,” Mycroft responded. “I only regret how long it took me to realise how much; enough to overcome my fear of losing you in pursuit of more.”
“You won’t lose me.”
“Then hold on for me, Greg. I’ll be there.”

Greg frowned and looked up at Mycroft.
Did he think I was… a danger to myself? Had I implied that I wasn’t going to keep trying?

“I’m… Myc, I’m not saying I intend to go anywhere just because I’m having a bad day.”
Mycroft looked down at him, slightly confused. “I’m glad to hear that, my dear. I would hate to think that you were.”
“Then why did you tell me to hold on?”
“I… didn’t?” Mycroft screwed his face in confusion. Greg looked into his grey-blue eyes in search of anything other than sincerity, but found nothing. The pit of his stomach dropped and he suddenly found it hard to breathe.

He didn’t say that to me. Fuck… no. No. I can’t be hearing things like that. Jesus what if things other people have said to me weren’t actually said? God… this could compromise the case. Like not just screw it up a little, but have it dismissed entirely. If I can’t be sure that they’ve actually confessed something to me then how can I work? I can’t do this second guessing myself! What if things Myc has said to me weren’t said either? What if that entire conversation last night was all in my head? Oh god, oh god…

“Greg! Greg listen to me. Calm down. Breathe. Focus on me, ok?”
Greg’s eyes flickered about and saw the worry in Mycroft’s face. He hadn’t realised that he’d started having another panic attack as his mind raced. Mycroft was holding him tightly; at first Greg thought Myc was trembling but soon realised that it was him who was shaking. He tried hard to focus on taking deep breaths, like he’d often helped his partner do in the past.

“Greg… what happened? Where was all that from?” Mycroft asked, easing his vice-like grip.
“I… I don’t know, Myc,” Greg lied.
“Hmm. I am very concerned, love. This sounds like you are unstable – no, not at fault of your own – and need more help than you’re getting. The incident last night at the pub, and now this, makes me worried that there are some things not quite right.”

Greg sighed as another wave of depression hit, dampening the panic from before. “They’ve already done the scans and stuff, Myc. There’s nothing more to do.”
“Please talk with John today. He might have some ideas to help. Had you been your normal self this morning, I might have been inclined to leave things stand as they were and hope for the best. I don’t want you to be suffering at any point, darling. I fear this is evidence that your brain isn’t maintaining a stable balance of chemicals; such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenali– ”
“I have depression, Myc, you know that. Sometimes it acts up. That doesn’t mean my brain is broken, alright?”

He had long since lost the embarrassment and shame that he’d felt at admitting having depression. It just was, as simply as any other medical condition would be. It’d come and go, but never truly leave. Accepting that, and being blunt about it, had helped.
“I wasn’t suggesting–”
“Yeah, you kinda were,” Greg interrupted. “Look, I appreciate you being concerned for me, and we’ll see what the doctors have to say about the tests. But just having a bad day emotions-wise isn’t uncommon for me.”

Greg knew it was actually more serious a situation than he was letting on, but he didn’t want to cause a fuss he couldn’t then escape. He knew he was being unreasonably defensive, but the uncertain feeling he got from John remained embedded in his chest and being pushed to go talk to him had caused an almost flight response. Mycroft seemed to understand, given how high-strung he was with anxiety.

He took a few moments to think over the situation. He continued to rub his hands through his hair, weighing his options. He could come clean and tell Mycroft everything. He could say nothing. He could say nothing for now and see Mike again to ask about his recommendations on next steps, privately. The last option was certainly the most appealing to him.

“I think I just need to take it easy today, ok? Have a nice slow Sunday. Just you and me, cuddles, some telly… I want to just be with you. No pressure, no questions… just togetherness. Is that ok?”
“Of course, darling,” Mycroft answered, pressing a kiss to Greg’s head. “I hope that it will help. I know we were planning on attending the exhibition at the National Gallery today, but I am glad you don’t want to go. I would not be comfortable over exerting you.”
“Shit, that’s right… next weekend?”
“Unfortunately the exhibition I wanted to see concludes on the eleventh – which is today.”
“Oh, well… we can still go. Landseer, wasn’t it? I wouldn’t mind; I think it’ll be ok. I’m already feeling better.” It was true; since deciding that he wouldn’t say anything, but that he was going to do something about his issues, the twisting in his gut had eased completely. “The pictures of the deer they used to advertise on the building looked interesting.”
‘The Monarch of the Glen’, yes. It is an exquisite painting, as are the other works in the exhibit of the highlands. However I have seen the works before, and so it does not matter. I believe they are showing Sorolla, the Spanish Master of Light, from Monday onwards which I would also like to see. We could organise to see that instead? It’s available until the third of February, and so we have plenty of time.”
“Sounds brilliant.”

“You seem to have perked up, Gregory. I’m glad. Now, would you like me to prepare you some breakfast?”
“I can do it, it’s fine, love.” Greg stood and rolled his shoulders, hearing the popping of his spine. “I don’t mind cooking.”
“Cooking? No, Gregory. It’s breakfast time.”
“Yeah, cooked breakfast,” Greg protested. Mycroft shook his head. Greg huffed. “What about my cosy day?”
“You may have as much intimacy as you desire, and be as lazy as you want, but without the cholesterol-raising breakfast you intend to consume,” Mycroft stated matter-of-factly.
“You’re always so domineering, ordering me about,” Greg complained, but shot Mycroft a grin to let him know he was poking some fun.
“I am not,” Mycroft denied, sitting up straight.
“No, you’re right. Not always. You like me to do the dominating in bed.”

Mycroft flushed bright red and cleared his throat. Greg burst out laughing, failing to keep it in. He leaned back against Mycroft’s chest and hummed. “I like it like that, though,” he uttered. He then slid up and kissed him languidly.
When they broke apart, Greg gave him a suggestive look. “As much intimacy as I want, you say?”
“Greg,” Mycroft started cautiously, “I’m not sure that would be the best idea right now.”
“No, you’re probably right,” he agreed. The emotions that had wreaked havoc on his nervous system had drained him, despite now mostly feeling arousal and a desire to have Mycroft close against his body.

I really could use something to get me out of my head right now, though. I don’t want to think about losing my mind, or about ulterior motives. I just want to escape it and deal with that when I might cope better with the implications.

“It’d be nice, though. Something else to focus on. Feel good instead. Jumpstart the old neurons.”
Mycroft chuckled. “Perhaps if you are feeling better after breakfast,” he reasoned. Greg pouted, puffing out his lower lip, and Mycroft swallowed gently. Greg looked at him closely, and could see the hints of arousal darkening his eyes.

“Not putting up much of a fight, are you, Mycroft? Could it be that you actually really want me to take you to bed?”
“You look adorable, all ruffled and in your dressing gown,” Mycroft uttered, flushing slightly pink.
“You always look adorable,” Greg countered with a grin. Mycroft wasn’t in his pyjamas, but had dressed in some very casual attire by Mycroft’s standards. Normally he wore his three piece suits; his armour to the world. Today he was clad in a soft navy tee with jeans. Greg didn’t even know Mycroft owned jeans. The most casual he’d seen of him in the past was a smart casual fitted shirt with chinos. It had suited the atmosphere of calm domesticity so well that Greg hadn’t even noticed it until now.

“I would argue the point, however I believe you would dismiss anything I would say on the matter,” Mycroft commented.
“Damned right I would.” Greg raked his eyes over Mycroft once more. The jeans were really working for him. Greg loved Mycroft’s perfectly tailored suits, but there was something about the intimate vulnerability of his casual dress that made Greg want to tear it all off. Mycroft’s words from the previous night’s conversation echoed in his head: ‘the sex is unbelievable, actually’. He slowly grinned more slyly, and reached up to kiss him.

Mycroft hummed into the kiss and cupped Greg’s face. Greg let his hands wander down Mycroft’s back and onto his pert backside. He squeezed softly, and was rewarded with a gentle moan.
“Later,” Mycroft breathed. “Have some breakfast and we’ll see. Give yourself some time to settle.”
Greg nodded, obliging only because it was obvious how much self-control Mycroft was wielding to put a halt to their activities.

Chapter Text

Greg made himself some oats with fruit for breakfast, under Mycroft’s instruction. He still would have preferred a nice fry-up instead, but he didn’t want to upset his partner.

They moved to the sofa and put some music on for background noise. Greg cuddled into Mycroft, laying half upon him. He had to admit that Mycroft had been right, and he’d needed some time to have the emotions settle. The darker feelings had subsided and his head felt clearer. He still had the passing thoughts regarding his sanity, but focusing on his partner’s gentle breathing was helpful in distracting him from the subsequent emotions.

Mycroft chatted somewhat (he never was very good at idle chit-chat, and despite trying very hard to talk just to comfort Greg, it came across as very forced), and Greg hummed along with the music occasionally.

He found himself running his hands up and down Myc’s body, desire building again. Mycroft was responding in kind, and so Greg didn’t stop his ministrations.

Soon, the light touches had escalated to kisses. Greg delighted in the slow, chasing kisses as well as the more forceful probing ones. Mycroft was great at kissing, Greg found, even if he hadn’t had much practice. He did prefer Greg to take the lead in that as well. Greg didn’t mind.

The kisses grew more heated, their bodies pressing close together. Greg found himself rutting up against Mycroft as he explored the man’s mouth, his body desperate to feel more skin-on-skin contact.

God I love you, Myc. You are so fucking sexy, and you don’t even realise it. Your legs go on forever, your skin is soft and pale and dusted with the most gorgeous freckles.

“You are fantastic, you know that?” Greg mumbled between kisses. “I want you so badly. Not just because of your mind, and your heart, but your body as well.”
“Gregory…” Mycroft was unable to finish his sentence as Greg started licking and nuzzling the man’s neck.
“We got plenty of time this morning, right?” Greg asked into Mycroft’s ear.
“N-nothing planned,” Mycroft stuttered. He swallowed, seemingly nervous, but Greg could see his blue eyes blown wide with arousal.
“Good,” Greg breathed, “cause I have plenty of ideas.”
“Oh?”
“Mhm.”

Greg leant back and smiled suggestively. He nuzzled Mycroft’s nose and pecked chaste kisses to his lips. “I could stroke you until you came right here, right now. I could drop to my knees on the floor and suck you until you cried out and spilled down my throat. I could bend you over the couch and fuck you hard.”

Mycroft’s breath hitched at the last suggestion, and it gave Greg an idea of what kind of mood Mycroft was in. He leaned in and danced his tongue into the man’s ear.

“I could have you use your pretty mouth on my cock, then drive into you as you rode me,” he whispered. Greg kissed his cheek. “I could pound you into the bed, refusing to let you touch yourself.”

Mycroft whimpered as he shuddered. Greg ran his hands down Mycroft’s back and pulled him in closer, feeling the erection bulging from his pants.
Right, seems he’s in a rather submissive mood. That’s fine, good in fact; I can have some fun in the dominating role. Not think about everything, just be the one in control – unlike with my stupid mind and emotions. But I still have to show him it’s a kind dominating, not me just using him.

“Then I’ll kiss you and tell you how amazing you are; you are mine, Mycroft Holmes, and I get to decide how wonderful you are as well as when you come. I’ll have you writhing before me and begging me… and I’ll take good care of you.”
“Take me, Greg,” Mycroft breathed. “Please.”

Glad that the last shred of hesitance was abandoned in Mycroft, Greg kissed him hard, and curled his fingers around Mycroft’s wrist. He then tugged him out of the lounge and up to the bedroom. Greg honestly hadn’t expected the morning to turn out this way given the emotional difficulties earlier, even if he’d suggested it a fair bit over breakfast. He was definitely excited for it, though.

He pushed Mycroft down onto the covers and climbed over him, straddling his hips as he leant down to kiss him further. He pinned the soft wrists to the bed as he dove his tongue into Mycroft’s mouth. He pulled back, just so Mycroft would chase his lips, and returned to gently suck the man’s lower lip. His face was scratchy, given he hadn’t shaven yet, but Mycroft seemed not to mind the sensation.

Greg ground his hips into Mycroft’s, breathing heavily at the sensations of pleasure spreading out from his plumping cock. His partner was already rather hard, and his body twitched in an effort to thrust each time Greg made contact.

“Someone’s excited,” Greg murmured into Mycroft’s neck. He got a gentle whimper in response. “’S good, love. You look fucking sexy when you’re excited.”
Greg sat upright so he could run his hands down Mycroft’s front, letting his thumbs ghost over his nipples, before slipping under the tee and touching his belly.
“Mmm, so soft,” he hummed, running his flat hands over the skin. “So lovely. Makes me want to run my tongue all over it.” He slid the shirt up higher.
“Sit up,” he ordered, and Mycroft obeyed immediately. Greg pulled the fabric over the man’s head and kissed him.

Mycroft spoke no words, but he was far from silent. He continued to elicit gentle moans and guttural noises as Greg kissed him and ran his hands over his body. The sounds were electric, sending Greg’s body into overdrive in anticipation of what was to come.
“Yeah,” Greg hummed as Mycroft groaned. “Love your noises. Mr Proper, all undone at my fingertips. Fuck it makes me want you. I want to set your skin alight, Myc; I want you to feel like your body needs more, wants contact, desperate to feel my touch.”

Mycroft’s response was to thrust his hips upwards into Greg’s crotch. Greg knew that Mycroft loved hearing dirty talk by now, but still had difficulty responding. He didn’t mind. He was happy to do it for as long as needed to make it something his partner was comfortable with.
“Oh, no taking without my permission, you hear mister? I get to decide when you get touched.”

Greg loved the sharp intake of breath and the quick nod Mycroft gave him. “That’s it; good boy. You stay still while I get to play.”

Greg smiled gleefully that his choice of words were readily accepted by his partner. Greg wondered how far Mycroft wanted to go regarding roleplaying and personal kinks, but filed the thought away to discuss later with him.
He unbuttoned Mycroft’s jeans, running the palm of his hand over the prominent bulge. Mycroft obediently didn’t move, but his body was positively thrumming with need.
So desperate already, love? Jesus.
He carefully slid Myc’s cock out of his pants, sighing dramatically at the sight. “Fuck,” he groaned. “I want to just lick it, suck it, feel it with my tongue.”

“Greg,” Mycroft uttered breathily. Greg flicked his eyes up to the flushed face, wondering if it was a request or a warning. Myc’s eyes looked pleading, and so Greg returned his focus to the hardening member in his hand. He ran his nose up the shaft, the soft skin tingling him, breathing in the musky scent. He usually wasn’t one for enjoying the smell, but it was so Mycroft that it made his mouth water. He flicked his tongue out and lapped at the head. Mycroft hissed as he tried to stay still. Greg licked from the base to the tip and then engulfed him.

“Oh God Greg, yes,” Mycroft moaned. He bunched his hands together tightly to stop himself reaching for Greg’s head. Greg tugged at his jeans, sliding them down further. He sat upright and looked at Mycroft directly in his eyes.
“Take them off,” he ordered. Mycroft swallowed and obeyed. He was completely naked before Greg, who still wore his white shirt and red pants. His cock pulsed as he felt Mycroft’s thirsty eyes rake over his bulge.
“Good,” Greg praised. He shed himself of his shirt. “Hmm, and how much do you want me to get rid of these too?” he asked playfully, tugging at the elastic of his pants.
“Please,” Mycroft uttered.
“Please, what?”
“I…” Mycroft turned his head and looked away. Greg frowned seeing the embarrassment in his features. He leant forward and softly cupped his cheek with his hand and pulled his face back forwards.

“Hey, no,” he protested gently. “None of that. This is just you and me, yeah? I want you to tell me how you feel and how you want things.”
Mycroft nodded, still embarrassed. Greg kissed him, drawing it out. “Be honest with me Myc. I’m not gonna dislike it,” he whispered.
“I would very much like you to remove your underwear,” Mycroft uttered, swallowing.
“There we go.” Greg pecked another kiss. “And do you feel about me ordering you about? Telling you not to touch yourself, or move, unless I say so?”
“Hnng,” Mycroft groaned. He shut his mouth and nodded.

Greg kissed him again, always feeling so connected to Mycroft when given this implicit trust; Greg was the only one the man had ever trusted enough to relinquish control with. It was a positively thrilling thought, and he knew Mycroft undoubtedly enjoyed these moments of obeying orders and surrendering that control. He wanted to test the waters and find out just how much.

“Good. Answer me, Mycroft. Do you want me to do that?”
“Yes,” came the quiet reply. Greg quirked his eyebrow.
“Yes, what?”
“Yes… sir.”

Shivers ran down Greg’s spine at hearing the words. Fucking hell, he thought. Mycroft Holmes calling me ‘sir’… better keep it together or this is definitely not going to last long.
Greg’s response was more born out of need than a conscious decision; he crashed his mouth onto Mycroft’s and ground his hips against Mycroft’s prick. His own cock was still cloaked in red fabric, but he needed to feel his chest pressed against his partner’s more than he could pause to take them off.
I wonder if I should think more about why it turns me on so much to be–

“Fuck,” he cried, as Mycroft bucked his hips. “No, I’m in charge here. You stay still.”
Mycroft whimpered but nodded. Greg sat back and looked at him pointedly. “Yes sir.”
Greg swallowed and had to take a deep breath to regain some control. He really liked hearing that. He made a show of slowly freeing himself from his pants, enjoying the hungry look in Mycroft’s eyes as his cock bobbed out of the fabric.

“Turn over,” Greg ordered. Mycroft obeyed without question. Greg’s heart hammered in his chest. “Mmm, such a lovely sight,” he mused, running his hands over Mycroft’s buttocks. “Do you want this slow and long, or hard and fast?”
Mycroft whimpered an unintelligible noise into the pillow.
“Answer me, mister. Or do I have to be a bit more forceful in my demands?” Greg raised his eyebrow, despite Mycroft’s face being buried into the pillow. He didn’t receive a response, and so decided to test the waters by slapping Mycroft’s right cheek gently. His partner moaned, and the slight tension eased from Greg.
Ok, he likes it a bit rough then. Good.

Greg reached for the lube and pressed a kiss onto the back of Mycroft’s neck. “Keep your hands under the pillow, Myc,” he commanded in a whisper.
“Yes sir.”
“Do you like it when I slap you?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Would you like me to do it again?”

Mycroft nodded. Greg kissed him on the cheek and returned to sitting back upright. He grasped some handfuls of muscle, and then slapped him again, slightly harder, but not so much as to leave a mark. Mycroft exhaled deeply.
“Fuck, gorgeous,” Greg muttered. He uncapped the lube and applied some liberally to his fingers. He was desperate to give attention to his cock, but preparation came first. He slid his fingers into Mycroft’s crease, spreading the lube over his entrance.

“Pop a pillow under your hips, love,” Greg said. Mycroft did so and then returned to putting his face against the covers and his hands under the pillow.
“Oh, you’re so wonderful,” Greg praised. He had to bite his tongue not to call him ‘boy’ again, since he wasn’t sure that would exactly be welcome. He didn’t want to break the mood.
“Oh, Greg, yes,” Mycroft groaned as Greg slid a finger inside him.
“You still haven’t answered me, Myc.”
“W-what?”
“Take my time here or fuck you hard into oblivion?”
“Mhrrg… uh,” Mycroft cleared his throat, “the latter.”     
Greg grinned as he started moving his finger in and out. “I want to hear you say it.”
Mycroft shook his head. Greg chuckled and withdrew his hand, and used his other to slap Mycroft’s behind again before stroking the skin softly.
“Say it.”
“I-I want you to… I want you to fuck me hard.”
“Perfect,” Greg purred.

He pushed two fingers into Mycroft, humming as the man wriggled below him. He worked them quickly, brushing occasionally against his prostate. He still gripped the left cheek roughly, and slapped the skin as he pushed three fingers into his partner. Mycroft moaned loudly in response, and trembled in his effort to remain still.

“You can move, love,” Greg cooed. “I want you to thrust with me when I take you. Just keep your hands at your head.”

Mycroft nodded. Greg withdrew his fingers and coated himself with a condom and lube. Pleasure radiated throughout his body as he finally touched himself. He’d gotten quite worked up just listening to Mycroft’s noises and utterances of ‘sir’. He positioned himself and pushed inside, moaning loudly at the feeling of being sheathed in Mycroft’s tight heat.

“Oh fucking fuck,” he breathed. “Jesus you feel good.”
I’m fucking glad you want this hard and fast, love.
“Oh so good, Greg,” Mycroft moaned. “So full.”
Greg let his weight lay upon his partner as he buried himself deep inside. His abdomen desperately wanted to tense and thrust, but he resisted. Mycroft needed a moment.

He entwined his fingers with Mycroft’s, pressing down on the hands as he kept himself up enough to be sure he wasn’t restricting Mycroft’s breathing. He nipped playfully at Myc’s ear, nuzzling the soft skin.
“Ok?” he asked, kissing him.
“More, please Greg.”

The moment he allowed himself to move, he found he couldn’t maintain control. He instantly started a rough and fast rhythm, the bed squeaking at each thrust. His body was tense and aching for release, desperate for any and all friction. He panted heavily between short, cut-off moans.

Mycroft felt fantastic. His soft milky skin, slick with sweat, slid against his own in a delicious symphony of sensation.
Greg growled as he thrust hard, biting down on Mycroft’s shoulder. His partner shouted, and ground himself against the pillow harder.

“Yes, yes, yes,” Greg repeated with fervour, fucking into Mycroft’s body in a frenzy. Nothing existed but the carnal, animalistic urge to pound into Mycroft and spill himself inside. He could feel the electricity build in his gut. He frantically moved his hands from Mycroft’s to grasp at the bed, and then the man’s shoulders, and back again in a wild attempt to grasp better leverage.

They both made deep, loud noises into the room. Mycroft’s shouts spurred him on. His body screamed in protest to the continued exertion, his muscles overworking while tensing harder and harder.
Oh god, fuck, I’m close…
“Myc… My…” Greg howled, shaking as he pushed himself as deep as he could. His whole body felt ready to explode.
Yeah oh fuck yes… My… oh Myc... oh, yes.”

Greg’s orgasm hit him like a truck. Relief overwhelmed him as euphoria surged through his veins, his cock pulsing as he spilled his load. He slowly thrust through the bliss, gasping for air. His body still pulsed hard, trying to squeeze out as much come as possible. There was only the whiteness of the pleasure encasing him and the thready hum of his heart pounding and cock pulsing.

After a few moments the world returned, and he was aware again of Mycroft’s desperate writhing and grinding below him. His partner was clutching the sheets and whimpering, fucking into the pillow as Greg was still buried deep inside him. He pulled out, managed to wrench his body up off Mycroft, and sat upright. He quickly shed himself of the condom before he made a mess.

“Turn over, love,” Greg said, his voice harsh from moaning. Mycroft obeyed immediately, swivelling over onto his back. His cock was achingly hard, Greg could tell, from watching how it bobbed in the air over his stomach.

“Fuck,” he breathed. He bent forward and licked the dribble of pre-come spilling from the head. Mycroft’s body jerked violently at the contact. Greg engulfed him in one single motion, taking as much as he could, and sucked hard. Mycroft cried out loudly, bucking his hips up into Greg’s mouth. His throat closed instinctively, but it only seemed to push his partner further over the edge. Hot semen filled his mouth, Mycroft trembling as he came. His cock throbbed in Greg’s mouth as he shot streams of fluid which Greg readily swallowed.

Greg lifted his head and released Mycroft’s prick with a slick pop once the spasms had died down. He grinned as he languidly stroked the wet shaft, still pulsing from the orgasm. Mycroft was lying in bed, panting, staring off into space as his body twitched.

“Oh dear lord, Gregory,” Mycroft spoke, his voice also husky. “That was indescribable.”
“Yeah,” Greg simply agreed. “You do things to me, Myc. You set me on fire so much I come harder than I have in longer than I can remember.”
“I share the sentiment,” Mycroft hummed. Greg shuffled up and collapsed beside Mycroft’s hot body.
They lay there, cuddling, as they caught their breaths. Greg pressed a kiss to the man’s shoulder, and then kissed the faint bite mark left on the muscle.
“Mine,” he uttered, kissing the mark again and burying his face into Mycroft’s neck.
“Always.”

“Greg? You coming?”
“I just did,” Greg chuckled in response, but then frowned. The warmth had disappeared from his face, and he felt like he was sitting upright. It then became clear that it had not been Mycroft who’d asked him that question. He opened his eyes to be faced with Sally Donovan, looking confused, in the doorway to his office. Greg was sitting in his chair at his desk.
“What?”
“I… er…” Greg said, starting to tremble.

Fuck, not again.

Chapter Text

“You alright boss? You’ve gone pale.”
“I…” How did I get here? When? “I’m fine,” he lied through gritted teeth. “Sorry, what were we talking about?”
Sally pursed her lips at him and eyed him scrupulously. “Jeremy Miller’s alibi. You literally just called me to go with you.”
“Oh. Right.” Greg winced. His head started to throb. “Sorry. Headache.”
“Ah. Are you sure you want to do this now, then?”
“Not really, honestly, but if I’ve already said I would, then I should.”
“No need to push yourself so hard, boss,” Sally commented, but walked out of the room. Greg sighed.

If only you knew exactly what I meant by that. Jesus. I think I’ll call Mike as soon as I can. John really should be the one I... but I can’t. Even if I did trust him… I can’t, not while the case is ongoing. If Mrs Miller’s lawyer gets wind of the investigator seeing and hearing things, then the case is dismissed. Ok Greg. Keep it together. Maybe get someone to double-check everything, just to be sure.

He was about to leave the office when he paused. Sherlock thus far had really just been behaving like his normal self, and he wasn’t likely to notice anything suspicious (regarding Greg’s health, at least) if Greg asked him along to work the case more than usual. He didn’t trust him as much as before overhearing the conversation, but there was no way he could ask one of his team what he was about to ask of Sherlock.

Greg knew he had to make some sacrifices for the validity of his case. He sat back down and picked up his phone.
“Lestrade, I’m rather busy.”
“Unless it’s Yard-based work, then as far as I’m concerned you’re not.”
“Of course you would say that. The only thing that matters to you is the Yard. You’re like a little grey bee, working away all the time.”
“Oi, come off it.”
“Does that make your Super your Queen instead? My my, my brother will be disappointed.”

Greg groaned. Sometimes Sherlock enjoyed playing games and poking fun, and sometimes Greg liked to play along and return the banter. Other times he had little tolerance for the man’s attitude.
“Sherlock, can I just get to the point?”
“I don’t know, Lestrade, can you? I would have rather thought that if you really wanted to talk to me about something specific, then you would be doing so right now.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Think about it. You control the conversation, in more ways than one.”
“You’re not making sense.”
“Only to those unaware of the connections.”
“Sherlock!”
“Fine! What is it you want to buzz me about, little worker bee?”
“Stop calling me that.”
“Very well. I suppose it’s fitting, given you’re rather shooting for ‘King’ now that you’re dating the Queen.”
“And stop calling Mycroft a queen!”
“Look in behind the shelving in your boyfriend’s closet before making such demands.”

That made Greg pause. Does Sherlock mean what I think he means? It could be fun, introducing that to… oh, damn. Am I really going to go snooping about my boyfriend’s closet now? Fuck. I’m a terrible person. But… focus on matters at hand.

“I want you to come with me to go over the alibis of Jeremy and Joanne Miller.”
“Oh. Certainly. Now? Why? You haven’t asked me to help you before on this end of an investigation before, and I would have thought you’d get one of your minions to do so before asking me.”
“I…”

Greg started to panic. He wasn’t supposed to question it, just accept like everything else. “You’re not really helping me with the case as such, Sherlock. I just need you to be there and watch so I can, er, ask you about it afterwards. I can’t ask one of my team to do it. The reason has to be kept between us and you’re the only one I can trust with that.”

“I’ll come up to your office now.” Sherlock ended the call before Greg could protest.

Sherlock burst through his door in his usual dramatic manner, but Greg maintained his ‘unimpressed’ face. He didn’t have to work hard to do so, not particularly considering how unsettled he was feeling. Sherlock took one look at him and his confident (rather, ‘arrogant’) smile faded.

“What’s wrong, Graham?”
“Greg,” he protested half-heartedly. He didn’t feel up to the games. It was bad enough that he was having to ask the man for a favour, let alone the reason being he didn’t trust his own ears.
“Greg,” Sherlock corrected. He closed the door behind him, something he rarely bothered doing. “What is it?”
“Nothing,” Greg grumbled. Sherlock raised his eyebrow at him.
“You had better practise your attempts of lying before going home to my brother if you wish to keep it secret. If I can tell you are emotionally troubled, then Mycroft is going to have a field day.”

Greg groaned and rubbed his face. Sherlock was right. So far he’d been able to keep it together around Mycroft. Today, given the abrupt and embarrassing start to it, he doubted he’d manage.

Things generally were better in his partner’s presence, and so he didn’t have a whole lot to try and hide. The few instances where he’d needed to pretend, he’d managed to get away with it because of feigning some other emotional excuse. Being able to kiss him to stop him thinking helped, too.

“Is this why you’ve called me?”
“Yeah,” he admitted. He took a deep breath. “I can’t have you talking to Mycroft about this, though.”
“You want me to deceive my brother? Is it Christmas?” Sherlock grinned sadistically.

Greg shook his head. Holmes brothers. Can’t they show affection like normal human beings?

“I’m just having more trouble settling back into things than I thought, ok? I don’t want you to lie per-se, I just want you to keep this between us. I want you to come along and listen in to the interviews. I want to be sure I’m actually thinking things through properly. Obviously I can’t ask one of my team to do that – they’re supposed to look to me for guidance.”
“Why wouldn’t you be, as you say, ‘thinking things through properly’?”
“It’s… I…”

Greg wasn’t sure what he was to say to that. Should he admit that he was paranoid that he was fucking up the case by hearing things that weren’t said? I honestly can’t tell if it’s more ludicrous to say that to Sherlock or that I have to consider saying it.

“You’re concerned over your health,” Sherlock stated, squinting his eyes as he analysed him.
“Not… like, that way,” he defended quickly. “Just concerned that I’m not doing this properly. The case is too important to lose a conviction because I wasn’t actually fit to return.”
“Are you worrying over the possibility that things aren’t functioning accordingly in your mind, or have you experienced evidence recently to support the hypothesis that you might be unfit for duty?”
“Why do you ask?” Greg inquired, a little suspicious. Sherlock seemed not to notice.
“Obvious, really. You were perfectly confident in your abilities when you began the case. Now it’s different. I am asking for the reason behind the change in your attitude.”

“I still don’t understand how I was able to get the drugs aspect of this, when I hadn’t seen the bedrooms. I want to err on the side of caution,” Greg explained, as he would respond to a reporter’s question at a press conference when he didn’t actually want to answer.

Sherlock remained focused on him, and Greg tried to hide any indication of there being more to it. After a few moments, Sherlock nodded. Greg smiled, and was about to thank him when a knock sounded at the door.

“Enter.”

John Watson opened the door, holding a file. Greg had to not audibly groan at the timing. The doctor startled at the presence of Sherlock, but broke out into a grin. “Hey, love, I didn’t realise you’d be here.”

“I am here to assist Lestrade with the interrogations of Mr and Mrs Miller,” Sherlock answered, a hint of pride in his voice.
“We call them interviews, Sherlock,” Greg chided. He then addressed John and put on his best friendly-grin, hoping it didn’t look as rehearsed as it felt. “How can I help you, mate?”
“Just got the profiles written up for your case. I mostly focused on Jeremy Miller, since I was called in for him by the desk sergeant.”
“Oh, cheers,” Greg mumbled as he picked up the files John deposited upon his desk. He flicked through them, making an effort not to notice the chaste kiss John pressed upon Sherlock’s lips.

“It’s nice to see you,” John spoke quietly as Greg read.
“You see me every day,” Sherlock said, but without any hint of confusion or condescension. Greg smiled. It was nice that John was the general exception to Sherlock’s venomous attitude.

He looked up to see them hugging. John flushed red for a moment before clearing his throat. “I can’t exactly make an official statement on it, but in my opinion, Joanne Miller was the killer. At the very least, I don’t think Jeremy Miller did it.”
“Thanks, yeah. I got that feeling as well. Wanna run me through why?”
“He’s having some PTSD symptoms from the murder, and he’s not faking it. Generally, as you know, people still can kill and then have trauma over it later. But in my professional opinion, no man who is experiencing these symptoms from seeing the death of his child would be capable of… disposing of the body in that regard.”

Greg hummed in agreement and nodded. Sherlock still held John close, and mumbled what Greg assumed were praises (given the smitten look on Sherlock’s face) into the man’s short blonde hair.

“Right, well, Sally is waiting for us, Sherlock. Better get a move on.”

~

They’d reviewed the times that Joanne Miller had given in their original interview before going in to speak with Jeremy Miller. Sherlock was told to wait on the other side of the glass, and actually obeyed Greg for once without question.

“Hello, Jeremy.”
“Hi there, Detective Inspector.”

Greg gave him a smile. The man had been fairly helpful thus far, and seemed friendly enough towards him. As Greg looked at him, he could see the signs of stress and sleepless nights on his face.

“We need to discuss your whereabouts on Sunday evening again.”
“Thought you might. Joanne’s not backin’ down, is she?”
“No, she’s still insistent that you committed the murder and–” Greg stopped himself from continuing, remembering what John had told him just before in his office. Jeremy pursed his lips together and nodded stiffly. “Well,” he said instead, “let’s just account for where you were that night.”
“I was out on a delivery, as I said before.”
“Yes, but we are going to need specifics. Ideally we want to try find evidence that places you out of the house at the time your wife says you committed the murder.”

“I was dealin’ drugs, Inspector. I ain’t as stupid as I sound… we ain’t gonna do it where the cops can see us.”
“Yes,” Greg agreed with a sigh. “Unfortunately there is that. However, if we can find evidence of your location, even to and from your meeting place, then it would help us. Ideally we would like other people to also corroborate your story.”
“Even if I told ya who I was seein’, it don’ mean they’re gonna admit it in court. I’m no-one ta them, so they ain’t gonna risk gettin’ charged with drugs over me.”

“If you can tell us members of your organisation and how to bring them in, we could organise for a reduced sentence,” Greg offered. It wasn’t the first time they’d made deals like that. Strangely, Jeremy scoffed and shook his head.

“I ain’t got no issue tellin’ ya, mate. An’ I don’ want a reduced sentence for rattin’ them in. People should get punished for what they done, regardless o’ what they’re willin’ ta say. Really… goin’ ta prison for drugs ain’t as bad as ya think it’d be for me.”

Greg frowned and tilted his head. Not only was he still strangely a fair and honest man, Jeremy sounded sad. Normally the drug dealers they brought in were gruff, arrogant, aggressive, and either loyal to their people to a fault or more than willing to sell their friends out for their own gain. This man just looked defeated, and somehow remained a semblance of a good person despite his criminal undertakings. That was when it hit him.

“Because the alternative is going back to that house?” he asked, sympathetic. Jeremy nodded, a haunted look on his face.
“I never should’a gone along with her plan. Should’a just accepted the drug charge and avoided all this mess. I was just… shocked, I guess. No thoughts or nothin’ an’ then her orders… just obeyed, cause I was still processin’ what happened. By the time I could think again, I’d already gotten involved.”
“Not unreasonable, Mr Miller. However if we have any chance of trying to prove that you weren’t there at the time of the murder, we need the full run-down of the evening.”

Jeremy recounted his general steps, not being able to say exactly which roads he drove on. They had a location, at least, to check. There were also a few names to look up, but Greg knew that Jeremy was right in that the kids he’d sold to wouldn’t say anything on his behalf. Knowing the area of the deal, Greg knew that it was unlikely to give any usable evidence. He groaned softly as he leaned back in his chair.

“We’ll have people look up through CCTV to try and match your car, but without being able to see you in it, it’s not a lot to go on for court.”
“I know, Inspector. When you’ve been doin’ this as long as I have, ya get ta know how not ta get caught. Backroads, alleys, avoidin’ buildings… I guess it’s my undoin’ now, eh?”

Greg nodded. He knew that Sally would have a go at him for being so easily swayed into believing Jeremy’s story, but everything thus far had convinced him it was true. He ran his hand through his hair and stood. 

“Inspector?” Jeremy asked, his eyes timid.
“Hm?”
“Is someone lookin’ after my dogs? They’re all I got now, ‘n I know they’re a bit scary ta people but they protected me in my work, if you’d call it tha’. I love ‘em.”
“I don’t know for sure, but I believe the protocol is to have them taken to the shelter and held there.”
“Ah. Poor buggers. They didn’t do nothin’ wrong here. It wasn’t their fault they were hungry… that day alls they had was a burger each I got ‘em on the way home. I hope people’re kind to ‘em, wherever they are now.”

Greg nodded and took a step towards the door and froze. He slowly turned back around to Jeremy, his eyes wide. The man looked back at him, confused.
“Burger?”
“Yeah, I stopped for some dinner before headin’ back. Was late ‘n all.”
“Where?”
“McDonald’s,” Jeremy shrugged. “Little shitty one, but I’m not one ta complain.”

Greg returned to the seat and turned the recorder back on. He asked Jeremy to repeat what he’d said about stopping for a burger, detailing exactly where he was and when.

“You… I don’t suppose you used a card, did you?” Greg asked.
“I did, actually. I ain’t gonna sit in some random carpark late at night pullin’ out wads of money. I told ya, I ain’t that stupid.”
“No,” Greg chuckled, “no you really aren’t.”

Chapter Text

By the end of the next day, they had managed to get the CCTV of the restaurant confirming Jeremy’s car pulling into the carpark, and the man himself walking in and ordering at the counter. It didn’t take much digging to prove that it was paid for with the card seen in the footage, at the time indicated. Greg felt relieved that they finally had some evidence proving Jeremy Miller’s location at the time Joanne Miller declared he killed their son. Given how far away the restaurant was, there was no way for Mrs Miller’s estimate of the killing to be simply that far misjudged.

Without saying exactly what evidence they had, Greg told Joanne Miller that her story wasn’t adding up. After some pointed comments and heated shouting on her behalf, she confessed.

They charged Mr Miller with drug trafficking, and his wife with murder. Greg was relieved that the case was finally over. He’d all but forgotten about the problems from before the confession: the conversation, the blackout, the uncertainty of himself… and his commitment to talk to Mike. A lot of things suddenly happened to occupy his mind.

He went home that night hoping for a good meal with Mycroft, and the potential of more that evening.

When he arrived home, he wandered towards the kitchen to get himself a drink. He was feeling relaxed and wanted to kick back with a movie before convincing Mycroft to order take-away for dinner.
All of that changed the instant he stepped into kitchen and saw Mycroft sitting at the dining table, his dark-rimmed glasses on, staring at him.

The first reaction Greg had was feeling like he had the time his mother had done the same thing when he was sixteen, waiting for him to return home from school after she’d discovered his porn stash – gay porn, at that. He swallowed nervously.
“Hey, Myc,” he said, feigning cheerfulness.
“Sit down, Gregory.”

Greg swallowed again and complied without hesitation. No, this was more like the time his mother had been called by the principal when he was fourteen to tell her that he’d started a fight.
“What’s this about?” he asked, honestly not really wanting to know the answer.
“I had a most interesting conversation with my brother today.”

There was a pause, the same kind his mother would use (and he himself employed) to get the guilty party to confess. Greg cast his mind back, trying to think of something he’d done wrong that might be causing Mycroft’s upset. Then he remembered asking Sherlock to watch the interview.

“Alright, what did you discuss?” Greg wasn’t about to fall for his own interrogation techniques. He held Mycroft’s gaze. His partner’s features contorted in a pained exasperation, and he pulled the glasses off his face to rub the bridge of his nose.
“That is not of much consequence. Gregory, why don’t you trust me?”
Greg was initially stumped before he made the connection. He wanted to deny everything, but the hurt in Mycroft’s voice was difficult to ignore. He was going to have words with Sherlock.
“I do,” he said softly. “Did he tell you I didn’t?”
“No. My brother hardly mentioned you. I recognised hints of you confiding in him, and then asked pointed questions to observe the answers without him needing to say anything. He has not betrayed your trust, and so do not be angry with him. Instead tell me why you felt you had to go to him rather than me.”

Greg’s heart continued to pound. He felt like he was in the spotlight, and had to make some very good decisions very quickly. It was a lot of pressure. “I could hardly ask you to help with a case at Scotland Yard, Mycroft. That’s all. He was there and able to help, nothing more.”
Mycroft’s eyes steeled and his lips pursed into a thin line. “You’re lying, Gregory. Do not think you can lie to me. You have been hiding things from me for some time; don’t think I haven’t noticed.”
“I… wait, if you noticed, why didn’t you say anything?”
“I believed you trusted me and assumed, wrongly it seems, that you would come to me when you were ready; that your hesitance was your attempt to work things out for yourself before formulating a coherent explanation. I did not want to pressure you. I wanted you to trust me and come to me of your own accord. I–” Mycroft choked as his throat closed up with emotion. Greg frowned and saw that he was trembling slightly, despite his attempt to exude displeased control.

Greg looked down at the table in guilt. Mycroft wasn’t just angry; he was hurting because he felt that he wasn’t trusted and he’d been too afraid to bring it up until Greg had rubbed salt into the wound by going to his brother instead. He said nothing and allowed Mycroft to continue once regaining his composure.

“I am aware that I have many attributes that make me a difficult partner, both regarding interaction and living together. I did not want to push you in fear of you pushing back and distancing yourself. I have tried hard to accept the personal challenges in favour of your happiness and comfort, knowing that my being overbearing and difficult would be too much to contend with. It just… it hurts, Gregory, that you would confide in Sherlock before me. I only want to care for you, to be there for you as your partner, and I cannot do that if you do not let me in.”

“I’m sorry,” he uttered, not knowing what else to say. He had honestly though he’d been managing well to keep his anxieties over the hallucinations and lost time from Mycroft. It seems Mycroft had instead been seeing it perfectly and just waiting for Greg to ‘trust’ him with the information.

Fuck, that’s not what I meant at all. But, I guess if I’m honest… it’s exactly what I meant. I didn’t trust him not to tell John, to make a fuss, to jeopardise my job. Fuck I’ve been terrible at all this… but what else can I do?

“Not telling you things,” he started slowly, “isn’t because I don’t trust you. It’s because I’m… scared. I know you want to help me with that as well, but it’s difficult for me. I’ve had to manage on my own for so long that I don’t know what it’s like to have someone else there expecting to be involved and actually want to help. Those are my difficulties; you’re not the only one with stuff to work through in a relationship, so don’t think all shortcomings are yours. I honestly didn’t expect you to be hurt by being left in the dark. I didn’t think you even noticed… which was stupid of me, I see now. I guess I’m used to being unnoticed.”
“You have never been unnoticed as far as I’ve been concerned,” Mycroft retorted, sitting up straight. “That idiot wife of yours might have ignored you, but you have been an important part of my focus since I met you. Somewhat distractingly, I admit. However now I am able to have you be the centre of my attention without having to hide the fact or have it be inappropriate.”

Greg’s cheeks grew warm at the praise, and he blindly reached his hand across the table for Mycroft to take. “Thank you.”

Mycroft’s soft fingers held his own. Greg looked up and smiled gently. He was impressed at how Mycroft was handling the situation. Ordinarily, such an argument with his former partner would have devolved into shouting by now. Greg tended to shout back in such moments, making the situation worse. Emotions were tricky, but yelling seemed to take the edge off it sometimes.

“You aren’t fair to yourself, you know,” Greg said softly. He ran his thumb over Mycroft’s fingers. “You said that you are overbearing and difficult. I don’t think so.”
“I have tried hard not to be,” Mycroft admitted.
“That’s what makes you a good man and a good partner. But I don’t want you to try to change everything about yourself because you think I’d like you better some other way.”

Mycroft sighed and looked away, to the floor. Greg squeezed his hand gently. His partner still had a fair bit of self-esteem issues. It was surprising, given the self-assured and confident mask he work around most people and at work. Emotionally, however, Mycroft was very sensitive and vulnerable, and hadn’t let himself feel a lot of experiences to gain some resilience.

“There are things I’m doing that bother you,” Greg stated, recounting what Mycroft had said earlier. Mycroft whimpered softly and nodded. Greg hummed discontentedly. “I don’t want you to be silent when I’m doing things that annoy you. You don’t have to… what did you say? Accept personal challenges for the sake of my comfort?”
“I… it seemed only logical,” Mycroft mumbled.
“Why?”
“Because I know I am… unreasonable. Things… they annoy me, therefore should be my responsibility, not yours.”
“No, no, Myc, that’s not how it goes.” Greg tugged at Mycroft’s hand to get him to look up. He stared deep into the blue gaze.

“You are a valid, equal member of this relationship. As such, you are entitled to ask things of me. You’re allowed to say I do things that upset you. I… I’m not a person-reader like you, Myc. You can’t just give me little hints that you’re upset which would be clear signs to you, and think that’s telling me. I can’t see it. I know it’s difficult for you but you have to actually tell me, otherwise I’m thick as a brick and don’t notice. Even now I can’t think of anything that I’ve been doing to upset you.”
“Aside from the ‘hiding things from me’ debacle, I’m assuming you mean?”
“Yes, of course,” Greg said, a little disappointed that Mycroft had remembered that part of the conversation. “Tell me now. Knowing you, they’re just little things that I do without thinking.”

Mycroft nodded. He pulled his hand out of Greg’s grip to wrap around his middle; a gesture Greg recognised as an attempt to provide himself some reassurance when he felt particularly uncomfortable, anxious, and out of his depth. Greg retracted his hand and entwined it with his other upon the tabletop, sitting in his best ‘listening’ pose.

Oh, sweetheart. I’m sorry I’ve made you feel this way. I didn’t mean it, honestly.

“You… there are many things, Gregory, that I find… I like things a certain way, and it grinds against me when things are different, moved, or not done right. That is, right by how I feel they should be, not unequivocally.”
Greg nodded but said nothing, waiting for Mycroft to finish taking steadying breaths and continue. Unfortunately, he seemed stuck.

“I know you have a bit of OCD, Myc. It’s not shameful or anything that things being out of their proper place for you causes you anxiety. I know you have that, just in general, too. It’s fine. It’s not news to me, yeah? I guess I haven’t really been the best boyfriend and been attentive to that kind of stuff, for which I apologise. But let me just say that I know you think you’d be imposing all these confining rules upon me just so you can feel comfortable… but really, I don’t care.”

Mycroft flinched at the words, and Greg mentally slapped himself. “I mean that as in,” he continued quickly, “I don’t have feelings one way or the other, and so it doesn’t make much difference to me if I change my habits to make you comfortable. I want you to feel at ease, love, and so of course I will happily do what I can to make that happen.
“I can’t say I’ll manage all the time, and I will say that if there’s too many little things to abide by then I might start feeling a bit… trapped, or something, but I honestly do want to try.”

Greg gave his partner a warm smile. Mycroft nodded a few times, then frowned.
“I dislike the term ‘boyfriend’. We are not children, and it sounds infantile at our age. It also implies a less-serious nature of the relationship, which, while we haven’t discussed it, I feel is there and I don’t want to demean that.”
“Ok, noted. Now, the things that stick out in your mind that’s making you anxious?” Greg didn’t want to force the topic but had to insist, since he knew that Mycroft was trying to talk about things he felt better about in lieu of what needed saying.

“Spoons,” he stated. Greg raised an eyebrow. “Spoons, Gregory,” he repeated. Greg had to just shake his head. He had no idea what Mycroft meant. His partner sighed and closed his eyes before looking back at him.
“You have been putting all the spoons together in the drawer.”
“Oh. But… they go in the drawer?”
“Not mixed!”
“Mixed?”
“The three kinds must be separated.”

Greg blinked a few times, trying to mentally picture the spoons. Three? I thought there were only two: big ones and little ones.

“Teaspoon, dessert spoon, and soup spoon. It is not that difficult, Gregory, to recognise the differences. My general cutlery isn’t upper-class dining standard; I had thought you would have been at least aware of the different kinds, even if not seeing it important to keep them separated.”
“Right. Keep the spoons separate. I can do that. What else?”

Mycroft hummed as if deciding which of many things was the most important. “Just to reiterate to keep all foodstuffs in the correct assigned shelves.”
“I have been!” Greg protested, not forcefully, but enough to show that he was, at least, making an effort. “Since you gave me the drawer, at least.”
“And I thank you for that, however you have also not been managing as well with the refrigerated items. I have been forced to move things about into their proper places most mornings.”
“Sorry. Just – and don’t get snippy with me when you do – tell me. I sometimes forget, or occasionally don’t know.”
“I-I will make an effort to do so, given you are making an effort to oblige.”
“Thanks. So, on that note, I have a question: where do I put meat products? You don’t have a section for that.”
“Because I never needed one before you, my dear. Hmm… I will have to do some re-arranging. Thus far I have been moving those products into the meals area, but you are correct in saying I now require a specific space for such products. I believe I can move the jars onto the second meals shelf, and you may put the meats on the left of the sauces shelf.”

Greg grinned and nodded. He couldn’t help but feel a surge of affection for his partner. These things seemed innocuous to him, even silly at times, but they were seriously important to Mycroft. He found it adorable that these things mattered that much to him. Greg reached out his hand for Mycroft to take, hoping he felt more at ease now that he’d started.

Mycroft took the proffered hand. “Please keep your shoes aligned straight, together, when you take them off. I won’t demand of you to place them in specific areas. And your socks, Gregory. We need to address your socks.”
“What’s wrong with my socks?” Greg asked, and instinctively looked down towards his feet.
“They are odd, Gregory. It twists inside me to think you spend your day so off-balance.”
“Oh. I didn’t really notice… they all look the same to me,” Greg admitted. Mycroft looked aghast. He couldn’t help but burst out laughing. “I’m not laughing at you, sweetheart,” he managed to say. Mycroft relaxed a little, but didn’t look entirely convinced.
“You have two navy cotton pairs, three black cotton pairs of varying ages, a black pair with a thick elastic top, a black pair with small white dots, a navy pair with argyle texture, and a wool pair with reinforced toes,” he recited. Greg was surprised; how did Mycroft know his wardrobe better than he did? Because he’s Mycroft.

“I… guess I’ll take your word for it. They’re all just ‘dark socks’ to me, Myc. I’m the kind of guy who if you ask what kind of shoes you’re wearing, I’ll tell you the colour.”
Mycroft sighed dramatically, dropping his head into his hands. Greg laughed again.
“If you play nice tonight, I’ll let you dress me in the morning.” He wiggled his eyebrows. He chuckled as Mycroft’s expression flowed from shock to affronted and then secretly interested.

Greg leaned back, more relaxed, as Mycroft moved on to his fourth point. He remembered when he’d looked up OCD years ago; he’d thought that while Myc did get obsessive with order and precision, and anxious if that order was disturbed, he didn’t think it was entirely accurate.
He did actually talk to John about it, anonymously of course, and they’d agreed it sounded like Greg’s mate (Mycroft) was ‘on the spectrum’ to a degree as well as having some obsessive-compulsive behaviours rather than the entire disorder.

He knew that Mycroft never wanted to think of himself that way, and so Greg had just continued to say ‘OCD’. It did mean that he’d been advised to let Mycroft do as he was comfortable instead of trying to adjust or improve it, since it wasn’t as distressfully impacting his life in a preventable way as would normally be with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“Gregory?”
Greg stirred out of his mind and focused again on Mycroft. It was poor form to let his mind wander when his partner was braving his anxieties to talk to him about something important.
“Sorry, just thinking. This all seems fine, Myc. No issues. I’m glad you’ve brought it up with me.”
“Will you, now, talk to me?”
“Ah,” Greg vocalised. He guessed it was reasonable, really. “Yeah. Sorry. It’s not much, just that I’ve been worried about not thinking properly with the case.”

Mycroft looked confused but expecting more information. Greg closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I-I have kept hearing things, just the same little random noises. It’s not a big deal, really. I don’t have voices in my head telling me things or anything.”
Greg hoped that his attempt at belittling the situation, and his worries, was working on Mycroft. It seemed projecting an air of nonchalance was helping ease Mycroft’s concerns. He made a mental note that it was more effective to keep things from Mycroft by over-expressing a different emotion than trying to hide whatever he was actually feeling.
Very useful to know, for the future.

“I asked Sherlock to listen in because… well, I was paranoid that if I was still hearing the noises, the potential was that I could start hearing voices too and build a case on something that wasn’t real. I can’t let the case be jeopardised, not like that.”
“Understandably so. Why did you feel you couldn’t tell me?”
“I was scared that you’d tell John, and John would pull me from work.”
“Your work is important to you,” Mycroft stated bluntly. Greg nodded. “I know you do not wish to be invalidated, darling. You still should have come to me. I would have at least talked with you. Perhaps there is a solution without resorting to further medical leave. You have the tendency to, I believe the expression is ‘bury your head in the sand’. It’s not good to ignore the things that are inconvenient.”

Greg shifted uncomfortably, clearing his throat. “I still don’t want you to tell John.”
“He is your treating professional, outside of the hospital.”
“Yeah and he’s also obliged to tell my Super if I’m not fit for work.”
“Are you fit for work?”
“Of course.”
“Alright. I was just checking, sweetheart, that you believed it.”

Greg winced inwardly because deep down, he wasn’t sure himself. He was glad though that Mycroft wasn’t vehemently demanding that he be taken away from work and into a hospital. Confused, but glad. It was rather odd that Mycroft wasn’t saying he was seriously ill and needed to be taken off work immediately.
Actually, it’s extremely odd that he’s taking this so well. Uncomfortably suspicious, really. Maybe it’s a good thing I wasn’t entirely open from the start?

He looked pleadingly into Mycroft’s eyes. “I can still do this, Myc. I can. I might have a bit of stuff to work around, but I feel like I can do my job… perhaps better than before.”
“Because of your intuition?”
Greg paused before replying. “Yes.”
“I agree with you. Your current case would have proven most difficult to bring to a close without your inexplicable knowledge of the father’s drug dealings. I am inclined to say nothing to John and let you continue as you are.”

Greg opened his mouth, but Mycroft held up a hand to stop him from speaking.

“As long as you continue to talk to me. I do not want to be left in the dark,” he added.

Guilt stabbed Greg in the gut knowing how much more there was to tell Mycroft, but he knew that if he revealed more now, then Mycroft’s decision to leave him be would change. He still honestly wanted to remain at work… he just didn’t want to feel guilty that he was screwing it all up in secret. If Mycroft knows and lets me, it’s not all just my fault or wrong, right?

He nodded. “I’ll tell you when I feel upset by the noises, and when it happens.” Not a lie, at least. I can do that much.
“Good. I imagine you believe that coping with minor noises is adequate penance for a heightened awareness that improves your ability to bring justice, am I correct?”

Surprised that Mycroft understood, Greg nodded again. He was honestly more unsettled that Mycroft was willing to let him continue working than if his partner had called an ambulance in frantic worry.
“Then let us adjourn to more enjoyable conversation and activities,” Mycroft declared, standing.

Greg was finding himself rather desperate to change the topic. He felt even worse having shared with Mycroft, in a way the opposite of what he’d expected. He wiggled his eyebrows again to diffuse some of the seriousness, being rewarded by another dramatic eye-roll and chuckle from his partner.
“Incorrigible,” Mycroft muttered, but leaned in for a kiss. Greg obliged, pleased to focus on just his body instead of his mind.

Chapter Text

The remainder of the week was fairly uneventful at work, and for Greg regarding his ‘incidents’… which meant Greg forgot to ring Mike and ask for help. Instead, he focused on spending time with Mycroft, which was entirely more enjoyable.

He’d managed to drag his partner out to the pub for his planned evening with John on Friday night, and it had been an unanticipated positive experience. Not that he thought he would have been dreadful, but Mycroft surprised him in being comfortable to the point of mildly extroverted whilst they drank and talked.

Saturday had seen them both tidy the house in the morning, and then spend the afternoon casually strolling around the local park for an hour and then have an early dinner. They both had returned home and simply lay on the bed, gazing up at the dark ceiling, as they were too full to move. It had been nice to simply be, and talk, cuddled together in the warmth.

When Sunday morning came, Mycroft had asked Greg what he would like to do for the day. There was only one thing that immediately sprang to mind: have brunch at the coffeehouse he had frequented daily while on leave. Greg was glad that Mycroft picked up on the hint of ‘brunch’ to mean ‘get out of bed late’.

They shared soft gentle kisses and languid touches; just feeling without the need to be anywhere or do anything. The morning light set Mycroft’s hair ablaze with fire, and Greg couldn’t resist running his fingers through it over and over as Mycroft slid above him in slow, sensuous motions.

It was nearing lunch time before Greg had any inclination to move out of his cocoon of warmth and content, having nestled himself in Mycroft’s embrace to share the peaceful afterglow. Only the allure of freshly ground coffee had been successful in motivating him to separate his skin from his lover’s and get him into the shower. He was hindered from cleaning, however, as Mycroft joined him under the hot water to nuzzle at his neck and soap his body in tantalising detail.

They walked into the coffee shop hand in hand. Greg couldn’t stop grinning that Mycroft would be comfortable doing so. He noticed that Elaine was working, as she had been each day he visited in the past. She caught his eye and her smile instantly changed from cordial to sincere.

“Greg! It’s been a while! How have you been?”
She had to shout to be heard over the clutter of the machines and bustle of people. It was, at least, not so busy as to make Mycroft overly anxious. Greg gripped onto Myc’s hand tighter when he considered the question.
“Great,” he responded. Right there, in that moment, he truly was. He’d closed a big case, spent a romantic weekend thus far with his loving partner, and had a spectacularly enjoyable start to the day.
“You look good,” she said, nodding at him. “Much more relaxed than I’ve seen you. Myc, good to see you again, too.”
“And you,” Mycroft responded. “I trust that you are well?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Workin’ away, as usual. Disappointing creepy men, defending the good ones… you know.” She gave Greg a wink as she spoke, and he noticed Mycroft’s posture stiffen almost imperceptibly beside him. His heart lurched; Mycroft Holmes was jealous?

He doesn’t think there’d be a threat from anyone, I don’t think, but he still feel protective over me. He wants everyone to know that I’m his. Lord that’s… adorable. Yes, Myc, I’m yours. Completely.

“Admirable of you. I shall rest easy knowing you are looking out for my Gregory the times he visits without me.” Mycroft’s tone was amicable, but there was a clear undertone of possessiveness to his voice, particularly in the way he subtly stressed ‘my’. Greg knew he shouldn’t love it as much as he did.
“She’s not gonna steal me away, sweetheart,” Greg whispered as he tugged Mycroft down for a peck on the cheek. Mycroft said nothing in response, but he did flush pink. Greg grinned, his eyes undoubtedly sparkling as he gazed up at the man he loved.
“Naww, look at you two. Heart-warming, that’s what it is. As much as I’d love you to be the only couple I talk to today, I do have a line to see to; so, what can I get you?”

Greg ordered his usual coffee with a steak pie, and Mycroft opted for an espresso with a grilled vegetable baguette. They took their number over to the table behind the machine, Greg’s usual, only to find it was occupied. Greg shrugged, smiling, and sauntered over to the table by the window. Mycroft followed tentatively, but relaxed as Greg reached across the small table to hold his hand.

“This table ok, gorgeous?”
“Yes, fine, merely… more exposed than what I am used to.”
“We can change, that’s no issue. I guess I can’t help but want to show you off.”
Mycroft smiled shyly. “Then I will permit you to do so.”

Greg gazed about the room lazily as they enjoyed their food and coffees. Mycroft always ate slower than he did, and so Greg was trying to stop himself engulfing his pie and then sitting awkwardly staring at Myc while he finished off his baguette. His partner always felt very uncomfortable to be stared at while eating.

An older businessman, clad in an expensive suit, with greying hair and a snake-like leer, was at the counter talking with Elaine. Greg watched as she expressed her discomfort as forcefully as she could without causing any offence. He twisted his face uncomfortably, unsure if he should intervene yet or not. Elaine unfortunately was subjected to such behaviour fairly frequently, if what he’d seen was anything to go by.

“What is it?” Mycroft asked him, turning to see what Greg was staring at.
“Just… poor Elaine, being hit on by creepy men all the time. I don’t know how those arseholes think making disgusting sexual comments to her would actually work.”
“Why?”
Greg turned his attention back to his partner, who was looking at him with his head tilted to the side. “Why what?”
“Why do men hit on her all the time?”
“Well,” Greg shrugged, “you know.” Mycroft continued to look at him, obviously completely oblivious to what Greg was suggesting. “She’s very attractive,” he said carefully.
“Oh,” Mycroft answered, looking back down at his food. “You find her attractive.”
“Hey now, gorgeous. I just mean that as the reason men hit on her.” Greg reached out and put his hand over Mycroft’s. “I was speaking completely objectively; only pointing it out so you knew why.”

Mycroft hesitated and then smiled. He looked back up at Greg, and Greg could see the relief on his face. Mentally he shook his head. He’s so insecure that he would think I’d openly talk of preferring other people to him… and not even complain.

“I can appreciate that, even if I still cannot understand it.” Mycroft paused for a moment, as if trying to consider what made Elaine alluring to men. “Women,” Mycroft concluded with a sigh, leaning back in his chair. “I don’t see the appeal.”
“What, are you so gay that you can’t even tell what’s to find attractive in a woman?”
“So it would seem. Even beyond the repugnant… reproductive area, I don’t understand why one set of attributes is more appealing than others. How is appearing frail with inconveniently oversized mammary glands attractive?”
“Why do you think that?”
“You imply that, like the general opinion of society, thinness is attractive. That being small and fragile as a woman is, for some reason, appealing to men. I find that more a statement of the men whom find that inviting; men whom desire power, control, and strength. It is not merely a desire for a lithe frame but rather a thin one, devoid of musculature. As for the… other part–”
“You can’t say boobs in public, can you?”
“Gregory,” Mycroft chided, going red.
“Go on,” he teased. “Say it.”
“Breasts,” Mycroft strangled out, giving a dramatic eye-roll afterwards.  “Many women have spinal complications because of the size. It serves little purpose to carry such weight constantly for the sake of potentially using them to produce feed for an infant for a short period.”
“I-I don’t think most men think of their purpose when they’re lusting after them,” Greg said.

He appreciated breasts, but not to that degree. He never was one for liking the large sizes his heterosexual mates did. “It’s a bit like cocks,” he mused, thinking how that was an area of interest he shared with said friends. “Men want them big.”

Mycroft choked on a mouthful of eggplant. He flushed a darker shade of red, his eyes flickering about. “Gregory,” he hissed, “we’re in public.”
“Yeah,” he laughed. “No one’s gonna care if we say ‘cock’ in public, love.”
“Don’t keep saying it!”
“Relax, Myc. It’s fine. Trust me; people say a lot worse.”

Mycroft continued to advert his eyes, still red, as Greg chuckled. “For the record,” he mumbled, “the principle applies to that part of the anatomy as well. A large size is a hindrance on functionality as well as enjoyment for both parties.”
“How so?” Greg asked innocently, secretly wishing to draw out the conversation for fun.
“It does not… fit,” Mycroft enunciated through gritted teeth.

Greg laughed and patted his partner’s hand, deciding that he’d caused enough discomfort by this stage. Mycroft clearly didn’t enjoy talking about it and any further would be cruel. However, this was a golden opportunity to bring up something he’d been wanting to talk about…

“You say you don’t find female bodies attractive, but do you…” Greg paused as he tried to formulate the question in the least-imposing manner possible. Mycroft quirked his head at him. He lowered his voice and leant forward slightly. “Do you like, um, their clothes?”

Mycroft’s eyes blew wide and his face once again flushed bright red. Greg could see he was about to vehemently deny it, and so Greg squeezed the hand he still held.
“It’s fine,” he assured, “if you do. I just wanted to know so that maybe we could explore that.”
“Not all,” Mycroft whispered. “Only some.”
“Some is good.” Greg tried to smile as supportively as possible. “I rather think some things would look hot as hell on you. A corset, for example…”

Mycroft bit his lip, still bright red, and avoided Greg’s gaze. Greg decided that he wasn’t going to push the topic any further. “We can talk more about it at home, maybe? It’ll be good; I’ll tell you some of the things I like, and what I find… enticing, and you can do the same. No judgement, of course.”

Mycroft nodded quickly. Greg gave his hand a final squeeze before sitting back in the chair. He kept his jovial smile as he stared out of the window, just watching the people walk by on the street, as Mycroft finished off his food.

A man caught his eye, and in an instant, his good mood disappeared. Cold dread washed over him and his stomach fell to the floor. He wasn’t able to take his eyes off the man; burly, muscled, bald, with a rough sneer.

He gripped at the table, desperately trying not to flee as the man walked up towards him. Every muscle in his body was tense, as if preparing for an attack. He remained still as the man walked by slowly, pausing at the window in front of Greg before continuing on his way. Greg followed him with his eyes to ensure the man was, in fact, walking away from the coffee house.

Greg!

Greg snapped his attention back to Mycroft, who was staring at him with a firm, concerned look. He drew in a rattled breath, but shook his head as he was unable to actually speak yet.
“Gregory… what is it? You weren’t answering me. What’s wrong?”

He released his grip on the table. He honestly wasn’t sure what had happened. The man was a stranger, and yet there was a flutter of familiarity about him. His heart was hammering loudly still as he tried to take some steadying breaths. “Sorry,” he muttered. “I don’t know what happened.”
“You… are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I just… that man,” he said, looking away from Mycroft and back out of the window.
“What man?”
“The big bloke that looked like he could have played rugby for the Russian mafia,” Greg said, still looking out of the window. “The one that just walked by and stopped for a minute at the window here?”

Mycroft pursed his lips and frowned. “Greg, no one like that walked by, and no one stopped at the window.”
Oh shit bugger fuck, not again! Not now! Why, why in front of Mycroft? This is getting out of control… just when I’d convinced him otherwise.

“I… are you sure?”
“Positive,” Mycroft answered, standing and stepping closer. He peered at Greg’s features. “Any other symptoms? Headache? Nausea?”
“No,” Greg grunted, shaking his head and looking away from Mycroft’s analytic gaze. “I’d… I think I’ve seen that man before.”
“Where?”
“I don’t know exactly,” he said, his voice sounding distant. “It’s like I know him but my mind doesn’t want to remember. Trying to focus on him makes me feel… dissociated.”
“Perhaps we should get you home.” Mycroft placed a hand on Greg’s shoulder.
“Yeah, actually, that might be good,” he agreed, and stood. Mycroft didn’t release his touch, instead letting his hand slide down Greg’s shoulder and hold his arm.
“I’m not going to collapse, Myc,” Greg uttered as they made their way out.
“Just a precaution; you did last time, after all.”
“Last time?”
“At the pub with Dr Stamford. You went rigid in the same manner as he described that night.”

Memories of seeing a tall, muscly figure standing in the doorway of the pub rushed back to him. It was the same man. He swallowed and his body trembled. Suddenly he was glad that Mycroft was holding on to him.

Chapter Text

No matter how hard Greg tried, he couldn’t place the man he’d now seen twice. He didn’t like that the image was apparently a hallucination. He reasoned that to see the same figure twice must mean that he must have seen him somewhere in reality; or, at least the man was significant in some way.

A dark voice had whispered to him, saying that the man had to do with his accident. The incident that he still couldn’t remember. He was starting to suspect it hadn’t been just a simple blow to the head.

Everyone’s refusal to tell him what had happened even after this long, and now the strange man appearing twice and causing what Greg could only describe as terror… no, it was sounding like something much more complex and sinister had transpired. Exactly what, he still had no idea. He got the feeling that he wasn’t going to like it, whatever it was.

Greg remained lying in bed since getting back from the café. He remembered that he was going to call Mike this week, but couldn’t bring himself to face having the conversation. He felt too flat to try talk about the issue, even if it was more called for now than it had been before.

Mycroft had been caring and tender with him, stroking his head gently as Greg regained some composure. It was all rather unsettling, and his mind wouldn’t stop running. Greg had declined joining Mycroft for afternoon tea, preferring instead to wallow in bed. Thankfully Mycroft hadn’t argued, merely placed a kiss upon his forehead.

When his partner had returned later, offering dinner, Greg had also declined. Mycroft had grimaced at him but let him be; instead, he’d brought up a piece of fruit to place on the bedside table. Mycroft said that he’d be in the kitchen should Greg want anything more, but that he was welcome to remain in bed for the rest of the evening if he felt like it. Greg had just mumbled a thanks, electing instead to maybe read to take his mind off things.

Greg’s stomach rumbled, and he decided that he’d spent long enough mulling his problems over – the reading hadn’t been all that distracting after all. He dragged himself up out of bed and slipped on his socks. He padded down the stairs and into the kitchen, setting the kettle on to make himself a coffee. He craved the extra kick of the caffeine. It was only when he’d gotten his mug out did he realise that the kitchen was empty. He frowned.

“Mycroft?” he called out, not loud enough to really be heard anywhere out of the room.
Odd… Mycroft said he’d be in the kitchen if I needed him. He’s got papers on the table and a cup of tea… but it’s gone cold.

Greg tapped this thumb on the tabletop as he pondered where Mycroft was. The ending of what looked to be his name caught his eye peeking out of the manila folder upon the table. His chest tightened. He looked about, confirming that his partner wasn’t around, and then slid the paper out. There, in big letters, read: Medical Report of Gregory Lestrade.

He opened the manila file, and found that there were no further documents in the file. Just the single sheet of paper with those five words. He clenched his jaw as his heart still hammered in his chest, his mind trying to process what he was seeing.

A noise made him jump and hurriedly return the file to as it was. He remained still, listening for approaching footsteps. It then became apparent to him that the noise had been the kettle flicking off. He let out a breath he’d been holding and walked back to the pour the liquid into his mug. He stared into the black depths as he stirred it, thinking.

He has a file on me. My medical records. But where are they? That’s not all of it, obviously. It more looked like he’d taken them and accidentally left the cover behind in the file.
I mean, I guess it makes sense that he has the files… I did just have a hallucination, the first he knows of, and he’s my partner now. And, there’s the fact that he’s Mycroft; he always has to try know everything he can about, well, everything. Still… he should have told me. Even I haven’t seen any reports; it’s just been what the doctors have said.

He stilled as a thought came to him. The file probably has the accident details in there. The burning curiosity riled up inside him. He left his mug on the kitchen bench and walked out to find where Mycroft was. He kept his breathing quiet, and his footsteps silent, as he crept through the house. He could hear Mycroft’s voice rumbling from his study.

Damn… if he has the files in there, I won’t be able to ‘happen’ across them. I’d have to break in and rummage through his belongings… that’s intruding in his privacy a bit much. He’d forgive me, probably, but I refuse to go that far. Going through his closet was far enough.

He realised that he could hear Mycroft’s voice quite clearly through the wood. It was odd, given that by all rights he shouldn’t be able to. Now that he thought about it, he’d noticed a significant leap in ability regarding his hearing since the hospital.

“I am aware that we agreed not to discuss this whilst he is awake, however I need to talk to you now. No, he’s been depressed since getting home, merely lying in bed, and remains there as we speak,” Mycroft said into, presumably, his phone.

Greg clenched his jaw. He knew eavesdropping on conversations wasn’t proper, but they were clearly discussing him and therefore he felt it alright to listen in. He didn’t have a hope of accidentally coming across the medical files if Mycroft kept them in his office, and so this conversation might be as close to the truth as he was going to get.

Why did he even leave the folder in the kitchen, if he wants to keep it from me? Oh, wait, it looked like he had meant to take the whole thing with him. He probably doesn’t realise he left any evidence behind.

“No, it wasn’t the same. Yes. Still rigid and distant, but he remained conscious. We can only hope. Is there a medication he can safely take that wouldn’t interfere… yes, I am aware of that, Dr Watson. We can’t have him hallucinating while working cases.”

The pit of Greg’s stomach dropped. Fear filled him over the possibility that he was going to lose his job and be labelled ‘crazy’.

“I want him to continue his work as much as he does, and so we need to find a solution that permits him to do so.”

Greg quietly exhaled a sigh of relief. Mycroft was defending him. He wanted to hug him for being so understanding, even if his methods of caring were a little questionable. Mycroft was telling John when he’d been asked not to, but it was only this incident and Greg rationalised that Mycroft was panicking over how best to help.

Mycroft probably doesn’t realise that he’s being controlling. It’s just his way. Maybe if I just explained it to him? That I don’t like him trying to dictate my life without my consent?

“It’s difficult,” Mycroft continued, and Greg heard the tapping of a pen upon a hard surface. “Confer with Sherlock to see if there would be any chemical interactions. He may even be able to synthesise something effective; we both know how skilled he can be regarding substances when he is motivated enough.”

Well, that’s right at least. Sherlock is a brilliantly gifted chemist. It was just a shame to see him throwing that gift away concocting illicit substances.

“I need him to continue to trust me, John. Don’t let him know that I’ve spoken to you. About this incident or any of the other things I’ve said before; I promised him I wouldn’t tell you at all let alone everything. How else are we supposed to get information about his condition? We must be kept up to date.”

Greg’s blood ran cold. A shiver ran down his spine and his chest tightened. Mycroft had lied to him. He’d promised not to talk about any of the hallucinations to John, knowing full well that he was going to break that promise. Just this incident he could almost understand, given it happened in his presence… but to tell John everything he had confided? His stomach lurched as the weight of the betrayal washed over him like icy water.

He doesn’t care about keeping his word to me, or that doing so would hurt me. He’s talking about me like I’m just a patient. What was it that Sherlock said? That he was contented to lie to me every day?
Fuck… what if it’s all just a lie? Is he honestly even attracted to me, or is this whole relationship just a farce to keep an eye on me? Why would he need to watch me so closely for so long? No… no! I… we’ve been happy. I have been, at least.

Greg’s eyes pricked with tears, and he had to clasp a hand over his mouth to keep from making a sound. The hurt stabbed him in the gut, and his heart wanted to tear its way out of his chest. Regardless of if his conclusions about their relationship, Mycroft had betrayed his trust and that hurt.

It had all been a rather sudden turnaround. Maybe my catastrophizing isn’t actually off the mark. I feel like I’m going to be sick, though.

Mycroft continued to talk, but Greg wasn’t listening. He couldn’t hear anything over the rushing in his ears from the pounding of his heart. He scurried away before he was discovered; it was getting harder to keep from making whimpers.

 The world span as he returned to the bedroom. He questioned if he could even call it ‘his’ bedroom anymore. Was it just the place where Mycroft could watch him closest?

He trembled, trying to contain his sobs. He was too upset to even care that he was crying; generally he avoided it, feeling like he shouldn’t be so weak. He’d never scold anyone else for crying, but for some reason he had different expectations for himself. Something that he had been trying to work on.

He soon found the tremors subsided, leaving him feeling drained but strangely better. He still felt betrayed, and fear’s talons over the validity of his relationship hadn’t released his chest. He wanted to turn to someone, but the only someone he wanted there for him was the one causing the pain.

He realised that there was one other person he could trust in times like these. Mike. His friend was always a kind and sympathetic ear, and had a the rare gift of calming him whilst offering reasonable advice. Greg wasn’t sure how much he was ready to talk about yet, but he knew he could at least say something about what had just happened. He took only a moment to decide that he didn’t care about the late hour, and picked up the phone.

“Greg? What’s up?”
“M-Mike,” Greg stuttered, his voice breaking.
“I’m here, Greg. What’s wrong?”
“I… M-Mycroft… he… sorry,” Greg took a deep, steadying breath. “I overheard Mycroft talking to John over the phone.”
“Alright,” Mike said slowly, asking for more information.
“He… he said some stuff, Mike. That he’d told John everything I’d said to him in confidence. He promised me, Mike. And it turns out he had no intention of keeping that promise. He betrayed my trust and-and it hurts. I just… I don’t know,” Greg blurted, trying hard to get the words out quietly despite the urge to cry resurfacing.
“Hmm, that’s no good, no,” Mike agreed.
“Wasn’t just that,” Greg continued. He sniffled. “The way he was talking… like I was just a patient. Like… he was pretending to care, to just get me to trust him enough to talk to him.”
“You’ve been close to him for a long time, Greg. I doubt he thinks of you as just a patient.”
“But he was so detached…”
“Mate, it’s Mycroft. You know better than I do that he does that. He detaches himself from the situation so he can function properly without breaking down himself. I don’t think it means he doesn’t care about you… I think it means that he cares too much to do anything else when he’s concerned about you.”

Greg paused to think about that. Mike was right in that Mycroft did deal with emotionally difficult situations like that. Only when there was nothing else the man could do did he allow himself to feel the hurt or pain. He hadn’t considered that before.

“Yeah… I guess you’re right, Mike. But… what if it’s all faked?”
“What’s faked, Greg?”
“This. All of it. What if none of this is real?”
“Ah. Coincidentally I just read an interesting paper concerning what reality is, and ultimately there’s nothing any of us can do about it. If we’re all just characters in someone’s imagination, or part of some cosmic game, and none of this is real then… all we can do is keep playing.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Greg groaned. “My relationship with Mycroft.”
“That makes more sense, yeah,” Mike chuckled. “Sorry mate. Long day. All I can say is that I have known you both a long time, and that it’s nigh impossible that he was that in love with you for so many years only to make a relationship with you believable in order gain information about your condition from an accident that hadn’t happened.”

Greg pressed the bridge of his nose. Mike was making a lot of sense, but it conflicted with his emotions. “I guess. Are you sure he was, though? I mean… I noticed, as well, but what if we’re wrong?”

Mike made a noise as he considered. “I don’t think everyone could be that wrong. It makes more sense that he’s honestly trying to have a relationship with you, but just is a bit rubbish at it at times. It’s not like he’s had much practice, is it? John’s said that Sherlock told him that Mycroft has only had one relationship in the past, while he was at uni, and that was… well, the bloke became rather abusive and it ended badly.”
“He hasn’t really told me much about it, actually,” Greg said, trying to remember. Mycroft was short on the subject, instead giving only snippets and small details. “I concede that he has reason to be rubbish at relationships despite trying. He’s… not, though. This betrayal aside, he’s been… unbelievable.”
“Good to hear it. Give him the benefit of the doubt, Greg. Was there any particular reason he was talking to John about you today?”
“Oh, um, yeah. I saw a man walk by the café we were at today. Just the sight of him made me tense… I think it was the same bloke I saw the night I was with you and passed out. According to Mycroft, there wasn’t anyone there.”

“Oh, dear. Well, I guess he really does have a good reason for calling John, pet. I honestly don’t think you should be angry. It sounds like he was worried for your health. I honestly am as well and personally agree with his decision to go to a professional. Even psychologists and psychiatrists have to break a person’s trust, their patient’s confidentiality, for medical emergencies. You can’t expect him to–”
“I’m not a fucking idiot, Mike! I wouldn’t be so upset if it was just that!” Greg snapped, and instantly regretted it. He dropped his voice back down to barely above a whisper. “Sorry. I just… I could understand that. But it was because he said he’s told him everything, not just this one thing today.”
“Alright, that is a bit more wrong of him, even if it was still done with honourable intentions. John needs to know everything to help with that incident as best he can. Greg, can you see that that you’re just emotional now because of the reaction to finding out Mycroft went to John without telling you, but that later you’ll realise that it was the right thing to do?

“As much as I’m always here to listen, I think you should talk to him about it. He’s your partner. Let him know you’re hurt by his actions, so that you stop feeling so betrayed, and then I think you’ll find peace with what he did. He really just sounds like a worried idiot in love to me.”
Greg rubbed his face as he groaned. “I-I honestly don’t think confronting him is going to help. If he is lying to me, he’ll just lie more and tell me what I want to hear. But if he is being honest with me and still telling me things that would be what I’d want to hear… well, I have no way of telling which is which, do I? It’ll only make things awkward for no benefit.”

Greg’s eyes darted to the door as he saw Mycroft’s shadow hit the wood. “Listen, mate, I gotta go. Thanks for, you know,” he said quickly as Mycroft walked in. “We’ll catch up soon, though, alright?”
“Best of luck, Greg.”

“Mike,” he explained to Mycroft’s curious expression once he hung up.
“And for what reason is Dr Stamford calling you at past nine on a Sunday evening? I do hope everything is alright,” Mycroft said formally as he began to undress.
Greg was grateful that Mycroft had assumed it was Mike calling him, not the other way around. He did catch the upset veiled in the overly-formal speech, however. “We just had a chat. It’s been a while since we caught up.”
“Still, it seems an odd time.”
“I think he gets lonely.” Greg praised himself for managing to answer Mycroft’s questions honestly without giving away the whole truth.
“You did tell him that you are ‘off the market’ as it were?”
Greg snorted and laughed. “Relax, Myc. He’s just a friend. He doesn’t even like men, so you don’t have to worry about how close we are. I’m not like her,” Greg said scornfully, and Mycroft nodded.
“Apologies for implying such,” he said quietly, slipping into bed and cuddling up against Greg’s body.

Greg felt confliction tearing him up inside. Part of him was still raw and hurting from Mycroft’s actions, and so reluctant to permit the contact, and the other half was feeling relaxed from his touch. Purely intellectually, Mike’s words made a lot of sense. He just couldn’t stop the feelings raging. He said nothing and just remained still, looking up at the ceiling.

“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Nothing to say, really. We hadn’t long been talking when you came in.”
“No; about you, my dear. You are clearly still distressed, and I am worried that I have done something to exacerbate it.”

Greg swallowed. Right, the emotions-detector. “I’m concerned about what this all means. I can’t help but feel really shitty; it seems the depression has gripped me again because of the hallucination and what the implications are. It has been lurking in the background more than usual lately, and so easily taken over for the time being.”
“Understandable, although… I-I feel you are distancing yourself, Gregory. I just want to be sure I haven’t upset you.”

How do I respond to that? Does he suspect I overheard him? Ah… no, of course he’s going to notice me not reciprocating affection.

Greg elected not to answer. He just let his head roll to the side and rest upon Mycroft’s shoulder. Despite everything Mike had talked to him about, the nagging feeling of suspicion had taken root inside his gut.

“Tomorrow’s another day,” he said quietly into the dark. He felt Mycroft’s hand come up to his face and gently stroke his cheek.
“Yes. It’ll be ok, darling. I’m here. We’ll work it out. Do you want to take the day off work?”
“No,” he responded immediately.
“Alright. Call me, though, if something happens. I want to know.”

Yeah, I bet you do. No, that was mean, Greg. “We’ll see,” he said, sighing. It wasn’t as big a deal as Mycroft was making of it. Actually if he was being honest with himself, it was more of one. It was just too difficult a reality to face, and so Greg instinctively tried to downplay with situation. “It’s just little innocuous things. Nothing major. I’m not… it’s not like it’s life or death, you know?”
“Gregory… you work in homicide. Every day is life and death for you.”
Greg couldn’t help himself and chuckled. “Are you making a joke, sweetheart?”
“Trying,” Mycroft answered. Greg shuffled onto his side to look at Mycroft’s face, the light from the window reflecting in his eyes. Some of the tension eased from Greg’s body, and he leaned forward for a soft kiss.

“I love you,” Mycroft uttered, his voice heavy with emotion. Guilt slapped him over the face for being so suspicious over his partner’s intentions.
“I love you too,” he responded honestly, despite still feeling the stabbing pain in his chest. “I just think I’m going to be fighting an uphill battle emotionally for a little while. I hope you can understand.”
“I’m here,” he said simply. Mycroft wrapped his arms around Greg’s torso, and Greg let himself be manoeuvred into a spooning position. The warmth and closeness was comforting, but it didn’t stop the painful stabbing in his gut. He frowned and stared out into the darkness as Mycroft’s breathing evened out behind him, a torrent of emotions still swirling inside.

I’m glad I hadn’t told him everything. At least I know now not to say anything more.

Chapter Text

Greg turned off his alarm before it had a chance to sound. He sat up and groaned quietly, rubbing his face. Mycroft was still sleeping and Greg didn’t want to wake him. He knew it was a little callous of him, but he didn’t want to interact with his partner. His night was still filled with nightmares; some he couldn’t remember as usual, but also some about Mycroft being malicious and manipulative of him.

His emotions hadn’t improved overnight and he still felt overwhelmed with the lethargic low mood. He left without a word, deigning not to shower lest it wake Mycroft and lead to awkward conversation.

He didn’t see anyone he knew particularly well when he came into work. He was an hour and a half early, on a Monday no less, and so was able to barricade himself in his office without having to exchange any pleasantries with members of his team. 

There were only a few sheets of paperwork left for him to fill out and file. It was perhaps the first time in his life that Greg found himself wishing he had more of it to do. Instead, once it was complete, he let himself sit in his chair and stare out into nothingness.

He felt so alone. Greg didn’t know how to proceed from here. Mike didn’t seem to think he had much reason to feel the way he did, and it made Greg feel more reluctant to talk to his friend about it again. Mentally he even agreed with most of what Mike had said, but as it happened all too often, his emotions took no heed of his thoughts. He still felt hurt enough from what Mycroft had done to not want to confide further in him, which made him feel worse since his rational mind was telling him that he was punishing Mycroft for doing what was best.

Sally burst through the door holding a folder, not even looking at him. Greg shifted his gaze down to the desk without altering his posture.
“Sir, we’ve got a call fr… are you ok?”

Without smiling, or perking up at all, Greg looked up at her. He said nothing, but nodded briefly. He honestly was far from ok, but he didn’t want to get into that conversation with Sally. She squinted at him, seemingly unconvinced, but in her typical ‘only the work matters’ manner, she continued unfazed.

“As I was saying, Johnson’s out with Samuels, and they’ve arrested a man for killing a shop owner. Apparently, it was a robbery gone wrong. The perpetrator didn’t realise the victim would be there, but the woman came in early and shocked him. It all seems pretty straightforward, since the guy stayed there and called for an ambulance and turned himself over to police.”

Greg nodded again. It wasn’t often they dealt with a killer that willingly gave themselves up when the act was committed during a different criminal undertaking. Generally the perpetrator fled the scene.

Sally handed him the folder with the paperwork they’d collected thus far, and said that she’d be taking over the processing. Greg wanted to remind her not to charge him with pre-meditated murder, but she beat him to it. He honestly was glad to have her take the reins with this one, and that he didn’t have to even utter a word to her. She left as abruptly as she’d arrived.

Just when Greg was thinking he could spend the remainder of the day without talking to anyone, John Watson knocked on his door.
“Enter,” he called out, his voice gruff.

John strolled in with a nervous smile and a cup of coffee in each hand. Greg stared at him as he sat down, and only then remembered that he should pretend to be feeling better than he actually was. He forced a smile, but knew that he wasn’t disguising himself very well. He’d actually gotten rather good at pretending things were fine when they were the opposite, but hadn’t had to do so with any effort for some time. His skills had gotten rusty; or, he just couldn’t care enough right now to try.

“Hey, Greg. Brought you coffee. How are you?”
Greg quirked his eyebrow at him, as if to say ‘I’m sure you can tell’. He took the proffered cup and took a sip to draw out the pause.
“Fine,” he mumbled. John’s pursed lips told him just how believable he sounded.
“Tough case?”
“Nope.”
“Ah.”

John fidgeted in his seat as Greg continued to sip the hot brew. It was sweeter than he liked, but it was at least strong enough to burn a hole in his stomach. He felt he could use the pick-me-up.

Greg knew he was often a lot more forthcoming with conversation, but he couldn’t help but feel resentment towards his friend. John was the one that Mycroft spoke to. John knew things that Greg had wanted to keep from him. It wasn’t the doctor’s fault, but Greg still felt a bitterness towards him.

“I haven’t had much to do today,” John said conversationally. “Sandy’s back at work this week, and so has taken back her usuals that I’d been seeing in her absence. Sherlock’s driving me up the walls, again, but that’s not really new is it?”
“Nope.”

John frowned, concern radiating off him. “There was a sock in the kettle this morning,” he ventured, as if trying to bait Greg into conversation. Greg merely shrugged.

John sighed and leant forward. “Greg,” he said seriously. Greg continued to just look at him. “Please talk to me.”
“Nothing unusual in finding a sock in the kettle when you live with Sherlock, and so I fail to see what there is for me to say about it.”
“That’s not what I mean, mate. You’re not yourself today. You’ve not said a word to your team and you’ve shut yourself in your office. What’s going on?”
Greg frowned and snorted. “Donovan come and get you?”
“She called me, yes, but it was only to ask if I knew of anything that was upsetting you. She might be a bit…” John waved his hand in the air, deciding what term to use. “Self-focused, but she does care about you. I actually told her not to worry too much and that I’d check in with you later.”
“So why are you here now, then?”
“Because Mycroft called.”
“Had a good chat, did you?” Greg sneered, crossing his arms. John looked uncomfortable with his sudden hostility.
Good.

“Uhh… what’s going on, Greg? Are you and Mycroft having problems?”
“Wouldn’t you have worked that out already if you’ve spoken to Mycroft?”
“He was just concerned that you seemed quite depressed last night, and left without a word this morning. I came in because that was two people contacting me about you – in the same hour, no less.”

Greg groaned and rubbed his face while his elbows remained on his desk. This is all a right mess, isn’t it? I can’t even feel terrible without getting the third degree. What on earth am I supposed to say?

“I feel shit, John. That’s all.”
John nodded at him sympathetically. “Are you still taking your medication?”
“Of course,” Greg grunted. As if he’d just stop taking them.
“Perhaps it might be prudent to increase the dose if this period of depression doesn’t resolve itself in the next week or so. You’re on one fifty, right? Of the venlafaxine?”

Greg nodded curtly. He never really enjoyed it when John started treating him like a patient.
“Right, well, you should be fine to go up to two-twenty-five. I can write to your GP if you like, or you can just ask about it when you next go. Watch the blood pressure, though, since it tends to–”
“John you don’t have to try doing things in order to help.”
“But I want to help you, mate, and things are a bit different now for you. I could prescribe you something else that might work better, given the circumstances.”

Greg stiffened at John’s suggestion, remembering the conversation of last night. He grimaced. “I mean… you don’t have to do anything to help. Yeah I feel really crap today, but you don’t have to jump in and change up my meds because of it. Just… I don’t know… talk with me or something.”
“Sorry,” John mumbled, biting his lip. “Did you want to schedule a time to see me?”
“No, not like that,” Greg moaned. “Just be a mate, not my therapist. Say hi without an agenda or needing to be told to come by. Don’t assume you have a right to interfere with my affairs just because you’re a doctor.”

Greg knew the last point was a bit harsh for the conversation, but he wanted to get the point across for anything that the man may have been told by Mycroft.
“Being a doctor means I might be able to help you more than just a friend,” John suggested timidly. “Just… think about it. My door is always open.”

John stood and turned to leave, but stopped and flickered his eyes about, as if considering something. He then leant forward and spoke, his voice hushed. “We don’t need to tell people about a medication change, Greg. It’s all fairly standard and none of their business.”
“At this point it’s still a no,” Greg responded somewhat forcefully.

John nodded at him and stepped back, resuming a normal posture. “Well, I hope you feel better soon, mate. Don’t… er, just don’t shy away from Mycroft, though, yeah? He’s… well, he gets a bit flustered and worried. I know he doesn’t talk about it with you but he’s still going through some stuff from when you… er… from what happened.
“It hit him hard, Greg. It wasn’t your fault at all, I know that, but I just want you to know that he’s had a rough time of it as well. His anxiety has been pretty bad since all that. I’ve had to talk him through some difficult times lately, regarding concerns about you. He might seem… um…” John screwed up his face as he floundered for the right word. “Supercilious, perhaps, but it’s because he’s actually terrified for you.”

“Supercilious?”
“Like, overbearing.”
“It means to be contemptuous and disdainful,” Greg corrected. John’s eyebrows flew up in shock. “I’ve been spending a lot of time with Mycroft, remember,” he explained.
“That little bastard,” John grumbled, thrusting his hands on his hips. “Sherlock,” he huffed as a means of explanation. Greg actually chuckled.
“He’s six-four; I think you’re the little one,” Greg pointed out, knowing that jabs at John’s short stature always riled him up.
“It’s good to hear you laugh, mate, even if it is at my expense.” John smiled at him, and then left.


Greg spent the rest of the day mostly in his own mind. He hadn’t really considered any lasting effects from his accident on Mycroft’s mental wellbeing. He had noticed that Myc had been more on edge than usual, but he’d assumed the new relationship was causing it – change, even positive change, was difficult for Mycroft. The things Mike had been saying actually made a lot more sense when he considered that Mycroft had essentially been traumatised by almost, supposedly, losing him.

Greg wanted to be able to forgive him, but was still unable to shake the nagging suspicion of something more going on than just the simple ‘Mycroft cares’ explanation. The words he’d used were just a bit… off. Greg also realised that the time he’d overheard Myc on the phone after a nightmare it had been the same: words had been said that had no place in a worried, caring conversation and in a tone of voice that was definitely more commanding than concerned.

He couldn’t confront Mycroft about it all, but he concluded that he could at least try to maintain the intimacy with him. He didn’t want to hurt the man simply because he was being paranoid, if that’s all it was. However he couldn’t stop himself from discounting the possibility entirely that there was, actually, something more sinister happening. There were enough little things going on to build up a significant unease over the situation.

Just as he was ready to leave for the day, he received a text from Mycroft. He read it, smiling at how even in text messages his partner spoke formally.

- Hello darling, I will be home late tonight. I have a meeting to attend. I hope to be there before dinner, however I cannot ensure it. Please eat without me. Apologies. MH

He sighed. He wasn’t sure why exactly it was a disappointment, given he’d actually been reasonably nervous about talking with Mycroft. The low mood seemed to take the disappointment and thrust him all the way down into a draining despair. Greg hated it.

He decided that he was going to still make the curry he’d planned on cooking for dinner despite the feelings, hoping that the activity would serve to focus his mind and improve his mood.

He made a mess of the kitchen, but it did help. He cleaned, actually enjoying the mindless activity and the appearance of the orderly space afterwards. Greg set aside a portion of food and put it in the fridge for Mycroft to reheat.

He was in the lounge reading when Mycroft came home. He checked his phone and noticed that it was just after nine. It must have been a long meeting, whatever it was, and so Myc was probably exhausted. He was glad that he’d set aside dinner so his partner wouldn’t just decide not to put the effort into preparing himself anything and go without.

“Good evening Gregory. How are you feeling?”
“Myc, good to see you. How was work?”
“Arduous. I apologise for my late return.”
“No need. There’s some curry in the fridge for you to just reheat. I didn’t put much chilli in it, so you might want to add some.”

Mycroft looked relieved. He smiled at Greg, who smiled back. Greg could see that he was waiting for an answer to his first question, but Greg didn’t feel like bringing that up right at that moment. Mycroft nodded at him – likely reading Greg’s mood perfectly fine without the need for a response – and left to change before dinner.

Greg returned to his book. He found it amusing that the prim and proper British man actually enjoyed spicy food more than he did. Mycroft had a rather broad palate, and it left Greg to wonder just how he’d accumulated it. Sometimes he found himself toying with the possibility that Mycroft wasn’t just the simple government employee he presented as. On the face of it, he seemed to be just that. But then there were other little things… the occasional mannerism that went beyond ‘pompous’ and into ‘powerful’, his mysterious air, the alarming amount of languages he spoke and the question of why he needed to know so many, the sudden nature of his disappearances for work in the past…

“Gregory!”

The shout caused Greg to jump out of his reverie and look about. Mycroft’s voice sounded distressed. He got up and went into the kitchen to find Mycroft standing there, stone-faced and breathing haggardly.

“Myc, what is it?”
“What… what did you do in here?”
“I… er… cooked? I did clean up all the mess, though. Why, did I miss a spot?”
Greg was confused. He looked at the kitchen and it looked perfectly fine. Mycroft, however, did not.
Is he alright? Is he about to have a panic attack? Long hours of strain could do that to him… should I do something?

Mycroft took some steadying breaths. He clenched his hands into fists and released them three times before turning to Greg. “Why,” he said slowly, “did you change everything?”
Greg frowned. “I didn’t?”
“Nothing is in the right spot. Everything is askew. Even the spices aren’t in the right order. It is wrong.”
“Oh,” Greg said, still confused as to what specifically was wrong, but he understood Mycroft’s unease. “Sorry… I wasn’t really paying that much attention. I haven’t been, er, feeling great today. At all. I used cooking to try and distract me. I’m sorry, I didn’t do it on purpose, love.”
“That alright,” Mycroft said through his teeth. “It’s fine.”
“Well, no, it’s clearly not.”
“No.”

Greg bit his lip. “How about you just go into the lounge and I’ll bring your dinner. We can deal with this tomorrow.”
“I… no, I will still know it’s here, like this. I can’t, I’m sorry…”
“Why don’t you help me put everything back where it belongs?” Greg asked sympathetically, rubbing Mycroft’s arm.

Mycroft nodded at him and began to re-arrange the canisters on the shelf above the stove so they were in size-order. Greg mostly just watched, knowing that Mycroft needed to be the one to right everything. He let his hand slide up and down his partner’s back soothingly as he worked.

Guilt stabbed at him to see Mycroft’s anxiety breaking the surface so easily. He kicked himself for not noticing it earlier, and that he had to be told to be considerate by John. The feelings of resentment he held disappeared, leaving him feeling only regret for being so cynical towards his loving partner. He felt desperate to try and make up for thinking so ill of Mycroft, as well as a need to hold him close now that the suspicion had faded.

Mycroft righted the angles of most things on the bench, aligned the tins in the cupboard to have even spaces, turned the handles of the pots to all face the same way, re-ordered the mixing bowls so that they nestled correctly, explained the categories of herbs and spices as he shifted the canisters about, and sorted the vegetables in the fridge into their assigned spaces with Tetris-like precision.

“Feel better now?” Greg asked, squeezing Mycroft’s hand.
“Much. I’m sorry,” he mumbled, turning his face away. Greg cupped his cheek and forced him to look back into his eyes.
“No. I’m sorry. I haven’t been as considerate to you as I should have been.”

Mycroft shook his head. “It is done. You are not well yourself. I hold no resentment towards you for it. I am aware that these idiosyncrasies are difficult to live with. I would ordinarily be alright with adjusting the small things myself as not to trouble you, but being confronted with so much changed at once was rather too overwhelming for me after a stressful day.”

Greg pulled him into a hug. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly. He meant it as for more than the state of the kitchen; for being so quick to judge him harshly for his care and actions, and even word choice.

Mycroft ducked his head down to meet Greg’s and kissed him. Greg hummed into the kiss, feeling the familiar electricity surge through his body. He deepened it, slipping his tongue into Mycroft’s mouth. His partner’s body pressed up closer, strong arms holding him in place around his shoulders. He ran his own hands up along Mycroft’s back as he sucked gently on his lower lip.

A fire that had been dulled by his low mood burst back into life, burning in his chest and setting his body alight. He was overcome with desire; feelings obviously reciprocated. He needed Mycroft, and needed to make him feel good as well. Greg licked and kissed Mycroft’s neck, drinking in the delicious noises his partner made at each flick of his tongue on sensitive flesh.

“Oh, Gregory, yes,” Mycroft breathed as Greg nibbled his earlobe. “Please.”

Greg cupped Mycroft’s arse with both hands and squeezed roughly. He was vibrating with energy to be closer, to press himself up against, into, Mycroft. He released an animalistic groan as he ground his crotch into his partner’s, sensation exploding through his body. His cock throbbed as it filled out.

“Take me,” Mycroft uttered, his voice desperate. He tugged at Greg’s hair and rocked his hips.
“Yes,” Greg breathed in response, his breath hot on Mycroft’s skin. He nuzzled the milky expanse exposed on Mycroft’s chest as he pressed him backwards into the bench. “But not here,” he mumbled. “I don’t want to clean up the kitchen for a third time.”
Mycroft whimpered, but nodded. “Bed,” he instructed. Greg obliged immediately, tugging him away from the hard surface and back to standing flush against Greg’s body.

“Want you,” Greg said, unmoving. He knew he had to let go in order to get up to the bedroom, but every fibre of his body craved to grab Mycroft tightly and never release him. He was too caught up in the blaze of want, the hunger to have him, that Greg didn’t register how sudden his change in mood was.

Greg was practically shaking by the time he pushed Mycroft down onto the bed. He dove back onto Mycroft’s neck, lapping away at the skin while ducking back to kiss his tender lips; his fingers removed the buttons of the man’s shirt and explored the chest hair that was exposed. He tugged the material out of Mycroft’s trousers. He managed to unfasten the belt. His hand roamed over the bulge beneath the fly.

“Up,” he instructed, breaking his kiss to lean backwards. Mycroft sat up and allowed him to shed the shirt. He quickly pulled his own off over his head and tossed it away with Mycroft’s. He crashed his mouth back onto Mycroft’s, ravenous for the taste of him. There were no light, teasing touches tonight. It was desperate, carnal need that Greg felt, frantic and searing through him.

“Fuck,” Mycroft exclaimed as Greg freed his cock. He tugged again at Greg’s hair and kissed forcefully.
Greg tore away from the heated kiss and nuzzled down Mycroft’s shoulder, biting the muscle. Mycroft cried out, in pleasure not pain. Greg growled and did it again.
“Mine,” he rumbled. Greg pressed Mycroft’s wrists against the bed. “All mine.”
“Yes,” Mycroft whimpered, flushed red and practically writhing.

He rocked his hips hard, rubbing his hard sheathed cock against Mycroft’s. He tilted his head back and moaned loudly. Crazed, he tore at the material separating their cocks until they were completely naked. He took them both in hand and stoked them roughly. Mycroft yelped at the sudden sensation.
“Alright?” Greg asked breathily, a pang of concern that he’d hurt his lover.

Mycroft nodded. “Lube,” he stated, but made no move to fetch it. Greg reached over and pulled it out of the drawer. He realised his heart was pounding and he was already panting. He could feel the blood pulsing through his entire body.

Fuck I want you so bad, Myc. I need you. I need this.

Greg slicked them up and drew a sharp intake of air at the cold. He smeared the lube remaining on his hand upon the sheets, leant forward and pressed his chest against Mycroft’s. The man’s skin was searing and sweaty, like Greg’s. He pushed his weight forward until he was lying atop of him.

He kissed him again with the same fervour. He dared not restrain himself from rutting his body along Mycroft’s, vigorous thrusting giving way to overwhelming pleasure at the slide of their cocks against each other and the skin of their bellies.

Greg was heaving for breath, moaning loudly along with Mycroft. His muscles shook, but the agony they cried only built upon the lascivious sensations surging through his body. He gripped the sheets for dear life as he moved.
Fucking Jesus Christ… I want… I want to fuck him, I want to pound into him… I want to fill him…

He clenched the bed harder and tried to will himself to stop, to sit up and prepare Myc to take him. His heart was hammering, pounding, forcing blood into his rigid, throbbing cock. He couldn’t resist the urge to keep fucking down into the body below him. His abdomen tensed, threatening to push him up on that edge.

“Myc,” he strangled out into his partner’s ear. Mycroft breathed heavy puffs of air against his cheek. “Myc I can’t…”
“Don’t stop,” Mycroft snapped, grabbing his back tightly.
Fuck he’s as desperate as me. It’s gonna be like this, then.

He wrapped both arms around Mycroft’s head, leaning on his forearms, and drove his hips into Mycroft’s crotch.
“Ah… hng… yes, oh, oh, yeah,” he shouted on each thrust, his body humming and escalating towards orgasm.
“Gre… yeah… oh, arh, nngk,” Mycroft answered in time with his thrusts. He could feel the tension in the man’s body just from the way he clawed at his back. “Close.”
“Gonna…” he warned, the thrum in his body building impossibly high.
Yes,” Mycroft howled, curling up into him. Greg pressed his whole weight down, forcing himself into Mycroft as much as possible. He could feel the spasms of Mycroft’s cock shooting his load between them.
Holy hell, that’s fucking delicious.

Greg shouted as he stiffly pushed himself a few inches forward. His balls pulsed and he came, spurting come into the sticky mess on their bellies with each exquisite throb of his cock. The world went white; there was only the pounding in his body, the feel of skin against his own, the exhausted gasps of breath in his ear, and the floating sensation of pure ecstasy encasing his being.

A few moments later he returned to himself enough to shift his weight off his partner, who inhaled deeply.
“Sorry,” he mumbled absently.
“Never,” Mycroft heaved, “apologise… for that.”
“Good?”
“Fucking… fantastic.”
“Good.”

Larger words were still at a loss to him as he drifted down from the cloud he’d jumped on. His whole body ached pleasantly. He blinked up at the ceiling, still in shock as to how urgent and agonising the desire had been. It would have to have been one of the most intense sessions of sex he’d had.
Where the hell did this come from?

Mycroft ran his fingers through the mess on his stomach. Greg watched the elegant digits swirl over the milky freckle-dusted skin, his heart leaping at the sight.
He just does things to me.

Greg reached over and touched Mycroft’s hand gently, and then let his fingers smear the sticky fluid. He then smirked, catching Mycroft’s eye, and brought a finger up to his mouth. His partner’s eyes blew wide as he sensuously sucked it.
“Gregory!” Mycroft protested, but Greg could see the dark swirls of arousal in his eyes. I do things to him too… good.
“Unbelievable,” Mycroft murmured.

Greg felt pride in his chest at the words, but then a slither of ice pierced his gut. ‘The sex is unbelievable’ rang through his mind; the words Mycroft had said in secret and their implications flowing over him once again and thoroughly smashing his high. He hated himself for feeling the suspicion again, and wished it would stop haunting him. Thankfully, Mycroft was preoccupied with staring at the ceiling in the dim light, and didn’t notice any change in his demeanour.

Chapter Text

Greg chewed on his lip as he waited for Sherlock. Thankfully Sherlock usually came in early, and so Greg was able to call him to chat before the day’s work started. He’d forced the mad genius to come up to his office, since he didn’t fancy trying to have a serious conversation while Sherlock had access to any number of things with which he could use to ignore anything Greg wanted to say. Microscopes were a Sherlock favourite for ignoring people.

“Gavin, why did you make me walk all the way up here when I’m in the middle of an important experiment?”
“It’s Greg, you dolt.”
Sherlock pulled a face, considering. “Dolt? Surely you can do better than that, Graham.”
“I’m sure I could,” Greg agreed, “however not whilst I’m on duty.”        

“I concede the point. So, what was it you wished to tell me?” Sherlock asked, dramatically flailing about and throwing himself into the chair opposite Greg, who just rolled his eyes.
“It’s… er, it’s of a personal nature, actually.”
Sherlock paused and sat straight. “Oh,” he uttered, a little hesitant. “Alright.”
“I just… I don’t… I mean, I can’t… how did… when you, back then… uh,” Greg spluttered, tapping nervously on the table with his thumbs.
“Seriously, again? Greg, formulate your question before summoning me,” Sherlock grumbled, looking away with his usual dismissive, as well as dramatic, flare.
“I’m trying to say something personal here!”

“Yes, you’ve said that already. I don’t understand why you’ve having difficulty, though. You clearly aren’t about to discuss your sex life and any issues therein with me, your partner’s brother. You talk with your friend, John’s colleague, when the matter is sensitive and emotionally challenging, but not necessarily extremely personal. The things you talk with John about can be extremely private in nature, even embarrassing, but not are considered delicate. That rules out most things that might cause you hesitation in your wording, as you would have gone to them instead of me. Our conversations are generally–”

“Are you finished?” Greg snapped. He fixed Sherlock with a steely glare. “Quit being a prat.”
“Very well. Regale me.”
“God you are in a mood today. What is it? John wouldn’t make you breakfast?”
“John makes me breakfast each morning, regardless of if I intend to eat it,” Sherlock huffed indignantly. “What is up with you Lestrade? You’re irritable.”
“Maybe it’s to do with asking a friend in to talk and being met with a snappy parrot with his feathers ruffled.”
“Parrot? Please. If I were to be–”
Sherlock,” Greg stressed, rubbing his face with his hands. His gut twinged uncomfortably, reminding him that he wasn’t in the mood for any of this. Thankfully, the man shut his mouth.

“It’s hard, ok? I’m not… going the best. I have something to talk about that, yeah, you’re right in saying I generally would talk about with Mycroft or John, or even Mike Stamford, instead of you. I know you have the emotional awareness of a spoon, but I’m going to need you to try focusing it all on me right now, ok?”

Sherlock frowned at him. “What could you possibly need to discuss with me that is so evidently emotional, then? Or rather, why with me instead of the aforementioned parties?”
“They… I don’t…”

Greg couldn’t talk to Mycroft, since it was about his concerns regarding the man’s sincerity. He couldn’t talk to John, since he’d likely tell Mycroft and Greg didn’t want him to be hurt over it. Mike was an option, but he’d already tried and didn’t feel like he could have the same conversation over again.

Besides, there was more to it than just that. Sherlock’s experiences and abilities would give him a unique perspective.
“I want to ask you because you’ll answer me with your mind. Again. I have so many conflicting emotions going through me right now that I want an opinion devoid of it all.”
“I see,” Sherlock hummed, leaning back and steeping his fingers under his chin. “And what is it that you wanted a purely intellectual conversation about?”
“Mycroft,” he answered simply. Sherlock raised an eyebrow at him. “I don’t want to bring it up in case I’m just… seeing things that aren’t there.”
“But you are seeing things?”
“Maybe. I don’t know. It’s… confusing. I’m just getting in my head. Look… how did you know it was real?”

“An interesting question, Lestrade. Given that our concept of reality is defined only by our brain’s interpretations of signals, what we consider real can vary greatly depending on the situation and the manner in which we–”
“No, Sherlock, that’s not what I meant. I don’t need a philosophy lesson.”
“It’s not philosophy, it’s science. You should pay attention. Reality is def–”
“Sherlock please. I’m struggling here, mate. Please,” Greg begged. He hoped his haggard appearance would register in Sherlock’s mind enough to know that he wasn’t in a mood for games or lectures.

“What, specifically, did you mean when you asked if I knew ‘it’ was real?” Sherlock asked, closing his eyes and speaking with all the patience he was capable.
“You and John.”
“Oh. You are concerned that Mycroft’s interest in you is fictitious. Or, perhaps fraudulent is more appropriate?”

Greg grimaced but didn’t rebuke the insinuation. He honestly was. It didn’t seem likely that Mycroft had faked his attraction for so many years, but something about it all still felt off.

“I believe him, and everyone, that he genuinely is attracted to me. What I’m concerned about is the relationship being a farce, or that there’s some ulterior motive going on, and I can’t really tell you why. I don’t have much more than an inkling to go by, but it’s eating me up inside, mate. I don’t want to be suspicious of him.”

Sherlock stretched. “I would advise you that being suspicious of my brother is wise,” he said casually. “However I have to admit that may be just because I am his little brother. I was always subjected to his ascendant personality and the knowledge that he was, at any given moment, scheming.”
“A lot of that was for your own good, Sherlock.”
“And you believe this wouldn’t be for yours, Lestrade?” Sherlock asked smugly.

The weight of the words hit Greg in the stomach.
Mycroft would actually do something like this if he thought it was for my benefit.

“Oh don’t look so concerned,” Sherlock griped, shaking his head. “My brother is infatuated with you and has been concerned about progressing your relationship as fast has he has. Mostly because he doesn’t want to overwhelm you and cause the predicament that you’re in at the moment.
“Listening to him ramble on about his insecurities and concerns is repugnant. I do not understand how it is possible to be anxious regarding both action and inaction simultaneously. Instead he hesitates in the middle and breaks down. How he is able to function is beyond me.”

Greg chewed his lip again. It sounded like Mycroft really was trying hard to make him comfortable, but experiencing a lot of personal difficulty. Greg was glad that he didn’t bring up any of his worries with the man; that would have been a disaster.

“What do you mean by that, Sherlock? What action?”
Any action on personal matters, usually,” Sherlock muttered. “For someone who is so acutely aware of others’ emotions and intentions, he has an incredible difficulty with his own.”
“What is he having trouble with?”
Sherlock sighed dramatically. “What does it look like I am, his therapist? If you want to know so badly, then ask him. If you are now assuaged of your suspicions regarding his affections towards you–”
“I told you that I believe he’s sincere, mate. I just worry that maybe he’s using it as an excuse for something else. Taking advantage of the fact that it’s a real relationship to… I don’t know… watch me without me suspecting.”
“Why would he need to watch you?” Sherlock asked, frowning. “And what does that have to do with you asking me about how to know when something is real?”

Greg clenched his jaw. I’m hardly going to tell him about the hallucinations, and how that was the concern about Mycroft… seeing things that weren’t actually real which had caused the suspicions in the first place. “I don’t know.”

“Informative,” Sherlock snorted derisively. Greg hung his head. He didn’t know why he bothered trying to talk to Sherlock when he was in a mood like this. He could barely get his own thoughts straight, and Sherlock was not a person to talk to when one wasn’t exceedingly clear.

“Sorry to have bothered you when I needed help,” he grumbled into his chest.
Sherlock leapt out of his chair and made for the door. He paused, though, and Greg could sense his eyes boring into his skull.
“Just… think about what I’ve said, Lestrade. It’s important.”
Greg looked up, tired, to see the man hovering over him in his long coat wearing a serious expression. “What would that be, again?”
“Reality is only a creation of our mind.”

Greg swallowed uncomfortably. It didn’t quell the suspicion lurking in the back of his mind about Mycroft. Rather, he felt more unsettled than before about reality itself. “How does that help me?”
“It will, one day.”
He watched Sherlock leave in a billow of his coat, his words resounding in Greg’s mind.

Does he know about my hallucinations as well? Is that his way of telling me? What does that even mean? Anything could be real or just in our heads, by that logic. Oh… is that him saying it’s fine to see things because no one can be certain something is real for someone else, and therefore I can keep working? And why does it help me ‘one day’? Damn you Sherlock and your philosophical musings. This is the opposite of what I needed today.

~

Greg sat thinking. Sherlock had helped assure him that Mycroft was genuine, but it also meant that he felt like the things that made him suspicious were either figments of his imagination, or things warped by paranoia.

Mike wanted him to get help. He knew that much. Mycroft wanted it as well, given how he kept trying to pressure Greg into talking to John. Greg did want help, but he remained terrified that going to John would be akin to walking blindly into a trap. All of his copper’s instincts told him not to get himself into a situation he didn’t understand or potentially couldn’t get out of.

He suddenly realised there was another option. He didn’t have to see John to get help. He could see someone entirely independent of everything else in his life. Greg could keep the true nature of his work a secret until he had enough information to make an informed decision regarding if he should continue or not, and thus not have to worry that the person he sought that information from would jeopardise his position.

Whomever he chose, they wouldn’t be a part of the tangled web Greg found himself in. He wouldn’t have to worry about ulterior motives. Why didn’t I consider this before? I just have to keep it a secret from Mycroft and John, and Sherlock I guess, so that they can’t pry information out of whoever I see.

Greg figured that he could ask Mike to find someone, but the thought made the same distrust he held with Mycroft flare through him. Mike and John were mates; even if Mike was more likely to be entirely open with his actions to Greg, he still could say something to John or to the psychologist or psychiatrist he chose.

He pursed his lips together. He decided he’d find a psychologist instead of a psychiatrist. They’d be more inclined to talk the matter through with him instead of trying to take control. Wait… I don’t need to ‘find’ one, I could go and see my old psychologist.

Greg wondered if she’d kept the same number. He had no idea what it was, once he thought about it, and so googled her information. He remembered that Imogen didn’t mind using email as a means of contact, and so figured that would be the best method of setting up an appointment during working hours.

The email sent, he felt a sense of foreboding – like he’d committed himself to this path, and it could lead to somewhere he really didn’t want to face. He knew he was doing the right thing and getting help, and the fact that it was completely in his control and on his terms made it easier, but it didn’t leave him feeling any better. He honestly wasn’t worried that his therapist would think he was losing it… he was worried that she’d be right.

Chapter Text

Greg couldn’t bring himself to smile as Sally came into his office that afternoon. He didn’t say anything when she told him to take the ‘easy one’. He was distantly relieved that heading off to look at a body meant that it was appropriate to appear sullen. He still was sure to bite back at the voice in his head that tempted him to be bitter, or more scarily, jealous, that it was a suicide he was confirming. He had to take a deep breath before leaving the car to get himself under control. He couldn’t risk letting himself fall down into that pit, even if it took twice as much effort to stay afloat given the circumstances.

Anderson was standing among the SOCOs when Greg walked through the door. It was a nice place, he registered faintly in his mind.
“Lestrade, you’re here, finally. Donovan give you the case details?”

Greg hummed as he grimaced. Technically yes, Sally had given him the details. He hadn’t read them, though. Anderson seemed to understand, and so grunted and folded his arms.
“Go on then, read the file and I’ll just stand here and wait.”
Greg sighed but didn’t rise to Anderson’s challenge. Normally he’d have snapped back at the man’s attitude and told him to go do something useful, but he couldn’t find the energy. He realised that he’d left the file in the car, and so turned on his heels and walked back out of the building.

“Oi! Don’t just walk off because I told you to do your job!” Anderson called after him. Greg, again, said nothing. He just continued walking to the car.

The file was fairly detailed, actually. Tyron Sheppard, aged thirty-two. Artist. A friend had called the Yard earlier that day to report him missing. According to the file, the friend had been from America; she and Tyron talked daily online, and Tyron hadn’t been recorded as having been online since Saturday morning. It was now Tuesday. Missing Persons had humoured the caller despite no local reports of Tyron being missing, as she’d been rather distressed, and came across his body hanging from the railings of the second floor.

Initial ruling is suicide. Greg and the other officers were there to catalogue the scene and declare it as definitely suicide or to treat it as suspicious.

He re-entered the house and was met with Anderson, still standing in a huff. The man frowned at him. “Caught up?”

Greg didn’t nod, didn’t answer, but glared at him. He then cast his eyes over the body. The man was reasonably overweight, and definitely looked like he’d been hanging there for a while. He walked past Anderson to stand closer.
“Suicide. Confirmed that the hanging is cause of death by severing the spinal cord,” Phil said from Greg’s side. It didn’t feel right, though, to Greg. It was almost the same kind of feeling he’d had during the Miller case.
He bit his lip and looked about the house – or, at least what he could see from where he stood. He then walked up the stairs to investigate the body from the point of hanging.
“A note was found up in the studio there,” Anderson called up. Greg turned around to the doorway behind him and saw the studio. He wandered inside.

It was the neatest studio he’d ever seen. There was a sheet of paper on the desk and a box cutter upon the table by the window. On the opposite side of the room were two long bookcases housing art supplies; each cube space was filled with a different kind of item, the papers were stacked at right angles in size order, the brushes were aligned in categories and neatly sorted in the holders… it all had a strong ‘Mycroft’ feel to it.

Now that Greg thought about it, the entire house had that atmosphere. Everything was neat to the point of obsessive about symmetry and order. Tyron must have had OCD. He looked over at the typed note upon the spotless (which, for an art table, was impressive) desk.

I’m sorry, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t go on without Helen. Nothing has a point.

Greg grimaced, knowing all too well how it could get. He took a moment to just hang his head, staring at the floor, as he let the depressive feelings subside again. Reading a suicide note never did him any favours when feeling down himself.

He then frowned, noticing that the rug on the floor was askew. It wouldn’t have been of consequence had everything else in the room – in the entire house, for that matter – been at right angles. The intuition in his gut urged him that it was important.

He looked about, but didn’t see anything else out of the ordinary. He made to leave, and then noticed that the hallway table was poking out over the doorframe. If Tyron had been even slightly like Mycroft, Greg knew there was no way he’d find that comfortable. He inspected it closer, noticing that the items upon the table, trinkets for display, were scattered haphazardly over the surface.

There were three glass vials which weren’t evenly spaced, and Greg knew, just knew, that they would have been. Mycroft couldn’t leave the kitchen for dinner knowing that his canisters weren’t straight. He doubted Tyron would have willingly left the table like this.

“Phil,” Greg said quietly as Anderson approached. He hoped using his first name would help make what he was about to say more readily accepted. “This isn’t right.”
“What isn’t?”
“This table.”
“What of it?”
“It’s… crooked, and the items here on it aren’t in order.”
“Ok,” Anderson said slowly, and Greg could see him eying him cautiously. “Greg, are you alright?”

Greg hesitated. No, honestly he wasn’t, but that was beside the point. He decided to continue explaining instead of answering. “Trust me, Phil, this is significant. Someone else moved this table. A man like our victim wouldn’t have been comfortable leaving it like this.”
“What makes you say that? How would you know?”

Look at this place, Anderson. Really look. I haven’t seen much of it and I already can tell the man had OCD. No one keeps a studio looking like that without something like that going on. Everything I’ve seen in here is symmetrically balanced and at right angles. Mycroft’s a bit the same, and he couldn’t leave a room with things out of place. I had to stand and help re-arrange the kitchen after cooking dinner before he’d consider eating. I seriously doubt that man would commit suicide and leave something so obviously wrong.”
“I… wait, what? Why would you be cooking in Mycroft Holmes’ kitchen?”

Greg froze as he realised that he hadn’t actually told Anderson that he was seeing Mycroft. He honestly had no qualms outing himself, since it hadn’t ever been a secret (especially since his promotion to DI). Still, he was worried what reaction the man would have; unsure if it’d be worse that he was dating his nemesis’s brother, or that he was dating a man. He didn’t feel like having to deal with that as well today.

“He’s my partner,” he said casually. “He’s a bit OCD at times, which is fine, but it means I know that someone who needs to keep their place orderly like this would definitely not be comfortable leaving it in such a state.”
“Oh,” Anderson said, clearly shocked. He paused. “You’re… sure?” he asked, obviously about to ask Greg about his sexuality but deciding better about it.
“Positive. I mean, it’s not much to go on in of itself, but I think it’s reason to look more into the possibility that this isn’t a suicide.”
“Greg, it’s suicide. You’re looking for something that isn’t there. If he can’t face living anymore then he’s not going to care if his table is crooked.”

Greg suddenly had a moment of clarity regarding exactly why Sherlock got so pissed off with Anderson. He ran his hand through his hair.
“You’re sure the cause of death was the hanging?”
“Positive,” Anderson said, thrusting his hands on his hips. “A seven-foot drop with that kind of weight is plenty enough to kill him. There are fresh cuts on his wrists showing he was self-destructive right before he decided to kill himself–”
“What?” Greg interrupted.
“Self-harm on his wrists. The blade is literally there, next to the suicide note, Greg. It’s suicide.”
“What about the blood?”
“What?”

Greg groaned. He wasn’t sure why he was suddenly seeing these details so clearly, but it was actually frustrating that no-one else was understanding. Sherlock’s perpetual grumpiness was starting to make a lot more sense. Greg decided to take Anderson through the things he could see.

“Alright. Look. Yes, the table is askew and it’s just a table. But if you look at the rest of the house, you see that everything is aligned and orderly. This studio itself is enough of an indicator of that. Everything has a specific place and it’s kept there at all times. Except, there’s that book there left out with pencils.”
Greg pointed to the floor by the table, where a sketchbook was laying open and three pencils littered the ground, as if having fallen from the table. “I’m going to assume that fell off the table. He wouldn’t just leave it there. Hell, he wouldn’t leave it out of place at all… someone with that kind of OCD? He’d put it back where it belonged if he was going to leave it permanently.”

“Alright, alright, mate. I get it. He was OCD and liked his stuff straight. Doesn’t mean–”
“It’s not just a want to have things neat and tidy, Anderson, it’s a need. It’s physically uncomfortable for people with that condition to have things out of place. Being too depressed to face living wouldn’t override the natural urges of that – it’s a disorder, remember. Leaving it would cause more anxiety and anguish. Which is why the table makes no sense, nor does the rug.”
“The rug?”
“It’s not even. It’s askew, like the table. It actually looks like something heavy was dragged out of the room. The hallway runner is the same; it’s slanted, and even bunched up by the door here.”

Anderson pursed his lips. “Just because it could have another explanation, doesn’t mean–”
“But that’s what we have to consider, Anderson. Other explanations. All these little things add up to something not fitting the picture.”
“You’ve been spending too much time around the Holmes brothers, I think. Sherlock’s anal fixation on trivial details is rubbing off on you.”
“Maybe that’s a good thing,” Greg snapped, “if it means we catch a killer instead of taking the easy option and declaring it suicide. Doesn’t make what I’m saying quite so trivial after all, does it, if that’s the case?”

Anderson huffed and rolled his eyes, but said nothing. He waved his hand for Greg to continue.
“So that brings me to the blood. You should have noticed it and thought something was wrong without seeing the rugs or book out of place.”
“There’s no blood, Lestrade.”
“Exactly. You said the cuts on the wrists looked fresh, done with the knife left here. So, if he did that and then hung himself, then there should be blood. There isn’t any. He would have had to have tied the rope to the railing and around his neck, after cutting himself here at the table, but there’s no blood anywhere up here. There’s scuff marks on the railing, but that’s it. Where’s the blood?”

“…Could be coincidence,” Anderson tried to reason, but his voice sounded unsure. He then sighed and hung his head. “But you’re right. Those wounds were deep enough to bleed drops on the floor downstairs, and so should have left some trace up here. Fuck it all, I’m starting to agree with you now.”
Greg flicked his head for Anderson to follow him downstairs to the body. “Come on, we should take a closer look and make note of what we can with the view of foul play at work.”

Details jumped out at him as he went; examples of the victim’s habits shown in the way the place was arranged were suddenly blatantly obvious. It felt like a fog had been lifted from his brain and it was all so clear now. If this was how Sherlock saw the world, it was no wonder he insisted on calling everyone else blind and stupid. He wasn’t sure exactly why he was able to ‘observe’ everything in that way all of a sudden, but he certainly wasn’t complaining.

Greg stood before the body with Anderson, his eyes looking over the corpse.
“Time of death?” Greg asked without taking his eyes away.
“Difficult to give a precise estimate. Rigor mortis has left the body, but we’re only seeing the beginnings of putrefaction in the abdomen. The extent of the swelling is hard to tell exactly, given the obvious weight carried there, but there’s some discolouration. We’ve recorded between three and ten pm on Saturday.”
“Just the numbers would have sufficed,” Greg mumbled.
“I had to sit through your OCD lecture so you can listen to me,” Anderson retorted.

Greg rubbed the back of his neck. “That’s a wide window. It’ll be difficult to get detailed alibis. We’re going to need to get people looking into his life in the last, say, week. Have the family or the friend been told anything yet?”
“No.”
“Right. We’ll need to see who he was in contact with and try to find a motive.”
“What if it’s assisted suicide, and not murder?”

Greg frowned. That was indeed a possibility. He couldn’t rule anything out at this stage. “We’ll still have to talk to those he was in contact with. I’ll set some people onto digging up a profile on him. We need to find out who Helen is, too. For now, tell your team that we’re treating the death as suspicious.”

Anderson nodded and called out to the SOCOs who were starting to pack away their gear. Greg investigated the self-harm wounds on the wrists of the man hanging before him, noticing that they didn’t add up. His brain had to process the information for a few more seconds before he realised why his intuition was telling him what he was seeing was wrong; it was a step-up from the last case where he couldn’t tell why he was getting his hunches.

“Anderson, look at this. The cuts here… one on each wrist, running down across perpendicular to the veins. I don’t think they were self-inflicted.”
“How come?”
“Well, have a look on the forearms. There’s definitely evidence of a long history of self-harm–”
“Yeah, that’s why we didn’t think these cuts were suspicious.”
“Ah, yes, but the scars are only on the top of the forearms, mostly on the left. There’s no scarring underneath. It’s a bit suspicious for someone clearly with a, for lack of a better word, habit of cutting in the same place for what looks to be years to suddenly slice in the most stereotypical place there is.”

Greg paused as his phone pinged with a text message. He pulled it out of his pocket to see it was from Mike.

- Hey, mate. Just checking in. You’ve been quiet since we spoke last, and I wanted to see if you were ok.

Greg shoved his phone back in his pocket, deciding to deal with that once leaving the crime scene. He returned his attention to Anderson. 
“Then, there’s the fact that we’ve established there was no blood upstairs. The knife is up there, though. The blood is running down across the palm, but there’s no smudges on the edges of the arms. These were made when he was already hanging.”

Anderson’s eyebrows flew up as he saw the evidence before him. “Shit,” he mumbled, looking about both arms for evidence of blood. “You’re right. There’s no trace of blood in any direction than to the floor from this position. And, really, it should have bled more; I actually think these were post-mortem now that I look closer.”
“Mhm,” Greg hummed in agreement. “Someone has made these cuts to make it look like he was depressed and suicidal. I think we can rule out an assisted suicide at this point. It’s murder.”
“Fucking hell, how did I miss that? And more to the point, how did you not?”

Greg wanted to shout back indignantly, but Anderson did have a point. It would have been easy enough to miss. He didn’t know why he was noticing the little details, or making deductions based on details on an entirely new level.

He remembered what Sherlock had said about his brain re-wiring, and the potential for an increase in higher-thinking. If he hadn’t also been having hallucinations, he’d think it was a miracle too good to be true; to wake up from an accident and suddenly be brighter and better at his job.

“Just… noticed something that didn’t fit the pattern, that then meant everything else we’ve overlooked or dismissed in our earlier assumptions became clear. If I hadn’t been living with Mycroft, I might not have noticed at all.”
It was true that the first tangible piece of evidence he could give for his intuition of it not being simply a suicide had been noticing similarities in behaviours between the victim and his partner.

The SOCOs took the body down and sent it away to the pathologist for an autopsy. Greg took the opportunity to look at the top half of the body closer and noticed a strange redness on the face; it was like a strap had been tied tightly over the mouth and nose not long before death. There weren’t any other details that stood out as abnormal.

He ordered some blood to be sent to Sherlock for analysis. Searching for fingerprints on the railing revealed, curiously, only smudges – there weren’t any whole prints over the railing. It further supported the theory that someone killed Mr Sheppard, as it would be expected that some prints were to be left from his tying of the rope and climbing over the railing should he have done so himself.

The smeared marks rather indicated that his body had been pushed over the edge. The cause of death definitely had been the severing of the spinal cord when the neck broke when being hung, which meant he’d been alive when he was pushed or coerced over… and so Greg rather expected drugs or alcohol to be present in his system.

The only other thing Greg noticed astray in the house was a painting had been put back into the shelf not in size order and facing the opposite direction to the other canvases in there. He wasn’t an art buff, but it only looked to be half-finished, so he supposed it could have been just pushed back into the shelf wrong in frustration. It wasn’t much to go on.

He left the house to get to work on the background of the victim. He was despairing at the lack of further evidence left in the house. Aside from the hall table being askew, and the cuts put in the wrong place, the murderer had seemingly covered his tracks well. Hopefully the people who knew Mr Sheppard would be able to give him somewhere to start looking.

Chapter Text

“I think I finally understand your brother,” Greg groaned as he flopped into the chair at the dining table.

Mycroft looked at him over the rim of his glasses as he sat there reading a book. “Oh dear,” he commented.
“What you reading?”
“Some information for work,” Mycroft answered whilst putting the book down.
“In… what’s that? Greek?”
“Russian,” Mycroft corrected. “It’s despairing that you cannot even identify the language given its unique characters.”
“Unless it’s saying ‘vodka’, I really don’t know the letters. They look the same to me.”

Mycroft sighed dramatically, but then looked up at him with an endearing smile. “How was your day, darling? You mentioned my brother?”
“Oh, he wasn’t there, I just mean that I understand him being so rude and arrogant all the time. New case started today; it looked like suicide, but I noticed things that were obvious to me that all proved it was actually a murder made to look like a suicide. Anderson was there and he couldn’t see it.”
“And the ability to recognise significant details that your colleague could not is how you gained insight into my brother’s temperamental moods?”

“Kinda,” he said as he shrugged. “I had to use all the patience I had not to shout at the idiot. He was there not noticing a single thing that he should have, and kept trying to hold onto his idea that it was suicide… almost like it was to stop him having to do more work. It took ages of explaining the obvious for him to actually agree with me. It was then that I realised that must be how Sherlock feels all of the time. Suddenly I wasn’t so upset at him for how he behaves at my crime scenes, especially around Anderson.”

Mycroft leant forward and looked at him with a serious expression. Greg had to tilt his head questioningly, since he didn’t think anything he’d said warranted such an intense gaze.
“What?”
“What could you see this time that you normally could not?”
“Who said I couldn’t notice it before?”
“Your opening statement was ‘I finally  understand your brother’, suggesting that this is a new development.”
“Yeah, alright. But why does it matter?”
“It is twice now that you have been investigating a case wherein you notice details that you would not have previously. This is not merely coincidence or happenstance. It could be important to know the details for the good of your health.”
Greg frowned, a little uncertain. “But we agreed that I was fine,” he said.
“No, we agreed I would not talk to John about what you’ve told me. We did not agree that you are fine. You might like to believe that you are, but I am still worried.”

Greg was torn between feeling the icy anger over Mycroft’s betrayal of his trust by actually telling John everything, and the guilt that his partner was still very anxious regarding his wellbeing – whilst he was content to just ignore the worrisome signs to continue with his day.
“Yes, well… I can do my job.”
“That’s not my number one priority,” Mycroft huffed.
Greg squeezed his face together in the mix of emotions. He then reached out and took Mycroft’s hand. “I’m… well maybe not fine. I honestly still feel pretty low and exhausted. But I’m not about to drop dead, sweetheart.”
“We don’t know that,” Mycroft mumbled under his breath.

They sat in an awkward silence for a few moments. Greg didn’t know what to say. He still felt uneasy, suspicious even, but it was getting more difficult to pin down exactly what or who it was that was causing it – Mycroft seemed too genuine to be manipulating him, and the reasons behind his behaviour were sound. He hated feeling lost as to what was causing his trepidation.

Greg cleared his throat. “We’re looking into the background info tomorrow. At the moment, there’s not a lot we can find for evidence. Hopefully there’ll be a lead to follow. Did you want dinner?”
Mycroft seemed to understand that Greg wasn’t feeling up to talking about the case anymore, and dropped it. He nodded in response. Greg sighed and stood up, feeling like he was dragging his limbs to the kitchen.
“Dearest, you don’t have to cook right now.”
“I feel like eating.”
“You look exhausted and drained. I can cook for you if you like.”
Greg clenched his jaw. He didn’t know how to diplomatically say he didn’t feel like his partner’s attempts at cooking – more for the cleaning up that followed than the food.
“We can always order takeaway, Greg,” Mycroft said into the silence. “I know my skills aren’t–”
“That’s not–”
“Greg, please.”

Greg exhaled and let his shoulders sag as he gripped the benchtop. “Sorry. Yeah, takeaway’s fine with me. I’m getting a beer.”
“No, love. No alcohol.”
“Why not?”
“You remember the doctor’s orders after the incident in the pub.”
Greg groaned in annoyance. “Fine.”
“Greg… please talk to me.”
“It’s fine.”
“It’s not.”
“Leave it, Myc.”
“Greg…”
“I said leave it.” Greg glared at Mycroft. The anger bubbled inside him. He wanted to be able to just be open with his partner. He didn’t want to have to always be on alert for ulterior motives or the man going behind his back.

The realisation that he didn’t trust Mycroft anymore, despite knowing the reasons behind his actions, stung hard. It felt like the air had been knocked out of his lungs. The guilt twisted around the empty chest cavity when he saw the pain in Mycroft’s face. He heaved for air, causing Mycroft to reflexively jump up towards him. Tears welled in his eyes.
I don’t trust him… I want to, but I don’t.

“Greg?” Mycroft asked, standing close to Greg, his hands outstretched ready to hold him but not touching.

Greg bit his lip to stop it trembling. I don’t know what to do. I want to turn to him. I could be distancing myself from him just because he cares for me. I love him… and it’s not just him that I don’t trust, it’s anything. I don’t know who to trust.
“Fuck,” he breathed and shook his head, trying hard not to cry. “I… I don’t…”
On the other hand, he could be up to something and it doesn’t feel good. It involves me somehow… there’s just too much not sitting right but I don’t know what exactly it is. He talks to John and Sherlock about me and it’s not… right. But is that his doing? Am I just hearing it that way?

“Can… is it alright if I touch you?” Mycroft asked, timid.

He must be able to see the hesitation. Greg nodded. Mycroft gently embraced him, careful to leave Greg plenty of time to withdraw from the touch if it unsettled him. Honestly, despite the conflict raging inside his chest, Greg found it comforting.
“These sudden emotional outbursts are concerning me, Greg,” Mycroft uttered.
Greg kept his head buried in Mycroft’s neck. Of course it seems random to you, without the reasoning behind it all.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. “I’m so confused,” he admitted, letting his anguish be heard.
“It is not your fault, it is merely concerning. I know this happens from time to time, but I can’t help but worry your depression is being aggravated by the accident and needs medical attention.
“You’ve been out of sorts for a long time now, darling. It’s worrisome and I want you to get help. Please, will you talk to John? I know you want to work, I know you feel you’ve gotten an advantage now and want to put it to use, but sweetheart… you can’t destroy yourself doing it. Besides, there should be some way to help you retain your new intuition and acuity without feeling so unstable.”

Greg whimpered gently into Mycroft’s chest. His partner didn’t deserve to be put through such worry. Greg knew it was time to face the music. “I’ll go see him tomorrow after work,” he conceded. He could have revealed his decision to see his old therapist, but he wanted to keep that secret for the time being.
“Thank you. I don’t mean to pressure you into getting help, but you can be stubborn in that regard and I… that is, I love you, and can’t bear to think–”
“I know, Myc. I love you too.”
I just wish I could trust you as well.

~

Greg checked his email before going into work. His heart pounded when he saw that he received a response from Imogen.

Greg,
I am happy to see you again. You will need another referral from your GP. The same health care plan as last time would be sufficient.
Imogen

Greg frowned. He didn’t want to go through the NHS system, just in case John could track it. He knew it was overly neurotic of him, but he had enough to stress about in his life at the moment and allowed himself that concession.

Hi Imogen,
I was hoping I could see you privately and pay for the sessions out of pocket. I would like to see you as soon as I can.
Greg

It was only half an hour later when Greg sat down at his desk, and checked his phone, did he realise that he had a response from Imogen already.

Hello Greg,
Yes, that is an option. I have a cancellation at 11 on Tuesday that I would like to offer you, as your message implies some urgency for this appointment.
Please let me know if this suits.
I am still in suite F.
Imogen.

Greg responded quickly that he’d take the appointment, grateful that he was able to get in so soon.

Chapter Text

Greg had to admit that even he was starting to doubt himself. So far, everything that’d learned about Tyron Sheppard indicated that suicide was not unexpected. Greg found himself questioning whether or not the things he had noticed were relevant, or if he was indeed making more out of it than there was like Anderson had said. The paranoid voice in his head reminded him that he could have been hallucinating the evidence and his colleague’s agreement.

It had been some time since his family had spoken to him; they told Greg that Tyron was very reclusive and didn’t talk to many people in general. The had been understandably upset, but not shocked – really, they seemed surprised that the suicide was being treated as suspicious at all.

Following the comment about not interacting with people, Sergeant Ellis followed up with the friend who had alerted the Yard about the victim’s disappearance. The friend had been devastated, and unable to give much information relevant to the investigation besides having spoken to Mr Sheppard on the Friday evening without any indication of suicidal intent. She had mentioned, however, that Tyron had been heartbroken following the breakup.

Mr Sheppard had been seeing a psychologist for years. Talking with her had opened up a few more lines of inquiry, but it was still sounding like suicide was the most logical result.    

According to the therapist, whom Greg had spoken to on Wednesday, Tyron had been suicidal for over a decade. He’d struggled a lot with depression and his obsessive-compulsive disorder; he had attempted to take his own life twice before, he’d received multiple instances of specialised suicide prevention counselling, and he’d seen a psychiatrist to help him cope with the overwhelming compulsion to order and arrange the world around him.

There were a few comments made by Mr Sheppard’s therapist that did pique Greg’s curiosity. She’d told him that Tyron hadn’t been suicidal for about two years, since he’d finally found some success with his career. He’d held a few exhibitions that resulted in a lot of attention, been sought after in numerous galleries, and his work was starting to become very valuable – enough to allow him to live in a reduced-stress environment, both of which had improved his mood significantly.

According to her, Tyron had been in a better place than most of his life. He’d craved recognition for his works and he’d finally gotten it. He had a girlfriend that he loved, and was loved in return. Greg was grateful that the therapist’s impression was that Tyron didn’t commit suicide; it helped to motivate him to pursue the case further.

Greg’s next task was to find the girlfriend, the ‘Helen’ that had been referred to in the note. He had hoped that either the family or the therapist would have her contact details, but neither had.

It was obvious that Tyron was a very private man and didn’t share much with other people. The neighbours barely saw him, he didn’t have friends beyond the girlfriend that he went out and saw regularly, and he rarely left the house during the day.

It was difficult to find people even in connection with the man let alone any motive for one of them to kill him. He seemed to be a quiet artist that did all things right by the law. He didn’t get mixed up in anything criminal or even social: he had no co-workers or work events, wasn’t a part of any sporting clubs, didn’t go to any music gatherings, barely interacted in the art community… there wasn’t even a book club he went to. The only people with whom he interacted were purely online, and none of them were even in Britain. Greg was left to wrestle with the question of why this reclusive artist was murdered.

It was lunchtime when Greg received a call on his mobile from Mike.

“Greg… are you alright?”
“Hey, Mike,” Greg said, groaning when he remembered that he hadn’t responded to Mike’s text.
“You didn’t respond to my text on Tuesday, and, well, it was two days ago so I-I’m worried. You didn’t answer my question, either, pet.”
“Sorry, Mike. I was at a crime scene and just forgot to respond.”
“That’s fine, Greg, but you’re being avoidant.”
“I’m…” Greg wasn’t sure what to say. “I’m not going great, Mike.”
“How so?”
“Feeling like shit, to be honest. Really down, like everything’s a struggle.”
“Have you talked to anyone about it?”
“Mycroft, a little.”
“Do you still suspect him of deceiving you?”
“Um… no, not as such. It’s not just him, it’s more… I don’t know who to trust anymore.”
“And the hallucinations? Have they gotten worse?”
“I… not worse, no. About the same.”

“Greg,” Mike started, and Greg knew where he was going with that tone of voice. “Mate… I am getting to the point where I feel obliged to say something to someone. It’s been long enough and it’s not resolved, and you’re starting to degrade further in respect to your mental health.”
“I know,” Greg groaned. “And you’re right to say it. I’m going to see John after work.”
“And you’re going to be honest with him?”
“Yeah.”
And completely open?”
“Mike…”
“Greg,” Mike stressed. “Entirely open, you hear? I’ll talk with him if I have to.”

Greg clenched his jaw. He could tell Mike about his real intentions… to speak to John just about the emotional issues, just in case there was something amiss, and to talk about the suspicion and trust issues with his old therapist. That way no one would have the whole picture with which to control him just yet.

He concluded that Mike could be trusted to know at least some of the truth. It sounded like Greg had little choice in the matter, anyway – Mike was going to tell John what he knew thus far, and it was involving things he’d originally planned to keep hidden.

“I’m just worried that things aren’t all as they seem. That John’s got some ulterior motive. I thought it was Mycroft but as I say, he seems genuine, so what if–”
“Greg, paranoia is a symptom of mental illness. It’s not always founded. You can’t stop yourself getting help you need because of that feeling. If you are hallucinating, you could be seeing things differently than they are which fuels that delusion. I’m sure you can appreciate that you have a problem if you’re afraid to be open with your therapist because you think they could have a secret agenda.”

Greg had to admit that Mike had a point. He was torn between desperately wanting to remain in control (and was struck with the sudden insight into Mycroft’s behaviour) and understanding that it really did sound unreasonable to be so suspicious of John’s motives that he’d hide the things needed to give an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

He sighed, the pit of his stomach churning uncomfortably as he realised that he had to actually do what he was being asked of him.
“I… I’m nervous, Mike.”
“You don’t have to try do this alone, Greg.”
“I have you and Myc, I’m not–”
“Yes, we’re all here, but keeping us in the dark is making you alone, Greg.”
Greg drew a deep breath. “Alright. I’ll tell him.”
“Good. I’ll talk to you soon then, to see how you are afterwards.”

~

As promised, he headed over to Sherlock and John’s once he’d finished mapping out the details of the case as he had them. Sally had remained behind to continue working on gathering history with Sergeant Ellis while the tech team got contact details out of Tyron’s phone.

Greg was hesitant. He knew he had to do it, but he didn’t know what he was going to say. Mike and Mycroft both expected him to be open and honest… the problem was, they both were likely to check with John what he’d said, and Mycroft didn’t know as much as Mike did. It was possible his partner might get upset thinking he wasn’t sharing again, like before.

He should talk about the paranoia, and the issue he was having with trusting people. It was making his heart pound to bring it up with the person that was causing a great deal of that paranoia. Greg couldn’t exactly put his finger on exact things that John had done, or even Mycroft anymore, to make him feel so suspicious. He just hoped that the psychiatrist in John would be understanding that it wasn’t a personal attack on him.

Greg figured it’d be easiest to lead with his emotions, since they were the most obvious issues and what he’d originally planned to talk about. John would likely then ask more in-depth questions, and Greg had to try put his anxieties aside and answer them. If not for himself, then for Mycroft. He had to do what he could to trust his partner again.

Fuck I can’t believe I’m going to do this. Every part of me seems to be screaming not to say anything. I could just be letting Mycroft know I’m onto him.
No. It’s just paranoia, like Mike said. It’s not a reasonable belief to keep things to myself. Mycroft loves me and is breaking under the strain from all this. I have to do it.  

He treaded up the stairs silently, still trying to make his mind up over what to say and so not wanting to announce his presence. He took a deep breath while he stood on the landing facing the closed door. He was just about to knock (he’d learned his lesson about barging in through a closed door – he’d never un-see Sherlock bent over the edge of the couch, moaning, with John in his old fatigues behind him) when he heard his name. He froze.

“Really… of all the things Lestrade could be worried about, it’s the nature of my brother’s intentions,” Sherlock’s voice sounded through the wood.
“I’ve tried to talk to him about it to alleviate some of his worries,” John said.
“Why couldn’t he simply be oblivious in that regard as well? We all know how much he doesn’t notice things, and pretend not to see the things that he does if they are inconvenient.”

Greg’s heart hammered in his chest, but he was careful not to make a sound despite desperately wanting to gasp for air.

“We can’t expect him not to notice anything Sherlock, even if he wants to ignore it. Worrying if Mycroft really loves him just wasn’t something any of us anticipated.”
Now why does it sound like John anticipated something else when he says that?
“True; and, at least it’s something we can honestly refute.”
And why does it sound like Sherlock has things he’d have to dishonestly refute?

Still, Greg felt a weight lift from his chest to hear, unequivocally, that Mycroft was being genuine in his care and intentions. The conversation thus far though hadn’t alleviated any of his suspicions that something more was going on than just the standard recovery from an accident.  

“It’s good that he’s stopped asking why he was in the hospital. I was afraid he’d be more stubborn about that.”
“You were afraid he’d regain his memory of the events, weren’t you?”
“Honestly Sherlock? Yes. I’m also glad he hasn’t demanded his medical records.”
Shit… I could have done that?
“That’s hardly significant. We could have just given him any old garbage and he’d not have a clue. It’s harder to keep things from someone that would notice… like you, for example.”

Greg felt like ice water had been poured over his head. He started to tremble.
Sherlock and John are deliberately keeping the accident a secret? What the fuck happened? What else are they keeping from me? This is definitely reasonable belief now. It’s not just paranoia as a symptom. It’s not paranoia if it’s founded, right?

“Mycroft shouldn’t have kept them in the house, though. He could have seen,” John grumbled. “We have to be careful about this, Sherlock. Even the smallest things can trigger extreme deterioration. Your brother likes to think he knows best all the time, particularly because he’s so obsessively in love with Lestrade. Since we can’t change that, we have to just work around it to make sure we’re still the ones in control.”

Greg’s icy stomach flipped. They’re the ones, he thought with dread. They’re the ones I should be suspicious of, not Mycroft.
He’d felt that things were off since he woke in the hospital, but after all this time… it wasn’t Mycroft that was the instigator of it. It was Sherlock and John. They were controlling Mycroft as well, it sounded. He clenched his jaw.
All those things Mycroft has said that sounded strange… it was John saying them to him in conversation, wasn’t it? Should I tell Mycroft? What deterioration? And what the hell is it that they’re in control of?
Greg trembled as he continued to listen.

“I said he was too emotionally invested from the start,” Sherlock agreed.
“We could hardly change that either. At least Mycroft’s willing to tell us how Greg’s going. The man’s a stubborn git and is being utterly reckless to not come to me and tell me he’s hallucinating.”
“I believe it is happening with more frequency than my brother believes. When he came to me at work for the Miller case, he was obviously questioning his ability to observe reality correctly. He’d even asked me how to tell if something was ‘real’ or not; initially I believed it was his uncertainty regarding my brother’s feelings that he was referring to, but it soon became clear that he was attempting to obfuscate his intention of asking the drug addict how to tell reality from hallucination.”
“What did you say?”
“I pretended not to notice and only reinforced the fact that my brother is utterly devoted to him and it’s not a ruse.”
“So what do we do? We have to try manage this but he’s obviously not willing to cooperate. We can hardly barge in and section him… that’d ruin everything, for all of us. Undoubtedly that’s what he expects and is why he’s not telling us, or Mycroft.”

Well, it’s good to know I’m not about to be carted away. But fuck, they know about the hallucinations? Maybe that’s why they think I’ll deteriorate… is it that which would be ruined? I can’t be sure it’s just my health they’re talking about… what if it’s more? What if it’s an experiment they’re doing that would be ruined?  

“Any further reports of seeing the thug?” Sherlock asked. Greg knew the man he meant, the bulky man Greg had dubbed ‘Russian Mafia Guy’.
“Not that I know of. At least he can’t hide the reaction to that particular vision. It’s concerning that he collapsed the first time and was unconscious for that long. There was nothing unexpected on the MRI, and so we still don’t know why that happened.”

How long can I stand here listening in? Surely they’re going to notice soon. How much more do I even want to hear?
“I still can’t believe Lestrade still hasn’t worked out what’s going on. I mean I knew he wasn’t observant but this–
“I thought we recorded an increase in his observational skills, Sherlock?”
“Regarding work, yes. His insistence in ignoring anything inconvenient in his personal wellbeing is astounding.”
“Maybe if he realises he’s having a psychotic breakdown, he’ll be more willing to come to us so we can…”

Greg didn’t hear the rest of the sentence. The world span the moment John had said ‘psychotic breakdown’. Deep down, Greg had been worried about it, but he hadn’t let himself think about it too much – not that seriously, at least. He’d been too preoccupied suspecting Mycroft of misdeeds to pay mind to the concerns about himself to that extent. It was easier to think that the problem was someone else’s, or simply not a problem.

Even when Mike had told him outright that his paranoia was a symptom of mental illness, he’d still tried not to let himself think of the obvious conclusion. But, he couldn’t run from it anymore. Not after hearing that outright.

He heard a loud bang, like a door being slammed against a wall, and he flinched. He was already panicking over his revelation, but the sound broke him out of his mind and back to the situation. The trembling escalated to shaking. He needed air, but he couldn’t breathe. He took a step backwards, and the world went sideways. Pain radiated through his head and shoulders as they collided with the hard wood of the stairs below.

His body came to rest on the landing where the staircase turned. He could hear voices around him. His eyes were clasped shut as he tried to focus on not screaming out in pain. His head throbbed, his shoulder ached, and his chest stung. His limbs all hurt in one way or another, but it was mild in comparison to the pounding in his head and torso.

He was nauseous, but clenched his jaw to make sure he didn’t vomit. His breath was ragged as he tried to breathe through the pain.

“Greg?”
That sounds like John.
“Greg can you hear me?”
“Yeah,” he hissed. He couldn’t open his eyes yet. He could feel John’s hands poking and prodding his neck and stomach.
“Sherlock, help me get him onto the couch.”

No, please, don’t move me. Hurts. His stomach churned as he was lifted upright. Two sets of arms helped him up the stairs and into a supine position on the couch.

“Greg, I need you to open your eyes for me.”
Greg could only groan in response.
“Thanks, Sherlock.” Greg heard the sound of a bag being placed on the ground near him. John’s medical kit, probably. He didn’t have long to wait to find out, as suddenly his eye was being wrenched open and a light was being shone into it. The other eye soon was blinded as well.

“Normal. No evidence of concussion. Still, better keep an eye on that. Greg? Greg, I need to have a look at the back of your head, ok?”

Greg opened his eyes to see the face of John Watson, determined and schooled. He allowed himself to be turned over.

“Hmm. It’s superficial. Doesn’t need stitches. I’ll just clean it up a bit.”
I’m bleeding?
“I’ll call Mycroft. He’s in no condition to drive,” Sherlock said, and walked away.
“Thanks love.”

Greg returned to rest on his back once John had finished wiping away the blood. He’d placed a piece of gauze to keep pressed against the wound as Greg lay there with his head on the pillow. John grinned at him and shook his head.

“One head injury wasn’t enough for you?” the doctor laughed. Greg smiled and huffed. “How’d this happen, anyway?”
“Came up to see you,” Greg answered. There was no way he was going to start talking more about his hallucinations now. He was terrified… but he honestly couldn’t tell if it was because John and Sherlock were up to something or because he’d lost his mind. If it was the latter, he should tell John, but if it was the former…
“But?”
“But the door was closed.”
“How long were you there?”

Greg could hear the edge of worry in John’s voice. “I stepped backwards the moment I saw the door was shut, and fell,” he lied. “Not gonna burst through again after that day, or stick around to hear something I won’t be able to wash out of my brain.”
“That did serve you right, you know.”
“It used to be fine to just come in with a case.”
“Yeah and then Sherlock and I discovered we liked having sex. Everywhere.”
“Mate I’m nauseous enough as it is,” Greg groaned.

“My brother is on his way,” Sherlock announced as he returned to the living room. “He’s fairly insistent we take you to A&E. You may wish to use this time to formulate an argument against that should you wish to avoid four hours waiting in plastic chairs.”
“I… John? Should I go or am I fine?”
“I’d say you’d be fine to go home and lay down. Have Mycroft keep an eye on you to be safe, which he’ll do regardless. Even if I tell him you’re not concussed, he’s gonna be waking you every two hours to be sure anyway. Although…” John paused, looking pensive. “You may be better off going with him to A&E, if only to calm his nerves. I’m a psychiatrist now, so my preliminary treatment may not count enough for him.”

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Greg grumbled. “But I also don’t want him to worry himself into a fit. You could be right, John.”
John patted Greg on the shoulder a few times, causing him to hiss. “I’ll get some ice to put on that. What’d you come to talk about, anyway?”
Greg’s heart leapt to his throat. “It doesn’t matter, not anymore.”

Chapter Text

The pain had eased once he’d been given some paracetamol, thankfully. The physical pain, at least.  Mycroft had insisted Greg go to the hospital, where he was taken in for a scan just as a precaution given his recent head injury. The doctors were satisfied that nothing was wrong and so permitted him to return home with a warning to come back if he got any concerning symptoms.

Greg lay with Mycroft in bed. He’d not said much. His mind was still churning away regarding the new information. The sheer intensity of the mix of emotions was making him feel anxious. He knew Mycroft could tell something was up, and he was feeling even guiltier than usual for remaining silent.

“Sweetheart… please talk to me. I hate seeing you so perturbed.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry, darling. You have nothing to apologise for.”
“I… I’m still sorry,” Greg mumbled. He felt he actually had a lot to apologise for.

Mycroft sighed and hugged him. Greg screwed his face up, trying to fight the tears. All this time he’d been suspicious of his partner, when really, Mycroft was being manipulated because he cared so intensely for him. Greg didn’t feel he deserved the man’s love. He hated that he couldn’t say anything about it either – he just couldn’t admit to his suspicions, or Sherlock’s involvement.

There was also another reason for his emotional torment: the fact that he was losing his mind, and his friends knew it. He couldn’t deny that. He didn’t know what to do. Deep down he knew that the best thing to do was to accept it and get help, but he couldn’t bring himself to admit how bad everything had become. It was confusing, but he was both aware and in denial of the situation. He desperately wished it wasn’t happening.

Mycroft wouldn’t want me if he knew the truth. It was the most upsetting reality that pressed upon him. He wanted to believe that it wouldn’t matter, but he knew it would. He gripped onto Mycroft tighter, as if his partner was about to leave.

“Gregory… it’ll be alright,” Mycroft soothed gently. Greg shook his head in the embrace.
“It… I don’t think it will be.”
“We’ll make it alright. And if not, then we’ll make do, you hear?”
“You don’t even know why I’m upset.”
“You are upset; that’s all that I need to know. It doesn’t matter why as I will be here regardless.”
“Maybe not,” Greg whispered. “I don’t want you to go.”

Mycroft pulled away and looked directly at Greg, his grey-blue eyes fixed into Greg’s with intense emotion and resolve. “Gregory Lestrade, there is not anything in this world that would make me choose to leave you and nothing short of death could forcefully part us. I know you are worried, but I assure you that I am here whether you are healthy or unwell. Do not feel that you being injured or ill is an impairment that I would resent.

“I am yours, Greg, and I have been since I met you. I’m lucky enough now to have you to hold as I have dreamt for many years… I’m not going anywhere. I promise. For as long as you’ll have me.”
Greg felt like the wind had been knocked out of him. He swallowed slowly. “Mycroft…” he began, but wasn’t sure how to voice his thoughts.

He wanted to kiss him, to thank him, to tell him how worried he’d been all this time about ending up alone because of being unable to be ‘fine’… but most of all, he wanted joke about how much like marriage vows that all sounded like. He decided to make lighter the situation and opt to point out the latter.
“I… don’t, uh, don’t take this the wrong… but uh, did you,” Greg chuckled at the absurdity, “that is, was that basically… a proposal?”

Even the most minute movements of Mycroft’s face stilled. A few moments went by, enough for Greg to know that his partner was seriously considering his answer.
Jesus, he’s actually thinking about it.
Greg froze at that thought, watching Mycroft blink a few times. Holy hell, is he actually going to propose to me? Greg took a deep breath, not taking his eyes off of Mycroft’s.
Fuck, we’ve only been together a few months. I was only avoiding the seriousness of what he said by making fun of that part. His heart was pounding in his chest. I can’t exactly tell him not to though, since that sounds… and honestly? I… I’d say yes.

Mycroft swallowed and steadied himself by gripping Greg’s hand. “Essentially,” he uttered quietly. “It is far too soon for us to get married, my love, however I am as committed to you as I would be if we were engaged.”
Greg nodded. “Good,” he managed to squeak. He cleared his throat. “Yeah, that’s… me too.” Oh so eloquent, Greg.

“With that in mind… consider this a promise. Given time, I would like to engage you and marry you. This, now, is my commitment to those events occurring in a reasonable time.”
Greg found himself nodding. He wasn’t capable of much else beyond a whispered ‘yes’ in response. He was really the one who’d brought it up, but he hadn’t expected this to happen. He wanted to be in less shock than he was; to be able to take Mycroft and kiss him, to shower him with equally serious statements, and to make love to him. It seemed he’d have to settle with bursting into tears.
Mycroft held Greg close against his chest. “I’m sorry for overwhelming you,” he uttered into Greg’s hair. “This has been a big day for you.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” Greg mumbled. Quite literally, he thought regrettably.

~

“Bloody arrogant kids,” Sergeant Ellis grumbled as she drove the car.
“Technology is in their blood, though. Can’t have anyone our age working with that stuff,” Greg countered.

Ellis had been annoyed at the smug team members who’d given Greg’s team the information on Mr Sheppard’s phone. She did have a point, in that they were being particularly bratty, but Ellis’ intolerance for that behaviour only seemed to spur them on. Regardless of any conflict, they’d gotten the contact details of Helen (surname Davis) and found her address. They were currently en route to her residence in outer London.

“They could learn some manners, though.”
“Yeah,” Greg hummed in agreement. “They probably assumed us old bastards don’t know which way’s up on a phone and thought they were being helpful. Try not to think more about it, Liv.”

Ellis snorted but nodded. Greg shot her a smile, which she returned. Greg liked Olivia. She was just as good a detective as Donovan, however while Donovan was strictly by the book, Ellis was determined to get the case solved however possible. She was closer to Greg’s age than Sally’s, and had a lot of experience under her belt.

It was her rather reckless abandon of the rules that had kept her from promotion to Inspector, but she’d often said she liked where she was. Greg was glad for it as he loved having her on his team. She was able to be both empathic with people and give them a good bollocking when needed. Greg was too gentle with people sometimes, and valued having someone who’d take no shit from anyone.

“Right, here we are. How’re we gonna play this?”
“Just ask?” Greg shrugged. “Why?”
“Cause you’re gonna need to pay attention, mate. You’ve been absent the whole trip up. I know it’s Friday, and I don’t care if Donovan thinks this’ll end up cold case; we do what we can now, and this Helen is the best lead we’ve got.”
“Sorry,” Greg mumbled. He hadn’t been aware he wasn’t focusing properly.
“It’s alright, I’m not having a go at you, Lestrade. I just need you at your best, yeah? Is there something you want to talk about?”

Greg pressed his lips together as he looked into her green eyes. What could he say in response to that? He was still hallucinating and worried he was misinterpreting the case? That in the last twelve hours he went from suspecting his partner of something nefarious to suspecting two of his three closest friends instead, fell down a staircase which landed him a visit to A&E, and more or less got engaged?

“It’s…” It’s the opposite of nothing, really… “It’s fine. Just got a lot on my mind right now.”
“I know you like to soldier on for the good of the case, Greg, but you’re not doing anyone any favours if you invalidate yourself.”
“I get it,” he snapped, far more forcefully than he intended.
“Right, don’t get snippy with me, Lestrade. I’m only trying to help.”
“Sorry. You’re right. Ok let’s just say we need to speak to Helen and go from there.”

A lanky woman with ebony skin, long curls, and an unimpressed sneer answered the door.
“I’m DS Ellis and this is DI Lestrade. We’d like to talk to Helen Davis.”
“Oh, yeah, she’s my housemate,” the woman answered in a thick cockney accent. She turned her head to shout into the house, “Helen! Coppers at the door for ya!”
“May we come in?”
The woman shrugged and opened the door wider for them.

They were shown into the small living room. Helen joined them a moment later. She was short and thin with long blonde hair. She wasn’t what Greg had been expecting, but he chided himself for making assumptions regarding Helen’s appearance based on Tyron’s weight.

“What can I do for you?”
“Miss Davis, we’d like to talk to you about your boyfriend, Tyron Sheppard,” Greg said gently.
“Ex-boyfriend,” she corrected. She crossed her arms across her chest. “We broke up last month.”
“A month ago?”
She looked at Ellis and shrugged in response. “A few weeks, bit more maybe. Why?”
“Who ended it?” Ellis asked, and Greg looked at her to give a silent warning to be a little empathic with the woman.
“I did.”
“Why?”
“Sorry, why does it matter? What are you doing here, anyway?”

“Cause he was a fuckin’ pervert,” Helen’s housemate shouted from the kitchen.
“Shari…” Helen groaned.
“Did your housemate know him?”
“Yeah, not well, mind, but they met a few times,” Helen said to Greg. She then turned back to the kitchen. “Quit eavesdropping, Shari.”
“I’m just makin’ tea. Youse want some?”
“That’d be nice–”
“–No, we’re good,” Ellis said over Greg.

Greg rolled his eyes but said nothing. He gestured for Ellis to continue.
“You sound particularly upset with him,” Ellis said loudly towards the kitchen. “Why?”
“He had no business bein’ with Helen. Deceived her, you know. It was good she dumped him… what a prick, thinkin’ he could have both. You either like men or women. I don’t care if people are gay, I’m open minded like that, but you can’t fucking be with a girl and wanna have sex with guys. It’s disgusting and unfair.”

Greg’s insides twisted. Helen left Tyron for being bisexual? This Shari is very hateful towards bisexuals… if Helen is too, that’s enough of a motive for murder.

“I left him because he was cheating on me, not because of being bi, Shari. I’ve told you before. Stop being so angry.”
“You were ragin’ about it before, Hels. Don’t know why you’re fine with it now.”
Helen sighed dramatically and turned back to Ellis and Greg. “Sorry about her.”
“He was cheating on you?” Greg asked, not willing to say anything like ‘that’s ok’, since it very much was not ok to excuse such an attitude.
“Yeah. I didn’t even know he was bi. It’d never come up. Then out of nowhere… I find out he’s got a profile online for discreet gay hook-ups. He denied it of course, when I confronted him, but I mean the evidence was shown to me plain as day. I won’t be with someone who cheats… with a man or a woman.” Helen shouted the end of her sentence to the kitchen.

Shari came into the lounge with a cup of tea for Helen and one for herself. She shrugged. “Explains why he cheated, at least. Bis are all just kidding themselves, and are gonna cheat when they get bored. Fucking sluts, the lot of them… too greedy to just be a decent human–”
“That’s enough,” Ellis snapped. She glared at the woman who had seated herself in the chair with her long legs on display.
“You can’t tell me what to do,” Shari huffed.
Ellis crossed her arms. “Speaking like that is going to get you into a lot of trouble one day.”
“I can say what I want. Freedom of speech.” Shari puffed her chest indignantly.

“I think you’re confusing freedom of speech with freedom from consequence,” Ellis growled. “You can choose to say it but that doesn’t mean you’re not hurting other people, or that you have the right to say it without others hurting you. I suggest you shut your mouth before you get what’s coming to you, if you’re going to rile up hatred like that. Hate speech is a crime. You can say it but you will face the consequences, like any other crime.”

Greg was grateful for Ellis’ words. He didn’t like that the young woman’s words hurt him, and he knew he should have a thicker skin sometimes, but he couldn’t help but feel the stab as she poked at old wounds. He desperately wanted to demand to talk to Helen in private, but he couldn’t send away anyone that held obvious resentment to their victim. He’d already learned that Helen had been quite angry in the wake of the discovery because of Shari’s presence, and didn’t want to lose the opportunity to gain more important details.
It could have been a murder for cheating without the sexuality playing in to it at all. Wait… Tyron advertised for anonymous gay sex? That doesn’t fit anything in the profile we have of him. And how would Helen find such a thing?

“Can you show us the profile?” Ellis asked Helen, obviously thinking the same thing.
“I suppose. I think I remember the app. I focused more on the content when I was shown.”
“We’d appreciate it if you could tell us,” Greg said as he prepared to write down the website. “It might be crucial to our investigation.”
Helen listed a few variations of what she thought the app might have been. “Now what investigation?”
“We’re investigating the cause of his death,” Ellis stated bluntly. Helen’s eyes blew wide and her jaw dropped.
“W-what? Death?”
“Yes. You are acting as if you didn’t know, and yet you’ve been very willing to join us in referring to him in the past tense… as if you knew already. Now, why might that be?” Ellis fixed Helen, and Shari, with a strong suspecting glare.
Fuck, they have been doing that, haven’t they? Shari more than Helen, even.

“I-I only… I think of him… the time… with him… as the past. Not… not that he was… gone,” Helen said as she started to cry. 
“We’re going to need a DNA sample from both of you,” Ellis stated over the sobbing.
“Olivia,” Greg said in a hushed tone, trying to get her to be a little more sympathetic.
“Oi, have a bit of heart! She might have dumped him but she loved him not long ago!” Shari snapped. “I think youse should go. And you’re not gettin’ anything without a warrant! I’m not havin’ my DNA on your system for you to do whatever the fuck you want with.”

Before Greg could work out what he was going to say in response, his phone rang.
“I gotta take this,” he mumbled, shuffling out into the hall.

“Sally, what have you got for me?”
“Well, boss, I’ve just spoken with the gallery that has been showing the victim’s work. Mr Sheppard didn’t interact with people here much either; only two staff members have ever met him. I’ve spoken to them both. One’s an old lady that does the admin side of things, and she was working here all day on the Saturday – I highly doubt she was involved, but I’ve asked for the CCTV feeds to confirm her location.
“The other woman is the owner. She organises the intake of works to display and sell. She wasn’t working that day, and I’ve gotten an alibi for her written down. She was with her family taking her kids to sports events and then hosting a sleepover. Lots of people to confirm her whereabouts.”
“Right. We’ll get some statements to confirm that officially, still.”

“Sure. Honestly I don’t think she was involved. I don’t imagine the gallery had anything to do with it. She was rather frustrated that the victim died, saying that she’d already organised with regular buyers to come and look at the new works he was going to deliver in the next four months, and to change the information would cost money. The gallery makes commission on each work sold, too, so it’s in her interest to keep the artwork coming and selling.”
“Thanks Sal. I agree with you that it doesn’t sound like there’s any motive for murder there.”

“Any luck with the girlfriend?”
Greg looked back towards the living room pensively. “I’m not sure yet,” he huffed. “Miss Davies was unaware that Mr Sheppard had died, or at least that’s what she’s saying, and so is currently crying.”
“Right, boss. Ellis is there with you, yeah?”
“Yeah.”
“Good. She’ll get the information out of the girlfriend. You’re a bit soft, Lestrade, and would consider even leaving until she had time to adjust to the news.”
“If she really has just learnt–”
“We can’t give her that luxury of assuming she’s innocent, Lestrade. Yeah, it sucks and all, but Ellis is right: tough balls. It’s a murder inquiry, and you can’t let her have time to stash evidence. That’s worth causing a bit of upset.”
“I see you two are getting on well at the moment,” Greg grumbled into the phone.
“We bonded while you were away, yes,” Donovan snapped. “We agree on a lot of things.”
“Like getting me to harden up.”

“Nah, actually I think it’s good you’re empathic. Goes well for the victims. Not all of us can be hard arses, boss. So long as you have someone with you to push things, it works. Don’t let Ellis know I said that, since she’s rather ‘the end justifies the means’ and thinks you should be more like that too, you know.”
“Yeah, well, you two work well together because you both are all for the work but have different approaches. I’m glad you think mine isn’t so bad.”
“Mind, heart, and soul, boss. We all got two, and someone else for the third.”
“Oi! I’ll have you know I’m plenty smart,” Greg playfully objected. Still, he knew that out of brains, care, and conscience, it was the latter two that he had in abundance.
“Before I go Donovan, I need you go push through the paperwork to get a warrant to search this place and to collect DNA samples of the girlfriend and the girlfriend’s housemate.”
“You think they did it?”
“Don’t know, but out of our limited pool of suspects, they have the most motive. The ex-girlfriend didn’t like Mr Sheppard trying to cheat on her, and the housemate is very hateful that he was trying to cheat with men. I’m gonna need IT to try and find a profile the victim had to meet those men. I’ll text you what Miss Davies gave me.”
“Sure thing, Lestrade.”

“Greg, are you alright?”
Greg looked over to Ellis, who appeared in the doorway with a concerned look on her face.
“Yeah. That was Donovan. Gallery lead’s looking like it’s a dead end.”
“Damn. But seriously, though… I know that stuff couldn’t have been easy to hear. It must have stirred up some bad memories.”

Greg clenched his jaw and nodded. His ex-wife had a similar attitude to Shari, and had used similar words while shouting at him. Ellis had been one of the few people who’d known the extent of it – she was actually one of the few who’d bothered to ask. It was upsetting how many people, from both the heterosexual and queer communities, had a problem with bisexual people.
“You alright?”
“Me? Yeah, I’m fine, Lestrade. I’ve got a thicker shell than you, mate, and less holes torn into it by a nasty ex-wife.”

Greg nodded appreciatively, and then groaned and rubbed his face. “These two are now the prime suspects, simply because they’re the only people we can find with a connection to the victim. Let’s hope their accounts of Saturday give up somewhere to go with this case.”
“If I’m honest, I don’t think the angrier of the two could have pulled off this case. She doesn’t strike me as someone with the brainpower to orchestrate a killing planned this well. Didn’t it sound to you like Miss Davies was trying to cover up being just as biphobic as the housemate, but being smart enough to not let her motive known to police?”

He hadn’t considered that, actually. “I dunno. I don’t like to judge a person’s intelligence without much information, but I agree that Shari doesn’t seem like the kind of woman to be able to pull off a murder like this. But Helen does seem smart, you’re right. And there’s the fact that Tyron was so private a person that he wouldn’t have let Shari into his house… but he would have let his ex-girlfriend in.”

“That’s a very good point,” Ellis hummed. “Do you think she was making up this online profile thing? It doesn’t really fit the personality of Mr Sheppard that we’ve learned from the psychologist and his family.”
“I guess we’ll find out,” Greg answered.

I didn’t feel the mystery of the last case… I am definitely feeling it for this one.  

Chapter Text

Greg sat in bed, exhausted. He was glad it was Friday. It wasn’t even that late in the evening, but the case had worn him out. He’d tried to do everything by the book, but had left chasing results from Sherlock for Monday. He honestly didn’t feel up to confronting his feelings regarding the younger Holmes.

Sherlock was up to something. He had to be. John as well. The paranoid feeling hadn’t left his gut for weeks, and he’d learnt to trust his gut over the years. He went over and over the conversation in his head, and while it was obvious that they both thought that Greg was losing his mind, they also weren’t being entirely honest with him about something big.

Greg had been left to question if he actually was losing his mind, or if it was just the result of something that Sherlock and John were doing. Nausea kept bubbling up every time he thought about the possibility of being the subject for one of Sherlock’s experiments.

John usually was opposed to Sherlock testing his theories on living subjects, humans in particular. It was a reason in favour of the entire situation being a figment of his imagination… but not enough to make him actually discount the possibility. John seemed invested in whatever they were talking about just as much as Sherlock had been, so it was also possible that John was happy to experiment on him as well.

Greg groaned and let his head fall on his arms that lay upon his knees. He didn’t like being paranoid about being paranoid, or that there were so many mysteries in his life at once.

The alibi for Helen was full of holes and missing time. She’d said she was just at home with Shari on that Saturday afternoon, preparing to go out clubbing to ‘get back out there’. She then left at six to have dinner and then go to various clubs, and returned at three in the morning.

Ellis was convinced that they both were involved – Helen and Shari. Greg was having his strange intuition again, and somehow just knew that they weren’t. He couldn’t explain that, however, and he had to admit that given the information they had about the case, they were looking very suspicious indeed.

The point he kept coming back to was that even together, Shari and Helen likely weren’t strong enough to physically drag Mr Sheppard across the floor and over the railing. It was unlikely that Mr Sheppard would have even let Shari into the building, and he definitely wouldn’t have done so for someone the two women might have employed to carry out the murder.

Suddenly Greg’s mind was filled with images. It was like he was actually there, watching something happen, while knowing he wasn’t at the same time. He saw a man, about thirty, in a kitchen. He was in a light blue jumper with dusted white powder in patches over it, like flour.

The man seemed nervous, and in a rush. He reached above the bench for something on a shelf, and Greg watched as flour spilled from a crease in his jumper onto a raw steak upon the bench. The man, having gotten a box of cornflour from the shelf, then sprinkled more flour over the steak before putting it in a pan to sear.

Greg blinked as he was suddenly back in the bedroom. He panted as his heart started to race. He hadn’t hallucinated an entirely different place before. He grabbed a hold of his hair and pulled gently in frustration.

I’m losing it. I’m completely losing it. Fucking hell if I’m seeing things entirely like that now… it’s getting worse! And what the hell was the point of that hallucination? To tell me to make steak for dinner? To be careful not to spill cornflour or Myc’ll have a fit? It’s just meaningless.

He whimpered into the dark. He wanted to just not have to deal with any of this. He just wanted to go to work during the day, come home, and spend time with his partner. A simple, domestic life. He knew it was partly the depression talking, but he felt like giving up because it was just too hard and complicated. He wouldn’t, of course, but he just felt like he was at the end of his rope with the entire situation.

Despite not wanting to face it, the question remained: was he having a breakdown because of an accident, or because of something John and Sherlock did after it? Or something they were still doing?

I don’t know what to do anymore… less than before. I could just be losing it, or Sherlock and John could be doing this to me on purpose… some crazy test to see how much strain I can take, or… my god, what if they’re trying to make me smarter? Sherlock has been obsessed with my ‘increased awareness’ and –

Fuck… what if the reason they’re not telling me what happened, is because there was no accident? What if they did something to me instead and just made it look like an accident?

Greg was struggling to breathe as one thought cascaded into another. Part of him couldn’t – or rather, didn’t want to – believe that his friends were capable of something like that. The other part of him was shocked it’d taken him this long to realise it. He steeled himself and focused on trying to be rational. He had to try and not let his paranoia get away from him. He spoke slowly to himself in his head with his eyes clenched shut.

Ok Greg, that doesn’t entirely make sense. Mycroft wouldn’t be ok with John and Sherlock taking me and experimenting on me. Myc’s involved to some degree that he’s not letting on, that’s obvious. But he definitely wouldn’t be involved in, what? Kidnapping me and experimenting on me? No. That can’t be it.

I have to admit that there’s always the chance I’m just looking for an excuse that this isn’t my fault; that I’m not going crazy. I could be just seeing things that my brain wants me to see, so that I can tell myself I can do the work, that I’m ok and just need to keep away from Sherlock and John for everything to be fine.

But if that’s the case, if I am just having a psychotic breakdown… staying away from John is probably the worst option. He’s been a good mate for a long time and would treat me like a person, not just a crazy patient.     

But if he’s actually experimenting on me with Sherlock, then he’s actually not a good mate at all, is he?

Greg found himself swirling in circles, asking himself the question of what to do over and over. It always came back to the conundrum of if his paranoia was founded, then keeping everything a secret from John and Sherlock would be for the best. That his health would get better if he kept away from them. But if the paranoia was a symptom of a psychotic breakdown, then being open and getting the psychiatrist’s help would be the best thing to do.

“Gregory? Are you alright?”

Greg looked up to see Mycroft standing in the doorway, a concerned expression on his face.
Mycroft… I’ve been terrible to him. I’ve kept things from him and didn’t trust him, all because of being suspicious about something and not realising it was his brother I should have been wary about.

Greg shook his head. Mycroft padded into the bedroom, turned on the lamp on the bedside table, and sat beside Greg.

“Do you want to talk to me about it?”
“I… I don’t know what’s going on,” Greg admitted pitifully. He was about to talk about the revelation he’d experienced, when he remembered that Mycroft still was going to talk to John and Sherlock about everything.
“Regarding what?”
“Just… this case is confusing, because all of the signs point to the girlfriend doing it but I just know somehow that she didn’t do it. But I’m worried that I’m going to cock the case up because of this feeling that I can’t explain, when actually the girlfriend did do it.”

Mycroft wrapped his arms around Greg, who remained curled up with his knees pressed to his chest. “Trust yourself, darling. Your instincts have proven worth listening to in the past. Don’t blindly accept them, of course, but don’t dismiss them either. They have been honed through much experience.”
“I’m glad you’re here,” Greg mumbled.
“I apologise for not getting here sooner. I had believed you would be merely cooking dinner at this time, and so did not think that you would need me earlier.”
“It’s alright. You’re busy. I can’t ask you to tell the government to hurry up because you need to come home to me.”
“Well, given that it was Sherlock with whom I was speaking, I would have been glad to have had an excuse to cut that short.”

Greg tensed at hearing that. “Why… what, er, did you need to talk to him about?”
“Nothing terrible, darling. I believe he wishes to have dinner with us tomorrow evening at Baker Street. Him and John, that is. Is something the matter? You feel… uneasy.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Greg choked out. He didn’t want to give Sherlock a chance to drug his food.

Mycroft leaned back and looked into Greg’s eyes. “Greg?”
“Sorry, I… you… trust Sherlock, don’t you?”
“Well,” Mycroft hummed, “to an extent. I trust his intentions, if not his ability to do as asked.”
“And John?”
“The good doctor is somewhat more of a question mark as far as trusting in general, but I am confident in trusting him in regards to Sherlock. Why?”
“I just… wondered,” Greg uttered.
“Gregory, there is something you are not telling me. Has there been an incident?”

Greg felt like a deer in headlights. He’d walked in the path of this truck, of course. “I… worry that they are not as sincere as they appear,” he said slowly.
Mycroft’s eyebrow quirked, but his expression remained impassive yet serious. “You still have not entirely answered my question. Has something happened?”
“Just… don’t have a good feeling. Much like the intuition with the cases. I-I think, maybe, you should be cautious. Don’t take the things they do at face value.”

Mycroft pursed his lips and looked at Greg with a mix of sympathy and upset. “Darling…” he started, and reached out to cup Greg’s cheek.
“No, I’m not just being paranoid. Something’s not right, and I don’t think you realise that they can have their own objectives.”
“Objectives?”
“Yes. Like… you think they’re on your side but really they’re using you for their own gain.”

Greg clasped his mouth shut. He hadn’t intended to be that blunt about it. He wanted to try and warn his partner not to fall into their trap, and to maybe see if things are actually not how he thought they were, but he didn’t want to make it sound like he was being unreasonably suspicious.

The way Mycroft was looking at him, Greg knew he’d said the wrong thing. He frowned and curled up into himself tighter, not looking into Mycroft’s concerned eyes.
“Greg, I think you’re getting a bit stressed with this case–”
“It’s nothing to do with the case. I heard them, ok? They were talking. You can’t tell them, but they were saying that they were telling you only what they wanted you to know. I-I don’t want you to… get hurt, or do something you think is good but is actually–”

“Darling, please look at me,” Mycroft said softly. Greg flicked his eyes up to lock with the blue-grey stare. “I appreciate that you’re looking out for me. But I have a lot of experience dealing with my brother. Try not to worry.”

Mycroft smiled supportively, but to Greg it felt like it was falsely reassuring. Mycroft either didn’t believe that his brother could pull the wool over his eyes, or he thought that Greg was unstable and upset about nothing. It was obvious that his partner wanted to say something more, but didn’t know how. The worry was radiating off him… and at that moment, Greg couldn’t deny that it might be warranted.

They sat in the dim light for a while in silence. Greg leant in to Mycroft’s body and allowed him to gently embrace him. It was a relief to feel the physical support, but he couldn’t stop feeling the dread that something sinister was going on and both he and Mycroft were stuck in the middle of it. It was smart of Sherlock to include his brother to a degree; that way he wouldn’t be suspicious of something going on despite seeing the signs.

Mycroft moved his head so that he could speak whilst keeping Greg’s head under his chin. “I really think you should speak to someone.”
“I’m not talking to John.”
“He’s in the best position to help you.”
“I’m not wrong about them.”
“Even so, you have been under a fair amount of strain lately. You haven’t been open with John as we anticipated originally, and I know you are reluctant to be so open with me. It’s alright, before you protest. I was initially upset, but I discussed it with a professional and they told me that it was normal for a partner to feel that they cannot be that open and vulnerable, especially one with your past. You need to talk about things, and after working through it with a therapist, you can then talk to me.”

Greg sighed. I guess that’s the best I can expect from Mycroft. Maybe he’s right. Maybe it all just feels like I’m not being paranoid because it seems real to me.

“I had another hallucination,” he muttered, defeated. He didn’t have the strength to keep Mycroft out entirely anymore.
“When?”
“Just before. Saw someone flouring steak.”
“Alright,” Mycroft answered, his voice schooled. “I don’t understand the significance, but I am so proud of you for telling me.”
“Stop talking like I’m a child,” Greg grunted.
“I… wasn’t,” Mycroft said in a pained tone. “I honestly am proud. It’s not being condescending. It’s a difficult thing to talk about and you deserve to have that recognised.”
“I’d ask you to keep it to yourself… but I don’t even know about that anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know,” Greg moaned quietly.

Mycroft laid Greg down on the bed, and softly stroked his forehead.
“I’ll tell Sherlock we’re not able to make it this weekend.”
“Thank you.”
“I think you should also take more medical leave.”
“Maybe. I actually feel a bit better, having told you about things. I have organised to speak to someone on Tuesday, so I’ll take the day off. I’ll still go in on Monday. So how about for now I just ask a professional for their opinion before taking extended leave?”
“Acceptable compromise,” Mycroft answered, albeit hesitantly. “As long as you heed your therapist’s advice.”

Greg opened his mouth to argue, but closed it again and nodded. He didn’t want to push things too far with Mycroft. He was already bordering on taking control, and showing a great deal of self-restraint to allow Greg to be in charge. Greg appreciated it. He rested his head against Mycroft’s chest and just listened to the man’s heartbeat as Mycroft ran his hand up and down his back. He couldn’t imagine trying to cope without Mycroft.

“I’m so sorry you’re going through this, darling. You have been through so much already. But we’ll get through it together. I’d hoped the accident would have been the end of your suffering.” Mycroft nuzzled his head and pecked a kiss to his forehead. Greg nestled back into the nape of Myc’s neck.

He reeled as his mind suddenly clicked and put the all the pieces, that had been floating about his brain since September, together. He’d been too focused on the symptoms and his suspicion to see the bigger picture.

What if they did something unorthodox to get me out of the coma, and now all of these hallucinations and abilities are a result? That’s why I haven’t seen any reports, or why no one is telling me, or anyone, what happened. It wasn’t that something strange happened to cause the injury, it was strange that I could come back from it.

It makes sense… Sherlock would want to keep me working and see what benefits came from their treatment, and John would be monitoring me to find out what they fucked up… and try to fix it without telling anyone. Explains why he’s willing to go along with human experimentation, too. It also means that they’re not going to stop experimenting on me. Sherlock to push the boundaries and John to not allow the resulting complications let anyone know what he did.

And Myc… Myc knows that they did something unprecedented, and likely illegal, to heal me… and so defers to them for advice first. I know he wouldn’t usually let them experiment on me, but he would do anything to save my life.

Come to think of it…  Mycroft has sounded like he was in charge. I doubt he understood the procedure; Genius chemist Sherlock and multi-discipline psychiatrist John undoubtedly orchestrated it. But I think Mycroft permitted it. That must mean that Mycroft has a lot more power than just a civil servant, to both allow this and cover it up.

Oh my god… that’s what Mycroft was pissed at John about! Their disagreement… he said that John thought I could come out of the coma early without his ‘consent’. That explains why John could make that call in the first place.

Myc’s been protective of me and anxious since all this began. He’s been afraid something was going to go wrong from whatever they did. I know he wouldn’t regret saving my life. He hoped that my waking up would be the end of it.

Fuck.

Chapter Text

Sergeant Ellis called him early on Saturday morning, asking if he was going to ‘get his arse into gear’, but Greg, for once, declined. He honestly didn’t feel like he was in any position to help progress the case. His mind was still overwhelmed from the previous evening’s revelation.

Mycroft knew something wasn’t right, given that Greg rarely elected to stay at home when called in. Greg didn’t know what to say in response, though, when asked what the matter was. Greg held onto Mycroft’s body tightly for most of the morning, just lying in bed. He needed the physical support. They didn’t talk much, and Greg was glad that Mycroft understood what he needed.

Mycroft tried hard to cheer him up by cooking him sausages, bacon, and eggs for brunch. Unfortunately he made a mess of the kitchen in attempting to do so, which also resulted in Greg’s breakfast on the floor. On another morning, it would have been a hilarious sight: Mycroft, adding bacon to the pan with the sausages, yelping when it spat at him, and his reflexes causing the pan to topple over off the stove and onto the floor. A sausage rolled onto the other side of the kitchen, where Mycroft stepped backwards and slipped, causing him to grab the bench to stop himself falling, but accidentally slamming his hand into the carton of eggs. Greg had merely grimaced sympathetically, turned the stove off, and helped his partner clean up.

Mycroft offered to do a puzzle with him, and Greg thought he was joking at first – until he saw Mycroft walk back into the kitchen with a large box. He actually found it soothing. Mycroft held his hand sometimes, pecked a kiss to his head others, and Greg could let himself focus just on the task before him and Mycroft’s presence.

Mycroft brought him tea often, grasping him into hugs whenever he stood. Greg was overwhelmed by the affection. He’d never experienced someone so truly caring towards him before. Myc didn’t press him to talk, didn’t get upset that he wasn’t up for doing much, and simply tried to be supportive. It didn’t matter to Greg if Myc really was a secret agent lying to him… he was genuine where it mattered.

The part of him that had been in shock and disbelief over the promise to be engaged had disappeared entirely that day. Instead he’d taken Mycroft’s hand and uttered, ‘I promise too, you know’. Mycroft had looked confused for a moment, but then beamed so brightly that Greg couldn’t help but smile.

Sunday brought a new wave of unease to Greg. The question of if everything was just in his head plagued him once more. After the space he’d had on Saturday, the story he’d concocted on Friday was starting to sound a little unreasonable in his head.

Most of the facts seemed to match, but Greg had to be honest and question if those facts were actually real or just warped from his mind. What he knew of his friends from before the accident didn’t support the idea that they would continue to lie to him.

Greg could believe that in extreme circumstances, Mycroft would allow Sherlock to use unapproved substances to treat him. The mad genius was uncannily skilled at creating drugs of all descriptions, and always doing insane experiments that no one else would think to do in order to get information to perfect his concoctions.

John’s involvement was more difficult to understand. He was a psychiatrist, and so would be the perfect choice to monitor Greg’s recovery and look for signs of psychological instability… but he wouldn’t be the one in charge of treating a serious head trauma.

Even if Sherlock created an unsanctioned drug, it wouldn’t be the entirety of the treatment for a brain injury – at least, as far as Greg knew. And even if Mycroft was the British Government itself, he wouldn’t be able to order John to simply ‘become’ a neurologist specialising in trauma to administer said treatment. Mycroft wouldn’t have let anyone but a specialist treat him, that was for sure.  

That meant it would have been a massive undertaking to cover up. There had to be others involved if his theory was right; different doctors, nurses, medical records for the hospital and the people who dealt with the administration of them… yet it seemed to Greg that the only people involved were Sherlock, John, and Mycroft. The people closest in his life.

It was that point most which made Greg think that he could just be paranoid and delusional. His mind would focus on suspecting those closest to him, the ones he interacted with, if he were going insane.

He honestly wished that he could be happy with the explanation that his friends were concealing some miraculous unapproved medical treatment, and trying to fix the problems it caused. It was a better story to tell himself than he was having a psychotic breakdown. The detective in him couldn’t let the inconsistencies go, however.

He organised to meet Mike at the coffee house just so that he had some space to think, and ask questions that would help narrow down his options. Mike would know about the extent of personnel involved in a case like his, at least, and likely what would be involved in treating head trauma.

Greg decided he’d take a walk first and try work out exactly he wanted to say to his friend. Thus far he hadn’t felt suspicious of Mike at all, and he hoped that he didn’t have cause to start after today.

“Myc? I’m… I think I’m going to go out for a walk, ok? I just… I-I need to get out and get some fresh air.”
“Certainly,” Mycroft responded. He was reading at the kitchen table with his glasses on. “It’s quite chilly; let me just get my coat and gloves.
“No, I-I-I meant, uh, alone. Not that… that I don’t want your company, no… I need to clear my thoughts a little. Some space, you know?”
“Gregory, you seem agitated.”
“No, no, I’m… well, not fine, but I’m not… that is, I just–”
“Darling.” Mycroft stood and walked over to where Greg was fidgeting. “What is it? Is it me? Have I been too affectionate? If you feel I am smothering you, please do tell me.”
“No! No, it’s nothing like that. I-I er, I enjoy it, actually. You caring for me, that is. That much. It’s… nice. Different. I’m not trying to get away from you because you’re caring for me.”

Mycroft frowned and tilted his head in confusion. “Then what is it? Can I be of assistance?”
“I love you,” Greg answered. He didn’t know what else to say. He didn’t want to hide things from Mycroft anymore, but he couldn’t talk of meeting Mike. His partner would want to join him, and he couldn’t decline that without giving a worse excuse than just needing to take a walk for a few hours.

“Gregory you’re starting to worry me,” Mycroft said in a pressed tone.
“Only starting?”
“More so than five minutes ago.”
“It’s… I’m sorry. I wish I could explain. Emotions. Maybe the walk will help me feel better. We can cuddle up together when I’m back? I’d like that.”
“Of course, sweetheart.” Mycroft kissed Greg gently and then placed another kiss on his forehead. “Anything you need; I am yours to take hold of whenever you desire.”
“Thanks, love.” Greg chuckled as a thought came to him. “Generally when you say that, it involves a lot less clothing than I’m sure you were picturing.”
“I would not object to altering my mental image,” Mycroft crooned, nuzzling Greg’s nose.

“Mmm. How about moving the cuddling to the bed? I rather like the idea of guessing what you’ll be wearing when I get back.” Greg couldn’t help but smile at the change in mood. He might be still struggling with things in his mind, but his body was definitely interested in spending more time at the mercy of Mycroft’s touch.

“I see the appeal. It would rather spoil the game if I revealed I intended to wear nothing, would it not?”
“I think I’d prefer to picture you in something dastardly hot for me to peel you out of.”
“And what would that be?”
“Hmm… pick something from your chest in the back of the closet.” Greg gave his partner a sly grin.
“Are you sure you want to embark upon your constitution?”
“Less than I was when I brought it up… but I need to do the head-clearing before I can enjoy you properly.”

Mycroft stifled a noise, resulting in a squeak. He kissed Greg again and then stepped backwards out of Greg’s grasp. “At least you are departing with a smile,” he said softly.
“Thank you dear.”

Greg took his coat and left with a nod. His heart felt lighter, knowing that Mycroft had not only asked to help, but tried to lift his mood through love and care. The image of Mycroft awaiting him adorning some of the spicier lingerie in that chest had Greg worked up enough to need to take a moment before walking out in public.

The trees in the street were now bare, giving the foreboding sense that winter was fast approaching. Greg shook his head in disbelief as he realised that winter was only a week away.

He tucked his hands into his coat pocket. It was the slate grey wool one that Mycroft had given him; it was warm, soft, and likely worth more than most of his wardrobe combined. He’d felt awkward accepting the birthday gift at the time, but his heart couldn’t resist owning the item of clothing knowing that it had the potential to represent a deeper affection than merely ‘friends’. Greg was glad that he was right.

He took a left and strolled through the small park that was near Mycroft’s house. There were people out; some running, some with children, and some obviously just trying to be somewhere else. It was the right amount of busy – enough not to feel overwhelmed or crowded, but not so few as to feel alone or empty.

Greg took a deep breath and looked up at the grey sky. In many ways his life was better than it had been in a very long time: in a serious relationship with a loving devoted partner, an important job that he was good at, a nice place to live, a small amount of spare time, some friends to meet… if only that was the extent of it.

His life was also a lot more complicated now than it had been in quite some time. He had to hide important things from his partner, because he couldn’t be sure if his friends were trying to help or trying to conduct an experiment on him. He was better at his job than he had been before, but he was also feeling the stress of it more, hallucinating, and blacking out (thus causing more stress).

He was finally happy and in love. Despite that, the depression was worse to try and cope with than it had been since the divorce, and his mood was more volatile than he could ever recall – he could be content one moment and crying the next, or too down to move and then suddenly overwhelmed with love and lust for Mycroft, or even calm and then irritable in the blink of an eye.

So many things weren’t making sense. He was feeling at a loss in his attempts work out what was really going on, since each conclusion had holes in it and none of them made him feel any good; the worst was that the head injury had caused significant damage enough to cause a psychotic mental illness.

Greg realised that his feet had taken him to the tube station. The café wasn’t far. He was glad, since rain had started to drizzle down and was threatening to pour. He chuckled to himself when he thought he should have borrowed Myc’s umbrella. Mycroft would definitely have insisted he join if that were the case: Mycroft rarely left the house without it, and the umbrella did not leave without him.

Chapter Text

The café was rather busy; the noise made Greg flinch when he walked in. He wasn’t used to the bustle anymore. As he stood in line, he realised he hadn’t actually been hearing errant noises nearly as often as before returning to work – or even before the current case. He concentrated and tried to list off any hallucinations or blackouts, and found himself coming short since seeing Russian Mafia Guy again in that very café.

I still have had nightmares, but nothing since… last Sunday. God was that only seven days ago?

“Greg! Nice to see you. The usual for you? How’s your man?”
“Hey, Elaine,” Greg answered, distracted. “Um, yeah. Actually can you make it not as sweet today? I’m feeling…”

Greg trailed off. His train of thought crashed into the front of his brain as he realised that he hadn’t had any hallucinations since seeing John on Monday morning, wherein John had brought him sweet coffee. Fuck, did he drug me? That’d explain the sugar added to cover up the flavour. Myc… they’d… the night before, Myc asked if Sherlock could concoct something to help. Holy hell, they’ve been drugging me.

“Greg?”
Greg made a gentle groan as he realised he was still standing before Elaine with a perplexed expression and a hanging sentence. “Sorry. I… just realised something.”
“You alright?”
“Why?”
“You zoned out after saying ‘I’m feeling’, so thought I’d check.”
“Oh. No, just don’t want anything sweet. The… the usual table, if you wouldn’t mind bringing it. Cheers.”

Greg paid with his card and absent-mindedly drifted over to his usual table, which, thankfully, was empty. He sat down and continued his revelation.
It’s… fuck, well it’s worked, not that they’ve been able to tell… is that why John wanted to change my meds? So he didn’t have to keep slipping me stuff? Come to think of it, I haven’t made my morning coffee all week. Mycroft’s made it since Tuesday.

“Here you are. No Myc today?”
Greg looked up as Elaine put his coffee before him. “No. I’m meeting my mate Mike today.”
“They don’t get along, then?”
“Huh? Oh, no, they’re not friends or anything but they’re fine with each other.” Greg didn’t elaborate. He was suddenly nervous to drink his coffee, even though he knew Elaine wouldn’t have drugged it.

“Are you sure you’re alright, Greg? You seem anxious and unsettled.”
“Not sure I’m looking forward to this conversation, to be honest,” Greg answered, leaning back in his chair.
“With doctor Mike?”
“Yeah.”
“Anticipating bad news?”
“Maybe,” Greg hummed. He reached out and pulled the mug of coffee close. “I don’t know. Things are a bit complicated right now.”
“I’m sorry to hear. Sometimes it’s good to just do simple things when life gets messy. Like this. Sitting and just having a good cup of coffee on a rainy Sunday.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“My life might not be as complicated as yours, being a detective, but I get a bit of drama. Dating can be a nightmare, you know.”

Greg hummed in agreement. “I imagine it’s worse for women than men. Straight dating, at least. Trying to find gay dates is hard on its own regardless of gender,” Greg mused, remembering his younger years. It was better now than when he was in his youth, but still not brilliant.

“Yeah, you got that right. Gets scary, sometimes. Men… not all, of course, but many… seem to think they’re entitled. It can get sour pretty quick when you’re not interested in letting them have what they want. I know that well enough. The losers that only care for my rack think that I don’t get a choice in what they do to me. I don’t put my chest in any of my profile shots, just to try keep the arses away.”

Greg pursed his lips in sympathy. As a cop, he’d always known the harsh reality of rape statistics, but it always took on a different light when listening to female friends all talk of being afraid of it happening. Elaine had been through a lot in that respect, and it brought his protective urges out. He then sat upright as a thought struck him. Profile shots? As in… “Elaine,” he said as she’d been ready to leave. “Tell me more about online dating.”

“Oh. Um… sure. But, uh, do you… I mean, we don’t know each other that well and all, but… you looked so happy with Myc, so if you want to talk–”
“No, no, not for me. Sorry, that came out wrong. I’m very happy with Myc, and not going to be dating ever agai–”
“Oh my god, that’s wonderful! Congratulations!”
“Huh? Right, yes, thanks. I’ll let you know when it happens,” Greg said, distracted. He indicated to the seat opposite him.
“I’m technically still working,” Elaine said.
“Police business.”
“Seriously?” Elaine laughed. She stopped when she realised that Greg wasn’t joking. She pursed her lips and then turned to lean over the counter and call out to her co-worker that she’d be talking to a cop for a few minutes.

“Right so, what can I help you with?”
“I need to know how it works.”
“Oh, well, it depends on what service you use, really. There’s a few apps about, some more popular than others, and all of them attract different kinds of people.”
“Do you know this one?” Greg asked, bringing up the name Miss Davies had given him.
“Yeah. It’s mostly used by gay people. More men than women, I think.”
“Pretend I know nothing about it. Take me through what’s involved in getting from being someone who doesn’t use this, to someone who has met a man through it for sex in secret while being in a relationship with someone else.”
“Greg… Myc seems like a nice–”

“I’m seriously not wanting to cheat on Mycroft,” Greg interrupted, letting the sheer disgust of the idea be shown on his face. It seemed to placate Elaine, who smiled and nodded at him. “I can’t go into details,” he continued, “but I have a case open at the moment where the victim was the someone I mentioned.”
“Ok. Well, first your victim – I’m assuming it’s a guy because it’s a gay hook-up app – would have to download the app on his phone. Then he’d create a profile. He’d put a photo of himself up, a short description of himself and what he’s looking for. Some people just want friendship, some want just anonymous sex, some are looking for relationships.”

“Great. Right, so once he puts that information up, then what?”
“Depending on how the app itself works, it either brings up suggestions of other users with compatible interests or details, or just people close by. You then go through and select those you are interested in. Usually it’s based on just a picture because people are shallow bastards, but sometimes also based on interests under the picture if it does that – I haven’t used this one, since I’m not looking for a woman, so I’m not exactly sure but it’d be something like that.”

“Ok. So his profile is sent as suggestions to others, and he gets a list of people. Then does he have to wait for both parties to choose each other?”
“Nah, usually you get notified if someone is interested in your profile, but you don’t have to mutually like each other to send a message.”
“And then what? Is it normal to go to a neutral location for a date, or do you just show up at one of the party’s houses and shag?”

Elaine laughed. “All depends on the people, Greg. You tend to just start with a hello message, and work out details that work for both of you. You can pretty quickly tell what a bloke’s like through those introduction messages. If he sends you a dick pic in the first few lines, you block him… well, that’s my motto, at least.”

Mike approached the table with a takeaway cup in hand. Greg hadn’t noticed him walking into the shop, since he was in the seat against the back of the coffee machine and facing the wall.
“Greg, good to see you.”
“Oh, hey, Mike. Sorry, I was just talking to Elaine. I needed to get some information for work.”
“Greg? Is that all you need for now?”
“Hm? Oh, yeah, that’s all been very helpful, thanks Elaine. I’ll come back if I have a specific question, if that’s alright?”
“Anytime, Greg.”

Elaine left and Mike slid into the seat she’d been occupying.
“You seemed up a height on the phone, is everything ok?”

The adrenaline from gathering information related to the case seeped out of him, and Greg was left feeling deflated. Right… that’s what I intended to talk about.
“Um… no. Honestly, no. I mean I-I’d like it to be, but I think now… there’s just too much… it’s not as it’s made out to be, I know that much, but how much I don’t know, and I don’t know what to feel about it in the first place, and so I–”
“Whoa, mate, slow down. You’re hardly making any sense. Start from the beginning, yeah?”

Mike reached out and grasped Greg’s hand supportively. He hadn’t realised that his hand had started to tremble.
“Sorry,” he sniffed. Mike patted his hand, but it kept trembling. “Feeling cold I guess,” he offered as explanation. He was actually rather chilled despite the warm atmosphere. Greg wrapped his hands around the hot mug of coffee and took a breath.

“Greg,” Mike spoke, his eyes staring into Greg’s with a fierce determination. “You’re not yourself.”
“No,” Greg admitted. He clenched his jaw and looked away. “I don’t think I am.”
“Is this about the hallucinations? Are they getting worse?”
“No, actually. Better, in fact.”
“Why do you sound like that’s only the beginning of something terrible?”
“I don’t know how much to say.”
“Everything, Greg. You know that it’s better to be open.”
“Bu–”
“I won’t tell anyone, unless I am extremely concerned for your health.” Mike sighed, as if he was not happy having say it. Greg didn’t know if that was because his friend was hesitant to keep things to himself, or just that he had to repeat his stance on the matter.

“Good. Ok. I just… I need information. It’s been months and they still haven’t really told me much. And I think knowing more about… everything… will help make… things… clearer.”

Mike pursed his lips and looked at Greg sceptically. Greg averted his eyes, not wanting to see any suspicion in Mike’s face. He knew he should have been smoother in his explanation.
“More information is often the better choice,” Mike said slowly. “What can I tell you?”
“You know how I asked if you knew much about a patient’s situation in the hospital after a head injury?”
“Yes. I told you that I don’t generally deal with brain injuries, nor do I have much to do with the patients beyond the surgery and their immediate recovery.”
“But you would have to know a bit about the procedures, right?”
“Some,” Mike answered, still obviously wondering where Greg was headed with his questions.

“How many people would have been involved in my case at the hospital? Just at a guess.”
“Directly? I’d say… probably around fifteen.”
“Ok. And how many of those would have been crucial to the recovery of the exact nature of my injury, personally?”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
“Like… what could you get away with, if you were trying to do it with the least possible amount of people involved?”

Mike frowned at him, and Greg could feel his heart hammering. He hoped his friend wasn’t deducing the reasoning behind his questions, or worse still, formulating an idea that was even more dramatic sounding.

“Do you think you weren’t treated properly, Greg?”
“I just want to know who would know the exact nature of my condition when I was there, and those who were vital in my recovery.”
“Those are different questions, really. Nurses are the backbone of recovery, but they don’t always know everything about the patient. It’s why there’s a team to help people… so that people only have to focus on their area of expertise.”

“Mike, please.” Greg paused and let the moment stand for effect. “How many people would absolutely need to know everything that happened to me to save my life – since it’s obvious that’s what happened. If, say, all this happened… in some remote region, and you had to fly the smallest group of people possible in.”
“Five, I’d say,” Mike rumbled. “But I still don’t understand how this relates to you.”  

Greg flickered his eyes from side to side before leaning in and speaking quietly. “And those other ten… if they were told something different happened, would they still be able to help without being able to tell?”
“I… guess.”
“And the paperwork. Can that be changed?
“Changed how, Greg?”
“Like,” Greg cleared his throat, “I-I don’t know; altered. Say, if someone comes in from a poisoning, but then is treated for the toxin. Could the record be changed by someone to show that they actually had just an upset stomach or the flu or something?”

Mike didn’t move, but Greg held his concerned gaze. He wondered if perhaps he’d told Mike too much, but if it was impossible to change the records completely to hide a ‘secret treatment’, then his theory fell apart.
“Yes,” Mike whispered. “It shouldn’t, but it can be done. At least the technology would allow for it.”
“So you can change the nature of a patient’s injury, and the rest of the team treats the patient based on the new information?”
“Provided the change fits the actual condition. Sorry, is this for a case, Greg? Wouldn’t you have people to answer these questions for you? It’s just… it’s sounding a lot like you’re asking for… you. And that’s concerning.”

Greg leant back in his chair so he was no longer resting his arms on the table. So, it is possible for John and Sherlock to have done something and Mycroft cover it up. And only five isn’t a lot of people to silence, either.

“Do you think someone changed your files?”
He analysed Mike’s face for a moment, but as he could find nothing but genuine concern as usual, Greg decided to reveal more.
“Maybe. I-I can’t be sure, Mike, but I think it’s possible. You can’t, and I mean it, you can’t tell John. Or Sherlock. I’m serious, mate, you–”
“Yes, you’ve said. Your insistence in keeping things from them is becoming obsessive, Greg.”

“No. And I’m not paranoid either. It’s only paranoia when it’s unfounded, right? Well… I heard Sherlock and John talking. They said… uhh… they said that they were controlling the situation. Controlling what Mycroft knows. So he’s in on it too, but doesn’t know what’s really going on. He probably knows the start, about what Sherlock did initially, but Sherlock’s been keeping up the experiment. They–”
“Greg,” Mike interrupted again, “this can’t go on. Look at yourself. You’re not well. But it’s ok. Let us help you.”

“I-I have a psychologist appointment on Tuesday,” Greg floundered, suddenly panicking that he’d lost control of the situation.
“I don’t think I can keep this to myself, Greg. I’m glad you’re getting help, but you are really out of sorts and I think those who care for you should know why.”
“They know!”
“Do they? Really? All of it?”

Greg fell silent, the only sounds he could hear was the rushing of blood in his ears from his pounding heart. Mike managed to give him a look that was both smug for winning the argument, and concerned.    
“I…”
“Greg, Mycroft should know. He loves you. Let him, at least, in.”
“I can’t.”
“Why?”

Greg frowned, clenching his jaw. He hadn’t wanted to confront the feelings as to why he was still keeping things from Mycroft. If he entirely believed his own story, then Mycroft was being manipulated as well and held no malicious intent towards Greg. He would, theoretically, come clean about his involvement once Greg revealed his suspicions.

Mike let the silence stay as Greg thought. There were two emotions that gripped him strongly when thinking about finally talking to Mycroft about everything: fear, and guilt.

“Because,” Greg said slowly through gritted teeth, “I’m afraid.”
Mike tilted his head.
“And I am ashamed,” he added, deflated.
“Of what?”
“Myself. I… I have suspected him of so much that he didn’t deserve, I didn’t trust him, and worse still, I lied to him when he asked me what was going on… and not just once. I can’t imagine how he’d feel if I told him that, and it’s easier not to face that shame.”
“And the fear?”

Greg swallowed uncomfortably. He was no longer accustomed to being this brutally honest about himself, which was part of why he knew he had to say it.
“Things with Mycroft are good. I haven’t felt so loved or considered in my life. In spite of everything, I haven’t been happier. I am afraid that if I say something, then it all falls apart.”
“I see,” Mike uttered solemnly. “How?”
“I don’t want him to get so hurt by my lying, my concealment, my distrust, hell even my spying on him, that he… he leaves. He’s said he would never, but I don’t think he understands. It’s not like he’s had much experience with relationships. He may not have an awareness of what that kind of hurt can do to a relationship.”

“Maybe not, but that’s not reason for him not to know.”
“Yeah, I think it is. I can just get this sorted myself.”
“That’s not what being in a partnership means, mate.”
“Oh and what’d you know of that?” Greg snapped. He instantly regretted it, seeing the pain in his friend’s eyes.

“You’re right,” Mike mumbled after a pregnant pause between them. “I’m just a fat doctor, right? Who’d want that.”
“Mike…”
“But that means I at least know what I’m talking about with your health. From what I’ve heard, you’re not just paranoid, but also delusional. And that’s medically speaking, not taking stab at you. You think that your medical records were changed, because Sherlock did something to do you and is still experimenting on you. I don’t think you’re actually in your right mind to make the best choices for your health. That’s why you have others who love you to do that, and Myc is–”
“No,” he uttered. “Please don’t.”

The pit of Greg’s stomach dropped as he realised not only that Mike had picked up a lot more then Greg had intended to share, but also where Mike was going with that statement.
“I have to say something, Greg. I won’t tell John like I damned-well should because I value your trust in me, but I’m telling your partner.”
“No!” Greg shouted.
“Greg, calm down,” Mike said, flushing red from embarrassment and looking about the coffee shop.
“How can I? You’re about to ruin my life!”
“I’m not doing that…”
“I just told you that’d be what happens. You are. Face it. He’ll leave me, and Sherlock’ll… maybe you’re actually jealous of me. Maybe you don’t want me to be happy.”
“You know that’s not true.”
“How do I? I can’t seem to tell what anything is anymore!” Greg, in a panic, jumped to his feet.

Mike held up his hands in submission. “It’s ok, it’s ok, Greg… just… sit down.”
“No. No I… I’m…” Greg struggled to find the words to express his feelings. He knew he’d taken a few cheap shots at his mate, but he felt so angry, so almost betrayed, that he couldn’t help it. He never was one to be rational in an argument; instead the emotions took over and resulted in him saying things he didn’t mean… his ex-wife never let him forget it.

“Greg.”
“Don’t tell Myc.”
“I have to, I believe it’s the r–”
“You’re just like them!”
“Don’t be angry at me, Greg. You just need–”
“He doesn’t even know I’m meeting you!”
“Why? Greg… you’re not well. Let people help you.”
“I’m–”
“If you say ‘fine’, I’ll take you to the hospital and admit you myself… and just work out the paperwork later,” Mike threatened.

Greg froze and said nothing in response. His body began screaming at him to get out of there. His heart was pounding and he needed to escape, to get away. He couldn’t let Mike take him in, where he’d be asked questions he couldn’t answer, and potentially be committed.

Greg shook his head and fled. He wasn’t sure where he was headed; he only registered the blur of colours amidst the rain as he ran.

The rain continued to pelt down. Greg only thought to try and get out of the downpour once he was standing at the edge of the park. He squinted and saw a lone bench resting underneath a tree that hadn’t shed all of its leaves. He hurried under the canopy and sat down. Only some of the rain was blocked by the remaining leaves, but it was enough for Greg to sit, calm himself, and gather his thoughts.

I can’t let them take me. I can’t let John and Sherlock know… they’ll deny it, keep experimenting, and treat me like I’m crazy. But then there’s always the risk that I actually am losing it. I don’t want to have to admit that.

Greg suddenly noticed the sound of rain pattering on something. He then realised that the droplets weren’t hitting him anymore. He looked up and saw an umbrella hovering over his head, and Mycroft standing behind him.

“How did you find me?”
“Darling… I know you. Nature has always been in your heart; you seek it out in times of stress. It was only logical that you would escape here.”
“Right,” Greg said, sniffling. He looked down at his soaked knees, and then back up at Mycroft. “Why did you find me?”
“I will always find you.”

His heart ached hearing those words. Tears bubbled to the surface and streamed down his cheeks. At least in the rain, it wasn’t obvious that he was crying. Mycroft moved around the bench and sat down beside Greg. He then reached out with the arm not holding the umbrella and held him close.

“’M gettin’ you wet,” Greg mumbled.
“It is inconsequential.”
Greg nodded and rested his head against Mycroft’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

They sat there together in the rain for a few minutes in silence. Greg didn’t know what to say. Mike had obviously told Mycroft what had happened, for Myc to come looking for him, but exactly how much had been said between the two of them, he didn’t know.

“Do you want to tell me what happened?” Mycroft asked slowly.
“No. But I think you’re going to make me tell you either way.”
“I would not force you, my love. I simply wish that you would.”
“I told Mike some things. He said some things back, and I panicked.”
“What things?”
“I said… I told him I think Sherlock might be up to something. Mike… he probably didn’t think that human experimentation was something Sherlock would be capable of, and so seemed to think that made me delusional and was going to section me.”

Greg knew he should tell the whole truth, but he couldn’t face Mycroft reacting in the same way. Or worse. Not at the moment, when he needed the man there for support. He held his breath as he awaited the reply.

“Dr Stamford is, unfortunately, rather unaware to the degree in which my brother can become determined regarding his experiments. A kind hearted soul would have difficulty understanding how another human being could honestly hold a fellow person’s experiences and freedoms in so little regard. Whilst you or I would believe Sherlock capable of slipping strangers, colleagues, and even friends, substances against their will… your friend would not.”

“So you don’t think I’m crazy to think it?”
“No, my dear. I believe Dr Watson has been drugged on three occasions thus far without his knowledge, and I myself have been too many times to recount at this stage. Of course, he’d never attempt anything harmful, but he does think that anything without lasting effects are acceptable.”

Greg sighed a breath of relief. It was comforting to hear that someone else would think Sherlock capable of conducting an experiment on him. He wanted to tell Mycroft the whole story, but it involved his partner being truthful about his part in the situation, and Greg wasn’t sure if he could trust Mycroft to be honest about that.

Still, now that the emotional response had died down, Mike’s words were making more sense. He decided he’d give it a shot and hope, but to test the waters first to see if the answer would be truthful.

“If I asked you something, would you respond honestly?”
“I… you know that I sometimes have to keep things from you, Gregory.”
“I know, but does that mean lying?”
“It has, on occasion. You know this.”
“Even if I asked you not to?”
“Darling, I do not want to deceive you; it is a requirement placed upon me. Asking me to be truthful in such circumstances only serves to make me feel worse about that obligation.”

“So if I asked if you were a secret agent…”
Mycroft chuckled. “If I were, that would undoubtedly be one of the circumstances requiring me to lie to you.”
Greg noticed how it wasn’t a denial. “So,” he pushed, “does that mean you have to lie to me about it for the rest of our lives?”
“Well, no,” Mycroft answered, his voice tight. “If I were, then I believe I would be permitted to disclose at least the nature of my work to you upon marriage.”

“Marry me, then. Right now. That way you can tell me.” Greg looked up at Mycroft’s face, a playful grin on his face to let his partner know he was joking. He mostly was interested in hearing Mycroft’s reaction.
“Unfortunately it takes longer than that to arrange,” Mycroft chuckled. He then pressed a kiss to Greg’s forehead. “But one day soon enough.”

Greg pressed his lips together and nodded briefly. He then let his head rest upon Mycroft’s chest, just listening to his heartbeat and the rain pattering down on the umbrella above them.

The guilt returned with a vengeance as Mycroft’s words resounded in his head. He’s going to marry me one day, and is serious about it. Can I honestly agree to do the same while concealing things from him?

Chapter Text

“Gregory? Are you alright? You’re trembling.”

Greg looked up at Mycroft, who was undressing to join him in bed. He wasn’t really alright, but that wasn’t the cause of his shaking.
“Cold,” he responded with a grimace.
“Oh, dear. I do hope you did not make yourself ill getting drenched today.”
“That’s not how it works, and you know it,” Greg chided with a smile.
“True, however you are already under significant strain and emotional stress, therefore the tax to your system from the cold could increase the likelihood of infection.”

Mycroft finished putting his pyjama shirt on and padded over to Greg. He pressed his wrist to Greg’s forehead. “Hmm, no fever.”
“I could just be cold, you know.”

Mycroft smiled at him and dropped his trousers. Greg’s eyebrows flew up when he saw the lace pants Mycroft was wearing.
“I left in a hurry,” Mycroft explained amidst a flush of embarrassment.
“Oh, right… sorry,” Greg said distractedly as he watched Mycroft change into his normal underwear. He’d forgotten their conversation before he’d left for his walk.

Mycroft joined Greg in the bed and wrapped his limbs around Greg’s body. “You do feel fairly cold, yes,” he murmured into Greg’s neck. “Snuggle close into me.”
“No problem there,” Greg hummed in response. “Goodnight, love.”

~

Greg stood at the board in the office, looking at the information collected about Tyron Sheppard. There wasn’t much of it. He couldn’t deny that the most likely suspects were the ex-girlfriend and her housemate, but Greg just knew in his gut that they didn’t do it. The only evidence he had to support the feeling was that Helen Davies physically couldn’t have lifted the victim up and over the railing, and (less concretely) that the housemate likely wouldn’t have been let into the house.

There was something about Miss Davies, though. He knew there was as surely as he knew she wasn’t involved in the murder. Greg felt like he was missing a crucial link… something to explain how he felt that she was important in what had happened, but as a pawn instead of a participant. It was frustrating him immensely.

He growled to himself and stomped back to his office to think. Once he’d sat at his desk, however, the anger left him and he once again felt deflated. His body was urging him to have a coffee. He’d wrestled himself to drink the one Mycroft had made in the morning, and for some reason, his brain had decided that meant it hadn’t counted towards his daily caffeine dose.

Mycroft hadn’t brought up anything about Greg’s belief of Sherlock drugging him. He didn’t want to blurt out with an accusation of being drugged by his partner with a substance made by his mad scientist brother, just in case that wasn’t what was happening. He wasn’t sure enough yet to start making statements. He didn’t know why, exactly, but it felt like he was walking on thin ice and didn’t want to jump about too much until it’d solidified properly.

Ice was an appropriate metaphor, too. He was still freezing. The cold hadn’t gotten to him like this before. Winter was indeed encroaching, but most of the places Greg spent his time were heated. Yet, no matter what he wore, he couldn’t shake the bone-deep chill. He had to wonder if it was a side-effect of the drugs in his coffee… but he’d concluded that even if it was, being cold was preferable to hallucinating.

Olivia returned to her desk, and so Greg went out to ask her into his office for a chat. She’d looked uneasy, which in turn made Greg uneasy… Ellis usually only looked like she was about to get a dressing-down when she deserved one.

“Ok, look, I know I might have gone a bit far with the American friend, Lestrade… but I got important information out of it.”
Greg just raised an eyebrow at her and kept his gaze fixed. She slumped into the chair and crossed her arms.
“Sally might have told you that the friend is gonna try sue, since she’s American… but hey, like I told her… she’s American… they don’t have any jurisdiction over us.”
“Tell me what happened, and the important information you said you received.”
“Well I was working the case, like you told me. I called the friend back after hours – so technically I wasn’t even on duty – so that it’d be a good hour over there. I just asked some questions, and snapped at her for crying a few times. The woman was blubbering, Lestrade. I couldn’t make out what she was saying.”

Greg hummed with mild disapproval. He knew that Ellis’ ‘snapping’ could be quite harsh and aggressive at the best of times.
“And the information?”
“Yes. She said that Tyron was upset about the break up, and honestly hadn’t done what he’d been accused of.”
“Could be just what he told her,” Greg added.
“Of course, I’m not an idiot,” Ellis snorted. “That’s not what I meant by ‘important’; let me finish for god’s sake. She said that Tyron was upset, but it wasn’t going to stop him working on the next lot of works he’d promised for the gallery. He was going to make a fair bit of money out of it, apparently. The friend, whatever her name was, said that Tyron had also promised her a painting once he was done.”
“Alright…?”
“Yeah yeah… so, I asked her if she was just friends with him for the free art to get money–”
“Oh, Liv,” Greg groaned, rubbing his face with his hands.

“Oi, if I hadn’t, she wouldn’t have shouted that she didn’t need the money from it, and that she already had two others that he’d done before he’d gotten super famous which were worth a lot now, but that she’d never sell them like others had because they were personal.”
“And that’s important why?”
“Because Greg,” Ellis said with obvious strained patience, “it tells us that there are others that he knew who did sell works given to them from that time.”
“It’s obvious that an artist has artworks around from before they were famous, Liv. That’s kinda how it works.”
“Yeah, but we never thought about it before.”
“Because there isn’t much to consider; it’s from a long time ago. He didn’t have contact with whoever they are for years… hardly suspects in a very recent murder. There wasn’t a point in trying to find them.”
“Ah… but that’s where we’re wrong. I asked a few more perfectly reasonable questions–”
“Really?”
“Yes,” Olivia huffed. “It’s not my fault people are sensitive and take offense from questions that are objective, or to statements that are hypothetical or generalised intended to draw out a reaction.”
“What did you say?” Greg groaned, letting his head fall back against his chair. He was honestly glad that the person on the receiving end of Ellis’ determined inconsideration wasn’t a British citizen.

“Just that people lie and only care about money, that sentiment has a price tag, and that maybe the American was lying to herself to make herself feel better about being as garbage as the next person… and that, maybe, those other people never wanted the gifts in the first place because they didn’t think Sheppard was any good as either an artist or friend.”
“Ellis seriously, we’ve talked about this.”
“It’s not like she’s going to file a complaint that’ll get anywhere. Besides, that’s what got me to the real jackpot of it all.”
“I’m listening.”
“Turns out, they’re not all in the past. The people with his old paintings. Teary McY’all told me, rather forcefully, that not all the old stuff were gifts and that one of the buyers loved his art so much that he stayed a regular supporter. I could only get a first name, René, but I found out that this guy has been around since the beginning. And, get this, was going to have first pick of the new collection for the gallery.”
“What?”
“Because he’d been a faithful supporter for so long, Mr Sheppard was going to let him pick works he wanted to buy before sending them to the gallery for sale.”

Olivia looked smug in her chair, and Greg had to admit that she had a right to. He didn’t agree with her methods, but they hadn’t heard anything about a regular buyer from any of their sources or from looking at years of the victim’s bank records.
“Does the gallery know? Could someone have been jealous?”
“And thought that the artist was being unfair? I’ve thought of that. I don’t know if the gallery knew, but even if they did, Lestrade… killing the artist is much like a dog killing its owner for giving the cat the best bits of dinner. They’d just be starving themselves. It’d make more sense to kill the cat, if you know what I mean.”
“Can we try and find this René? Maybe they did.”

“No… there’s still the problem of cutting off the gallery’s food supply, Lestrade. The ex-girlfriend still is the prime suspect. Though, I agree we need to find out who René is and see if he can give us any more leads. There might be something he can tell us that put more evidence against Miss Davies.”
“Good. There’s something with her, but I doubt this buyer would be able to give us much in the way of evidence against her, Ellis. He might, though, give us that missing puzzle piece.”
“You think he could be a suspect?”
“Maybe. We’ll have to see what he says. At the moment it doesn’t sound like there’s a motive for murder… it makes as little sense for the cat to kill the owner as the dog. The stuff he wants to buy would end, so why do it? And since we hadn’t heard of him until today, it doesn’t sound like he was that involved in the victim’s life.”

Greg sat upright in his chair, remembering why he’d called Ellis into his office. “Look, Liv,” he started awkwardly, and leant forward to perch his elbows on the desk. “I’m… I need you to take the lead of this case from now on.”
“Oh,” Ellis breathed, and visibly relaxed. “I thought you were about to suspend me again.”
“No, no. Actually I think your methods have helped this case a lot… but be a bit more careful from now on, yeah?”
“Sure. But, um, why do you need me to take the lead? Is everything ok?”
“Honestly, not really. I’m not as fit to be back at work as I need to be. But I can’t really let on to anyone, at least not yet. I have a day off tomorrow and I might have some more information after that.”
“Wait, so you want me to do all the work while you get all the credit?”
“Jesus Liv, you make it sound like I’m some kind of prima donna credit junkie,” Greg grumbled.

“Greg,” Ellis said, her tone serious. “I was joking. It’s fine. I’ll just make the decisions and tell everyone you’ve given me clearance for it already, and give you the end results. Is that ok?”
“Be sensible with this, Liv. I’m trusting you.”
Uncharacteristically, Ellis straightened and nodded respectively. “Thank you for it.”

She stood and moved towards the door, but stopped. “What about Donovan?”
“What about her?”
“Does she know about this… arrangement?”
“No,” Greg answered. “I’m not sure what to tell her, to be honest.”
“Yeah, she’s got the rule book up her arse a bit much to let you keep working if you’re not fit for duty.”
“Ellis,” Greg warned.
“She does care for you, though, mate. It’s not just her being difficult with the rules. I care for you too, but you know that. I just think doing this will help you more instead of kicking up a fuss that throws you into the spotlight. We want to see you ok, Greg. Let me know there’s anything else I can do to help make that happen, yeah?”

“Thanks. Oh, there was something about the case I wanted to ask you. Check in with IT about the information in the victim’s phone. I spoke with a friend on the weekend, and she told me that the app the victim used for cheating probably has a location service. We might get an idea of where they met as well as the guy’s identity… it could give us some new evidence, since I doubt the first meeting would have been at the victim’s home.”
“You think it could be as simple as the guy he cheated with getting angry over being the mistress?”
“Well… I guess we’re suspicious of Davies and the housemate because of how biphobic they were, so it’s possible that the guy he met was as well.”
“Yeah we cop shit at both ends,” Ellis grumbled. “It’s a good idea. We’ll look into it.”

Ellis opened the door just as Donovan was about to knock, and so almost received a gentle punch to the face.
“Oh, Olivia, sorry,” Sally mumbled.
“’S fine.”
“Boss. Samuels was called on scene for a body and can’t tell if it was accidental or murder.”
“Oh.” Greg hesitated. Donovan looked at him curiously, and Ellis pointedly raised her eyebrows at him as if challenging him to deny the case and reveal why. “Right. Ellis, I’m leaving you in charge of the Sheppard case. Do whatever you think needs doing. Donovan, I guess we’ll go look into this.”
“Have fun,” Ellis cooed as she left, sauntering out of the door.
“Go hound forensics for that chemical analysis!” Greg shouted through the door. He was personally glad that he now no longer had to go bother Sherlock today. Ellis flicked her fingers in a form of salute to indicate she’d do it.

“She’s not in trouble, then?”
“For?”
“The offended American?”
“Oh. I talked to her. She’s going to be more careful. I… I told her that I’m going to give her the reigns with that one, and if she can prove that she can be a model officer for it, I’ll see about her taking more cases for herself.”
“So, what? She breaks the rules and gets rewarded?”
“That’s not how it is. Punishment doesn’t work with her, and you know it. Besides, she’s good at what she does, even if it’s different to how you do it. Jealousy really isn’t a good look on you, Donovan.”

Sally suppressed a snort, but kept her mouth shut. Greg smirked. He then gestured for her to leave before him.
“Maybe I should start being a bitch,” Sally uttered as they walked.
“Start?” Greg asked playfully. Sally rolled her eyes at him. “You’re good at what you do, the way you do it. I need both of you as you are.”
“But she gets the case.”
“Well, you can have this one.”
“Doesn’t sound as big, though.”
“All the better for your solve rate, then,” Greg chuckled.
“So if it’s mine, I guess I don’t need you coming with me?”
“Nice try, but I still have to go. You can do all the detective work. I’ll just suggest here and there, but you still have to give me progress reports.”
“Well, obviously. Don’t need to tell me that.”

“I’ll be sure Ellis knows too,” Greg explained slowly, as if talking to squabbling siblings. It was strange how often it felt like that, with Ellis and Donovan. They bickered, they got jealous, they even insulted each other… but they were also respectful, dynamic, and would always be there to support each other.

Greg was glad that he had such competent women working for him so that he could take a step back.  

 

 

Chapter Text

Greg took in his surrounds. The small apartment was fairly messy; clothes were strewn over the floor, takeaway containers lay on various surfaces, blankets were haphazardly thrown on furniture, and there was rubbish all over. Forensics had already started cataloguing the scene. Greg moved through them to look at the body.

She was tiny; a young Asian woman probably in her early twenties, and barely looked to be forty kilos. Greg looked about and noticed that the pathway from where she lay in the bed to the toilet was clear of items.
“She’s been unwell,” he mumbled. He then noticed a bucket by the bed underneath a towel. “Vomiting.”

The woman in charge of forensics nodded, and gave them the run-down. Kimi Watanabe, twenty-one, died between eight and ten pm Sunday evening. Cause of death was still unconfirmed; there were no wounds or obvious marks on the body, and so they suspected poisoning. The friend had said the victim had contacted her on Saturday saying she was sick.  

The door was locked, no forced entry, and no one entered the room based on the CCTV footage of the hallway since the woman had arrived home on Friday night until her friend arrived to check on her. The friend was with a constable for when Greg was ready to question her.

“Sally,” Greg uttered under his breath. “It was arsenic poisoning.”
“What?”
“I… I can’t tell you how I know, but I just… do.” It was like intuition again, but clearer than just having a hunch about the drugs for the Miller case. He knew it, as much as he knew things fell down because of gravity.
“Greg, it’s not the nineteenth century anymore. People don’t just show up dead from arsenic poisoning nowadays. You can’t jump to that conclusion.”
“I’m not…” Greg stopped himself as he raised his voice, attracting the attention of one of the SOCOs. “I’m not jumping to conclusions because there’s no other signs of death. It is arsenic,” he continued, hushed.

Sally dragged him by the elbow over to the corner of the room. “Greg, what evidence do you have that it’s arsenic? Because I agree poisoning looks to be likely, but no one has arsenic lying about anymore. It’s a highly regulated substance. It might have been the poison of choice for murder back when you could go to the pharmacy and buy enough to knock out a neighbourhood no questions asked, but that’s a long time ago. You know this.”

Greg bit his lip. While it was logical to conclude poisoning likely, given what they knew, Greg had no way of explaining his hunch through observation. He tried to rationalise it, and then his mind suddenly caught up with his instinct. The man flouring steak. It wasn’t flour.

“I’m telling you Donovan… I–”
“Greg, I know things aren’t going brilliant for you lately… maybe you should just let me take over from here.”
“No! I mean, yes, it’s your case.” He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “I just… test for it. I’ll go talk to the friend and try to work out who the man was while you look about here.”
“Man? What man?”

Greg swallowed uncomfortably. He wasn’t sure how he was going to explain his slip. On the one hand he could pretend he assumed the victim was murdered and by a man, and get a dressing-down from Donovan about being sexist, or he could explain his premonition and get either dismissed from the case or laughed at. He opened his mouth to respond, but still hadn’t decided what he was going to say… and so remained awkwardly frozen. Damn, now it’s been too long to pass off the comment as a misguided assumption.

The more he thought about it, the more Greg felt the pressure weigh upon him to throw caution to the wind and find the man as soon as possible – he’d been exposed to the arsenic too. Greg didn’t have time to worry about Donovan thinking him crazy.

“I think there’s a man involved; and that he accidentally poisoned her making dinner.”
“Ok,” Donovan responded slowly. “Why?”
“I can’t say exactly… I just… it wasn’t murder, Donovan; we have to find this guy before he dies too… if he’s not already dead. Trust me on this, Sally. Please.”
“Maybe you should–”
“No,” Greg snapped reflexively. “I can’t explain it but you have to give me a chance. If I’m right, then we could very well save someone’s life.”

He clenched his eyes closed and leant back against the wall. His head was starting to hurt, and he had the faint tingle of pain where his head wound had been. His heart started to slow as the adrenaline rush left his system, and the chilled feeling returned.

“You don’t look well, Greg.”
“I don’t really feel it,” he admitted quietly. “Headache’s coming on and I’m still fucking freezing. I’ll talk with the friend, but then I think I’ll call it a day. You know I have tomorrow off, yeah?”
“Yeah. Good thing, too, I think.”

Greg winced slightly as he looked at Sally’s concerned face. He nodded gently.
“I’ll get them to do the arsenic test first of the lot, alright?”
“Don’t have to sound so patronising,” Greg huffed, crossing his arms, “but thank you.” He pushed himself forward off the wall and rubbed his face.
“Take it easy, ok, boss?”
“I’ll let you know what I find out.”

~

“I’m Detective Inspector Lestrade. I have a few questions to ask, if that’s alright?”

The girl sniffed and nodded at him. Greg smiled gently and sat with her in the small room. They were back at Scotland Yard in one of the more comforting interview rooms.
“I’m Samira, a-as you know, but, y-you can call me Sammy if you like.”
“Thank you, Sammy. Now, you were friends with Kimi, is that right?”
The girl let out a sob and nodded. “S-she was my best friend. We m-met in school.”

Greg nodded. He knew it was important to get some background, but he really wanted to try get to the point of asking about the mystery man. “Right. You told Constable Samuels that you went to check on her since she hadn’t responded to you or turned up for work today, is that right?” Sammy nodded at him. “When was the last time you spoke with her?”
“U-uhm, Saturday night? Yeah. She’d said she wasn’t coming out with us clubbing because she’d gotten food poisoning. I-I had been out late, drinking, and uh spent the night with someone, and b-by the time I’d gotten home, I w-was still hung over, s-s-so I just slept.”
“Did she tell you how she’d gotten food poisoning?”

Sammy shook her head. “N-no, sorry.”
“Did she say how long she’d been feeling sick?”
“No.”
Greg sighed and bit his lip, thinking.

“It couldn’t have been long, though. We had dinner on Thursday. And I know I didn’t give her food poisoning! I had the same as her; my whole family did. Goat vindaloo. None of us got sick. Is that what happened? She died of food poisoning?”
“I’m not accusing you of anything,” Greg reminded gently. “Just trying to work out what happened.”
“Right. But is it?”
“We don’t know anything yet, unfortunately. We’ll have to wait for the test results. So, you saw her Thursday night and she was ok, and Saturday night she said she was sick. Do you know what she did in that time?”
“Uhh… I think she was having dinner with Tom on Friday, but I don’t know much else.”

“Tom?” Greg tried not to let his enthusiasm show.
“Yeah. A guy she’s seen a few times. I… I don’t think he would have hurt her, Inspector. He might be a bit thick, but he’s very kind. I know he was really nervous to impress her.”
“What’s his full name?”
“Something English sounding, uh… Ca-Car… Cartwright? Yeah, Tom Cartwright.”
“Is there anything else you can tell me about him? Contact details?”
“No, sorry.”
“That’s ok. I’ll get someone to find him. Thank you for your help. I’ll leave you back with Constable Samuels for now, and we’ll let you know if we need anything else.”

Greg quickly left to start the search for Tom Cartwright, not caring that the interview was a lot shorter than it should have been, and hoping that they’d find Tom in time.

~

“Ah, Greg, there you are. I contacted IT, and they said that Tyron Sheppard didn’t have the app on his phone.”
Greg stopped walking back to his desk and turned to face Ellis. “What?”
“It wasn’t on there. They said that it hadn’t ever been downloaded.”
He frowned. “But Elaine said it’s a phone-only service… have you confirmed that?”
“Uh… yeah, it is,” Ellis answered, obviously unsure as to who Elaine was. Greg decided it wasn’t important to tell her.

“Great,” he sighed. “Just what we need: more questions. If only it could have been as simple as finding whoever he met through the phone. What about his contacts? Could one of those recent calls have been the guy?”
“Well, maybe. There’s only been calls to the gallery in the last month, and a few to his internet company. He hasn’t contacted most of the people in his contacts for a year or more. I can ask them to give me a list of the used contacts in the last three months, I guess.”

Greg resumed walking, and Ellis walked along with him. “Do that,” he said. He then sighed. “Well what does this mean? If he hasn’t had the app on his phone? Another phone that he’s gotten rid of, perhaps, to make sure Helen didn’t find it? I guess ultimately it doesn’t matter, since we can just contact the developers and ask for the messages sent so we can find anyone that he’s met.”

“Already done, Lestrade. I should have a response tomorrow from them.”
“Good. Good,” Greg muttered absently as he opened his office door. Ellis was always on her game. She followed him into the room. “Was there anything else?” he asked kindly.
“Yeah. I checked with forensics, and Sherlock has posted the test results in the system. I think he wanted to talk to you about it.”

Greg sighed as he threw himself into his chair. His headache hadn’t stopped, and he was feeling weary. “Can you just give me the quick version?”
“They found fibres on the face, in the redder marks, that suggested that something fabric was tied around his face and mouth. Testing showed isoflurane.”
Greg frowned. “Isoflurane? That’s uh… that’s an anaesthetic, isn’t it?”
“Yeah.”
“How’d the killer get a hold of it, then? Do we have any hospitals reporting any going missing?”

“I’ve asked Johnson to have a look, but so far, no. And it’s not just hospitals. After some research, it turns out that isoflurane is used a lot as anaesthetic in day surgeries, specialist centres, small practices, and vet clinics as well. That makes a lot more potential places for our killer to have gotten their hands on the stuff. And the thing is… you wouldn’t have to steal a whole lot of it for only one murder.”
“And so it might not have been noticed, yeah,” Greg finished. “So much for finding another connection.”

Ellis smiled kindly at him. “We have a better idea of what happened, at least.”
“I guess. It’s not much to go on, though.”
“Perhaps not,” she said as she took a seat. “But anything is something. It tells us that whoever did this managed to access the chemical, and get close enough to the victim to physically tie something over his face to knock him out.”

“Successfully, as well. I’ll say it again, Liv… I don’t think the girlfriend is capable of this murder.” Greg didn’t explain his gut feeling that she was important somehow in the case, but didn’t kill the victim. All he could keep saying was how improbable it was for someone so small and delicate to lift such a large body up over a railing.  

“It’s looking more like that, yeah,” Ellis agreed. “Tyron was a big bloke… not just large, but tall and pretty muscled. The killer would have also needed to be strong enough to physically fight him off to tie something over his face like that.”
“Didn’t look like there was much of a fight anywhere in that house. More like a gentle skirmish in the studio. Everything was too perfectly neat for the killer, who didn’t fix the table or the rugs properly, to have put back in order.”
“Oh… there was something else in the reports; the part that Sherlock wanted to talk to you about. There was diazepam in his blood.”

Greg frowned and looked at her curiously. “If diazepam was used, then why was there also the isoflurane?”
Ellis shrugged. “The chemistry part isn’t my forte. I went looking into the isoflurane lead instead of asking about the diazepam since it could be just coincidence – I mean the victim took anxiety pills regularly and we found an open box and a prescription for the stuff in his house.”

Greg closed his eyes and tried to convince himself that he needed to talk to Sherlock before heading home.
“Greg?”
“Sorry, did you say something?”
“No. You just… you don’t look great, Greg. You’re very pale. Maybe you should go home.”
“I will. I’ll ask Sherlock about the results first.”
“Alright. I would, but we’re not exactly on friendly terms at the moment.”

Greg winced as he tilted his head.
“There was an incident this morning when I asked for the results,” Olivia explained. “He wasn’t happy that you weren’t here to talk to, or that I was leading the case. He said he didn’t have time to deal with overzealous pawns, and I said I didn’t have time for cranky toddlers either.”
“He can be that, yes,” Greg mumbled. Ellis chuckled and nodded knowingly.

Greg was glad that at least she recognised the times that she and Sherlock were likely to collide and explode, and avoided contact. They were both dedicated to the job and didn’t think too highly of rules and procedures, as well as being both rather outspoken and opinionated. Sometimes it worked brilliantly, and other times it led to fights that made Anderson look tame. 

Greg decided that he’d rather speak to Sherlock via email, but even then the mad chemist tended to waffle on. He definitely wasn’t in the mood to go visit him in person. He didn’t know why he felt apprehensive, since it was Sherlock’s concoction that had first saved his life and now stopped the hallucinations, but he was beyond worrying about his own emotions by this stage.

He groaned when he stared at the computer screen. No, a text would be better.

- Sherlock, what was it you wanted to tell me about the test results? Greg.

Not a minute later, his phone rang. Greg groaned before he answered.
“Sherlock, why are you calling me?”
“You texted me.”
“Yes, I mean, why aren’t you texting me instead?”
“You never text me.”
“Well, obvi–”
“What’s going on?”
“What?”
“Lestrade. I think we can both skip the part where we agree how smart I am, so just answer me. Why did you text me instead of your usual calling or in-person conversations?”

Greg sighed away from the receiver. Trust Sherlock not to let it go. “I have a headache, and I’m not feeling great, Sherlock. I wanted to have this conversation with the least amount of talking involved. Idiotic of me, I know. So can you just tell me so I can go home?”
Sherlock was quiet on the other end of the line, which was rather strange. “How long have you had the symptoms?”
“Does it matter? I don’t know; a few days.”

“Hm. No, that doesn’t matter. I found five milligrams per litre of diazepam in the blood. That’s not enough to knock him out. It was used in the murder, though, and not just taken by coincidence.”
“How do you figure?”
“The victim obviously took it fairly regularly for anxiety. However, there was almost no evidence of the metabolite desmethyldiazepam in his blood… which, given the half-life, means he died within three hours of taking it… my guess would be much sooner, actually; within the hour.”

Greg nodded into the phone as he processed the information. “Right. I… I still don’t see the need to talk with me about this, Sherlock. You could have just written it on the reports.”
“I did. But I have conjecture to discuss that I can’t put on the forms as part of my official capacity as toxicologist,” Sherlock stressed with a sting in his voice.
“Alright, what is it?” Greg didn’t have the energy to deal with any of the bite to Sherlock’s voice.

“This is evidence enough to suggest that the victim knew the killer. The victim took the pills willingly. It was clever, too, to use the victim’s own supply of diazepam in replicating a suicide. Normally the investigators would associate the levels to the victim attempting to calm himself before committing suicide.”
“We knew the victim knew the killer already, Sherlock.”
“No, we assumed based on his propensity to remain isolated and not allow strangers into his home. This is the first actual proof we have.”
“Alright, alright,” Greg groaned, letting his head roll back in the chair. He hated it when Sherlock was right about very obvious things.

“I’ll just explain what happened, then, given the evidence we have.” Sherlock’s voice was gentle, almost as if considerate of Greg’s headache. Greg was surprised but thankful.
“The victim knew the killer. The killer came over to his house, was welcomed, and it wasn’t suspicious to have a bag with them when they came.”
“Why is that pertinent?”
“How often do you see someone arrive unannounced at your house with a bag and think it normal?” Sherlock snapped, his patience obviously only so thin.

“I wouldn’t know, because I live with your brother now,” Greg retorted. He sighed, somewhat glad that Sherlock wasn’t as upset with that fact Greg had intended. “It’d be odd, yes. You’re right. Not many people would do that… it suggests a close relationship between victim and killer.”

Greg then sat upright. “Or… a utilities service person. We have calls to an internet company listed on his phone. He could have been just letting in a tech guy, who then killed him.”
“Lestrade, this person was not only trusted enough to be left alone in the house, but knew where to access his medications unsupervised. The victim also trusted them enough to consume a drink they prepared.”
“Drink?”
“Yes. I’m going to assume that the victim didn’t know how much they were taking, since that dose is enough to make someone quite sluggish –  he isn’t likely to have consented to that whilst in company, and certainly not in the company of a stranger, given what we know of his mental health.”
“Yeah, you’re right there.”

“Then, once the drugs had taken effect, the killer was able to tie a cloth soaked in isoflurane around the victim’s face, without much resistance, to render him unconscious and keep him that way whilst the rope was tied around the railing and the victim pushed over it.”

Greg remained quiet while he thought. Who would be welcomed into the house with a bag? We’re still missing something. Something grabbed Greg’s attention in Sherlock’s wording.
“Wait… you’re using the passive voice. Mycroft does that when he’s trying to explain his way out something. Why?”
“Very good, Inspector. You are getting better at this after all.”

Greg snorted down the line, but didn’t respond to Sherlock’s condescending tone. He was reminded too much of Sherlock experimenting on him to increase his abilities as a detective.
“Yes, I omitted the subject because once the victim was unconscious, anyone could have been granted entry into the house to tie the rope and lift the body over the railing.”
“We… we hadn’t really thought of that. Knowing that anaesthetic was used to keep him under… you’re right; there could have been plenty of time to get someone else in to actually finish off the murder.”

“Potentially, yes, but not necessarily. What we do know now is that the killer was known enough to be trusted alone in the house and for it to be inconspicuous to bring a bag with them. For a victim without many social connections, I imagine that’d help your investigation.”
“Yes,” Greg hummed. His mind was racing. “I think it does.”

Chapter Text

Greg kept his eyes adverted. The silence was ringing in his ears and his heart thudded uncomfortably in his chest. He had to focus on taking regular breaths.

I have to do this. It’s why I’m here. Regardless of what happens, I’m still the one in control. Everything isn’t about to be taken out of my hands. It’ll be ok… I just have to start.

“I am lost,” he spoke quietly. He moistened his lips and flickered his eyes to Imogen. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Has something happened?”
Greg looked into her eyes and nodded. He swallowed. “It was… I thought it’d be alright. I tried… tried to ignore it, but I… not anymore.”
“How long has this been going on, Greg?” Imogen asked, her tone sympathetic.

“Uh…” He had to stop and think. “Since the beginning. Something happened to me, and I say ‘something’ because I’m not so sure what anymore. An accident, I was told. Something life threatening. I woke up in the hospital, no memory of what had happened, and get told that I’d been in a coma for a week. That was… September. Two and a half months ago. It… god, it feels longer. So much has been crammed into that time.”

Imogen waited patiently for him to talk. Greg was glad she remembered him, and recognised the differences between him taking breaks while talking to formulate what he was going to say, and the silences where he needed help to draw the information out.

He closed his eyes. “I haven’t been a model patient since this began,” he admitted. “I was too preoccupied with getting back to work, with pretending everything was fine and waiting for it to just go away, to even recognise how bad things were. I so wanted things to be fine. I-I was happy, Imogen. Finally, finally happy.”
“I’m very glad to hear it. I know it’s been a difficult road for you over the past few years. What made you happy, Greg?”
“Mycroft,” he answered simply. He gave her a smile which she returned.

“You got him?”
“Yeah. It was the most amazing thing. I woke up and there he was, professing love for me. Not just that, but he’d actually convinced the hospital that he was my partner, just so that he could be with me as much as possible.”
“Greg…”
“I know I know, it sounds sus. But we talked about it. He was… sincere. Didn’t pressure me, only told me how he felt, and that he knew I’d felt the same for a while.”
“I suppose it’s understandable. If your injury was as severe as you say, then that can lead people to re-evaluate things in their lives.”

“Yeah. He said that he though he lost me, and wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to be with me. So once I was cleared to go home, I went to stay with him. I needed to be watched, and since I demanded to be let out early, the doctors agreed that if I was supervised at Mycroft’s, I could leave.”
Imogen opened her mouth, but Greg quickly continued. “Before you say anything, I’m going to jump in here and say yes, our relationship has moved fast. But it works for us; we’ve known each other so long, have been through a lot together, and we talked about the situation openly each time.”

“Alright,” she conceded with a chuckle. She nodded at him to continue.

“I realised that not everything was fine before leaving the hospital. I could hear shouting from down the hall, but Mycroft said there wasn’t any shouting. A nurse told me that it could be residual strain from the head injury, and to just watch it.
“It didn’t stop. I started hearing errant noises. Bangs, footsteps, scraping, muffled voices… it happened mostly when Mycroft wasn’t around. I eventually spent my days in a coffee shop just to have the ambient noise. I told myself it was fine. That it’d stop. That it was just something to adjust to, like ringing in your ears.”

“Auditory hallucinations are serious, Greg,” Imogen said. “It is indicative of an underlying medical issue. I hope you told someone about it, especially given that you were recovering from a head injury.”
Greg flushed red and bit his lip. “Sort of,” he said in a high-pitched tone. “I told my friend Mike about it. I can’t remember exactly what and when, it’s all become such a blur.”
“And did he give you options for help?”
“Um, I guess he would have, if I’d been entirely honest with him at the time.”
“Greg,” Imogen chided.
“I know, I know! At least I did try to tell him things. Him and Mycroft.”
“I’m surprised that you were released without having a psychiatrist to monitor the situation.”
“I was. John saw me every few days. I had a doctor at the hospital to report too, as well, until I was cleared for work.”
“Let me guess. You kept this to yourself in order to be cleared for work.”

“You know me well,” Greg chuckled, but then stopped when he saw the unimpressed look on Imogen’s face. He cleared his throat to continue.
“From the start I felt reluctant to share things with John. I told Mycroft some of it, but I stopped when I realised he was telling John things. I couldn’t help it, I’ve had a nagging suspicion since this all started that there was more to it and they knew about it. No one told me what happened, you know.”

“Why have you waited until now to see me?”
“Things got out of hand. I kept having nightmares – still do – that I can’t remember. I sometimes get flashes of what happened in them, as if they’re happening now… like, emotional flashes, and physical pains, rather than memories. And a few times I’ve seen flashes of things that weren’t there.”
“Visual hallucinations?”
“It was only an instant at first,” Greg reasoned. He then sighed and sunk further down into himself. “And then it got worse. It mostly centred around my being injured. Reflections with blood in it, seeing blood on my hands or arms after feeling a sting, only to have it disappear.”

Imogen wrote some things down on her pad, her expression grim. Greg’s heart pounded at what she was about to say, and so he quickly tried to continue to get the whole story out before she started to judge him to harshly.

“I kept having blackouts, too. It started off as just appearing in the park on a walk with Myc. I couldn’t remember getting there. It was pretty early after leaving the hospital, and so Myc took me home and cared for me, telling me to get rest, and thought nothing too serious of it.”
“But?”
“They got worse,” he said quietly. “I’d lose hours at a time, as if I’d just skipped ahead on a DVD. And then I started losing whole afternoons or mornings. Once I lost an entire evening; suddenly I was sitting in my office talking to Donovan, after I’d just had sex with Mycroft. I mean, obviously, I hadn’t, I meant that it seemed that way… one moment I was laying there with him in the afterglow, then the next… Donovan was asking me a question.”

Imogen hummed, not in a happy way, and made a few more notes on her paper. She looked up at him, and Greg felt uncomfortable enough to shift in his seat.

“It’s not all been bad,” he said. “Actually there has been some good to come out of it all… aside from my relationship with Mycroft, that is. Since the accident… I’ve been able to see things clearer. Pick up on details I would have missed otherwise. It’s been like living inside Sherlock’s brain, actually.”
Imogen flickered her head in curiosity. “Skipping over the fact that you were obviously cleared for work, when I doubt you strictly should have been, I’m intrigued. You’ve been able to work cases better?”
“Yeah. The first case I didn’t really know what was happening. It all came through as just an intuition. Some parts of the investigation were bungled, but I made up for it with this strange instinct that drugs were involved. I brought Sherlock in and he confirmed it all, and said that my intuition was my brain observing the details but not consciously processing it.”
“There’s certainly a logic behind that. And did this intuition help bring the case to a close?”

“Yeah, because Sherlock came in and pointed out what’d happened with his deductions. Then, the next case, I was doing it myself… observing the scene like he would, noticing things amiss that I wouldn’t have before… I’ve had the intuition the same with things, but this case has proven more difficult.”
“How so?”
“Well mostly because the increased abilities only proved that it was murder, not who was involved or how. Forensics had it down as suicide at first. I’ve had the inexplicable instinct that the girlfriend is important to the case somehow but that she didn’t do it, and I still feel that way even though there’s more evidence than ever against her now.”
“Alright. Greg–”
“I’m not screwing up the case,” he interjected. “I have been careful, and have made sure procedure was followed.”

Imogen was stone-faced, obviously trying not to cause upset but clearly disagreeing with him. Greg sighed and ran his hand through his hair.

“Fine. I might not be exactly doing the best thing for the cases, but the benefits so far have outweighed the potential harm. Sure there was a bad moment in the first one I got, when I blacked out. It was like going from one interview to the next, and I couldn’t remember the end of the previous one.”

Greg let the silence linger for a moment. He cleared his throat, but didn’t speak. Imogen looked like she was trying to work out the best way to say what was on her mind. Normally she was quite bright and bubbly during sessions, but she looked concerned and subdued.

“I have a few things I want to talk about, but first, I want to ask you about what brought you here today. You said you felt lost, and don’t know what to do… yet thus far you’ve been fairly assured in your actions. What is it you feel lost about? And why come see me now?”

Greg nodded a few times. “I guess it’s the stuff I haven’t told you yet.” He looked up at her in time to see the brief flash of shock on her face before the calm exterior was replaced.
“I’ve felt a nagging suspicion ever since this started. Things have been… off. I started suspecting Mycroft of not being genuine with me. I’d overhear him say things that didn’t quite sound right, and he would lie to me to hide that he’d had secret meetings with Sherlock and John about me. I felt awful about it, like I couldn’t trust him. It’s why I haven’t told him or John about anything… I couldn’t feel like I could trust them.
“At first it was Mycroft only, and John I just was afraid would tell the yard. But as things developed… I realised – with Mike Stamford’s help – that Mycroft’s behaviour was more anxious than sinister, and I learnt that he’d basically been traumatised by what had happened to me… then the changes, and his betrayal of my trust seemed to make sense.”

“What betrayal?”
“I told him a little about hallucinating. Not about any more blackouts than the first one. He was there when I saw the guy I’d seen in the pub that time and passed out. He promised he’d keep it to himself, but I heard him tell John all about it over the phone.”
“I personally agree with his decision to consult a professional.”
“Yeah, I know. Mike Stamford said the same.”
“I’m glad you told him, at least.”

“Yeah. But it didn’t end there. It turns out that not trusting John was just the first of my strange new instincts. I overheard him and Sherlock talking one day, coincidentally when I was going to suck it in and just tell him everything. They talked of controlling the situation and Mycroft. About me. From there I realised that the reason no one told me what happened is because Sherlock and John did something to me. I-I don’t know exactly what; It’s likely it was a miraculous treatment for my injuries that would have left me dead, but there’s also the chance that there was no accident… that I’m the subject of an experiment.”

Even to Greg it sounded unreasonable, and so he quickly continued to try explain himself. “Before you say anything… hear me out. I think Sherlock has kept up the experiment. Either he’s seen the potential of whatever he did to save me, or this is what he and John intended from the start; whatever the reason, the increased abilities are from it and they’ve been trying to keep me having them. The observations, the intuition, the logical reasoning, hell, I even have better hearing now.

“It’s not all just me assuming, either. John talked of trying to change my meds, and I forget how but I heard Sherlock was going to create something to help with the hallucinations but keep the abilities… and he did. They’ve been drugging me. For over a week now, in my coffee. Oh… Mycroft’s in on it, too. He makes the coffee. He doesn’t know it all, and doesn’t realise that he’s being manipulated, but he knows Sherlock did something. He just thinks he’s in charge of it all.

“And you know what? I haven’t had any hallucinations since. Has it also stopped me being smarter? I dunno. Maybe. The big case I’m working isn’t getting solved like I expected. But I still am at least better than before, I think.”
“So you haven’t told your friends, or partner, much about what you’ve experienced because you’re convinced that they are actually experimenting on you?”

“I know it sounds insane, but think about it. They’re the perfect group to honestly do this, if it was ever going to happen to anyone. Sherlock already experiments on people with substances, and he’s a mad genius with chemicals… especially ones affecting the brain. John’s a psychiatrist, and so can help with the medical side of it and monitor me. Mycroft is obviously some kind of secret agent, and has the power to cover it all up.”

“Greg,” Imogen said gently, in that tone that he’d come to know as ‘placating you so you don’t spin off the handle because you’ve lost your mind, but needing to point out that fact’. “You’re an intelligent man. I’m sure you realise how absurd this sounds. In the case of Sherlock, I find myself agreeing that he would be capable of something like this. But given what you’ve told me in the past of Mycroft, I don’t believe he’d be a part of a conspiracy like this.”

“Ok, yes, that was my thought as well, which is why I think it’s just a coincidence that they are perfectly suited to cover up a secret unsanctioned medical procedure. Mycroft would let his brother experiment if it was that or my death. Sherlock wouldn’t see the harm in continuing the experiment, but Myc wouldn’t allow it no doubt… which is why Mycroft’s being manipulated too.”

Greg found himself getting agitated. His heart told him it was a mistake to say everything, since hearing it come out of his mouth really did sound ridiculous. He needed to try get to the point of coming before Imogen tried to focus on something else.

“The point is, however it happened, I can’t trust them. I can’t be open with Myc because he’s open with John, and John and Sherlock are up to something more than just saving my life at this stage. The question is… what I do I do about it? The more I do as they say, or accept their ‘help’, the more I’m letting myself be experimented on. What’s to say it’s not going to end in disaster?
“I can’t just cut them out completely, since I’m basically engaged to Mycroft now… and pulling away from him is the last thing I want to do. But he… he trusts Sherlock too much, and that damned arrogant streak he has means that he can’t conceive of more happening than he thinks.”

Greg dropped his head into his hands. “I’m trapped. I can’t get away from them, but I don’t want to be the subject of an experiment. And… and…” Greg took a shaky breath. “There’s still the voice in my head that tells me that it’s all just in my head. That I’ve actually lost it. That I’m seeing things in what they’re doing that isn’t real. Paranoia is part of going insane, and so what’s to say that that’s not what’s really happening?”

He whimpered softly. “I don’t know, Ingrid. I’m not an idiot, and I can recognise the potential that the things I think I know aren’t real, that it’s all part of a psychotic breakdown.
“But there’s so much that makes so much sense… like the increased ability to do my job, and the hallucinations stopping once they ‘secretly’,” Greg used his fingers to make air quotes, “started drugging me.”
Greg closed his eyes. “So I’m left in this position. Questioning everything. Unsure what’s real, what’s not, and who I can trust. If I’m right, and I’m being experimented on, then letting them do what they have been could be the worst mistake of my life and I should get as far away from them as possible. But if I’m wrong, and I really am just having a breakdown, then rejecting their help is the worst thing I could do.”

Neither spoke for a moment. Imogen made some notes, the noise of her pen breaking the silence. He looked at her, his stomach clenching and heart pounding. He told himself it was the right thing to do, that she didn’t have any power to take over and make decisions for him, but he was still terrified.

“There’s more,” he said awkwardly. Greg knew that of everything, this was going to be the most unbelievable. He had to say it, though. It was important. I’ve come this far…
“The case that I started yesterday… I think I’ve gone beyond just intuition and observation. I-I know it’s gonna sound crazy, even more than everything else, but I think I had an actual premonition about it.”

Imogen raised her eyebrow disbelievingly, but allowed him to continue.

“I had a vision, you could say… it was like a hallucination, except it was just in my head. Oh, you know what I mean,” he said quickly as Imogen was about to interrupt him. “Like seeing it in my mind’s eye. I didn’t actually see it, but it all flashed across my mind.
“I didn’t know what it was at first, since it was days ago. Then today I realised that it was about this case. I just knew. I took one look and knew that the victim had been accidentally poisoned with arsenic. Donovan gave me shit about it, but agreed to test for it first, at least.”

Imogen hadn’t had much of a chance to speak, but she looked more stunned with the onslaught of information than anything, and so was likely glad that it wasn’t expected of her to talk much yet.

“So,” he said with an air of finality, “if I find out I’m right about the arsenic in this case, then it proves that I’m not just crazy. It could be important to save the man’s life. If I did actually have a real vision, then Sherlock’s experiment has done something bizarre… insane people can’t see the future, after all.”

Imogen put her pen down and looked directly at him. Greg knew that this was the part where he was going to hear things he didn’t like.

“No, but thinking that you can isn’t a sign of mental stability, Greg. If that happens… I would urge you to consider that your perception of reality is altered. You said that the hallucinations stopped, but it’s entirely possible that your condition has worsened to the point where you don’t recognise them as being hallucinations anymore, and your delusion becomes the reality for you.”

Greg stilled, clenched his jaw, and willed himself to keep breathing. He hadn’t considered that… and it made a lot more logical sense than an experiment causing him to see the future. He couldn’t believe it, deep down, but couldn’t deny it either.

Chapter Text

Greg stared at his reflection. He just breathed in measured breaths, staring into the eyes that looked back at him.
Oh, Greg… what’s happening to you?

He sighed and closed his eyes, reaching out and touching the glass. He dropped his hand and drew in another breath before addressing himself again.

Are you really the subject of an experiment, or are you just losing your mind? You look so lost. I look lost. How am I supposed to know what’s going on if I can’t tell what’s real? Mycroft’s downstairs, cooking me dinner… and all I want to do is curl up and cry in his arms until  this whole thing has just gone away. It’s like loving him is all I know for sure. Should I trust them to know what’s best for me? Can I face relinquishing that control? I guess I know what Mycroft feels like now, with his obsessive need for control.
I just… is being afraid cause enough to keep going alone? The stakes are high… but again, what if their experiment ends up for the better, if only I am open with them about it? Could I be just making the situation worse by keeping everything to myself… regardless of what that situation is?

Greg reached out and touched the mirror. He held his fingertips against the glass, looking at the way the reflected fingers touched his own.

“What do I do… what do I do?” Greg breathed.
“Gregory! Dinner’s ready!”
Greg turned to look out of the bathroom as he heard his partner’s voice call out.
“Be right there!” he shouted back, before returning to his reflection. “You have a lot to think about,” he told it. “And you have to decide quickly.” He shrugged, chuckling to himself. “No pressure,” he added, looking into the sink.

Greg nudged the vegetables in the curry about with his fork. He stared absently at the movement of the sauce, his brain still filled with swirling thoughts and uncertainty.

“Do you want to discuss it, or have reassurances that you won’t be alone in it, whatever it may be?”

Greg looked up at Mycroft, having been unaware that he’d been staring at him. He must have looked a bit stunned at the question, because Mycroft started to explain himself.

“I am aware that my cooking skills are not great, but you’ve eaten this curry jar before. You haven’t spoken about your session, and while I respect that to be your space without the need to tell me what you spoke of, you have been clenching your jaw and flickering your eyes at me. It seems apparent you want to say something, but are stopping yourself. You either anticipate the issue to be difficult for me, or difficult for you. I want to assure you that I am happy to listen, or to prove to you that I will be here no matter what.”

Greg nodded, half-smiling. That’s right, still as observant as Sherlock, but makes a kind deduction. He reached out and took Mycroft’s hand.
“Thank you, love. I-I don’t know, really. I have a lot to think about.”
“You did promise me that you would heed your psychologist’s advice, remember. I do hope that your thinking is not regarding whether or not to comply.”
“Yes,” Greg said slowly. “I know. I will. There’s just something else I’m thinking about. Honestly, though, you’re right in that I’d really rather just have you close.”
“You can have that all the time.”
Greg smiled genuinely and looked at Mycroft with affection. “Maybe you can help clear my brain. After dinner, I’d like to just go to bed.”
Mycroft took a minute to register what Greg was implying, having looked slightly confused at the hour and then flushing slightly.

~

Greg breathed in deeply as he was lain back on the bed. Mycroft lay upon him, kissing his neck. Greg closed his eyes, running his fingers through the ginger hair, and enjoying the tingling sensations of Mycroft’s tongue upon his skin.
“Mmmm,” he hummed, rocking his hips to meet Mycroft’s. He kissed him gently, but passionately, and continued to hum into the man’s mouth. Mycroft used his long nose to nuzzle along Greg’s cheek and against his ear. Greg ran his fingers up along Mycroft’s back as he did it, eliciting a pleased hum in return.

They slowly rid each other of their clothes. It was mutually understood that it was a soft, sensual experience tonight. Mycroft peppered kisses along Greg’s skin as he exposed it. Greg brushed his fingertips over Mycroft’s back, keeping his eyes closed. Just the sensation was enough.

“I have something you might like,” Mycroft whispered. He lifted his weight off Greg and stood.
Greg looked at him quizzically. Mycroft opened his wardrobe, and Greg’s stomach jumped at the anticipation. He didn’t know what Mycroft was about to bring out to him, but his body was excited for it.
Mycroft returned with a blindfold. Greg smiled. It was simpler than anything Greg’s mind had conjured up, but it was perfect.

He kissed Mycroft over and over as he set the blindfold in place. Mycroft then ran his hands down Greg’s front, sliding his palms over the pectoral muscles and down towards his cock. Mycroft didn’t run his hands up the shaft, much to Greg’s disappointment, and instead continued sliding down to rub along the inside of his thighs.

“Just focus on me,” Mycroft spoke softly. “The touch of my hands, my tongue, my lips… think about where I am, and try anticipate what I’ll do next.”
“Yeah, Myc. I love you.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.”
“Would you…” Greg hesitated, his heart clenching. “Would you still if… if I wasn’t… if I–”
“Shh, love,” Mycroft soothed. “Always. No matter what it is, I will love you. It has been a curse until merely months ago, when it became the greatest thing I can do.”

Mycroft kissed him deeply. Greg returned it, his stomach still uneasy, but his heart leaping out to try and grab a hold of Mycroft and never let him go.
“Let those worries go, sweetheart.” Mycroft ran his thumb over Greg’s brow. “Be here in this moment with me. Just here and now.”

Greg exhaled slowly through his nose. Mycroft kissed him again, and laid down upon him. The embrace was gentle, and Greg could feel the tension in his body bleed away as he held his partner close, the warmth radiating through his skin.

Mycroft moved slightly, kissing Greg’s ear and neck, and shifting his crotch. The movement sent tingles through his body. He knew he wasn’t very hard, but his cock was plumping up enough to bulge between their bodies.

“Tell me what you’d like,” Mycroft whispered.
“For you to make the decisions.” Greg honestly wanted to just lay there and accept whatever Mycroft felt like doing to him. Since having to decide what to do with his situation was the biggest cause of tension, being absolved of needing to make any was the single biggest thing Greg wanted.
“I can do that.” Mycroft chuckled near his ear. “A bit of a change from normal, so forgive me if I ask occasionally.”
“I don’t mind. I know you’ll focus on what feels nice. You do that; just try make me feel good. That’s what I want.”

Mycroft ran his hands down Greg’s sides and back up again to cup his cheeks. “Making you feel good is all I want,” Mycroft said, his voice close and breathy. His lips pressed to Greg’s gently, and then against for a harder kiss.

Mycroft slid his body down to rest between Greg’s legs, and Greg missed the warmth of his skin pressed against his own. Light touches of fingers against his thighs and belly kept sending jolts of excitement through him. He could picture in his mind Mycroft’s face, looking up at him lovingly, his nose inches from his cock. He felt the blood pulse harder at that thought; he could feel himself now fully erect, and the nagging urge for Mycroft to give his prick attention was starting to take hold.

He moaned softly when Mycroft licked a stripe up his shaft. Greg could feel long fingers caressing his thighs while warm breath ghosted over his member, the cold of the air against his wet flesh only exciting him more.

Mycroft nuzzled along his cock again, eliciting more bitten noises, before dropping lower and taking a testicle into his mouth. He was extremely gentle, letting the small plum rest upon his tongue as he encased in a damp heat. Greg groaned as he felt the sensation run through him.

That groan grew louder as Mycroft used his tongue to rake over the skin of his scrotum, lolling the testicle around. Greg hadn’t experienced it before – he’d had his balls sucked a few times and enjoyed it, but it was nothing like the precise and tentative attention Mycroft was giving him.

“Jesus,” he uttered through his teeth. “That’s nice. I didn’t… ah, yeah, mmm.” Mycroft’s attention was making it hard to talk properly. It was made worse when the hands that had been softly holding his thighs slid up, one resting on his belly just below his naval, and the other ever-so-lightly starting to stroke his length.

Mycroft applied some gentle pressure with his hand as he changed balls, taking the other into his mouth and sucking. Greg trembled and had to resist the urge to start thrusting. He could hear the slightly wet noises and Mycroft’s quiet appreciative hums, and his own breath quickening. There was a gentle pop, and then Mycroft was lapping at the base of his shaft.

Greg had to put his hands underneath the pillow to stop himself grabbing a hold of Mycroft’s head. He knew Myc sometimes liked it, but he didn’t want to have any form of control. Today that was for Mycroft.

“Oh that’s so nice, Myc.”
“You are lovely,” Myc responded with a low voice, filled with desire. “I want to make this last for you. Don’t suppress your noises, so I can gauge when to dial it back.”
“Heh, when do I ever?”
“Just saying.”

Mycroft then suckled gently at the glands, and Greg cried out. He could all but see the sly grin on his partner’s face. Everything else had effectively been pushed out of his mind; there was only Mycroft’s gentle breath against his skin, the pounding of his heart, and the aching need to have his cock engulfed.

Mycroft was true to his word in keeping Greg on edge. He sucked him, sliding his mouth up and down Greg’s cock in alternating fast and slow motions; used his hands to stroke the shaft and fondle his balls; pressed kisses to his skin; and made filthy noises of enjoyment all the while. Any time Greg felt the tension in his belly, the quickening of his heart, the pulsing need to go faster, for more… Mycroft would ease back. It was exquisite torture, and Greg loved it.

Greg writhed and wiggled at Mycroft’s touch. He was careful not to buck his hips while Myc used his mouth on his cock, but that concentration only increased the intensity of what was happening. Mycroft occasionally stilled him, and Greg found he loved the restriction.

Wet fingers pressed against his entrance, merely probing and stroking along the muscle. Greg was getting desperate to feel Mycroft slide into him, pressing himself down to draw those deft fingers into his body. Mycroft remained in control, and didn’t let Greg’s desperation sway him. Greg had to admit Mycroft was rather good at being in charge.

Greg was panting and aching for more when he felt Mycroft lean back. The absence of any touch was agony. He could hear the bed shuffle, and the signature clip of the lube bottle. His heart jumped and his body jerked in anticipation.

His breath quickened further when he felt Mycroft’s nose against his cheek. He whispered sweet nothings into his ear, the moist breath tingling him. Greg felt the warmth radiating from Mycroft against his sweaty skin as he laid down beside him. He instinctively shuffled closer to have contact.

Coldness suddenly encased his cock, the lube in Mycroft’s hand smearing over him and causing another cry of pleasure. A few strokes and the lube had warmed; Greg rocking his hips in time with Mycroft’s hand.

The touch was gone, fleeting, and Greg was again yearning for more. He was aware he was begging, the words escaping his lips of his own accord.
“Myc, please, more… I need you.”
“You want me to touch you again, Gregory?”
“God, yes, please.”
“How desperate are you, love?”
“Fucking need you or I’m going to grab you and fuck you senseless.”
Mycroft chuckled. “Quite, then. You’re showing so much restraint. Such a good man.” Mycroft’s voice then was husky, breathy, and right near his ear. “Don’t resist anymore.”

Greg swallowed and twitched. He felt a flicker of touch against his cock, and then suddenly the reassuring pressure of Mycroft’s body upon him.
“Oh, yes, god, yes,” he moaned, his hands flying up and grabbing Mycroft’s hips.
“Fuck against my cock, Greg,” Mycroft whispered.

Greg didn’t need any more permission; he held on tightly and let himself go. His abdomen tensed; he thrust hard and fast, shouting out nonsense each time. The slickness of the lube made the friction between his cock and Mycroft’s, between their two bodies, absolutely delicious.

Myc moved himself back and forth, sliding up Greg in slower motions, as Greg’s hips snapped up. He loved how his partner made cut-off moans with each movement, climbing quickly to his own orgasm, as they rutted furiously. As he felt himself approaching climax, Greg wondered if he was allowed to break through that barrier. Mycroft had been bringing him to the brink of orgasm and letting him fall back for the better part of an hour or more.

“Come, Greg. Come for me.”
“Holy fuck, yes,” Greg shouted, grabbing onto the soft muscle of Mycroft’s arse as he spilled himself between them. His cock pulsed and pulsed; his orgasm was too intense for him to even breathe. All of his abdominal muscles screamed as they held their tension, but the overwhelming pleasure whited out any complaint. Mycroft still moved gently as Greg lay there, aftershock after aftershock radiating over him as he squirted semen between their bodies.
“Oh that’s gorgeous,” Mycroft breathed. “Yes, sliding in your come is… ah, ah…”

Greg could feel the wetness against his skin as Mycroft came. He was still gripping his partner for dear life, and their bodies were pressed together close enough for Greg to feel the pulsing of Mycroft’s cock join his own still pounding member.

He released his grip and flopped down, exhausted, into the bed. His entire being was spent, but his mind was floating in a hazy cloud of bliss. Mycroft had collapsed on top of him, and was slowly sliding off to the side.

“That was one of the most intense orgasms of my life,” Greg uttered into the silence that was broken only by the sounds of their breathing.
“I’m glad,” Mycroft responded. “You’re not very patient, generally… but waiting has its rewards.”
“Fuck yeah. God. I don’t have it in me to wait, usually. You’re gonna do that again, mister.”
“Maybe in a few minutes,” Mycroft chuckled. Greg joined him and took off the blindfold to look at him. He looked as exhausted, but in utter ecstasy, as Greg felt.
“How you managed to bring us both up to orgasm and leave it so often I don’t know.”
“Keeping in control, to breaking point and back, for so long means it ends spectacularly.”

Greg nuzzled and kissed him. His heart felt more at ease than it had for some time, and he was so spent that he didn’t even start to think about anything awaiting him the following day.

Chapter Text

“Meeting in five,” Ellis said as she stuck her head into Greg’s office.
He nodded to her. “Is Sally in?”
“No, she’s off doing something with someone.”
“Informative.”
“Why are you in your coat at your desk still?”
“I’ll stay in my coat until someone turns up the heating. Winter’s only three days away; you’d think they’d spare the expense.”
“It’s not that cold in here, mate. See you soon.”

Ellis left, and Greg collected some of the files he had on his desk ready for the meeting. They didn’t have many people working on the case, but there was enough paperwork for fifty of them.
He’d hoped to speak with Sally first, and ask about the test results with the poisoning case. He wanted to get finding Tom Cartwright as soon as he could, but really it wasn’t classed as a ‘priority’ until they had actual evidence that his life was at risk.

“Morning all,” he announced as he walked into the boardroom. He was met with a round of mumbled ‘morning’s, and the smell of coffee.

Ellis stood up before the boards, facing the group. “Right. What we know thus far is that our victim, Tyron Sheppard, was murdered on Saturday the seventeenth of November and made to look like he’d committed suicide. Cause of death was the hanging, but the recent forensic evidence suggests he was unconscious when he was pushed over the ledge.
“Isoflurane was detected in fibres on the face. Toxicology also reveals high levels of diazepam in his blood. It’s thought that the killer fed the victim with the diazepam to then make it easier to tie a cloth soaked in isoflurane over his face. We gather from this that the victim knew and trusted the killer.”

“That’s just assuming, though, right?” Johnson asked from the small crowd.
“Yes, but it’s the best explanation for it thus far,” Greg answered. He then nodded at Ellis to continue.
“The ex-girlfriend told us she broke up with him three weeks prior, after seeing his profile for secret gay hook-ups. Analysis of his phone reveals that the app wasn’t ever downloaded on his phone.”
“Have we managed to find another phone?”
“Don’t need to, Bill. I got the statement from the company late yesterday. The account was inactive.”

“What do you mean?” Greg asked.
“I mean… once it was set up, it wasn’t logged into again. There were no messages on it.”
“So we have no leads to try find the anonymous sex partner that could be our killer?”

Johnson groaned and rubbed his face. Greg had to agree with his sentiment. He took a deep breath and stared at the pin board while he processed the new information.
“This makes no sense. It’s like we’re going around in circles. First we think it’s the girlfriend, but then Lestrade insists that she couldn’t have done it to lift him up over the railing. Then we think oh, maybe it was the person he slept with on the app. Now we find out he never used the app to find someone.”
“Bill… what if that’s it? He found someone but didn’t use the app for it?”
“Then why was there a profile set up?”
Johnson was sounding agitated. He was new, and working with a few teams to get an idea of how things ran. He wasn’t used to how long investigations took yet.

Ellis hummed as she thought. “Maybe he intended to, but had second thoughts, and hooked up with someone through other means?”
“We assume he actually hook up. All we know is he had profile,” Hernandez interjected.
“Yes, good point,” Johnson agreed. “And if he had second thoughts, he should have deleted the profile, shouldn’t he? To avoid the girlfriend seeing it?”
“Boys, are we fixating on the wrong thing? If we ignore the dating app entirely, what are we left with? An artist who didn’t interact with many people found hung in his home. What else can we conclude from just that?”
“There’s someone else involved,” Greg muttered without turning around, having listened to the conversations with his back turned. “At least one other. We can’t rule out multiple people now that we know the victim was kept unconscious.”

There was some silence in the room until it was broken by Anderson coming in.
“Sorry I’m late,” he mumbled as he slunk to the back. Bill Johnson quietly muttered the details they’d covered thus far.
“True, Lestrade. The problem in this case, though, is that there aren’t a whole lot of people involved at all. Finding another person is the hard part,” Ellis said, ignoring Anderson.
“What about René? Have we found him?”
“No. Bates has looked, but we can’t find anyone. There isn’t a ‘René’ in his contacts,” Ellis answered.

Greg rubbed the back of his neck. “Have you gotten the calls for the past six months?”
“Yeah. Bates?”
Constable Hanna Bates shrunk into herself as she was called upon. She was also new, like Johnson, but was very quiet and reserved. Greg had her working mostly in the research side of things, since she seemed to excel in that.
“The last twelve, actually,” she said. “Multiple calls to the internet company; calls to the gas and electricity companies too. Calls to an endocrine specialist centre, his GP, the gallery, the girlfriend, and a couple of his contacts. He received some calls from telemarketing whose numbers he then blocked, and one from the blood donor centre.”
“These contacts, have they been interviewed?”
“I, er, n-no, Inspector Lestrade. I-I just, er, got the list. T-they were from early in the year; March, when his birthday is – er, was. His mum, a ‘Morty’, a ‘Lisa’ and a ‘Jim’.”
“Yeah birthday messages and all. Not exactly suspicious or indicative of knowing him well. Some people only remember your existence on your birthday,” Johnson rambled, clearly a bit bitter.

They sat thinking for a few moments, until Anderson groaned loudly.
“Couldn’t the girlfriend just have been a hateful bitch, without needing any sexuality bullshit, and drugged him, knocked him out, and hired someone else to push him?”
All eyes turned to Anderson as he said this. He didn’t bat an eyelid, used to playing devil’s advocate, and just stared back at them.
“I wish I could say it wasn’t easy to find someone to be paid to kill,” Ellis said. “But there’s bellends out there too thick to think past a wad of cash.” She glanced at Greg. “I don’t think it’s likely, but we can’t discount it.”
“She could have something blackmail on that man, also,” Hernandez said. “If she can plan murder that well, is likely she not stranger to crime or blackmail.”

The room seemed in agreement. Greg turned around and crossed his arms. “I still don’t think Helen Davies participated in this murder. And the dating part is important somehow.”
The five faces in the room look unsettled at Greg’s certainty. He watched as they stole glances between themselves.
“It could be important because she made it up as a cover,” Bates said timidly.
“A cover, yes. She could find out boyfriend was bisexual, and have hatred for him from that only. She end things, saying he cheat… making victim honest when say to online friend he not cheat. Then make profile as excuse, make us distracted, when it her that organised murder.”

Greg clenched his jaw. Given the evidence, Hernandez’ explanation did fit. It just didn’t settle right in his stomach.
“Where’d she get the isoflurane, then?” Ellis asked. She seemed to know Greg was uncomfortable with the theory, and so tried to tease it out with as much detail as possible.
“The housemate, Shari. She works in catering at Charing Cross Hospital,” Bates offered. “It was in my preliminary research, but I didn’t think it was important at the time.”
“Right, that settles it. Bring them both back in for questioning.” Ellis looked to Greg after she’d said it, just to double check she had the permission.

Greg nodded. He returned to the board and squinted at the details as the room shuffled around him. Ellis remained behind, instead coming up to stand beside him.
“Don’t overwork yourself, Greg,” Ellis told him gently. “You look stressed.”
“I am. Mostly because I know there’s something staring me in the face here and I can’t see it.”
“I don’t know why you’re adamant Helen didn’t do it. We have a motive, means, uncorroborated alibi, and now access to the weapon of sorts.”
“More of my intuition, I guess.” He frowned and groaned with his lips pursed.

Olivia patted his shoulder a few times. He half-grimaced, half-smiled in return. Sally burst through the door at this moment, a peculiar expression on her face.
“Boss, there you are. Ellis.”
“Donovan,” Ellis responded. She didn’t move to leave the room, and so Sally returned her attention to Greg.
“You were right. Arsenic. I don’t know how you did it, but you did. I was shocked.”
“Tom Cartwright?” Greg was suddenly tense. He made a few steps towards the door.
Sally shook her head. “Not yet. We’re getting the contact details from the victim, but we’ll find him soon. I have people looking into other possibilities, too, just to let you know, Greg. But I’m trusting you on this since you got the poison right.”
“We have to find him. And he didn’t do it on purpose, Sally. I-I just know it. Accidental, I’m telling you. And that’s why I think he’s in danger himself. Kimi Watanabe didn’t seek medical treatment for some reason, and we don’t want a repeat of that.”
“Well arsenic can cause confusion,” Sally said as she shrugged. “Anyway, I’ll let you know once we find out more.”

Once Sally had left the room, Greg had an overwhelming sensation of dread descend and fill his stomach with lead. He remembered the psychologist’s words from yesterday, and suddenly felt paranoid that everything he’d just heard was a hallucination.
He turned and looked at Ellis, who was still standing there beside him.

“Liv,” he started slowly. She turned instantly at the tone. Greg suddenly wasn’t sure exactly how he should phrase his question. I could just ask something about what Sally said, and if she has no idea what I’m talking about, it’s likely none of that actually happened. But if she does, then she must have heard it too. Unless her reaction is also part of the hallucination. God… I could be here in an empty room talking to myself…

“Greg? What is it? You look like your system crashed. Do you need to reboot? Will a doughnut help?”
Greg opened his mouth to object but ended up snorting and laughing. “You fit a whole doughnut in your mouth one time…”
“It probably didn’t help it was a Spanish one. Mycroft’s a lucky guy.”
"Oi, come off it.” Greg shoved her with his shoulder as he laughed.
“Least you’re back to normal. So, what’s up?”

“Just want your opinion. Sally’s investigation… you think it’s going alright?”
“What are you really asking me?”
Greg hesitated, which was enough for Ellis to drop the casual demeanour. “Donovan’s as professional as they come, even if she takes liberties sometimes with you. She’ll handle it fine, Greg. Don’t worry.”
“Yeah but my intuition isn’t exactly by-the-book, so I guess I wanted to see if you thought she’d actually follow it.”
“Seems like she has, so far. I mean she doesn’t like to bend the rules but if someone’s life is going to be saved if you do, then I think she sees the need. Don’t really put money on her believing you that it’s only accidental until you get a statement of what happened, though.”

Accidental’, ‘saving someone’s life’… I hadn’t mentioned those things to her about the case, and Donovan isn’t likely to have. It sounds like she heard that. Wait… but if she’s just a hallucination too, then of course she’d agree with me…

“What is it? You don’t look settled.”
“It’s nothing. I’ll ask you about it later, if that’s alright? We have another interview to conduct with Miss Davies and Miss Dimka, and I’d like to have some questions prepared.”
“Sure. We have about an hour, I’d say.” Ellis clapped him on the back as they made their way from the room. “We’ll make sure to get the wording just right to try and get her to spill.”

Greg walked with her for a beat, and then froze solid. It was like someone had turned the light on in his brain and he could suddenly see the mess inside. “Wording,” he repeated, mind buzzing.
“Hm?”
“I’ve been saying it all along. There’s someone else involved. Both times Helen has talked about the profile, she’s said she was shown. Not that she just saw it, but that someone else was involved to show her.”

~

“Why am I back here? I haven’t done anything. You keep treating me like a suspect.”
Ellis fixed her with a steely gaze. “You are a suspect.”
“Shouldn’t I have a lawyer or something, then?”
“You have the right to seek legal counsel, yes,” Greg said. “We can postpone this interview if you demand legal counsel to be present. However, if you choose to do so, you may have to bear legal fees. I wish to remind you that you are not charged with anything at present, nor are you arrested. The more you are willing to assist us with this investigation now, the more assured of your innocence we can be.”

“Right. Well I’ll, er, what is it coppers say? I’ll reserve the right to remain silent, yeah. When I choose to. Ask your questions, and I’ll just tell you if I don’t want to answer without a lawyer present. I can do that, right?”
“Yes,” Ellis said, her tone clipped. Greg gave her a quick steadying glance. He knew that she was ready to actually arrest her under suspicion of murder, and it was only her trust in Greg built over years working together that caused her to delay.
“What I want to know,” Greg said slowly, “is who showed you Tyron’s profile for the dating app.”
“I’m… sorry?”
“Each time you’ve mentioned seeing the proof of your boyfriend’s infidelity, you said you were shown this information. It makes sense, since as a gay dating app it would be unlikely that you would happen across his profile yourself. However you have not told us who it was that showed you.”

“Oh. It was Mr Mortimer.”
“Who is that? And why did he show you?” Ellis asked, cocking her head. She’d obviously expected more resistance.
“Tyron hit on him, he said. I didn’t believe him, and that’s when he showed me the profile. Said that he thought I was sweet, so didn’t deserve to be cheated on. I was like, how can you have a conscience if you use the app to cheat on your wife? And he was all, ‘damn you’re right, what am I doing, I need to re-evaluate my life’ yahda yahda.”

“Liv,” Greg uttered, his eyes going wide.
“Hm?”
“What Bates said. ‘Morty’. That’s him. Mortimer. I-I know it.”
Ellis’ eyebrows lifted in pleased surprise. She nodded at him, and then returned her attention to Helen. “When did this happen?”
“What, when he told me? Uhm… only like the day before I broke up with Ty. I don’t–”
“No, do you know when Tyron was supposed to have made a move on–”
“Oh, nah. Sorry,” Helen said as she shrugged. “Didn’t say. Can’t imagine it’d be too long before he told me, though.”

Greg leant back in his chair, thinking. He ran his fingers through his hair. He felt like he was almost there, almost grabbing onto the right thread. Just one more step…
“Friends,” Greg blurted out. Both women looked at him strangely. He shook his head minutely and explained. “I mean… this man was one of Mr Sheppard’s friends, so why did he come and see you? Were you and he close as well?”

Ellis squinted her eyes at him, as if questioning why it was relevant. Greg shot her a ‘trust me’ look.
“Oh, no. I’d never met him before.”
“Then how did–”
“Yeah, I know,” Helen hummed. “Creepy, right? Just shows up one day. I mean, I’d heard of him, but that’s all. I guess Ty didn’t see a problem giving out my address? It was something I shouted at him for, too. I mean I guess I see the point, coming in person, since if it’d just been a text I would have ignored it.”
“He wasn’t your friend,” Greg repeated, trying to get his brain to make the connection faster. He knew it was there.

Ellis was seeming to lose her patience with Helen’s blabbering answers. “The last interaction we have recorded on Mr Sheppard’s phone between them is in March. You’re implying that they met up roughly a month before he died. It’s not exactly consistent with the evidence we have–”
“Ellis can I have a word?”

Greg excused himself and dragged Ellis out into the hall.
“You have to stop insinuating that she did it. I know I’m not explaining myself well but I need to know more about this.”
“Lestrade, this is pointless. She’s no doubt got something over this Mortimer friend, so if we call him, he’ll corroborate her story. I don’t believe that’d tell us anything we don’t already know. You can’t keep proclaiming her innocence.”
“Please,” he pleaded. “Just… don’t snap at her. We’re close. I know it. This guy’s important.”

“I still think we should arrest her before she has a chance to escape. We can contact ‘Morty’, and first of all confirm that he is actually the man she’s talking about. Then we can see about poking holes in his story or offering help with blackmail.”
“Alright,” Greg groaned. “Fine. But only if I don’t get something out of her that gives us a new lead. I can taste it, Liv.”
“You’re sounding a bit obsessed, Greg, and not in a good way. More like going a bit manic.” Olivia squeezed his elbow. “Don’t work yourself into a tizzy trying to find something that isn’t there.”

Greg nodded and then opened the door. They returned to their seats.
“Sorry about that. Now, can you tell us more about this friend? No, first of all, why are you calling him ‘Mr Mortimer’?”
“He’s old enough to be my dad. I guess it’s engrained in me that people that age are ‘Mr’s. Ty called him Morty, but never to his face apparently.”
“How did Tyron and Mr Mortimer meet? It seems strange to maintain a friendship with such an age gap,” Greg commented.

Helen shrugged. “He’s known – well, knew – Ty for ages. Since like the beginning of his career. I dunno how they met; I admit to not paying much attention sometimes. I’m usually the one doing the talking, you know? I mean Ty’d let me go on and on for ages, so you’d think I’d listen in return, but it’s like I can’t not comment on something he says and then we’re in a tangent, and by then I’ve forgot the bits he’s said already.”

Ellis clenched her jaw and took a deep breath. “Patient man,” she said through her teeth.
“His career? Did he know him through his work?”
“Well, obviously,” Helen sang. She looked at Greg as if he was missing the point. “Mr Mortimer was like Tyron’s biggest fan. He’s been buying his art since the start. He’d have a massive collection by now, no doubt.”
Greg’s stomach lurched and his veins surged with adrenaline. “What’s his first name?”
“Oh, uh… R-Remy I think?”
“René?”
“Yes, that’s the one.” Helen smiled, proud, but then her face fell into confusion when she noticed the expressions on Greg’s, and Ellis’, faces. She looked between them. “What?”

Chapter Text

Greg stood in the middle of the office, jumping between what was being dubbed the ‘hanging artist’ case, and the newer arsenic poisoning. Ellis worked with Bates on one side of the room to try find René Mortimer, while Donovan and Samuels worked at finding Tom Cartwright. It was stressful. Greg could feel the tension in his body as he drifted between the two groups. He knew it was only making his team on edge as well, but he couldn’t help it.

“Got him, Greg.”
Greg drifted over towards where Ellis was, bent over Bates’ back at a computer. “Where?”
“He’s… some finance exec over at Trafalgar Square. Lucky for us, it’s not exactly a common name. He’s not answering his mobile, but there’s only a few listed in the London area.”
“We tried local first. The number has just been confirmed as belonging him,” Bates added.
“Great. Go question him, Ellis; bring him back if you think anything’s suspicious.”

“You should probably come with me, Lestrade. Some of these stuffy businessmen don’t like to pay attention to just a DS, particularly not a female one.”
“Yeah, alright. I’ll grab my coat.”
“You’re wearing it, Greg.”
“Right.” Greg looked down at himself. “Never mind, then.”
Olivia looked at him uncertainly, but nodded. She moved to her desk to get her own coat and finish up some things at her desk before leaving.

Greg drifted back into the middle of the room. “Sally, I’m going with Ellis to see a man. Any progress on your end?”
“None, boss,” she replied in a huff. “There’s a lot of them out there, and no one’s answering the number in the victim’s phone. We’re getting approval through for the phone company to release what information they have on the number’s owner, but there’s not always an address associated.”

Greg nodded. He turned back to the room, waiting for Ellis, and saw the elevator doors open. He couldn’t help but smile when he saw that it was none other than Mycroft Holmes exiting the lift.
“Mycroft! What are you doing here?”
“I had some time, so I wondered if you were free for lunch?”
“Oh… uh, actually, we’re about to head off to try find someone we think is associated with the artist.” Greg winced, knowing that he shouldn’t delay trying to speak to Mortimer… but it was so very tempting to spend time with Mycroft.

Mycroft came up to him, and so Greg leant up and kissed him. It wasn’t deeply, but it wasn’t chaste either. Mycroft blushed red and cleared his throat, eyes flickering about.
“What is it?”
“I, er, I just hadn’t thought that you were ‘out’ as such at work.”

Greg grinned lovingly at Mycroft. He’s so adorable when slightly flustered. He’s obviously rather happy that I’m glad to show him off. Poor man probably thought I’d want to hide him away.

Greg took his hand and kissed him again, not caring if his team looked. Anderson had known since the start of the artist case, and so likely most of the team already knew he was seeing Mycroft.
“Don’t care. I love you.”
Mycroft grinned sheepishly. “I love you too. I just don’t want there to be problems for you.”
Greg rolled his eyes as he smiled and shook his head. “Sweetheart, I’ve said I’m gonna agree to marry you. Any problems best get sorted now.”

What?!
Greg flinched at the high-pitched squeal from his right. Olivia had walked up to join him, likely to push him out the door, and overheard. He turned to her, but not before she could shout again.
“You’re engaged?!

The hum of activity in the room ceased. Suddenly Greg felt very on-the-spot, and Mycroft had sunken slightly into his left side.
“Liv, keep your voice down,” he uttered. “It’s not–”
“You weren’t even going to tell me?”
“No, it’s–”
No?!
“Olivia please,” Greg pressed, looking about to see all of the faces fixed on him. He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Greg? Is it true? You’re engaged?”
Greg looked up to see Donovan’s mildly shocked expression. Greg opened his mouth. What do I say now? I can’t say no, given I just said I was going to marry Myc, but it’s not like I can say ‘no, not yet’, because then they’ll just make fun of it and Myc will feel pressured… but if I say anything other than that, Myc’ll think I’m being too presumptuous.

“Breathe, darling,” Mycroft uttered in his ear. Greg sucked in a large breath of air he suddenly realised he needed. “Don’t worry. However you wish to play this is acceptable for me. Whether you deny it, or announce our engagement here and now, I will love you the same.”

Greg turned to look at his partner’s loving face, admiration in his eyes. He slid and arm around Mycroft’s waist. The thoughts in his head – the ones that told him to wait, to be cautious, to consider that Mycroft should be with someone better – all disappeared. Right now, in that moment, Greg wanted to say ‘yes’. And so he did.
“Yeah, Sal. We’re engaged.”

There was a beat where nothing happened. Then, a flurry of congratulations was sent their way from both sides of the room. Mycroft seemed to be handling the attention well, despite being vastly uncomfortable with the amount of people suddenly near him. Greg released his hold around Myc’s waist, but held onto his hand tightly.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Ellis asked, beaming.
“I was going to, later, when it was a bit more confirmed.”
“Confirmed?” She scrunched her face in confusion. “How does that work? You either say yes or no.”
“Yeah, which is why it’s technically yes.”
“Technically?”
“We had planned to wait for a few months yet before the official proposal, given how new the relationship is,” Mycroft answered.
“Oh. Yeah I can see that being safe… but you know what? Love isn’t that kind of game. If you’re playing it safe, you’re not playing to win.”

Greg was struck with how profound her words were. He smiled, reassured that he’d made the right decision to be honest – if not a little precipitous. He squeezed Mycroft closer to him.

“Wait, so his brother knew and kept it to himself? Geez, what have you got on him?” Ellis laughed.
“No, Sherlock doesn’t know.”

Ellis’s face shifted from shock to a sly, unsettling grin that was not unlike that of a hyena outwitting a lion. She pulled out her phone eagerly.
“Wait, Liv, what are you–”
“Oi! Frankie! Your brother’s here.”

Mycroft leant closer to Greg to murmur in his ear, “Frankie?”
“Dr Frankenstein,” Greg explained.
“Hm,” Mycroft hummed, sounding more impressed than anything. “Not entirely erroneous.”

“He’s got something to tell you,” Ellis continued over the phone. “No, it’s something important, and can’t really be said over the phone. It involves Greg.”
She then frowned and looked at the blank screen of her phone. “That’s odd. He just said ‘be right there’ and hung up. Didn’t insult me or anything.”

Mycroft looked uncomfortable. Greg was suddenly glad that the room had returned to its business. “Don’t worry dear, I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Greg assured him.
“I had not anticipated to inform my brother so early. I am apprehensive as to his response. He can be malignant and petty when affronted. Undoubtedly he deigned that he would be the first to be informed.”
“Why? Oh, wait, yeah, Sherlock. Of course he’d expect that.”

Sherlock stormed into the room, looking concerned, John on his tail.  He stopped dead when he saw Greg standing there with his brother. He then looked to John, who looked just as uncertain. Greg then realised that they’d likely thought Mycroft was there with news regarding Greg’s health… and not a positive update, at that. He smiled at them reassuringly.

“What are you doing here, Mycroft?”
“A pleasure as always, brother mine,” Mycroft responded, formal and clipped.
“Answer the question.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes, his demeanour aloof, however Greg could see the façade for what it was: hiding the vulnerable emotions that had been recently brought to the surface. He rubbed his partner’s arm a few times.
“Ellis thought it’d be fun to watch the drama likely to ensue following our announcement.”
“Announcement?” John looked shocked, clearly understanding him perfectly. Sherlock just looked frustrated.
“Yes well she does take perverse pleasure in witnessing such,” Sherlock grumbled, looking at Ellis.
“Not as much as you do in causing drama,” Mycroft bit out, defensively. Greg had to squeeze his arm gently to let him know it’ll be alright.

He felt like the situation was teetering on eggshells, and one false step could result in a shouting match between the brothers. They tended to bicker harshly when emotions were involved. Greg would rather avoid that. Ellis, however, looked ready to fetch popcorn.

“And what announcement do you anticipate will cause upset? If it’s your intention to be henceforth addressed as ‘her Majesty’, then I assure you it is not a surprise.”
“You pejorative–”
“‘Ma’am’ is out of the question; I will not feed into your supercilious attitude. I’ve no problem calling you ‘sister mine’, though, as you’ve hardly been masculine enough to–”
“That’s enough, the both of you,” Greg snapped. “There’s no need for snarky attitudes. Mycroft did not come here with the intention of disturbing you, Sherlock. He only wanted to ask me to lunch. Someone,” he looked pointedly at Olivia, “decided to pull a thread and find out that we’re engaged. That’s why you were asked to come… so Mycroft could tell you in person before it got back to you through the grape vine.”

Sherlock froze, retreating into his mind to process the information. John took the chance to wish Greg and Mycroft well whilst his partner was still offline.
“That’s wonderful. I mean, yeah, it’s a bit fast but honestly? You’ve been whining about wishing for this over so many years that it seems right, you know?”
“Thanks, John.”
“Thank you, Dr Watson,” Mycroft spoke at the same time. Greg looked at his partner.
“You were whining to John about wanting to marry me?”
“Not… not to him, no,” Mycroft mumbled, embarrassed. Greg broke out in a grin.

“Guess I should go shopping,” Greg chuckled. “Any jewellers near Trafalgar Square?”
“I would prefer us to select rings together,” Mycroft commented. “If we are to get any.”
“Sure, I mean, why not?” Greg kissed his cheek. He was glad that they’d bypassed the potential awkward moment of Greg assuming Mycroft would be the one to wear an engagement ring. He wasn’t sure why it had occurred to him, but it just felt right that Myc would. Wearing one each sounded perfect.

“Considering the actual marriage would still be in the indeterminate future, a physical indicator of our commitment would certainly be congruous, auspicious even.”
Ellis looked at Mycroft, and then at Greg, confused.
“We dunno when we’ll do it so rings now’d be good,” Greg translated. He’d gotten good at understanding Holmes-speak over the years, and so acting as an interpreter for Mycroft came as second nature. ‘Mediator’ was the word of choice when it came to Sherlock. 

Who, coincidentally, decided he’d finished processing the information and looked ready for a long discussion. Greg couldn’t tell if it was going to be good or not.
“You go protect London, darling. I’ll see you tonight, for a special dinner?”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Greg answered, and kissed him briefly. He was honestly grateful that he didn’t have to stand around and argue with Sherlock, and was definitely going to repay Myc for his noble sacrifice.
“Have a good day until then.” He hugged Myc closed, and whispered in his ear, “I’ll make sure you’ll have a very good night.”

Mycroft stiffened and turned beetroot. He cleared his throat and compulsively flattened his waistcoat. “Yes, well. Until then.”

Sherlock must have understood the intention of what Greg had whispered, since he looked affronted and slightly disgusted as Greg walked past with Ellis.

Chapter Text

“DI Lestrade and DS Ellis. We need to speak to René Mortimer immediately.”
The receptionist looked suspicious for a moment, but then became very nervous.
“Right,” she mumbled, reaching for the phone. “I-I’ll let him know you’re here, a-and–”
“No,” Ellis interrupted. “We’d prefer it if we announced our presence ourselves. Please either tell us where to find him or escort us there.”
The woman nodded shakily, and then stood. Greg followed with Ellis by his side through a network of hallways, up an elevator, and through an open-plan office block to a small enclosed office.
“M-Mr Mortimer, police here to see you.”

Mr Mortimer set Greg on edge. His features were pointed with a resting sneer, he had greasy dark hair, pale skin (not the gorgeous speckled porcelain of Mycroft’s, but a sickly grey-looking shade), and wore an expensive looking suit that was too tight around his slightly pudgy middle. His eyes were dark and squinted as he stared at the intruders to his office.

Greg’s gut told him that they’d found the person responsible, and was strangely almost repulsed by the overwhelming feeling of petty self-centredness that washed over him upon laying eyes upon the man. He didn’t understand why he could instinctively know the man’s (lack of) morals, but he was learning to trust his gut.

“Mr Mortimer, we have some questions for you.”
“Please,” he spoke, his voice bright and friendly – yet Greg could tell it was a fake as the smile he wore. “What’s this about?”
“We have reason to believe that you knew an artist, Mr Tyron Sheppard.”
“Yes. I do. I have known him for quite a few years now. I’ve bought a number of his paintings.”
“How many years?” Greg asked abruptly.
Mortimer’s eyebrows shot up and he huffed genially. “I’m not sure, exactly. Eight, perhaps? Possibly seven. I don’t interact with him much, really. He likes to keep to himself, and I mostly just know him as an artist I purchase from.”
Ellis nodded, satisfied with the response. Greg had noticed too that Mortimer hadn’t been joining in with their past-tense.

“Have you seen him close to the seventeenth?”
Mortimer looked at Ellis innocently. “Of November? No.” He shook his head and smiled. “As I said, Tyron isn’t really the social type. He’s having an exhibition, in a few months I believe, and has promised me a first look of the paintings. I guess I’ll see him soon-ish. Why?”
“When was the last time you had contact with him?” Ellis asked, ignoring the man.

Mortimer frowned, and started to look unsettled. Greg didn’t like that he genuinely looked confused.
“March, I think. I called him for his birthday. It was just a short call, but he appreciates it. Gotta keep in his good books to get first pick, eh?” Mr Mortimer said, winking at Ellis. “I’m kidding, of course. Although it always does help. So what’s this about? Has he done something illegal?”

Greg and Ellis shared a look between them. They mutually agreed to tell the man the situation.
“We are investigating his death, Mr Mortimer.”
The man’s dark eyes widened and his mouth fell agape. “Death? My god, that’s tragic. He’d been doing so well, too. Wait; if you’re investigating, does that mean it…  wasn’t an accident? Or suicide?”
“Why would you say suicide, Mr Mortimer?” Greg asked, pursing his lips.
“Well, it’s no secret he had depression for ages. He could have had a relapse.”
“Is there any reason you could think of for him to have a relapse?”

That made the man stop and look between them with a classic expression of guilt. Greg hoped he didn’t look too smug, but everything he’d been saying about the girlfriend not doing it was seeming to be true – or, at least, that someone else was involved.
Mortimer sunk a little, his expression weary. He looked over to his closed door, and then back to Greg and Ellis. “Yes,” he said quietly.

Greg had to tilt his head. He’s just going to admit it? Like that?
“Please don’t spread this around, but… I spoke with his girlfriend.”
“Why? What did you talk about?” Ellis asked.

Mortimer grimaced and stood, walking over to the window beside his desk and looking out. “This is the part I need you not to tell anyone. I… have an app,” he said, his voice strained.
Greg still had the feeling that he wasn’t being genuine. He knew he was being truthful, and so his brain couldn’t come up with any explanation for his feeling. Intellectually, everything was fitting what they knew thus far. He looked about the desk quickly, eyeing the man in the mirror that rested on the back of the L-shaped desk.

“It’s for hook-ups. I-I’m married, see?” Mortimer turned around and looked at Greg, looking at him through the mirror. “Detective?”
“Sorry. Continue,” he mumbled, shifting his attention from the mirror to the man himself.
“But that’s not all. The app… it’s for encounters with men.” Mortimer swallowed. “I’m bisexual.”

Greg and Ellis didn’t react, just blinking at him waiting for him to continue. He’d obviously expected more of a reaction, and so straightened up and cleared his throat.

“My wife never knew. I thought I could still be honest and say that I wasn’t sleeping with or looking at other women… and sleep around with men sometimes. The point is, I saw Tyron had a profile when I was looking around. He’d never mentioned it either. I thought… hey, this could be a good opportunity.”
“You wanted to engage in sexual activity with Mr Sheppard,” Ellis summarised. “And so what did you do?”
“I went over to his house. I told him I’d seen the profile, and suggested that we got our needs sorted together.”

Lie, Greg’s brain supplied. But the man hadn’t given any indication that he’d been lying – he looked the same as he had thus far. “So when you said before that you hadn’t seen him or spoken to him since March, you were lying?”
Mortimer groaned and looked away. He returned to his desk and rubbed his face. “Yes, I’m sorry. It’s not something I want to bring up with people, alright? I’m sorry.”
“When did you last see Mr Sheppard, Mr Mortimer?” Ellis asked, stern.
“It was two months ago. Maybe a bit longer. I’d seen the app, went over to his house, and propositioned him. He shouted at me in response… said he wasn’t gay and wouldn’t want to sleep with me even if he was.”

Greg raised his eyebrow slightly when he looked at Ellis. She nodded briefly, understanding that this story didn’t match the one told by the girlfriend exactly.
“He demanded I leave. I was hurt, and a bit offended.” The man then bit his lip. “So I went to his girlfriend and showed her the profile.”
“Now, she tells us that Mr Sheppard hit on you, and you told her about it because you felt she didn’t deserve to be cheated on.”
Mr Mortimer nodded slowly. “Yes, she would say that. It’s what I told her.”
“But you were lying?” Greg pressed.
“Yes. I’d hardly tell her that the little prick insulted me and sent me away. He was doing the same as me; he had no right to act so high and mighty,” Mortimer spat.

“So you showed the girlfriend as vengeance for it, in the hopes they’d break up?” Ellis asked.
Mr Mortimer nodded. He then took a deep breath. “I-I was angry. The girlfriend, Helen-whatever, was too good for him anyway. I hadn’t expected her to be like that. A bit intimidating, actually… not the timid self-conscious person I’d thought Tyron would be comfortable with. I pretended that it was my conscience making me say something, so when she told me not to do the same, of course I said that she was right.”
“You don’t feel you’re doing anything wrong, by cheating on your wife?” Ellis said, obviously trying her hardest not to sound too judgemental. She’d gotten into trouble before for not being impartial to self-entitled men.
“It’s not really cheating. I’m just getting what she can’t give me. I want to sleep with women as well but I don’t because that would be cheating.”

Oh great, an idiot that embodies the stereotype everyone hates bisexual people for. Greg stifled his groan. “So you left Mr Sheppard’s house immediately when he told you to leave?”
“Yeah. Went straight to find Helen. Tyron told me where she lived. Not exactly, but the building. Wasn’t that hard to find her after that.”
“So he was alive when you left?” Greg asked, looking directly at Mortimer.
“Yes.” The man frowned, as if insulted by the insinuation. “He was angry, not distraught. Besides, I’d hardly let him kill himself in my presence.”
“But you’d let him otherwise?” Ellis asked. Greg had to grimace internally at that. Generally not a good idea, to say such things.

“What? No! But I wouldn’t be there to stop him, would I? I wasn’t much of a friend to him before that incident, and afterwards he was hardly going to call me for help. Honestly I was just glad he said he would still let me see the works first.”
“When did he say that?”
“When he was booting me off the premises. Said to me that we were just business, and so he would contact me when the works were ready for viewing.”

Greg was getting frustrated. Everything they’d heard was consistent with Miss Davies’ story, and the suspicion that it was her who committed the murder was returning. Greg was hoping that Mr Mortimer would show more signs of deception or at least be inconsistent. His gut still told him the businessman was the killer, but he couldn’t come up with any evidence to support that theory.

He was left wondering if he was obsfucating the case with his ‘intuition’ that was really just the result of mental instability.
Should I dismiss myself this time? What if I’m just making things worse? Sure I found Mortimer, but if I can’t be sure what’s instinct and what’s in my head, then perhaps it’s for the best. But then there’s Tom Cartwright… his life is in danger, and if I can save him, does it really matter how?

“Greg?”
He was pulled from his thoughts from Ellis’ concerned tone in his ear.
“Sorry.”
She looked at him, but nodded before returning her attention to Mortimer. “Where were you between three and ten pm on Saturday the seventeenth?”
Oh, fuck. That’s right… the alibi. How the hell could I forget that part?

Mortimer pursed his lips and hummed as he thought. “Well, the seventeenth was the day of the presentation. I was giving a lecture on investing in appreciating assets to reduce immediate taxation for businesses.”
Greg couldn’t help but nod to himself; the man looked the part. “We’ll need you to run down through your activities for that entire timeframe, and provide us with any evidence or confirmation of your whereabouts.”
“Well, uh, it was Saturday, so there wasn’t anyone else in the office at that time. We had to do it on Saturday, since that was the only time we weren’t interrupting the other businesses’ plans.”
“Please just take us through your activities,” Ellis snapped.

Mortimer looked annoyed to be cut off, but nodded. “Well, the presentation was between four and six. At three I left home, and arrived here at half three. I then prepared for the presentation. It was done as a video conference to, uh, perhaps four different companies? I’d have to check.”
“So you were here, alone?”
“Well, Detective Inspector, I might have been alone here but there was at least thirty people who saw me here at that time. And, the lecture was recorded and uploaded to the system. I can show you, if you like?”
“Please.” Greg stood up and walked around the desk to watch were Mr Mortimer was accessing this file. “And we’ll need a copy of the video.”
“Sure, I can download it for you.”
Greg watched as Mortimer accessed their company intranet and selected the file. He noted that the date and time matched the story told, and he winced internally. He’d been so sure, but the unsettling writhing of doubt was churning in his stomach.

“Alright, thanks.” Greg took back his USB drive he’d given to Mortimer for the file. “Now, what did you do for the rest of the evening?”
“I took a moment here to tidy my things, and then I went back home.”
“Alone?”
“No, to my wife.”
“When?”
Mortimer looked annoyed at Ellis for the short questions. “I left here at half six, and got home at seven. My wife and I had dinner then, at say twenty past seven, and then we went to bed after cleaning the dishes; I’d reckon it was at eight.”
“You went to bed at eight?” Greg asked, raising his eyebrow. “So from eight to ten, there’s no one that can confirm your whereabouts?”
“I fucked her into the mattress, Detective Inspector, for a good hour at least,” Mortimer growled crudely. “We went to bed but we didn’t sleep, since you must know.”

Greg clenched his jaw. He didn’t like the defensive aggression, but he had to agree that he was prodding more than strictly necessary because of his feeling. Ellis huffed beside him.
“So, we’ll need to confirm this with your wife,” she said plainly.
“Sure. Don’t be concerned if she can’t remember the exact evening straight away… I give her a lot of memorable nights.” Mortimer winked at Ellis.

Liv looked repulsed, and Greg was expecting an explosion. He couldn’t say he didn’t want it to happen. Surprisingly, Ellis just asked for the wife’s details in a strained tone and stood to leave.
“We’ll be in touch, Mr Mortimer. Thank you,” Greg said and followed Liv out of the door.

Once in the elevator, he turned to her sympathetically. “You alright?”
“Fine,” she retorted. “It’s not unusual for slimeballs to act like that to women.”
“Doesn’t make it right, or  that you have to be ok with it.”
“I’m fine, Greg. I’ve got a thick skin and that was nothing, really, compared to other times.”

Greg nodded as he hung his head. “So, what do you think?” he asked, changing topic.
“Everything matches well with Miss Davies’ story. He’s got a good alibi, Greg, and not much motive. I agree he’s a snake, but being an arsehole doesn’t make you guilty of murder. Miss Davies had the motive – even if caused by Mortimer here – and her housemate had access to the murder weapon.”
“Not really murder weapon,” Greg pointed out. Ellis looked at him, and he cleared his throat. “Right. Not the point.”

“I have to honestly question your insistence that she didn’t do it. I’m your friend, Greg, and I know you are dedicated to this job,” she started, her tone cautious. The elevator opened, and so she waited until they were out of the building before continuing. “But, I have to ask if you’re really well enough to be working.”

Chapter Text

Greg took Friday off. Ellis and Bates were working hard in trying to find some physical evidence tying Helen and Shari to the murder, and Greg wasn’t going to get involved in that.

They’d all watched the tape Greg brought back with him, and it was the most boring thing he’d ever seen. It was a struggle to get through. He never wanted to hear the phrase ‘capital gains’ again. It did, however, give physical proof of Mr Mortimer’s whereabouts.

They’d gone and visited the wife who’d confirmed her husband’s movements at the times he’d said. Ellis wasn’t convinced exactly that she was being honest, which then led the wife to reveal that they’d recorded the evening together. Greg had happily delegated the duty of acquiring their camera, and watching for confirmation, to Ellis. He really didn’t want to see that. He’d received some texts with choice words in it from Liv that evening once he’d gone home for the day.

Mycroft was glad that he was ‘taking his health seriously’. It was just after lunch, and Mycroft had texted twice to make sure that Greg hadn’t snuck back off to work.

- I promise, love. I’m sitting here on the couch watching a movie.

Greg smirked as he texted his partner, and included a photo as proof. Fiancé, he reminded himself happily. He was cuddled up in as many blankets as he could find, still freezing for some reason, but decided he’d remove them to send a more salacious photo to Mycroft.

- Don’t you wish you were here with me?
- Always, Gregory. If you can wait another five hours, I’ll show you how much.

Greg laughed at Mycroft’s response, trying to imagine him in some formal important meeting whilst typing that out. He huddled himself back up into his fluffy cocoon and resumed the movie. It was helpful not to think about the reason for taking the day off too much.
His phone buzzed, and he chuckled as he fumbled to reach it whilst still buried in fabric. It wasn’t from Mycroft, as he’d expected.

- Found Tom Cartwright. In station now. Donovan.

His heart suddenly pounded. He paused, looking between his phone and the telly, and then typed a response.

- Donovan, I’ll be right there.

Mycroft could yell at him later.

~

Greg stopped dead as he approached his office, noticing that there were people in it. Blinking, he realised it was John and Mike. Dread filled his stomach and his mind was inundated with suspicious thoughts regarding the topic of their conversation. He hadn’t seen Mike since running out on him at the café, and realised in that moment that he probably should have responded to the man’s texts and calls – he’d just been so busy and distracted, and legitimately forgot.

The pair noticed him staring, and so Greg took some hesitant steps forward.
“What’s going on?” he asked, frowning.
“Greg!” Mike exclaimed, startled. He looked pleased to see him, and exhumed relief and concern.
“Greg, I thought you weren’t working today,” John said.
“So you thought you’d take over my office?”
“No, no… I was just… Mike called to ask how you were.”

Greg stayed very still as he stared at John. “Right,” he said, flicking his eyes at Mike. “So why is this not a phone call?”
“I had some time and John said I could just come and see him. We wanted privacy, but nothing official. That’s all, mate, honest. I was just concerned since you hadn’t returned any of my messages.”
“Been busy,” he answered, clipped. It was true, at least.

Mike took a step closer to him, but Greg instinctively stepped backwards. Mike froze and inclined his head, then returned to his spot in a clear sign of submission. Greg didn’t like that they were both walking on eggshells around him, but liked having some semblance of control of the situation.

“What did you say?” he asked, purposefully directing the question at either of them.
“Just that you’ve been working hard, mate,” John said, raising his hands up. “That that was probably why you’d not answered.”

Greg looked at Mike, a silent request for an answer. “And I just said to John that you seemed on edge when we caught up on Sunday. That’s all. I did ask if John thought it was a good idea for you to be working so hard, and he said that you were taking today off so I was pleased.”
“And this warranted a visit, did it?” Greg asked, still suspicious.

He knew he shouldn’t be so, but his gut was stabbing him uncomfortably at the thought that Mike was involved a lot more than he’d thought. He’d trusted him, confided in him, and it was more than a little worrying that not only had that trust been betrayed, but that Mike was ‘in on it’ as well.
“No, not really, but I hadn’t seen John in a while and thought I’d rather have some company for a bit than be stuck in my lonely flat,” Mike protested. He fixed Greg with a piercing stare. “We’re not conspiring or anything, Greg.”

Unwilling to comment, Greg nodded, and then turned around. He walked away from his office, wanting to file away the incident to think about later. First he wanted to get the poisoning case over and done with.
“Greg! Wait!”
He stopped when he heard Mike’s voice call out. Greg took a deep breath and sighed before turning around.
“I didn’t go to him and tell him everything you’ve confided in me, Greg,” Mike said, slightly out of breath. “You can still trust me.”

He clenched his jaw. He wanted to bite back asking ‘can I’ or something similarly insidious, but knew his friend didn’t deserve that.
“I just worry that people want to take control of my life without my input,” he said slowly.
Mike nodded. “I know. I could see that with how you panicked on Sunday. I stand by what I said, and still honestly think that sometimes when you’re stuck in it all you can’t make the best decisions for yourself. That’s where friends come in.”
“Is that what you were really doing, then? Trying to find out what John knows so you can take over?”
“No,” Mike said, shocked. “Certainly not. He did tell me that you saw someone on Tuesday, so I’m content to let you keep doing what you’re doing. I’m sorry if you felt threatened by what I said on Sunday, mate. I just care for you. The fact that you are actually doing things to get help eases my mind.”

Greg looked keenly at Mike’s round face. He was always genuine, and this was no exception. Greg could only see concern there. He nodded.
I don’t remember telling John about the therapist on Tuesday, but no doubt he found out from Mycroft.
“I have to speak to someone about a case,” he said, trying to step away.
“Right. Of course. Still, take it easy on yourself. And Greg? You can still talk to me, you know.” Mike shuffled uncomfortably and added, “And be sure to follow your therapist’s advice, yeah?”

~

The young man in the interview room was large, with muscles covered in a layer of fat giving him the impression of a squidgy teddy bear. He had a gentle nature about him, and Greg noticed that his eyes were too close together giving him the look of sub-average intelligence. Greg smiled at him nicely, and the man perked up and smiled in return. Donovan remained staring with a sneer.

“Can you state your name for the record?” he asked.
“Tom Cartwright.”
“Thank you. Now, Sergeant Donovan has explained to you that you are here for suspected involvement in the death of Kimi Watanabe, correct?”
“Yeah, she done told me Kimi was dead. Sick or somefin?”
“Acute arsenic poisoning. From what we can ascertain, she was poisoned following a dinner she had with you,” Donovan answered promptly.
“I didn’t do nofin’! I liked her. Hoping maybe she’d want be me girlfriend. I wishin’ she was alive, she was so pretty… ‘n tiny, so tiny like I could pick her up ‘n carry her.”

Greg suddenly had flashbacks to reading ‘Of Mice and Men’, and realised that the situation wasn’t exactly dissimilar. He knew that Tom hadn’t intended to poison the woman. He was surprised, though, that Tom didn’t seem to be poisoned as well… surely a lethal dose in a small woman would at least make a man twice, or three times, her size at least ill?
“Mr Cartwright, are you feeling well?”
“Yeah, I’m alright. Just a bit of a tummy ache, is all.” Tom wrapped an arm around his middle. “Happens. Them doctors asked me ‘n all, an I had to pee for them and give hairs and blood ‘n stuff. I fought this was the police?”
“You were tested for arsenic poisoning, Mr Cartwright,” Greg said, then cleared his throat. “Given the exposure to Ms Watanabe, we needed to be sure that your life wasn’t in danger. We should have the results soon.”
“Life? Nah, I have done felt like this lots before. It’s fine.”

Greg looked at Sally, who pursed her lips. At least it was still sounding like Tom had accidentally poisoned the meal, and it wasn’t just something Greg’s mind had come up with.
“Did you serve steak for your dinner date?”
“What?” Sally asked before Tom could respond.
“Donovan, let him answer.”
“Yeah, I did, how’d you know? You ain’t got them spy cameras in houses now, have youse?”

So the ‘vision’ was real then. But… how could that even be possible? Sally is looking as surprised, so she obviously heard it. The interview is being recorded, so I’ll know if it’s just in my head, but it’s looking like I really did see the future. Or, no, it wasn’t the future… it was the present, at the time…

“Lestrade?”

Sally’s question jolted him from his mind. He coughed and mumbled an apology. “Can you take us through the day of your dinner date?” he asked slowly, pointedly ignoring Donovan’s looks.
“She were comin’ over to my place, where I live with Grandad. He said he’d give me space, he’s so nice like that. We goes to work–”
“Who, you and your Grandad?”
“Yes, miss. Ma said I couldn’ do anyfin’ better than fillin’ boxes, but Grandad said he’d teach me seein’ as I was good ‘n gentle, like. He’s been doin’ glass the same as his grandad did, the old way. Antique restoration, he says. I just do as he says really, I don’ understand why it’s important. But it is to him, like, more than anyfin’.”

Greg nodded and encouraged Tom to continue, despite the quiet tutting of Sally beside him.
“So I were finking all day over what to make. I was so nervous. Knocked over so many things, Grandad done told me to leave early. Once his special tub were spilled on me, he shouted to clean up ‘n stay gone.”
“Did this have a white floury powder in it?” Greg asked, still ignoring Donovan.
“Yeah. Good fing too I were sent in, cause I had no time to make the meat! I don’ eat it, see. Not fair on dem animals. Kimi likes it, though. Anyways I made the food and then showered.”
“Did you notice if any of the powder you spilled got on the food?”
“No, sir. I didn’ notice. I was busy. But it’s not bad, honest. Just ingredients for glass ‘n glass touches food fine.”

He leaned back in his chair and groaned. The poor bloke honestly had no idea he was poisoning himself and others with arsenic used for antique glassmaking. He’d thought that the practice had ended, but guessed an old family business that made historically accurate glass would stick with old dangerous practices.

He asked Sally to speak with him out in the hall, where he told her to organise a team to collect the specified powder from the grandfather’s workshop and test it for arsenic, and to manage the charging of Tom Cartwright. At least Donovan agreed to be considerate of the fact the boy honestly didn’t understand what had happened, and not to try for too harsh a sentence.

Donovan didn’t argue when he said that he was going back home. He was feeling worn out already, and didn’t want to be interrogated himself when Mycroft got home. He was glad, though, that they’d solved the case without any more casualties. He did hope that the effects of the poison were reversible for Mr Cartwright’s case, since it was obvious he’d had a chronic exposure to arsenic.

Greg was left wondering just what would have happened if he hadn’t pushed forward with his instinct in this investigation.

Chapter Text

“Greg!”

Greg jolted awake at the sound of Mycroft crying out his name. He’d been having a nightmare himself, but of what… he didn’t know. He blinked into the dark and reached out for his partner.
“Myc, Myc it’s ok, I’m here,” he soothed, rubbing Mycroft’s arm.
“Hm? What’s that?” Mycroft mumbled with a yawn. “Darling?”
“It’s ok, you were having a nightmare,” Greg explained.
“I was?”
“Yeah. You called out for me.”
“Oh.” Mycroft yawned again and sat more upright. “Sorry to wake you, then, darling. I don’t recall having a nightmare, but–”
“It’s fine, I wasn’t sleeping well anyway.”

Greg let the silence linger as he pondered Mycroft’s confusion. He certainly didn’t sound like he’d been having a nightmare. Greg shrugged and cuddled back up with him.
“Are you alright, Gregory?”
“Yeah. I’m fine. Not very sleepy, though.”
“What time is it?”
Greg reached out for his phone on the bedside table. “Five in the morning.”
“You could stay awake, if you find yourself unable to sleep. I’ll stay up with you if you like.”
“No, love. You sleep. You don’t need to be up for another hour and a half.”
“I still think you should take today off,” Mycroft protested. “You’ve been rather relaxed all weekend and it’s done you good.”
“I was glad to have a case settled. I have tomorrow off to see the psychologist again. I think it’ll be fine.”

Even in the dark Greg could tell Mycroft was grimacing. He leant forward and pressed a kiss to his lips. “I appreciate you trying to take care of me.”
“Always.”
“But I still need to work. We got the case sorted much earlier than expected because I worked out the connection. I just know I’ll get it for the artist one too. It’s playing on my mind.”
He kissed Mycroft again, and went downstairs.

He made himself a coffee, briefly wondering if Mycroft would still make his ‘secretly dosed’ one in a couple of hours. He shook his head and walked to the table with a bowl of yoghurt and muesli.

I might have to ask Sherlock to increase the dose, he thought as he opened his laptop. He’d heard footsteps again on Saturday, and a loud bang – like that of a door slamming – on Sunday. He’d put it down to the stress of the past week, given how much had happened for him, but he didn’t want to take any chances.

He rummaged through his emails, dismissing most of them as unimportant. The news feed was also as uninteresting. He was considering moving to the living room and putting a comedy show on the telly, but the niggling feeling in the back of his mind won out to play Mr Mortimer’s alibi video again.

Greg had finished his food and almost his coffee when he saw it. He lent closer to the screen, and peered into the mirror on the business man’s desk. His heart started pounding and he almost dropped his mug as he blindly tried to put in on the table.

The National Gallery was reflected in the mirror, from out of the window to the side of the room not shown in the video. On the outside of the building was a large banner with a deer.

That’s the deer painting Myc wanted to see, but we missed it. What was it called? The Highland Deer? No, but something like that. What was the artist’s name?

Greg tapped furiously on the table as he willed his brain to make the connection. His heart still pounded, reminding him that it was important.

“Landseer,” he mumbled to himself in triumph, and started stabbing at the keys on his laptop. He pulled up the National Gallery website and broke into a self-pleased grin. The exhibition with the deer, of the painter Landseer, finished on the eleventh. I knew it. We missed it because it finished, and it’s had this Sorolla decorating the front since.

The video was dated on the seventeenth, and broadcast on the seventeenth… but it was obviously recorded at least six days earlier.

“Got you,” Greg sneered gleefully to the frozen image of the slimy finance exec on his screen.

 ~

“You magnificent bastard,” Ellis exclaimed when Greg showed her the video and the evidence of the National Gallery. “How the hell did you notice that?”
“Myc was going to take me to see it, actually; the Landseer exhibit. I wasn’t well, and so we missed it since he said that it finished that Sunday.”
“That’s amazing. We went through everything we could think of and it all showed that his alibi was sound. So, of course we’ve spent most of the weekend trying to find tangible evidence against those girls. But this… this changes it.”
“Mhm,” Greg agreed, nodding. He was feeling rather pleased with himself. “He’s put this up to hide something; conversely, those women just don’t have confirmable alibis.”
“Bates still investigated what she could on this guy. Said that he’d bought a lot of paintings from the victim this year. It didn’t seem suspicious, given what we knew, but now… maybe he was up to something?”

Greg stood and rolled his shoulders. It felt like a good day. “Right,” he said as he walked out of his office, Ellis in tow. “Get him back here. Where’s Bates?”
“Here, sir,” the small voice of Hanna Bates called out as she popped her head up from her desk.
“What can you tell me about the artwork? My instinct tells me that’s important.”

Ellis leant against the partition of Bates’ desk and raised her eyebrow at Greg. “Really? The artwork is important in a case regarding an artist?”
“Come off it, Liv,” Greg chided good-naturedly. “Last week you were prepared to think that the art didn’t have anything to do with it; that it was entirely a bi-phobic related issue.”
“True. Still could be. Anyway, I’ll be out rounding up our prime douchebag. Laters,” she sung mockingly, and waved behind her as she trotted off.

“She’s going to handcuff him, isn’t she, sir?” Bates said, her tone deflated.
“Yeah, probably. Rich bastards like to think they have more rights than the rest of us mere mortals. Can’t say I’m too sympathetic; that guy makes my skin crawl.”
“Well,” Bates said hesitantly, “He’s not as rich as you’d think.”
“How so?” Greg crossed his arms on top of the partition and rested his chin on them. “He’s bought all that artwork, so surely he’s well off?”

“Oh, yes, he is, sir. But according to my research, he’s spent most of his money on the artworks this year. There’s not a whole lot of funds that isn’t invested in what I can only describe as unfair methods, but disposable income? Not much, sir. He’s not been very smart about it for a while – er, if you don’t mind my saying so, sir.”
“Bates, relax.” He shot her a kind smile. “You’re a valued member of the team and don’t need to tread so carefully. And it’s odd, isn’t it, that he’s not been smart with funds when he works in finance, and gives other companies lectures on how to manage money?”
“Now that you mention it, that is odd, sir.”

Greg nodded, and turned around to leave. He’d only made it a few paces before he stopped, the information just clicking in his brain. He spun back around to face a surprised Bates.
“Record all that for his trial, Bates. I need you to provide evidence with how resourceful he is with money, as far back as you can, and compare that with this year. Specifically, the time when he started buying all the art.”
“Yes, sir. Uh, just so I’m clear, sir, but why do you need this?”
“Because,” he stressed, breaking into a manic grin. “Artists usually only get famous after they die.”

Hanna Bates just nodded slowly, but didn’t respond. Greg chuckled and shook his head.

“Once the artist’s dead, then everything they’ve produced becomes a limited edition or something. The value increases.”
Bates’ eyes blew wide. “So you’re saying…?”
“For money, yep. Investing.”
“Scoundrel,” Bates exclaimed, but then quickly put her hand over her mouth. “I mean… he planned to kill Mr Sheppard for months just to turn a profit?”
“Yep, seems like it,” Greg said, but in his heart he knew it was true. “We now have our motive.”
“We still don’t know how he got the isoflurane, or how the girlfriend and the gay app thing is involved.”
“Small steps, Bates. Small steps.”

~

“Greg, I agree he’s a horrible human being, but we can’t jump to conclusions.”
“Liv, I’m telling you, it’s him.”

Ellis looked at him pained, and then thrust her hands on her hips. “I don’t really understand your fixation on this, mate. I get why you’d want him put away – he is a two faced insidious snake, going just by his practices and his attitude – but we don’t have any evidence linking him to the murder.”

Greg groaned and sighed. Mortimer was being held until they could confirm why his alibi was falsified and try find the connection to Tyron Sheppard’s murder. Greg felt desperate to get the case wrapped up as soon as he could, and he couldn’t tell why, but it was grating against Olivia.

“Greg, just because he’s an arsehole who faked his alibi doesn’t automatically mean he’s the guy we’re after.”

Ellis sat Greg down at the table and gave him a look that was a mix of concern and strained patience. “We need to have something tangible to prove his connection. For all we know, he made the video early so that he could go sleep around without his wife knowing.”
“Liv–”
“Greg.” Ellis shook her head gently. “There’s too many questions still. He’s a slimy finance businessman. How would he know how to drug and anaesthetise someone? Where was he able to get the isoflurane? How did he get into the house, and how did he know where the victim’s medications were?”
“He could have been there before in the past,” he offered.
“How many customers are welcomed into a seller’s home enough to know what medications they’re taking and where to find them, Greg?”

Greg clenched his jaw and nodded. That did sound rather difficult to answer. “But what about the stockpiling of artwork? Just months before he was killed? He spent so much; completely unreasonable for his finances. And artwork only accrues value once the artist is dead.”
“Yes, it’s suspicious, but in of itself isn’t a link to murder Greg. At most you could argue it indicates he knew something might happen to Mr Sheppard. He could have a problem, like a hoarding obsession or like the equivalent of gambling addiction, that made him spend excessively.”

Greg squinted at her. “You’re awfully keen to try prove his innocence.”
“I’m doing nothing of the sort,” she snapped back. “That sexist monster can rot in hell for all I care, and if I could arrest people for being arseholes I would. And I have tried, you know.” Olivia snorted and crossed her arms. “But I am a good detective, and I have to tell you these things. This needs to be done right, Greg, and if you can’t see that’s what I’m doing, then maybe you really shouldn’t be here.”

Greg sunk into himself. Ellis’ words were impactful. He nodded. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled.
“I don’t mean to be so blunt, Greg, but it is true. We have to make an actual tangible case against him. Then there’s the girls. They had motive, access to the isoflurane, access to the house, and would reasonably have the knowledge of his medications to drug him.”
“But the breakthrough with the video was so promising,” Greg whined.

Olivia reached over and patted his arm. “You did a good job with that Greg. It’s just not the solving of the case.”
He didn’t like how patronising she sounded, but he had to admit that it was warranted. He groaned and rubbed his face with his hands. “I have another appointment to go to tomorrow, so I’ll be taking a half-day.”
“Good. You’re looking really stressed, Greg.”
“I don’t really feel it. I honestly just feel tired and cold. I might be getting sick. One of those long flu things or something.”
“Possibly,” Ellis answered, uncertain. There was more lurking in her eyes, but she didn’t say anything. Greg was grateful.

He looked up at her and smiled hopefully. “I at least managed to close the case for the arsenic poisoning?”
“Yes. It’s good you did, too, since the lad was getting damage from all that arsenic exposure. I heard Sally went and closed down the grandfather’s glass shop, for unsafe working conditions?”
“Yeah. Poor old bloke didn’t really understand how dangerous the stuff was. He’d had minor exposure for most of his life, but was smart enough to avoid it. His grandson? Not so much. But he’s being treated for it now, and no one else’ll get sick.”
“Good. I wasn’t saying you weren’t still a good detective, Greg,” she said gently. “Just that you can’t get ahead of yourself here. I know you went a bit…” She pressed her lips together and looked about as she thought of the right word. “Beyond standard procedure,” she hummed, “but it turned out for the best. There was a life in danger.”

“There aren’t more lives in danger here,” Greg admitted. “He’s not a serial killer. He just wants money.”
“He does, that much is obvious, but you can’t talk like that around others, mate. You have to try at least sound like you’re considering other possibilities.”

Greg took a deep breath and nodded. He wasn’t sure how he was supposed to find evidence tying Mortimer to the murder, and Ellis had raised some annoyingly good points.

Chapter Text

As Mycroft held him, it was the first time he’d actually felt warm in a long time. He didn’t want to move; he wanted to remained wrapped up in his partner’s arms. Mycroft was pleased he had another appointment today with the psychologist, and Greg was trying hard not to think about it. He was worried that he’d be advised to stop work. I’m helping the cases much more than before now; I can’t just stop.

“What time will you be home?” Mycroft asked him, his voice soft and velvety.
“Half three, probably,” he answered as he nuzzled Mycroft’s neck. “You?”
“I anticipate a regular working schedule today.”
“So, six?”
“Yes.”

Greg squeezed Mycroft tighter. He was happy; deeply, truly happy. Having Mycroft hold him, knowing that they were actually engaged now, made that horrid feeling of loneliness and despair that had been swirling in his gut since waking in the hospital disappear. He didn’t know why the relief had come today of all days, but he wasn’t questioning it.

“I want to get rings soon,” he announced into the brief silence. “Is that ok?”
“More than.” Mycroft kissed him gently. “When did you want to?”
“Finding time to get to a jeweller’s during working hours is difficult to orchestrate for the both of us. I was thinking it might be easier if one of us was already off work for say, a half day?”

Mycroft chuckled, a deep, pure chuckle. “Sly, my love. I’ll see what I can do to get away from the office for an hour or so today.”
“Really?” Greg looked at his partner hopefully. “Are you sure?”
“Certainly. I actually believe I have a meeting at four that I can reschedule to six, so if you don’t mind my being later than usual home tonight, then I can meet you after your appointment?”
“That’s fine,” Greg answered, beaming.

~

“You look chipper this morning,” Ellis announced as she walked into the office.
“Going out to get rings with Myc after the appointment today,” Greg responded, unable to stop grinning.
“Well, be sure to get two,” she chuckled. Greg tilted his head, and so she continued. “One for work and one for home. I’ve seen your Myc, and how you are when you’re here.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Greg, you’re a careless klutz in the office and at the crime scenes, and Mycroft is a posh arse.”
“Oi!” Greg snapped, indignant. He knew Liv wasn’t being insulting, and so played along. “He has a posh arse,” he clarified.

“Do not describe further,” she intoned, looking disgusted but with glee in her eyes. “Mycroft is a delicate prissy flower, then,” she chuckled. “He’s going to get you some super expensive fancy ring, and then be upset when you come home with it scratched to buggery and covered in mud.”

Greg snorted at the description, but then frowned. She actually had a point. He was ‘accident prone’ in the office, and had tended to whack his old ring against everything he came across – doorhandles, desks, cabinets, concrete, corpses… perhaps he should have a conversation with Mycroft.

~

Greg was standing in the conference room, looking at the board of information. Mr Mortimer had denied that the alibi was false. Ellis had gone to the museum to get an official statement of when the advertising material had been changed, which they then brought to Mortimer. He’d then demanded that he wasn’t going to say anything without a lawyer.

That in of itself told the team that there was more than just hiding adultery, but they couldn’t be sure given Mortimer’s attitude. He was defensive, dismissive, and annoyed. He was threatening with a lawyer for ‘false imprisonment’ for merely being asked questions in an interview room.

“Greg?”

He turned around, his heart leaping at hearing Mycroft’s voice. The pit of his stomach dropped when he saw that he was alone in the room. His heart then started to race for a whole different reason. He swallowed. “Myc?” he asked, unsure. There was no response, and Mycroft didn’t appear out from behind a door or around a corner.

He turned back to the board and clenched his jaw. That made it three times he’d heard things that weren’t there since Saturday. Whatever he was being drugged with, it wasn’t enough anymore.

Greg willed himself to calm down. I can just tell Sherlock and ask for an increased dose. I’ll let him know I know about it, and I’m ok with it. Whatever happened is in the past, and we’ll work at making it alright now. But that’s still assuming that I’m not an experiment of his. What if I am, and he ends the entire experiment because I’m not a blind test subject or whatever the term is? What’ll happen to me then?

“No; just being paranoid,” he muttered to himself. He pulled out his phone and rang Sherlock, asking him to come up to the office. He, of course, refused, and so Greg said he’d go see the mad toxicologist now. He couldn’t concentrate while anxious anyway.

“Sherlock,” Greg said as he walked into the lab. He didn’t receive a response from the man peering into a microscope. Greg cleared his throat, and then coughed impatiently.
“Say what you want, Graham,” Sherlock mumbled into his scope. “I am actually busy.”
“You always say that, but you never seem to be working on authorised projects.”
“They’re work-related,” Sherlock protested. “But unlike the idiots I work with, I do the smart thing and research the information before it’s needed.”
“How do you know what you need to research then?”

Sherlock sneered and snorted. “Wasting time not only working out what needs to be known, but then learning it, is idiotic. It’s much better to already understand and solve the case whilst the crucial time–”
“Yeah, that’s really not why I’m here,” Greg interrupted. Sherlock seemed to be in one of his moods where he’d talk and talk.

“No, you’re here about yourself, aren’t you?” Sherlock stood up from his chair and smirked, looking smug with himself.

Greg huffed and walked up to him, ignoring the fact that he wasn’t wearing a lab coat again. He opened his mouth to speak, but then shut it again quickly. He then looked about at the ceiling.

“It’s not bugged in here, is it?”
Sherlock frowned. “Bugged? By whom?”
“Anyone.”
“There’s CCTV in here, as with all other places of the Yard. You should know that.”
“Yeah, but audio.”
“What is it, Greg?”

Greg was struck by Sherlock’s sudden change in tone and the use of his real name. He cleared his throat again and looked down. “I know you make all kinds of strange chemicals for your insane experiments,” he started, flicking his eyes up to the icy blue eyes staring at him intently. “Which, as I’ve said, as long as you’re doing your job and nothing illegal, I’m turning a blind eye to.”

Sherlock said nothing, waiting for more. Greg sighed and looked directly up at him. “I know.”
“Know?”
He nodded. “About… it.” He quirked his eyebrows at the end. Sherlock didn’t twitch to indicate he knew what Greg was talking about.
“You know, the drugging.” Greg decided to avoid the part he wasn’t sure about, the exact reason for it, but ultimately it didn’t matter. “I’m not angry,” he added quickly.

Sherlock looked at him curiously. It was a mix of reservation and hesitance. “I see,” he rumbled in his deep baritone.
“I just… it’s not enough anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“I need you to make something stronger, or increase the dose or something.”

Greg rubbed the back of his neck. It was awkward. His gut was churning and the anxious part of him was screaming to run and pretend nothing was wrong, but the stronger part of him said he needed Sherlock’s assistance – dubious as it may be.

“Just to clarify, to which drug are you referring?”
“How many different drugs are you giving people? No, wait, don’t answer that. I don’t want to have to do anything from knowing. Just…” Greg held up his hands, waving them before his body to dismiss the idea. “Whatever you’re slipping me, I need more. The, uh, problems have come back again. I’m still able to see everything clearer, and make more connections, but… yeah.”

He couldn’t bring himself to actually say it, but Sherlock looked as stoic as ever when processing information. Normally the man caught on quick, so Greg had to wonder if he wasn’t just not understanding and instead considering other options. He desperately hoped that he’d just give him more of the drugs.

“I want to keep working, Sherlock. I want to keep helping people with these increased abilities. I just can’t do it if I’m hearing things again.”
“Greg,” Sherlock said slowly, “I’m not drugging you. At least, not at the moment.”

Ok, I’m just skipping over the idea that he has in the past. “What? A-are you sure?”
“Positive.”
“You’re not lying to me?”
“No. Though not that you could tell either way.”
“It is my job to tell, you know,”
“Yes, but luckily for you, most people aren’t good at lying.” Sherlock rolled his eyes. “It’s disappointing, really.”
“Back to the matter at hand,” Greg said, trying to keep the worry out of his voice. He was failing. “If you’d stopped recently, then it’s not solved the issue. I need more again.”

He really didn’t like how genuinely confused Sherlock looked. Oh god, what if he actually hasn’t been drugging me? What does that mean?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Greg. Why do you think I’ve been drugging you? You never noticed in the past.”
Again, skipping over that part.

“The hallucinations stopped,” he said quietly. “The coffee… John brought me coffee, and then Myc made me coffee every morning; the noises and voices stopped then. I-I just had a…” Greg clamped his mouth shut, realising that admitting to a premonition in front of the scientist probably wasn’t smart.

“A what?”
Too late. “A vision that helped with the case,” he groaned, resigned. “I saw in my head someone accidentally lacing a steak with arsenic.”
“Oh; the arsenic case recently, yes. Interesting. Are you sure this pre-cognition wasn’t merely retroactive?”

Greg had to process the words for a moment. “No, I’m sure. It was days before the case was brought to us. But knowing straight away what had happened helped to prevent more accidental deaths and save the boy involved, so it was good that I did.”
“Knowing answers before it’s needed helps, doesn’t it?” Sherlock said pointedly, sending him a piercing look.
Greg started to feel the panic in his chest. “I told you I don’t care that you’re doing it, Sherlock, I just need your help to keep it under control.”

“Good, I’ll remind you of that next time I need you as a guinea pig. However I assure you, I’m not lacing your coffee.”
“Enough Sherlock!” he shouted. His heart was pounding in his ears now as he desperately tried to breathe steadily. Sherlock’s smug attitude instantly disappeared.
“I don’t care who’s doing it, how they’re doing it, or what they’re doing it with. Just give me more.” Greg was aware he was panting, making him look enraged, however he was just trying not to hyperventilate.

“Maybe we should talk to John,” Sherlock suggested cautiously.
“What for?” he snapped, tense.
Sherlock flinched minutely. “To ask him if he’s drugging your coffee,” Sherlock suggested.

Greg took a deep breath, no longer feeling so defensive. He’s not trying to get me sectioned, just trying to help. “No, i-it’s alright. If it’s really not something you’ve been doing, then I’ll ask Mycroft. He’s the one been making me coffees since.” Greg could tell that Sherlock was suspicious. He tried to smile nonchalantly. “You know your overly-worrisome brother,” he said. “It’s not unreasonable to think he’s gotten some drugs to force on me because I was being stubborn.”

“Yes,” Sherlock answered slowly, almost disbelievingly. “You are indeed stubborn, and my brother controlling and anxious. I don’t doubt he’d try help you whether you let him or not; he’s so enamoured by you that he’d believe it was right.”

Greg nodded and left, trying hard to walk at a normal pace. That had not gone as I intended. If Sherlock’s not made some crazy experimental drug to fix up a mistake, or conduct an experiment, then what the hell’s going on? Was he just lying to keep his cover? Or am I just desperately grabbing at any explanation that isn’t ‘I’m having a breakdown’? Fuck.

Chapter Text

“Listen here, Detective Inspector, and listen good. I’m a prominent, sought-after, highly successful businessman who should not be demeaned by you and your petty self-righteous agenda.”

Greg’s stomach flipped and he stifled a groan. He knew he should have just let the call to go voicemail.

“There are people out there who’d pay hundreds for five minutes of my time,” Mortimer continued. “I do not have it to spare to sit in your cells and wait for you to fumble about in your incompetence and insignificance while you desperately try to make yourself seem better by arresting someone of my importance.”
“Mr Mortimer–”
“I am not finished with you!” Mortimer snapped. “Show some respect. To have that woman handcuff me… you’ll be hearing from my solicitors, as will she. I won’t let this stand.”

Greg rubbed his forehead as he fought the urge to just hang up. His appointment was in fifteen minutes, and so he guessed he could rationalise it.

“Unlike you, I have endless support for my rights when they’re violated, and many to jump to my defence when I bring to light the horrible ways I’ve been treated in your investigation. You’ll be so far in inquests that you’ll end up pleading to me on your knees to drop them.”
“Mr Mortimer I stand by my detective’s decisions, and I am not on duty at the moment. I will be in touch with you soon, I assure you, however I have an engagement that requires my attention. I don’t know how you got this number but I ask you not to use it again.” Or I’ll add harassment to your list of charges, he thought bitterly to himself.

The call ended abruptly after a ‘humph’. Greg rolled his eyes and pocketed the phone, trying to tell himself that he’d get the satisfaction of seeing that bastard kicked off his high horse and into handcuffs soon enough.

“Greg? Come on in.”

He walked into the room, sitting on the chair as Imogen sat on hers. The call had put him on edge, more so than he’d been before, and he was sure his psychologist noticed.

“How are you doing, Greg?”
“Um, a but frustrated with work, I guess.”
“Just frustrated?”
“Stressed, too, I suppose. I don’t know why it’s wearing at me.”
“You’ve been through a lot, and have a lot still going on – it’s not unusual to find you don’t have the energy for it like you used to.”

He didn’t comment, but instead just nodded and looked at his knees. He didn’t want to bring anything up, but the thoughts and doubts were swirling around in his head.
“Is there anything in particular you want to talk about this session?”
He shook his head.
“Alright. Well, last time I told you to consider some things. Have you done that?”

After a pause, he nodded. “Yeah. I-I’m more confused than before, though.”
“How so?”
“I was so sure that I had been drugged to work better after some insane medical procedure. I confronted Sherlock about it but he’s insistent that he hasn’t been drugging me. So is he lying? Or is he just not involved in that, and I’m still being drugged by Myc or John? Or what if Sherlock’s making the drug, and they’re giving it to me, so telling me he’s not–”
“Greg,” Imogen interrupted. Greg closed his mouth, nodding. He did start talking rather quickly, a sign of his nerves.

“Sorry.” He took a slow breath. “I’m just… it’s hard, when things don’t add up.”
“It would be, yes. There’s a few things I want to talk about from that, but I’ll start by asking this first: why did you confront Sherlock?”
“I needed him to up the dose,” Greg mumbled. He knew what question was coming.
“Why?”
“Because what I’d been given wasn’t working anymore. I had started to hear things again.”
“What kind of things?”
“Footsteps and muffled noises on Saturday, then a loud bang like a door slamming on Sunday, and then just yesterday I heard Mycroft call out my name but he wasn’t there.”

“Hmm,” Imogen said, scribbling things down. “You said that you never knew the owners of the voices. Is this the first time you’ve heard Mycroft?”
He frowned as he thought back. “Yes,” he answered, surprised. “I hadn’t realised.”
“Have there been any further visual hallucinations?”
“No.” Not that I’ve been able to recognise as being hallucinations, his brain supplied, causing his chest to constrict. He swallowed.

“And the blackouts? Any more of those?”
Greg shook his head. He stopped, and then tried to remember back. He actually didn’t know anymore. “I… maybe? I never noticed them stopping. But I also haven’t really been taken by any more happening. I’d notice, right?”
“Possibly,” she hummed. “It’d be good if it has stopped, or it’s possible your mind has stopped being aware of it.”
“How?”
“Sometimes the brain can protect itself by hiding things from us that would cause upset, as with some cases of trauma. Other times, it can fill in gaps where holes are that would be noticeable. If you have a mental illness that has psychosis as a symptom, it’s possible that you have had periods that you no longer recollect but are unable to identify them.”

Greg tried not to let his concern show. He didn’t want to believe it, but since it was something he hadn’t given any thought to recently, he had to admit that maybe Imogen was right. With the hallucinations, he was aware enough to recognise them stopping. If he hadn’t been aware of the blackouts stopping, does that mean his mind is hiding it from him?
What else is it hiding? What if… no, Greg, focus. Don’t panic about it. You’re still in control of yourself and you’re doing good things. You’re not losing it.

Imogen broke Greg’s silence by asking, “And work; you’re still going in?”
“Yes.”
Imogen paused and looked up at him. Her expression told him all he needed to know about her thoughts on the matter. “Are you certain that’s the best course of action for you?”
“Maybe not,” he admitted slowly. “But it’s been the best course of action for others.”
“How do you mean?”
“The cases… I was right about the arsenic, you know. If it weren’t for me, the boy could have died or accidentally poisoned someone else.”
“Yes, that’s good Greg. I’m just concerned about how you worked it out. I believe you said you had a premonition about it?”
“Yes,” Greg mumbled, turning away. He cleared his throat. “But that can have a reasonable explanation, right? I mean, it happened and it was true; there has to be one.”

“Are you certain that the way you’re remembering the case playing out is how it actually happened?”
“What do you mean?”
“I know it’s hard, Greg, but I need you to consider that you have only seen what your mind let you see. Perhaps the case didn’t go the way you think it did; maybe your colleagues solved it and your mind only interpreted what happened in a way that aligned with your ideas.”

Greg fidgeted. It was a truth he’d not wanted to consider. “But,” he protested, sounding desperate, “I don’t see how it could have gone both the way I saw it and a different way. You,” he swallowed nervously, “seem to be pushing the idea of a psychotic breakdown pretty hard.”
He didn’t like the deep sigh that Ingrid gave him. “Greg it’s not your fault,” she ventured. Greg rapidly shook his head, causing her to stop.
“No. No there’s more to it than that. I mean… what about everything else? The artist case? I’ve made good progress on that. No one else noticed that the alibi was faked! Everyone was hunting down the wrong suspects. He could have gotten–”
“The same argument applies to that situation, Greg, and from the tone of your voice I think you realise that.”

His heart started pounding and his chest was getting tight. Suddenly it was very painful, and he wrapped an arm around his middle as he winced.
“Greg? Are you alright?”
“Hurts,” he whimpered. “Can’t breathe.”
“I think you’re having a panic attack. I need you to just focus on me and breathe normally, Greg.”
“Wha– why– I– no, no…”
“In and out, Greg. That’s it. There we are.” Imogen held his shoulder and continued to motion with her hand for him to match his breathing to.

He was aware that he was shivering. The pain wasn’t easing in his chest. It didn’t really feel like a panic attack, but he had to admit that it looked like one given what they’d been talking about. He supposed that if the pain wasn’t there, he’d think it was one.
“Sorry,” he mumbled.
“Don’t be sorry. I know it’s a startling realisation to make.”
He shook his head. “It wasn’t that,” he said breathily. “I don’t know what it was.”

Imogen gave him a gentle disbelieving look. She returned to her seat and wrote some notes down. “I’m going to write a recommendation letter to your doctor to have you see a psychiatrist.”
“My doc doesn’t know I’m seeing you.”
“You have to tell her, then, Greg. I’m sorry. You can’t keep managing this all on your own. I was willing to see how things went for a week, but I’m not convinced that you’re coping and I believe you need help; more than what I can provide.”

Objectively, he could understand that. He closed his eyes and nodded. He knew that fighting her on this wouldn’t get him anywhere; conceding to letting her write the letter was the path of least resistance. At least he still controlled when he went to see the doctor, and if he was honest with himself, the doubt that had crept into his gut was strong enough to make him feel he actually should go.

“Alright,” he said with a sigh. “Mycroft would agree with you and I’ve committed myself to him. He gets a say in what happens to me now; that’s what a partnership is. I’ll talk to him.”
“I’m glad you’re being considerate to him.”
“He’s my everything, my reason to keep on going, the thing that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning.” And the reason I don’t want to get out of bed, he thought to himself, stifling a chuckle.
“You’re very lucky to finally have him. I know how difficult it was for you before.”

Greg smiled as he blushed. Back during the divorce and not long after, Imogen had indeed received an earful about his sad love life and endless pining for Mycroft. “We’re getting rings after this.”
“Really?” she asked, surprised. “If it were anyone else, Greg, I’d say they’re being impulsive; but for you, I think it’s wonderful. Are you sure though that Mycroft is in the same place as you?”
“Oh, yeah. He was the one that brought it up, actually.”
“Good. Good.”

There was a lull in the conversation. Greg really wanted to focus on the more positive things, and it was clear that Imogen didn’t want to sully his mood by bringing them back to the reason he was there. However it had to be done.
“Are you still having trust issues with your friends?”
“No. Maybe. I don’t know.”

Imogen patiently waited for him to gather his thoughts.
“I’m suspicious of Sherlock, but I’m kind of always suspicious of him. I’m not so much suspicious of John as I am wary, I think? I don’t know how to explain it. It’s almost like I know what he’s up to but not sure if I should get too close. But now, with Sherlock’s denial of it all… I don’t know. And even though I still think Mycroft’s involved somehow, I’m not feeling suspicious of him; just trusting that he cares for me.”
“That’s good, at least.”
“Mike… I think I’m worried about Mike’s reactions, to be honest. I don’t think he’s got any ulterior motives like I thought with the others, but I get scared he’ll go over my head and take control.”
“And you like to stay in control,” Imogen added, writing down what he’d said.
“Yeah. Not in the same control-freak way Mycroft does, though.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, he needs to… oh. I guess it is. I need to stay in control because I’m afraid of other people making it harder on me. D-does that mean I think, deep down, that I know better than everyone else?”
Imogen bit her lip. “Potentially. It’s not something that is considered arrogant, Greg; it’s a self-protection instinct. I think you’ve had such a hard time with everything that’s happened lately because of this.”

Greg tilted his head, and so she continued. “You believe you have to stay in control because in the past, no one else has been there to help and have it work out alright for you. You’ve been trying to protect yourself by shutting people out, but desperate to reach out for support at the same time.”
“Ok,” he said slowly. So far it sounded right. He had been trying hard to have Mycroft there as a comfort and support, but reluctant to unload on him.
“The deep-rooted belief that anything they do will cause you harm if they get any of that control has made you suspicious of everything they do,” Imogen said. “And given that a symptom of your condition is paranoia, you’ve become lost in a world of secrets and mistrust.”

Greg hung his head. He didn’t like hearing it, but it made sense. “There’s no chance that I’m right, though?” he asked, his voice small. “I mean, I have been better at doing the detective work.”
“It’s certainly possible that the change to your mental processes has increased your ability to observe and deduce for your job, but it’s not independent of the warping of reality that invalidates your work.”

Greg felt himself tearing up. His lip trembled, and he clasped his hand over his mouth. Imogen put the box of tissues closer to him, but he just shook his head. He breathed deeply in through his nose.
Fuck. I wanted so much to be fine, to have this be something else… I can’t deny it anymore, can I? Thinking they were doing something to me was easier to accept. With it being entirely my fault… god, what about Mycroft?

“I’ll have to tell him,” he whispered. Greg looked up at Imogen, the tears still in his eyes. “I can’t have Myc buy me a ring when he doesn’t know. I…” His words caught in his throat, making a high-pitched whine. “I don’t want him to leave, though.”
“Is that really likely, Greg?”
“I don’t want to find out,” he groaned. He sniffled. “I feel like he will, even if he’s said he won’t.”
“I can’t really tell you one way or another, as I don’t know him, but from what you’ve said, I think he’ll just be relieved he can care for you properly.”

Greg looked out the window. “I still want to do my job, though. If what you’re saying is true… if all this just is a breakdown… then I won’t be able to do that anymore.”
“No, Greg.” Her voice was sullen and final. No leeway there, then.
“Will you be telling the Yard?”
“Given the circumstances, I will advise you to inform them yourself and provide them a medical certificate from your GP along with a letter from me, and possibly the psychiatrist depending on when you see one.”
“And that’ll mean that I’m dismissed?”
“Given medical leave,” she corrected. Imogen looked at him with a strained smile. “Normally I would just start the process myself, but given that you’re still lucid and need to feel in control, I’m trusting you with it.”
“That’s good, isn’t it? Being aware of it all? Better than being lost in your head entirely.”
“Yes, it is.”
“Does that mean that it can be cured?”

She paused as she looked at him. “The milder the condition affects you, the easier it will be to manage. You’ll have to make an appointment to be assessed and then they can take you through the treatments from there. Are you sure you’ll be able to do that?”
“Yes, thank you,” he answered quietly. Part of him had to question the wisdom of that choice, but the bigger part was just relieved not to have everything taken out of his hands.

He looked out of the window, the strangely sunny December day disappointingly not aligned with his mood. The one time it’s not grey and rainy in London. “I want to talk with Mycroft first.”

Chapter Text

Greg’s heart felt like it was breaking when he saw Mycroft arrive, utterly aglow and beaming. He didn’t want to lose this. He kissed him passionately, not caring that they were in public. Mycroft seemed surprised, but had too many tongues in his mouth to complain. He didn’t seem to actually want to, though – Greg would have stopped if he had.

“Difficult session, love?” Mycroft asked him. He took Greg’s hand and started to walk.
“Yeah, you could say that,” Greg mumbled.

Mycroft lifted Greg’s hand up and pressed a kiss on it. “Perhaps selecting rings will cheer you up. I know a wonderful jeweller nearby. How do you feel about platin–”
“Mycroft,” Greg interrupted. His tone was pained, hesitant, and it snapped Mycroft’s attention instantly.
“What? What is it?” Mycroft asked instantly, stopping and facing him. He then swallowed, sunk a little, and added in a small voice, “Do you not want to?”
Greg squeezed Mycroft’s hand. “I definitely do,” he assured. “I-I just…” he trailed off and sighed, thinking, you won’t want to after I tell you this.

Mycroft’s worried innocent expression didn’t help matters. Greg was aware they were stopped in the middle of the street, but he couldn’t care less about the crowd that walked by them. It was an indication of how intense Mycroft’s attention was on him that the man didn’t notice the people either.

I have to tell you something first, Mycroft, he practiced. I have to tell you… “I have to…” Greg’s world span as he was hit with a sudden, inexplicable understanding. He let his gaze drift down to the concrete as the feeling washed over him. “… Go see the vet,” he finished, and looked back up at Mycroft.

Mycroft blinked a few times, shook his head minutely, and then asked, “I’m sorry, what?”
“The vet, Myc, the vet!”
“Gregory, I heard you, I simply do not understand why you’re saying it.”
“Where’s your car?”

Mycroft still looked unsettled, but Greg didn’t care. He had to find the vet, the one that he, for some reason, knew deep down he had to find as soon as possible. It was vitally important to his case.
“I left it at the office, given we were meeting so close to the building.”

Greg moved to walk in that direction, but was stopped by Mycroft tugging his hand.
“Explain, Gregory. Why do you need to see a vet right now? You nor I own any animals.”
“Not ‘a’ vet, Myc, ‘the’ vet.”
“Your distinction of article isn’t exactly helpful in aiding my understanding.”
“Huh? Look, I don’t know how to explain it, but there’s a vet out there I have to go and see about the artist case and I have to go now.”
“Why can’t Sergeant Ellis do that, as you are meant to be off work now and looking at engagement bands with me?”

Mycroft was clearly upset that Greg needed to work instead of undertaking their personal shopping. While he agreed that Mycroft was right to feel put out, Greg knew that he couldn’t ask Liv to find the vet since he had no actual proof of connection. He didn’t even know their name – just what felt right.
“I can’t,” he said slowly. “I can’t say why, either. Please, Myc. I promise we’ll get the rings. I love you with all my heart, and as important as it is for me to show everyone that you’re mine, and I’m yours, I really need to do this.”

He waited a beat as Mycroft stared at him, thinking, until his partner nodded and followed his lead.

~

“Sweetheart,” Mycroft said, his voice tentative. “Where are we going?”
“The–”
“Vet, yes, you’ve said. Which one, though?”
“I, er, I don’t know,” Greg admitted, glad that he had to focus on the road so that he didn’t have to look Mycroft in the eye.
“Then how do you know how to get there?”
“I don’t.”
“Then–”
“Myc,” Greg interrupted, and looked at him. “I’ll know. I only can tell what I feel.”
“Right.” Mycroft didn’t sound convinced. “Perhaps if you tell me their name, I might search the internet for the location of their clinic?”

Greg’s heart was hammering away in his chest, and only seemed to increase in speed at that question. There was no way around answering, though. “I don’t know their name either.”
Greg flickered his eyes over to Mycroft in time to see his worried expression as he bit his lip. “I have to find them, Myc,” he stressed. “I’ll know them when I see them.”

He had to press the breaks hard to avoid a car that had changed lanes, and so shouted at it whilst pulling out to overtake it.
“Gregory, perhaps you should pull over?”
“No!” he snapped, desperate. “No I know it’s hard to understand but I need to do this.”
“Yes, yes,” Mycroft added quickly. “But perhaps it might be safer if I drove.”

Greg squinted at him. What’s he implying? That I’m a dangerous driver? That I’m not fit to drive? Or is he trying to take control and drive me somewhere else?
“I will go where you direct me,” Mycroft said, clearly able to see the suspicion on Greg’s face. “I just feel that it best not to have someone so mani- er, stressed in charge of a motor vehicle.”

Greg snorted at the obvious slip, but he was able to appreciate where Mycroft was coming from: he had his hands gripping the wheel so that his knuckles were white, he looked about him in jerked motions, he was panting and his heart pounded, and he felt thrumming with energy. “Promise?” he asked, unsure.
“Promise, love,” Mycroft said, putting his hand on Greg’s knee. He just looked a mix of concerned and anxious, and so Greg believed him.

Greg did feel calmer once Mycroft was driving, despite Mycroft still being rather tense. He was giving directions just moments before Mycroft needed to turn, and it was proving stressful for his partner. He cares so much for me to go through this just to make me happy. Greg put his hand on Mycroft’s knee, rubbing it with his thumb. It was soothing for the both of them.

Once they were on the A3, headed towards Portsmouth, Mycroft seemed to relax a little; they weren’t in as much traffic and Greg didn’t suddenly shout to turn. Even when he knew to exit, he was able to give Mycroft adequate time. They ended up in Epsom. Mycroft was being extremely patient with him, but it was obvious that he was relieved not to have had to drive all the way out to Portsmouth.

The clinic was a smaller one, in what looked more like a house than an office building. Walking in, Greg realised that he didn’t know what to say to the receptionist. ‘Hi, can I look at your vets’ didn’t sound like a question that would get him very far.
“Hi, how can I help you today?” the woman at the desk asked in a bight tone.

Greg was still frozen in indecision for a moment, before deciding to play the ‘grumpy detective’. He didn’t smile as he pulled out his badge.
“Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade of Scotland Yard. I need to speak to one of your vets.”
The young woman looked flustered. “Oh, oh, uh, of course. Let me, um, just… sorry, who?”
“I’m not at liberty to say. I will need to go and find them myself, so they are not aware of my presence.” Yes, that sounds reasonable. Well done me.
“Alright. That should be, uh… this way.” The woman indicated to the door on her left.
Greg nodded, and said, “My partner will just wait out here.” He looked at Mycroft for confirmation. Well I’m not lying, he is my partner. Still, best not have him involved.

He walked through the hall and stuck his head into a room with a man at a desk.
“Can I help you?” the man, likely a vet, asked. He sounded annoyed, and it was obvious he was indicating that Greg wasn’t supposed to be there rather than offering any help.
“No,” Greg responded bluntly, looking him over. He then continued on, not caring about the indignant look on the man’s face. He passed another staff member, a woman carrying a pile of towels, but didn’t say anything. She wasn’t who he was after either.

After inspecting an empty room, and then the storage closet, Greg’s paranoia started to eat away at him. Hell, what am I doing? I’m snooping about a random veterinary clinic looking for someone who may or may not know anything about a murder all based on a feeling.

The psychologist literally just told me that my mind was distorting my perception of reality to align with a delusion, and here I am waiting to come across someone I just ‘know’ will be the right person? Fuck, this is insane. This is actually legitimately mad of me. I have to dismiss myself, like she said. I’ve lost it.

He was about ready to just walk out, mumbling some half-baked apology, when he stopped dead. He’d walked into a room out the back containing a long bed, a bench with some microscopes, and a woman in a white coat dipping a slide into a container. This was the vet he was after.

He was ready to flee in fear of involving someone innocent into his inquiry, but he couldn’t seem to overcome the deep urge to see his actions through.

“Oh, hello there. Who are you?” the woman asked, amicable.
“DI Greg Lestrade, New Scotland Yard,” he responded automatically.
“Oh. What can I do for you, Inspector?” she asked, putting her slide down and taking off the gloves stained with yellow, pink, purple, and blue.
“I need to ask you some questions. Do you know a Rene Mortimer?”
The woman sighed heavily. “Yes,” she groaned. “I told him he’d get in trouble one day.”

Thankfully she seemed too exasperated to notice Greg’s combined shock and relief that he was right. But she might not have said that in reality, Greg, his mind reminded him. You could be talking to an empty room. He clenched his teeth to stop the voices in his head questioning his sanity.

“Can you elaborate on that?”
The woman shrugged. “He’s always scheming for money, you know. I told him many times that one day, the people he screws over are going to fight back. He always said that they couldn’t because he’s being perfectly legal in what he does.”
“But?” Greg prompted, sensing there was more to it than that.
“Well, Morty’s moral compass has never pointed north,” she said. She offered a seat beside her to Greg. “Have a seat, Inspector. I’ll be happy to tell you anything you need to know. I don’t really understand how I’m involved, though.”

Greg nodded, rather grateful that the woman was happy to be helpful. He patted himself down, searching for his notebook. Thankfully he was still wearing his coat, and was able to pull it out along with a pen before he sat down.

“First, can you please state your full name for the record?”
“This is going on record?” she asked, frowning.
“This is part of my investigation,” Greg explained. “It’s not an official statement, but the things you tell me will be used as evidence. If anything you say becomes important in building a case, then I’ll ask you to come in to give that official statement.”
“Oh. Yes, fair enough. Jasmine Jayashankar.”

“Thank you. I just need to be sure I’m asking the right person, you know?” Greg smiled at the woman, no longer seeming the jaded detective he’d presented to the receptionist.
“Certainly; and please, call me Jasmine. What is it that you’re investigating?”
“I can’t reveal the details at this stage, I’m sorry. He is a suspect in a murder.”

Jasmine’s eyes blew wide. “Murder? Seriously? I-I’d thought that ok, maybe he’d face some fraud charges or something… but murder?”
“Fraud because of his aforementioned schemes?”
“Yeah. I mean I know it was his job to be conniving with money, but the man was obsessed and didn’t care if it wasn’t fair or moral.”

Greg nodded and made some notes. The vet didn’t seem to understand much about what actually classed as ‘fraud’, but it didn’t matter. “How did you know him?” he asked, confused as to how this seemingly sweet natured woman would be friends with a weasel like Mortimer.

“We met at university. We have differing points of view, but we have things in common too. He has an inquiring mind, when it could serve to benefit his wallet,” she added while rolling her eyes. “He likes to talk big about valuing his friends, but I know he just sees us all as assets.”
“And you’re ok with that?” Greg asked, unable to stop himself. It wasn’t necessary to the investigation but it was on the forefront of his mind.
“No, of course not. I’d speak out against him tossing people away the moment they weren’t of use to him, but we generally have an agreement not to talk of things that would cause issues. He’s lovely to me, I guess because I can be useful, but,” she shrugged, “I don’t really think about it at the time. It’s nice to have friends.”

Greg resisted the urge to write ‘manipulative selfish arse’ on his notebook. He took a breath to calm himself. He really disliked people who behaved in that way. Mortimer was becoming more and more the embodiment of what he disliked about humanity.

From what Greg had heard, it sounded like Mortimer would be capable of murder if it served to benefit him financially, which aligned with his theory that he’d bought up as much art as possible and killed off the artist for it to accrue value.

“When was the last time you spoke to him?”
Jasmine hummed. “First week of November,” she said, looking at the ceiling. “A Saturday.”
“Was this on the phone?”
“No.” She shook her head and smiled at him. “He came in to the clinic. I was working the Saturday shift. I can’t remember the date exactly… the third?”
Greg nodded. “Why did he see you?”
“He wanted to go out for drinks.”
“And did you?”
“Yeah, after my shift.”
“Can you please take me through what happened that day, from when he arrived?”

Jasmine nodded and shifted in her chair to get comfortable. “I’d just seen a scheduled appointment. We generally only have the clinic open for emergencies on Saturdays, but there are a couple of clients who’ve explained their situations to me and I’ve agreed to make ordinary appointments for them on the Saturday.”

Greg hummed, leaning against the bench with his arm. Jasmine looked at him with wide eyes and pursed lips, and so he slowly took his arm off. “Sorry,” he mumbled, confused.
“No, no, it’s fine it’s just… there was dye on the bench.” She looked at him apologetically.

Greg looked at his sleeve to see the cuff of his shirt had coloured specks on it. He sighed.
“It won’t come out. That’s the Diff-Quik solutions to stain cells.”
He grinned exasperatedly. He liked this shirt. “Please continue.”

“Right. So he comes in, and says he’d like to get drinks. I said I was on call, but once my shift was over – we close at two pm – I could go out.”
“When did he arrive?”
“About one-ish. He said he’d just wait, since he’d come all the way out here. I didn’t mind, since I didn’t have anything left on for the day.”

Greg nodded. He felt a bit lost with his questioning, since he didn’t have any idea how this woman was connected or how she would help his investigation, only that she could.
“Was there anything in particular he wanted to discuss?”
“Not really – at least, we didn’t talk about anything pressing. We chatted a bit about our jobs, and things we’re interested in. And, as usual, his opinion that I should have done human medicine and earnt a decent living. I told him that there are those of us who do what we do for reasons other than money.”

Jasmine laughed and shook her head. “There wasn’t much else, really. He left early. I said he could just come back and see me another time before we left for the pub, since he wasn’t well, but he was insistent that he’d come all the way so he’d be alright for a few drinks.”
“He wasn’t well? How so?” There were fading threads dancing around his head that told him it was important to know. He hoped Jasmine wouldn’t question the relevance of his enquiry.

“Looked all dizzy and sluggish. He was all tense and jumpy when he came in, and then when I was finishing up he looked a bit out of it.”
Greg blinked a couple of times, and then it hit him: isoflurane. “Did it look like he had collapsed?”
“Uh, actually it was possible, now that you mention it. He did have a red mark on the side of his face and dirt on his suit. Damn, I should have looked him over.”

“Do you use isoflurane here?” Greg asked, suddenly perked up. Jasmine looked at him a but suspiciously given his sudden energy and non-sequitur.
“Yes, it’s our anaesthetic.”
“Where is it kept?”
“In the theatre, at the operating table,” she said hesitantly, and indicated to the door.
“Is that where you were on Saturday, when Mr Mortimer was here?”
“Some of the time. I need to go past it to get to my computer and the lab from the consult room. Why?”
“Isoflurane was used in the murder.”

“He wouldn’t have been able to take any,” Jasmine said, frowning. “It’s locked inside the vaporiser that’s attached to the masks. It only comes out in gaseous form with oxygen. And besides, he wasn’t in there, and I would have seen him if he was. He waited out the back, in the garden area.”

Greg felt deflated, but shook it off. “Is that the only place you have any?”
“Well… there is the bottle in storage,” she said, tapping her finger on her chin. She dropped her hand and splayed it out in surprise. “You can access it from the garden.”
“Show me.”

The garden was a small grassy area in the backyard, with a dog wash to the side and a shed connected to the house by a path. Jasmine walked on ahead to the door and opened it.
“Do you keep this locked?”
“Generally. It’s always locked if no one is here, but when we’re open we don’t keep it locked since there’s no way for people to get to it that we wouldn’t notice. And, before you scold us about it, we keep a lot of the emergency supplies out here that we don’t have room for in the clinic. We need to have fast access to it.”

Greg honestly thought that anything deemed and ‘emergency supply’ should be keep inside, but he didn’t know enough about veterinary equipment and practices to comment. Horses could need large things that’s impractical to keep indoors?

Inside the shed it was mostly neat and orderly, with the odd item crammed into a space lopsided. There were two large chest freezers, and an upright fridge. He looked at Jasmine, and then back at the whitegoods.
“Euthanized animals,” she explained, patting the chest freezers. “And fresh produce,” she added, pointing to the fridge. “And over here is where we have the anaesthetic.”

“Where’s the euthanizing stuff?” he asked, thinking that if Mortimer had access to something lethal, surely he would have used it? No, Greg, he chided himself. He tried to make it look like a suicide, remember?  He had to have the rope be what killed Tyron, not some euthanizing drug.
“Not in here. It’s a highly controlled substance, so we keep the lethabarb in a locked cabinet inside.”

“I am just going to say that I don’t think it’d be likely he took anything,” she mumbled as she opened a cabinet. “He’d have to know what it is, and how to extract it. And we’ve had people in here since, you know, and nothing’s been reported missing. Ah, here it is.”
“Don’t touch it!”
Jasmine retracted her hand instantly, and looked up at Greg. “Fingerprints,” he explained. “Do you have any gloves?”
“Don’t you have any?”

“Left them in the car,” he lied. Well, there is some in my car, it’s just not the one we brought. Jasmine peered at him. “What?” he asked, suddenly self-conscious.
“Quit moving; I need to see what size you’d need,” she huffed, looking closer at his hands. She then turned and pulled out two from a nearby box.

Greg put them on and took out the bottle. “I might need to take this as evidence,” he told her, putting the bottle on the bench before them.
“I can’t authorise you to just take it. Besides, there it is; obviously he didn’t steal it.”

That is true. Perhaps he only took some of it, in a container he brought? “He could have opened it and taken some from the bottle.”
“That’s dangerous. Isoflurane is highly volatile, and three percent is all that’s needed to anaesthetise you for several minutes.”
“I doubt he knew what he was doing, but it’s possible he took precautions enough.” Or, maybe not? “Wait, didn’t you say he looked unwell, like he could have collapsed? Wouldn’t trying to steal some of this liquid cause that?” Focus, Greg, that was why you asked about the isoflurane in the first place.

“Damn, yeah… but, but…” She peered closer to the bottle. “Oh god, this is supposed to be a full bottle. There’s some missing. Shit.” She looked up at Greg, worried. “I think you could be right.”

Chapter Text

“Your sergeant wasn’t happy that you worked while off duty?” Mycroft asked him as they ate dinner.
“What, Liv? Er, Sergeant Ellis? Nah, she was fine about it,” he said with food in his mouth.
Mycroft winced. “No, Miss Donovan.”
“Oh. Yeah. But,” he shrugged, “oh well. It’s made the case progress.”
“Indeed. I admit that I was concerned about you, darling, when you suddenly needed to get out to see someone you couldn’t name.”
Greg could tell from Mycroft’s tone that his partner hadn’t stopped being concerned. He put a hand over Myc’s, and smiled gently. “Thank you for trusting me.”

Greg had explained some things to Mycroft since they arrived home, but not everything. He was still too ashamed to reveal the severity of it all, but at least he was able to be open about the hallucinations that he had been having and the worry it had been causing him. It was easier to talk about it in the past tense.

Mycroft had been understanding, as expected, as well as fairly worried – also as expected. Greg did feel better having talked about more to him, and had received some comfort for the mess of emotions that had followed. He knew he focused a lot more on the emotional side of things with his partner, but it was Mycroft’s area of expertise.

They’d ended up not being able to go look at rings, instead coming home and having dinner. The fire was lit and warming the house, there was soft music on, and the risotto Greg had made was enjoyable.

“How did you know the relation to the case?” Mycroft asked him.
Greg still couldn’t answer that. He just gave his fiancé a look that said he honestly didn’t know, but wasn’t too bothered by it and therefore he shouldn’t be either. Deep down, Greg was quite concerned.

My colleagues have confirmed that the details from the vet are important to the case, and Liv was sure that they wouldn’t have found that connection if I hadn’t had my ‘intuition’. So that means that I couldn’t have been just hearing things. Unless it’s all just a hallucination: the vet, Ellis, and the evidence. He looked up at Mycroft, worried. What if he’s a hallucination too? That I’m so far gone that I think I’m sitting here with my love when I’m alone in some room somewhere?

“Gregory? What is it?”
“I think I’m having an existential crisis.”
Mycroft put his fork down. “I see. Do you want to talk about it?”
Greg took a breath, discarding his own cutlery. “What the psychologist said today; it’s made me question some things.”
“That’s generally good.”
“Yeah… depends on your definition of good, though.”
“I concede the point,” Mycroft said, inclining his head. “What is it that has you questioning the meaning or value of your life? You do important work, my dear, and you are the most valuable thing to me.”

Greg tilted his head. I’m glad he said that, but why does he think that’s what I’m questioning? “What do you mean?”
Mycroft looked at the table. “Regardless of what your depression might be telling you, love, you are the single most important thing in my life. I-I’m sorry if I’ve been doing anything to make you feel lonely, or if I haven’t been helping enough.”
Mycroft looked directly at him, emotion pouring out of him. “I’ve sensed you feeling ill at ease for a while, but tried to just dote on you as best I could to try help. I’m sorry if it’s not been enough.”
“I… what?”
“You are not insignificant, Gregory.”
“Thank you, love, but I don’t really know why you’re telling me this? I mean, yeah, I’ve been a bit distracted and stressed with the case and all the last week or two, and so I’ve appreciated the extra kindnesses; I know how much I mean to you.”
“You said you were having an existential crisis,” Mycroft stated, twitching his face in the adorable manner he did when trying to understand something whilst pretending to know it already.

“Ah. Maybe I don’t know what that word means, then.” Greg chuckled and squeezed Mycroft’s hand. “Sorry dear.”
“So you are not feeling the depressing negative thoughts involved in questioning if your life has value?”
“Well I wasn’t,” he teased with a grin, but it fell once he saw Mycroft thought he was serious. “Ok, bad time for a joke. No, love. I was thinking about reality and what is real.”
“How so?”
“The psychologist has gotten me thinking. I told her about the hallucinations, see. How I’d been hearing things, and saw myself injured a couple of times, and how it’s all just stopped lately.”

Mycroft nodded slowly. Greg couldn’t remember exactly what Mycroft knew anymore; between not recalling exactly what he’d said to him, and what Mycroft learned from talking with the others, he just didn’t have a clue.

“Did she make any recommendations, for you?”
“Yes,” Greg said tentatively. “She wants me to go to my GP and get a referral for a psychiatrist.” He looked at Mycroft’s face, waiting for more. Greg sighed. “Yes, and to take more medical leave.”
“I know you’ll be upset from that, but I agree that it’s the best for you given the situation.”

And just how much of the whole situation do you know, my dear? “Yes,” he mumbled. “I will have to go to see the doc and then get the letter from whoever she refers me to before I can submit it with the request for leave.”

Mycroft stood and took a couple of steps to be closer to him, and then pulled him into a cuddle. Greg wrapped his arms around Mycroft’s middle.
“It’ll be alright, my love. I’m here for you.”
“I know. Thank you. I couldn’t do this without you, Myc.”
“I will always be for you. I always have been.”
“I know. Even before we were together, Myc, I just knew deep down that I could depend on you. I don’t know what I’d be without that trust.”

Mycroft ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m glad you feel that way. When are you going to see your doctor?”
“I’ll ring tomorrow for an appointment.”
“Greg,” Mycroft said, looking down at him. “I know you don’t want to hear this, but I have to ask… are you sure you should be working cases in the interim? And I’m not sure exactly why you’re questioning the nature of reality now if the hallucinations have stopped.”

Trust Mycroft to pick out the holes. “I’m–” No, if I say I’m fine, he’ll definitely snap back to the contrary. Like Mike. Damn, I should talk to Mike again and explain before he and John organise some kind of intervention. “I haven’t seen anything for a while now.”
“But?”
“But… I have heard a couple of banging noises on the weekend.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I wasn’t sure… look, the point is, the psychologist suggested that the reason I haven’t hallucinated anymore could be that the condition has sorted itself, or it could be that I’m just not recognising them as hallucinations anymore. It’s gotten me worried, that’s all; questioning what could be just in my head, you know?”
“Yes, that would be frightening.” Mycroft bent down and pressed a kiss to his head. “Would you like to not think for a while?”

Greg snapped his eyes up. “I’m listening.”
“I was thinking maybe you’d like to try out the blindfold and earmuffs this time; just focus on your body and feeling.”
He swallowed and nodded. “Yeah, um, that sounds, uh, good.”
“If you’re naughty then maybe we’ll get out the handcuffs. I’m not good at forcing you to obey me; I might need some help.”

Greg found he wasn’t able to speak; his mouth had gone dry. He stood, but Mycroft didn’t move out of his space. Instead, the man pressed him into a deep kiss.
“Thank you for telling me, darling,” Mycroft whispered between kisses. “It makes me feel so wonderful to be trusted and included.”
He hummed happily. He didn’t care if this was some operant conditioning technique to get him talking; he’d happily submit to further training.

~

“Heard Sally whipped your balls into line yesterday,” Ellis said when she entered Greg’s office before throwing herself into the visitor’s chair. 
“Hello, Liv, good to see you. Come in, take a seat. I’m good, thanks for asking; no, I’m not busy.” Greg grinned playfully at her. “Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be the poor peasants under her reign when she takes my job.”
“Careful, Princess Sally might try to kill the king to take the crown.”
“She’d only be making more work for herself if she did.”

Liv laughed at his joke, and then looked at him seriously. “So, how’d you find the vet? I’m sorry I wasn’t around when you came in.”
“Dunno, Liv. Just… knew.”
“How very mystical of you.” She wiggled her fingers in front of him. “I don’t care how you’ve gotten the evidence, Lestrade. You know that.”
“I’m being honest. It was weird… been questioning it even happening, actually.” He looked at his windows, seeing the blinds were closed, and tapped his head. “Was worrying it was all in my head, since I couldn’t explain it.”
“Hmm, well, it’s possible that Mortimer mentioned her and so you looked up her details and forgot about it, but your subconscious remembered?”

Greg hummed non-committedly. Fuck it’s possible it was something that I learnt but blacked out on, and just the subconscious remembered? That’d make sense, actually. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It means there’s a reason beyond having magic psychic powers but it means I haven’t been noticing blackouts

“Earth to Greg.” Ellis’ words snapped his attention back to his office, with Liv waving in his face. “What the hell, mate? You totally zoned out.”
“Sorry. I was thinking.”
“About?”
“Um… nothing.”
“You really need to work on your ‘lying on your feet’ thing, Lestrade. It was about your accident again, wasn’t it? How’d the psychiatrist go?”
“Psychologist,” he corrected. “But she does want me to go see a psychiatrist.”
“I don’t know the difference, and, before you explain, I don’t really care.” 
“How nice.”
“Always. But, seriously, does this mean you do have to go again?”

“Yeah, I think I might have to, Liv,” he groaned. He had been rather hesitant to actually put in the request, seeing as he didn’t want his reputation shattered or to lose his job entirely, but the thought of blacking out and not even noticing was highly disconcerting. He couldn’t legitimately work if that was still the case, nor if he wasn’t noticing what was a hallucination and what was real (or even simply always having to question everything to find out).

She looked at him sympathetically. “I’m sorry, Greg. You’re a good man and a good detective. You’ve been even better lately; none of us noticed the mistake in Mortimer’s alibi video, and without you that Tom kid could be dying or killing someone else by accident.”
“I know.”
“You seem ok enough, Greg,” she said, and Greg knew she wasn’t being condescending. “Are you sure you have to?”
Greg rubbed his face and looked at her, exasperated. “I’m losing it, Liv.” He sighed and slumped forward.

“Too much has been just not right. I spent so long being suspicious of people, thinking something sinister was happening, but with what happened with the arsenic case… no experiment can make me have premonitions, Liv. Then there’s the question now of not who’s in on it, who can I trust, but what can I trust at all? I-I can’t investigate if I’m always on edge wondering if it’s real or just in my head.”

Olivia remained frozen, staring at him. She looked a mix of shocked and concerned. Greg knew it was a lot to handle, given he hadn’t really told her much about what was happening, but at that moment he honestly didn’t care about keeping it to himself anymore. He was so tired of keeping it all hidden.

“Right,” she said, nodding. “Ok. That’s… yes. I had thought you were more dealing with emotional issues, not, uh, seeing things.”
“Whatever happened to me has affected me more than what I was willing to admit.”
Ellis reached out and patted his hand. “I’m glad you said something. You’re obviously still the same mate as you were before, and you’re clearly in control of yourself so it’s not the end of the world. You’ll just need a bit of help, some time, and you’ll be back, right as rain.”

Greg dared to let himself hope. “You think so? They’d let me work, even if I did have some psychotic disorder?”
“Maybe not tell anyone that,” she suggested, leaning back. “Most people don’t understand mental illnesses beyond the seminars or the people we bring in. Just tell them you needed more time to recover from your head injury than you thought.”
“You won’t tell anyone?”
“Course not. You’ve got enough to deal with without worrying about what I’m telling a bunch of overreacting idiots.”
Colleagues, Liv.”
“They can be both,” she insisted with a smile. “Nah, Bates is pretty good to work with. She’s smart and quiet.”

She observed him for a moment. “You’ve being holding onto that for a while, haven’t you?”
Greg nodded. “There’s still so much I don’t know. No one will tell me what happened in the first place, which is confusing if it was just a traumatic injury. John and Sherlock have been acting strangely, so I didn’t know what was going on. I even suspected Mycroft for a long time, Liv.”
“So you haven’t told him?”
“I have,” he said with a deep sigh. “It took a while but I’ve told him… well, most of it. He’s been anxious and worried about me since all this started, and I don’t want to add onto that too much.”
“Yeah I can get that. I’m not gonna give you any advice there mate, since it’s all your decisions how you go about your life.” She smiled at him warmly. “Have you had anyone you’ve been able to talk to?”
“Mike Stamford was pretty good company to get things out with,” he admitted. “Last time I saw him it didn’t go so well. I panicked and fled from the coffee shop. Well, I say last time, but actually I did see him talking to John in my office.”
“Probably just concerned. Doctors care, but also sometimes think they know best.”

The silence that followed wasn’t awkward, but it wasn’t exactly comfortable either. Normally Ellis would just up and leave when the conversation was over, or she’d gotten what she’d come for – whichever came first – and so it was unusual to find himself sitting there with her.

“Was there something about the case you wanted to talk about?”
“Not a lot to say, really. Mortimer is still denying being involved in the murder at all; the vet, Jasamandashakara or whatever it is, has given us a written statement of Mortimer’s actions; and they’ve been analysing the bottle but there’s been no fingerprints on it.”
Greg rolled his eyes at the attempt at Jasmine’s surname, but knew it wasn’t done maliciously and so let it go.
“And there’s been nothing further with the housemates. It seems that they were just accidentally involved and coincidentally good suspects.”

“No,” Greg said, shaking his head. “They’re… Miss Davies is important somehow.”
“You said that, yes, but how? If Mortimer is the killer, then how’s Davies involved?”

Greg felt like his brain was pushing the answer up over a giant hill, and it was about to snowball down the other side and fall into place. Just a bit further, I’ve almost got it, I know it… Greg then leapt to his feet, causing Ellis to jump. “I’ve got it,” he shouted. “Liv, this way.”

Chapter Text

“Right. So. Right.” Greg paced in front of the whiteboard in the room. He looked at Liv, who was a mix of confused and interested. She’d asked Bates and Donovan to join.

Greg pushed the rolling board out of the way and left it at the side of the whiteboard on the wall. He used his hand to rub off what was already written there, not caring that it got all over his palm. He felt alive with energy, and just had to get it all out of him. His brain was just having difficulty in ordering all of his thoughts into a logical explanation.

“Ok.” He drew a horizontal line across the whole board. “Right.” He put a cross at the end of the line on the right. He then turned to face the three women in the room, staring at him. Come on, Greg, get it out. They’re expecting something here! Start at the beginning. But where is the beginning?

“Greg?” Liv asked, uncertain.
“No no, it’s fine, Liv. I got this. I just… Right. So, here we have Tyron, Mr Sheppard, getting murdered.” He labelled the ‘x’. “It was set up to look like a suicide. It… brilliantly done, really, and not just the set up. Th-this here, it’s all from all before, isn’t it? Not, not just, uh, here,” he jabbed at the cross, “but all before that too, isn’t it?”
“Greg, slow down. You’re not making sense.”
“Sorry. I just… it’s all…” He made a frustrated noise. Just get it out and edit it later! “It’s all connected, like I said. All of it. The gay hook-up, the girlfriend, the breakup, the paintings… it was planned. Mortimer planned it all.”

Donovan shared a look with Ellis, and Greg couldn’t tell if it was them being impressed or confused. He shook his head and then marked a vertical line at the other end of his drawing.

“This is a timeline of events. The murder is there at the end, and let’s make this here the start. We all thought the start was just a few weeks before, even up to seeing the alibi being made a week earlier. But it’s not. It… it’s way earlier. Bates!” Hanna Bates jumped at the sound of her name. Greg admitted that he may have shouted it a bit harshly, and so he smiled. “You got it right. You found that he was hoarding the artwork.” Greg pointed at her, and despite being praised, she still looked uncomfortable.
“All those years before, he was good with money and then suddenly? Nope. Spending it all. That’s the start. That’s when he decided he was going to kill Mr Sheppard. When did he start buying more than usual?”
“January, Sir.”

“Ok. So let’s mark that here. No,” he said suddenly, and wiped off the writing. “Here.” He then drew a line up to the top of the board from the start of the previous, and marked it as ‘started hoarding –  Jan’. He then made a line mid-way on the vertical one and marked it ‘phone call – birthday’.
“When did he get the app, Bates? He’s lying about that, too. Donovan, what did he say about the alibi?” Greg asked quickly, before Bates had a chance to respond.
“Ellis was handling it,” she reminded him.
“Right. Liv?”
“Just that he was screwing some bloke from the app and keeping it from his wife, like we thought he would.”

Greg nodded quickly, a smile on his face. “Yeah, yeah. And we know that’s a lie too, don’t we? Bates?”
“Er, y-yes, sir?”
“The app, Bates, the app!”
“I, uh, I don’t know what you mean, sir.”

Greg took a deep breath. “He downloaded it only a few days before showing the girlfriend, and he has never actually used it.” He waited for the group to suddenly remember, but no such eureka moment happened. Instead they all still looked confused and hesitant. How much simpler do I have to make this?

“How do you know that, Greg?”
Greg looked at Donovan. “Bates got the developers to give us the information,” he said. He then turned to Bates, who shook her head. “You must have,” he stressed. “I asked you to.”
“I-I-I got the information for Mr Sheppard’s phone, sir, like you said, but you never asked for Mr Mortimer’s.” Bates shrunk into herself. “I-I didn’t know you w-wanted that, sir.”
“Of course I did! Go get it!”
“Now, sir? Or, uh, or when you’ve, uh, finished?”

Greg paused. “When I’m done. Let’s just continue assuming I’m r–”
“Greg,” Ellis said, in the tone that had come to mean ‘even I don’t agree that’s best’.
“Assuming I’m right,” he stressed over her. She huffed but closed her mouth. Greg nodded. “He never used the app. He downloaded it entirely to make it look like Tyron used it.”

He turned to the board and wrote down ‘made app account for Tyron and himself’ near the start of the horizontal line. “No, no, no,” he muttered to himself, erasing it and moving the information slightly further along. “He wouldn’t do that until he was sure,” he added.

Greg could hear Donovan and Ellis murmuring to themselves, but he didn’t care. He wrote ‘acquired isoflurane – vet, third’ where he’d erased the previous data point. “He needed to know he could actually go through with it first.” He then paused, remembering Helen had said the breakup was a month before.

He made to change it back, but then Greg then shook his head. That part isn’t that important right now.  He turned to look at them. “Here,” he said, jabbing the marker at what he’d written. “He went to see Jasmine Jayashankar on the third of November. He stole a portion of isoflurane from the storage room. We have Jasmine’s statement of when he came, and that he looked unwell after disappearing out the back – supporting the notion that he opened the container and took some in a smaller flask of some kind.”

Greg then dragged his marker over to the label about the app. He grinned a strange mix of anger and relief. “He’s not bisexual; thank Christ for that. He’s just faking being bisexual with all the horrid stereotypes he thinks of bisexuals.”
Ellis looked relieved too. “Bloody thought something was up,” she muttered as she elbowed Bates. She nodded to Greg to continue.
“Right. Yes. So, he faked it. He got a disposable phone, made a profile for Tyron, and then tossed it. He made himself a profile, but the only reason he did was so he could show Tyron’s profile to the girlfriend and have an excuse as to why he’d know.”
“And you’re saying you know he didn’t use it… how? Bates hasn’t got the information yet,” Sally said suspiciously.
“Sal, just… ok?”

Donovan pursed her lips but nodded for him to continue. “Good,” he huffed. “Now. He needed to show the girlfriend so that she’d break up with him. Why? He needed a sudden painful incident to happen so that suicide would sound reasonable. It just helped that Helen and her horrible housemate were biphobic, and I’m sure he hadn’t planned on them being such good suspects with the housemate’s job as well.”

Greg put another note on the timeline, ‘shows girlfriend’, and then right next to it, ‘girlfriend breaks up with Tyron’. He moved further down, and made another mark he labelled ‘faked alibi – tenth’. Right after it, he included another note, ‘museum ends Lanseer exhibit’.

“We saw on the alibi, the video he said was made on the day of the murder, that the Natural History Museum still had advertising for the Landseer exhibit out. We have a statement that they removed the advertising on the evening of the tenth, showing the latest this video could have been made was on the tenth.”

The room nodded and Greg felt a flush of pride that he was the one to notice it. “Mortimer’s said that he made it to hook up on the app, but we know–”
Donovan coughed pointedly, but Greg just squinted at her and repeated loudly, “We know that he didn’t use the app to meet anyone. He’s lying about that too.”

“I don’t doubt he’s lying; the weasel lies about everything,” Ellis muttered, and Donovan chuckled and nodded. “I mean if he had been shagging some strange bloke, why then come home and film himself doing the same with his wife?”
Greg sharply nodded, but knew that it was entirely reasonable for some people to do that. He turned back to the board, his hands shaking with adrenaline. “So, what happened? Well, Mortimer knew Sheppard for some time – everyone’s said so. He was a client and was being given a first look at the artworks before the exhibition.”

He spun around and waited for the group to get it. He jerked a few times, trying to encourage them to get there faster. They just blankly looked at him. He groaned. “He’d been in the house before, and was actually expected to show up. Tyron would have let him in to look at the paintings. Mortimer knew where the medications were kept, and was well known enough to make a coffee for Sheppard while he got the artworks out ready.”

“Conjecture,” Donovan interrupted. She shut her mouth from the glare gave her.
“Mortimer could put some of the diazepam we found in Mr Sheppard’s bloodwork into the coffee,” he continued, ignoring Donovan. “Enough to drug him into a sluggish state as to not fight off a cloth soaked in isoflurane to be tied around his face.
“He tied the rope up and dragged Sheppard up to the railing while he was still unconscious. He was wearing gloves and a mask, which he could put on while Tyron was out. Once he’d pushed him over, he could tidy upstairs as best he could remember, place the note, and then take off the cloth.”

Greg then inhaled quickly as he remembered a detail. “Oh, the cuts.” He clicked his fingers a few times. “The ones done post mortem? That were done when already in the hanging position?”
“Yes, Greg, we know the ones,” Donovan grunted with a frown.
“Right. So, what’d he do? What’d he do?” Greg bit his lip, paused while thinking, and then clicked his fingers again. “Yes, he noticed that Tyron hadn’t looked as depressed as he’d thought from the breakup once he was hung. So, he went up and got the blade, made the cuts, and put the blade out by the note. Just to be sure it’d be taken as suicide.”
“Then just left?”

“And waited for the paintings to accrue value, yep, Sal.” Greg nodded quickly. “The vet said in her statement that Mortimer told her he was coming into money soon, didn’t she?”
Olivia nodded. “Yeah, she couldn’t elaborate, and did say that Mortimer often said that to her.”
“This time it was true.”
“So, he somehow managed to bring a drugged cloth in with him, made the victim a drugged cup of coffee with the diazepam that went unnoticed, and then wrestled the cloth over his face? Then what, went back out to the car, grabbed the rope, set it up and pushed him?”
“Yes, yes, exactly, Liv.” Good, she’s getting it. I knew it made sense. Brilliant.

Greg nodded and put the cap on his pen. He waited for the happy excitement to begin from his figuring out the case, but instead the three women just looked at him uncertainly.
“Greg, it’s… it’s a good theory,” Sally said gently, but it still made Greg’s stomach drop. “But it’s just…”
“There’s not actually any evidence of it yet,” Ellis said, finishing Donovan’s sentence.
“But Bates–”
“She’ll get the data, yes, but we don’t have anything physically placing him there,” Donovan said firmly.
“But, but… we have evidence of the cloth fibres and chemicals on Mr Sheppard’s face. We just need to get matching ones in Mortimer’s possession.”
“Oh, is that all?” Ellis groaned.
“It’s something to actually look for!” Greg snapped. Even Ellis seemed stunned by the energy of his response. He just frustrated they were being obtuse, not actually angry. “Sorry, sorry. But it is something to look for. W-we know what to look for. A-and we just have to match it up for physical proof. I’m sure we’ll get something.”

Greg fell silent, staring at the floor. “Bag!” he said, jumping, and the group was startled. “He needed to have brought a bag with him to the murder, for the rope and drugs, Right? Now, he probably just had the rope in a disposable bag, but he did need to have the isoflurane on him when entering the house, you’re right there.”

He tapped the pen against his hand a few times, thinking. “To be sure he wasn’t affected, it would have had to have been in a sealed container in his bag, but the cloth would have been in there too and we can find the traces of both,” he mused, thinking out loud.
“He would have disposed of it by now, Greg,” Donovan said with a patient sigh.
Greg hummed unhappily as he scribbled on the board. He then jumped and cheered to himself, spinning around. “He said that he was hiding from his wife. The wife – we don’t know what she knows, but we’ll assume he was keeping it from her as well. Which means that he left the house with his work bag. You saw it, right, Liv? When we went there? His satchel by the desk?”
“Er, I guess?”
Ellis didn’t sound certain, but Greg didn’t care. “Good. It’ll be in there. We need to get a hold of it and find traces of the isoflurane cloth. He could take that in with him to look at the paintings.”

Greg clenched his jaw and frowned. He’d thought they’d be thrilled. If they’re both hesitant about it… is something wrong that I can’t see?
“We can get the isoflurane cloth fragments from his bag. I know we can. He took the cloth out of the house with him, probably in the bag,” he reassured, pleading. Please believe me. This is what happened, I know it… why are you all acting so strangely, like I’ve just spouted nonsense? We can do this if you’ll only listen to me.

“If we manage that, yes, it’ll be a very strong piece of evidence. But it just may not be possible to get; and without it, Greg, what we have is circumstantial. We can prove he’s a lying pig up to something, yes, but not that he committed murder.”

He sighed, deflated. Ellis did have a point, but he was desperate to get them all looking for evidence instead of questioning him. He then remembered what Ellis had said earlier, and took a step closer to her, pointing the pen at her. “Wrestled,” he said.
“What?”
“You said wrestled. We saw there wasn’t much sign of a struggle, but we know he could easily have tidied.”
“And?”
“Oh, oh that’s good. Yes! Like my sleeve!” Greg laughed and turned back to the board, pulling the cap off the marker.

“Greg,” Ellis said slowly behind him. “Greg, mate, I think you need to calm down a bit. You’re not making a whole lot of sense.”
Greg froze and turned around. “What?” he asked, suddenly fearful. “Th-this makes sense, doesn’t it? It does! It all fits together, see?” He waved to the board.
“Yes, it does, but how you’ve told us about it hasn’t. You’re acting very strangely and we’re just concerned.”
“I’m glad to finally be getting this case over!”

Ellis winced, and that was when Greg realised he’d shouted. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
“You’re excessively loud and animated and saying things without explaining.”
“But, Liv, we have to act quickly before he gets rid of his trousers! He might have already, but since he matches his jackets it’s unlikely–”
“Greg, you’re doing it again.”
“Then just bloody let me finish, yeah?” Greg frowned at them. “I need to get this explained and wrapped up before–” He clasped his mouth shut.
“Before?” Sally asked him, curious.

He swallowed. “Before he gets away with it,” he said, and it was obvious that wasn’t what he’d meant. At least his colleagues seemed to be content to leave it. He nodded at them, tried to calm himself, and then took a deep breath. “He went up to look at the paintings,” he explained, trying hard to go slow. “But they weren’t all done. One I saw up there wasn’t complete; it had been put back with the others, but it was put in the wrong way. Mortimer put it away, I know it. It was still being worked on, and it was out when the struggle happened.”

He paused to let the information sink in. “I knew something wasn’t right with the painting even if I’m a total idiot when it comes to art. But since being with Mycroft, I understand more of the innate need for order and balance, and that’s what was off. Mortimer smudged it. Mortimer has some trousers that have oil paint stains on them that match that painting, which puts him at the scene of the crime at the time it happened.”

Chapter Text

Greg ran the back of his fingers lightly over Mycroft’s cheek as they lay there in the bed, the dawn light breaking through the curtains and dancing over the curves of the man’s face.

“So beautiful,” he uttered as he ran his thumb over Mycroft’s lower lip. “I could stay here all day and just watch the light change over your skin.”
“Not very productive,” Mycroft answered with a grin. He leant forward and nuzzled against Greg’s nose softly and hummed.
“I’ve done enough productive things for a while.”
“Yes. You have done exceptionally well in your case, my love.”

Greg nestled himself into Mycroft’s chest, humming as long arms embraced him. “Yeah. Mortimer is still denying everything, of course, but we have the evidence to convict him now. The look on his smarmy face was like the first drink after crossing a desert.”
“It still surprises me that he could have been unaware of the paint on the back of his trousers.”
Greg laughed. “Mustn’t be as particular as you, love. I’m glad for that, though. Just walked into his office on Thursday and the evidence was right there: the paint, and his bag on the floor right next to it.”

Mycroft hummed and sighed contentedly at the tender touches of Greg’s hand. He looked so at peace in the morning.
“We had a celebration yesterday when the results came back as a match, finding the fibres and the isoflurane,” Greg continued. “Ellis wanted to lock him in a cell with a thug on Viagra, as retribution for his–”
“You didn’t allow that, right?”
“No, Myc.” Greg chuckled. “As much as I hate the bastard for his portrayal of bisexuals, and taking advantage of the poor to get profits in slimy finance deals… I wouldn’t let that happen. Nothing is going to compromise his conviction. I made sure everything was checked, double checked, and to the book. Even got Donovan to go over it.”
“Good. Miss Donovan may be difficult at times, but she is indeed the best person to ensure protocol is followed.”

Greg let the conversation die out, just resting his head on Mycroft’s chest. He felt so comfortable. He hadn’t realised how stressed he’d gotten during the case until it was over; now, laying in on a Saturday morning with it all underway, he felt the relief.

“That’s nice,” he said as Mycroft started to run his hand up and down his back.
“Greg.” 
“Hm?”
“Hm?” Mycroft responded absent-mindedly. Greg twitched a frown, but dismissed it. He probably just meant he was happy to be with me.
“I love you, you know.”
“Yes,” Mycroft giggled. “I am aware of that darling.”
“Good.”
“I love you too.”
“I am aware of that darling,” Greg mocked, breaking out into a grin and pressing a kiss onto Mycroft’s lips.
“Are any jewellers open on Saturdays?”
“Perhaps, I’m not sure. We could always go and look. Maybe have lunch out?”
“Sounds good. We’ve got plenty of time.”

Greg remained content to just lay holding Mycroft, his head upon the man’s chest, and enjoy the feeling of warm fingers running up and down his spine. He wasn’t even feeling amorous; he just wanted the intimate affection of simply being together.
His mind wandered. It began thinking about how happy he was now, about how he’d gotten the thing he’d been dreaming of for so many years. They were even going to get rings, so soon – it was more than what he’d ever dared hope. It then took a darker turn. He thought of how he was essentially engaged, and how it was secrets that had destroyed his last marriage. Well, there had been a lot more than that, but the secrets and hiding was a big part of it.

He swallowed, uncomfortable, anticipating the pain of shattering the serene moment with Mycroft. “Myc, what happened to me?”

Mycroft stilled underneath him. Greg could feel his body go tense, his heart start to pound, and his breathing cease.
“Gregory,” Mycroft said, his voice laced with pain. He then shifted and sat up, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed and leaning forward. “Stay with me, Greg.” 
Greg leant up on his elbow and just watched. Mycroft had gone from peaceful to broken in an instant; the non-sequitur seeming to make some semblance of sense. He felt bad for causing it, but he needed to know. “I’m not going anywhere, Myc.”

Mycroft turned his head towards him, but still not enough to actually look at him. His face looked pained and indecisive.
“It’s been months, Myc. No one has said anything. I… we’re getting married, love. I can’t forget this secret looming over me. Please.”
Mycroft exhaled slowly and groaned, turning back away and rubbing his face with his hands as his elbows rested on his knees.

“Did Sherlock experiment on me?” Greg asked bluntly.

Mycroft turned to face him properly, and Greg was surprised to see fear on his face. “No,” he answered simply. His blue eyes dropped to the floor and he turned back around to face the window.
So all of these increased abilities weren’t an experiment Sherlock was conducting, or from something he did. Wait… what if it wasn’t Sherlock?

“Myc, was I experimented on?”

Mycroft took a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling. “We agreed not to talk about this.”
“No, I never–”
“Not you,” Mycroft interrupted. He turned back around. “John, Sherlock, and I.”

Greg just waited, unmoving, taking in the obvious anguish that was overwhelming Mycroft. He didn’t know why it was so difficult a question.
“I’m safe now, Myc. I’m here with you. I know you had a hard time thinking you could have lost me, but that’s in the past now.”
Mycroft trembled and bit his lip. “Not as much as you might think,” he mumbled, barely audible. Before Greg could ask, he straightened and took a deep breath. “Before we talk, I will need to call Doctor Watson and my brother.”
“They’re not in control of you, you know.”
Mycroft huffed, almost amused. “I am aware, my dear. But I must defer to their expertise – or rather Doctor Watson’s – in this matter, despite past experiences.”
“Why can’t you just tell me what happened?” Greg asked, pleading, hurting. He looked at Mycroft with a desperate expression.
“Because we don’t know!”

The room was silent as they stared at each other. Greg’s heart hammered in his chest. Mycroft looked shaky, but held his gaze. Greg opened his mouth, but there wasn’t anything his brain could formulate to say in response.

Mycroft turned away and grabbed his phone. He put it to his ear, and then said, “Truman,” before hanging up and putting it back on the bedside table.

Greg sat up properly in the bed. Mycroft stood and padded over to the window, looking out into the morning. The light illuminating his edges gave him a supernatural look as he stood there, stoically. “We haven’t told you what happened because we don’t know, Greg.”
“Why couldn’t you say that, then? Instead of leaving me to question everything?”
Mycroft slouched and touched the windowsill. “We did the first time.”

Greg’s stomach flipped. When Mycroft turned, his eyes were shining with tears unshed. He opened his mouth, but paused. He strolled over to the bed and sat down beside Greg and took his hand gently.
“Do you remember me telling you how Doctor Watson had tried to bring you out of the coma early?”
“Yes,” he answered, too shocked and confused to say much more.

“It wasn’t as simple as you being unable to function properly and thus put back under. It was looking alright for a moment, until we asked if you knew what had happened. You started to remember… we had to put you back under.”
“Remember what, Myc? Why?”
“We don’t know,” Mycroft said gently. “That’s why we asked.”
“Start at the beginning.”
Mycroft bit his lip. “I-I’m afraid to say anything, because of that instance. You – we – might not be so lucky a second time.”
Greg squeezed Mycroft’s hand gently and looked deeply into his eyes, giving him his best pleading look. “Please.”

Mycroft took a breath, and when he spoke, his voice sounded defeated. “I had asked you to help Sherlock with a case. It was a dangerous one; the man had brutal henchmen, no morals, and an insidious genius mind… I should have…” Mycroft screwed up his face and shook his head. “When Sherlock came back, he asked me why you hadn’t been there.” Mycroft looked up at him. “I went looking immediately. I panicked. We found the abandoned building where… th-there were your clothes left behind, torn and bloody. I-I don’t know how long… days, perhaps? I was so guilty.”

Greg drew breath slowly as he watched Mycroft’s tears fall. The information was overwhelming him, but his first instinct was to comfort the man he loved. Mycroft looked like he wanted to finish first, and Greg wanted to hear the rest – and so he just waited.

“The car we traced, it led to the Thames. Gregory, I thought…” Mycroft’s throat closed and he made a choked sob. Greg pulled him into a hug, letting him cry into his chest. So when he said he thought he lost me, he meant it both ways. And no wonder he was so protective all this time; he’s been thinking all of this is his fault.

Mycroft sniffled and sat upright. “I was in quite a state. E-eventually we found out that you were in a hospital. No one knew how you got there and it took a long time for people to work out who you were. Anthea… she managed it, bless her.”

After taking a moment, he continued. “All we know is their reports. You appeared out of nowhere, were catatonic, and had a severe head injury. The moment they tried to… you screamed, you ran, you pleaded with them. You were terrified. They had to sedate you.”

Greg looked down at their entwined hands. He knew he should be feeling embarrassed, but he was more curious about what had caused him to have such a reaction – and why it’d been kept from him.

“The reports say you had a great deal of intracranial swelling, and so you were put into an induced coma while it healed. You were like that when we found you and brought you to… I needed to be close to work, but I refused to leave your side, you see,” Mycroft explained.
“Myc, it’s fine,” he reassured. “I don’t care you took control and moved me.”
“Good. Good.” Mycroft nodded. “Well, the doctors had decided the swelling had gone down enough to take you from the coma. Doctor Watson was there to assist you through what had happened.”
“I don’t remember that either.”

“No. You woke, and the moment he started pushing for details, you regressed. I implored him to stop, after I had advised against it initially, but he said he needed to know how to help you. You reacted so violently to the memories that you caused yourself further injury and the staff were forced to induce your coma again.”
“Violent? What did I do?” Greg asked, suddenly afraid. Mycroft’s eyes blew wide.
“No! Not like that, darling. The trauma… it was intense, much like documented when you’d first arrived. You didn’t hurt anyone; just caused the injury to worsen again.”

Greg nodded, only a little relieved. He took a few steadying breaths.

“When you couldn’t remember what’d happened upon waking again, we decided it was best that you didn’t. Doctor Watson explained that your mind was protecting itself, and it was best to let it be.”
“He said that to me too.”
Myc nodded at him and hummed in agreement. “I took measures to try and ensure that you were safe from yourself. I was terrified that you’d remember and fall back into such extreme distress that you’d aggravate your head injury, and that it’d be permanently damaging this time.”

Greg frowned, processing the information. “So all those secret meetings, all of those things I overheard… it was all a plan about keeping the truth from me; you just didn’t know what that truth was and were trying to avoid a relapse.”
“You heard me?” Mycroft asked, shocked.
“Occasionally I’d overhear you, yes. Meetings in the kitchen that didn’t sound right, words spoken over the phone…”
“Gregory,” Mycroft chastised, but there was no real annoyance. “You could have triggered yourself.”
“Yeah but I didn’t know that, did I? I thought there was some conspiracy going on! I overheard John and Sherlock talking about controlling you too, and it was only then I stopped suspecting you were out to get me.”

Greg snapped his mouth shut and regretted saying the words the moment he saw the pain in Mycroft’s eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said quickly. “It wasn’t anything…” Well, it was things you were doing. “I just didn’t know and so misinterpreted.”
“Doctor Watson and my brother undoubtedly believed I was too anxious for you to consider the situation objectively, and so decided to take on that responsibility,” Mycroft grumbled. He was still obviously hurt, but seemed to accept it as a penance for his secrecy.

Greg wanted to say that he wished Mycroft had told him, but could appreciate the situation his partner was in. Answering the questions and potentially causing irreparable brain damage definitely seems the worse option, in retrospect. He bit his lip. “Now that I know, does that mean it’s ok? I’m not going to relapse?”
“It’s been some time, and so I felt it long enough to chance. It seems not.”
“I just have to not question it.”
“If you can. It’s why we tried not to make it a focus. Telling you not to think of it has only one result, after all.”

Greg started to consider his nightmares, and some of the hallucinations he’d had. It made sense that they were memories – they’d felt like memories, after all. In his gut, he still wanted to know what happened. Now that he knew he was the only one who actually did know, somewhere in his head, he felt less desperate to find out.

Seeing the blood in his reflection… he was remembering his head injury. Russian Mafia Guy? He was probably one of the thugs that held him prisoner. No wonder I reacted that way to seeing him. Resurfacing memories didn’t explain all of the things he’d seen or heard, but having a significant brain injury did. His heart sank suddenly. It was unequivocal now, given this and what the psychologist had said. He was having a breakdown. Sure, he had a physical reason for it, but it was still happening. At least a lot of his paranoia had been somewhat justified, between the secrets and his subconscious PTSD.

But I’d been doing so well on the cases. I’ve noticed things that had helped. I’ve been more observant, I’ve managed to put things together better than ever before. Greg swallowed. But I’ve also still been hallucinating, and apparently blacking out without even noticing anymore. How else can I explain the intuition and suddenly making leaps in the cases?

“Gregory?”
“Sorry, love. It’s just a lot to take in.”
“I’m glad you’re coping, darling. Sherlock and Doctor Watson will be here soon, in case you wished to put on some clothes.”
“Ah. The code word.”
“Yes. Doctor Watson’s idea. I found myself having to go watch the film to understand.” Mycroft leant forward and pressed a kiss to Greg’s head. “Unfortunately it’s been rather similar to your situation, it seems.”

Greg nodded and let himself lean into Mycroft. He was a ball of emotions, but nothing incredibly bad, and so decided to sort them out later.

Chapter Text

Greg stilled as he brought his coffee to his lips. He looked about, seeing Mycroft in the kitchen with John, and Sherlock sitting beside him at the dining table. He trembled slightly. Oh, bloody brilliant. Now that I know I still have been blacking out, I’ve started noticing them again.

“Greg?”
Greg looked to Sherlock. He was observing him closely. In his gut, Greg felt too depressed over the situation to try and hide what was going on anymore. “How long have you been here?”
Sherlock frowned. “About twenty minutes; why?”

“Just didn’t know.” He sipped his coffee and nodded to their partners in the kitchen. “What do you reckon they’re talking about?”
“You, obviously.”
“Yes, I know that much, thank you, Sherlock,” Greg huffed. “I meant specifically.”
Sherlock shrugged. “Probably how to proceed from here.”
“How do we proceed from here?” he asked, sombre. He looked at Mycroft, and then to Sherlock.

“I guess that’s up to you.”
“Doesn’t seem like it.”
Sherlock shrugged again and drank some of his tea. “You might not think it, but you’re in control.”

Greg smiled. It was nice to hear, even if it didn’t quite feel true. He sat in silence for a brief moment, wishing he could hear what Mycroft and John were mumbling about.

“How could you not know?” he asked into his coffee. “You’re Sherlock. You can get a life story from a person’s sleeve… how can you not know what happened to me?”
Greg looked directly at Sherlock as he grunted. “If you don’t know what’s going on, Greg, then how are any of us supposed to know?”
“But surely you could–”
“No, Greg.” Sherlock fixed him with a strong glare. “I can’t. There’s nothing there for me to see, if you don’t know to show it.”

He groaned quietly and slumped forward, pressing his hand into his cheek. Greg didn’t think that was exactly how Sherlock’s deductions worked, but since the younger Holmes was using his first name all the time, he must be trying to be serious.

Greg pulled his phone out and scrolled to his text conversation with Mike.

- Hey, Mike. Sorry it’s been a while. I hope you’re not busy – I could really use one of your famous hugs.

He didn’t care if it made him sound childish. If he was having a breakdown, he could damn-well tell someone he wanted a hug. He looked at Mycroft. He’d give me all the comfort in the world, without me needing to ask. Greg wanted it, too, but he also felt like he needed to see Mike. They hadn’t spoken much lately, and his friend deserved an explanation for his most recent behaviour. John wasn’t likely to have told him, since he hadn’t earlier; he probably was afraid Mike couldn’t keep it to himself. The man was a genuine open book.

- Greg, what’s going on? I’m always here for you, mate. I’m actually having coffee with Elaine. Come join us?

He frowned into his phone for a minute. Mike and Elaine knew each other? He looked at Sherlock, who just quirked his eyebrow at him so much like his brother that Greg chuckled.
“Myc,” he announced, standing. “I want to go catch up with Mike Stamford at the coffee shop.”
Mycroft turned and looked at him, hesitant. He then nodded. “You don’t need my permission, dear.”
Greg didn’t know what to say, and so just stood and put his mug in the sink.

“Please be ok, Greg,” Mycroft’s voice said from behind him, close.  

Greg gripped the sink and didn’t turn around. “I can’t spend all my life worried that I’ll suddenly remember and have a haemorrhage or something. I get that you’re concerned, but please don’t make this a thing between us all the time. I just want to be happy with you and focus on that.”

He turned around, only to see his fiancé further back than expected. Mycroft tilted his head in confusion. “Of course, darling.”
“Then why did you…?” Greg paused and then shook his head. “Never mind. Doesn’t matter.” He took a step away from the kitchen, but was overwhelmed with a sense of loneliness. He had to take a breath to stead himself.
“Come with me,” he said, turning back to Mycroft. “I-I don’t, uh, want to be apart from you.”
Mycroft’s face brightened and he relaxed. He took a step closer and held out his hand for Greg to take. “I’d be delighted.”
Greg took his and hand and blushed slightly when Mycroft pressed a kiss to it.

~

John and Sherlock had insisted on joining them as well, but at least they’d elected to sit at a table of their own on the other side of the café.

Mycroft was standing behind him holding their drinks as Mike hugged him tight. The doctor patted his back a few times and then let go, indicating to sit at the table. Greg sat on the chair opposite Mike, who returned to his seat on the bench beside Elaine. Mycroft joined beside him and passed him his drink.

“So, I didn’t know you two knew each other,” Greg said as an icebreaker. “Like, outside of the times Mike and I had coffee here.”
“Yeah, well, the last time we had coffee here Greg, you stood up, shouted, and bolted out the door.”
Greg cleared his throat and blushed, mumbling an apology to Mike.

“It’s fine, mate. Elaine came over to see if you were alright. I told her that you weren’t feeling so well and going through some things.”
“Oh.” Greg glanced at Elaine, who was grinning.
“Don’t worry, Greg,” she said to him. “Mikey didn’t let any of your secrets loose. Just said that, basically. We then started talking.”

Greg watched as Elaine leant against Mike’s shoulder, still smiling. She called him ‘Mikey’… “You two, uh, are you…?”
“Yeah,” Elaine answered, leaning over and pressing a kiss to Mike’s cheek. “He was such a gentleman when we talked. Made me feel like a person and not a stick with boobs, you know? Not once did he ogle or even think about it, and I can tell. He’s so sweet, caring, and gentle. Amazing.”
Mike had flushed beetroot at the praise, but had a bright smile and shining eyes. “Come now, pet,” he mumbled to her.
“See? Look how adorable he is! My cuddly teddy bear with a heart of gold,” she sang, and pressed another kiss to his cheek. “And a doctor too! I mean, how was he single? Too bad for everyone else.”

Greg couldn’t help but beam. Good on you, mate, he thought as he looked at his friend and how genuinely  happy he was. They really were a good match together. Elaine was considerate enough for Mike’s issues, but also outgoing and a domineering force that would be a good support for his friend.
“I’m so happy for you both.” Greg squeezed Mycroft’s hand. “Looks like a lot of good has come out of something pretty shitty.”

Silence befell the table at that statement. Greg bit his lip, thinking maybe he shouldn’t have mentioned it. Mycroft looked uncomfortable, and Mike looked concerned.
“How much have you told them?”
“I, er, I’ve spoken to Mike a bit about the things that have been happening, Myc,” he uttered, looking away. He didn’t want Mycroft to feel like he’d been passed over, or make an obvious reminder about how Greg hadn’t trusted him for a while there.
“This Mike/Myc thing is gonna be a confusing thing for a while, eh?” Elaine laughed. Greg looked at her, silently telling her that it was ok that there was some tension in the air. She nodded softly.

“Doctor Stamford, I believe it fitting to include you into the situation,” Mycroft said formally. Greg squeezed his hand again, reassuringly. He knew Mycroft fell back on formal speech when he was trying hard not to get emotional.
“We don’t know what happened to Gregory when he was injured. We feared the worst, and then he appeared in a hospital in the east of London with a severe head injury. He was placed into a coma for five days while the intracranial swelling subsided.”

Mike nodded along, obviously agreeing with the treatment thus far.

“When taken out of the coma, Doctor Watson was there to help process what had happened to him. Unfortunately the severity of his reaction caused a significant complication to what was assumed a healed injury, and he was placed back into a coma.”

Mike frowned, pursing his lips, in his usual concerned way.

“When conscious again, he had no memory of the incident or the previous time he’d awoken. It was believed this was a self-preservation measure. I, along with Doctor Watson and my brother Sherlock, have been doing our best to oversee his recovery whilst maintaining this selective amnesia.”

“You’re worried remembering would cause brain damage?” Elaine asked, confused. “How does that work?” She looked at Mike.
“The brain’s complicated, pet. Sometimes it looks like it’s healed, when it’s not. Other times it will heal itself in new ways that completely change a person. Any risk is a significant one, and it’s not all greatly understood what goes on.”
Greg huffed through his nose, more to remind his companions that he was still present for this conversation rather than out of annoyance.
Mike looked at him. “I guess we were both a little right,” he chuckled. “I’m glad that things are sorted. Don’t worry, Mycroft. I’ll be careful not to try trigger any memories.”

Mycroft froze for a moment, but then nodded. Greg felt rather out of place, but glad that the matter was sorted. He didn’t know what was going to happen next, though, but since it caused a ball of stress to start swirling in his gut, he chose not to think about it.

Chapter Text

“Food?” Elaine asked, breaking the silence. “There’s a nice marinated chicken grilled sandwich this week.”
“Mycroft’s a vegetarian,” Greg responded automatically.
“Oh. Well, you could have the eggplant one, but,” - she looked about and lowered her voice - “it’s getting old now, so I’d suggest the spicy cauliflower with salad instead.”
Mycroft hummed, considering. “I was wondering if perhaps you would like to change locations for lunch? I had rather hoped to take Gregory to an Indian restaurant that I know of.”
“Curry’s good with me,” Mike answered. “How about you, pet?”
“Even better! I like to avoid being in here as much as possible when I’m not working. And, snookums, before you say anything,” she said, holding a finger up to Mike, “no, you didn’t make me. We do have good coffee here.”

Mycroft sighed. “I suppose I should extend the invitation to my brother and his partner, too. Perhaps on the condition that they once again select a distant table.”
“What? Why?”
“Elaine, trust me. You don’t want to have to be stuck at a table with Sherlock.” Greg chuckled. “He’s… maybe another time, when there’s less chance of you being offended and storming off. Don’t want to do that to Mike, eh?”
Elaine looked ready to argue, but just shrugged when all three of them shook their heads at her.

They stood to leave, which was when Greg turned and came face to face with Ellis.
“Greg! Fancy seeing you here.”
“Liv,” he blurted, stunned.
She remained smiling at him, and then looked at his company. “Well, are you going to introduce me?”
“Oh, uh, right.” He jerked his head to the side. “Everyone, this is Olivia Ellis, a sergeant of mine. Liv, this is Mike Stamford, and this is Elaine. Myc you know.”
“No, I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure,” Ellis said as she shook Mike’s hand.
“No no, Mycroft I meant, not Mike,” Greg mumbled.
“Told you,” Elaine said, laughing. She batted Greg’s arm. “We need to give them different names.”
“I refuse,” Mycroft said, straightening. “You can use my entire name in future, Gregory, to avoid confusion.”

Greg rolled his eyes good-naturedly. “Yes, dear.” He smiled and pressed a kiss to Mycroft’s lips, earning him a coo from Elaine which Ellis shared.
“Aren’t you adorable, the pair of you. Your husband-to-be is quite shy, Greg; look at him blush! Hard to think he’s Frankie’s older brother.”
“Frankie?” Mike mumbled into Greg’s ear.
“Doctor Frankenstein,” he whispered back. 
“Speak of the devil,” Liv said, turning around to see Sherlock and John approaching. “Frankie! Made anything terrifying lately?”
“Yes,” John mumbled, looking suddenly unamused.
“I told you three weeks ago not to open that cupboard,” Sherlock protested.
“We’re not getting into this again,” John said, raising his finger. Sherlock huffed but closed his mouth. It was nice to see that John could actually control some of Sherlock’s attitude.

“This is fast becoming a work outing,” Greg commented, looking around him. More so for John, really, given he also worked with Mike.
“I’d say you’re right,” Ellis said and then nodded her head to the door, where Sally Donovan strolled in. “Work party… yay,” she said flatly.
“Donovan?”
“Lestrade?”
“What are you–”
“Getting coffee, obviously. We’re not all lucky enough to have the weekend off, you know.”
“Right.”
“Hadn’t realised I was walking in on a family gathering.”

Greg looked about. “No, that’s not… well, half of us will be, soon, but–”
“Really don’t care, Lestrade.”
Greg frowned. “Why so short today?”
“Don’t mind her, she’s just annoyed that we have to finish up paperwork today and you get out of it.” Ellis grinned at him. “I’m rather peeved myself. You want a good punishment? Make the perps have to fill out the damned paperwork. Crime’ll drop, I swear.”

Sally grunted and rolled her eyes, moving along towards the counter. Greg could understand her attitude, since she never was comfortable with putting in the extra hours while Greg wasn’t doing the same, despite being her boss.

“Well, Graham. It would appear everyone you know has gathered together in one place. Quite the coincidence, don’t you think?” Sherlock suggested, the cynical amused glint in his eyes.
“What do you mean?” he asked, tilting his head. Sherlock did have a point, but not one that he could understand – or, perhaps, wanted to face.
“You’re not suggesting… this isn’t orchestrated, is it?” He looked around accusingly. “But… I’m the one who asked to meet Mike.”
Sherlock sat at the table and inspected his fingernails, radiating an air of disinterest. “Yes,” he sung, “you did. You wanted comfort and then all the people who care for you appear.”

Greg frowned and shook his head. John hissed at Sherlock, which while Greg guessed it was supposed to be to stop Sherlock from antagonising him, it only made him feel more suspicious again. He instinctively stepped into Mycroft’s space. “What are you saying?”

“Sherlock, really,” Mycroft chastised, wrapping his arms around Greg. “That’s enough.”
“This isn’t an intervention is it?” Greg asked, looking up into Mycroft’s eyes, pleading.
“No, sweetheart. We’re only interested in your wellbeing, and we did not plan to all be here.”

Greg’s heart still beat uncomfortably in his chest but he nodded. Sherlock did like to stir up trouble and drama just for the fun of it, but Greg had thought that had been a line he’d known not to cross.

“Don’t mind Frankie,” Liv said to him warmly. “You know him. He’s suspicious of everything and wants to make sure everyone else is too.”
Greg nodded and smiled at her. She patted his arm, and then took the coffee from Donovan who’d arrived back.
“Break’s over,” Sally announced, and nodded to Greg before walking off.
“We could really use you on Monday, Greg,” Ellis said to him seriously.
“Gregory will be taking more medical leave,” Mycroft announced, sounding protective. “He needs more time to recover.”
“Oh, already?” Ellis bit her lip. “I get that. But, uh, you’ll need to be there Monday anyway, right?”
“Why?”

“I’m assuming you haven’t submitted the paperwork yet,” she said, hesitant. “And… well, Greg, the paperwork you’ve done hasn’t made a whole lot of sense.”
Greg felt like cold water had been poured over his head. “What do you mean?”
“We need to make sure our case is strong,” Ellis continued. “Everything in order, like. You know I don’t give a damn how you got what you did, but OC-Donovan isn’t so willing to let it slide. We need you to write out logically how you came across some of the bits of evidence.”

Greg swallowed. He looked to his company, suddenly wishing they were having this conversation in private. He knew that it would look bad for their conviction if it was shown Greg wasn’t well during the investigations, and judging by the look he was getting from John, he knew it too.

“Sure,” he answered, his voice wobbly. “I-I’ll see you Monday, then.”
Ellis frowned for a moment, but nodded at him. Donovan was glaring at her through the window, and so she groaned and bid her farewells.

“She cares for you too, Greg.”
He snapped his head around to Sherlock. It was a very un-Sherlock thing to say. He simply stared, incredulous, while waiting for an explanation.
“Donovan. I’m sure if you explained your predicament, she’d understand. Work is important to you both, and I expect she’d value the conviction over your questionable methods.”

“How do you know my methods have been questionable?” Greg defended. Sherlock, as usual, didn’t react. He simply smiled slowly, as if Greg had just revealed his hand. It always made him feel exposed, but at that moment, he was feeling like it had been a big mistake.

“Obvious, really.”
“And Donovan is by-the-book through and through. She’s not going to understand.”   
“Mm, I suppose you’re right. She is closed-minded like that,” Sherlock mused. He then shot Greg another sly grin. Oh, you bastard… that was your point, wasn’t it? Making me come to the conclusion myself so I can’t try reason myself out of my fears.
“And of course she’d put everything down on the record, ridiculous or not,” Sherlock continued, smug. “Some of that may be unsavoury, don’t you think? Looking at a body and concluding which poison did it is one thing – that can be passed off as experience or instinct. Insisting you know a suspect’s involvement beyond the evidence could just be dismissed as arrogance.”

Greg’s heart pounded and his stomach dropped when he realised where Sherlock was going. “But knowing results before they come in?” he continued, still smug. “Well now, that’s something else entirely that can’t just be explained away.”

“I said that’s enough, Sherlock.” Mycroft glared at his brother. “You will have to behave yourself if you wish to remain invited to lunch.”
“And what makes you think I want to attend your dreary lunch?” Sherlock stood, using his height to try and intimidate Mycroft. He was only fractionally taller, mostly due to the mass of dark curls. “John and I have better things to do.”
“Oh please spare us the details of your sex life,” Mycroft mocked, dramatically rolling his eyes. “Just because it’s novel for you, doesn’t mean the rest of us want to hear about it.”

“Ok, that’s enough,” Greg said, stretching his arms out and pushing the brothers apart. He was already between them, thanks to Mycroft’s hug, and the tension was suffocating. He did not want to have to deal with a Holmes-Brother Battle on top of everything else.

“Myc, let your brother go do what he wants and we’ll have lunch, ok?”
“Letting Sherlock ‘do what he wants’ is never a good idea for the safety of the general populace,” Mycroft protested.

His partner glanced down at him, and Greg gave him a stern look. Mycroft then sighed, resigned, and then shrugged indifferently. Greg smiled and kissed him.

Sherlock groaned, making a disgusted noise. “Lestrade, come see me – or send for me – when you’re ready for this to end,” he grumbled, taking John’s wrist and tugging it. “John and I will be there for you.”
“What do you mean? End of what?”
Sherlock’s steely look unsettled him. ‘Obvious’ was the word it conveyed. “You can’t stay like this.”
“Like what?”
“It’s only a matter of time before it all starts to crumble around you, now.”

Mycroft’s arms gripped him tighter. “Ignore him, love. He’s still winding you up. I’m here now.”
It doesn’t sound like it, Greg thought. It looks more like he’s serious. “John,” Greg called as the man was being tugged away. “You mean you can fix me? Put a stop to all these problems?”
John hesitated. “I can only help you if you’re ready for what that means.”

Greg was left staring at the door well after Sherlock and John had left. He didn’t know what to think. Mycroft had tried to assure him that Sherlock was just in a bad mood and trying to rile him up, but it had seemed more sincere than that.

He was glad that Mycroft remained holding him in spite of looks they were getting from customers. It was very reassuring. Sherlock’s words still echoed in his head, though, cancelling out a good deal of that comfort. Only a matter of time? If it had only been Sherlock, he might have been able to dismiss it. But the fact that John was in agreement was the shard of doubt that wouldn’t dislodge from his chest.

They left the café and walked to the restaurant. Mycroft did his best to offer unconditional comfort and love, which Greg appreciated. Mike’s assurances that everything would be fine if he stopped thinking about it definitely helped. Elaine talked about some of the funnier incidents that had happened at the café, which proved a welcomed distraction.

Greg found that over lunch, his worries subsided. He instead focused on having an enjoyable time with his friends, the warming curry, and the fact that his work colleagues still needed him. Sure, it might be because of things I did, but I’m still important there, he reassured himself.

~

Greg lay awake at night. Mycroft was sleeping beside him, making soft puffs of breath that normally soothed him. Tonight his mind was wound too tight to be relaxed by the reassuring presence.

Sherlock was right – he couldn’t explain away the premonitions. He did see Tom Cartwright, in a vision, accidentally spilling the arsenic onto the steak that killed Ms Watanabe. Thinking back over it, Greg realised that the time he’d seen it happen would have been around the time it happened. How did I know it was happening when it was happening?

Then there was the vet. It wasn’t a premonition, but he knew where to go and who to talk to. He’d been happy (enough) to think that it had been something Mortimer had said to him that he’d blacked out on, but now he wasn’t so sure. If that had been the case, then he would have known Jasmine’s name instead of her face. He would have looked up where the clinic was, and known its name as well, instead of just making Mycroft turn the car whenever it felt right.

What could explain that, then? Having a breakdown can’t be the answer there, too, can it? I mean, the information was checked by others… everything was right. It’s not me just seeing things. Unless…

Greg suppressed a whimper when he considered what the psychologist had told him, regarding the hallucinations. He could be hallucinating the evidence and his colleagues’ reactions to it. He kept dismissing the idea, since that’d mean the entire case would be wrong… but what else could it be, if not that? There’s no discrepancy between interactions with Liv and Sally… surely if I was hallucinating them as well to suit my evidence, then it wouldn’t match up when really talking to them?

He trembled as the voice in his head asked him, but what if you’re not really talking to them? He breathed through his nose. No, he told it, that can’t be right. I have to have worked with the real them at some point in the two cases.

He wondered if he’d been too quick to dismiss the idea that he was being experimented on. Was this explanation he’d been told just the story they’d come up with in the event of him finding something out?

It worked, he thought. I believed them and it did make sense of everything entirely… except for these premonitions. It made me stop suspecting them and be complacent in receiving their care; that’d be the perfect explanation, wouldn’t it?

Then there’s Sherlock. He was very odd – more so than usual. It was almost as if he was annoyed that I was being led to believe this story. He did say that it was only a matter of time before it all ‘crumbled’… did he mean this is the deception, and was talking to his brother instead?

Greg looked at Mycroft. Just as he couldn’t explain how he knew where to find the vet, he knew that Mycroft was there to comfort him. He didn’t feel sure that Mycroft wasn’t lying to him, but he was assured that whatever his partner did was done with love and intent to keep him feeling safe and cared for.

I don’t suspect him. Not at all. Even when thinking that the whole explanation they gave could be a farce, I don’t suspect him of anything malicious. I love him entirely and I’m just relieved he’s here.

No matter what, I know he’ll be here for me. It’s… clearer, knowing that from him. Before when he was hiding it, I could sense it and feel that dishonesty. Greg huffed, amused. This must be what it’s like to be him all the time. How on earth does he keep it together so well?

Greg saw Mycroft’s face above him, pained, relieved, and bloody. “I love you,”  Mycroft cried.

He jerked awake, not realising that he’d drifted off. Mycroft was still slumbering on his left. Greg exhaled and snuggled closer, spooning his fiancé closely. Mycroft hummed in his sleep and gripped onto Greg’s arm wrapping around his middle. He pressed a kiss to the man’s neck and settled in to sleep.

Chapter Text

“There, I–” Greg cut his sentence off, suddenly looking about. He was in his office. Ellis was sitting across from him. She had some files in her lap, and he had one open before him on his desk. He made a strangled noise. Fuck, fuck, fuck… I knew this would happen. The moment I realise I have been blacking out and not noticing is when I start noticing it again, all the time!

“Greg?”

He looked at the paper. It was a statement of how he’d known about the paint, and how he’d found the vet. He bit his lip as he read it.

“Sorry, Liv. Not going well. I-I probably shouldn’t be here,” he said honestly. “Mycroft protested.” Probably.
“Yeah. I know.” Oh, got that one right, then. “But as I said, we need this before you can go on leave.”
“Right.” He continued to read. “I don’t want to,” he sighed.
“You kinda have to, mate,” Liv chuckled.
“No. I don’t want to go on leave.”
“Oh. Yeah, I know. You want to be fine. You love your job. But Greg, if you’re not able to then you shouldn’t; that’s me talking, by the way, not Sal. She thinks the same, but more because of the rules and stuff. I just want you better enough to come back.”

“You just don’t want Sally promoted.”
“No, that’s not true,” Ellis protested, shaking her head. “Just… promoted elsewhere or after I’m dead.”
Greg chuckled, the icy fear having left his gut. Liv was good for that. “It wouldn’t be that bad working under her.”
Liv gave him a dead-pan look that Greg couldn’t help but laugh at. “You try it, then.”
“If I take much more leave then I may have to,” he admitted with a groan.
“Nah. She’ll always call you ‘boss’, so don’t worry. She likes you, besides. And you’re not going to be demoted.”
“Thanks for the vote of–”
“Retired, maybe,” Ellis continued with a jovial glint in her eye.
“Oi.”

“Hey,” she said, shrugging. “If I had someone as sexy as Mycroft to retire with, I’d be happy with it. You can spend all your days naked.”
“I’m going to get back to this,” he said, using his pen to jerk to the paper. He knew he’d flushed thinking about her suggestion.
“Don’t worry too much about it being ‘fool-proof’, Greg. It just has to make sense enough that it won’t be questioned. Let the evidence, not how you got it, be the focus.”
“Speaking from experience, I take it,” he said with a glance up at her. “And no, I don’t want an answer.”

The explanations honestly could use work, but he agreed with Ellis in that they just had to make the evidence itself more important. How he knew it wasn’t suicide was true enough: his experience with living with Mycroft had taught him that. Finding out the alibi was false was also true, and also because of Mycroft.

The truth was a bit bent when it came to the veterinarian. According to the record, Greg had been joining Mycroft as he drove to the vet, and it occurred to Greg that the isoflurane could have been stolen from a veterinary clinic. When he’d gone in to ask staff about it, he’d ‘coincidentally’ encountered the veterinarian who knew Mortimer.

“So you think no-one is going to ask why Mycroft was driving to this vet’s place when we don’t have a pet?”
“They don’t know you don’t. Let them assume, but what you’ve said is as true as possible.”

Greg nodded. Well, he’d managed that, at least. He signed it and passed it over to Ellis. She was a genius in her own right, really, when it came to things like this. “Is that all I need to do for your case?”
“Yep. Donovan has her ones signed by you too, doesn’t she? So yeah, that should be all. Submitted your request for leave?”

Greg wanted to ask exactly what his explanations had been for the other discrepancies, in both cases, but he couldn’t do so without rising suspicion. “I don’t know,” he answered, suddenly tense. “I-I might have?”
“Are you alright?”
“No, Liv, that’s why I’m taking leave.”
Ellis looked about to argue, but let it slide. She shrugged. “Go in and submit it again, if you can’t remember. If anything it’d only give you more of a case to get the leave.”

Greg nodded as if to say, ‘that’s true’. He lay his head back in his chair. “Is Sherlock in today?”
“I assume so. Why?”
“I might go talk to him.”
“Again, why?”
“He said something when we were out in the café that I can’t stop thinking about.”
“Don’t let him get to you.”
“Can’t help it.” He sighed, closing his eyes. “He knows something.”

Ellis groaned, and so Greg looked at her. “He’s very fond of pointing out that he knows a lot of things. More than anyone else.”
Greg looked at her, his expression soft. It was pensive enough for her to stop her jibing and really look at him back, questioning.
“I’m going to miss chatting with you,” he said sombrely. If I have been doing that all along, his brain added.
“You’re not leaving the country, Greg. You’ll still keep in touch, won’t you?”

He slumped. “I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen now. I don’t know what’s what, or where I’m going. I trust Mycroft to do what he thinks best for me and to keep me with him, but I can’t be sure someone else is going to force me into hospital for a while.”
Ellis was silent for a moment. “You’ll still get visitors, though,” she said quietly, understanding what Greg had meant by ‘hospital’. “And it won’t be forever.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s true. I’m just… why is this happening, eh?”
“I don’t know why anything happens, Greg. But all we can do is just go with it.”

~

Trust Sherlock not to be there when Greg tried to see him. He’d blacked out again, the second time that day, and found himself in Sherlock’s office. He was glad that the crazed genius hadn’t been there to see him react to suddenly finding himself there, but he at least knew why he was there.

Probably out with John, he thought. Greg didn’t want to go and seek John out. He knew he’d let his friendship with John slide since the hospital, but the overwhelming feeling was that he needed to avoid the psychiatrist. It was as inexplicable as his innate trust of Mycroft, but it was definite: no matter what the situation, Greg just knew he had to keep away from John. Why, though, he wasn’t sure.

John probably has just wanted to help all this time, one way or another. Being afraid of being the subject of an experiment made me want to flee and have nothing to do with him, and thinking I’m losing my mind also makes me terrified to talk to him. Surely the latter is more cause to trust him?

He shook his head as he left the lab. He had enough to question without questioning his feelings as well at the moment. The strongest thing he felt was missing Mycroft and the need to have him in his arms.

~

“In here!”
Mycroft’s face was blurry, but he could see the man turn away from him and then look back at him. He could feel himself laying in Mycroft’s arms.
“Hold on, Gregory.”

Greg shook his head as he woke, blinking around him to see that he’d fallen asleep in his desk chair. He frowned, grabbing his head. He could feel a bad headache coming on.

He pulled out some paracetamol from his drawer and took it with the glass of water on his desk. He groaned and rubbed his head with his hands, elbows on his desk. He didn’t have much of a sense of time, and so he could only assume it was the same afternoon he’d tried to find Sherlock.

A quick look at his phone reassured him that he’d only drifted off for fifteen minutes. “Fuck, I must be tired,” he mumbled to himself. He drew in a sharp breath, and sat upright. “Finish off these forms, and I’ll be off.”

He didn’t have the doctor’s certificate yet, nor a psychiatrist’s, but he was submitting the paperwork first and going to deliver the supporting documents as soon as he could. Given he had just received medical leave, it shouldn’t be a problem.

John could always write the letter for me, he pondered. But I don’t want to go to see him yet. Greg wondered why he’d thought ‘yet’, not being aware of knowing he’d see John eventually. ‘John and I will be here, when you’re ready’, Sherlock’s voice spoke in his mind. He rumbled to himself, thinking over once again what that could mean. Ready to go on leave? Ready to accept treatment? Ready to hear the truth?

He bit his lip. He so desperately wanted to believe what Mycroft had told him about what had happened, but these short dreams, like flashes of memory, didn’t support that. If Mycroft had only found me in a hospital without any knowledge of what had happened, then why do I seem to remember him holding me?

Each time his mind flashes to that moment, it’s dark – not like a hospital would be. Is it possible his mind is altering the memories? Or is it real, and his friends actually know a lot more than what they’re saying? He couldn’t stop thinking about it.I hate all this suspicion, all the time. I’m paranoid over everything, even the things that stop me feeling paranoid! But I can’t just ignore it.

Ok, let’s think about this logically. If remembering it is going to damage me, then them pretending they don’t know is the easiest option. If they said they were there and saw it, but refused to tell me… well, I’d try make them tell me eventually and if I remembered I’d have a stroke or something.  But what if they just don’t want me remembering for a different reason? It might not be an experiment, but they could still be involved in something they’d rather I forgot? But what?

Greg groaned and huffed, standing up quickly. He moved to walk out of his office, but knocked the glass of water over. “Oh bugger shit,” he grumbled, picking the glass back up.
“Greg, before you go,” Donovan said as she strolled into his office. Greg span around, his expression shocked.

She paused for a moment, eyes flickering about as if she’d walked into something she shouldn’t have, but stood her ground upon finding nothing amiss. “Can you look at something?”
“Sure,” he responded. He waited for her to leave for him to follow, but she just stood there in his doorway. “Oh, right. Come in, have a seat.” He waved to the spare chair and took his own. “What can I help with?”

“We got a call in just now. Apparently, the wife of this bloke woke up and her husband was dead beside her.” She handed him a file.
“Have we sent people out?” Greg looked through the entire single-page file. “There’s not much information here.”
“Yes, as I said, we got the call just now,” she stressed, pursing her lips. “It’s not been classed as anything yet. The coroner has been informed and is going to be sent out with someone from forensics.”
“The file says the wife went to bed with him alive in the house, so whatever happened was while she was asleep.”
“Yes, Greg,” Sally said, rolling her eyes. “Maybe I shouldn’t have–”
“No no, I can do it,” he grumbled, pulling the file closer to his chest. “I’m not an invalid yet.”

“Right,” she huffed. “Anyway, I just wanted your thoughts on it. There’s no obvious causes of death.”
“Yes, I read that.”
“And?”
“Well… poison?”
Sally huffed. “If you say arsenic again…”

“No.” Greg frowned at her and tossed the file back down. “I wasn’t going to. When there’s no visible wounds or marks, then poison’s a good bet.”
Sally raised her eyebrow at him, but then nodded. “Alright. I know there isn’t much to be said from what’s written there.”
“Mhm. I’d have to look at the body, talk to the wife and the kids, ask more about the drinking.”
“What kids? Who said anything about drinking?”

Greg pulled the file back to himself and opened it again, scanning the document. “I’m sure… well, just if there are any kids,” he amended, despite somehow knowing that there were three of them.
“Maybe I’ll just send you the photos,” Sally said, and carefully took the file out of his hands.
“I can just observe and let you know what I think afterwards,” Greg said, standing. “Since you’re taking over from me while I’m gone, I want to know you can do it.”
Sally squinted her eyes at him and stood. “You already know I can, boss. I can’t tell you not to come, and your input is always valued, but you’re about to go on leave… do you really think you should?”

Greg ignored the tone she was using, trying to get him to choose not to go have a look. He downed the glass of water and made for the door. “I want to.”
“I know you want to do something practical on your last day in, which is why I came.”
“I thought you said you wanted my opinion.”
“That too,” she said with a grin. “Thought I’d do something nice to send you off.”

He mumbled a thanks and turned and faced her, waiting for her to join him, when he realised what he’d done. He stood, frozen, staring at the glass on his desk. I just spilled that over the edge. How could I have drunken out of it?

He made sure to breathe through his nose. “Maybe I shouldn’t,” he muttered, not taking his eyes off the offending glass. “Maybe it’s best I just go home.”
Sally looked at him, at the desk, and then back at him. “If you say so, boss,” she said slowly, confused. She walked past him, saying, “I’ll send you a photo still, for old times’ sake.”

He waited until she’d left before going back to inspect the glass. There was still water soaking into the carpet. He picked up the glass and inspected it. It remained empty. He squinted at it. So this time I get a drink from something that isn’t there? Why am I still thirsty then? He thrust the glass back down. No, just don’t think about it.

He took three steps to leave his office when suddenly, the world around him changed. He’d stepped into the doorway of a house. He spun around, seeing that it was a hallway behind him, instead of his office.

“Oh, so you did come after all,” Sally said from the living room. Greg still looked about, and walked inside. “Mrs McDonnell, this is DI Lestrade.”
“Sorry for your loss,” Greg said as he approached her. She was teary, but trying to hold it together. For some reason, Greg knew by looking at her that her husband hadn’t been a nice man.
“I’m just here to oversee the proceedings,” he said. “My sergeant is the lead officer in this case. Through here?” Greg asked, pointing to the hallway. Sally nodded at him, and so he walked through.

As expected, there were no clear signs of death. The man, Mr McDonnell, had a large bulging abdomen with thin limbs. Greg had to bite his lip when the image of a potato with toothpicks came to his mind. There was some bruising on the arms, and a few on the legs, but nothing serious or indicative of a struggle. The specks of blood on the pillow looked quite old and consistent with a nose bleed.

He left the room and let Anderson continue his examination. He drifted over to the fridge, where he pulled out a cask of wine. This is important to the case. He was a heavy drinker, and damage from the years of alcohol abuse. Greg put the cask onto the counter. He knew he needed to get it confirmed, but he also knew he was right.

“Donovan,” he called out, and Sally joined him. “Have you asked her about the drinking?”
“Yes,” she said slowly. “Despite knowing I shouldn’t just ask anything on your weird hunches, I did. Turns out he drank a lot. I asked how much, and the woman could only tell me how many litres he’d get through a week. Eight, Greg; for years.”
“Mhm,” he hummed.
“So, we’re going to run tests to see if it was just liver failure.”
“It’ll come back that he had liver disease, but that’s not what killed him,” Greg said absently. “But…” he trailed off, looking about. “The son. He… oh, but… did he know? Wait.” Greg frowned, considering.

I know what happened, but I don’t know if it was intentional. Clever murder or sad accident? He looked about, biting his lip. Then there’s the question of if I should make the arrest at all? He was being abused; the lot of them were. Should I ruin his life because he tried to escape that?

Greg shook his head. “What am I talking about? That’s not my decision,” he mumbled. He then looked up to Sally. “Is it?”
“Greg?”
“No, I can’t…” I can’t tell her, she’ll only give a legal answer; it’s up to me to think of a moral one. But should it be? No, no it’s Donovan’s case.

“Greg are you alright?”
“The son dosed his abusive father’s drink with sleeping pills.”
“And you know this h–”
“If he didn’t know it was going to kill him, then it’s just a kid trying to escape abuse for a night – just forcing the father to sleep and hurt him in a drunken rampage.”  
“Greg, wait–”
“But, if he knew what he was doing…” Greg continued, ignoring Sally. “If it was planned it was a good one. He knew that the drinking would cause liver damage that could kill him. But the body’s not showing the jaundice you’d expect from liver failure, so it can’t be that advanced which he might not have thought of.”

Greg banged his hands on the bench, energised as he continued. “But he knew alcohol and sleeping pills together could kill. And, probably he thought he wouldn’t be suspected of murder if they found out about the sleeping pills. While it’s common knowledge not to mix sleeping pills with alcohol, it’s not something kids generally know. He could plead ignorance. Clever.”

He then froze. “No, but that’s not… even if it was planned, Sal, it’s not his fault. Well, it is, but he was brought to it! It was an escape, I swear… people get desperate to escape even if–”
“Greg stop,” Sally snapped loudly. “You’re not making sense, and you need to explain.”

Greg started to feel the anxiety in his gut twist and turn. He wanted Sally to understand, but he couldn’t explain it any other way. He noticed his hands were shaking as he looked down.
“Test it!” he pleaded, grabbing the cask. “It’ll be in here. There’s not much left. The sleeping medication.”
“Greg, put the cask down.”
“No no, you have to get it tested. That’ll prove I’m right. I’m not losing it, Sal, I know what happened.”
“How? You’ve literally just walked in here.”

“Because it’s obvious!” He dropped the cask. “You can’t put the kid away for trying to escape abuse.”
“What abuse?”
“Ask her!” Greg shouted, pointing to Mrs McDonnell. The woman just looked stunned. “Go on! He was a tyrannical monster, to you and your kids! Where are they?”
“They’re at my mother’s,” Mrs McDonnell said, her voice wobbly.
“And the eldest… he got the worst, right?”
“She–”“Greg,” Donovan said, interrupting Mrs McDonnell and putting a hand on his arm. “I need you to calm down. Perhaps you should leave.”

“No, no, I need to stay. I need to make sure you don’t lock the kid up. Even if he did it on purpose, it was only as a reaction! Years of intense psychological abuse can do that to a child, Sal.” And if he was transgender, that’d only make the abuse worse… why can’t Sally see this?

Greg turned back to the grieving widow, ready to ask more questions, when he heard Donovan speak. “Ellis, I need you to get here asap, and bring Doctor Watson,” Sally mumbled into her phone. “Yeah.” She then turned to Mrs McDonnell. “I apologise for this. I’m just going to speak to my colleague outside for a moment.”

“Wait.” Greg tried to pull his arm out of Sally’s grip. “Promise me you’ll look after the kid, Sal. I know what it’s like… honest, I know–”
“Yes, Greg. Your insight is important to that kind of thing,” Donovan said softly as she pulled him towards the door. Once it was closed, she turned to him, suddenly enraged. “What the hell was that?”
“Sal?”
“Shouting at the widow? Making up a story about her son, when you actually mean her daughter, murdering her husband?”
“Son,” he snarled.
“Claiming her husband to have been dying, and abusive?” Sally continued to shout, ignoring him. “Where the hell did you pull all this from?”

Greg’s throat closed over and he fought the urge to start hyperventilating. “I-I just knew.”
“No, Greg, you didn’t.”
“I–”
“No. You’re not well, and Ellis is coming to take you back to the station. You’re not fit to drive.”
“Wait–”
“You know I wouldn’t normally do this, boss.” Sally stood up straight and took a deep breath. “I shouldn’t have asked you about this. Get help. Doctor Watson will be here soon.”
“You’re saying I’m not fit to work… at all?”
“Yes, Greg.”

“I’m not crazy!” Greg took a step backwards, shaking his head. “I know I’m right.” He swallowed. “And I… wait, John? You called John here?”
“It’s for your own good.”
“No!” he shouted. “No, I don’t want to see him. Not enough is explained yet.” I don’t know what’s going on yet, and he’ll force me to submit to his treatment, and I won’t have a choice anymore. Trapped… like the kid here. I have to escape too.

Donovan made to grab him, but Greg was quicker. He bolted down the hall and towards the exit. Sally was shouting out behind him, but there was no one to stop him fleeing.

Chapter Text

His heart pounded. He wanted just to go to Mycroft, but he didn’t know if he was able to. I have to know what’s going on first! He ran down the street, taking turns at whim, until he was breathless. Losing my mind doesn’t explain it all. It can’t. These dreams are memories, and I know there’s more to it than what they’re saying.

He collapsed around the corner of a building, pressing his back to the brick and gasping for breath. He didn’t know what he was going to do now. He squeezed his eyes shut.

But the thing is… a breakdown could explain it all if nothing I’ve experienced with work has actually been how it’s happened. He didn’t want to face that reality; the idea of working on cases entirely wrong, imagining all of his colleagues agreeing with him, was too much to bear.

He was trembling from the fear. He’d thought it was alright, up until today. For some reason, it suddenly hit that this was it. Standing there in that apartment, he knew that it was the last case he’d work on. No one would let a psychotic detective work cases. Work was everything to him, and he couldn’t imagine a life without doing what he did.

Being honest with himself, the resolve he felt that his theory was right scared him. There wasn’t any evidence, yet he knew it as surely as if he’d watched it happen.

He was terrified of what was going to happen to him next. He didn’t want to be sectioned. He was still scared that Mycroft would leave him when he saw how bad it had gotten, and he was afraid of what exactly John was going to do to him. He groaned, his headache worse and throbbing. What now?

“He’s lost a lot of blood,” Mycroft’s voice sounded.
“Myc?” he asked looking around.

Greg frowned, and then noticed that there was blood pooling beside him. He leapt up, backing away from where he’d sat against the wall, only to see the blood was all over his shirt. His head stung; he used his hand to press against it, and found his hand came away with blood.

“No,” he breathed, backing away from the wall.

The world went dark around him, but not like losing consciousness… he was inside a building. It was dully lit by dusty windows, but he could make out some pillars inside what looked to be a small empty warehouse. He blinked, eyes adjusting to the light. “This has to be a hallucination,” he mumbled, panicking more. “Probably of a memory.”

Pain surged through him, and he screamed. He dropped to the concrete floor and curled up. He whimpered, suddenly wishing he had just run to Mycroft… but he was entirely alone. He clenched his eyes shut and let out a choked sob. I just want him to find me, wherever I am.
“Myc,” he begged, voice strained.

He heard footsteps on the hard floor, and so he looked up. It was Sherlock.
“Sherlock,” he breathed, and dragged himself upright. “You… you were here?”
“I am here.”
“But this is just a hallucination.”
“No, Lestrade.”

Greg frowned and looked about. “Then how I get here? And how did you find me?”
“You wanted help. You know my brother wouldn’t be able to find you in such a place as quickly as I could.”
“That is true,” Greg conceded. “Is he coming?”
“Yes. Why did you run?”

Greg thought while Sherlock walked towards him, footsteps echoing on the floor. When he remained silent, Sherlock stopped close by and smiled.
“You don’t believe him, do you?”
“I want to,” he whimpered. “I want that to be all there is.”
“But?”
“But… how was he there, then? I know he was.”
“And?”
Greg bit his lip. “And I was afraid,” he answered. “If he’s right, then I can’t tell what’s real and what’s not anymore. For all I know, you’re not really there.”
“Or you’re not really here either,” Sherlock offered with a smirk.
“Helpful,” he retorted. He sighed and stood up.
“Yes, I am being helpful. My brother might have a different way of providing it, but we are all here to help.”

Greg looked at him and tried to process the information, wondering if that meant Sherlock had called anyone.
“Where am I?”
“A rather pointless question, given the situation.”
Right, helpful Sherlock was still Sherlock. “I want Mycroft.”
“Yes,” Sherlock hummed as he strode around him. “But I’m the one you need.”
“W-what? I love Mycroft.”

Sherlock screwed up his face in disgust. “Is that all you think about?” Before he let Greg answer, Sherlock rocked his head a few times. “Well, actually, it is, isn’t it? Considering.”
“Considering what? Just tell me what’s going on!” Greg shouted, desperate. He dropped his voice, sad and quiet. “Please, I have to know what’s going on.”
“But are you ready to? You’re quite intent on running away from the problem.”
“I–” He couldn’t continue, knowing he was running away from it. “I don’t want to be locked away. I’ll lose everything.”
“Yes, you will,” Sherlock agreed. It made Greg’s blood turn to ice. “Then again, you might if you keep doing this, too.”

Shit, he’s right. Pushing Mycroft away could make him leave too. He was so upset not to be trusted and included before… what if doing this is what makes him think I’m not worth it?

“Stop panicking,” Sherlock rumbled, rolling his eyes. “There’s a third option.”
Greg suddenly became suspicious. “There is?”
“Yes. You come with me.”
“And then what?”
Sherlock looked him directly in the eye. “And then you let John help you.”
“How is that a third option? That’s the first one!” Greg suddenly felt angry, like his hope had been stripped away. “What’s he gonna do, anyway?”
“He’ll end this.”

Greg didn’t like the way Sherlock said that. Was John going to kill him? Was this an experiment gone wrong and they were going to terminate it… permanently? No, no John wouldn’t kill anyone. But he has in the past, his brain supplied helpfully. He was a soldier, remember. “I’m not an experiment!” he shouted, the sound reverberating off the steel roof. It was more to reassure himself, he realised, but he needed to say it.

He took a step away from Sherlock, and the man followed. “You can’t force me,” he warned.
“You have to want it, Greg,” Sherlock’s deep baritone responded. “It’ll only work if you choose to let it happen.”
“No; see, you’re the one that’s not making sense, not me.” Greg wrapped his arms around himself. “Everything’s so clear, but it doesn’t make sense.”

The door banged open, and in ran Mycroft. Adrenaline surged through him at the noise, but it all faded into relief as he saw it was his fiancé rushing towards him.
“Myc,” he moaned, running to meet him.
“Gregory, I was so worried,” Mycroft mumbled, grabbing him into a strong hug. “It’ll be alright now. I’ve got you.”
“I’m sorry,” he sobbed. “I’m so sorry.”
“I’m sorry, love. I never should have sent you here.”

Greg tensed as he heard that. “What?” He stepped back. “What do you mean?”
Mycroft didn’t move. “I will take care of you. I’ll make you feel safe, Greg.”

More noise alerted Greg to the presence of John Watson running through the door. Suddenly, Greg felt trapped. He looked between Mycroft, Sherlock, and John. They technically had him surrounded. Trapped.

“Just tell me what’s going on, Myc,” he said, suspicious. “Because I sure as hell can’t work it out. Not with all the lies and secrets. You sent me here?”
“No,” Mycroft answered. “You ran from the crime scene with Sergeant Donovan. We tracked you here.”
“Not this time!” Greg snapped. He eyed the three of them. “Before!”
“There was no before, Greg,” John said. “This is the first time you’ve been here.”
“Don’t patronise me,” he snarled, getting defensive. He looked at Mycroft. “I know what you told me wasn’t what really happened. I saw you.”

Mycroft looked at John, and then back to Greg. “Gregory, do you trust me?”
“What about–”
“Do you trust me?” Mycroft intoned over him. He remained staring into Greg’s eyes. “Do you trust that I love you, that I care for you, and would never want to harm you?”
Greg was aware of his breath in the silence. “Yes,” he responded quietly. “E-even if I don’t know what’s happening, I still trust you now.”
“Then please. Come with me, and we’ll make sure you’re taken care of. You’re just not well, darling. But we can make it better. I promise I’ll stay with you, and that you’ll be safe.”

It was so very tempting to just return to the man’s arms. It was obvious that Mycroft was fighting hard not to step closer and grab a hold of him, which would have been endearing if Greg wasn’t so afraid that it would result in him being restrained.

Suddenly his phone rang. The noise was piercing. He pulled it out of his pocket, seeing that it was Mike Stamford calling, and was surprised to find that he had seven missed calls from Mycroft, one from John, two from Ellis, and one from Donovan. He hadn’t heard his phone ring at all.

“Now’s not a good time, mate,” he said as he answered, not taking his eyes off anyone.
“Greg, I’m glad I got you. Do you know how worried for you Mycroft is right now? Where are you, and what’s going on?”
“Yes, I have some idea,” Greg said slowly, eyeing Mycroft. “I’m looking at him now.”
“Oh, thank goodness. What’s going on, Greg?”
“I don’t know,” he whimpered. He hadn’t meant to, but it just happened. “No one is being straight with me.”
“Just… let Mycroft help. I can come and meet you too, if you need, mate.”

Greg watched as John carefully made his way over to where Sherlock stood, leaving the entrance free. “You’ll be there too?” he asked, feeling better about whatever would happen if both Mike and Mycroft were involved. Between them, they’d make sure no harm came to him.

“Anything you need, Greg. Just tell me when and where.”
“The café,” he said. He didn’t know why, but it just seemed the logical place and it felt safe for some reason. “One hour.”
He hung up the phone. “Mike is going to meet us at the café,” he said to Mycroft. “I’ll listen to you there. You can tell me exactly what happened and what’s going on.” Mycroft nodded, and Greg made to leave.

“Wait,” Sherlock said, causing Greg to freeze. “Don’t go with him.”
Greg turned and looked at the pair standing on the other side of the room. “Why?”
“He won’t tell you what’s really going on. He’ll just tell you want you want to hear to keep you in this fantasy.”

Greg frowned, uncertain. Swallowing, he asked, “What do you mean?”
“You think you’re actually here?” Sherlock asked in response, throwing his arms out towards the building. “What do you think going with him is going to accomplish? Why would knowing his lies help?”
“Sherlock,” Mycroft warned, his tone icy.
“No, let him talk,” Greg snapped. He turned back to Sherlock. “What lies?”
“He’ll say that you’re just experiencing paranoia from your injury. That you’ll just need medication and time off at home with him.”
“That… that’s reasonable,” Greg admitted. “I don’t want to be committed.”
“No, exactly. It’s a story you want.”

“But if he’ll do what I want and it’ll help, then why shouldn’t I? You’re the one that’s been constantly poking and prodding me; if anything, you’ve been making me more paranoid!” Greg accused, pointing at Sherlock. “How does that make me want to do what you want?”
“Because I’m the one making you see the truth; the one not letting you be lulled into a dangerous complacency. They can’t help you.”
“Oh, but you can?” Greg scoffed. “I thought you were in league with them. Turns out you and John really did have your own agenda, didn’t you?”
Sherlock snorted. “Yes,” he sneered. “But not what you think.”
“Stop telling me what I think!”

“Greg, ignore him,” Mycroft pleaded, placing a tentative hand on his arm. “He’s just being petty and stirring trouble. You know him.”
“Why? What does he have to gain from this? Sherlock never does anything just ‘because’, so what is it?” Greg asked, quieter, looking into Mycroft’s eyes. He only saw worry and love reflected back at him. “Why did you lie to me?” he whispered.
“It was what you wanted,” Mycroft answered in the same hushed tone.
“Obviously not enough,” Sherlock retorted.

Greg turned back to the younger Holmes, but then looked at John. “You’re rather quiet in all of this.”
John looked uncomfortable. “I’m not going to try sway you, Greg. I can only help you if you want it.”
“That’s what Sherlock said.”
“Yes.”
“What does it mean? That that’s how therapy works?”
John nodded. “You do have to be a willing participant to benefit from therapy,” John agreed. Greg sensed a ‘but’, and so shot him a look to continue. “But… therapy isn’t what I’d give you.”

“I don’t understand.” Greg shook his head and stepped backwards into Mycroft. “Just drugs? Locking me away?”
“I’m not going to lock you away, Greg. No one is; I promise.”
“For goodness sake, why are we all arguing?” Sherlock suddenly shouted, exasperated. “None of this is real!”

“W-what?” Greg trembled, looking back to Mycroft.
“Sherlock,” Mycroft warned again, taking a step closer to his brother, putting himself in front of Greg. “Don’t you dare.”
“You can’t keep him like this, Mycroft; it isn’t going end in the happily ever after he wants,” Sherlock sneered.
“If he goes with you, he’ll never come back! I won’t let you take him from me. I need him, and he needs me.”
“What?” Greg asked again. The argument he was witnessing was making less and less sense, but still it terrified him.

The pain returned on his head, blinding him. He shrieked and dropped to his knees. ‘None of this is real’… am I standing watching an argument between three hallucinations? I have to get out of here. I have to get to Mike and the real Mycroft.

“No, Greg, stay with me, please.”

Greg looked up at the sound of Mycroft’s voice. “I’m hallucinating this, aren’t I?” he asked, resigned. “How can I tell?” He looked up at Mycroft. “Are you even really here? Please, tell me.”
Sherlock stepped closer. “As I said to you before, Greg, all of what we consider reality is just interpretation of signals in the brain.” Sherlock knelt down to look him in the eye. “You can’t tell the difference if it seems the same as everything else.”
“Then how do I know?” he asked, trying not to cry. “How do I know if anything is real at all?” That thought terrified him, and it came through in his desperate plea.
“You don’t,” John said from his place a few metres away. “A leap of faith, Greg.”

“You’re suspicious enough of this happy life that it isn’t going to stay that way, Lestrade,” Sherlock continued sombrely. “No matter how much you might want the delusion of things being fine, you can’t maintain it when the evidence keeps presenting itself.”

Greg grasped at his head. “I don’t understand, I don’t understand… what are you trying to tell me?” He pulled at his hair. “None of you are making sense. You’re saying I can’t tell what’s real and what’s not, but that I know going with Mycroft and getting his help wouldn’t be real enough to stop me being suspicious? Are you saying I’m too paranoid to accept that I’m being helped, and not lied to?”
“Those aren’t mutually exclusive,” Mycroft mumbled.
“But you’re also saying that all of this is a hallucination, so how can I follow your advice?”

“I’m here, Greg,” Mycroft stressed. “I’m really here. I want to help. Please, come with me and let me help you.”

Greg stood and took a deep breath. “You’re forcing me to choose between you, but if you’re all in my head, then what’s the difference?”
“It makes all the difference, Greg,” John said softly. He didn’t step closer, but just reached out a hand for him to take. “Please.”
“You’ve been around this whole time,” Greg said to John. “In the background. Coming in to check on me. You haven’t tried to push me before. Why now?”
“We’re running out of time,” Sherlock pressed. “You know you won’t be content with convenient lies, Lestrade.”
“Then tell me now.” Greg panted, looking between them. “Prove to me that you’re not just hallucinations. Tell me!”

“You were captured,” John said, earning him foul looks from both Holmes brothers. “They took you, drugged you, and attacked you. You weren’t sent after Sherlock, you were taken to send a message to Mycroft.”

Mycroft twitched, and shook his head almost imperceptibly. Sherlock drifted back to join his partner, who huffed and thrust his hands on his hips.

“Mycroft’s a secret service agent,” John revealed. “He loved you, and someone found out. He didn’t want you to know because it’d only put you in more danger.”
Greg nodded slowly. He had suspected; he’d even asked about it. “Why couldn’t you just tell me that, then?” he asked Mycroft.
“Because his department would intervene,” Sherlock snapped. “They consider him too important to have his attention divided – or more importantly to be influenced – and it was likely that they’d have you removed from the picture.”
“I would have been fine knowing,” Greg whined. He looked at Mycroft’s distraught face. “I wouldn’t have jeopardised anything. Your bosses don’t have to fear… wait,” he said, his gut roiling as a thought came to him. “Did they do this to me? Is that what you’ve been desperate to try keep a handle on?”

“What?” Mycroft asked, aghast.
“Your bosses. Are they trying to make sure anything I said had no value? Or worse, become an unworthy partner you’d get rid of?”
“No!” Mycroft protested, shocked. “I… Gregory, I wouldn’t let anything happen to you.”
“You mightn’t have a choice in the matter,” Greg said. “Can you be sure your superiors wouldn’t?” He turned to Sherlock and John. “You’ve known about this. Or suspected.”
“Greg, end this delusion,” John said to him sternly. “It can’t go on. You can work everything out afterwards, but it needs to end now.”

He found he was panicking more because deep down, he felt like he’d already chosen. It wasn’t that he didn’t love Mycroft; he did, desperately. He trusted him still, even. Whether or not he was actually there, if any of them were, was another matter entirely… but he did trust Mycroft.

He just couldn’t be sure putting himself into his fiancé’s care would result in the best outcome for him. John was a psychiatrist, and had remained fairly objective. Sherlock had, all this time, continued to keep him on his toes, potentially trying to make sure he didn’t become too ‘complacent’.

So it was all a government conspiracy after all. I was the target, but it wasn’t to make me better at my job. It was to discredit me entirely.

On the one hand it was good to have confirmation that his suspicions about Mycroft’s job be confirmed, but on the other hand it made him more wary.
“You’ll still be there with me, right?” he asked Mycroft, his lip trembling.
“I’ll never leave your side,” Mycroft assured him. “But if you go with John… things will be different.”
“Not how I feel about you,” Greg uttered, not caring how cliché it sounded. “I’ve loved you for a long time, and whatever Sherlock and John have devised to undo what your secret government agent bosses did to me… it won’t change that.”

He was trembling, but tried to stand up straight and walk with dignity. Mycroft didn’t try and stop him, letting him make the choice, albeit looking distraught. Greg walked the few paces to where John was and nodded at him. I’m ready to put this behind me.

“I’ll see you soon, Gregory.”
Greg turned around. “Where are you–” He felt John’s hand grab his, and before he could finish his sentence, there was a sharp pain and the world went black.

Chapter Text

Waking felt like trying to swim through bitumen. His head was killing him and every muscle in his body felt leaden. How much medication am I on?

He groaned, only a whimper escaping his lips. He wasn’t sure exactly where he was to begin with, but it was comfortable enough despite the pain rushing to make itself known throughout his body.

Greg managed to wrench an eye open, then another. The room was blurry. He blinked a few times to make it come into focus. It was morning, judging by the light from the window, and there was someone else in the room with him.

He turned his head and saw that it was Mycroft. Relief washed over him; Myc hadn’t left him. He’d stayed. Greg tried to smile but he wasn’t sure if it actually came out as a grimace. Mycroft looked at him and then stood quickly. “Greg?” he asked, sounding relieved.

Greg looked at him for a moment. He looked haggard; tie askew, sleeves crumpled and rolled up to his elbows, jacket discarded on the chair. Déjà vu suddenly gripped him as he remembered the last time he woke in the hospital – Mycroft looked almost the same; he’d even shaven the lovely ginger stubble that he’d grown for Greg’s liking.

Why did he shave? How long have I been here unconscious for hi