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The squad car turns the corner as the western wall of the swimming club flashes orange, as the broken glass sprays the tarmac, as the windows blossom fire. The car’s still rocking from the blast as Lestrade shoves himself from the driver’s seat, shielding his face from the heat with his forearm. Sergeant Donovan is shouting at him to come back, but there’s already someone else pushing toward the wave of heat and noise. It’s a man in a suit, caught between hurry and halt, but the noise still echoes, and the man doesn’t look up as Lestrade’s calling out, telling him to get back, but his own ears are ringing and he wasn’t even outside of the car when the blast went. Lestrade has to haul the man back bodily, an arm around his shoulders, the other one across his ribs, pulling him back and getting in front of him at the same time.

It’s only after he’s wrapped in tight with this stranger that he wonders if this fellow’s had something to do with it, with the explosion, with the report that someone found the pool’s custodian, one Roland McCarthy, in a garbage skip a block over, a bullet in his head and no keys on his belt. There was a text, too, from Sherlock, just the first half of the address, cut off mid-street. That’s when he’d pelted from the Yard, when Donovan caught up to him in parking.

The man tries to push Lestrade away, but what he says is, “Sherlock—” His voice is raw, uncertain of the volume, and Lestrade supposes that someone responsible for an explosion like this should be smart enough not to be deafened by it. The man is tall but not particularly strong, and Lestrade wrests him back, back behind the squad car, while the fire quiets quickly. A lot of concrete. Not so much to burn. Nothing else seems to blow up. That seems positive. Sergeant Donovan has her gun drawn, but she has one eye on the building, too. There’s no one else for the moment, only the three of them, when it seems like there should be mayhem and screaming for blocks. Lestrade can hear it, some kind of prescient echo.

The man tries to break forward again. Lestrade gets a handful of the excellent suit, and really looks at him, reaching for handcuffs, then stops. He’s familiar.

The man speaks. “Detective Inspector Lestrade.” The volume this time is marginally better, the voice cooler than the wild look in his eyes. “Please release me. Sherlock is inside. John, too.”

Given names for both. Sherlock’s first. Something else clicks. Something John said about Sherlock’s brother. He’d known for a while that Sherlock had a brother, one with a funny name, a feeling like someone’s just left the flat at Baker Street while he’s entering it.

“Who are you?” While he’s saying it, he knows the answer, but he needs to ask.

The question seems to pain the man, but he says his name. His government identification card confirms it. Mycroft Holmes. Sally’s saying to have him put in the back of the squad car, no telling—

Lestrade holds up one hand. “Sergeant, I want fire, medical, bomb squad, everything. We’re going in for them.”

She argues, because she’s right to argue. This is stupid, this is madness, this is probably the least intelligent thing he’s done since making rank, but someone has to go. He doesn’t want to wait, not if there’s a chance of getting them out alive, and if there isn’t a chance, he thinks he’d want his own brother to find him first, too.

“Getting yourself killed for the freak’s not worth it,” she yells over the sound of swirling dust.

He doesn’t say he’s really not planning on getting killed for anything today, thanks. Most people aren’t planning that. Lestrade tugs Mycroft with him around the outside edge of the building. There’s a side door, already open, possibly from the blast. The halls are filled with clouds of obliterated plaster and concrete, and Mycroft holds a handkerchief over his nose and mouth. Lestrade makes do with his coat-sleeve, thinks now is a very strange time to feel so desperate for a cigarette.

They pick through the debris, through the dim amber light. Ahead, there are sounds of falling concrete, roofing, and something splashes. Maybe someone shouts. Times like these, Lestrade isn’t always certain if he’s hearing what’s there or if he’s hearing what he wants to hear.

The pool is still lit, somehow, all murky blue light under the swirling smoke, somehow cool-looking against the smoldering far wall. The blast seems aimed at the western wall rather than general, more tidy than the two before, and he wonders—hopes—that that was Sherlock’s doing. Somehow. There’s something dark in one corner, by the ladder, and Mycroft gets there first. Lestrade can’t help but feel the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He keeps one eye on the blown-out wall, the mangled lockers, while Mycroft kneels and reaches.

John’s got his right arm curled through the ladder’s top rung, his left wrapped around Sherlock’s shoulders, their heads only above water because John is wholly threaded in the ladder. Sherlock’s dark hair is wet, matted, smudging red into the cloudy water. Neither of them are moving.

Mycroft slows now, and Lestrade is the one who knots his fingers in John’s shirt, who leans in and attempts to unravel him from the ladder. When John is moved, the arm around Sherlock tightens, and Sherlock makes a faint moan.

“Thank Christ.” Lestrade doesn’t know if anyone can hear that, but maybe Mycroft heard Sherlock because now he’s climbing down the ladder, right into the pool, to help lift them out.

John’s eyelids flicker open, and he mouths, “Careful.” Lestrade is certain that he’s not talking about himself, and John doesn’t let them help him up until they’ve got Sherlock out of the water. There’s a cut bleeding through the dust, and his whole head smells singed, bitter as burning feathers. The shielded bodies of the bomb squadders pass by, black shadows, and he’s grateful that they pay him no mind. They’ve got their job to do.

Lestrade doesn’t hear the medics until they’re there, until they meet him and Mycroft near the door, Sherlock sagging between their uneven shoulders. Lestrade leaves Mycroft with Sherlock as he’s strapped to a stretcher, takes two more of the medics back for John. They find John on his feet, staggering toward the exit, his left arm holding down his right, holding it tight across the chest. He doesn’t fight the help, and he stays conscious only long enough to see the ambulance, to be loaded in beside Sherlock.

Lestrade says he’ll follow, and the ambulance is gone, all wailing sirens and lights. The whole street is ablaze with noise and flash. Sergeant Donovan won’t let him drive, and he puts Dimmock in charge, muscles Mycroft Holmes into the back of the cruiser.

“Detective Inspector, I would prefer to remain anonymous in this—” Mycroft’s face is streaked with grit, and the volume of his voice is still off. He’s a Holmes. Lestrade is certain that he’s used to absolute control over his faculties.

Sally is the one who reaches into the glove compartment, fishes under takeaway napkins and a few other things to hold up a clip-on nametag. It’s got Anderson’s photo on it, his name. She curls it and forces it through the steel mesh to the back seat. It’ll do.

“No one will look too closely,” Lestrade says. It’s likely no one will look at all. He’s in and out of the building often enough.

Mycroft says nothing more until they’re in Emergency. There, Sherlock is already gone, behind doors, behind glass, and Mycroft is smart enough to know that he’s in better hands there than anywhere else. John is still on his stretcher, still in the hall. His eyes are open, his pupils wide and black, his voice a raw whisper. His hair is singed on one side, too, and his shirt is charred, flaking.

“Head wound, concussion, some burns.” He coughs hard. “Be all right.” He tamps his arm down harder as his body shakes with it. “Miserable for a while, though. His hair.” John tries to smile a little.

“Thank you, Doctor Watson,” Mycroft says, the pitch still off. The high, sharp rigidity of his shoulders seems to ease a little, even in his sodden suit.

“Moriarty.” John’s teeth are bloody behind his lips.

Lestrade can only shake his head. “No sign, yet. We’re looking.” He’s hoping that they find the body in the rubble, that there’ll be something for Sherlock and John to identify later. But that’s too easy.

John starts a question; it gets cut off by more coughing. John is wheeled away, but not before Lestrade says he’ll be back tomorrow to get the details. He can probably guess at more of them than he wants to, after dealing with Sherlock for so many years. He doesn’t miss the knowing look between John and Mycroft, either. That’s a good reason for the next thing he says.

“Mine’s not ten minutes from here. You can come back with me then, early.” He wants a cigarette, which he won’t have, and a beer, which he will have, and to keep an eye on at least one Holmes who clearly knows more than he’s letting on, which will be a lot more difficult than he wants it to be.

“That is an imposition—” Mycroft reaches for a mobile phone that isn’t there anymore, a faint flicker of alarm on his face that gets smoothed away as fast as it appeared. The phone isn’t in his pocket because it’s in Lestrade’s, lifted while they edged into the building. One trick he’s picked up from Sherlock. He notices about one time in five when Sherlock does it to him. He’ll give it back later. At least in his pocket, it didn’t end up in the swimming pool.

Sergeant Donovan opens the back door to the squad car.

“Decide how much you feel like you’re imposing when we’re back here at eight,” he says. It’s already half three. “That’s as early as we’ll get back in.” He suspects that Mycroft could make it so that they don’t have to leave at all, but neither of them says that.

Mycroft gets into the back of the cruiser. When Sergeant Donovan puts them at the kerb and Mycroft is standing at his shoulder while he digs his keys out of his trousers pocket, Lestrade realizes what he’s done. Mycroft Holmes is about to be a houseguest. His houseguest. He can say for certain that the bathroom is clean enough. He can’t remember the kitchen at the moment. Of course, nothing in his flat has been blown up today—that he knows of—so by a matter of comparison, his flat should look okay.

When he flips on the light, it’s both better and worse than it’s been. Lestrade doesn’t bother apologizing for the dishes on the coffee table. He opens the cupboard beside the kitchen window, the one kept slightly ajar for the very purpose of keeping a sixer of London Pride at perfect cellar temperature.

Mycroft accepts with the grace of someone used to accepting by custom things he isn’t particularly interested in. He takes the offered chair, too, with an apology for the dampness of his clothes, but in five minutes, he relaxes into both.

“This is not,” he says, “the way I anticipated spending this evening.” The dust and soot smudges have rearranged themselves around his eyes and mouth. One hand goes to his breast pocket again, still looking for his phone without looking for it.

Lestrade pulls it from his pocket, slides it across the table. “Found this.” There are no numbers in it, no contacts, but there is a text from Sherlock.

The look on Mycroft’s face acknowledges the lie, forgives it. He doesn’t bother to check for messages, only lets it rest on the table. He seems almost fascinated by the simple practice of drinking ale from a bottle, of Lestrade doing the same, in a fluorescent-lit kitchen at four in the morning. Lestrade tells himself it’s only more unnerving than the way Sherlock watches everyone because he’s used to Sherlock, more or less, and there’s no one else here to distract Mycroft’s attention. Even though he’s got a nagging feeling that Mycroft Holmes doesn’t get distracted.

“Well,” Lestrade says. “You must feel miserable. I think I’ve got something you can kip in, let that hang a bit.” He suspects that the suit will still be more than a bit damp when they leave, but it has to be better than sitting about in soaked wool.

Again Mycroft tries to demur, protesting imposition and also impossibility: height difference, so on. Lestrade waves him off, goes to his closet. There is a pair of jeans, athletic shorts, a hooded sweatshirt, a handful of t-shirts still in the part of the closet that Will had used when he’d stayed for weekends. He picks up the jeans, a t-shirt, the sweatshirt. Mycroft must be cold, wet as he is.

There’s a flicker of surprise on his face when he takes the clothes. If it’s enough that Lestrade’s seen it, he suspects Mycroft’s a lot more surprised than the faint arch of his eyebrows. Right. He shows Mycroft the toilet, instructs the proper way to use the temperature control, which is a bit finicky at the best of times. Towels. Free run of his shampoo. Lestrade’s own hair is dull and sandy with concrete dust and who knows what else.

Mycroft thanks him, looks slightly bewildered, closes the door. The shower kicks on, and there aren’t any frigid yelps from the room. Success of one sort, anyway.

Lestrade takes the chance to change the sheets on his bed, shoves a few magazines into the nightstand drawer. And then he makes a pot of coffee. He’ll be better on no sleep at all now, rather than two hours, which is just enough to make him feel terrible for the rest of the day.

Mycroft hangs his suit on the coat rack to dry, at least a bit, and comes into the kitchen. The t-shirt is tucked into the blue jeans, and they’re still sliding down his hips a bit. He tugs the sweatshirt on, too, and that dwarfs him. Will was—is—they broke up, he didn’t die—a big guy. Mycroft is of a height with him, but he hasn’t got the barrel chest, the rugger’s bone and thickness.

“I’ve another belt,” Lestrade says, and Mycroft nods, but he sits down. He looks strangely content in the overlarge clothing, and when Lestrade turns back from getting another mug from the cupboard, he’s got the hem of the sweatshirt and t-shirt pulled up, is examining the loose denim against his pale skin. He thinks he got away with that without Lestrade seeing, and Lestrade will let that be.

Lestrade puts down a mug in front of him. “The coffee’s shit, but I don’t suppose we’re drinking it for the taste.” He keeps his good coffee in his desk drawer at the Yard. He’s there more often, anyway.

Mycroft takes a sip, then a fair mouthful, heedless of the rising steam. He swallows. “It is better than most of the coffee in America.” He seems pleased enough.

“Hm.” He’s only been to America three times: once for his brother Bob’s wedding and again when each of his nieces were born. He doesn’t remember the coffee at all. From the wedding, he remembers a lot of sangria, all furnished by Marisol’s parents. From seeing his nieces for the first time, he remembers only how small they were, that Elizabeth’s eyes have always been that dense near-black, that Coralina’s auburn hair has always been a spunky, tufty mess. He prefers Mallorca for a proper holiday, he and Bob both. It was where his brother met Marisol. Of course, he suspects Mycroft hasn’t been to America primarily for holiday.

Mycroft curls his hands around the mug. “It is frightfully difficult to get a palatable coffee there. Outside of Seattle and Alaska, of course.”

He doesn’t ask what the hell Mycroft Holmes was doing in Alaska. All he says is, “Even for you?”

Mycroft smiles with his thin mouth, but it’s genuine. “Even for me.” Then he says thank you for the clothes.

One Holmes who won’t thank anyone for anything. One who does nothing but. Lestrade shrugs. “They were here.” And that settles in, the fact that Lestrade clearly has had a male guest to his flat often enough to warrant spare clothing. Of course, Mycroft probably didn’t need that much to out him. Mycroft seems unbothered, is focused mostly on the mug and the way he can curl the cuffs of the hoodie down over his fingertips. He only does it once, though, then folds his hands on the table, his posture back in the suit even if his body isn’t.

He plucks at the burgundy and gold shield across the front of the jumper, asks if Lestrade is a fan of “the football.”

“Not that rubbish.” He gestures at the West Ham logo. Further admission that it’s not his. “I favor the Gunners.”

Mycroft arches an eyebrow. “Arsenal. Hm.” There’s more derision in that little polite sound than in fifty other insults. Lestrade is chuffed down to his bones.

“Wouldn’t take a Holmes for much of the sporting type.” John lamented that often enough, trying to watch rugby in the flat. Sherlock seemed to time his more ambitious electrical experiments for key points in major matches. The All-Blacks and England, tied with four minutes— Then no functioning fuses in their flat or Mrs. Hudson’s. “You?”

“Spurs, my good man.” As though Lestrade is an idiot for thinking otherwise.

“Eh,” he says, and Mycroft’s nostrils flare pleasantly. “’Course, if you’d said Chelsea, you’d have to drink your coffee on the fire escape.” He points at the window with the mug.

Mycroft lifts his own mug like it’s a toast.

“You grow up with them, then?” Lestrade’s been a Gooner since he was born. Earlier, if his mum was to be believed.

The headshake is curt and clipped. “Absolutely not.” His face becomes deadly sober. “And you will never breathe a word of this to Sherlock. Not one. Not ever.”

Lestrade grins, slowly. “All right.” He’s got one up on Mycroft Holmes. The moment Mycroft realizes that is even sweeter.

“Despite what Sherlock says—” Mycroft tips his chin in a way that would make him look like an astounding prat, were he anyone but himself. Or maybe Lestrade’s just used to that, too, from Sherlock. “—you are not an idiot.” He puts the mug down. “Use your power wisely.” His voice is lower there, nearly husked, though he’s smiling, and Lestrade is at once profoundly glad that Mycroft is on their side and strangely interested.

He gets up, gets more coffee, chastises himself. The man’s brother nearly got himself blown up. Also: a Holmes. Lestrade is sometimes an idiot, but not that much of one. “I will do that,” he says. Then he clears his throat. “You’re welcome to use my bed if you want a bit of a nap.” A very little bit. Closer to an hour now than two.

Another thanks, but this time it comes with an acceptance, no attempt at refusal. When Mycroft is in the bedroom, Lestrade goes for the shower himself. It’s only after he’s getting out, the floor of the shower stall gritty from his own hair, that he realizes he hasn’t brought fresh clothes. Wrapped in a towel, he hopes he’s at least got gym clothes in the very small dryer.

He does have shorts, a t-shirt, but no proper socks because he saves all of the whites to do at once. All he has for socks here are the ones from his nieces, the ones he only wears on days he’s certain not to see Sherlock: Batman and Spiderman, bright green Incredible Hulk ones, too. Betsy and Corrie are nine and twelve now, and they’ve been getting him odd socks for more than half a decade. He puts on the Hulk socks because if he’s in for a penny, well. And he doesn’t have to keep them on. He’s going to get proper clothes, as soon as Mycroft’s up.

He spends the next hour watching Sky Sports with the volume off, wishing he still smoked, and wandering from the sofa to the hallway to see if Mycroft’s suit is drying at all. He considers tossing it in the dryer, just a little bit, but the label is from a bespoke tailor and the last thing he should probably do is possibly shrink a suit that costs more than his whole wardrobe.

He does find himself smoothing the lapels out, though, and rubbing away some of the grit, as best he can. It works, to an extent—there are only a few greyed bits where the dust and water have melded. Mostly across the shoulders, where Sherlock’s arm had been, rubbing it in. Most people aren’t tall enough to get a good solid look at the tops of a Holmes’s shoulders, anyway.

He’s doing it again when Mycroft opens the bedroom door, looking somehow disgustingly refreshed by less than an hour’s sleep. Lestrade feels like he’s been caught at something.

“Still damp, I’m afraid.”

“A damp tailored suit is not the worst tragedy a man has ever had to face.” He smiles, and he takes it down. It’s the shirt, a fine white button-down, that makes him frown a little, as do his socks. Lestrade could kick himself for not suggesting they wash and dry those pieces, at least. He suspects, though, that the dryer would likely ruin the shirt. He can’t picture any of Mycroft’s clothes tumble-drying, really.

And then Mycroft notices his socks, the electric-yellow text ringing his mid-calf, the black outline of the Incredible Hulk with his fists touching across the front of his ankle. He doesn’t laugh because he doesn’t have to. “Shut up. I have nieces.” Lestrade reaches back into the dryer, pulls out the red and blue Spiderman socks, balls them up, and tosses them at Mycroft. “Wet socks in wet shoes is terrible for your feet. Take it from an old beat cop.”

Mycroft catches them neatly, doesn’t complain, doesn’t ask for something a bit more…professional, even though now he has access to his full wardrobe and the entire drawer of perfectly respectable black and white. “Forty-four is hardly old, Detective Inspector.” He ducks back inside Lestrade’s room, though he leaves the door the slightest bit ajar.

Lestrade stays just at the edge, though he’s not sure why. Maybe it’s to hear the muttered “that—no, that will never do.” He should probably knock, but it’s also his flat, he reasons, and he nudges the door open more, leans his head in.

“Something the matter?”

Mycroft startles, but he turns, and his fine white shirt is still wet enough that it’s somewhat translucent, pale skin visible beneath. “This is a disaster.”

Lestrade doesn’t think it’s much of one, but he doesn’t say that out loud. What he does is go to his closet, rake hangers from side to side. There is one shirt in here, somewhere, that runs a bit big for him, one he keeps around for days he’s got to wear body armor under his clothes, and thankfully, those days are few. He’s hoping it’s not were few. He holds it out. There is a bullet hole in it, but it’s low, off to the side, just above the hip. Mycroft’s waistcoat and jacket will cover it.

“Sleeves will be a bit short on you, but no one’s like to see that, with your jacket.” He holds out the shirt, and Mycroft takes it, homes in on the hole immediately.

“This is a bullet hole.”

Lestrade suspects that Mycroft could tell him the gauge of the bullet, too, if he wanted. “Just a little one. Won’t even show.”

“I know that. But someone shot you.” He looks mildly perturbed.

Lestrade finds that somehow appealing. “Only the once. And I shot back.” He’s glib now. After it happened, he was glad for the ugly orange felt blanket. The little Kel-Tec .380 had left a bruise the size of a grapefruit. He turns his back and digs out his best suit, the one he wears for testifying in court and going to weddings and funerals. He’s not sure why.

When he hauls his shirt off, Mycroft excuses himself. As he buttons, he supposes he shouldn’t have expected Mycroft to be used to locker-room behavior, even if Sherlock spends most of the time he’s not running across London nancing about his flat in his ridiculous pyjamas. The clothing he lent Mycroft is folded neatly on the foot of the bed, and the bed is still made. There is a slight depression in one of the pillows, though. Lestrade straightens his collar, goes out, and Mycroft’s in the kitchen again, tying his shoes. They must be wet still, too, but there’s no real helping that. Lestrade hasn’t got a hairdryer. Above his shoes, though: red and blue and black web-print.

When they leave, Mycroft looks around as though he’s half-expecting to see someone, but Lestrade can’t see anything out of the ordinary. When the taxi’s pulling up outside the hospital, Mycroft lets out a soft sigh. On the sidewalk, outside of the main entrance, there is an very lovely young woman in a very smart suit. Her arms are crossed, an umbrella held below them, and her head is tilted. Mycroft stands a little bit taller as he walks.

“Ah, Anthea.”

She hands him another mobile phone, this one much more impressive-looking than the plain model Lestrade had “found” earlier. “Your phone, Mr. Holmes.” She looks…vexed, Lestrade decides, behind her perfect eye makeup and the near-smile on her lips. He’d guess she’s absolutely stunning when she’s properly hacked off at something.

“Thank you.” He runs through what must be a dozen messages—long ones—faster than Lestrade can even work the buttons on his, and he says nothing at all about the other phone. He starts to walk again, and Anthea sticks near to his elbow.

“You might have notified us, sir.”

“You knew where I was.”

Lestrade isn’t sure he wants to know how that’s true, but he doesn’t doubt that it is.

“Where you were was inside a building that blew up.”

“But I wasn’t inside of it when it was exploding, my dear.” He taps the elevator button with the tip of his umbrella. As they enter, Anthea is the one who presses the button for the eighth floor. Then she spends the rest of the ascent looking at the shirt Mycroft’s wearing, the dove grey that is obviously not the crisp white he’s probably in the habit of wearing. Mycroft looks straight ahead. Lestrade looks at his mobile because it seems like the most normal option. There are updates from Sally and Dimmock, but not much of use.

Mycroft opens the hospital room door first, and Lestrade sees something flicker across Sherlock’s face before he decidedly looks around Mycroft at him. Anthea remains in the hallway. John is in an armchair by Sherlock’s bedside, his arm in a sling. The first thing Sherlock says is, “Your best suit, Lestrade? For Tuesday morning in the hospital?” Even with an oxygen feed under his nose, he’s all sharp edges. The way his eyes slide back to Mycroft’s shirt, too, say he notices that. He might even recognize it. He’s been following a trail Sherlock put him on half of the times he’s been in body armor.

Still. Lestrade manages to avoid telling him to piss off and tries to ignore it in favor of asking John about his arm. It’s only a dislocation, John rasps, and he is otherwise fine, he insists. His eyes are still red, gritty looking from the smoke, but he’s all right. He is gripping Sherlock’s bedrail, though, like it’s going to float away.

Mycroft says he’s glad John’s not unduly damaged, and he says he will find some decent tea. Then he’s gone.

Sherlock flexes, winces, flexes his bandaged left hand, and there’s more gauze at the back of his neck. His hair is cropped short on one side, too, a few stitches at his hairline, bandages running up his forearm, more under the shoulder of his gown. He bares his teeth when he sees that that’s where Lestrade’s looking. “I thought you were here to ask me about Moriarty.”

“That, too,” Lestrade says. He listens while Sherlock talks. He’ll get it all again, typed, as soon as Sherlock can get to a computer or convince a nurse to let him have a phone that works. Lestrade knows better than to offer Sherlock his own, since he can’t resist sending rude texts to Anderson if the contact’s there, no matter what the circumstance. By the end of it all, he’s rather wishing he hadn’t asked, and he’s very much hoping that someone does find the bastard’s body because if no one does, they’ll be doing this dance all again, and soon. Sherlock takes a breath, and the questions are about to start. Sherlock’s going to spasm over the startling dearth of answers he’s got. But picking through rubble that might, possibly, explode some more takes time, and maybe Sherlock’s got enough sense now to understand that. Like as not, but he can hope.

Then Mycroft comes in, trailed by an orderly with a laden tray—one full of food that looks very much not like any hospital food Lestrade’s ever had—and he’s holding a baseball cap. A New York Yankees baseball cap.

“My condolences on the loss of one of your many vanities,” he says, looking pointedly at the shorn curls. He holds out the cap. Sherlock ignores Mycroft entirely, starts questioning Lestrade about the building’s aftermath: did they see anyone else, have there been any other bodies found?

John reaches out and takes the hat, looks at it in a puzzled fashion, before putting it down on the sheets. Sherlock inches away from it like it’s going to bite but keeps talking. What are the whereabouts of one Jim Moriarty?

“He’d better have left a body,” John says. “Bloody suicidal plan should have been good for something.”

“It was your idea,” Sherlock says, calmly, almost pleasedly. “And we’re alive.”

“And none the worse for wear?” Mycroft’s questions never quite sound like questions.

Sherlock glares. “None at all, no thanks to you.” He helps himself noisily to tea, rattling cups one-handed.

Lestrade glances at John, who is looking at Mycroft, and when he looks, Mycroft gives them both a short shake of the head. Unless Sherlock’s brains got rattled a lot harder than it seems, he must already know why Mycroft’s suit is in the state it’s in. But Sherlock seems to be ignoring that, and it’s not his business, whatever’s on with Sherlock and his brother.

A tall nurse informs them it’s time to let Sherlock rest, surprised that he’s awake at all. When he notices John, he threatens to tape him to his bed if he doesn’t stay in it and keep his oxygen on. While Sherlock’s explaining that a grown man who eats frosted toaster pastries for breakfast has no authority to instruct anyone else on anything at all, John’s expression more or less invites him to try to make him leave Sherlock’s bedside, and when they’re in the hallway, Mycroft beckons the young man closer.

“If you move Doctor Watson into the same room, they’ll both be far more tractable patients,” he says, his direction pleasant but clearly not a suggestion.

The nurse says something about any port in a storm, and then there they are again, the two of them. Anthea has disappeared.

Lestrade puts out his hand. “I hope your day involves a bloody long nap.” His own certainly won’t. It’s the Yard next, and he’ll be lucky if he gets to go home at all for the next thirty-six hours.

Mycroft shakes, then brings in his other hand to fold over the top of Lestrade’s, warmly. “As likely as yours.” His smile is resigned. Lestrade has to laugh, and it turns into a bit of a cough that he swallows as soon as he can, before one of the staffers hears it. He will have to kill Sherlock, though, if this turns into some sort of upper respiratory Thing. Mycroft insists on having Lestrade delivered to New Scotland Yard, and Anthea gives him a lingering look before she slips into the passenger seat. The glance reminds him more of one of Sherlock’s than he’d like to think about.

He spends the rest of his morning on the phone, everything going nowhere except to point to Moriarty still being at large. The odd thirty seconds here and there while he’s waiting for someone else to give something to him—explosives analysis, anything relevant from the dead custodian, a reply from Sherlock, who has gotten his hands on a phone that Lestrade suspects belongs to the exasperated nurse—he spends wondering if he’ll get his Spiderman socks and his lucky shirt back. And wondering when he decided the shirt was lucky. If it is lucky. It came in handy this morning, though, and he’s never died while wearing it. He supposes that counts.