There's a peculiar loneliness to being single in a big city. Surrounded by nearly nine million people, London still echoed on the weekends. Greg had tried dating, to varying degrees of success, following his extremely acrimonious divorce. Blind dates. Set-ups. Dating apps. Swallowing nerves and approaching people in bars. It was all...empty. He knew he wasn't some rare flower, but why could he find no one to fit him? After a while it was less hassle--and heartache--to give up. Maybe at forty-nine he was destined to be alone.
In the evenings after work, if a case didn't eat into the time, Greg had errands to run, or an invite to drinks from someone at the Met. He could go to the Library, or maybe take a jog. Weekends were the worst. There was only so much cleaning and telly to fill the time. Most of his friends were married, or divorced with kids. Greg sort of got...lost. People assumed he had a life outside work. Funny how one of Cheryl's complaints had been how much time he gave to his career, and now she was gone he had too much time. Since making DCI, Greg spent very little time at work in the evenings, overnight or pulling overtime on the weekends. He'd finally attained status, seniority, respect, gotten the perks and the pay, the good hours...and there was no one to enjoy those things with.
Frankly it was a relief to be asked to stay late that dreary winter night; his Friday night was just the solitary precursor to an empty weekend. Mycroft Holmes seemed tired, but he was as polite as ever, "I appreciate your personal attention to this matter, Lestrade."
"It's no problem," Greg assured him, not bothering to invite him yet again to call him Greg. They'd known each other for well on to fifteen years now, and the senior Holmes had never relaxed his formality. "I'm always happy to help, you know that."
Mycroft smiled, easing the lines of stress. He wasn't classically handsome, but Greg had grown exceedingly fond of his face over the years. He had a dignity, kindness and intelligence which shone from him, especially when it was just the two of them. While he'd never been "chummy" he always treated Greg with respect and a certain degree of friendliness, behaving much less the granite-faced government official and far more the very human man Greg knew him to be. "Well, nonetheless, you have my thanks. Don't let me keep you from your no doubt busy weekend."
Greg thought of his pile of ironing, the cooker he supposed he might as well clean. Telly filled the silence and the hours. "Yeah...I'm sure you've got to get on with it."
Mycroft sighed soundlessly, "I'm off to Heathrow...I'm due in New York City."
Greg was impressed and envious, "Bloody hell, that sounds great. Have a good time, eh?" he smiled a bit, "Cocktails in speakeasies and the tree in Rockefeller, is it?"
"Mm," the other man answered, easing on his gloves, "It's for work, but the city offers much for any visitor."
"Well...enjoy." Greg stuck out his hand, and Mycroft grasped it, giving it a firm shake. As always, Greg's palm tingled at the touch, and he suppressed the urge to pull Mycroft closer, invite him for a drink, dinner...anything. As always, he let go.
"You as well, Lestrade. Have a pleasant weekend."
Later that night, in his joggers, hoody and ski socks, Greg nursed a cider while working his way through the bills which needed paying. No rush...Saturday and Sunday still loomed ahead of him. Briefly, his mind flashed to Mycroft, who would be above the Atlantic just then. Swallowing another all-too-sad-sounding sigh, Greg gave one last wistful thought to the fantasy of waking up in some extravagant hotel with Mycroft, enjoying breakfast in bed...enjoying one another in bed. Pulling the gas bill toward him, Greg shelved his daydreams. Just fantasy.
Surely after twenty years of frequent international travel, his body should be able to easily adjust to being in a different time zone? Unable to sleep despite his heavy eyes and sluggish brain, Mycroft finally tossed the high-thread count sheets off of him, and stood. Turning on one of the bedside lamps, he eased his cold feet into slippers and shuffled over to the window. The nighttime skyline of New York City never failed to impress, and he stood for some time, admiring it. Finally he turned away and picked up the television remote; if he couldn't sleep he might as well watch The Food Network. An hour later, now very hungry thanks to the cooking show, he placed an order with room service. The hotel was wonderfully staffed, and well used to unusual requests, including an order for a "burger and fries" and a chocolate milkshake at past one in the morning.
Appetite sated, Mycroft let himself settle sideways onto the arm of the sofa. Curling one arm around a throw pillow, he half paid attention to the contestants on Chopped. The rest of his mind drifted back to the thoughts of Lestrade which had been keeping him awake. There were times when Mycroft half-fancied that the other man looked at him with a sort of personal interest. Pure fancy, of course. Greg Lestrade was...luminescent, dynamic, charming. Nothing like the dry, dull government drone he knew himself to be. It was Saturday in London; no doubt Lestrade would have a weekend full of friends, plans, outings. Dates, more than likely. He could even be seeing someone exclusively. Mycroft, used to facing unpleasant truths head on, hadn't looked closely at Lestrade's personal life in years.
But...how lovely it would be to have him curled against his side here, a bulwark against the lonely life Mycroft led. His mind slipped further into wild fantasy... Better yet, they could be in bed. Tangled in the sheets, damp skin sliding together, breathless laughter, soft moans...waking in the morning to feed one another bites of French toast. Holding hands as they stole a little free time to walk the city. It was almost Christmas, and a certain magic sparkle overlaid the throbbing energy of New York. Mycroft could help Lestrade pick out gifts for his nieces at FAO Schwartz. Sip hot chocolate after an embarrassing and delightful stint on ice skates. Wind their arms around one another as they gazed at the tree at Rockefellar Center. Hugging one arm around his empty middle, Mycroft closed his eyes and dared to dream for just one night.
The text came late Saturday afternoon, as Mycroft was heading into yet another dull meeting. Glancing at his mobile, he felt a prickle of alarm. Texts from Lestrade were rare, to say the least, and usually precluded a horrible announcement involving Sherlock. But his brother had been settled, sober and marginally manageable for the past several years. However, it was past ten in the evening in London, and Mycroft stamped down worry as he signaled that he needed a moment. Finding an empty copy room, Mycroft shut the door and placed a call. "Mycroft?" Lestrade sounded confused.
"Lestrade, I received a text from you--is something wrong?"
"A text?" Lestrade's voice was a bit sluggish. Perhaps he'd been pulled in on a case and was sleep-deprived.
Mycroft put him on speaker and read, "'I should just tell him already.'" The silence which followed was so deep and absolute that Mycroft looked at the mobile to ensure there was still a connection. "Lestrade? Are you there?"
Silence and then...a sigh. "Um. Yeah. Yes. I'm...here."
"Is there something wrong?" Mycroft ran a weary hand down his face. "Is it Sherlock?"
"What? No. No, no! He's fine. Least he was last time I saw him."
"...I um, sent you a text by mistake. I was talking to my sister, Michelle. Guess I sent it to you instead."
Mycroft cleared his throat, "Of course. I do apologize for bothering you."
"No bother," Lestrade said. He sounded almost as if he had been drinking. His diction was the careful sort a man might employ when he was aware he wasn't entirely sober. "I'm sorry I disturbed you. Important man like you doesn't need to be distracted by me."
"You can distract me any time," Mycroft muttered.
Mycroft stilled. Damn. He'd forgotten how very good the sound quality was on this new mobile, and like a fool he'd left it on speaker.
"Mycroft?" Greg sounded bewildered; there was something almost young and vulnerable in the way he said Mycroft's name and it hit him like a punch in the gut.
Closing his eyes, he said goodbye to his dignity. "Yes."
"Did you... Are you..." Lestrade trailed off and for a minute they both breathed down the line at one another. Finally he spoke again, hesitant, his tone under-laid with fragile hope. "Did you mean that?"
Courage, Mycroft thought. "You've been drinking--"
"'m not drunk!" Lestrade protested immediately.
"And," Mycroft continued, "I'm thirty-five hundred miles away from you at this precise moment. I, I rather think I'd like to have this conversation in person, sober." Humour emerged, "Relatively sober, anyway. I, er, might need a drink to discuss my personal life."
Sounding cautiously optimistic, Lestrade ventured, "Just how personal are we gonna get?"
"As personal as you'd welcome," Mycroft replied, biting his lip. He could not believe this conversation was taking place.
"That's...gonna be pretty intensely personal, if you wanna know."
Thank Christ, Mycroft thought, a smile breaking out. His heart was beating fast and joyfully under his waistcoat, and he had to consciously still the tremble of excitement in his hands.
"Hope that's okay," Lestrade continued.
"It's the most welcome news I've heard in years." There was a tap on the copy room door, and Mycroft looked up to see an apologetic Anthea gesturing at him. "I...damn, Lestrade--Greg--I have to go. Duty, I'm afraid."
"Go," Greg said softly, sounding happy. "I'll be here when you're ready."
Mycroft swallowed the now habitual urge to suppress his instincts, and spoke, "I've been ready for you for years, Greg."
Greg's smile was evident in his voice, "Me too, Mycroft...now go, be brilliant and then call me. No matter how late...I'm too excited to sleep."
"I know just how you feel," Mycroft said softly.