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Absence Makes...

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It had rained before the plane landed. From the air, the ever-impressive skyline of New York City was in a lovely natural bokeh effect as Mycroft looked out of the window of the private jet. The ambient ground lights glistened in millions of refractions on the dark wet tarmac as his private jet taxied to a stop at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Well, it would have been impressive, had he seen it. His mind and heart were a few miles and yet a million heartbeats elsewhere.

Two years of his life without the most important thing in it: the man he loved.

Often considered a curse, a part of him was glad this once, that unlike his brother, he cannot delete things from his mind. The good and the bad of what happened between he and Gregory was all there to remind him of the fact that their separation was all his fault. Most important, the shock of the devastating ache that engulfed and consumed him when he had watched the news that Gregory had died in an explosion remained there as reminder. A reminder of the depth of that temporary sorrow that then soared to unimaginable heights at the reveal of the erroneous news and that Gregory Lestrade was in fact alive told Mycroft in no uncertain terms that there was nothing, absolutely nothing he would not do to be Gregory’s again.

Outwardly there was the ever cool, stoic façade he showed the world. His voice crisp and assured with instructions as he calmly stepped down the mobile stairway to the sedan that waited. After the formality of codes exchanged and introductions made, Mycroft slid into the vehicle and finally let his emotions show to solitude of the empty backseat.

He was exhausted, and he was rejuvenated.

He was hopeful, and he was worried.

Yet Mycroft Holmes, a man who has regularly stared down the world’s goldfish of dilettantes and dictators, paupers and politicians, the commonwealth and the crown, all with equal disdain and indifference - was never so scared in his entire life. The myriad of conflicting emotions running through his mind as the sedan made its way along the highway and streets to his destination.

“Absence makes…”  he sighed into the late night-early morning.


After Skyping with Mycroft, it was an hour of skyping with his mother and then his sister to assure them he was alive and relatively well. He also spoke a bit with Donovan before he returned the laptop to Müller. He was barely able to keep his eyes open as he went through the details of what happened with his bosses before Greg finally ordered everyone out of his room.

“Seriously Lestrade?”

He had been dozing, but immediately grinned at the man’s voice without opening his eyes.

Of course, Luis would be here first chance he got.

He and the native New Yorker had hit it off years ago when an NSY case crossed over into NYPD territory and the two worked together. A couple of years later when a branch of a sex trafficking ring crossed over from New York and Chicago into London, Reyes had reached out to Greg and the friendship grew. When all was said and done, the first hints of what would eventually become the international task force was evident. When the idea for the task force became less of a thought and more of a reality it was Reyes who had suggested Lestrade for the lead coordinator position. Their friendship is what made the move to New York City bearable and Greg will be forever grateful to the man who became his sounding board in those first hellish months of their separation. 

"Really. You and me spend months in the dregs of drugs and sex trafficker society and not shit happens. Yet the moment, the moment I turn my back and leave you alone to your own devices, you slack the fuck off and get an easy babysit the diplomat gig only to go and blow up a building and get yourself shot. Man, what’s up with that? Your dumb ass needs a babysitter!” 

That was hardly an accurate retelling of the events and they both knew it. Greg found it highly amusing and yet so very odd to hear someone speak to him very much in the manner in which he had often spoken to Mycroft's idiot-genius brother, Sherlock.

At least I know Reyes is joking – I hope.

“What, you’re jealous B.X.?” Greg grinned. He was in pain, but he was laughing.

Always a good thing.

“Fuck yeah, East End!” Luis pulled up a chair and went serious as he sat down. “Yo, I’m sorry communication went so south on our side, Greg. I had no idea your people were not informed of the truth. Fucking HQ knew I was incommunicado. One of them should have made the call...”

“It’s done, Luis.” Greg half shrugged. He was not surprised. It was why he made sure he had reached out to Reyes who understood the importance of letting London know.

“I gotta say though, I ain’t worked with her in the UK, only you and that Dimmock guy, but that Donovan of yours sounds kinda cute with that accent and all.” Luis grinned wriggling his brows.

Oh, good god! I bet Luis could have given Three Continents Watson a run for his money back in the doctor’s single days. Sally would chew Luis’ arse up and spit him out. Then again, the masochistic bastard would likely enjoy it.

“She’s not mine and what accent? She sounds like me. You’re the one with the accent, Bronx boi.” Greg had managed to keep a straight face until he saw Reyes’ reaction to his use of the slang and winced in pain as he nearly lost it. “Ow! Don’t make me bloody laugh!”

“Dude, you made me promise never to butcher the Queen's English.” Reyes recoiled in mock offense, “Quid pro bro, don’t you let that word fall from those posh lips like that again.”

“Dammit Reyes, I said don’t make me laugh!” Greg gently held his side as he proceeded to do exactly that.

“Yo, seriously though, G. Speaking of posh: that brother of your man reamed me out something fierce over the communications delay until what had happened finally got through that thick Brit skull.” Reyes looked at him knowingly. “You look okay. So, how did it go with…Myc? ”

“Christ, I regret that night I got so rat arsed I slipped up and called him that while talking to you. I told you before, Luis, that was a name between he and I. I don’t get to call him that anymore and you don’t get to call him that – EVER.” Gregory’s voice took a nasty tone until he saw Luis’ completely nonplussed face.

Dammit the twat is fucking with me again and I walked right into it.

“Fine.” Luis was all knowing smiles again, “Ah, but you did not correct me on calling him your man and you did not answer the question. So you want to be calling him both again, don’t you?”

He had not answered Reyes’ question audibly, but it must have shown on his face. And what was shown must have been something very pleasant.

“Look at you. It went that good, huh?” Luis had chuckled softly. “Wait… You look far too happy, man… He’s coming here; Mycroft. He’s coming here to see you, isn’t he?”

Gregory could not have stopped the smile on his face if he had wanted to. Luckily, he did not want to.

Absence makes…

“Tomorrow.” Greg answered.

“You should have let him come here a month ago, like I told you. He hasn’t laid eyes on you in person in two years. Last month you looked okay, now you sort of look like shit.”

“Oi, sort of thank you, fucker!” Greg groaned playfully.

It was true, Reyes had suggested it.

 

A month ago, Luis was in Greg's apartment when one of his neighbors slipped an envelope under the door. An envelope from Mycroft. Reyes saw his reaction and would not stop pestering him until Greg relented and told him about the letters.

“How has he not been here yet?” Luis asked after being shown the boxes of letters collected over the past year by his desk.

“I don’t know…” Greg shrugged.

“Yeah you do. Dude you know he wants to come here and see you. He’s not here because he’s afraid of rushing you. He’s waiting for you to invite him, Greg. You want to see him too. Ask him; he will be on the first thing smoking. Don’t let something tragic happen and you’re sorry, man.”

It was a little hard to comprehend that the explosion and getting shot was less than twenty-four hours ago. That he had skyped with Mycroft was few hours ago. It already felt much longer.

He knew Reyes’ words were based on if something tragic had happened to Mycroft that Greg would regret it, still, who knew Reyes' words would be so prophetic in reverse?

He thought about the damage to Mycroft’s home office that Sherlock had shown him. Greg was both stunned and overjoyed by what Mycroft had done in his few hours of grief. He was grateful that he had thought to have Reyes contact Sally. She had made sure word got to Greg’s family and to Sherlock. Of course, the first thing Sherlock did was get word to Mycroft.

Mycroft.

As heartbroken as Greg was when he left London, it was incredible to realize how much love remained and somehow grew in the nearly two years absence since. Greg knew it was because of the letters.

Yes, Mycroft slowly reintroduced text the first time he had to let Greg know he was going incommunicado, so Greg would not worry when no letters arrived for a few days.

Yes, Greg accidentally reintroduced Skype when a few months ago one evening he sorely missed the sound of Mycroft’s voice and simply had to call.

Still, text and Skype between them were few. The letters were where they laid their hearts open. And after everything that happened yesterday, letters, text, Skype was not enough.

He missed Mycroft even though he knew he would see him in a matter of hours. He smiled at the thought of being able to touch him again. Of being touched by him. Being in his arms again.

“I… miss him so much. When I left London, I honestly never expected to see him again. I certainly never expected his letters…”

“Earth to London…?”

Greg blinked. He had not realized he had spoken those thoughts aloud until Reyes’ teasing voice broke through them.

“Damn Lestrade…”

“Sorry, mate.” Greg flushed, “that bad…?”

“Bruh, it past the realm of that bad ages ago…” The chiding voice slipped into warmer teasing tones as he stood. “Get some beauty rest; your ugly mug needs it. I’ll warn the nurses station that the Iceman cometh and they had better let him in. See you tomorrow or rather later today.”

“Trust me, Luis. With or without your warning, nothing will stop Mycroft from getting to me if he wants to badly enough.” Greg laid back against the pillows.

“And just how badly does he want to now?” Luis asked as he reached the door handle and partially opened the door.

When Lestrade moved to New York City he hit the ground running with his new job and did well. The team was quickly put through their paces and earning praise under Lestrade’s lead. Yet having worked with Greg before, and knowing of the relationship with Mycroft, Reyes knew what Greg was like when everything was good. When his heart was in pieces at the beginning it was Reyes who had helped him keep the rest of him together. Luis had earned the right and Greg could not fault him for asking.

“The Labours of Hercules would be child’s play compared to what Mycroft Holmes would be willing to go through to get to me tomorrow.” Greg answered confidently.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake! Please remove that insipid grin from your face, Lestrade. Your happiness is turning my stomach, I need some Pepto-Bismol.” Luis made gagging motions as he held his stomach.

“Get out.” Greg rolled his eyes as he grinned.

“So… Pick you up in the morning? Get you home and let you *cough* rest *cough* a day or two or twenty with the Iceman and then...”

“Get. Out. Now.” Greg grinned wider as he pointed to the door.


“Man, what the hell did you do? Steal a plane, Holmes?”

Mycroft stopped short on the steps of the hospital at the astonished exclamation. His memory supplied the needed information via voice recognition before his tired eyes had fully focused on the man in front of him.

“Hello Lt. Reyes. It is a pleasure to see you again. Thank you for the call. I especially am most grateful.”

Reyes’ eyes went wide in surprise at the recognition.

“Damn! He said you forget nothing. That’s amazing and creepy as all get out.” Reyes walked over to him.

“Clearly that is not quite true. I would not be thanking you for the tremendous act of a simple phone call and we would not be meeting again… Like this…” Mycroft corrected.

Meeting like this because I messed up so completely with Gregory.

“He said the trials of Hercules would be nothing compared to what you would do now for him. Glad to see he’s right.” Reyes’ eyes scrutinized him. Mycroft was amused, he knew the lieutenant had more to say and waited.

“Greg don’t tell me everything, but I’ve met you before and I know you ain’t someone to fuck with. Still, the man I met in London years ago before he was with you, the man I dealt with a few years back when he was in deep with you, and then that broken shell that arrived in here New York without you…? Dude don’t you EVER do that to him again. Don’t forget him again. EVER! I will find a way to hurt you if you break his heart again. We get me?”

There was a steel in Lt. Luis Reyes’ voice for which very few who have met Mycroft in person would have the temerity to address him thusly. Yet here was Lt. Luis Reyes just shy of snarling in his face. Threatening him, him of all people. It was a testament to the steadfastness of his kinship with Gregory. It said as much about Gregory to inspire such as it did about Luis Reyes, himself.

“We get you.” Mycroft responded coolly.

“Good,” Reyes gave a short nod. “That being said; nice lip dude - I am glad you’re here. Go get your man.”

Mycroft stopped himself from touching his cut lip.

My man?

“Is he? Does he think of me as his again?”

Both Reyes and Mycroft’s eyes went a little wide at the question, both understanding Mycroft had not meant to let that moment of insecurity slip out.

“Oh man, yesterday must have put you through the ringer for that to happen. I’m really sorry about that.” Reyes winced, “go upstairs and find out for yourself.”

“Thank you again for the call, lieutenant. And for being here for him.” Mycroft said sincerely, “I promise you he will never need you like that again, unless I am the one confirmed dead…”

“Take care of him. For real this time Holmes.” Reyes accepted the promise.

“I will.”

The cop studied him a moment more before he sighed sadly and walked away.

Mycroft entered the hospital. He knew what Reyes was thinking.

Unfortunately, Lt. Reyes I will not promise you that for it would go against my own wishes. And I hope his.

Mycroft did not so much as glance at the nurses’ station as he stepped through the automated doors. He knew where he was going and as always Anthea had paved the way while he was in flight. All they knew was that someone was coming to visit Gregory Lestrade after hours and it would behoove them to not get in his way.

He listened at the door for a moment and knew the room’s sole occupant was asleep. His MI6 training, before he proved he was more of an asset behind a desk than behind a gun, came in handy as he silently slipped into the room.

Gregory.

So early in morning, the only light in the room was the dimmed overhead light of Gregory's bed. Mycroft could not decide if it was because of how much he missed the man or the universe being generous, but the scant light seemed to illuminate the oh so familiar silver strands of Greg's hair that bedhead could not dull.

Memories of waking to, or being the cause of, Gregory’s hair being in such disarray flooded him as he observed him from by the door.

Greg laid in a somewhat elevated position. His left side bandaged where the bullet pierced him. He had lost blood and was being kept for observation for swelling and possible infection but was otherwise well. The slightly thickened waistline of the middle-age dad’s body that Greg once whinged about is what saved his internal organs from being severely nicked. If nothing drastic changed, Gregory was scheduled to be released the day after tomorrow.

Well tomorrow, considering the time, now. The angels that guard you are special indeed my love.

Gregory was not hurt enough for a morphine drip and whatever pain meds he received had likely worn off as Gregory shifted in his sleep and winced in a flash of pain. Enough pain to wake him.

Mycroft watched Gregory’s face as it acknowledged and then frowned at his surroundings. A hand lightly brushed the bandage as he sighed in resignation and then startled. Mycroft knew Gregory had sensed his presence as his lips formed the shape of Mycroft’s name in silent query. There was a small look of wonder as if afraid to hope even as Gregory's eyes slowly tracked over to the door and found him waiting.

“Mycroft…?” Gregory whispered as he reached over to the buttons on the bed’s guardrail and brought up the room lights.

“Yes, Gregory…” Mycroft whispered in response.

Gregory’s breath stuttered as he sat up in the realization that this was not a dream.  

The two drank in each other visually for a long moment.

And then Gregory smiled.

He smiled that smile.

 

It was Gregory’s 46th birthday. A few of his friends and colleagues had pooled together and gifted their boss with a lunch cruise on the Thames to celebrate. The relationship between Greg and Mycroft had recently become a semi-known thing and to Mycroft’s own surprise he had been invited by Sally Donovan personally at the last minute as a surprise for Lestrade. Unfortunately, not even he could have predicted, let alone avoid, the multi vehicle crash that sideswiped his sedan. The impact was hard enough that while he was fine, his driver, Nathan was trapped in the vehicle and needed emergency services. In spite of Nathan’s insistence that he was fine and to go on, not even the Iceman was callous enough to leave his driver in such a situation by himself.

Regrettably, due to their strict schedules, such cruises wait for no man, including the Iceman. That meant the party sailed out of port without him.

And because the universe likes its jokes that were amusements only to itself: in a chain of unfortunate events:

  • The sedan’s InControl was damaged.
  • Nathan’s mobile had fallen from its holder at impact and was in the foot well of the vehicle where neither Mycroft nor the trapped driver could reach.
  • Just as Mycroft stepped out of the sedan from the passenger side, another motorist exiting his own vehicle from the driver’s side slammed into him and knocked his mobile out of his hand.

Mycroft barely bothered to look down knowing the device was rendered useless by the sounds at impact. Many apologies fell from the other driver’s lips as Mycroft simply picked the major components, wrapped them in his handkerchief and pocketed them for reasons of security.

Not wanting Gregory to worry, Anthea had called and explained that Mycroft was not with him because he was in a car accident. Unfortunately, before she could also explain that he was fine, the ship hit a dead zone on the water and the signal cut off. While Mycroft had informed Anthea of his destination, he had been remiss in informing her that it was a surprise for Gregory. Anthea had no idea her call inadvertently caused the very thing she had attempted to avoid. Gregory in turn told Sally Donovan, the only person he knew who would have invited Mycroft. Gregory then spent the remainder of the cruise in a state of worry even as he put on a false smile not wanting to spoil his gift from the rest of his colleagues.

An hour later Mycroft stood at the pier and saw when mobile lines became active again as the ship neared its return to port. He could see the hidden signs of Gregory’s worry even as he ran a seemingly casual hand through his hair when his mobile pinged with a text.

Gregory looked at the text.

-- Look up. – MH

The change in Gregory’s demeanor was instantaneous as his head shot up to scan the dock and their eyes found each other. The relief was palpable as Gregory threw his head back and laughed. Luckily someone had told a joke and several in their group were laughing. Donovan, also seeing Mycroft, had knowingly squeezed Gregory’s arm in her own relief and laughter.

The relief, the utter joy at seeing him was as boundless as the control that kept Gregory from running to Mycroft and throwing his arms round him was restricting. Mycroft understood. Neither men were much for public displays of affection and their relationship was not quite public. Still it was the smile on Gregory’s face as he stepped out through the doors onto the street that said everything words could not.

That was the smile that graced Gregory‘s face.

“Hi…” Gregory was almost shy.  “I can’t believe you hopped on a plane to come here so fast. And I’m so bloody happy you did.”

“Hello…” Mycroft spoke. He still held onto his coat and his umbrella. “Not fast enough. Regrettably the Concords remain grounded. I had asked. Vehemently.”

A silence fell between them. Not uncomfortable, but not easy.

Two years apart was nothing and yet oh so much.

Since a child, Mycroft Holmes has had his parents, and later his baby brother, running in circles trying to keep up with him. The rest of the world was easy. Anyone who knew of Mycroft Holmes would tell you he was almost always in control of a situation. Mycroft knew that on the outside he looked as unflappable as ever, but the man that stood before Gregory Lestrade was anything but in control. 

But Gregory knew him. He knew Gregory could easily read the tension in his shoulders. The death grip on the umbrella. The slight crease in the corner of his mouth.

“I’ve done nothing but live in want of this very moment and now that it’s here I find myself singularly speechless.”  Mycroft had not moved otherwise.

“Then don’t speak. Just...come here.” Gregory held out a nervous hand beckoning him. “Please. I… I need… My god, Mycroft… After yesterday, just touch me… Please!”

“Gregory…”

Mycroft crossed the room quickly. There was still so much to be said between them, but he could do this. It was his intent to merely cup Gregory’s face in his hand, let his fingers run along that rugged jaw, but as he reached within Gregory’s grasp the next thing he knew he was pulled into the man’s arms.

Oh God! Gregory. I feel you!

Mycroft held one side of Gregory tightly, the other was held gently, being careful of his wound. Gregory ignored that restriction and pulled the man into his arms as tightly as he could.

Mycroft almost went dizzy from the rush of joy of being within Gregory’s grasp again.

Gregory had been wiped down since the surgery. A hospital scent clung to his skin, but that which was pure Gregory Lestrade was there. Mycroft's fingers had slipped into the opening at the back of the hospital gown and he sighed as the feel of the familiar flesh beneath his fingers that had been his for so many years pulled him. Mycroft inhaled the scent hungrily.

Greg had buried his nose into Mycroft’s neck as he has always done whenever they held each other close after a separation. For a brief shining moment, it was as if no time at all had passed. Then Mycroft’s hand lightly brushed the edge of Gregory’s bandages through the gown.

The reality of how it felt when he thought he had lost this beautiful man crashed down on him.

And with that Mycroft Holmes the fool, the thrice damned fool, broke.


So happy was Greg to feel the man in his arms again, it took a moment to realize the trembling shoulders were not only his. Greg pulled back slowly and saw the utter anguish on Mycroft’s face.

“Mycroft…?”

“Gregory…” Mycroft’s eyes glittered for a moment before the tears he tried to suppress slid down his face. His voice a broken whisper. “When I saw… I was on a plane… the news said… the fire… When I had thought you… I could not bear how much… How much it hurt that you had died not knowing how much…I love you so much!”

“Shh! Love, hush. I know! I know! I’m so sorry you went through that. I tried to avoid that happening.” Greg slid his fingers into the tightened grip of Mycroft's. It was a grip he had not felt since the night Greg had rescued him from the cell of his insane sister years ago. If he had not already known how bad off Mycroft was, the desperate hands that gripped his hands told him.

“I’m here, Myc. I’m here, love.” Greg whispered as he squeezed Mycroft’s hands tight within his own and smiled knowingly as he pulled the man in close again having found what he looked for.  

It was as much to comfort Mycroft as himself as he again buried his face in crook of Mycroft’s neck. The subtle scent of Mycroft’s cologne, earth and of course the hint of leather like in the letters. The wool of his suit and the scent of the man himself so familiar to his heart.

“I’m sorry. I have to lay back again.” Greg slowly pulled away as the strain of sitting up to hold Mycroft made itself known.

He could feel the reluctance as Mycroft let him go. He scooted over on the bed and gave Mycroft room on his good side.

“No. I’ve already visually measured. You're wounded, there is not enough room for you to lay comfortably if I sit there.” Mycroft shook his head.

Of course, he has.

“Then sit there and talk to me? I want to hear your voi..” Greg smiled and then softly yawned. “Oh, excuse me.”

Mycroft pulled the visitors' chair closer to the bed and sat.

“I’ll be here for as long as you want me.” Mycroft had picked up Greg’s right hand and held it in his. Greg eyes involuntarily closed in the pleasure of the feel of those long elegant fingers around his. Greg could tell by the way Mycroft held his hand that he wanted to put his lips to it.

He knew Mycroft wanted to put those lips on his.

Oh! I can hold on to this moment…

“Forever…?” He squeezed Mycroft’s hands that held his. He pulled them and the man attached, towards him.

“Forever and a…” Mycroft had followed the path of his hands until Greg put his lips to them. It was a joy to watch and feel as Mycroft’s body stuttered at the contact, the sentence left unfinished.


Mycroft had started to say, “Forever and a day,” when the enormity of Gregory’s words hit him, along with the shock of the feel of those lips on his hand.

He wants to stay with me… FOREVER‽

Does he know? Impossible!

Then the enormity of Gregory’s actions hit him in the heart as thoroughly as a punch well-delivered to the solar plexus. Mycroft dived into his own mind and rewound the past few minutes and but nothing that made sense. He touched the pocket of his suit jacket.

“How did you know…‽”

“Know what?” Greg looked at him quizzically.

That was not the response he was expecting. He doesn’t know. He’s asking me.

He’s asking ME‽

“Gregory… D-d-did, did you just…?”  Mycroft stared at Gregory utterly stunned.

Gregory’s grin was radiant as he realized his own roads “I do believe I just did…”

“Grégoire…”

Mycroft did the one thing he has wanted to do since he walked into the room.

It was a soft kiss. Barely a brush of breath against lips.

At least it was at first.

Then Mycroft felt Gregory’s tentative test of more pressure against him which he welcomed and when Mycroft felt that soft slide of Gregory’s tongue asking for entrance the floodgates opened.

Only Gregory’s sharp wince of pain, and the need to breathe, pulled them apart.

“I don’t know how we’re going to do this long distance, but we will do this, Gregory. I promise you from this day forward the only tears between you and I will be of joy and laughter. Please my love…” Mycroft cupped the stubbled face in his hands.

“Yes, Myc…”

He nearly cried at the sound he was afraid to dream he would hear again: Gregory’s breathy voice as it hungrily whispered the diminutive of his name.

Mycroft had not realized he blanked out until he blinked back in too see those warm brown eyes that stared patently into his as Gregory waited for his return.

You know me so well.

“Then I suppose we need this…” Mycroft reached in his suit pocket again and held out his hand. “I had this in my hand at the airport. I had this the day you...left me. But I knew dangling this as a ploy to keep you then would not have worked in the long run. I had not changed enough to understand. I was not worthy of you after everything. I…."

Mycroft could see the wheels turn in Gregory’s mind as he took in the words and then smiled again.


Greg blinked at the ring in Mycroft’s hand. There was no mistaking what it was. 

“I did just ask you for forever, Mycroft and you agreed.” Gregory placed his fingers to Mycroft's lips and shushed him. "And I did just say yes." Greg's thumb lightly brushed the cut on Mycroft's lower lip. “When I’m out of here, you can do something ridiculous. For right now, shut up and let’s kiss again.”

Mycroft held out the ring.

“I love you.” 

Gregory held up his left hand and Mycroft slipped the ring on his finger.

“And God help me, I still love you.”

“We can kiss again now?”

“Try and stop us.”