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In the Market

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Truly it was a glorious spring day and what better way could he enjoy it than perusing the stalls of the thriving farmers market? Mycroft hummed happily. He already had several bulging bags of fresh produce, a spray of flowers too lovely to pass up, a jar each of lavender honey, strawberry jam and lemon curd. As he browsed a stall offering fresh baked breads and goodies his stomach rumbled, reminding him that he hadn't eaten.

Rashly allowing his empty stomach to dictate his purchases, Mycroft selected a baguette, some almond croissants, a bag of pignoli and another of chocolate dipped salted caramel popcorn. He could obtain a cup of tea at the marquee where food vendors had set up and enjoy a selection of his goodies. The rest would be gifted to his staff, who as always, went above and beyond. Also, if he didn’t keep it all in the house, he wouldn’t succumb and eat it all.

Scanning the blackboard by the tea stall for options, Mycroft was jostled abruptly and he turned, offering an automatic polite apology even though he had not been at fault. Arms full of bountiful produce in reusable bags, Greg Lestrade stood behind him, "Oh! Mycroft! Hi...sorry, didn't see you there!"

"Greg," Mycroft managed, and was proud of how composed he sounded. He was utterly unprepared to encounter his crush here. While dressed so casually to boot. "No worries, my toes remain untrodden."

Greg looked at Mycroft's trainer clad feet, "'m glad of it! Wouldn't wanna be towed off to jail for crushing the British Government's feet!" His smile was warm and teasing.

Mycroft felt his ears go hot and cleared his throat, "Oh, ah...haha, yes." It felt a bit flat and he cursed himself for his lack of suavity. Greg was still smiling at him however. "I do believe," Mycroft ventured, "that an exception could be made in the name of friendship."

"Glad to hear it," Greg beamed and Mycroft found himself smiling in response. There was a moment of smiling which might have stretched out and become awkward except for the pointed clearing of a throat behind them. Mycroft turned with a start, "Oh, hello. I'll, er, take an Earl Grey, please." He smiled tentatively at Greg, "Inspector, might I treat you to a coffee?"

"Large with milk and two sugars," Greg told the attendant and sketched a gallant bow in Mycroft's direction, "Allow me to pay...since I nearly flattened your toes."

"Piffle," Mycroft returned, flustered and charmed, but let him pay, telling his foolish heart that it wasn’t anything remotely close to a date. Greg paid and they stepped to the end of the counter to await their drinks.

"Great day for this, isn't it?"

"Indeed. I confess I could be working but I found myself with a desire to..."

"Play hooky?" Greg grinned mischievously.

Mycroft allowed himself to twinkle, "In a word."

"Must be something in the air. I've got a stack of paperwork long as m'arm but I skived off to enjoy the sunshine."

"Great minds," Mycroft suggested.

Greg looked genuinely surprised, "I'm honoured to be lumped in with your great mind," he said, "Brilliant man like you. I'm just a dumb copper."

Mycroft frowned at him sternly, "Gregory, you are anything but dumb and you're more than just a "copper." Where would London be without the existence of the great Detective Inspector Lestrade?" Softly Mycroft continued, "Or indeed, what would have become of my brother?"

Greg, looking abashed, took their drinks and led the way toward a couple of free seats at the end of one of the long picnic tables. Once they were seated, their bags at their feet, he curled his hands around his cup. "Can't say I think of myself as the "great" anything."

"You don't see yourself the way I do," Mycroft rejoined passionately; too passionately, he saw in hindsight. He'd allowed his admiration for the Inspector to soak his voice. He tried to reign in his emotions. Sipping his tea, he looked awkwardly around the marquee. Out of the corner of his eye he saw movement and looked back toward Greg, to see the other man hesitantly reaching out.

Eyes wide, Mycroft let Greg lay his palm softly over his own. "Greg?"

"Mycroft...?"

"Y-yes, Gregory?"

Greg bit down softly on his lip, pupils huge. "Would you maybe like to extend the madness we're feeling today and join me for lunch? That is, if you're interested in um, me."

Mycroft smiled, "I do believe I'm in the market for what you're offering."