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It had taken nearly two hours of conversational fencing, a few vague threats, and favors called in from three different departments just to keep things from escalating any further than they had already.

At the end of it all, Mycroft Holmes had been enervated, torn between wanting to crawl under the desk in his office at the Diogenes Club with several packets of cigarettes and the desire to ring the neck of a certain consulting detective.

He'd done neither, of course. If he smoked too many of those nasty low-tar things he got a terrible headache; and for the moment, Sherlock was out of his reach, figuratively and literally - but not, of course, out of his jurisdiction. And a good thing, too, because he and John Watson might've been thrown into the sub-basement of the military complex, never to be seen again. And unfortunately, there was still a possibility that if Sherlock didn't take care, he'd meet that fate or something far worse.

That in mind, Mycroft took out his mobile, checked in with his PA on the travel preparations, and received a quick update of how the situation stood. By that time, nearly three hours had taken place since the incident, and at best, things couldn't be completely contained until the next morning. However, his contact had assured him that for the moment, things couldn't possibly get any worse.

It had been a small comfort. Mycroft knew that if anyone were capable of taking a situation that couldn't get any worse and rendering it absolutely untenable, it was his younger brother.

He needed assistance, and though Sherlock would chafe at the interference, Mycroft also knew that in a strange way, he would, after a fashion, welcome the man as a comrade in arms. Maybe. Anyway, he wasn't going to have a choice.

So after a terse phone call, off he went to New Scotland Yard to collect Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade.

Some minutes later, Mycroft pulled up in front of NSY in a tiny – for him – blue sedan, no driver, no looming “aides,” and his tie loose. The officer was waiting outside, hands in his pockets. Lestrade blinked, and then simply stared before breaking into a bemused smile.

You're driving?” Lestrade asked as he climbed in. “Emergency, then? Or have you taken to watching Top Gear?”

“The former. The latter ceased to interest me once the show began incorporating those insipid challenges," said Mycroft. "At any rate, I require your assistance on a matter that is very top secret. I trust my staff implicitly, but the fewer ears to overhear, the better. And we must hurry.”

Yes. No time for dawdling. Had to stay focused.

That would have been difficult under the best of circumstances, but at the moment, it was quite impossible. Because now, he had Gregory Lestrade with him in a hired car, speeding through the streets of London, their thighs nearly touching.

But their proximity wasn't the primary problem. It was Lestrade himself. He looked ... dishy. There was no other word for it. The Detective Inspector was earning every syllable of his sobriquet of Silver Fox. He had gone off on an impromptu holiday and had returned gloriously tanned, rested, and delectable.

Mycroft glanced over, letting his gaze linger. “Ah. Malaga?”

“Marbella,” answered Lestrade. “Weather was amazing, but it rained the last day. Glad to have gotten the sun while it lasted.”

“Yes. The weather on the Costa del Sol can be notoriously fickle.” Mycroft's voice was bland, but in his mind's eye, he could see Lestrade barefoot on a bustling beach, stripping off a shirt to reveal the golden-brown skin beneath, the curve of his pectoral muscles and abdomen, and a soft downy trail of dark hair thickening as it neared the elastic of his swimming shorts …

Mycroft swallowed. “Lovely place.” His voice was strained and he forced away the image out Gregory, half-naked and wet, his shorts clinging to every curve of his ...

Next to him, Greg chuckled, and the soft laughter seemed to warm the whole car.

“It was nice to get out of London for awhile. I wouldn't half-fancy another holiday – but hopefully I won't be alone next time.”

The elder Holmes frowned slightly. That the officer had traveled alone was obvious by the state of his hair and his shirtsleeves, but there was a deliberate casualness to the words that gave him pause.

Lestrade wanted to highlight that he'd been by himself in his Spanish sojourn, and likely had not had much company during the trip. Mycroft knew that the inspector was in a failing marriage, and would have been unlikely to have gone with his wife. Further, he knew that the subject of said marriage was a sore spot that he avoided prodding at all costs, so he wasn't entirely sure what Lestrade was trying to –

Oh. Oh.

The answer smashed into his brain with such force that Mycroft winced and narrowly avoided scraping the curb as he made a particularly tricky turn. He wasn't sure, but he thought Lestrade might have started laughing again.

Amid his concern about what was unfolding in Dartmoor, Mycroft had wondered what was different about Lestrade. Why when he'd rang and told him that he had an important task to entrust to him, the Yarder had simply asked where and when he could expect to be picked up. Why when he'd climbed in beside him, he seemed to brush up against his hip. Why he leaned back and closed his eyes, melting into the smooth upholstery of the passenger seat, almost as if he were still on the beach reclining in the Iberian sun. Why he looked years younger, why he'd flashed that amazing smile upon seeing him drive up in that ridiculous car. Why he'd seemed so relentlessly happy.

When they slowed at a zebra crossing, Mycroft allowed himself a swift, surreptitious perusal. He knew now, so it really was superfluous, and it was a testament to how concerned he was about Sherlock that he hadn't noticed immediately. But he needed to see the evidence with his own eyes.

And there it was. Left hand. Ring finger. A line. An area that had not been touched by the sun. A wide, pale stripe that contrasted starkly with the dusky skin surrounding it.

“Something on your mind?”

The voice was teasing, but the eyes were cautious. Mycroft made a noncommittal noise, looked away and drove on, hardly aware of where he was going. For the love of god, there really wasn't any time for this –

And yet, he couldn't think of anything except Greg's naked finger. The meaning was obvious, but Mycroft found he couldn't quite dislodge the collection of facts he'd stored in his mind about Gregory Lestrade: Late-40s, reformed smoker …

Married.

... Focused on his work, to a fault, at times. Knew when to defer to his superiors and when to push, but not a kiss-arse and not a fan of the politics that went on at the Met …

Wed. To a woman.

... Brave, but not reckless. Cared more for his comrades' well-being than his own. Could be dazzlingly insightful at time ...

Unattainable.

Mycroft darted another quick glance at the unadorned hand. The ring had been taken off after the holiday, as if the wearer had not been aware of its existence until it had occurred to him that its presence was no longer valid.

“Mycroft, I can hear you thinking. Much prefer your actual voice, y'know. If there's something you want to say, well, like you said, there's no extra ears to overhear.”

“I don't …” He cleared his throat. “I had noticed that you are … that is to say, you're not wearing ...”

“I filed the papers before I left.” Greg's voice was soft. “It's over. It's been over a long time. Even before Sherlock was so kind to let me know that I was still being run about, I knew that nothing would change after Dorset. It would have just bought a little more time, that's all.”

“I see. Well. That … answers that.”

“Yep.”

“Yes. Ah. Hmm.”

Mycroft bobbed his head several times in succession and was thankful that he had to focus on driving and thus could ignore what an utter fool he must have looked like at that moment. Greg, bless him, was silent.

It was some moments before Mycroft ventured to take up the thread of the conversation.

“Detective Inspector, I can't say that ...”

I'm sorry. At all. You gave that tart far too many chances.

“... That I am … surprised.” The taller man paused. “But I can imagine that this must be a difficult time for you. And for that –” And only for that “– I am sorry.”

“Y'know, I thought I'd be a mess, but I'm not,” said Greg. “I reckoned I held on so hard because I didn't want to admit that it had gone tits up ages ago. I was thinking about how much I've changed since Marie and me got married, and not for the better. I'm 18 years older. Got a bit of a gut now. All the grey. And a job where I'm lucky if the only thing I smell like when I get home is gunpowder.”

Mycroft smiled slightly. “Some would call that interesting.”

“Ha. Maybe. Others would call it grounds for divorce. Or at least a good reason to shag any willing bloke they can,” said Lestrade. “I was sure – just signing the papers made me feel better than I have in a year – but I reckoned a holiday would completely sort me out, and it did. Soon's the plane touched down and I got back to my flat, I knew I'd done the right thing, and that I'd be okay.”

“I see.” Mycroft nodded slowly and though briefly of his mother, of her face as she tried to arrange her expression into one of nonchalance each time her husband rang and stammered through an explanation as to why he would not be home for dinner, or could not tuck his sons into bed, or would likely be unable to accompany her to the neighbor's garden party …

“I do applaud you, Detective Inspector,” murmured Mycroft, disengaging from the memories. “Far too many people who have been in your situation opt for the path of tedium, misery and perpetual mistrust in order to avoid what they considered the stigma of divorce, fear of the unknown, and the specter of loneliness.”

“Well, seems everybody's getting divorced these days, so that part's not so much of a disaster, though getting cheated on's a bad job, I suppose. But that's happening more and more these days, too,” Lestrade said. “And I like a bit of adventure, so the unknown doesn't worry me much. The loneliness might be a bother, but … I'm hoping that I won't be single for very long.”

“Oh?” Mycroft risked a sideways glance. Lestrade was looking at him, a light touch of pink breaking through the lovely bronze of his cheeks.

“Well, yes, I suppose that after everything is settled, of course you'll want to find companionship … in a different quarter.”

“A different quarter?” Greg chuckled. “Yeah, you could say that. Very different. Not my usual area, as some might say, but something I've been wanting a long while.”

Mycroft nearly stopped breathing. He didn't dare take his eyes off the road, but he was suddenly hyperaware of the presence of Greg's body there with him, could hear the soft sound of his breathing.

For a moment, he fancied he could hear the man's heartbeat, slow and steady, a gentle counterpoint to his own racing pulse. He knew Lestrade was looking at him, could feel that mild gaze warming the side of his face like sunlight. And in another moment, he was definitely feeling Gregory's hand, his palm warm through the fabric of his trousers, resting companionably just above the knee.

Mycroft's mind raced. It was deliberate without being obvious, and the sensation was so intense that Mycroft almost moaned. Had anyone ever touched him there before? Had he ever touched anyone there before? What would it feel like, Gregory's bare hands on his naked flesh? How would those dark hands look against his pale skin?

And he suddenly, powerfully, desperately needed to know. His brother had used stolen credentials to gain access to one of the most impenetrable complexes in the world. He'd escaped being detained – or worse – only God knew how, and knowing Sherlock, he wasn't done his meddling. He needed to be reined in immediately, but all Mycroft could think, as he drove mindlessly down one street after another, was that he needed to find a quiet place where he could stop the bloody car and attack Lestrade's mouth, feel that warm body against his, let those hands caress him without he barrier of wool and silk and linen – even if just for a minute.

Mycroft passed a series of vacant car parks, a cluster of office buildings, and all the while, Greg's hand crept ever so slightly higher, his fingertips tracing the inseam of his trousers, getting closer and closer …

He steered into an empty side street, slamming the car into Park like he was hitting a wall. Before the vehicle had finished rocking, he was pulling Greg's head in and pressing his mouth hungrily against the inspector's grinning lips.

Greg's hand tightened on his thigh and he pushed back eagerly, awkwardly fumbling with the seatbelt and half-climbing up the console to get a better angle. His arms wrapped around Mycroft, and he circumvented the waistcoat entirely, going for the tie and then the delicate buttons of the dress shirt, his fingers displaying a dexterity that could have other more pleasant applications down the road.

Mycroft pulled away, gasping. “Gregory, no ... there is ... there really is little time for this –”

Greg flashed a lopsided grin. "Not that it'll be like this always, but I can promise you that right now, it's not going to take much time at all."

"But Sherlock -"

"Whatever Sherlock's gotten himself into, it can wait a bit, yeah?” Greg stroked the exposed skin of Mycroft's chest. “John's with him, isn't he?”

“Yes, but –”

“– If John's there, he's in good hands.” Gregory lowered his head. “It's a lot of fun being in good hands, y'know. But don't just take my word for it ...”

Before Mycroft could respond, Greg had his nipple pinched between his teeth, flicking his tongue against the hardening nub, his hands hot and firm against Mycroft's back.

“I want you so bad, I could come off in my pants just kissing you.” Lestrade ducked his head, looking sheepish. “Sorry. That wasn't the most romantic thing I could've said. I'm a bit out of practice.”

“Quite all right. I appreciate the sentiment.” Mycroft arched his back into the officer, savoring the feel of Greg's mouth on his body. But he couldn't resist for long, and soon he was dragging the other man up again to taste his mouth. Sliding his tongue against Greg's, Mycroft tasted the half-familiar flavor of man, lust, and power.

He levered himself up and forced Lestrade back down into the passenger seat, climbing up onto his lap and straddling the other man as best he could in the cramped little car. It was a tight – and not very comfortable – fit until Greg's hand found the adjustment controls and he was able to push the seat back as far as it would go. Mycroft swallowed air and looked down. Greg was panting beneath him, staring up at him with his mouth half-open, his tongue playing against the edge of his lip.

Mycroft bent forward and kissed Greg again, pulling his shirt free from the waistband of his trousers. His hands found their way inside the shirt and he took his time exploring the unfamiliar feel of stomach hair against his fingertips. The motion carried the thin shirt up Greg's torso until Mycroft could gaze down at him and savor the view. The reality of Gregory's body was so close to how he'd imagined it, what he'd dreamed of for more years than he cared to admit.

Greg was shivering beneath him, fixing him with a gaze that was equal parts trust and desire. Mycroft's hands trembled as he pulled off Lestrade's shirt, and his body tensed when the inspector divested him of his suit jacket and waistcoat and undid the rest of the buttons on his dress shirt, letting it gap open, grasping the shirttails to pull Mycroft on top of him. Greg's hands smoothed over his back as they kissed, and Mycroft could feel him hardening against him, Lestrade's cock pressing ever more insistently against the raging erection Mycroft had been sporting ever since he'd felt Greg's hand on his thigh.

But Lestrade was in no rush, and they stayed that way until Mycroft's trembling subsided. Greg ran his hands over Mycroft's slowly relaxing muscles until he had the taller man relaxed and ready. Their chests slid together as they snogged, skin sticking, the throbbing heat of their cocks hard between them.

Mycroft hesitated when he reached down, fingers poised on the brink of opening Greg's trousers. The moment hung between them and Mycroft lifted his head to look into those dark eyes. The absence of the ring was one thing. The breathless kisses quite another. But this … if they went ahead with this, it'd be something else entirely. Some invisible threshold would be crossed, and they couldn't go back again. It would simply be impossible. There could be complications: their arrangement as concerned Sherlock, the danger inherent therein, the perils of their respective positions ...

“Later.” Greg's hand was warm in Mycroft's hair and he nuzzled the soft skin under his chin. “We'll figure it all out later, yeah?” he said softly, sliding his fingers through the auburn strands.

Mycroft reared back, startled. “I didn't say –”

“I can hear you thinking, remember? Or maybe it's your eyes. They don't hide as much as you think they do.” Greg beamed up at him. “I know there's a lot to sort out, but right now, I couldn't give a rat's arse. I need you. It's all I could think about in Spain, the moment I'd come back and stop having to pretend that every time you nipped round to the Yard or to a crime scene or to my shithole flat to talk about some case or Sherlock or both, I wasn't picturing you naked, calling out for me ...”

And then Mycroft had made his decision almost before Greg had finished speaking, was sliding a button through a hole, feeling the steady give of metal teeth as he dragged the zipper down. Greg's sigh was hot against his lips and he shifted impatiently. Mycroft unfolded Greg's fly as carefully as if it had been paper, exposing plain white-cotton Y-fronts that he pulled down just enough to expose a tuft of dark public hair.

No grey here yet … fascinating …

Mycroft's hand quested in, encircling the thick base of Greg's cock. He traced the line of it down to the enfolding material of his trousers, feeling the steady throb of Greg's quickening pulse through the veins on the underside of the shaft, savoring the soft feel of tender skin.

Greg was growling beneath him, straining to raise his hips, but Mycroft's body had him pinned in place, so all he could really do was thrust eagerly upward and hope. Mycroft relished the sensation, taking a perverse pleasure in having the officer at his complete mercy. Mycroft exulted silently. Finally –

Dear God, finally!

Finally, his slow fingers found the tip of Greg's cock, rolling lightly over the head, and he teased the slit with fingers slick with precome. With a groan, Lestrade made it known that he couldn't take it any longer.

He forced his hips up and yanked his trousers down until he could shimmy them off, his body wriggling under Mycroft's until his meaty cock could slap free. He lay back, almost totally exposed to Mycroft's cataloging gaze, his chest heaving and the curve of his heavy balls cupped atop the place where his thighs were held together by Mycroft's straddling body. His cock stood up straight and proud, throbbing and hard as rock.

It slid against his stomach when Mycroft leaned in for another kiss, and then the inspector had him encircled in a bear hug and with strength built up over years of subduing dangerous and, at times, distressingly athletic criminals, wrestled the taller man over, twisting their bodies around until Mycroft was the one lying in the seat. It was then Greg's turn to dictate things and he pulled Mycroft's trousers and pants off while he moaned and writhed helplessly, desperate to have Gregory in his arms again.

A seam gave way in Mycroft's silk underwear when Greg tugged them down his body, and then he was just ripping them off, the fabric tearing under his strong hands.

Mycroft watched the ruined material flutter to the floor of the car. “Well done, Gregory.”

“They were … in … the … way ...” Greg lowered himself down over Mycroft, kissing the side of his neck. “You smell … amazing.”

When their mouths met this time, there was nothing between them Their bodies pressed together in every place possible, skin finding skin, hands finding hands, cock against cock.

Greg muttered nonsense against Mycroft's cheeks as he moved his hips in a gentle, slow rhythm that forced their cocks to slide together. His hand wrapped around them both, pumping them in unison until Mycroft was twitching beneath him.

“Oh God ...” He forced himself to breathe. “Faster … please, Gregory, faster … I need more ...”

Lestrade complied, pumping his hips as he jerked Mycroft's cock in his strong hand. Mycroft could feel the pulse in Greg's cock throbbing against his shaft. The feel of Greg's balls slapping gently against his own with increasing speed.

Mycroft realized somewhat belatedly that his hands were free and there was nothing stopping him from exploring Greg's body. His hips rose as he frantically pushed himself further into Greg's waiting hand, eager to find as much contact as possible. Greg had released him and now his hands were doing a great deal of exploring, too, mapping the curve of Mycroft's throat, tracing the lines of his abdomen.

In a moment of brazen courage, Mycroft slapped both hands hard against Greg's arse to guide his thrusting, and Lestrade immediately followed the direction, himself be steered. Mycroft kneaded the sculpted buttocks, pushing the cheeks together and then apart again, exposing the tight pucker of Greg's entrance and brushing his fingers against the sensitive flesh.

“Christ … I'm going to come,” Greg groaned throatily, cupping Mycroft's head with a free hand and pressing their foreheads together. His breath puffed against Mycroft's face and he could feel the pressure building between them.

Greg grunted hard, grimacing, and then something warm and wet was covering Mycroft's cock, dripping down over his stomach, and he couldn't hold on either.

“Gregory ...” Mycroft whispered, as he followed him over the cliff. His hands spasmed against Lestrade's arse, pushing the cheeks together so hard that Greg was forced to let go. Their cocks pulsed over and over against each other, trapped between the friction of their stomachs. The liquid shot up to coat both their chests all the way to the throat, turning into a sticky mess between them.

Lestrade was indefatigable, pumping his still-hard prick into the hard, narrow space between them long after they'd both finished, ragged little grunts of pleasure escaping from between clenched teeth. Mycroft watched, fascinated, running a finger over Greg's lips before tilting up to brush his mouth gently against his.

“Okay ...” Lestrade's voice was labored and he kissed the corner of Mycroft's mouth before sprawling forward, resting his head on his shoulder. “So this wasn't exactly how I planned to tell you that I was back on the market. Just so you know.”

“No?” Mycroft's voice was slightly muffled by a mouthful of Greg's hair in his mouth. “You had a plan?”

“Well, not really. But I figured maybe asking you out for a cuppa, or a pint, or something, and then just working it into conversation that I was making the separation permanent and filing for divorce, and that I'd fancied you for fucking ages and holy shit, we really just did this, didn't we?” A burst of amazed laughter shook Lestrade's pliant body. “We half-shagged out in the open like a couple of randy teenagers, in a … um, is this a hired car? And not even in the backseat, either. Might've been less messy.”

“I doubt it. But don't worry – I'll have the vehicle thoroughly cleaned before it's returned.”

Greg turned his head, looking pointedly at splashes of wet on the floor mats and carpeting.

“Unless you plan on using a blowtorch, I don't think there's going to be much you can do to get it back in good nick.”

“The establishment we use to hire cars is quite capable of discretion.” Mycroft paused. “Or can be persuaded to be so – with proper incentive.”

“I hope that means you'll give them a bigger fee if you can't get the stains out, not that you'll threaten to exile some poor sod to a cave in Islamabad if he raises a fuss.”

Greg grinned and prodded the mess on Mycroft's stomach. “Any way I can talk you into coming back to mine for a shower, takeaway, and a second go?”

Sighing, Mycroft glanced at the dashboard clock. “Just the shower, I'm afraid. As it is, we're going to have to hurry. Your train leaves in two hours. You'll need to pack an overnight bag.”

“My train?” Lestrade tried to sit up but couldn't quite manage it, collapsing back onto Mycroft's chest. “What are you talking about? Where'm I going? What the fuck's Sherlock gotten into this time?”

“You said you wouldn't half-fancy another holiday,” said Mycroft, stroking the silver hair. “Well, my dearest Gregory, you're about to get your wish. Tell me … what do you know of a place called Baskerville?”