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Caught Out

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Despite what many believe, Mycroft Holmes is not entirely unclubbable - even if his club is one of St. James’ more idiosyncratic institutions. His governmental position, minor though it is, does not permit him the luxury of being wholly misanthropic. In point of fact, when duty demands, he can charm quite effectively thanks to his preternatural ability to read people. It is true, however, that in his personal life he generally prefers solitude and introspection over the noisy demands of sociability.

Yet on rare occasions Mycroft finds himself deserting the reverent hush of The Diogenes to seek out some boisterous pub. There, surrounded by the ignorant sholes of the common man, a pint in his hand, a test match on the telly, and the buzz of high-spirits (or, the state of English cricket being what it was, more likely dejection) all around him, Mycroft might, in the comfort of nostalgia, attain some respite from his buzzing mind. When, as now, the horrors and high-stakes of his role weigh upon him more heavily than usual, such excursions also provide a cogent reminder of why his exertions are so necessary: he laboured so that the oblivious goldfish swimming about him could enjoy their pints in the peace and security of this pocket of Pax Britannia.

It had been barely a month since London was decimated by terror attacks the likes of which it had never known, even at the height of IRA activities. Several further threats of which the public would never hear had been neutralized thanks only to the untiring work of the security services and a healthy dose of luck. Even now things were far from normal, but they had at least calmed from the pinnacle of crisis. A bit of conviviality and cricket was precisely what he needed to unwind, especially as there was a real chance that England might triumph for the first time in almost two decades.

Mycroft had been a fresher when Britain last took home the Ashes. The radio had been on constantly throughout the series, and he vividly recalled crowding around the telly in the JCR - the one with the wonky aerial that someone had to hold just-so unless you wanted the picture to go all wibbly - to watch the highlights. It had broken down barriers in those awkward, still early days of uni, and provided a much needed point of commonality with his peers.

With the scent of victory in the air, the mood in the pub is joyous. Mycroft is not the only Englishman who could use a win. Fetching a pint, Mycroft heads towards the dining area, a chill glare parting the brash youths before him like the red sea. It is early still, and his prefered seat in one of the snug’s pair of wingbacks is vacant. It was the ideal spot, out of the hubbub with his flank protected, but with good sightlines throughout the space. With something suspiciously like a purr of satisfaction he settles himself into the chair and, taking a sip of his ale, directs his attention to one of the discreetly positioned television screens.

The weather was spotty; rain had stopped play for a while earlier in the afternoon, and judging by the clouds gathering as the match went on it would likely bring the evening session to an early end. England was at bat and performing admirably. Though the Aussies were putting in a valiant effort, the pitch was simply not with them. As the heavens opened and play drew to a close England was up a healthy 229 runs in four overs. The mood in the now crowded pub was jubilant, and Mycroft was pleasantly nostalgic for similar scenes in his youth, even finding himself humming along with an old college song into which some of the younger chaps had launched. He was debating the merits of a third pint when Mycroft’s attention was caught by a somewhat uncomfortable looking newcomer who had fought his way through the scrum at the bar and was now searching in vain for an available seat.

Mycroft’s sharp eyes took him in, quickly deducing the most salient facts: respectable, working class background; police officer - detective branch, a constable? No, sergeant, promotion still quite new. He was relatively young, (the silver-flecked hair which lent him such an air of distinction was a red-herring) thus to have achieved such a rank without being a university educated fast-track candidate suggested more than average competence. Newly divorced - her fault, not his - and staying with family, or rather using a family member’s residence. All in all The Best of British: a simple man of simple pleasures, now feeling decidedly out of his milieu in this somewhat upmarket gastropub.

That he possess the sort of earthy handsomeness which has ever been Mycroft's achilles heel and luminous brown eyes is neither here nor there, as is his latent bisexuality.

The crowds had shifted and the detective sergeant now spotted the sole seat remaining vacant in the hostelry: the other wingback. Mycroft took a moment to compose himself and ensure he exuded an air of bored indifference as the attractive divorcee approached with what could only be described as a swagger in his step.

“Sorry, mate, but is this seat taken?”

The man is even more charming in close proximity Mycroft discovers when he raises his gaze. His broad, easy grin lends him an affable air, the hint of uncertainty flickering in his warm eyes preventing the expression from seeming ungenuine. Their eyes meet, and the practiced mien slips a little more, with a gratifying curl of desire slipping through. Not so latently bisexual, then. Mycroft ought to refuse, yet he cannot deny that to be the subject of such carnal interest, mild though it may be, is a pleasant thing He can always excuse himself should he find the sergeant’s company insipid.

“Please, be my guest.”

At his acquiescence the grin widens further and becomes a heated thing suffused with more open lust. “Ta. Busy tonight.”

Mycroft finds himself unconsciously admiring the detective sergeant’s figure as he settles into his seat; not, perhaps, as trim as it might have been before the onset of middle age, but still muscled and enticing. And, he castigates himself, he has absolutely no business considering such things. Mycroft Holmes does not ogle. He is also loath to point out the obvious, to use a Sherlockian turn of phrase, but a polite return of the conversational serve which had been lobbed at him is required. The civilized niceties of discourse must be respected, after all.

“Well, the Ashes are on.”

Mycroft is somewhat taken aback by the put-upon groan this news elicits from his companion. “Not a fan?” he ventures.

“The Ashes is only a question how bad we lose to the Aussies, innit?” Opines his conversational partner, not entirely incorrectly Mycroft must concede. Before he can make his rebuttal, however, the DS continues on. “‘Sides, s’not really a proper sport, Cricket; bunch of poncy blokes in white prancing about a field, waiting for the tea interval. Naw, gimme a football match any day.”

He ought to be offended - that is the logical response in the face of an insult to one’s preferred sport, and, by extension, oneself. The Detective Sergeant utters the unintended slight with such good-natured bonhomie, however, that Mycroft finds himself enchanted. He watches in amusement as the implications of what has been said dawn belatedly upon the the police officer; If the DS disparaging was charming, the DS appalled is even more so. The man wears his emotions on his sleeve with a naivete unheard of in Mycroft’s world, and he finds this honesty dangerously seductive.

“Fuck. You play cricket, don’t you? Probably captain of the first-fucking-XI at fucking Eton, wasn’t you?”

“Hardly.” No, scorekeeping does not count. However, no elaboration on his more...sedentary youth need be made. “ And it was Harrow, not Eton.”

“Potato, locally-sourced, organically grown, heritage breed potahto.”

The riposte is so entirely, unexpectedly, on-point that Mycroft surprises even himself as he bursts into laughter. Not a wry grin, nor a discreetly amused chuckle, but an actual laugh. It has been a great while since someone made him laugh that way. Mycroft finds himself impulsively extending his hand and offering an introduction. “Mycroft. Mycroft Holmes.”

He experiences a moment of uncertainty when the the DS hesitates to return the gesture, but just as he begins to regret his forwardness, he finds his own ungainly hand enclosed by the strong, blunt one of the the policeman.

“Greg Lestrade,”

Mycroft almost misses the name, so caught up is he in the sensation of that rough, calloused palm against his skin. What might it feel like caressing other, more intimate places? With reluctance Mycroft forces his thoughts back along more appropriate lines. Civil, he must be civil. And charming. Or not dull, at any rate. Perhaps he might venture a small deduction? Nothing so crass as his brother’s peacocking, but a small inference might safely be ventured. “You were a sportsman yourself, I presume. Though not football...Rugby captain?”

“Well spotted.” Lestrade raises his glass in salute. “Saw Kingsfield Comp to their first ever championship.”

“Which helped you to your place at Hendon.”

Lestrade chokes on his pint. “How’d you know about that?”

He has gone too far, Mycroft realises with a lurch. He has intruded too much into the sergeant's life, and the warm camaraderie, the interest, which had begun to build between them will be lost in a mire of distrust and suspicion, as it always is. “Forgive me,” he pleads, hoping that at least something of their fellowship might be salvaged. “It’s a bad habit of mine, deducing people.”

“S’alright, just surprised me is all,” Lestrade reassures him. Mycroft’s thoughts come to a screeching halt as Greg’s warm workaday hand slips once more round his own on the armrest, their fingers meshing as if this was something they had done a million times before, not an act of such startling rarity that he can’t even recall the last time it occurred. If, indeed, it ever has.

As abruptly as it had been silenced, Mycroft’s mind restarts, a cacophonous whirl of lust and need and yearning. Those desperate desires for the touch of slick, heated flesh, for whispered intimacies and dizzying sensation which he had so diligently suppressed come charging to the fore, all the stronger and more urgent for their long neglect.

“What else can you deduce about me?” Lestrade asks, voice rough with want, and it is more than Mycroft can bear. His thoughts are running at lightning speed, deducing every filthy act and lascivious urge that the man is contemplating. More than that, Mycroft is suffused with an untenable longing to share in each and every libidinous action, and have his own licentious carnalities sated in turn. Unwise - damning - though it is, he raises his eyes to meet the limpid, sensuous depths of Lestrade’s gaze. “I can deduce a very great deal, Detective Sergeant.”

The look of stark desire on Greg’s face doubtless rivals his own, and it is more than answer enough. Never one to prevaricate once his course of action is determined, Mycroft hastily finishes his drink and stands, tugging at the hand that still rests in the policeman’s grasp to chivvy him on.

“Come along, Sergeant,” he bids, and with a hint of cheek adds: “Grab my coat - you’ve pulled.”

The alacrity with which the detective rises (bodily, other aspects anatomical having been raised for some time on both their parts) is gratifying. He seizes Mycroft’s jacket from the back of the wingback with an animalistic growl of “Get in!” which sends a dizzying rush of arousal coursing through him. As they push their way to the door, Mycroft feels a strong arm slide around his waist, then a copper’s hand slide lower to firmly cup one globe of his arse. The gesture is crude, ungentlemanly, and utterly erotic. It takes all of Mycroft’s considerable will to suppress a whimper upon that firm policeman’s grip tightening delectably. Yes, he thinks, as Blofeld witters plummily on in the background about cake and England’s chances, Detective Sergeant Lestrade really has caught him out.