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Mycroft smiled. It was a mealy, insincere grimace of a smile. “I’m afraid there is no case, Sherlock. Not any longer.”

Sherlock blinked rapidly. “What? You can’t. What just--”

“New Scotland Yard is still informing itself of that fact. And now, I really must go.” Mycroft swung his umbrella up. Sherlock was gaping. “Do let me know when your temper has cooled.”

Greg measured his own at boiling point. “Cheers,” he said, somewhat strangled, and legged it.

“Lestrade!” Sherlock shouted after him, entirely betrayed.

He could count on John. He was fairly sure. By the time Sherlock got over his pique, John would have thought up some entirely plausible explanation for what happened. Greg desperately wanted a cigarette. Or, failing that, something to bite.

Baker Street. He stopped dead for a moment, the terrible familiarity of it closing around him. He’d forgotten. He hadn’t known. Sickness overtook anger, a leadenness of limbs that left him stranded. Then Mycroft had his arm, almost casually, almost hidden. Led him to the car.

“You are a bastard,” Greg said, with feeling. He tried to resist, to get out of Mycroft’s grip and away from the car.

“Either you think I am unable to read between the lines, or you consider Sherlock more important than yourself,” Mycroft said. One almost vicious look; a tightening of his grip. “I trust you’re revising that opinion now.”

“What did you do?” He didn’t even try to hide the horror in his voice.

Mycroft closed his eyes for a moment. Silently requesting strength. Greg had never seen him look so human.


“Your flat is a fortress.”

Greg, a cup of tea in hand, went through the various flowers and plants littering the available surfaces, not quite sure what Anthea had meant for him to do with them--or Mycroft, rather. Mycroft, who was methodically stripping berries from a holly wreath.

“But fortresses come under siege.”

“This salt is pink,” Greg said, for want of a response.

Mycroft gave a delicate shrug. The small glass vase next to him was half full.

“I knew Sherlock,” Greg said finally. “I didn’t recognise Baker Street, or John. Or Mrs. Hudson.”

“I didn’t realise that I had, in effect, weaponised my brother until he was fourteen.” Mycroft smiled. This one was fond. “How very certain he is, of everything. Eliminate the impossible, and whatever is left, however improbable, is the truth.” He met Greg’s eyes for a moment. He’d never looked so warm. “He believes strongly in the truth.”

“That thing couldn’t touch him,” Greg said. He clutched his mug tight. “It couldn’t go near him. You didn’t do a thing; Sherlock broke that curse all by himself.” Just by speaking. He was somewhat in shock about that. “I don’t understand. You wanted to protect him.”

“I don’t want him to learn to doubt.” Mycroft tapped the vase and it produced a sweet, clear note, pure as a bell. “He’s a very fast learner. And I wanted...” His voice trailed off.

“You’re human around him. Entirely.” The thought filled him with some indefinable emotion.

“Oh, but I wanted to be,” Mycroft breathed, finally setting the holly aside. He looked at Greg and now his gaze was hot. Greg swallowed and took a step back. “I could see where my other option led. The coldness of my own mind; the emptiness of an endless, fruitless life.” A moment of remembered frustration. “I wanted something that mattered, something that lasted.”

His eyes met Greg’s again. “I almost forgot what I was. And then, you.” He laughed, almost soundlessly. “Beautiful. Shining. I could forgive any sin committed against me or mine for that moment, that first moment I saw you.”

He’d been coming closer, the entire time he’d been speaking. Greg didn’t realise it until he took the mug from his hands, put it on the window sill next to them.

“I wanted to steal you,” Mycroft said. He brushed the tips of his fingers over Greg’s cheek. “I wanted to take you, to own you. To keep everything else in the world from touching you. The thought of someone else--you can’t know the anger, the sheer depth of my jealousy, for every eye that looked upon you, for every breath that passed your lips. “ His breath touched Greg’s lips now. “I could have had you. I could have taken you. Kept you in my mind, held you safe and separate and mine, just mine...”

Their lips met in a slow, soft kiss. Greg’s eyes slipped shut; his hands moved, without conscious direction, to meet at the back of Mycroft’s neck, to pull him closer. Heat fanned delicately along his skin, firing every nerve in his body.

“But I waited, because I was human, because I believed myself human. Despite what I felt.” Mouthed his ear, made Greg whimper. “And the next day, when I sought you out--” He laughed again. “I thought I was mistaken. The first time. I had thought you so beautiful, but you, you were more so. My memory had failed me, I thought.”

He bit Greg’s earlobe. Earned a breathless cry, a full-body squirm. “But I waited again. I stayed away a week, seven days, all I could manage. Oh, and Gregory, when I saw you again. The man you had become, in one week; you outshone your earlier self as the sun does the moon.”

Greg pulled him in, then, to kiss. Fingers catching hard in his hair. Lips full and desperate and lovely, so very warm.

“How could I take you--no, I couldn’t, but I couldn’t leave you, couldn’t stay away. I wanted you so much, so much--”

Had to stop him, to shut him up. Too sweet. Greg kissed him again, got his leg up, pulled Mycroft close and in, delicious warmth all along his body. Shivered in pleasure, as Mycroft pressed in close, moved against him. Clever mouth, hands caught between his back and the wall, moving now. Holding his leg up, helping him cage Mycroft to him.

“Loved you long before I could admit it to myself,” Mycroft whispered against his mouth.

He moved then, legs fitting around Greg’s, hand still holding the other up. Pushing greedily against him, sparking lights behind Greg’s closed eyelids. Loving, warm and close and possessive and kind; a sweet kiss to Greg’s mouth when he begged, “Please, please!”

“Anything, I would do anything--”

Twisted and pulled him and held him and the angle was perfect, perfect, just the right side of pain. Just the right side of too much. Greg wanted to push away, to get rid of their clothes and get into the bed, but he couldn’t let go. Couldn’t stop moving, grinding, desperate and hungry. Kissing like he might never get the chance again.

Lost it, fell into it, helpless in the rush of his orgasm. In the wake of his own affection and desire. Shaking and coming, coming so hard. Lights in his vision though his eyes were open, meeting Mycroft’s, speaking more eloquently than he’d ever managed with words.

Caught once more in a kiss, as Mycroft met him, hips bucking wildly.

“Would do anything not to lose you,” Mycroft whispered, and kissed his eyes shut.