He was left standing with nothing but a mild headache, the knowledge he had a huge amount of paperwork to file, and full realisation of the fact the man he was romantically involved with had the ability of making him feel like the stupidest person alive. Worse than that. He was stupid compared to Sherlock, he’d always known that. But he was also sexually inferior, if Sherlock’s performance the night before had been anything to go by.
He’d been crazy to think he could ever live up to the expectations of a hurricane. Greg knew he was a mild breeze in comparison. Hell, if he was wind, he wouldn’t even be strong enough to blow the leaves from the trees.
Sherlock was passionate, intelligent, witty, eloquent. Love him or hate him, and plenty of people did both, he was unforgettable. Surprising. Talented.
He could change the entire world if he wanted. He could save a country, he could stop a terrorist plot. He could bring the country to its knees.
He could have everything he wanted.
And for some unfathomable reason, he had chosen Greg.
Greg let out a long breath, knowing he had to start filing in the paperwork for a warrant so Sherlock could clear the case once and for all. He checked his watch. Lunch, he decided. He would do his work over lunch.
The cafe he always frequented was busier than usual, customers taking up the majority of the tables. Greg frowned to himself as he walked to the counter, checking the chalkboard menus pinned to the wall. “Brie, cranberry and bacon panini, please,” he said to the waitress, hardly looking at her properly. It wasn’t the woman who usually served him, not the one who always initiated mundane conversation with him. In a way, he welcomed that today. “And a coffee, just regular, nothing fancy.” He handed over the cash and looked around for a table.
He found one in the far corner near the bookshelves, and went and took a seat. He put his folder on the table and turned to the first page. Well, at least he knew how to fill in a warrant form, even if he wasn’t competent enough to solve the damned crime in the first place. He lifted his pen.
A shadow covered his page. He glanced up and then straightened, putting the cap back on the pen. “Hi,” he said, narrowing his eyes. “You want something?”
Mycroft didn’t respond. He pulled out the opposite chair, taking a seat with an effortless grace. He slid his coat off his shoulders, his face expressionless.
“Right,” Greg muttered, closing the folder. The waitress brought over his coffee and a pot of tea for Mycroft. “I guess you’re joining me for lunch then.”
“So it seems,” Mycroft replied, pouring his tea.
Greg shrugged and ripped open a sugar packet, emptying its contents into his mug and giving it a stir. He glanced around the cafe, doing a quick tally of the people taking up the other tables. They all seemed engrossed in their magazines and coffees, but Greg couldn’t help but notice how all of them were pointed in his direction. “You really had to bring the secret service in to intimidate me?” he asked.
Mycroft smiled wryly. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Greg huffed a breath. “I must be paranoid then.”
“You must be.”
Greg rolled his eyes, taking a sip of his coffee. Unsatisfied, he opened another sugar packet.
“Are you sure you should be doing that?” Mycroft asked, stirring milk into his tea.
Greg raised his eyebrows. Without a word, he emptied the sugar into his coffee. He didn’t give a damn if Mycroft thought he had too much sugar. It wasn’t as though he was going to have Sherlock’s perfect, lean body anyway now, not at his age.
Mycroft didn’t say a word. Merely watched him with those all-seeing eyes of his, until Greg was forced to look away. He didn’t break the silence, though he hated every second of it. Mycroft knew that, he supposed. Knew he preferred working in a busy office rather than the silence on his own. He probably knew he always did his work in a pub full of chatter, or with the music turned up so he didn’t have to listen to all the thoughts inside his head. He must have known that Greg always liked listening to Sherlock chattering away, even when he didn't have the slightest bit of interest in his theories of blood splatters, merely because it filled the silences.
He shifted in his seat, grateful for the waitress bringing over his panini so at least he could focus on eating that without needing to say a word. He murmured a thanks to her and took a bite. Mycroft sat with his hands clasped on the table, just watching him, unreadable.
Greg fought the silence. Started thinking of all the damned reasons Mycroft Holmes would want to see him. And of course, as it always did, it boiled down to one person.
“For the love of…” Greg finally snapped. “Come on. Say whatever it is you’ve come to say.”
“I thought perhaps you wanted some company.”
“Yeah, of course you did. You’re here to talk about Sherlock.”
“Oh, am I?” Mycroft asked. “Why would I want to do that?”
“Mycroft. Seriously. Just say whatever you’ve come here to say.”
“Very well.” Mycroft looked round over his shoulder and nodded to the waitress. Wordlessly, she put her dishcloth down and walked for the exit. One by one, the other customers joined her outside, until she locked the door, leaving just Greg and Mycroft sat in the corner.
“Knew that wasn’t the regular waitress,” Greg muttered, taking another bite of his panini. He frowned. Hesitated. “This isn’t poisoned, is it?”
“No, it’s not poisoned.”
Greg shrugged and put it back down on his plate anyway, sliding it away from him.
Mycroft blinked. “You can’t honestly think I’d…”
Greg raised his eyebrows. “Right now? I honestly don’t know. You come into my cafe-”
“-It’s not your cafe.”
Greg pointed at him. “My regular. It’s my regular cafe, and you bring your spooks in here and you sit down there and just stare at me.”
“I’m pissed off.”
Mycroft looked around the cafe, giving Greg a few seconds respite from those x-ray eyes scorching into his soul. But Mycroft’s eyes soon landed on him again. “Why has he chosen you?” he asked.
Greg paused for a moment. “Why has who chosen me for what?”
“Let’s not play games now, shall we?”
Greg chuckled. “You’re accusing me of playing games? You? Christ, you’re the puppetmaster here, I’m just one of those people you think you can manipulate.”
“I’m not trying to manipulate you. I’m asking you a simple question. You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
Greg sat back in his chair. If they were going to talk about it, then Mycroft was going to damn well say it. “Enlighten me.”
Mycroft sighed. “We’re talking about Sherlock. Things have changed considerably in the past month, a fact you’re well-aware of, and I wanted to know why he chose you.”
“I don’t know.”
“Let me rephrase the question. Why do you think he has chosen you?”
Greg frowned. “I don’t know.” He sipped his coffee. He pulled a face at how sweet it was and pushed his mug away from himself too.
Mycroft rolled his eyes at him, with a look which just said 'Really, Greg?' Greg had a feeling that look was inherited... “You have to admit, it’s unusual," Mycroft continued. "For Sherlock to choose anyone."
“Yeah, I realise that.”
“Is he playing a game?”
Greg took a long breath. Sherlock? Playing games? It had crossed Greg’s mind several times a day, but he’d always hoped Sherlock liked and respected him more than that. “Mycroft… Seriously?”
“It’s a question you must have considered. It’s not unheard of for Sherlock to initiate a relationship because he wants something.”
“I know that,” Greg muttered, fiddling with his empty sugar packets. “I know all about that.”
“Because he told you.”
“Yeah, he told me. Believe it or not, he’s told me quite a lot, none of which I’m going to share with you, so don’t even bother asking.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Greg crossed his arms over his chest, frowning down at the table. “What is this?” he finally asking, looking back at Mycroft. “Do you want me to break up with him, is that it?”
“So, is this some sort of… you hurt my brother and I’ll set my spooks on you thing?”
“I’m trying to get the measure of you,” Mycroft replied. “Believe it or not, I’m not concerned about Sherlock. He wouldn’t have got involved unless he thought he could handle it, and if he didn’t think you were completely certain.”
Greg narrowed his eyes. “So, you’re concerned about me?”
“In a manner of speaking.”
“You think Sherlock’s going to hurt me.”
“Don’t you think he will?”
Greg fell silent. He looked down at his hands.
“Then why get involved?” Mycroft asked. “If you’re so sure Sherlock is going to hurt you, that it will only go wrong, then why bother?”
There it was, the very question which had been circling through Greg’s head ever since he’d woken up in Sherlock’s bed that first night. Why bother with Sherlock, if Greg was so sure it was all going to go wrong? “Because there’s a chance he won’t hurt me,” he murmured. There was every chance it wouldn’t go wrong. And if it did… well, it wouldn’t be because of Sherlock. It would be because of Greg, because he couldn’t give enough, couldn’t be enough, could never live up to the intensity which boiled inside of Sherlock’s heart.
“And you’re staking everything on that chance?” Mycroft asked.
“Not everything,” Greg murmured.
“I see,” Mycroft replied, sitting back in his chair. “Your walls are still up and you’re keeping him at an arm’s length.”
“That’s not…” Greg stared at the wall past Mycroft’s head. “Look, it’s early days.”
“Why did your marriage end?”
“She cheated on me.”
“Yes, that was the outcome, but why did your marriage end?”
Greg swallowed. “I was never home. She wanted more.”
“You were not there, physically or emotionally, and I suspect when you were at home, your mind was elsewhere.”
Greg glared at him. “What the hell are you trying to say?" he snapped. And then with far less fire, added: "I don’t understand what you want me to do.”
“I don’t want you to do anything. Sherlock is hardly the sort to compliment you to boost your confidence. He won’t be home when you are, he won’t cook you meals, I doubt he’ll remember your anniversary.”
“I know all that.”
“Then your expectations are low.”
Greg shook his head. “No, I’m realistic. Hell, I don’t even need all of that stuff.”
“Then what do you need from him?”
Greg sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Nothing. I don’t need anything from him. I just want… All I want is for him to be happy and safe, and he can find those things however he wants to.”
“And are you worthy of him?”
Greg managed a laugh. “Am I worthy of Sherlock Homes? Well, you’re here right now analysing me. Clearly you can see, as well as I can, that I’m not.”
“Then why begin this?” Mycroft asked. “If you’re so sure you’re not worthy of him, then why bother?”
“Because. Because I’m going to try anyway. I’ll keep trying to be.”
Mycroft smiled at him and rose from his chair. “Very good,” he said.
Greg pressed his lips together and stared down at the table.
“Look at me, Inspector.”
Frowning, Greg lifted his head. “What?” he asked.
“If you were to ask Sherlock why he has chosen to be with you, he would tell you his reasons are entirely logical. That you know how to cook, that you make enough money to support you both, if it came to it. Sherlock would say you make… practical sense. You and I both know that although he puts considerable weight on logic, he cannot always ignore his heart. I won’t begin to try to untangle what is in Sherlock’s heart anymore than he will. But for what it’s worth… I believe you are worthy of him. And he believes that too.”
Greg stared at him for a minute. “Er. Cheers? Wait. Is this your way of saying you’re happy for us?”
Mycroft simply put his coat back on. “Oh, and Inspector. It goes without saying…”
“If I hurt him, you’ll kill me?”
Mycroft smiled. “I don’t think there’s any chance it’ll come to that. Enjoy the rest of your day.”
“Fat chance of that happening,” Greg muttered, watching him go. Mycroft flashed him a cool smile and turned for the door. He didn’t turn back around, just left, allowing the waitress to step back past him. She returned to her place behind the counter. Greg stayed and did his work.
The warrant was processed late in the afternoon, and Greg stood in the car park, leaning against his car.
He looked up at the sound of footsteps, raising his eyebrows at Sherlock. “Thought you were writing your blog or something,” Greg called to him.
“You’ve got another case.”
“Yeah, I know. I was just waiting for you to turn up.”
Sherlock flashed him a brief smile, a rare one which met his eyes. He kept walking until they were stood facing one another, mirroring the other’s posture. “You didn’t even ask me,” Sherlock pointed out.
Greg grinned. “Yeah, but I know you. I knew you’d hear about it and find me quickly enough.”
Sherlock studied him for a moment, before reaching out, wrapping his little finger around Greg’s. “You do know me,” he said seriously, holding Greg’s eyes. He smiled, almost a little shyly, before letting go and spinning round, heading back towards the building. “Well?” he called back. “We’ve got a case to solve!”
Greg rolled his eyes and began to follow his hurricane inside. Well, he supposed, if he couldn’t compete with Sherlock Holmes then he could only join him. And as Sherlock turned to him, and looked at him, right at him, eyes ablaze with some emotion Greg couldn’t quite interpret, he knew Sherlock thought he was a worthy companion.
And Sherlock had chosen him.
And really, he didn’t need to know much more than that.