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London traffic was abhorrent. Sweating nervously, Mycroft clung to the wheel of his slightly rattle-trap third hand Fiat. Sometimes he thought it would be far easier to leave his vehicle on his next weekend home at the cottage, and navigate London via public transport. Mummy and Uncle Rudy both insisted that certain appearances must be maintained if he were to rise in the ranks, but how nice it would be to avoid the headache and horror of driving in the city. He could read the newspaper on his commute, people watch, stop paying for parking. Lost in daydreams of handsome young commuters on the Tube, Mycroft didn't break in time when a leather-clad motorcyclist careened into his lane. Cursing tensely, he slammed hard on the brake, rear tires skidding. With a horrible screech his bumper tangled with the rear wheel. 

 

His wildly beating heart forced itself into his suddenly tight throat as the driver disappeared from sight. Jerking the car into park, Mycroft exited the car, scarcely heeding the angry honking of swerving drivers. Terrified of what he would find, he rounded the Fiat's bonnet. "Jesus Christ!" The motorcyclist spat, rolling out from under Mycroft's bumper. "Tryin' to kill me, mate?"

 

"I-I didn't see you," Mycroft stuttered. "Are you--did I hit you?"

 

"Bumped me a bit," the other man grunted, pushing himself to his feet. "Oh--ta," he took Mycroft's hand. On his booted feet he was still slightly shorter than Mycroft, but broader and more muscular. Wrenching off his black helmet (hardly visible for all the loud stickers covering it) he revealed a messy head full of dark curls and a face of such beauty that it stole Mycroft's breath.

 

"Are you hurt?" Mycroft asked anxiously, swallowing at the sight of the brilliant dark eyes which turned toward him. He scanned the other man--purely for signs of injury!--but didn't see blood or hideously broken bones.

 

"Don't think so," he replied, scooping hair fruitlessly from his eyes. Looking down mournfully at his bike, he exclaimed, "Shit! My bike!"

 

Righting it did no good. The rear wheel was misshapen, the tire leaking air; the entire right side was scraped, paint missing down to the frame. "Oh dear," Mycroft said, twisting his hands anxiously together. 

 

"Oh, dear is right," the other young man said, not without humour. He sighed, "She's fucked. I won't be driving her again for a bit." A passing cab driver hung out of his window and shouted abuse. "Fuck off!" the brash young man shouted back, "got an accident here, don't we?" "Fuckers," he muttered.

 

Mycroft bit his lip, "Er, perhaps we should move your motorcycle off the road and exchange insurance information?" He glanced worriedly over his shoulder as another motorist honked in annoyance. "We seem to be attracting attention."

 

"Yeah," he was glum, looking at his ride, and Mycroft felt guilty for admiring the sweep of his lashes, and the attractive profile, gilded in morning light when the man was so upset. Struggling, they got the motorcycle out of the road. Panting a bit, Mycroft fished in his oxter pocket for a pen and pad. Ripping off the sheet of paper he handed it to the other man, who read it with raised eyebrows, "Mycroft Holmes."

 

"Er, yes." Mycroft flushed. Why must his good sense and aplomb fly out the window when faced with good looking men?

 

"Posh, innit?" He grinned though, friendly.

 

"I...suppose?" Mycroft was apologetic. "It's a family name."

 

"Posh," he affirmed, mouth curling on one side, bringing a rakish dimple into existence. Taking the pen and pad from Mycroft, his leather gloves--warmed by his skin--brushed Mycroft's fingers. Mycroft fought a shiver. Scribbling, he handed the pad back to Mycroft, smiling a little. "'m Greg." He held onto the pen for just a moment as Mycroft tried to take it, causing Mycroft to look at his face. He was arrested by the almost flirtatious look Greg was giving him. Flustered, Mycroft ran a hand over his neatly trimmed beard. Mummy didn't like it, but he rather thought it gave him a more mature appearance than his weak-chinned twenty-three year old baby face otherwise managed alone. "What about you?" Greg asked, still holding onto the pen. 

 

"Me?"

 

"You alright?" Greg asked. "Ya get hurt?"

 

"Oh, no...I'm shaken, merely."

 

"Like a good martini?" Greg smiled, eyes soft, bright and sparkling. They stole Mycroft's breath. "I could use a drink after all this. Though beer's my drink of choice."

 

"A bit early in the day," Mycroft said doubtfully.

 

"What about, say, six tonight?" Greg finally let go of the pen. He tucked his thumbs in his back pockets, shoulders slightly raised. His face was boyish despite the rugged leathers and the big boots.

 

Mycroft sounded like an owl, "Six?"

 

"For a drink. You and me. King's Tavern?"

 

Mycroft nearly looked over his shoulder to see if there was someone behind him Greg was addressing. Or perhaps a camera crew from one of those dreadful shows where they pranked innocent people.

 

"I'd like to have a drink with you," Greg added plainly. "If you'd like that."

 

It had been so long since Mycroft thought about what he'd like, had indulged his desires, that it took him a moment to look inside himself for the answer. "I'd love it," he said simply, and was rewarded by a brilliant smile.

 

Greg rocked back on his heels, "You know where the King's is?"

 

"Near here, I imagine," Mycroft managed through a dry throat. He was going to be wildly late to the office and didn't give a fig.

 

"Just around the corner," Greg pointed. "I've--got to get my bike sorted and call work, to let them know I'll be unable to manage my deliveries."

 

"Oh Lord, you're a courier," Mycroft said, distressed, only just now realizing there was a locked box mounted on the back of the bike. "I'm so sorry-"

 

"'s alright, posh," Greg smiled, easy. "You can get the first drink, make it up to me."

 

From somewhere, Mycroft found courage. "Are you sure one drink will be enough?"

 

Greg's eyes went supernova bright with delight, "Think it'll take a few...might have to close the place down."

 

"Dangerous to get home after that many hours of drinking," Mycroft suggested, face heating, heart pounding.

 

"Lucky I live close," Greg suggested.

 

"That is lucky for you." They neither of them remembered they were standing on a busy road next to their wrecked vehicles.

 

"Lucky for you too," Greg pointed out.

 

Mycroft was breathless, "Oh? How so?"

 

"You could stay at mine."

 

"You're kind to offer your sofa to a relative stranger," Mycroft said.

 

Greg smiled, slow and easy, lids heavy, "Don't have a sofa."

 

Dear Lord.

 

"'fraid it's just the one bed in my bed-sit," Greg continued, eyes on Mycroft's, "bit of a squeeze but I think we could make it work."

 

His face nearly as red as his hair, Mycroft lost his breath. Captivated, he stared at Greg and finally said, "I...get off work at six."

 

"Say sixish, then."

 

"Sixish," Mycroft echoed, heart beating wildly. He glanced reluctantly at his watch, "I'm--irretrievably late to work."

 

"You good to drive?"

 

"I don't think my car incurred damage which will prohibit it from functioning."

 

"You alright? Not just your car?"

 

Mycroft was touched, "Quite recovered."

 

"No longer shaken?"

 

"Not by the wreck, anyway," Winking, Mycroft climbed into his Fiat.

 

Work was in an uproar when he arrived. Not, as he at first feared, by his tardiness, but because an urgent order had come in from overseas operatives. Immediately whisked into an hours-long meeting with his uncle, the PM and the head of MI5, Mycroft had no time to think of Greg. He spared a desperate thought of regret when it became clear that he would be sent abroad for his first solo mission.

 

Leaving immediately was unavoidable and when he tried calling the number Greg had jotted down, there was no answer. Throwing things into a bag, Mycroft tried again. Still no answer. Squashing his disappointment, Mycroft tucked the slip of paper safely into the billfold he would be leaving behind and watched as Uncle Rudy locked it in his safe for safe-keeping. Time enough for a personal life when he returned, which should be soon, hopefully.

 

 

*******

 

 

Ten Years Later

 

 

"Christ!" Greg growled, pounding on his steering wheel, "Fucking move already!" It was the end of a fucking awful day--an awful week--and all he wanted was to get home to his dismal post-divorce flat, strip off his suit and tie, and dive into a beer and telly. Instead he was stuck behind some posh arsehole's shiny Jag as it inched past a stalled city bus. "Rich prick," Greg muttered, fiddling with the radio. He was in the mood for something with pounding bass and shrieking guitars, but maybe his nerves needed soothing. 

 

Before he could settle on a station, a movement out of the corner of his eye attracted Greg's attention. Turning his head from where he was leaned slightly forward toward the dash, Greg looked at the back of his rear-view mirror. In horror, he saw a writhing mass of baby spiders. Even as his blood ran cold (he could manage killers but spiders did him in), one of the little buggers spun a miniscule line of silken thread and dropped toward the gear shift. "Agh!" Greg yelped, and then screamed again when he slammed into the back of the car in front of him. 

 

His head bounced off of the steering wheel just as the airbag deployed, smacking him hard with air-filled canvas. Reeling, he realized he was mashing the brake, even though the car was jammed against the back of the Jag in front of him. Disoriented, he put the car in park. Raising shaking hands to his face, Greg expected to find a nose gushing blood and a missing tooth or two. Christ, but that air bag packed a punch! He'd always thought it would be like falling into a delicate silk bag full of air, like alighting on a cloud.

 

It was more like taking a roundhouse punch from a prize fighter. Stunned and confused, Greg closed his eyes for a moment, gingerly feeling his nose. It was sore, but not broken, and there wasn't any blood. A tapping on his window pulled him from his exploration of his own face. He reached for the hand crank, then realized he hadn't driven a car that old fashioned in probably twelve years. Confusingly, the window didn't purr downward when he pushed on the button, and Greg stared at it, discomfited. Trying again yielded the same results. "Your engine--" 

 

"Huh?" Greg hadn't caught what the voice on the other side of the window'd said. He focused on the face peering at him. A man with severely slicked hair and an even more severe expression glowered at him. "What's that?"

 

"Your. Engine. Is. Turned. Off." The man bit off each word. 

 

"Oh." Greg didn't recall doing that. His head was a bit fuzzy. Shock, probably. Fumbling for the door, Greg was relieved when the other man opened it. With suddenly unsteady legs he stood. "You...okay?"

 

"Are you?" The man asked, some of his irritation fading as he took Greg in. 

 

"Just, uh..."

 

"Shaken?"

 

"Yeah," Greg put his hand on the door frame, "Crap, glad I wasn't going any faster."

 

"As am I," the man said dryly. He seemed much more self-possessed. But then, he hadn't been scared by a spider infestation and then smacked in the face by two hard and unmoving objects. "You should sit," He said now, and guided Greg over to the kerb. "Here," he helped him sit. "Don't move."

 

"I'm not a child," Greg said indignantly.

 

"Indeed no." The man went back to Greg's car, fetched the keys and shut the door, before speaking briefly to a uniformed man. Traffic cop? No, probably a chauffeur. Or a bodyguard. Christ the guy was huge. Greg touched his nose again, it was going to really hurt in a few minutes. Returning, the man knelt next to him, avoiding the grimy pavement. Greg would have too, with a suit that fine. 

 

"Posh," Greg muttered.

 

"Hmm?"

 

"What?"

 

"Greg," He spoke sharply, "open your eyes."

 

Greg did so irritably, "What?"

 

"I think you might have a concussion. Keep talking until the ambulance arrives."

 

"'m fine. Just--"

 

"Shaken, yes." There was a faint smile in the man's voice.

 

Greg's eyelids felt heavy. He blinked slowly, looking at the other man. "You alright?"

 

"Luckily we were at a standstill when you struck us, I'm fine." Cool hands touched Greg's wrist, "Greg?"

 

"Mm?"

 

"Do you have anyone you want me to call to meet you at hospital?"

 

He had to think about it. His brain felt wrapped in cotton wool. "Uh...no." Not anymore.

 

"No spouse?" The cool fingers lighted briefly on his ring finger. They both looked at the faint tan line on his finger.

 

"Divorced," Greg managed, blinking stupidly. He held the severe man's hand. It didn't seem at all a strange thing to do. They sat on the kerb, the other man gently keeping him talking until the ambulance arrived. Greg didn't want to let go of his hand and as he was bundled into the gurney he kept his eyes on the other man until the doors closed. 

 

Nearly two hours later, feeling sleepy but mostly normal--if sore and bruised--Greg was moved from A&E to a room. He'd been thoroughly checked out but was being kept overnight for observation since there wasn't anyone at home to keep an eye on him. It was too late for dinner but the nurse had promised someone would bring him a tray. He didn't feel like eating but his stomach was empty. Uninterested in watching telly, Greg closed his eyes, hoping he could sleep. He'd been warned he'd be checked on periodically and woken. When he heard the door to his room open, he roused, "Still alive and functioning," he announced.

 

"I'm glad to hear it," the severe man said. His hair was slightly ruffled, as if he'd run his fingers through it, but his suit was still impeccable. He held a potted ivy in one hand. "I...er, brought you this." He set it on the bedside table and fidgeted.

 

Greg was absurdly glad to see him. "Hey," he croaked, sitting up in bed, wondering if he looked as mad as he felt. He'd kill for a shower. Clearing his throat, he apologized. "Throat's dry."

 

"Here," the man poured water into a cup and helped him steady it. Greg wondered if it were concussion or if a spark leapt between them. "Take your time, Greg."

 

Moistening his mouth helped, "Ta." He frowned, "here now, I never got your name--come to that, how do you know mine?"

 

"It's...Mycroft...Holmes." The severe man bit his lip, suddenly looking younger, less certain of himself.

 

Greg was slow to connect the dots, but that searching look, the spark of memory-- "Posh," he breathed, and watched relief flood the other man's eyes. He felt a smile spread. "God, what's it been--eight, nine years?"

 

"Ten."

 

"Jesus--whatever happened to you? I waited at the pub that night for over an hour! Worried at first that you'd had a concussion and gone into a coma or something."

 

"It was...work." He seemed helpless, as if the brief answer were all he could offer.

 

Greg didn't care, he was just so glad to have found Mycroft again. Hard questions and difficult answers could wait til later. There was just one thing... "You didn't stand me up then?"

 

"God no," Mycroft was vehement. He seemed truly surprised at the question. 

 

Greg sank back into the bed, smiling, "Posh," he said wonderingly, "I...thought of you for a while, wondered what had happened. 'm glad you're here."

 

"I thought of you as well," Mycroft said with a bit of reserve. He looked down, "I returned to London months later and you were--"

 

Greg cast his mind back, winced, "God, I was dating my ex, wasn't I?"

 

"Yes. I tried to shrug it off as 'one of those things' but I confess I always wondered what if?"

 

"Then for us to run into each other like this--again--what are the odds?!"

 

"Astronomical, I should think."

 

"It's fate, maybe," Greg suggested, smiling sleepily, "or--what do you call it?"

 

"Serendipity?"

 

"Yeah, that's it." He blinked, "I'm buggered, 'fraid I'll fall asleep soon."

 

"Is that safe?" Mycroft asked anxiously.

 

"'s why I'm here. Nurse'll check on me."

 

"I...should go."

 

Greg roused himself, "No! I mean...I just found you again."

 

Mycroft smiled almost shyly, "I'll be back, never fear."

 

"But what if--"

 

"I'm master of my own fate now, Greg, I shan't lose you again." Mycroft laid cool fingers over his, "I'll give you my number and take yours."

 

"We did that last time," Greg said, frowning a little. He hated to let Mycroft go, after having found him so miraculously.

 

"I could--I could stay for a while, if you like," Mycroft offered. He gestured at the visitor's chair, "You may sleep, I'll be quiet." 

 

"The nurse's gone to get me dinner," Greg said, "You could join me." He grinned weakly, "Fancy sharing a tray of hospital food?"

 

Mycroft shuddered delicately, "Oh," he said, pulling a Nokia from his pocket like a magician, "I think we can do better than that."

 

"Pizza?"

 

Mycroft smiled at him, blue eyes warm. He'd been gorgeous as a leggy young thing, but he was sexy as hell now in his thirties, and had an air of command that was really doing it for Greg. "Anything you like."

 

"Pizza and a nap," Greg decided happily and they smiled at one another.