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The Shape of You

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Puberty has never known to be kind to geniuses. Mycroft Holmes was no exception to that particular rule. Had one inquired inside the pages of a dictionary, one would assuredly see his likeness, aged twelve, next to the definition of the word awkward. See also: spotty, stroppy, and hideous. Matters, bad as they were--and they were bad--were further worsened on the eve of his thirteenth birthday when Mycroft discovered, in quite the shocking turn of events, that he was a shape-shifter. A shape-shifter, for all that was sacred and sane. 

 

This seemed the sort of thing one could depend upon one’s parents to prepare one for, and yet Mummy and Father were just as surprised as himself. Father only marginally so, for, as it turned out, he came from a long line of shape-shifters. Something, Mycroft pointed out with asperity, it might have been helpful to have known before-hand. Father smiled with his usual baffled good humour and admitted he thought it was a family legend, the sort of thing which had no basis in reality, like Aunt Petunia being haunted by the ghost of a Hussar. Fiddler on the roof, Mycroft, who hadn’t yet honed his vocabulary into including actual curses, had thought in exasperation and outrage. A shape-shifter!

 

Sherlock thought it was incredibly fascinating and nearly drove Mycroft batty, following him around with a million questions, and demanding they experiment to find out the limits of Mycroft’s powers. He, Sherlock boasted, would be a truly excellent and superior shape-shifter when his time came and he couldn’t wait. He’d be the coolest shape-shifter ever, not boring like Mycroft, who hid in his room when a blemish popped up on his nose on the night of the school dance and he accidentally went poof! into a boa constrictor and hid in his room all night, sulking under his bed in a mass of exotically spotted coils.

 

(No one had ever been as vocally bitter and strident in their displeasure as Sherlock when he in fact did not turn out to have inherited the ability to shape-shift. His family, however, heaved a collective sigh of relief. The thirteen year old was quite impossible as it was.)

 

Mycroft huffed and sighed and treated it all with ill humour--he was thirteen, after all. But once he’d gotten over the shock he began working on controlling his impulses so that he didn’t spontaneously turn into a foul-mouthed parrot when enraged by the idiocy of his worst bullies. Luckily they were very stupid boys, known for lying and drinking, and no one believed their tales. It did have the unfortunate consequence of forcing Mycroft to remain at home, tutored by Mummy, rather than going to Harrow for his first term. Not until he was under control would he be allowed to leave for school.

 

Being a shape-shifter wasn’t all bad, Mycroft found. Once he had his abilities under control and didn’t spontaneously shift, he was allowed to go to school. It was as miserable there as it had been in the village, and he was just as lonely and bored; no longer a chubby youth, he was instead a suddenly tall, thin, gangly stork, and just as reviled. Mycroft had few friends and no love interests. Mycroft’s alternate forms, however...well, the author will draw a discreet veil over his youthful shenanigans, but let it be stated that there was a very handsome and popular “local boy,” Mike, who had quite the reputation with the schoolboys of Harrow for his winning ways and willing charms. It was Mike, not Mycroft, who had all the fun, but he supposed it was better than no fun at all.

 

By the time Mycroft had determined on a course in the political arena, although behind the curtains, so to speak, he had decided that it would be best if his wild sexual escapades remained solely the province of Mike. Or occasionally as Michelle, when the man he was interested in was not drawn toward the masculine form. Besides, as Mike/Michelle, he was able to appear as a beautiful, irresistible temptation, something he couldn’t possibly achieve as himself. His own reserved nature and cold persona effectively made a eunuch of him. No one had ever been drawn to Mycroft Holmes, the man, and in defense he made it very clear that an approach would not be well-received. 

 

Mycroft had feelings after all, even if he was becoming known as the “Ice Man” in certain circles; he most assuredly didn’t want to court ridicule. Far easier to transform into someone whom people actually wanted. During his most difficult phases with Sherlock, over the years, Mycroft had been rebuffed time and again from helping his brother. However, as a shaggy Irish Setter, much like their beloved childhood pet, Redbeard, he had more success; many was the night a four-footed Mycroft padded into some questionable structure or grimey alleyway to comfort his brother. That it comforted him as well, Mycroft hardly credited. His isolation from fragile human emotions was legendary, after all.

 

This system of anonymous sex had stood him in good stead for years, worked flawlessly, in fact; until. Until. Until Mycroft met one of the most...well, the most beguiling of creatures he’d ever encountered. It was upon the occasion of his brother finally obtaining a clean bill of health from the latest and most successful rehabilitation program into which he’d been enrolled that Mycroft met one of the first people to truly intrigue him. 

 

As per usual, Mycroft had done some discreet inquiries whenever someone new entered his brother’s life. Normally they were persons of dubious moral character and questionable background, but overall well-intentioned and benign (Mrs Hudson), or perilous and immediately to be dispensed with upon revelation of their odious character (Victor Trevor). 

 

Now, however, Sherlock had somehow managed to find himself entangled with an officer of the law--and not because he’d broken it. Rather, he had succeeded in solving a thorny problem for the man in question. Mycroft was surprised and heartened to find that Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade was everything he appeared to be: a stalwart champion of the law, intelligent, focused and with a generous and forgiving nature. Well, one had to be forgiving when one allowed Sherlock into one’s orbit. 

 

Most people, when viewed through the lens of Mycroft’s acuity and intellect, suffered. He found them dull, shallow and easily dismissed. Not so Greg Lestrade. There was something unforgettable about Lestrade. Something which continued to wink at the corner of Mycroft’s eye, irritating and alluring in equal measure. He found himself unable to forget the man. It surely couldn’t be his physical beauty, which, while certainly outstanding, had never been enough to distract Mycroft.

 

The quality which made him so unforgettable remained elusive, even as Lestrade became a more permanent fixture in Sherlock’s--and therefore Mycroft’s--life. Mycroft resigned himself to both the mystery as well as the attraction. Truly, it added a bit of colour to his sometimes drab days, and inevitably left him feeling effervescent once he’d parted from Lestrade’s company. As the years passed, he had mostly resigned himself to regarding the man as an ally and friendly acquaintance; not only was he wildly out of Mycroft’s league, but married, to boot. To a dreadful woman, to be sure, but Mycroft had noted that incompatibility and personality rarely seemed to guide humankind’s decisions when it came to romance. 



*******




Every machine, no matter how efficient, needs maintenance. Mycroft liked to think of himself as a superior machine, to be sure, but even he needed his little pleasures. Sex was far less fattening than cake. More fun too, at least at times. To be honest, sometimes sex, no matter how wild and heady, seemed lackluster compared to a good slice of cake with a rich buttercream frosting. And wouldn’t Sherlock scream with laughter if he heard Mycroft admit that?

 

He shed his work suit and showered; standing naked in his dressing room, Mycroft mused on his appearance. It wasn’t the clothing which mattered as much as the form. He was positively aching for a rough, vigorous tumble with some muscle-bound man. What he wanted was to be taken out of his head briefly, be lifted out of the surly slump he found himself in, and left blissfully empty and silent for just a few minutes. Accordingly, the form he chose was of a slim, medium height young man, leanly muscled but not ripped, perfectly suited to attract the interest of the type of man he was seeking for tonight’s diversion. 

 

Shaking out his longish black hair, Mycroft smiled at himself in the mirror, admiring his roguish green eyes and youthful face. He had the perfect pair of skin-tight leather trousers to suit this particular arse, and he’d be in and out of the club in no time, conquest in hand.




******




There were several likely candidates, including the bouncer, who eyed “Mike” with appreciation as he sailed into the dim, throbbing interior of one of London’s premier gay nightclubs. Resisting the urge to preen, Mycroft cruised the room, looking around with interest. There were more than a few men who piqued his interest, but he wasn’t in a particular rush, no need to be hasty. Time for a drink; he’d see who approached him. 

 

Lounging on the bar, back (and fantastic bum) to the dance floor, Mycroft ordered a drink and studied likely candidates in the long mirror which reflected the room for him perfectly. So busy was he scoping out the talent that he nearly missed an entirely unexpected figure coming to stand next to him. Doing a double-take, Mycroft’s eyes flew wide when he realized that he had not in fact been surreptitiously drugged, and that it was actually Lestrade standing next to him. Looking vaguely out of place in a dark button down, sleeves rolled up, hair spikier than usual. Catching Mycroft gaping at him, he nodded back politely; Mycroft nearly flinched until he realized that of course the man wouldn’t recognize him. Reining in his lax jaw, Mycroft surreptitiously studied Lestrade, who preceded to flag down the bartender and order a lager.

 

Biting his lip, Mycroft avoided the eyes of a good-looking man in his thirties who had caught his eye and faced away, mind racing. What on earth was Lestrade doing here? Mycroft had, naturally enough, entertained some fairly tawdry fantasies of the handsome Inspector over the years, in moments of weakness. But he’d never truly imagined the man would be receptive to the advances of another man. His impulses seemed fairly well buried in his profession, age and marriage. To see him here was startling, to say the very least. Perhaps with the ending of his marriage had come the drive to explore hidden desires.

 

“Loud, innit?” Mike offered, unable to let this opportunity go to waste. Lestrade wasn’t strapping but his earlier fantasies of an anonymous fling had gone out the window the moment Lestrade washed up next to him.

 

Making some polite sound of inquiry, the other man turned his head towards him, “Eh?”

 

“Right?!” Mike enthused; he wasn’t entirely certain why he’d gone EastEnders tonight, but he’d learned to roll with it. “Can’t hear myself, can I?”

 

“Oh, yeah,” Lestrade was polite, but not engaging. He sipped his drink.

 

Mike toyed suggestively with his straw, widening his eyes at Lestrade with faux innocence and entirely genuine come-hither seduction, “I’m Mike,” He stuck out a confident hand, smiling intimately into Lestrade’s eyes.

 

“Um, hi,” Lestrade sort of mumbled, quickly shaking his hand and sort of nodding, before he looked away. He wasn’t his usual friendly self. Must be nerves.

 

“Never seen you in here before,” Mike burbled, shifting closer, “First time?”

 

“What? Oh--no. I mean yeah, it’s my first time here. Mate’s bachelor do.”

 

Hmm. Perhaps Lestrade wasn’t here for personal reasons then. Still...he might be tempted into an indiscretion. Time to be tempting then, and what better bait than this heretofore under-utilized arse of such dazzling beauty?

 

Mike pretended to see a friend and walked a few steps away, displaying his sublime backside for Lestrade’s perusal, waving enthusiastically at no one in particular and miming a ‘see you later!’ Turning back, he found Lestrade’s eyes were on the room, not his superior posterior. Honestly, what did the man want?

 

Not, it appeared, despite all Mike’s best efforts, did he want a man. Frustrated, disgruntled and horny, Mike paid up his tab and left, ignoring the looks he was receiving. He didn’t want any of those buffoons. 

 

He wanted one thick-headed buffoon in particular.



******




Once more in his own skin, his own suit, and his own sphere, Mycroft buried his thwarted desire for sex in work and (mostly) forgot about the entire debacle. There wasn’t a sign of Lestrade for some weeks, until Mycroft paid a visit to Baker Street to check in on Sherlock and John; he liked to keep a weather eye on the pair. Theirs was an unusual relationship, finely balanced; one which was capable of making them so much more together than they could ever achieve alone. But their personal demons were in danger of running amok if left unattended for too long, and Mycroft liked to step in and stir the pot from time to time. Having a common enemy made for a fine alliance, he’d found.

 

Arriving just before seven, he was surprised to find Lestrade pacing the flat, looking annoyed, rather than wearing his usual forbearing expression. He was also wearing a very nice dark blue long-sleeved Henley under a leather jacket and, when Mycroft got close enough to notice, a swoon-worthy cologne. Clearly on his way to a date. Who captured your attention? Mycroft wondered, before he dismissed it as not important; certainly nothing worth commenting on.

 

“Lestrade,” he said pleasantly, “I see my brother has once again pulled you into his orbit on your personal time. A date, was it?”

 

“Well, actually--”

 

“A blonde, late thirties,” Sherlock announced, smirking at his own acumen, “Quite shapely, if your previous women are anything to go by--”

 

“For god’s sake, Sherlock,” Mycroft interrupted, annoyed. Lestrade looked irritated as well.

 

“Why are you here, Mycroft?” Sherlock demanded rudely.

 

“I hope you needn’t leave your lady without escort for too long this evening,” Mycroft said, ignoring Sherlock’s demand; purely to annoy him, not because he was at all interested in Lestrade’s response.

 

“Leave his lady without escort?” Sherlock repeated scornfully, sneering openly. He really could be most insufferable, the little brat. It was a wonder John Watson hadn’t strangled him by now. “It’s clear you’ve never dated, fatty.”

 

“And you have?” Mycroft shot back, goaded into it by Sherlock’s tired dredging up of his plump youth. For god’s sake, it had been a handful of years in his childhood that he’d been fat, and yet Sherlock trotted the insult out whenever he pleased.

 

“Christ,” the good doctor sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

“Well this is fun,” Lestrade said sarcastically, “Much as I’d love to stay and watch you two twit each other, I’ve got plans. So if you’re quite done wasting my time, Sherlock, I’ll be going. If you actually need something from the Metropolitan police which can’t wait for Monday, I’m sure Gregson would be delighted to help.” He threw John a quick grin, “I’ll call you for that drink sometime, John.” As he passed Mycroft he smiled, “Holmes.”

 

Mycroft fought a shiver; he must be catching a chill. Probably from exposure to god-knew-what festering here in the very floorboards.



******



The next time he saw Lestrade it was Mycroft himself who was casually dressed and not on the clock. 

 

While he’d not struggled with his weight for years, Mycroft still exercised care to maintain a lean frame. Part of that involved actual exercise. For security’s sake--and that of his dignity--he normally used his home gym. Occasionally, however, he simply needed to get out and run through the city, or in one of the parks. Given that it was a rather spectacular late spring day, Mycroft had elected to take a run through one of the small parks he’d discovered over the years. His most unobtrusive detail, a lean, sandy-haired man named Charles, was about twenty paces behind him. 

 

So focused on his rhythm was Mycroft that he didn’t hear someone hailing him until there was a sharp, “On your left, sir!” from Charles through his earpiece, and Mycroft automatically looked in that direction. He held up an unobtrusive hand to Charles to stand down and slowed to a jog and then a walk. Crossing the grass toward him was Lestrade, looking particularly fine in running shorts, with a white t-shirt clinging damply to his chest. Mycroft exercised enormous self-control and only ogled him briefly.

 

“Lestrade,” he greeted, proud of how regulated his breathing sounded. He had rather pushed himself today, worried he’d gotten complacent on his treadmill. “What a surprise to see you here.”

 

“I could say the same,” Lestrade smiled warmly, “I’m usually here on Saturdays, if I don’t have a case. Don’t think I’ve ever seen you here before.”

 

“It’s rare that I get to run outside,” Mycroft allowed, blotting at his brow with the back of one hand. His eyes tried to stray to the suggestion of chest hair peeping at the neck of Lestrade’s t-shirt, and he forced them back to the man’s face. Scarcely a hardship.

 

“Probably not easy when you have to have someone tailing you,” Lestrade nodded in Charles’ direction. Of course, as a cop, he would recognize security when he saw it. 

 

“There is that,” Mycroft agreed. He felt awkward, fully aware of how little his jogging attire left to the imagination. His running tights hugged every bit of his legs, leaving little to guess at. At least his moisture-wicking shirt was long-sleeved.

 

“Don’t suppose you’d like company?” Lestrade stretched casually, eyes bright.

 

“Ah…” Mycroft’s renowned mind actually stuttered, thrown off course.

 

“Course, if you don’t want to…”

 

“No! That’s, I mean, that’s fine. If you want.”

 

Lestrade smiled, pleased, “Brilliant.”

 

Without another word they set off, falling naturally into stride with one another. Charles, looking stunned in a subtle, well-bred way, dropped in behind them, and they circled the path for a good twenty minutes. Finally Lestrade glanced at Mycroft, “I usually put in a good two hours, and I’m nearly there--you?”

 

Mycroft glanced at his FitBit, “Y-es...I completed two hours some time ago.”

 

They slowed their pace, cooling down. “This was nice,” Lestrade said, raising the hem of his t-shirt to blot at his face. Mycroft really couldn’t be blamed for looking, could he? It was right there. He made sure to avert his eyes when Lestrade lowered his shirt. “Not used to having a running partner.”

 

“Nor I,” Mycroft agreed, “I’m afraid I’m not much company when I run, however.”

 

“Don’t have to talk to be a good companion,” Lestrade disagreed, with a friendly smile. He walked over to the nearby water fountain and bent to take a long drink. His throat moved as he swallowed, and Mycroft felt flushed. “We should maybe do this again.” There was the faintest inflection of a question there.

 

Mycroft was regretful, the man was being polite, not genuine. “Unfortunately my Saturdays are rarely my own.” Actually his weekends yawned emptily and if he filled them with work, it was merely to mask how still and lonely his house was. He'd once had a social life, hobbies and interests. Somehow over the years he'd let work and his responsibilities to Sherlock take over his life. 

 

“Oh...course.” Lestrade seemed...disappointed?

 

“However,” Mycroft continued, feeling bold and hopeful, “There are benefits to challenging my staff, from time to time.”

 

Lestrade regarded him brightly, clearly happy at the thought of a repeat of today’s run. “You’ve got my number, yeah? Call me next weekend if it looks like you’re free.” He backed away, smile pert, “Give ‘em hell, eh?” Then he was gone, strong legs flexing in the sun. Mycroft absolutely did not check him out as he jogged away.

 

Well, not much.




*******




Purely by happenstance Mycroft learned that Lestrade would be attending a beer tasting at a local pub in his neighborhood that Friday. Since, by some odd chance, the Korean contingent with whom he was to meet were most mysteriously delayed at the airport during their layover in Dubai, Mycroft found himself unexpectedly free. Deciding that his fascination with the Detective Inspector wasn’t waning, and that since he had free time and knew where the man was to be, it might be time to attempt seduction once more.

 

An hour later he sauntered into the pub, long blonde hair draping his scantily clad shoulders, perfectly made up hazel eyes scanning the room. His long-legged form was generously curved, a fact put to great advantage by the spike heels and silken shift dress he had chosen. Despite his dazzling display as Lady Bracknell in secondary school, Mycroft always felt odd in a dress. His (currently) non-existent manly parts were but a good breeze away from being on display. Not that he had anything to be ashamed of. Quite the contrary. Still. One had standards.

 

The pub was buzzing with the energy of the crowd the event had drawn, and while it wasn’t crowded or stifling, Mycroft would have left if he hadn't had an objective in mind. Mycroft’s hardly the life of the party, he remembered his university flatmate and supposed friend, Simon, laughing. The remark had stung, although Mycroft had chuckled along with Simon and his parents. 

 

I’m not Mycroft tonight, he reminded himself, pushing out his chest and putting a swivel in his hips, no one has ever said no to Michelle. Michelle was, objectively speaking, gorgeous, especially if one were a man already inclined to be attracted to flashy, curvaceous blondes. 

 

He found Lestrade with ease, standing next to a table near the middle of the room, along the wall. He was obviously comfortable in the company of the people he was with; a roughly equal mix of men and women, ranging from their late thirties to early fifties, all professionals of one sort or another. Mycroft didn’t delve deeper than ascertaining whether any of them were Lestrade’s date. Although more than one of them harboured inclinations, none of them were currently attached to him. Excellent.

 

Trite though it was, Mycroft had found that a little meet-cute involving clumsiness and a spilled drink worked wonders at breaking the ice. Sickeningly sweet something-or-other-tini in hand, “Michelle” minced “her” way across the room, drawing near to Lestrade’s group. With a cute little oops! they collided, seemingly on accident, and Michelle clutched at Lestrade, swaying on her heels, breasts pressing against his arm. 

 

“Steady on!” He grabbed at her forearm, steadying Michelle. He surveyed the drink splashed on the floor and dotting their shoes. “Whoops--looks like you lost most of it.”

 

Holding up the glass with the remnants of drink, Michelle bit her lip, eyes on Lestrade’s, “Oh dear. I’m so clumsy.” A cute little giggle punctuated the statement. 

 

He smiled nicely, “Naw, it’s a bit crowded in here. I probably stepped into you--bit clumsy, me.”

 

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Michelle responded breathily, swaying closer. Lestrade’s eyes widened in surprise. “My first drink of the night, too!” A wistful sigh, “I really needed it after the week I had...”

 

“Let me buy you another,” Lestrade said gallantly. 

 

“Oh I couldn’t trouble you!” At least two of the women at the table behind them rolled their eyes.

 

“No, please...my pleasure.” Lestrade gestured for her to proceed him, putting a light hand on her elbow as they manoeuvred through the press of chattering pub-goers. They fetched up at the bar and he signaled to the bartender, who nodded and continued making change. “I’m, uh, Greg, by the way.”

 

“My-Michelle,” Mycroft breathed as Michelle, aware of how close he’d come to giving the game away. What was wrong with him? He’d never once come close to outing himself. It must be the strange effect Lestrade had on him. He --she-- held out a friendly hand, “So nice of you to buy me a drink.”

 

“‘Least I can do,” Lestrade said nicely. He seemed more comfortable than when “Mike” had approached him, which was depressing, but he was still a bit ill at ease.

 

Stupid to be disheartened that Lestrade clearly favoured females. After all, this was purely a one-time thing. Just to allow Mycroft to get his yen for the man out of his system. He’d never been fixated on anyone for longer than a single encounter. He needed one good shag to inoculate him, then he could move on with his customary equanimity. “Greg, that’s a nice name. Manly.” Like you, Michelle’s eyes telegraphed.

 

“Had it for years,” Lestrade quipped, smiling a bit. “You here with friends?”

 

“No,” Michelle sighed wistfully, “I was supposed to meet my workmate, Suzanne, but she texted to say her sitter cancelled. I suppose I’ll just have my drink and leave…” A slow, upward blink of Michelle’s big eyes, “Go home to my lonely flat and watch telly, I suppose...maybe have a hot bubble bath.” There was Lestrade’s opening. Take it, stupid. Then take me.

 

“Sounds like a nice night in.”

 

For Christ’s sake man!

 

“Mm...suppose.” Michelle might have said more, only the bartender arrived and they ordered. “Yummy,” she enthused, sipping, smiling coyly up at Greg, “thanks again for coming to my rescue.”

 

“My pleasure,” he said nicely. There was an awkward, expectant pause. Glancing at the table of his friends, Lestrade rubbed his hands together, “Um, if you’re at loose ends, maybe you’d join us? Just some friends of mine from way back...we’re hanging out, doing the beer tasting.”

 

“Oh I’d love to!” Michelle enthused, “If you’re sure it’s not an imposition?”

 

He gestured for her to proceed him, “It would be a pleasure.”

 

It was, Mycroft reflected sourly later that evening as he let himself into his home, the only pleasure they had experienced. Lestrade had been friendly and charming, but seemingly immune to Michelle’s charms, although his politely concealed signs of attraction said that he found Michelle’s form easy on the eyes. 

 

The evening, although it hadn’t ended as Mycroft had hoped, had actually been quite nice. If he hadn’t had an objective in mind he would have been quite happy to spend several hours in Lestrade’s company, and that of his friends, who turned out to be entirely pleasant, even considering that a stranger had inserted herself among them. Of course, who wouldn’t have enjoyed having an attractive, well-mannered woman such as Michelle enhance their evening? Mycroft would have thoroughly enjoyed himself, despite the crowds, had he been there as himself. Indeed, it had been rather difficult to rein in his impulse to murmur the type of witty asides he’d grown accustomed to sharing with Lestrade in recent years. Lestrade had always seemed receptive to them, but they had no place in a seduction. 

 

What on earth, Mycroft wondered in irritation, ripping off Michelle’s dress and flinging it across the room, did the man want?



******




The perfect opportunity to ask him came the next day. Mycroft, sternly telling his heart to cease fluttering so foolishly, had risen eagerly and dressed in his nicest running attire, the sleek black tights with the red racing stripe up the legs, and the long-sleeved red t-shirt with the zip at the neck. He toyed with the zip, pulling it down a bit to display a tuft of his reddish chest hair; eyeing himself in the mirror, Mycroft damned himself for an idiot. Lestrade had no interest in his chest, chest hair or person. Yanking the zip savagely up, he laced his running shoes in foul humour. The anticipation with which he had been regarding this day all week had diminished.

 

Some of it returned, however, when he entered the park and saw Lestrade waiting near the entrance for him. His brown eyes were bright, his smile brilliant, “Hey, you made it!”

 

“Good morning,” Mycroft responded, feeling himself smile broadly quite against his will. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting.”

 

“Naw, I was just eager to, um... to get started with my day, left the house early and walked over here.” Lestrade waved at Charles, who was once again shadowing Mycroft, “Mate.”

 

Mycroft could practically feel Charles’ Cambridge-educated soul shrivel a little at being hailed as ‘mate.’ It gave him the urge to laugh which he found almost impossible to overcome. Looking into Lestrade’s mischievous dark eyes, he knew the man had done it to that purpose. “Naughty,” he whispered, and Lestrade’s eye went darker and brighter at once. “Shall we?” He asked lightly, holding a hand before them. He needed to run, to sweat, to focus on his body, not on this desire to tease and laugh and flirt with Lestrade. Not something it was advisable to do as himself. Good God, would anything be more humiliating than taking a light-hearted moment between acquaintances and making it tawdry and unwelcome?

 

They stretched--Mycroft only scoping out Lestrade’s legs, arse and form one tiny time. Alright, three times, if he were to be perfectly honest. Perhaps four or five if one counted the entirely accidental crossing of Lestrade in front of the path of his eyes and said eyes willingness to follow. Warmed, they started off on an easy lope, soon falling into rhythm with one another, their strides synched. There was something pleasing about the slap of their shoes on the pathway, the flow of their breathing. Mycroft settled, relaxing into his stride and let himself enjoy the company. 

 

By the time their two hours had lapsed he was glowing from the effort and grateful to cool down and drink his fill at the fountain. Stretching, he stepped back and smiled at Lestrade, “It was nice to have a running partner.”

 

“Same,” Lestrade agreed, using the hem of his t-shirt as a handkerchief to devastating effect. Mycroft rather hoped Lestrade’s hair was sweaty enough to cause more perspiration to run down his face and ensure the need for a repeat action. “Say…” he drew the back of his hand slowly across his mouth, chasing stray droplets of water, eyes on Mycroft, “I’ve...not got much on today. Fancy a drink?”

“...I…”

 

“There’s a café close by, maybe we could grab something cool to drink, load up on carbs after our work out?” Lestrade’s eyes looked hopeful. Mycroft was almost certain he was truly seeking a positive reply.

 

“That...would be lovely,” Mycroft agreed weakly, ignoring Charles’ masked astonishment. Just because his mingling with the public was unprecedented didn’t mean he couldn’t begin new traditions, now did it?



******



As to be expected on a Saturday morning, the café was quite busy, but they were able to snag a table. Mycroft only felt mildly guilty that Charles was left to squash up on a sofa with a boisterous pair of teenage boys. He was well-paid.

 

“My shout,” Lestrade said, backing toward the queue, “what’ll you have?”

 

“Oh--” Mycroft quickly scanned the board, “A large iced green tea and a-an almond croissant, please.”

 

“That it?” Lestrade asked, so tempting. “Me?--I’m starved.” His mischievous smile returned, “Gonna eat a sinful amount of food.”

 

“Surprise me,” Mycroft’s reply was far breathier than he’d intended. 

 

Lestrade’s eyes were fathoms deep, “Think I can manage that.”

 

When he returned, he was carrying their drinks and a croissant, “Back in a tick,” he said, and was gone before Mycroft could offer assistance. Returning once more, he set down another croissant, this one chocolate, and a slice of quiche, and some sort of breakfast wrap. “Wasn’t sure what you might like. I got quiche Lorraine and a Mediterranean veggie wrap.”

 

Mycroft licked his lips, he was frankly starving, “We could...share?”

 

“Just what I hoped you’d say!” Lestrade nudged a fork toward him, “Don’t be shy.”

 

Over their meal they unwound, talking their way from acquaintances who had mostly only ever dealt with matters pertaining to Sherlock, to men who had much, it turned out, in common. Their differences were stimulating, the experiences they shared of their youth and early adulthood led to them sitting long at the table, as people came and went around them, and Charles read and reread the morning paper. Mycroft leaned his chin on his hand, smirking, “You had a Mohawk!”

 

“And don’t forget the safety pin through the eyebrow and the brooding look of teen disdain.” Lestrade put away his phone, chuckling. “I keep that picture there to remind me I was an arsehole kid once too.” He sighed, shaking his head, “Hard to keep in mind when my brother’s teens are being dicks. Makes me sorta glad I never had kids of my own.”

“You and your wife never wanted…” Mycroft trailed off, appalled that he’d asked a question about such a private and personal matter, but it had slipped out.

 

“Might have been something we talked of as ‘one day,’ in the beginning. But I was ambitious, and busy, and she wanted to teach dance and focus on her work as an understudy, and we kept putting it off.” Lestrade pulled a face, “For the best, as it turned out. ‘Incompatible’ was what they put on the divorce papers. Pretty true, in our case.”

 

“Better to know that and get out,” Mycroft said far more gently than was his wont, “Than to remain out of duty and be miserable.”

 

Lestrade lifted his gaze from the table and the remains of their meal, “Yeah...that’s true.” He pressed crumbs under his fingertip, transferred them to the plate. “Thanks, Mycroft.”

 

There was a tiny pause. It was the first time either of them had used the other’s first name, and it felt thrillingly intimate. 

 

Mycroft smiled back, “No thanks needed, Greg.”

 

Only marginally was Mycroft aware of Charles’ stifled restlessness on the sofa, of the passing hours, of the sweat which had dried on his skin, of the probable disaster which was his hair. None of it seemed to matter. Mycroft wanted to go on existing in this moment forever. Rarely had he been so comfortable, and it very much appeared as if Greg felt the same. However, he was reminded, when glancing at the time, of his obligations. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself, Greg, but I’m afraid I have to go.”

 

“‘m glad you could spend a bit of time with me...hope I didn’t keep you from anything too important.”

 

“Not at all,” Mycroft assured him warmly, tidying his things into a pile and reaching for Greg’s empty plate. “No, no, you paid, I’ll clean up.” He stood, reluctant to leave, but duty called. “Thank you for feeding me...perhaps--” Now was the time for boldness. “Perhaps I can return the favour sometime?”

 

Greg’s eyes were so warm that Mycroft felt as if he stood in the sun, “I’d love that,” he said simply. “You have my number, tell me whens a good time for you.”



*******




Mycroft’s hunger for Greg wasn’t subdued by spending time with him. If anything, it seemed to have grown, as if fed by the dazzling possibility of what they might be capable of together. While the other man’s manner hadn’t been markedly flirtatious, Mycroft had found himself wondering if it were possible that Greg had some minor degree of attraction towards him, even if it were unconscious.

 

Perhaps it was simply that he was a warm and personable person, and Mycroft, who had long ago encased himself in ice, just failed to recognize normal human behaviour. Or maybe Greg truly was bisexual and interested in men and had gone too long without sex and even Mycroft was beginning to look good.

 

Unable to bear it any longer, Mycroft transformed himself once more. A man, but this time older, closer to his true age. Instead of club-wear, he wore a v-neck jumper, jeans and approached Greg as Mick, a guitar instructor. They had a perfectly pleasant conversation at the music shop where Mycroft had learned Greg liked to spend time browsing old records. When Mick suggested coffee, Greg thanked him but didn’t accept. 

 

So instead Mycroft altered course. This time Mikaela, a quietly pretty physical education teacher in her late thirties, ran into Greg while he was shopping for a birthday gift for one of his nephews. Their encounter was friendly but impersonal. 

 

Mycroft, annoyed, sexually frustrated and perplexed, took a too-hot shower while determinedly not indulging his body in physical release--although it cried out for it--and brooded on what Greg Lestrade wanted. He’d tried women, younger and older, flashy and demure; men of both description struck out as well. It was impossible to pin down what turned the man on.



******



He’d more or less given up the idea of ever experiencing passion in Greg’s arms; matters were becoming urgent, however, and Mycroft resigned himself to some anonymous hook up. It would satisfy the sexual desire thrumming through his veins, but not the need for Greg. The fact that he was yearning for a specific man made him feel a degree of panic. No one in his life had ever affected him so strongly...Mycroft wasn’t used to having his libido out of his control and he despised it.

 

A few weeks after his last strike-out, Mycroft despaired of ever seeing Greg again. Neither of their schedules had allowed them to meet for another run, much less the promised dinner they’d discussed in their follow up texts. Moodily, Mycroft even went so far as to muse that it was the universe’s way of telling him that it just wasn’t destined to be. He’d always known he was to be a solitary creature, but it had never before bothered him so. Sex aside, he found he rather missed the pleasure of Greg’s company. 

 

When he did finally run into Greg, it was at John’s birthday dinner, to which the doctor had politely invited him, despite Sherlock’s scowls. Mycroft, of course, had no intention of making an appearance, until he realized that if he were invited, surely Greg Lestrade had been as well. Refusing to get his hopes up, Mycroft didn’t even change from his usual work attire, instead walking into Angelo’s in his dark blue three-piece, furled umbrella hooked over his arm, casually surveying the homely restaurant, quiet on a Wednesday night. John, Sherlock, Mrs Hudson, Mike Stamford, Molly Hooper and Greg were sitting at a long table with a few other people Mycroft didn’t recognize, chatting over glasses of wine. 

 

“Oh Lord,” Mycroft heard his brother groan theatrically, but John elbowed him in the side and stood to greet Mycroft, friendly enough. Much of his early belligerence had faded over the years; he was astute enough to realize that they had a common goal: keeping Sherlock Holmes safe, sane and occupied.

 

“Hope I haven’t kept you all from ordering,” Mycroft said, taking a seat on the long bench along the wall. Greg moved over obligingly, smiling at him. He surveyed the table, which was littered with wine bottles and half-eaten baskets of bread, but no food.

 

“Not a bit of it,” Greg said cheerfully, snagging a clean wine glass and filling it from the last of the bottle in front of him. “Hope you’re okay with red, it was the only thing on the wine list that didn’t make Sherlock sniff.”

 

“Thank you,” Mycroft murmured, propping his umbrella next to him and taking it. “Your health, Doctor Watson.” Raising his glass in salute, he shared a civil smile with the man. Lowering his voice, Mycroft said for Greg’s ears alone, “This comes none too soon.”

 

“Bad day?” Greg was sympathetic. He leaned in to keep their exchange private. Mycroft tried not to be warmed by the gesture.

 

“Hideous week, actually.”

 

“And here it’s only Wednesday.”

 

“Today alone has lasted at least a month.”

 

Greg reached for one of the fresh bottles of wine Angelo had just delivered to the table, snatching it right out from under Sherlock’s hand. He topped up Mycroft’s glass, “Get that in you and tell me all about it.” Laughing, he winked at Mycroft, “Or as much as you can without having to have me killed.”

 

“Nothing so crass,” Mycroft rejoined, feeling suddenly lighthearted, “Mere banishment to the upper Hebrides.”

 

“Horror!” Greg gasped, and they giggled over their wine.

 

Mycroft ignored Sherlock’s suspicious glower and focused on the surprisingly good wine, the excellent bread Greg was plying him with, and the growing ease between them. The group at the table disappeared, the restaurant around them shrank, until it was just the two of them, sharing a soft, candle-lit dinner, wine flowing, conversation easy, teasing, exhilarating. It was seductive. Greg was seductive. Particularly when he was resting along Mycroft’s side, one hand light upon Mycroft’s thigh.

 

Mycroft blinked gravely at Greg’s hand. “Hello.”

 

“Hello. Should I move my hand?”

 

“Yes--” Greg drew in a quick little breath and began to move his hand immediately. Mycroft swiftly moved to cover it with his own, trapping it warmly, looking up to meet Greg’s eyes, “But only because I want you to move your hand higher and this is quite assuredly not the time nor place.”

 

Greg’s sigh was shaky, his eyes flooding with relief, “Thank God, thought I’d read you wrong.”

 

“You very much read me right,” Mycroft said softly, moving his hand and accepting with regret the circumspect relocating of Greg’s hand to his own lap. Dinner was over and they were all just lingering; soon they would begin to depart and he could be alone with Greg. Hopefully somewhere private, with a door which locked and a soft bed. Or no bed. He wouldn’t quibble, as long as they were alone.




******



“Thank God we’re finally alone,” Greg groaned, tipping his head back against the inside of his flat door while Mycroft nibbled at his enticing neck. “Fuck, you feel amazing, Mycroft.” His hands roamed restlessly over Mycroft’s back and chest. They’d laughed as they struggled to get him out of his jacket and waistcoat, Greg’s hastily dragged off jumper abandoned on the floor, his shirttails flapping. Mycroft had looked into Greg’s happy, laughing face and felt as if he were falling.

 

They’d barely made it in the privacy of Greg’s flat before they were kissing, frantic, messy and breathless. Mycroft kept laughing, simply because he was happy, because Greg was laughing, because they were striking sparks between them. He felt as if thousands of fireflies had filled his entire being, lighting him up from the inside. The sex would be amazing with that kind of chemistry. 

 

Assuming they ever made it that far. Greg seemed more than happy to keep kissing him, and Mycroft was hardly going to complain. He’d had actual sex which wasn’t as intimate as kissing Greg Lestrade.

 

“So do you,” Mycroft breathed, licking delicately at the hollow of Greg’s throat, tasting salt, faded cologne, a hint of soap and warm male. He groaned, unable to help himself, “You taste divine…”

 

Greg all but whimpered, digging his fingers into Mycroft’s shoulders, tugging at him a little until he could bring Mycroft’s mouth back to his own. “Can’t stop kissing you,” he murmured against Mycroft’s lips. “Don’t ask me to, alright?”

 

“I shan’t,” Mycroft agreed, delighted and charmed. He couldn’t cease smiling, and it seemed to have infected Greg as well, whose lips curved against his own. He pulled away long enough to meet those dancing brown eyes and they smiled at one another, before eagerly diving back in for more kisses. Mycroft was beginning to suspect they wouldn’t make it to a bed, much less out of their clothes; the need to keep his hands in contact with Greg drove him almost frantic. 

 

Finally they stumbled to the sofa, nearly tripping over the messy coffee table; Mycroft barked his shin and barely felt it. Grateful for a safe place to land, Mycroft tumbled back onto the sofa, dragging a willing Greg down with him, and welcomed his sweet weight pressing him into the cushions. Greedily, he hooked an ankle around Greg’s, and wrapped his arms around him, mouths fused. Greg groaned, dragging his hands through Mycroft’s hair, angling his head so he could kiss him more deeply. “You’re so sexy it kills me,” he breathed, brushing his nose over Mycroft’s cheek, tasting his skin, lipping softly at his earlobe. 

 

Mycroft thrilled to his bones. “Me?” He asked, incredulous.

 

Greg pulled back, met his eyes, “You. You, Mycroft Holmes. I’ve been dying for you for months…” he kissed him again, nipping lightly at his lower lip, giving it a little tug that made Mycroft’s heart somersault in his chest, “...years. God.”

 

Mycroft dug his fingers into Greg’s muscles, held him close, “I’ve...been mildly obsessed with you for some time,” he managed, throat inexplicably tight. “Thought it was one-sided.”

 

“Anything but,” Greg’s hot breath ghosted over his lips. He feathered Mycroft’s face lightly with tender little kisses. “Why are we still talking, gorgeous? We could be kissing.”

 

Quite right, Mycroft would have said, only Greg consumed his mouth and burned up his thoughts. Adrift in unparallelled sensuality, Mycroft clung to Greg, the only thing keeping him anchored. His hips moved in short, aborted movements, hampered by being pinned to the sofa. Greg slid a questing hand over his crotch, humming a query, and Mycroft bucked into his palm. “Christ,” he was dimly aware of Greg muttering, breath ragged, before they were struggling to open their flies. Greg took them both in hand, bracing himself just above Mycroft with the other. Their chests were pressed together, mouths tangling hungrily as they moved, unable to bear being farther away than necessary.

 

Nerve endings alight, Mycroft felt his climax approach with startling, visceral swiftness, far sooner than he would have liked, but hardly had time to mourn his lack of control as his body was gripped by a shockwave of pleasure. Crying out roughly into his open, panting mouth, Greg pumped against him once, twice, and then came with a long, drawn out shudder. 

 

Muscles twitching, they lay in a loose heap, breath sawing in and out. Eventually Greg slid a little to one side, nestling himself in between Mycroft and the sofa back, mostly still draped over Mycroft, who stroked Greg’s damp back through the wrinkled cotton of his shirt. Completely relaxed as he so rarely was, Mycroft dimly wondered at the fact that his body hadn’t rebelled; normally when he orgasmed it was a struggle to keep himself from reverting to his true form. I’ve never come as myself, he realized in shock, as Greg snuggled his head onto his shoulder with a sleepy sigh of satisfaction. Perhaps that was the difference.

 

Comfortable as he was, Mycroft was aware there was a shelf-life to the afterglow. Although he couldn’t see the time he was achingly aware that Greg would begin to grow restive, and soon would come the suggestion that it was growing late, he had to work, he had plans...this was fun but he really needed his sleep.

 

“Hope you c’n stay the night,” Greg yawned, petting Mycroft’s stomach sleepily, “Wanna make you breakfast in the morning... after I wake you properly.”

 

Mycroft’s breath stuttered; he blinked at the top of Greg’s head in shock. “B-breakfast?” He wanted him to remain all night?

 

“Mm-hm…” Greg lifted his head, dark eyes devastatingly soft, and kissed him gently on the lips, sated, but with the promise of returning passion. “Gonna spoil you.”

 

“I’d...like that,” Mycroft managed to say through the tightness in his throat. His arms, which had loosened, drew more firmly around Greg, “I’ll gladly stay.” He swallowed, “I simply didn’t think…”

 

“What?” Greg raised his head again when Mycroft failed to finish. “What’d you think?”

 

“You could have anyone,” Mycroft said simply.

 

“I don’t want ‘anyone.’ I want you.”

 

That was the difference, Mycroft realized in wonder, tears stinging his eyes. Being wanted for himself. Before he could rethink it, raise caution, halt his hasty tongue, Mycroft spoke, “I shall cherish you, Greg Lestrade.”

 

He felt Greg’s smile against his chest, over his heart, as he spoke, “Gonna cherish you too, sunshine. You’re special. One of a kind.”