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Wibbly Wobbly Shenanigans- Mystrade

Chapter Text

For the first seven years of his life, Mycroft Holmes loved his birthday, and for good reason as it was one of few days where his parents stopped working and focused all of their attention on him. At the time, Mycroft was an only child, so to have someone dote and cherish you for the sake of it was one of the best feelings. Everything about his birthday had to be perfect: the cake, the presents and the music. Birthdays were something to celebrated then, however, this all changed when Mycroft was in his 7th year, his parents had given him a baby brother as a late birthday present, since then, every birthday was shared: when Sherlock was a baby he had to be fed, burped and changed; when he was a toddler, the younger Holmes would get praise for speaking; when he was a young child, Sherlock would open all of Mycroft's presents before he had woken up.

Since then, birthdays were anti-climatic, they were a chore like everything else in life; it was something that was no longer cherished, but begrudged. He still celebrated his birthday until his was 18, then his birthday would come like every other day, without the excitement or the anticipation, no presents or cards, except maybe from his parents. Birthdays were cancelled, and that was that.

It was not often that Greg had moments of realisation since he was dating, in his opinion, the smartest man in the whole of Britain, so there was no need to think about anything, which gave him more time to plan: birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day, anniversaries... Etc.. It wasn't until he was buying a Christmas present for Mycroft that he had a moment of realisation, (which is all well and good, but not in the middle of debenhams), he never knew when Mycroft's birthday was. As ludicrous as it sounds, it never really came up in conversation and they were both too busy to realise what was happening, but two years had gone past, and Greg realised he never knew the date of his partner's birthday, which is ridiculous, he mumbled to himself, I know everything about that man except the day his was born..

The moment of realisation dawned on him, causing him to drop the bottle he was holding in his hand, causing the liquid to spill all over the floor, "Fucking Hell" he exclaimed staring at the shattered pieces of glass scattered across the floor.

"Sir," The shop assistant said calmly, trying to catch his attention, "but we do not tolerate that kind of language in our store, especially in front of children"

Greg sighed, "I will stop fucking swearing when you bloody give me advice. I've been dating my partner for two years this February, and I'm yet to find out his birthday, and I dropped his fucking present on the floor. So wipe that patronising smile off your face and help me plan!"

An hour later, and Debenhams had closed early, with a large proportion of it's staff helping the detective inspector with the plan's for Mycroft's birthday. It was two hours later when they finally departed, Greg was armed with two things: Mycroft's Christmas Present, gift wrapped especially by the store assistants and the plan for the younger man's birthday, and Greg was sure it was going to be the best one yet.

The day had finally rolled up, the big day, March 28th, in which Greg had planned the most kick-ass birthday.. Ever..

They day dawned on them, bright as ever, the sun blaring through the windows on to their bed, and Greg rolled over to Mycroft and kissed him on the forehead.

"you're up to something" Mycroft groaned as he woke up from a sleepy haze, he rolled over to his boyfriend and smiled, "You haven't been this mysterious since you got promoted"

They both smiled at the thought, that was a bloody good night: champagne, shenanigans and a hangover to complete the next morning, and it would certainly stick in Greg's mind.. For a very long time..

"I'm never mysterious" Greg replied, smiling cheekily, "come-on slow coach, it's time to get going"

"But it's so early.." Mycroft replied, who even in his late 40s struggled to get out of bed, "..Need coffee"

The two sat down to breakfast in Greg's flat, happily munching on pancakes as they chartered and slowly drained their coffees. "Right," Greg said finally, "I have a surprise for you tonight"

"Gregory, I hate surprises, and you know I'll guess it, so please, just tell me" Mycroft pleaded. He hated surprises, it was the fear of the unknown, what if Greg left him?, what if someone died?, what if his life was just a sick jok-

"Myc, relax.." Greg kissed him softly, interrupting the thoughts of panic running turmoil in his mind, "We're just going to dinner"

Mycroft breathed a sigh of relief, and slipped his jacket on, ready to leave, before snatching another kiss from Gregory. He grabbed his briefcase and swiftly exited the door.

Greg grabbed his laptop and poured himself another cup of coffee, he had decided to stay at home for several reasons, and dedicated the day to planning and paperwork, because who said life in your 40s couldn't be exciting?

From:greglestrade@gmail.com

To: Sarah@debenhamsstaff.co.uk

Subject: Ready Set Go

Plan is in action.

Would you be able to drop the banners to my address? I'll text it to you.

I'll let you know how it goes,

Greg

From: Sarah@debenhamsstaff.co.uk

To:greglestrade@gmail.com

Subject: RE: Ready Set Go

Good luck Greg, we can't wait to see the pictures!

Sarah and the sales team

The evening had arrived, and they met each other at their favourite resteraunt. They quietly chatted about their days, filling the gaps of conversation with gossip and chitter-chatter, whilst eating the most delicious meal. When they finally got to the end of their desert, Greg had scootched closer to Mycroft, his eyes dancing with excitement.

"There's a reason I bought you out to dinner tonight, Myc" Greg said quietly, "And before you panic, it's not to propose and I'm not leaving you. Whilst I was in Debenhams a few months ago, I realised that I never knew your birthday, so naturally I wanted to plan the best birthday you could ever imagine, but that's not you, Myc. You want things calm and simple, and I love it that way, as much as I love you"

Mycroft leaned back, in shock, but his eyes were filled with anticipation, "Gregory" He started, "I'm speechless, I never imagined any of this"

Greg smiled, "I may be an idiot, but did you really expect me to believe that you didn't have a birthday?"

"You're not an idiot, Gregory," the younger man replied, slowly closing the gap between them and kissing him, as he pulled away, he rested his forehead against Gregory's, "You are the man I love, forever and always"

"I'm glad you said that," Greg beamed with delight, "because you need this", the detective inspector passed the package over to Mycroft, whose face was full of emotion. "happy birthday, Mycroft"

Like an excited child, Mycroft ripped open the present excitedly to discover a plain black box, decorated with a gold clasp. The government man looked over to the detective inspector, who nodded and smiled, "Open it" He said quietly.

Mycroft carefully opened the box to discover a picture of them on Valentine's Day, where Greg was affectionately kissing Mycroft's cheek, he turned it over, to discover a date, time and place. "Greg," He asked, "What's happening?"

"lift the picture"

Mycroft lifted the picture to discover a pile of confetti, which read "Happy Birthday" and underneath was a tiny figure of an open umbrella cast in silver, and on the handle it read, "Mycroft Holmes, Made in Britain, 28.03.67", a small tear dropped from Mycroft's face and a smile quickly followed it, he tried to speak but all that came out was words that anybody would mistake for a man in shock. Greg guided him to the car, and they shared a passionate kiss before driving off.

"I called your parents" Greg explained, "they said you had lost the love you had once had with birthdays, and you had never really celebrated them since. Apparently, you had never forgiven your father for not turning up for a drink on your 18th birthday, so you condemned the whole day, it no longer carried sentiment, it was just another day. But when I had my moment of realisation, I realised how much you truly loved spending the day with me on my birthday, and how you smiled the whole day, even when Sherlock was put in jail" He sat back, "actually, I think we were both smiling after that. I want you to have the best birthday you deserve"

The car pulled up to 221b Bakerstreet, where the door was slightly open, with a note, "come up, birthday party in progress"

They walked up to the flat to see great banners across the room, with "happy birthday Mycroft" emblazoned on every one, each banner with a different colour. He looked around the room and smiled to see his parents, his brother and John, and Gregory smiling proudly.

"Happy birthday, Mycroft" they all cheered and smiled, party poppers exploding with confetti, all over the tiny apartment.

Chapter Text

Summer in London for those who lived there did not live up to expectations: it was a constant incubator of suppressed stuffy heat, and constantly packed with tourists. It seemed that summer was the occasion where all the inhabitants of London left, and there places were filled by tourists from almost every nation, wanting to capture a peak of the beating heart of England.

for Things seemed to quieten down in the summer for both Greg and Mycroft: murderers, it seemed were not particularly found of the summer months, and the politicians had escaped on holiday; leaving the unlikely couple for a chance to relax, when other holidays and festivities were so hectic, the summer was a chance to sit back and forget that work ever existed. For two men who lived and breathed their occupations, this was quite frustrating, they had both taken a large amount of the holiday off to spend time with each other, but had actually spent a large quantity of their time complaining how boring the summer months were..

That was until, Greg suggested France. They hadn't planned on going away because their work was so unpredictable: there could be a crisis at any particular moment, so there wasn't any point of booking a holiday. But Greg needed to escape; as much as he loved London, he hated the tourists- in autumn it would take you ten minutes to get from their flat to the tube station, in the summer, it would take half an hour, as the streets were packed with tourists, constantly stopping to find out which street to go down or to take a picture outside of their favourite monument. It was safe to say that Greg had enough.

As he came in one day and lay down on the cool leather of the sofa, he broke the silence that quietly filled the room, "Let's go to France," He paused, waiting as Mycroft put down his blackberry, which was a silent shock for both of them, as the gadget was practically another limb.. "My parents live out there, so we wouldn't have to struggle to find a place, and it would give us a chance to actually get away from everything, and you putting your phone down would be a law for the whole time we were there."

Mycroft smiled, "I thought you were never going to ask," He replied, a smug grin slowly emerging, "But, I have two questions: the first being, when are we going? And the second, for how long?"

Greg kissed him, "To be honest, as soon as possible" He got up from his comfortable chair to walk into the open kitchen, rolling his sleeves up as his did, "I got hit by two selfie sticks today and I was stopped five times to take pictures of people."

"Goodness," Mycroft said, "Anyone would think you were bitter"

The detective inspector chuckled in response, bringing back two tumblers of whiskey as he walked into the room, "you obviously don't know me as well as you thought"

The next evening, the couple locked the flat they shared together and headed off to the airport. Greg was like a child going on holiday for the first time as Mycroft had hired the private jet used for all those working in the government for their flights, it was safe to say that Greg was looking forward to it.

Check-in and boarding was a breeze, and Greg quietly wondered why they didn't travel more often. The plane, was stunning: it was fitted with a bar with several brands of alcohol sitting proudly behind it, the sofas were furnished with white leather and decorated with coloured cushions and there was a small room for the pair, with a king sized bed sitting perfectly in the middle. The only word that came to Greg's mind was "wow", the place was fit for royalty. They spent a large amount of kissing and cuddling, (among an array of other shenanigans) and a small portion of the time chatting away about France.

As they were laying down, Mycroft lay as the big spoon, softly with the older man and playing with his hair, "How comes your parents live in France?" he asked quietly.

Greg turned around to face him and smiled, "My parents are both French, as you can tell the surname is certainly not English. My father is French only by nationality- he was born and raised in England, but he spent all of his holidays over there, so it was practically his second home. When he was 21, he took some friends out there to the place where his family always took him, and he met my mum: he was in a bar and she was a waitress, he wasn't particularly found of the bar and planned to leave after his first drink, but he was taken with her, and spent the rest of the night there, as well as the rest of the summer. They moved to England so Mum could get a better job and learn the language properly, and they decided it was best if the children that they raised were born and raised in England. After we had all grown up, my parents decided to move to the place they met."

"I can't wait to meet them," Mycroft said without a hint of sarcasm in his voice. "What an amazing story, so I'm guessing you were brought up with all the French traditions"

"Some" Greg replied, "They taught me to speak French from a very young language, and most of time we spoke it at home, so I was practically fluent before I started school"

"Je ne savais pas que tu pouvais parler français.." Mycroft said seductively.

[I didn't know you could speak French]

"Il ya beaucoup de choses que vous ne savez pas sur moi, Mycroft Holmes." Greg replied, bringing the younger man in to softly kiss him, slowly but surely weaving his hands into Mycroft's hair.

[There are lots of things you don't know about me, Mycroft Holmes]

"Je vais devoir trouver ensuite, parce que je suis désireux d'apprendre" Mycroft replied, deepening the kiss.

[I'll have to find out then, because I'm eager to learn]

This continued on for several minutes until someone knocked on their door, "I'm sorry for the intrusion, but we are about to get the plane ready to land, I must ask you to take your seats"

The men exited the room hand in hand, whispering to each other snippets in French as the plane landed safely on the Tarmac.

An hour or so later, they arrived at the Lestrade residence just outside of Bordeaux.

"Bonjour Gregory!" His mother said proudly as she ran out of the house, "Bonjour Mycroft!" As she excitedly galloped into the courtyard she gathered both men into a tight hug. "Votre père est dans le bureau, Gregory, qu'il avait hâte de vous revenir, nous vous avons tellement manqué."

[Your father is in the office, Gregory, he was looking forward to you coming back, we have both missed you so much]

Greg smiled, "il est très agréable d'être à la maison, maman," He said as he embraced his mother.

[it's lovely to be home, Mum]

She stood back, "Et vous, devez être Mycroft Holmes. Nous avons entendu tellement de Gregory sur vous." She hugged the government man tightly and kissed him on both cheeks, "Dépêchez-vous! vite, vite et je vais vous montrer à votre chambre. Si nous nous dépêchons, vous devriez être capable de déballer vos choses avant le dîner!"

[And you must be Mycroft Holmes. We have heard so much from Gregory about you;

Hurry! quickly, quickly and I will show you to your room. If we hurry, you should be able to unpack your things before dinner!]

Mycroft glanced over to Greg who was smiling brightly, he couldn't help but smile as well, thinking happily about his future, as he did, he felt a rush of panic surge through his mind, "Oh God" He thought, "Did I pack it?"

He searched through his jacket until he found the small velvet-covered box, he opened it quickly to check if it was still in place, as Greg had gone to the bathroom. He stood back and looked at the engagement ring that shone brightly in the French sunlight. It was going to be the best holiday ever.

The holiday, was perfect: Greg and Mycroft were staying in the outbuildings of The Lestrade Residence, which had been fully furnished and redecorated for any visitors, it was brilliant for many reasons. The first being that there was a massive room, with air conditioning, meaning that sweat would no longer be a worry when cuddling; the second was the en-suite bathroom (need I go on) and the third being that it was close enough to Greg's parents so they could spend some time with them , but far away enough so they could do their own thing. It was more than perfect, and both Greg and Mycroft were loving every single bit of it.

The first week they had spent out there had gone so quickly, it made them glad that they had booked three weeks off, as they planned to go back home a few days before they were due back to work, meaning they could do what they wanted for the next week and half.

Both couples had planned on a strict no phones policy at dinner, meaning that Mycroft had to detach himself from his blackberry, but it was easier somehow, it felt like work no longer needed him, the only thing that worried him now was the question, and when to ask it.

So, as they walked back with Greg's parents after dinner one night: Greg walked with his mum, gabbling away with her about French cuisine, which left Mycroft some valuable time to spend with Michael Lestrade. The pair walked back slowly behind Greg and his mother, whose bodies had morphed into one as, even in the hot night, they had linked arms with each other, bringing them closer together. Mycroft and Michael were extremely different in comparison, they walked parallel to each other, at relatively the same place talking quietly about this and that.

"Michael" Mycroft finally paused the small talk to ask his question, and he took a deep breath in and out before he said anything: "I want to ask Gregory to marry me, I know that we have only been together for almost two years, but I feel like I have known him all my life. And, I know this situation is nothing of what you had in mind for your son, but, I'm guessing that I would like to ask for your blessing of my marriage proposal to your son"

The elder man smiled softly and chuckled, "Mycroft, when I married Marie, I had known her for four weeks: one day I turned up on her doorstep and asked her whether she would like to marry me, without asking her parents or planning anything. I feel honoured that you would ask me, if anything, I would feel blessed to have you as a son-in-law. Your correct in saying that it wasn't my vision for Greg, but he is incredibly happy, in fact, I don't think I have ever seen him happier. After his marriage had broken down with Karen, his life seemed to crumble around him: he'd taken time off work, he'd stopped eating and he even contemplated suicide because he couldn't see a way out from this deep dark hole that had slowly swallowed him up. He came to stay with us for a week, a few months after his divorce was finalised and I had never seen him so broken. But with you, Mycroft, he is a new man."

Mycroft stopped in the middle of the cobbled road, completely speechless.

"Also" He added quickly, "Marie loves you"

The Government Man raised an eyebrow at Michael's statement and chuckled. "Really?"

"Of course!" He replied, "You're successful, you speak French, you're a good eater and you have an interest for French wine. And you love her youngest son, so it can't be all bad."

It was the last day that Greg and Mycroft were staying with Michael and Marie, before flying off to Paris for a few days, as they said their goodbyes, Mycroft couldn't help but feel instantly relaxed. They all went out for a meal before their flight which was in the early hours of the next morning, and Mycroft decided that the time was right to pop the question. He sat with Gregrory, Michael and Marie, and they discussed all sorts of things- as it turns out, Greg's mother was saying, this was the very Restaurant and bar that she met Michael, and evidently, the same place he eventually proposed. This lead to it, the big moment.

Mycroft ran his fingers through his hair and took a deep breath. "Gregory," he said, surprisingly calmly, "I have known you for a few years now, but recently, I've got to know you as a partner, a friend, a lover, a room-mate and a boyfriend. But I was hoping that tonight we could do one better.. I.. I was wondering if you would do the honour of becoming my husband, and not just for the sake of it, but because I couldn't imagine falling in love with anyone more perfect than you."

He slowly got down on one knee, and presented the ring box from his jacket, as he undid the clasp, Greg's eyes widened, "Gregory Phillip Andrew Lestrade, would you do me the honour of becoming my husband and making me the happiest man alive?"

Greg was absolutely speechless, and a tear rolled down his face, "yes" he said calmly, nodding as a smile emerged on his face "nothing could be more perfect, because funnily enough, I was going to ask you the same question". The detective inspector unveiled a ring box from his pocket and beamed happily. "Mycroft Siger Edwin Holmes, will you do me the honour of becoming my husband?" Mycroft nodded and kissed him slowly as he looked at the ring.

He looked more closely at the object and laughed,

"Are you kidding me?" he asked, "Of all the rings in London and we've bought the same ones?"

They both chucked, they were absolutely identical except for one feature, on the inside engraved, one bore "Mycroft, My love, Forever and always" and the other read, "Gregory, I will love you until the end of the earth"

Chapter Text

As any bride or groom-to-be will tell you: planning a wedding is very stressful. Even Greg, who excelled under pressure was crumbling: he had had enough of the different shades of cream; he didn't realise that the material of the socks he would wear where significant; he had no idea why he needed to choose two types of cake and he he couldn't care less whether the bridesmaids had short or long dresses. It was all getting a bit much, even though he had done it once before- that time, Karen was determined to plan everything herself, so that every single detail would be exact, so up until now, he thought wedding planning was a breeze, it turns out that he was extremely wrong.

In the week leading up to the wedding, Gregory Lestrade barely saw his husband: they both juggled work and trying to plan the happiest day of their life, while trying to keep up with several plans and commitments. They had arranged to have dinner together on Thursday night -two days before the wedding- just the two of them, without the stress of planning, or relatives constantly stealing them away for a much needed catch up.

So when Thursday finally came, both men had cancelled all their commitments: phones were turned off, the dinner was cooking and they had made a pact to discuss nothing of wedding plans. This was their night, and nobody, not even the queen could take it away from them. Greg had prepared the most amazing meal, which would make every tastebud in the universe dance with delight, and as they ate, they quietly discussed their days:

"I had a visit from your brother today" Gregory remarked with a smirk on his face, eager to see his Fiancé's reaction, "He wandered in to the office, mentioned something about John, Coriander seeds, the spice girls, the periodic table and Jurassic world, before leaving more confused than he came in. Anderson found it most amusing, he filmed it, so it will probably be up on YouTube in a day or two"

Mycroft chuckled quietly, "He had never really been one for full sentences when he was in his mind palace: once he came into my room when we were younger, and simply said 'Conjunctivitis' and left, it turns out that he was solving the case as to why our butler couldn't find his trainers."

Greg grinned, "How old were you guys at the time?"

"Goodness, I think I was 13, so Sherlock must have been 6. He was a precocious child; thinking about it, he hasn't changed much"

"Your brother will never cease to amaze me" The detective inspector said, "And I thought I had seen it all, growing up with four other siblings. You and your brother have opened my eyes to a completely new world" He smiled, "I'm thankful for both of you, especially, you" He leaned across to where he was sitting and kissed him gently, "It's always been you, Mycroft Homes"

Mycroft beamed, "Well, I'm glad to hear you're not dating my brother. Not just because of Saturday, but I think John would possibly kill you."

"He's my best man" Greg replied indignantly, "the least he would do is break my nose"

"You forget, Gregory dear, that Dr John Watson, is not only the jealous type, but he was also a soldier.."

"He was a doctor!" Greg remarked,

"And as he will incessantly remind you: He had bad days"

The both laughed, and continued to eat their dinner with quiet conversation, followed by sloppy kisses.

The next day came far too quickly in Mycroft's opinion: he had risen from bed with a frightfully bad headache and no fiancé lying next to him. He groaned, mornings were certainly not his favourite thing. The government man sat up in his bed, casting his mind back to earlier days: back to the time where they spent a whole Christmas party together, discussing expensive alcohol and their adventures as teenagers; when he first went on a date with Gregory in the pouring rain; he thought of their first Christmas together; saying "I love you" for the first time; when gay marriage was legalised and they spent the evening with a tub of Ben and Jerry's realising that their teenage selves never thought this would happen, and finally, Mycroft's favourite memory of those two weeks in France. These thoughts happily spun through his mind as he tried to wake up. "I'm getting married tomorrow," He thought calmly, "To the most amazing man on earth-"

His thoughts were interrupted by Gregory bringing in two steaming cups of coffee, "Morning Love" He said quietly, sneaking in a kiss as he joined his fiancé in bed, "Sleep well?"

"I suppose I did" The government man replied, "I had a terrifying dream though: Sherlock and John kept swapping heads, and then when I finally got them back to their normal selves, they collided, and several more Sherlock and John's appeared, they were chasing me all over London. I had to run"

"I don't know what's more terrifying, Sherlock and John creating mini versions of themselves, or you running" the elder man teased, "however it does explain as to why you were kicking in the night"

Mycroft smiled at Greg's teasing, and then sighed sadly, "Sorry, Gregory dear" He apologised; the government man had been a victim of night terrors and the like since he first saw Sherlock laying on the floor of the bathroom from an overdose of drugs. No matter how much the younger genius detested his older brother, he could not begrudge the red head for helping him in his drug induced state that very first night, but, it has an effect on Mycroft: he suffered from dreams in seeing Sherlock in a similar state; he had to be counselled on how to deal with it and it almost got to the point where Mycroft was afraid to sleep- but since Gregory came along, everything became easier, as if there was someone there to protect him, even though he still had bad dreams, he wasn't afraid anymore.

"Myc, you don't have to be sorry. If I didn't get kicked in the night once in a while, there would definitely be something to worry about" he leaned over to Mycroft and kissed him softly, "It will be weird not sharing my bed with you tomorrow night"

Mycroft coughed, "It's my bed!"

"You know what I mean"

It was true, being a traditionalist, Mycroft thought it was best that they didn't see each other the night before the wedding, meaning, that for the first time in forever (he was really spending far too much time with Gregory's youngest daughter, Charlotte), that they would be spending the night apart. Which broke Mycroft's heart in several places, all at once, just thinking about it. "I'll miss you" Mycroft said, "But seeing as I'm taking two weeks off for the wedding and the honeymoon, I feel like I should enjoy my last day as an unmarried man, and go to work. Sound good?"

"I agree with you" Gregory smiled, kissing him again as the younger man went to get out of bed and ready for work. His day was busy, with an abundance of things to do, but he had the morning off of work to get a few chores done, before the big day. Greg trudged down to the kitchen 20 minutes or so later, grabbing his to do list and his car keys, he set off.

TO-DO LIST BEFORE WEDDING

1. Collect Suits, Bridesmaid dresses and hats from the cleaners (there had been an unfortunate incident with Red wine one evening with Mycroft)

2. Check that everything is at the venue, including the food, (as that was forgotten at the engagement party)

3. Take his three lovely daughters to get their hair done at the local salon.

4. Write down what time they need to be collected (as there were several years last time)

5. Pack suitcases ready for the honeymoon (Mycroft still didn't know where they were going)

6. Pack overnight bag and try not to panic, (because as everyone has learnt from FRIENDS nothing is worse than having a groom go missing on his wedding day)

7. Remind self to go over to the flat and leave an abundance of notes for Mycroft to get home to.

Gregory finally got into work and hour later than expected, it had taken him ages to get almost everything done. The office was usually busy on a day like today, "murderers seemed to favour days of importance," Greg thought, remembering Charlotte's birthday a few years ago, where he couldn't turn up because of the triple murder that happened in the police station, which to this day, was probably one of the biggest police investigations that Greg had ever been a part of. Charlotte, who was 3 at the time, did not forgive him, and she certainly didn't care that Greg could of lost his job if he didn't remain at the station. But thankfully, today was quiet, though he never said it out loud, rule number one of being a policeman: NEVER EVER SAY THE WORD QUIET OUT LOUD. Hopefully, he would be able to sneak off early and spend some time with his children. When Karen left him, she took the kids, which was the most heartbreaking part of the divorce, but soon she was going to move away to Scotland, so stay in school, the girls would be moving in with him, so it wasn't too bad. Katherine, who preferred to be called Katie, was 18 and knew her own mind, and even though she looked so much like her mother, all her mannerisms came from Greg, anyone who saw them talking together would know they were related: from they way they paused when they were concentrating, to the way they smiled when thinking about their partners. Katie was about to leave for university in America, but instead of leaving early as most students did, she was determined to stay for the wedding and lead her sisters as bridesmaid. Annabeth was 14, and extremely close to her other sisters, especially Katherine. She carried many of Greg's physical features: the chocolate brown eyes and hair to match; the soft pale lips and a calm expression ever present on her face. The middle child was surprisingly accepting of everyone, and was the first girl to suggest that Mycroft become a part of their family. Charlotte, was 7, and reminded both Gregory and Mycroft of Sherlock: she was smart and decisive, and often she would go into her own little world, forgetting the real world around her- she also looked like Sherlock as well; strong physical features, as well as a mass of dark curly brown hair, of which she constantly complained about.

So when he knew that he was looking after the girls, he would always try to sneak off work early, just to spend a few more minutes with them. As Greg left the office, he saw a familiar black car waiting on the pavement for him, "Detective Inspector Lestrade, please do get in the car, you have an appointment at 5:30" Greg checked his watch and smiled as he saw it read 5:10, but he had no idea what this was about. He didn't even know where he was going.

18 minutes and 25 seconds later, the car was driving past St. James' park and Greg's mind continued to wander as to where on earth he could be going. As the car stopped, Gregory wore a very confused expression on his face.

"Mr. Bennet?" He asked the driver, "Why on earth are we here?"

"I expect you'll find out soon enough, Detective Inspector."

Gregory looked around him, "Bloody hell," He thought, "Buckingham palace, why the fuck am I here?"

The detective inspector ran his fingers through his hair and sighed; being told to wait patiently was not Greg's style, especially when he didn't know what was happening. A wave of nervousness rushed over him, and his mind started to panic-

"There is no need to worry, Detective Inspector Lestrade" He heard a familiar a voice, and he turned around to see the queen, "honestly," she said, "it's nothing huge"

He stood up, remembering his manners, "Forgive me, m'aam," the silver-haired man replied, "But I didn't expect any of this"

"Please sit," She commanded softly, "If you stand all day, you'll be no use man or beast tomorrow, are you excited, Detective Inspector?"

"Please, m'aam, call me Gregory." He paused, "How did you know about tomorrow?"

"Mycroft Holmes is one of the most important men in Britain, Gregory," she smiled, "of course I know about tomorrow. But, I would wish to know what are your plans for him?"

He sipped on his tea and choked, "pardon me, m'aam, Plans?"

She nodded.

"I plan to try to make him the happiest man on earth," He smiled, thinking about his husband-to-be, "If there is a moment of sadness, I hope to make him happy, because I've seen him in pain and I could never see that again, M'aam. I love Mycroft Holmes very very much"

It was certainly an afternoon that would stick in the mind of Gregory Lestrade for years to come.

Chapter Text

Mycroft's eyes snapped open at the sound of his alarm: he had barely slept a wink, through excitement and panic, today was the day to end all days; Mycroft Holmes was to be married. No matter how sure of the occasion he was, there was still a minuscule amount of doubt in his mind: "What if this was all a joke?", "What if Gregory never loved you?", "What if this was a story your subconscious had developed".. The panic grew in Mycroft's mind until another sound erupted from his phone, the name Gregory scrawled across the screen. He picked up the phone, sighing anxiously:

"Myc?" The voice asked, "I know you're panicking, I just wanted to check if you were ok"

"I'm not panicking" Mycroft lied.

"That's not what your brother told me"

"Fucking Sherlock" He groaned, "He thinks I have insecurities"

"You do have insecurities." The elder man replied, "But I love you in-spite of those things, in fact, sometimes I love you because of your insecurities. I knew you would be panicking today and I just wanted to reassure you that I will be at the end of the aisle, waiting to see your amazing face, and frankly, your body in that gorgeous suit, which I know you paid a pretty penny for." Mycroft smiled as he listened to his partner; "today, I hope will be one of the happiest days of my life, and I hope it will be one of yours too. Mycroft Holmes, I love you to the end of the universe and back-"

"I thought we were too grown up for those childish sayings"

"You forget I have a seven year old"

"But what about, 'No seeing each other before the wedding, isn't this frightfully bad luck?'" Mycroft finally said, panicking slightly.

"For a genius, you are awfully idiotic, they didn't say anything about talking. Did they?"

They continued to talk for a while until Sherlock walked in and grabbed the phone from Mycroft's hand. "Graham, we have work to do. Mycroft will see you at the wedding." And swiftly the younger genius hung up the phone.

"Can today please be the day that you start calling him Greg?" Mycroft pleaded.

"Why?"

"Because that's his name!"

Greg stared at the wedding invitations that lay in front of him, they all read:

Together with their families:

Mycroft Siger Edwin Holmes

and

Gregory Andrew Phillip Lestrade

Request the honour of your company at the celebration of their marriage at

Wildfell Hall, Dorset. On Saturday, the tenth of October, two thousand and fifteen   at two o'clock   in the afternoon.

They had asked for an extra few to frame and scrapbook, but as Greg stared at them he couldn't believe it was actually happening. He sat calmly in Sherlock and John's apartment, sipping coffee at the kitchen island whilst taking deep breaths.

"So," Greg asked quietly, "How are things with you and Sherlock?"

John beamed, a smile changing the whole of his face completely. "I never imagined that I would find someone like him, day after day he surprises and shocks me in a number of manners. Seeing him and his brother trying to get along will be today's shock"

Greg chuckled fondly, there had always been the speculation of the best men when they got engaged- both men were so busy with work, they barely had time for each other, let alone friends. So when Mycroft talked about asking Sherlock; Greg's first response was to ask John: the two had been friends for a few years and got on with a few drinks, Greg came out to John before anyone else, and in time, John followed suit. The two men who loved the Holmes brothers, they were sure they would go down in history one day for being the most patient men of all time.

"Indeed" Greg replied, "I'm wandered if you could keep him away from the Scotland Yard lot. They're there for a quiet evening, and Anderson has had enough"

John smiled and looked down at his toast, "I can't promise you anything"

They arrived at the venue, it was where Gregory had spent a large amount of his childhood, and Mycroft holidayed there some years with his family. It seems like someone had meant for them to be together. The hall was pretty, and probably once belonged to an aristocrat half a century ago- the main steps where carved out of the finest stone; which lead to oak doors, firmly guarding the entrance; inside, the traditional decor remained, with lavish coloured wall paper and gold stained furnishings. Greg walked into the first room: a stunning drawing room filled with rows and rows of wooden white chairs, finished with a simple pale pink bows to match the roses sitting in their button holes. As Greg stood back, the room quickly filled with people, it was a small wedding, with only 50 guests, but they were the 50 people that Mycroft and Greg wanted to share their day with: mainly parents, a small gathering of friends and colleagues, not forgetting the odd relative. The wedding party came in with a flurry of excitement, the groomsmen decked out in the finest suits in London, and the bridesmaids yet to arrive.

Greg and Mycroft had decided to meet at the end of the aisle, both taking their chance to walk down it, but Greg said he would get there first to organise everything and make sure people turn up in time. Greg stared at his watch, quarter past two, the second hand slowly moving around the clock face, mimicking every beat of his heart. "He's late" the detective inspector whispered to John, his voice full of worry, "He's never late to anything. I never seen the man later than a second than he needs to be"

John pulled the elder man in for a hug, "He will turn up, he is Mycroft Holmes and he loves you". Greg nodded, slowly wiping away tears, waiting for someone to tell him that he had arrived. "Go and wait by the door" The ex-soldier commanded, "and then when the car rolls in you'll be the first to know", the silver haired man hugged him tightly and walked towards the back of the church, when someone called, "THEY'RE HERE!"

Greg grinned, and as the music started to play, he felt as if he could finally relax. He was escorted down the aisle by his parents, his mother wearing a beautiful cream dress with dusted pink shoulders to match the flowers, and his father was wearing the same smile on his face that evening Mycroft proposed. Every step was a victory, a monument that marked the best day of his life, and at every step, he was closer to the canopy, draped in white and charcoal grey linens. Greg stood there awaiting his fiancé.

The minute Mycroft walked in, it felt like the whole world had stopped, and all he could see was the beautiful man walking down the aisle towards him: his eyes filled with tears and he couldn't help but beam. When the younger man joined him at the canopy, Greg held his hand and squeezed it tight, a whisper saying "Never let me go" softly erupting from his lips.

The Bridesmaids and the best men soon followed, Charlotte walking by herself in front of the older two, she held a basket of rose petals and scattered them along the aisle. Greg beamed as she tugged her dress down: it was a short dusty pink dress that poofed out around her, heaps of chiffon surrounding her like a meringue. Behind her, Annabeth was escorted by John, she wore an ombre grey dress: the strappy shoulders where white and towards the hem it was dark grey; a rose tucked behind her ear. Katie, came down the aisle with Sherlock, holding a magnificent bouquet of white and pink roses, and wore a strapless dress that mimicked Annabeth's. As Katie came to the end of the aisle she kissed Greg on the cheek and smiled.

The ceremony was a blur, but Mycroft remembered every single element, from the minute he walked down the aisle until he had taken his first kiss as a married man.

Married. The word elicited joy in his mind, a smile softly emerging on his lips. They walked into the adjoining room, to be served champagne and strawberries, as the workers in the house quickly prepared the wedding feast. Mycroft couldn't help but feel like a child at Christmas. He was happily alone in his thoughts until Greg came and softly kissed him on the lips. "Hello"

"Hello," the word had never felt more special, like a secret that was only theirs, and it would stay that way forever.

"Come meet some of my family" Greg smiled, grabbing him by the hand, and dragging him over to a small crowd of unsuspecting guests. "this is my Grandmother, Sandrene, and my grandfather Jean-Paul. They flew especially from France to meet you." He pointed to an elderly woman, who bore great happiness on her face, she could not be more than 80, but already Mycroft felt that they would be spending a lot more time in France.

"Bonjour Sandrene. Bonjour Jean-Paul" He said, smiling, and then looking over to Greg.

"oh yes. Grand-mère et grand-père, voici mon mari, et franchement, l'amour de ma vie: Mycroft Holmes-Lestrade"

[Grandmother and Grandfather, this is my husband, and quite frankly, the love of my life: Mycroft Holmes-Lestrade]

Sandrene smiled intensely, "Bienvenue dans la famille de Lestrade, Mycroft, beaucoup d'entre nous va vous accueillir à bras ouverts aussi longtemps que vous pouvez parler français et avoir de la place pour une cuisine raffinée. vous ressemblez à un homme très bien, parfait pour notre Gregory."

[Welcome to the Lestrade family, Mycroft. Many of us will welcome you with open arms as long as you can speak French and room for fine cuisine. You look like a fine man, perfect for our Gregory]

Mycroft smiled, "Je vous remercie du fond de mon cœur, Sandrene, vous devez savoir que je l'aime votre petit-fils beaucoup, et je cherche à le rendre heureux jusqu'à mon dernier souffle quitte mon corps."

[I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Sandrene, you must know that I love your grandson very much, and I aim to make him happy till my last breath leaves my body.]

The grandmother smiled, "It is a pleasure"

They sat down to the wedding breakfast, (Greg had no idea as to why it was called a breakfast when it was served at half past three in the afternoon), the 'Top table' presided above the others with the place settings for Mycroft and himself: Next to Mycroft sat Sherlock and their parents, with Katie holding court next to the younger Holmes; next to Greg sat John, Annabeth and Charlotte, with Michael and Marie sitting on the end. The table held white linen and grey napkins, with frosted glasses and a rose placed next to each plate.

The dinner went like a dream: each course tantalizing their tastebuds, and a fresh glass of champagne to brighten every serving, and each guest quibbled and conversed as they munched on each meal.

Suddenly, Greg stood up, smiling and banging his glass with a fork, "Now, traditionally, a newly wedded couple would be showered by speeches, mainly for the bride, but seeing as we don't have a bride today, we're doing it slightly different. John, Sherlock, Katie and myself will all have speeches, so please try not to fall asleep."

John stood up, clad in his mourning suit, his hair slightly scruffy from where Sherlock had messed it up earlier; a smile lurking on his lips, "I'm not very good with speeches, so you know this won't be particularly long." He sighed, "The first time I met Mycroft Holmes, he threatened to bribe me with money to tell secrets about his brother and the first time I encountered Gregory Lestrade he told me that he would love his favourite consulting detective to work with them full time. When I first encountered these two men, I never thought they would fall in love, but I was incredibly wrong, as they are both incredibly happy. Greg walks into work on a monday with a smile on his face and Mycroft hasn't bribed me since. These two men, who at one time, I thought were incapable of loving other people, are the ultimate power couple. So, please raise your glass for the happy couple"

The couple kissed each other softly and giggled, Mycroft whispered into Greg's ear, "Dear, what is a power couple?"

"Best to ask Katie" The elder man replied, "She's the gossip. The last time I asked she said something about Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian. To this day I have no idea who they are or what they do."

Mycroft chuckled, "I love you"

"I love you too".

Sherlock was next: he deducted half the top table before finally getting on to his speech, he then spoke quite gracefully for Sherlock, "I'm afraid, brother mine, I can't congratulate you. All emotions, and in particular love, stand opposed to the pure, cold reason I hold above all things. A wedding is, in my considered opinion, nothing short of a celebration of all that is false and specious and irrational and sentimental in this ailing and morally compromised world. Today we honour the death-watch beetle that is the doom of our society, and, in time -one feels certain- our entire species. Often, I take the credit for most of my cases, which often I do, because frankly the whole of scotland yard has the IQ of an gnat. It is a fact I believe that gay men often choose bridesmaids how would not be affected by their sexual orientation, which I can somewhat believe. Contrast is, after all, God's own plan to enhance the beauty of his creation.. or it would be if God were not a ludicrous fantasy designed to provide a career for the family idiot. The point I'm trying to make is that I am the most unpleasant, rude, ignorant and all-round obnoxious arsehole that anyone could possibly ever encounter. I am dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the caring, and uncomprehending in the face of the happy. Brother, I never expected to be your best man, because quite frankly, I never really thought you liked me. But, as your brother, I never thought I could congratulate you on your choice of companion. But now, I can, congratulations Geoff" He hugged Greg and Mycroft, and the guests looked slightly confused as to why the eldest groom had deemed the name 'Geoff'.

It was now down to Katie how fumbled nervously for her cards, as she did, a younger man came over to the top table and held her hand. "Apologies, if I seen a bit nervous, but I have never been one for public speaking, so my boyfriend, Josh is here for moral support" She smiled anxiously, and she took a rather large gulp of champagne before starting again. "two years ago, my dad came out to my younger sisters and I after declaring he had fallen in love. We are all shocked by this sudden turn of events, because you tend to forget that your parents have lives outside of being your parents. But we commended Dad, because it takes courage to say such things; when you have three opinionated daughters, who know far too much for their own good. I can firmly say, that we are all so proud of you, Daddy. For those of you who know, Dad had a battle on his hands, as my mother is no easy woman to fight, all Dad wanted was to have shared or even full custody of his daughters, and everyday, he managed to get out of bed and face the day, while he was fighting for custody, trying to keep his job and trying to have a resemblance of a real life, let alone have time for a boyfriend. But soon, Mycroft Holmes was a part of our lives, he was there for every tear that was shed and for every joyful moment. Most kids, wouldn't be like this, but we were different because we knew that Daddy deserved so much happiness after so much pain. So, everyone please raise your glasses, to the best dad in the world, and his amazing husband."

Greg smiled and hugged Katie tightly, "Thank you" written across his lips.

"I had so much to say" he started, "But I've forgotten it all. All I can say is that it was love at first sight; you are my soulmate, Mycroft Holmes and I will not let a day go by without you knowing how much I love you, because you are my hero, and I love you so much, I think I could burst. You have fought some demons in your time, and so have I, but now we will fight them together. We have experienced lots of things, you and I, from Shenanigans to fights and being hit by selfie sticks, but this time we will battle them together. We are a team now, Mycroft Holmes, and I can't wait to see how we become winners. I love you" Mycroft stood up and smiled, kissing his husband softly on the lips.

"I love you too," he whispered, "So so much"

Everyone stood up, raising their glasses for the happy couple, and they all smiled, knowing that these men both deserved so much happiness.

The master of ceremonies raised his voice, "Ladies and Gentlemen, if you remain seated, the happy couple will cut the cake"

Mycroft and Greg walked over to the middle of the hall, hand in hand, both smiling: Greg because he had got through his speech without crying and Mycroft because of the cake. Said cake, was magnificent: seven tiers of it, each with a different flavour, and just looking at it sent Greg back to the day they had planned it.

"Myc" He said quietly, as they walked into the bakery, "Please show some restraint."

"Of course, Gregory dear. I'm not mad about cake" He lied. Mycroft loved cake more than life itself, but, he loved Gregory that tiny bit more. "It's ok, though, I have a plan"

"a plan?" Greg asked, raising his eyebrows.

"You'll see."

They sat down to talk to the baker, a wise old man who had been making cakes for a large portion of his life. "Some samples for you, fine sirs. Do you know what cake you have in mind?"

Greg and Mycroft both said very different things at the same time.

Mycroft opened his briefcase to reveal an A3 sketch of a ten tiered wedding cake, laced in white icing, with a different flavour for each tier. "Could you possibly do this in seven tiers, so missing the bottom three, and replacing them with a scattering of edible gifts which would then go around the cake?"

The baker nodded, "Marzipan and Icing?"

Mycroft agreed with him as Greg pulled him to one side, "I thought you were showing restraint."

"I am!" The government man retorted, "I've gotten rid of three tiers!"

The cake, did look divine and Mycroft's planning had certainly all been worth it, each tier unveiled a new surprise: the bottom tier was the traditional fruit cake, laced with alcohol; the next was a carrot cake; followed by a pink champagne; which was then topped with a coconut and lime; the next layer consisted of chocolate; the following was Victoria sponge, as Mycroft had said, "he must stay true to his British heritage" and the last cake was the smallest and prettiest of them all: a red velvet. The edible gifts, were something else: crafted from white chocolate and icing lay tiny presents, wedding favours and champagne flutes all around the table. It was perfect.

"I love you, Mycroft Holmes, just the way you are"

 

Chapter Text

The honeymoon, was fantastic: a few days in Scotland, followed by a week in Paris and then a 10 days in the luxurious heat of Venice. They intended on sightseeing, but not much got done, instead they had managed to embarrass themselves in front of their neighbours by forgetting to close the shutters amongst other things, but it was all forgotten when they lay in bed together, as married men.

Bright beams of beige-coloured sunlight hit the room in the early hours of the morning, and Mycroft couldn't help but feel completely, totally and utterly relaxed- which was a rare thing for him indeed, he woke Gregory up when the time was right, kissing him softly on the lips, "Good morning gorgeous" he said softly, his voice slightly lower than usual, with a shred of hoarseness to your throat.

"Good morning, Mr. Holmes-Lestrade. And to what do I owe the pleasure of the most wonderful wake-up call?"

"A thank you gift, in advance"

Greg raised an eyebrow in confusion..

Mycroft smirked, "I'll leave you to your deductions"

Greg grasped gently on the back on his neck and bought him closer, kissing him softly at first, before deepening it, pouring every emotion he could into a single exchange. Mycroft's hands ghosted Gregory's hips as they slowly made their way into his sleek silver hair, "Mornings are so perfect when you're here to share them with me" The older man gasped between kisses: peppering the auburn-haired government man with a shower of kisses.

"Ever so perfect," Mycroft replied, kissing Greg back as quickly as he could, and he continued to talk when Greg's clever lips made a trail down his jaw, "As much as I would like to continue, Gregory dear, I need coffee and one of my questions answered"

They made their way across the apartment to a small circular garden table underneath the window, and they sat very relaxed, warming their bodies in the morning sunlight.

"Gregory" Mycroft started, "I had another dream last night"

Greg sighed sadly, "Myc, you need to take care of yourself, one day, these dreams are going to push you over the edge."

"Look." He said, resting his hands open on the table, "every time I picture my loved ones dying in my sleep, I realise how little time I actually have left. Neither of us know what the future holds, but I know that I would love someone to carry on my story."

Greg raised an eyebrow, burying his hands into Mycroft's, "What do you mean?" he asked nervously.

"What I mean is" the government man replied, "I want a baby"

Greg was stunned to say the least, for minutes: he sat in his own silence, slowly wishing for the answer to appear in his coffee. "A baby?" He questioned, "A crying, screaming baby who will take over our lives?"

"I was thinking more of: 'Bundle of joy', but a 'crying screaming baby' is the same thing, I suppose" Mycroft retorted, "obviously parenting your three daughters took it out of you?"

Greg smiled, "I'm sorry, it's a lot to take in so early in the morning." He sipped his coffee and sighed, "Parenting three girls is tough. Trying to parent when your wife doesn't want you to is even harder."

"I understand," Mycroft said sadly, "I.. I realise.."

Greg kissed him, softly at first, and then a smile came over his face, "I disliked parenting the girls so much, because I disliked the person I was doing it with. However, our child will be different- you're fantastic with the girls, and I have so much experience I could probably write a book"

Mycroft sighed and turned his head away, "you loved Karen at the start. You obviously loved her when you had Katie. What if you start to dislike me, especially if we have a child?"

The detective inspector kissed him, "Honestly? I never really liked Karen. She was just a girl I met at university. We partied, but I never thought she'd stick around."

"Then why did you-"

"Why did I stay with her?" He looked down, "Karen was pregnant, in our second year of uni, and being gallant, I proposed to her- wanting the family I had always dreamed of. But, I thought it would be easy, marrying someone you didn't truly love. It wouldn't be that difficult. It was, though. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. We got married a week after I found out and we went to the scan the following afternoon."

Mycroft lifted an eyebrow, "but Katie isn't that old."

"At the time, Karen told me it was a miscarriage, I was heartbroken- in thinking that I wasn't going to be a dad, but years later in the heat of the argument, she told me she had a... An.. Abortion" a single tear fell down Greg's face in a sign of defeat, "It was all part of her plan, to marry and then live happily ever after. It was all a cruel trick"

"And you stayed with her?"

"I couldn't afford to leave. We spent years, wishing to be apart, but then we had kids, and we thought it best if we stayed together for them. A year later, she told me that she was leaving me, for my Detective sergeant, Dimmock. I wasn't heartbroken that she had left- I was heartbroken that she had taken the kids away."

After hours upon hours of discussion and planning, they finally made a decision- it would only be fair if they asked Katie, Annabeth and Charlotte. It would most likely effect them, having a new family to look after, as they would be as much their siblings as any of the other children that Karen and Dimmock might produce, so it was only fair that the couple asked first (seeing as they had some time to plan). Sunday morning arrived and Mycroft was petrified, at 3 AM he lay awake as Greg tossed and turned, eventually, both gave up in favour of a glass of whiskey.

"What if they say no" Mycroft finally said, "what if they say we're crazy... What if they think we're choosing our children over them?"

Greg kissed him in reply, "you need to stop worrying", he stepped closer to the younger man, wrapping him in his arms as his head bent slightly, engulfing Mycroft's mouth in a spine-tingling kiss: their tongues slowly working together as they moaned, and his hands started to work their way up, softly pressing in to his neck, eliciting a soft groan from the government man. "If they say no, we'll do it anyway. Deal"

Mycroft nudged his hips against Greg's, his body begging for another kiss, "deal" he said softly, "now please, kiss me again"

They fell asleep hand in hand, their fingers linked, as if to say, "We'll do this together", their bodies mirrored each other's: curled up with comfort as exhaustion overcame them, their legs entwined in a tangled mess that could only be described as disorganised. Greg was awoken again by Mycroft's nightmare, this time he was kicking and screaming, trying to rid the demons that haunted him every evening. Greg knew about his Husband's troubled past, it was hard to escape from it, as a teenager, Mycroft was an outsider- the child genius that no-body wanted to know, as he got older, he started to feel the hurt that others projected on to him, he started staying on the wrong side of the law, he'd got into drugs, dabbling in cocaine until he finally got hooked, which lead to him laying so close to death at only 19, the only thing that saved him was Sherlock, who was only 12 and he did everything he could to keep it from his parents. This left scars which he could never hide from. We all have scars: some, are more visible than others- they show the pain that we have felt, and over time, they fade, taking with them the hurt, but the scar serves as a reminder, it will always stay lodged, a memory we choose to forget. Mycroft continued to scream until Greg lay a comforting hand on his back, "shhh now" he whispered, "time for sleep". An hour later and it was time to leave, they decided staying at Mycroft's and then meeting the teenagers at their mother's house in Islington.

"Kids! At your age? Are you mad?" Katie was the first to exclaim, "you already have us, why would you want your own family?" The 18 year old was standing in the kitchen making lunch for the others, when Greg made the announcement, "How are you going to tell the other two?"

"Katie," Greg pleaded, "Just hear us out. They'll find out in a minute"

The teenager nodded in reply as Greg continued, "Mycroft has wanted a baby for quite a long time, and even though he already has you guys, you're not his, at the end of the day, you belong to your mum and I. Also, having a baby around would be great, Katie, you would be able to come down and visit your little sister or brother when you get back from university and you can earn some money if Myc and I want to go away for the weekend"

Katie's ears pricked up "really?"

"also, having a massive age gap is better than you think, you forget that your Auntie Grace is 21 years younger than me"

"What about the others?" She questioned, looking towards Annabeth and Charlotte. "AB is doing her exams soon, having a baby round the house really wouldn't help! And Charlotte is so young, how is she going to understand that two men can have a baby. We only just went through birth last week!"

"I have made arrangements for AB to stay with Karen if the work load is too much and the baby doesn't work, you'll understand, I'm sure." He smiled, "As for Charlotte, now she has grasped the concept, I'm sure she has tonnes of questions"

He waltzed over to the others with their lunch and switched off the TV, "Guys, Mycroft and I have something we want to talk to you about."

The younger girls looked up at the couple in awe as they sat parallel to them on the sofas opposite, "Mycroft and I want to have a baby. It's something that Myc has wanted for a long time, and I don't want to deny him happiness. So, we thought we would ask you guys, would you be comfortable having a baby brother or sister?"

Their jaws hung from their mouths as they have been loosened, "A baby?" the both questioned.

Greg nodded and held Mycroft's hand, who was visibly shaking at the prospect. "Do you guys have any questions before you make your decisions?"

They both nodded ominously, "Ok." Annabeth started, "How is this going to work legally, and who gets priority?"

"We haven't ironed out the details, but we would need a surrogate mother, who would then sign off the parental rights to Mycroft, and then I would adopt the child." The father smiled proudly, he imagined his middle child as a lawyer, she was smart and always wanted to know the details on anything and everything, "priority wise, it will work as it usually does, the babies will not get priority over you guys unless it is urgent. You will all get equal priority. You guys are still living with your mum, until you are 18, and then you can decide where you want to live, or you could ask your mum for me to have full custody if you would rather stay with me. But stuff changes, so I wouldn't make a decision, because you don't know what the future will bring"

Annabeth nodded and then hugged Mycroft, "You'll make a great dad," She whispered quietly, "I promise"

It was Charlotte's turn, "when a mummy and a daddy want a baby, they have to love each other very much to have a baby, then the baby is put in Mummy's tummy. How can you do that, because Mycroft isn't a Mummy?"

Mycroft chuckled, it was his turn to answer: "When two Daddy's love each other, they ask a special lady to have the baby for them, because they can't, after the lady has had the baby, she gives it to us."

"And the lady doesn't mind?"

"Not one bit."

Mycroft had everything planned to a tee: everything baby-related was labelled, colour coded and then filed. He was taking organised to a whole new level, he had researched the best equipment, read all the reviews, bought care books, which he then preceded to photocopy, highlight and file. It was madness, but he loved it, being organised had always been his priority: it was something Sherlock couldn't wreck if it was set in stone, so the more Mycroft planned, the better everything got. Saturday's became days for discussion, no longer where they freedom from their perspective jobs, instead, they were roped into talks (and arguments) on surrogates, baby names and living arrangements.

The surrogate issue was big.

They had spent the whole weekend searching through Mycroft's file for prospective surrogates and had found nothing. It was like trying to buy shoes: you finally find something that you like, and they're not in you size, or they pinched when you tried them.

"If only we lived in America" Greg commented as he searched the Internet for prospective mothers for their child, an over-rated pastime, if there ever was one, "Then we could bribe our surrogate with money"

Mycroft nodded as he continued to highlight, "Your sister lives in America, do you think we could bribe her?"

"We could, but being a surrogate is a big ask, let alone leaving your job, your country and your friends to have someone else's baby" Greg replied sadly.

"You forget I have power in the British government, I'm sure we could persuade her" Mycroft said, to which Greg replied with a smile, "How comes she got into surrogacy anyway? It's not a usual pastime for a journalist"

"It all started when she was 16," Greg started, "At her prom, she finally decided to sleep with her boyfriend at the time, Justin, who in my opinion, looked more like Justin Bieber than Justin Timberlake. However, the condom broke: she wasn't on the pill and she didn't know it had broken until it was too late, she also knew that having an abortion would kill her, emotionally that is, and most likely my parents, so she put her education on hold for a year and gave the child up for adoption, she didn't feel any loss or heartbreak, but she felt joy, bringing happiness to someone's life, so it became something she could do. She loved being pregnant, and her job was flexible and if she moved to America, she could get paid for it!"

After careful consideration, Mycroft asked: "Do you think we could ask her?"

"Do you think she would do it?" Greg replied.

3 Months Later

"Ladies and Gentlemen" the voice sounded, "please take your seats, we are about to arrive at London Heathrow Airport, please fasten your safety belt and switch off all electronical devices as we make our descent"

Grace Lestrade swiftly made her way through the other aisles to get to he seat, battling Americans, children and angry stewards- it was safe to say that flying was not her favourite hobby, even though it was something she did on a regular basis, either flying to France to see her parents, or to see her nieces in England and when she wasn't doing that, she stayed firmly in New York as a journalist. It was an impressive feat working for the New York Journal, but it didn't look that brilliant compared to her siblings: Greg; was happily married, with three children and working as a deceive inspector in Scotland Yard. Beth; worked in Asia, helping those in India who couldn't afford school gain a job, and a steady education. Rose had 6 children, a husband who earned a six-figure salary and a tea shop in Mayfair. If life was a game, Grace certainly wasn't winning it, she lived in a different world: an on-off boyfriend who she occasionally met with, no children and no desire to have any, and working as a journalist, not helping the world in any way, shape or form. Even though, hundreds of people would kill for her life, she just wanted another one.

The plane jolted as it landed on the Tarmac, causing the children on the plane to scream at the top of their lungs- piercing the ear drums of those around them. As hard as the air hostesses tried, they could not wield their screams to a lower pitch, so when the time came to depart their plane, it was carnage for any door they could find, as the children continued to scream at a discerning pitch. At one point: her curls of dusty blonde hair had been yanked from her top-knot in order to pull her back, she fought back with glossy-black heel of her (very expensive, but equally gorgeous) Louboutins.

They finally reached baggage claim, after an unnecessary war with foreign tourists, Grace had never been more thankful to see a suitcase and lovingly tugged it across the airport to try and find the driver of the car her brother-in-law had apparently sent. But she couldn't see any driver for Lestrade or even Holmes. "Oh god" she thought, crouching down at her knees and hanging her head in shame, "It's a disaster", swarms of people kept a beady eye on the girl as they departed the airport, "She must be having some sort of fit" they sneered. Until a familiar voice came from behind her, "Miss Lestrade? Your carriage awaits", the young girl lifted her head to see her brother, holding a sign that simply said, "Welcome Home little monster". She beamed, and with a sudden energy she bounced to her feet and kissed him on the cheek.

"I thought your husband was sending a car" She exclaimed indignantly.

"He has," Greg replied, "but seeing as you couldn't come to the wedding, we thought we'd make you look mad first!"

"You know I couldn't come because of my leg!" She shouted playfully, "They wouldn't let me fly with it broken, I don't know why."

"But they let you wear those?" He said, looking down to her feet and chuckling, "If mum saw those she would kill you"

"She wouldn't" The younger Lestrade replied, "Because she's wanted a pair of these for about, I don't know, since you were born"

They walked arm in arm towards the jaguar parked outside the entrance, which was clearly marked with a "DO NOT PARK HERE" sign scrawled in yellow across the gravel. The journalist raised an eyebrow towards the car, raising a questionable hum.

"What?" Greg replied indignantly, "My husband is the British government"

Greg had spent a fair amount of time in hospitals, due mainly to work, or having three children- it was something that he couldn't avoid, he didn't mind it, he knew the nurses very well, and if all went badly he could always call John and ask for a favour. The one thing he couldn't change, was the hospital coffee: weak liquid that was the colour of autumnal leaves and tasted nothing like coffee. But on this particular day, coffee, no matter how disgusting, was completely necessary, today was the day that he would see his unborn child for the first time, and he was shaking like a leaf- to no surprise, Mycroft was incredibly calm, considering that it was his child after all. It was mad. Totally and utterly mad.

At first, Grace had refused to be a surrogate, and everything around them seemed to crumble: Mycroft wouldn't talk for days on end, and sometimes he wouldn't even come from work- he would stay in the solidarity confinements of his office. It eventually got to the stage where Mycroft didn't want children anymore; it was the stage where they had lost all hope. But one day, Grace received a call from her on-off boyfriend, Jamie, one of the main reasons for calling it off in the first place, he told her that he had found the one, sitting in bar in north street, and they were to be married before the end of the month (the wedding was so quick, as the perspective bride had little time on this earth) so, another world started to crumble, when Grace struck upon the moment of realisation: life is incredibly precious, and if this would make her brother and his husband happy, then she would do what ever it takes.

In the blink of an eyelid, she was Pregnant, which was a shock and surprise to both Greg and Mycroft, but they were both so excited, an actual baby, that was theirs and theirs alone. But Greg couldn't help but feel nervous in the pit of his stomach, as if butterflies had made their home there; flapping their wings rapidly. He sipped on his coffee, outside the hospital room, as he didn't particularly want to be there for the examination, so he stayed behind until the they were ready, Mycroft was in there, ready to pull any strings if it was necessary. If anything, seeing his husband and sister together made him quite jealous, they looked like they were the perfect nuclear family- but it was so far from the opposite, it made Greg hanker for normality. His fingers drummed on the plastic lid, until Molly walked past, at first he didn't recognise her donned in scrubs and a surgical hat, but seeing her made him feel at ease, and for a while, they hugged, standing there as the world around them moved. Greg and Mycroft hadn't told anyone except the children, but Molly hugged as if she knew, like a proud mother. As Greg raised an eyebrow, the young pathologist mentioned that when Sherlock is deep in thought, his deductions are often said out loud.. And one thing led to another. They sat together, chatting about this and that until a nurse opened the door,

"Gregory Lestrade?" She asked quietly, as he nodded in reply, "Your sister and husband are ready when you would like to join them"

Greg wrapped Molly in one final hug, and she promised to wait outside for them to make sure everything was ok, and he entered the room. It was a large, clinical room; walls covered in white paint and beautifully painted diagrams. Only the best , Mycroft had remarked one day, Only the best. The thought lingered in his mind as he made his way towards the screen, projecting a small wavy potato-shaped figure.

"That's our baby," Mycroft chocked, "Our own little baby"

The less sleep you have, the more you realise you need it. This came upon Grace Lestrade very early on in her pregnancy, when she was woken up by kicking, in fact, a very sharp kick in her uterus. She slowly looked down to the small bump forming around her stomach and smiled, "Kick away in the morning, my love" she whispered quietly, "Auntie Grace needs her sleep"

The baby gave four swift kicks in reply, each one more sudden and surprising than the last.

A beam was slowly painted on her face as she started talking to the clump of cells forming in her stomach, "You want your daddy's to see this, don't you?" As if in reply, the baby gave a small nudge under her belly button. "I will take that as a yes" She said quietly, as she attempted to remove herself from her duvet cocoon.

She arrived at their bedroom, the oak door lightly guarding the secrets they kept from everyone else; it was slightly ajar, so a beam of light could be visible from the hallway, but it was their own area, a place where they could get away. Not from me, Grace thought slyly. The curly-haired journalist beamed as she wedged the door open, softly shouting her brother's name. He sprung awake, disturbing his partner whose legs were entangled with his, "whatsgoingon?" He replied, still half asleep.

"It's the baby" Grace replied, chuckling slightly at their bemused expressions: Mycroft's usually slick hair had been tousled and tugged, and now resembling a ginger bird's nest, whereas her brother was as calm as normal, however, his expression told her that they hadn't been sleeping long.

Mycroft panicked, "Oh god, what's happened? Let me grab my coat, we'll be at the hospit-"

Grace cut him off, "Nothing's wrong." She replied, "The baby is kicking"

As they both breathed a sigh of relief, she sat cross legged at the end of their bed so they could both lay a hand on her swollen stomach. For the second time in Grace's pregnancy, Mycroft had started crying again, and to be perfectly honest, Greg had never seen him show such emotion since they got engaged.. And that was an emotional day for everyone.

"Why so early, little sis?" Greg asked after a moment of silence as they all were stopped by the significance of the baby's first kick.

"Couldn't sleep" Grace replied, yawning, "And then this one kept kicking", she smiled tiredly, pointing to her abdomen.

"What was keeping you up?" Mycroft asked quietly, his voice barely a whisper.

Grace paused, taking a moment to look around the room. "I've missed England a lot: living in New York is amazing, and believe me, I love every single minute of it. But it's not London. My whole life is now over there, but everyone I truly care about is here. Christ, I had to miss your wedding because I couldn't fly! I just.. I've fallen out of love with New York"

Greg was trying to take it all in, a look of confusion was written across his face, "so... Does this mean you're moving back home?"

The younger Lestrade nodded. "Yeah. I'm coming home"

The detective inspector dressed himself in an old t-shirt he had found lying on the floor, and grabbed some shorts from the end of the bed. "We need some tea," He replied, referencing his state of dress, "I have a feeling we won't be able to go back to sleep."

"How many times, Grace?" Gregory Lestrade's shouts could be heard from across the street, "No!"

"But Greg, I'm only 18 weeks along" she pleaded, "It's only an 8 hour flight. People have gone for a lot longer and lot farther along"

"Grace Emilia Lestrade, please understand that when I say no, I mean it!" Greg stormed away, his arms flailing helplessly in the air. His sister followed him into the room, a familiar determined look on her face. The detective inspector let his legs fall from underneath him and quietly collapsed on the bed. "What I mean is" He continued, "I don't want you to go because I would feel terrible if anything were to happen to you or the baby"

Grace hugged him softly and pecked him on the cheek, "Would it make you feel better if I took someone with me?"

Greg nodded as he resigned to the fact that she would be leaving in a couple days, and there was nothing he could do to stop her. Even though being her only brother, he could have no power over her, despite the fact that she was carrying the child of his husband. Greg slowly curled up into the luxurious warmth of the sheets and lay there, as his eyes gently closed. He was later joined by his husband, who had been held up at the office: the younger man ripped off his tie and collapsed into bed, exhaustion washing over him like waves on the beach, he smiled as he looked over to the detective inspector who had quietly collapsed some hours ago, as Mycroft hugged him from behind, he couldn't help but feel as if he were protecting the elder man, catching his nightmares and forming them into dreams.

Morning dawned with a bright glare unwelcome to both Greg and Mycroft, who, in the exhaustion of the week had fallen asleep in their suits, as their eyes blinked away the sunlight, Greg pulled his husband closer, his mouth exploring Mycroft's as the kids deepened, as if the detective inspector was pouring every emotion into one single kiss. Mycroft's lips quickly formed into a smile, as the welcoming taste of coffee explored his mouth. "This is a pleasant wake up call," The auburn-haired Man stated, "And to what do I owe the pleasure?"

Greg's eyes deepened into deep pools of chocolate as the encounter developed, leaving Mycroft's lips and working his way into the sharp jawline and beautifully pale neck, "well," He started, his lips detaching his partner's for no less than a second between each kiss, "I wanted to for many reasons: the first being that you are Mycroft Holmes and I lov-"

Mycroft pushed the detective inspector back with his hands pressed firmly on his bare shoulder blades. "What's happened? It's something to do with Grace because you're thinking harder about this, I can tell because your pupils have dilated. Furthermore, you rarely wake up early enough to kiss me in the morning, unless you have something to say, which is usually of importance or it's a special occasion. But it's the end of June, so nothing is happening, so it must mean you have something to say. It wouldn't have been work, because you dislike discussing matters such as that, unless absolutely necessary and it certainly wouldn't be friends because that doesn't require the attention you seek, which obvious given the bruise forming at the base of my neck. Inference that it must be about family, and the most important person in your family was Grace, so it's about her."

Greg smiled, "I love your brain."

"I do too" Mycroft replied, bringing his husband for a slow, loving kiss, he broke away, regaining his thoughts, "Would you like to tell me what's wrong?"

Greg sat there, his legs hanging over the edge of the bed, his mind quickly at work, "Pack a bag," He said finally, which elicited a questionable look from his husband, "You're going to America"

"I don't have to go anywhere" Mycroft replied, his body still wrapped in his crumpled suit, "Seeing as it's a Saturday morning, I would like to spend it with you"

"Tomorrow. You're going to America and you can spend a week in New York with Grace, if you need to do any business, you can leave her and fly to Washington." Greg had made up his mind- there was no going back. "I would rather you go, I've got meetings at school all week with the kids, and we have an inspection at the yard.."

"She would prefer it if she went by herself" Mycroft added, to which Greg agreed..

"But she's not going on that plane alone" Greg stood up, his voice slightly raised know, "I wouldn't forgive myself if something happened to her, because not only is she my little sister, but she is carrying our baby, which after you, is the best thing that has ever happened to me"

Stunned, Mycroft knelt up on the bed and bought his lips to his husband's; kissing him in reply, "If you meant every word of that, I would fly to the moon and back if I have to"

Greg stood back, smiling, "Thank you"

"You don't have to thank me, Greg" Mycroft replied, "Just come back to bed and stop looking at me like a tart in a boudoir."

Kissing someone goodbye, is the best and worst goodbye simultaneously: on one hand you get to share a passionate kiss with the person you love, before being separated from them. On the other hand, it makes you realise that you're not going to be with that person, for an extended amount of time, and realising that it could be forever waiting for a second kiss is agony. As Mycroft thought this, his stomach turned to knots. He had been without Greg before, but it was only for a few days on business; when Greg was on a tough case or Mycroft had to pull an all-nighter. To be without him, would be living hell: not being able to embrace him after a long day at work, or kiss passionately on the plane, there was none of that, instead, he had Grace Lestrade, who in her 18th week of pregnancy was starting to get morning sickness, so for the majority of Mycroft's flight, all the government man could hear was the disturbing tones of Grace's symptoms.

She rocked back to the sofa two hours later, her face drained of colour, and her body exhausted. "I'm so sorry" She whispered, "It isn't ideal"

The elder man walked towards Grace, his steps hitting the ground like feathers; silence fell across the room as he found a flannel and a bowl of warm water. Her words fell silent as he dabbed her forehead with a warm flannel, it was something she never expected of Mycroft Holmes: for him to roll his sleeves up and handle the situation himself, she assumed him to be the type of person who got other people to do it for him, remembering his words of "caring is not an advantage" that Greg had told her of long ago. He knelt beside her as she gave a pathetic smile, thinking it was hopeless to attempt a long-haul plane journey with morning sickness; suddenly missing the business of a regular plane, everything on this plane was so familiar, yet so distant at the same time.

"Have you ever been on a real plane?" The young journalist asked, quietly knotting her fingers as she spoke.

Mycroft smiled, "this is a real plane" replied sarcastically, "are you quite sure you're alright?"

"I mean, a proper commercial flight, when you're packed in with 200 strangers, only knowing each other for 8 hours, and then never encountering again."

"Only once" The elder Holmes replied, closing his eyes, "When I was younger, my parents always holidayed in places that we could get to without flying, as Mother detested the method of travel. So, I didn't actually go on a plane till I was 18, for my first business trip, I flew to Beijing to sort out and discuss the peace measures they were putting in place, which never came to light. Even then, the government organised my flights, so I flew first class, I spent half an hour grasping Mandarin and I spent the rest of the journey watching my favourite films."

Grace's eyes widened. As she tried to process the information the government man had willingly given to her, her jaw slowly dropped to the floor. "Hang on" She said, the cogs in her mind slowly revolving, thoughts whizzing through her head at the speed of sound. "You spent half an hour learning Chinese?" She paused, "For peace talks.. In China.."

"That is what I said, Grace" He smiled, dampening the flannel and wiping it across her brow, "Has your brother ever told you that I have an eidetic memory?"

She replied with a raised eyebrow and a confused look written on her face.

Drops of English rain hit the pavements outside the hospital in a pitter-patter manner, as scores of people rushed through the doors: crying children, anxious parents and the elderly, all heaped together in one room. In a row of chairs, Grace Lestrade sat at the end, staring out to the grey abyss outside her window. It had been three weeks since they had returned from New York, and she was finally settling into life back in her native country- she missed the business of New York, and the magic that seemed to come with it. But at the same time, nothing could beat England, the raw urban smell that only true Londoners could sense mixed with the rain, creating rust-coloured puddles in potholes.

21 weeks along, and her belly continued to grow, all three were anxious for the wait to be over, but Greg sensed that they would all miss the quiet. Grace placed a protective hand over her belly as she waited, what felt like hours, was in fact a few minutes, but she stayed there, her eyes fixated on the rain, waiting for her brother and his husband to arrive. A friendly nurse suddenly appeared enquiring her name and if her partner was coming with her today. At that moment, an ice cold air wafted through the room, making the hair on her arms stand to attention.

"My brother and his husband are on their way" She replied, with the usual response of a raised eyebrow, a thousand queries entering the nurse's mind, but she scuttled away, feeling that she wouldn't want to get on the bad side of Grace Lestrade. The young surrogate continued to look out the window, sighing heavily, her eyes relaxed as the beads of water fell quickly to the floor, the only thing that brought her back to the land of the living was Greg's hand on her shoulder.

"Sorry I'm late" He apologised quickly, kissing her on the cheek, "Work was a bitch, and then Mum called asking about you, she wants to know if you're taking the right vitamins and staying off everything. Then my boss called and wanted me to sort out some stuff and then Sherlock started ranting about how everyone thinks that he's straight. Long story short, sorry"

She smiled and held his hand, as the tired DI sat on the seat beside her, "Where's Mycroft?" She asked softly, knowing that he wouldn't want to miss this.

"He'll be here" Greg responded, and after that they continued to sit in silence, staring at the Bismarck weather happening before their eyes. Until the silence was broken by Greg softly tapping on his leg, "Do you want a cup of tea?" He asked, as she nodded in response.

She closed her eyes and soothed her stomach once more, "What do you think, Bump? Are you a girl or a boy?", in response the baby kicked quietly, "Well," Grace said finally, "That doesn't give me any answers"

"Greg thinks it's going to be a boy" Mycroft stated as he walked towards her, "I think differently."

Grace smiled, she had grown closer to Mycroft, as if they were partners in crime, "It's good to have you here" , when Greg finally returned, they all made their way towards the doctor's office. The room was filled with pregnancy artifices: leaflets on giving birth, a cervix diagram and everything you would expect; behind them, there was a large cork board pinned with pictures of tiny babies, who had all been happily bought into this world. The doctor arrived swiftly, apologising for her delay, and before they knew it, the cold gel was making it's way across Grace's abdomen. "Well, Miss Lestrade. Everything looks perfect here, you have a lovely healthy baby, and the heartbeat sounds just fine." She pointed towards the screen, outlining what looked like a large potato floating in wiggly lines, infant, it was their baby, Greg and Mycroft's perfect little baby. "Would you like to know the sex of the child?"

They all nodded, waiting with anticipation, as the doctor opened her lips, "It's a.." She was rudely interrupted by her pager, "oh my goodness, I am so sorry, one of my patients needs me, I'll be back soon enough."

Grace lay back and her head softly hit the cushioned rest. "you have got to be kidding me!"

They all stayed there, until the doctor was due to come back, sitting in silence, Greg occasionally complaining about his coffee. Until, Grace spoke, her words uttered silently, "Have you thought about names?" She questioned nervously.

Mycroft nodded, "We both have two each, that we quite like."

"What are they?" She asked, rubbing her hand over her stomach again.

"If it's a girl: Olivia or Catherine. If it's a boy: Daniel or Anthony after my grandfather" Mycroft replied softly and nodded towards Greg.

"Well," He started, tapping the lid of his coffee, "If it's a boy: Christopher or Joseph, if it's a girl: Scarlet or Ava"

Grace took a sharp breath outwards, "I love all of them," She replied, "I couldn't have thought of a better selection myself."

Mycroft looked at Greg and they joined hands, "We have decided on one name." They said proudly, "That if it's a girl, the middle name should be Grace and if it's a boy, you can choose the middle name. This may be our baby, but it's technically yours as well."

"Oh my goodness" She replied, "Are you sure?"

They both nodded, as a tear fell slowly down Grace's face and the doctor swung her head round the door.

"Sorry" She said, "You're probably all dying to know that you're having a girl"

Mycroft had always been baffled by the close relationship that Greg and Grace shared, when the only brotherly love he'd felt was a "Fuck off" from Sherlock, and the other one.. Well.. It was best not to go there.. He smiled when he heard giggles from the nursery, both Lestrades of the household were wearing oversized shirts rolled up to their elbows, and specks of paint decorated their faces and hair. The government man walked in bearing three cups of tea, with each mug, it was easy to tell whose was whose: Greg's was a slightly battered white mug, with a chipped handle and the insides were stained with remnants of tea and coffee, the outside was decorated with a Scotland Yard logo, which his team had got him years before he'd met his husband, on the back it said "Tea? Not my division. Whiskey please!"; Grace's mug was everything you expected, it was slightly worn from overuse, it was faded pink in colour, with a Shakespeare quote scribbled around it "Though she be but little, she is fierce" with faded yellow stars scattered around it; Mycroft's own mug was of Greg's creation the previous year, it was white, with the bottom decorated red buses, black taxis and everything British, the handle was decorated with a black umbrella.

"Tea" Mycroft announced, placing the mugs on a battered box. He stood next to his husband, he gave him a swift kiss on the lips, as their hands joined together.

"Now," Grace said, rubbing her stomach as she deliberated, "Yellow or White?"

"Not the conventional pink?" Mycroft asked, slightly confused.

"Grace is a feminist," Greg explained, "She wants her niece to grow up not having to fulfil gender roles"

"Naturally" Mycroft replied, turning to Grace, "But pink is your favourite colour"

"that's not the point" Grace replied instantly, "Speaking of things we're not comfortable with, birthing classes are next Tuesday"

Both men instantly said "No", shaking their heads in accordance.

"You both need to come, because it's not my baby. Greg, even though I don't want you to see your child come out of my vagina, you still need to be at the classes just because Mycroft is a liability"

"How am I a liability?" Mycroft asked, feeling slightly insulted by the younger Lestrade.

"Last week, you were 3 days late for coffee." Grace replied, "The Country needs you more than we do, so we can't really ask you to make a lot of commitments"

"Believe it or not, Myc" Greg spoke quietly, "She has a point"

Mycroft sighed, "Look, the day you hit a week before your due date, I'm taking the month off, but I can't afford to take any more days off"

They all sipped their tea in silence, "I like the yellow," Greg finally spoke, it will match this" He walked into his room and came out holding a picture: it depicted Grace, Greg, Mycroft, Sherlock, John and the kids at the tea party they had held for Charlotte's birthday, decorated with a white frame, and yellow roses painted in the frame. "the pictures came out last week, and I just had to get this one framed"

"It's perfect," Grace said quietly, "It's just.. Greg.. Are you going to tell this little girl how she came to be on earth? Because she will have questions... And I don't want anything to happen because of what I'm doing"

"She will know" Mycroft replied, "She can't hide from the truth"

Awkward couldn't even begin to describe how the birthing class. Now 36 weeks, Grace had put them on long enough. Mycroft, had turned up late: he'd been in Scotland for a week long conference with the prime minister and had only just returned at 8 that evening. Grace and Greg were also late: Greg had been whining and bitching about the class for most of the morning, and when Grace had had enough, she punched him square in the jaw, causing an integral bone to shatter, after spending a large part of the day in A&E, they had finally left, with Greg extremely drugged up and 10 minutes late for their class.

They had finally arrived, and instantly they were trapped in a tiny room, with plastered white walls covered in pink, blue and yellow stripes. A rather irritating assistant walked up to them, "Welcome welcome" she announced as the three came in, "Sit down, you're not too late. We're just going through a hello session before we get started"

They joined the circle of conventional parents, who were all perched on bean bags or on carpet circles that were scattered around the floor. Grace sat between the pair, her stomach bulging, compared to everyone else she resembled an elephant, and the others Dainty birds, with their petit bumps and their ability to wear stilettos.

"Goodness," The woman sitting next to the three remarked, "You're positively ready to pop! How far are you gone?"

"36 weeks" Grace smiled, "You?"

"28 weeks, a little boy! This is our first, yourself?"

"We're expecting a girl, I'm a surrogate for my brother and his husband" The younger Lestrade explained, her cheeks turning red at the statement.

"Wow." The younger woman responded, "You're going through all of this, for someone else? Brave I have to admit! Lisa, Lisa Stratfield. When I'm not carrying a child, I work as lawyer and enjoy shopping and Starbucks!"

"Grace, Grace Lestrade. I used to be a journalist for the New York Journal, but I moved back here a few months ago. I enjoy good food and planning other people's futures!"

"Well Grace, Grace Lestrade, we'll have to meet up!" She handed her a sleek card with her details written upon it.

Grace turned away to talk to Mycroft and Greg, "People are weird." Grace finally said, sitting down once more.

"I won't disagree" Mycroft replied as they were instructed on the easiest way to have a baby (which didn't sound that fun to either man)

It started to get to the point where Grace was counting the days past her due date, filling the days was getting harder and harder to do as she got bigger, and soon she couldn't bear to leave the house.

"Gregggggggg" She moaned, "I can't deal with being pregnant any more. Can you do it for me?"

"If I could, sister sweet, you wouldn't be having this baby in the first place"

"Urgh." Grace complained, "The day this child comes out will be a good one"

"I thought you loved being pregnant"

"I loved the glow. The sunshine pretty radiance that you gain from carrying a child. But as you continue, the glow turns to sickness, and before you know it, you're carrying several watermelons in your stomach"

Greg chucked over a bar of chocolate and laughed, "You forget the summer of '01, where I did eat several watermelons"

"Greg," She replied, "How could I forget?"

"It was an enlightening experience"

"Funny that." She replied, taking large chunks out of her chocolate bar.

"Mycroft will be home tomorrow" Greg replied, changing the topic considerably, "said we can call him night or day"

"The Korean votes just couldn't wait until his daughter could've been born?" Grace said exasperated, "I mean I'm sure Kim Jong Someone-or-other could just postpone them till I actually give-Ow!"

"Ow?" Greg questioned, "Do you mean Ow, I'm bored of this conversation, or Ow, I'm going into labour"

"Ow!" She replied, "Ow! I'm going into labour! FUCKKKKKKKKKKKK! OW OW OW OW!"

"Don't panic!" He replied tearing through the house like a thing possessed.

"Don't tell me to not panic, or I will hit you where it hurts. It will make the jaw incident seem like a holiday!"

"Oh." Greg replied, "Right, I'll get the bag, you get your shoes and we'll call Mycroft on the way"

"You're driving?"

"What's wrong with that?" The detective inspector responded, "Are you saying I'm a bad driver?"

"No. Greg. I'm asking you to put the lights on" Grace replied with a hint of pain in her voice.

"It's not an official emergency. I could get suspended."

The younger of the two grabbed the ends of his hair, "Do I look like I'm playing a fucking game, brother? OF COURSE THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!"

8 hours later, and Mycroft's plane had safely landed; he had never really rushed before, but today was the day his daughter was being welcomed into the world, and he wouldn't miss it for the world. "Get out of my way!" He screamed as he rushed through Heathrow, "I can't miss this!"

Mycroft kept running, his legs falling from underneath him, as he sprinted into the hospital he met his exhausted husband, kissing him quickly on the lips as Gregory continued to pant, "I have no idea how she is doing this, she screams, she cries.. She worse than a baby!"

"She just wants it to be over now, dear Gregory" Mycroft replied, "Soon we'll have a screaming baby and we'll wonder what the fuss was about."

"Right." Greg replied, as he heard Grace scream his name again.

Mycroft entered the room, smiling and holding her hand, "It won't be long, Grace. I promise."

"Oh Mycroft" She gasped, "You're here. My brother isn't very good at this. Please help"

In a blink of an eyelid, there was a baby in the room: she had small tufts ginger curly hair, matching her dark chocolate eyes, button nose and petal lips. "Oh Mycroft," Greg exclaimed, "She's absolutely beautiful"

Tears silently rolled down Mycroft's face as he looked at his daughter, "I have the name. Olivia-Grace Eve Lestrade-Holmes"

"Welcome to the world, Olivia" Smiled the tired parents, as the child's eyes widened. "You are the most gorgeous girl, and you like surprisingly like your auntie"

They all chuckled and smiled at the silent baby who was gazing at the strange faces all around her. What a wonderful world it was to be living in.

Chapter Text

Sweet smelling smoke wafted gently through the air, as Mycroft dragged on his first cigarette in months, slowly, he worked his way down to the tip, each drag more satisfying than the last, and with every exhale of smoke released the fog of worry festering in his mind: it was 23:37, and Gregory still wasn't home. It was unusual for him to arrive any later than 7, if he was late by even a minute, he would drop his husband a text and send him a picture of the view from his current chair, usually the back of someone else's head, or a crime scene, but Mycroft often enjoyed deducing the location and on a scale of one to ten, how bored his partner was. Usually, it was an enjoyable game, but tonight, everything made him worry: no phone call, no texts, no funny picture. Not a single soul had heard from Detective Inspector, and Mycroft had started to worry. As the current cigarette was quickly coming to an end, Mycroft lit another one, and before he knew it, he was off to the Tesco to get another pack. After Olivia was born, they had both made a pact to stop smoking, and if, for any reason, that pact was broken, they would receive a fine of £50 (which would go towards their holiday fund) and they would have to go without sex for a week. It was safe to say that giving it up was easier than imagined, even though they both craved it, they knew it was for the best, for their wallets and their sex lives. But tonight, Mycroft ignored it, something from the deep pit of his stomach told him that something was wrong, that Greg wasn't home for a reason, and no matter how hard he tried to tell himself that he'd probably fallen asleep at his desk and no-one had woken him up, his mind quickly realised that it was an unlikely possibility. And soon, he would have to face the music. He stubbed out another cigarette and slowly fell into the viscous cycle of chain smoking: lighting a new one as each old one died out, and continuing to do so as piercing blue eyes locked onto the welcome distraction of paperwork. Each line was processed as he skimmed down the page, each letter read exactly and followed, until the ink hit the paper in an unlikely marriage, blue ink following a smooth curve over the crisp white paper, each loop was poised with precision and each word was written with the same grace as an artist. The rhythm was jolted when his phone started to move and sing, familiar music pouring out of the speakers: their song playing quietly for the whole room to hear, one word lit up the screen, a word that filled his whole heart with joy "Gregory".

"Gregory, oh my God, please tell me you're ok, what took you so long?" He pleaded with the technology, only to hear silence in reply, "Gregory, darling, please answer, what's wrong? I've been worried sick, I thought you had abandoned Olivia and I-"

An unfamiliar voice interrupted Mycroft's worrying pleas, "Is this Mycroft Lestrade-Holmes, speaking?"

Silence fell upon the room, with a heavy thud and a deafening sound of sadness, Mycroft croaked out the only words he could think to reply with, "Yes, this is he"

"Mr. Lestrade-Holmes, I regret to inform you that your husband has been shot, he's currently at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and nurses and doctors are trying to get him in a stable condition."

"Shot where?" Mycroft replied, eyes filling rapidly with tears, he had expected that one day this might happen, after all it was an occupational hazard, but he'd never entertained the possibility of it actually happening.

"I can't reveal that information without a doctor present"

"Shot where, and if you don't tell me, there will be an Mi6 squad willing to take you to a private room and dissect that information for me. So it would be easier if you could tell me where the love of my life has been shot."

"Heart"

All of a sudden, the world seemed to stop turning, and the tight grip on the government man's sleek black phone slackened, and the object fell to the floor. Once again, silence flung itself on the room, the eerie noise of near-death hung over him: with shaky hands he picked the smashed phone and dialled the first number he could think of.

At the brutal sound of the phone ringing, John Watson blinked rapidly to wake himself up, it was unusual that he would be asleep at 12, but Sherlock had woken him up at 3, so his day has been pretty exhausting. He chuckled as he rolled over to pick up the object, laughing at his husband who was sprawled across the bed in a half sleep complaining about the sustainability of watercress, he'd been moaning about various types of salad since they first started a case where the victim was murdered by a change in the growth process in her salad leaves, leaving Sherlock distrusting of any salad for the next three months.. With this thought in mind, he chuckled again and gently kicked the younger man awake, and picking up the piece of technology that lingered on his night stand.

"John Watson" The automatic reply poured out of the army doctor's mouth along with a stifled yawn.

"John thank god" a breathy voice answered, "It's Mycroft."

"Ahhhh Mycroft, Sherlock's asleep. I can wake him up if you want, but he will want to hurt you, I mean you know-"

"- It's not about Sherlock, John. It's Greg, he's been shot."

"Oh my God, are you at the hospital?"

"No, I've only just got the call, can you come over here and get Olivia ready and meet me at the hospital? I'm leaving her with a neighbour until you get here. Have you got your key?" Mycroft replied, working on autopilot now, taking a breath when he ever mentioned the hospital. "I'll meet you up there, can you make sure that Sherlock stays as far away from St. Batts as possible? I do not need his helpful comments"

At the sound of his name Sherlock awoke, "I heard that!" He pounced, "And I think that's rather rude, brother mine."

"Right I'll see you there" John replied, hanging up the phone. He turned to Sherlock, placing a kiss against his lips, and turning to leave, lacing up a hoody and throwing on a pair of old boots.

"Why were you calling my brother?" Sherlock questioned, a look of worry written across his face, "John, why?"

"Your brother called me."

"John, What's going on, are you in love with him or something, why are you all of a sudden dropping everything to be with him?"

"Jesus, Sherlock!" John replied, "Lestrade got Shot. Ok? By the sounds of it, it's not looking good, Mycroft is in bits, he could barely hold a sentence without sounding like he was going to cry. So for once in your life think about someone else, and think that you might be seeing a lot more of your brother if tonight goes badly."

"Why are you going?" Sherlock asked, it was rare that John was mad, but it was a flaw of his loyalty and having little sleep.

"Mycroft wants me to get Olivia and go to the hospital, he doesn't want you to be there." John climbed back on the bed and bought Sherlock into a deep kiss, "I'm sorry, and I'll be back before you know it"

Greg was in surgery for almost four and a half hours, and for every single second, Mycroft sat in front of the door, waiting for anything: a whisper or a suggestion that he might be ok, or a definite answer saying that he isn't. The operation continued, and it felt like days; months had gone past, and Mycroft barely had the energy to leave the edge of his seat.

"Is this seat taken?" A familiar voice asked, to which Mycroft shook his head and then looked up to see Molly Hooper, who dressed as if she was going out for the evening: her hair was flung around her shoulders in soft ringlets and she wore a plain black dress, that was simple, yet elegant: it came down to her knees and softly shaped the body it was placed on; the neckline was a tiny bit revealing, but not too much and the shoes were sensible, too sensible for a date, but too smart for work. Mycroft looked at her and smiled, "So, you're supposed to be meeting your boyfriend's parents tonight, any particular reason why your not?"

"How did you-"

"Powers of deduction work better under stress," He smiled, "Why do you think I'm in the government and not teaching?"

"Many reasons.. I mean.. You hate kids.."

"If Gregory was here he would slap you silly, even if he does have a rule about slapping females.." He smiled sadly at the thought, knowing that his beloved husband had rules for everything, but they all made sense at the same time, "I suppose you haven't met Olivia yet"

"I heard, about what happened to Greg.. Mycroft, I'm so sorry.." Molly replied, cupping a soft hand over his two, that were carefully fastened together in an icy grip, "But we have the best specialists and if anyone can pull through, I know it will be Greg, let's face it, he works with your brother, he can do anything"

"I appreciate the sentiment Molly, but some silence would be lovely" He replied, checking his phone, to see if something had happened to take his mind off things, but the only notification he received was the one he already knew: 48 year old detective inspector from Scotland Yard in surgery after being shot in the heart, police have arrested a 16-year-old girl in suspicion of the crime. Mycroft couldn't bear to think that a child could've thought of this, she was Annabeth's age, and now would probably face at least a large part of her life in a cell.

"I haven't met Olivia" Molly remarked after what seemed like hours, "Goodness, she must almost 3 months old now, how is it? Being a dad?"

Mycroft sat there tapping his fingers along his knee, "Yes, she's three months old, and she is quite the character already. She smiles a lot, grinning and clapping constantly, and she adores Greg," He felt a lump in his throat, "She spends a lot of time with John, he's volunteered to be our nanny for a while until he gets a permanent position as a doctor in St Bart's. It's strange being a dad, I miss her when she's not around, if it's quiet, I crave to hear her laughs and her screams, but when it's noisy, I beg her to fall asleep. But I love her, with every inch of my being"

"I can't wait to meet her." Molly replied, "Sherlock showed me pictures, she's stunning."

"She gets it all from Greg's side, I'm sure" Mycroft said sadly, "If the worst does happen, at least- at least she'll know that she was loved immensely"

"He doesn't have to die for her to know that" Molly said bringing him closer to the government man, allowing him to rest on his shoulder, "If you need me to do anything, Mycroft, I'll be here, if John needs a break from baby sitting or you need someone to cook you dinner. Just give me a shout"

Mycroft smiled, "I don't shout, but I will give you a call."

Two years ago

It was the first weekend that Mycroft had taken off in months, and it just happened to be a week before Christmas. It was rare that he woke up with another man, usually his affairs would be a brief encounter: no names exchanged and no life stories swapped, but this time, it was different, he woke up in the arms of his detective inspector. Gregory rolled over and kissed the government man, "Good Morning, gorgeous", blinking awake, his icy blue eyes latched onto the deep chocolate pools of Greg's and kissing him in reply, his arms hanging around the back of the elder man's neck.

"Good morning" Mycroft replied, in an illustrious haze, moving forwards to place a kiss on his forehead. "I've never done anything like this before"

"Like what?" Greg looked confused, but slightly relieved, it was the first time he'd been with a man before Karen, and he'd forgotten how enjoyable it could be. Realising that Mycroft wouldn't give him an answer without hesitation, he slowly unbuttoned Mycroft's pyjama top as he slowly peppered the younger man with kisses. "Like what?" He repeated himself again, mumbling against the soft warmth of his skin.

"You know.. Ermm.. Well, this"

"Myc, that really doesn't help me at all" He replied, starting to work his rough fingers into Mycroft's hair, playing gently with each small tuft.

"Well, waking up in someone else's arms." Mycroft said as he slowly bought Gregory's chin up to meet his, "my only experiences have been in seedy bars and once in a toilet at university. I have never done anything like this before. I've never been on a date and I've never had a relationship of any kind longer than a few days."

"Really?" Greg stretched back, looking slightly confused, "Why?"

"I've never had the time. At university we were told 'All lives end, all hearts at broken, all in all, caring is not an advantage.' You have to understand that in my line of work I have to make the decision if people live or die. It's not just a minor position in the government, I have to make decisions that impact the security of our country, I can't afford to have relationships" He looked down sadly, and then leaned into kiss Gregory, "But there is something about you, that makes me want more"

"Why?" Greg asked softly, "Why me?"

"Because you're different and interesting, you inspire me in so many ways that I didn't need even know existed. And yes, we've only been dating for a few weeks, and I'm still in a haze from last night, but I know there is something more to you than expected, and a small part of me believes that I might be falling in love with you"

Greg smiled and kissed him in reply, "I'm so glad you said it first, because since the moment you bought me a drink at that Christmas party I knew that this was something. Mycroft Holmes, I love you too"

They shared another heated kiss, before Mycroft fell back to the warm comfort of his pillows, his arms wrapped around Gregory and his kissed his back, before tracing the scars and moles along his chest: his finger circled around a nasty wound on his upper shoulder, "What's this?" He asked gently, placing a kiss on the mark.

"My first bullet wound," Gregory said sadly, "It was in my first year there, I was employed as a detective sergeant at Scotland Yard, and my first big case was the Abby Stephens case, heard of it?" Mycroft nodded, it was a case study at university, one of the most famous cases in the uk, about the mysterious abduction of a university student, "We had finally found the murderer, who had left a trail of hints, as if he wanted to be found. Finally, we located him in Plymouth, hiding out in a little chubby hole near the beach. We didn't know that he was armed, and he managed to take a lump out of my shoulder... It was a surreal moment, ya' know.. I could see the bullet hurtling toward me in slow motion, and at first, it looked like it was heading toward my heart, and as I moved, it hit my shoulder, but it was worth it. My first battle scar"

Mycroft smiled, "Do you not wonder that you could've died at the moment?"

"I used to when it first happened, but I had other things to think about" He smirked and kissed Mycroft softly, with a hint of passion, "I love you, Mycroft Holmes, and I won't be dying any time soon."

That was two years ago, Mycroft thought, when the love of his life made that promise. And he prayed and hoped that he would keep his promise, but with heart surgery, there were so many things that could go wrong: depending on where he was shot, shrapnel could move into the main valve or there is a possibility that the bullet could've hit an artery. The worries were endless and it was possible that it might not be the same Gregory on the other side, even if he does survive. "Please God" He pleaded, "I've never prayed before and I don't really have any intention to pray again, but I need a miracle, I need the love of my life to come back to me, to be the father to his children and the most amazing man I know. So, a miracle would be nice, I need him to come back to me, I can't do this by myself."

And as if a miracle had occurred, a nurse appeared to Mycroft and Molly, who both stood as she came into the corridor. "Mr Holmes?"

"Lestrade-Holmes," He corrected her, "And please call me Mycroft"

"Well, Mycroft, the good news is that your husband survived the surgery. The bullet hit a ventricle, meaning that the doctors have had to do some repair work, but it left hardly any damage. Your husband is very lucky to be alive, Mr Lestrade-Holmes, it will take him a few days to get back to himself. But if he makes it through tonight, his chance of survival is greater. Tonight, is really touch and go."

Mycroft took a second to process this, "What does he need?"

"Well, he'll be waking up from surgery soon, so some home things would be nice, to make the place seem less, well, hospital-like. We find that patients do better when they're surrounded by photos and memories of home. Toiletries, naturally: towels, toothbrushes, body wash, etc.. We can arrange carers, but you probably want to stay, seeing that you've been here since we called you. Do you have any children?"

"Yes, 4. Three live with their mother and our fourth is staying with my brother and his husband." Mycroft replied, a smile across his face when he thought about their small gaggle of children, all with lively characters and chatty personalities, all who had become excellent sisters to the new addition.

"Brilliant, so if you leave your..." She looked to Molly in a confused manner..

"This is Dr Molly Hooper; a close friend, and I believe she is heading home.." Mycroft explained, smiling at Molly.

"Of course," She replied, before leaning in to kiss Mycroft on the cheek and swiftly left the ward.

"So," The nurse continued, "If you follow me, I'll swiftly who you to Mr. Lestrade-Holmes' room and explain the equipment he's got attached to him. Please understand that he has been under very strong medication, and he will be under pain medication with a mixture of morphine and a range of others. Is he allergic to any medication?"

Mycroft shook his head, anxious to see his love; walking into the room, his heart shattered into tiny pieces, to see Greg, pale and exhausted with tubes and wires coming out all over his body. Catching his breath, the only word that poured out was "Greg", every second became more heartbreaking, as his nurse, Ella explained every single piece of equipment: from the heart monitor to the IV line, at every explanation, Mycroft thanked his lucky stars that Greg was still there, drawing in breath through his cannula. He sat with him, squeezing his hand tightly, chatting to him softly in the hope that he would wake up.

"... Olivia is with John," He continued, "I'm sure you won't mind, he spends so much time with her, he's practically her third parent. John tells me that him and Sherlock are thinking of starting a family, a part of this scares me, but I would love to be an uncle. The aspect of future Christmases also terrifies me: with our four and possibly more in the future, I'm sure we'll have Grace as well and they'll be two and possibly a few more. So that's at least 10-"

"Myc" a breathless reply came from the dying man's mouth, "I'm dying, can we not talk about Christmas"

Mycroft went up to kiss Greg on the lips, "There was a point where I thought you might never wake up... But I promise you, you're not dying, you are going to lead a long, happy life."

"Myc, I know that if I don't make it through tonight, I won't make it at all" He replied, "We both know that... Don't we? You're the smartest man I know, please don't lie to yourself."

"Talk of death one more time" Mycroft warned, "Or I will bring Sherlock in here, and set him onto talk mode for an hour"

"That, my love is an unfair threat" Greg laughed as he struggled to breathe, "Fine. It's a deal."

"I thought I'd lost you forever." Mycroft said sadly.

"I know, but I'm still here"

4 months ago

"Isn't it scary that one day we'll die?" Charlotte asked at breakfast, "Because when I die, I want my ashes to be scattered in the moat around the castle at Disneyland."

"Lottie" Greg scorned, "You're 7."

"I am 7, I'm glad you remembered, and as a 7 year old, I have the right to the freedom of speech" The blonde-haired child reported.

Greg raised an eyebrow towards Lottie and sighed to see Katie happily eating cereal. "Katherine Lestrade" He said in a low impatient voice, "I know you've been doing the human rights act, but you don't have to bring it to your sister."

"It wasn't Katie!" Charlotte screamed! "Papa Mycroft was complaining about the sodding human rights act, so I asked him what it was and he told me."

Greg sighed and shook his head, "OK, just don't bring it to the breakfast table"

"Ok" Lottie replied solemnly, before picking up, "At my funeral can I have a pink coffin?"

"What makes you think I'll be planning it?" Greg replied indignantly, realising that this conversation could take a while.

"Who else will?"

"Well" Katie tried to say politely, "The natural order is that we make the plans for Dad's funeral, and when you get older, your children will plan your funeral."

"I don't want children." Lottie said, "I'm going to die surrounded by cats."

Olivia-Grace cooed as she was held in John's arms, full focus surrounding him, her blue eyes locking with his in admiration. He'd gotten a call from Mycroft asking to see her when Greg remarked that he would like to spend time with his youngest daughter if these were to be his last hours on earth. She was a stunning child, with icy blue eyes and soft locks of curly auburn hair, as she slept, she crossed her arms and scrunched her body into a ball, keeping the warmth and love that she felt every day, as she was in John's arms, she started to crawl up and fall slowly into sleep, she'd been asleep since 12, but had woken up for the four 'o' clock feed, that the mention of this to any parent, any where would fill them with memories of sleepless nights and the bittersweet sound of their yowling child. He'd taken her up to Greg's ward, in the ICU, with special permission to visit him, because of Mycroft's status, otherwise it was immediate family only. Greg was halfway between sleep and consciousness most of the time, as the weight of the drugs pulled him down, and the weakness of his heart was now beginning to show. As John delivered a sleeping child to Greg's arms, all three men smiled, as if her small life bought joy to the whole world.m, this thought tickled the army doctor, who yanked the clipboard full of notes out from the end of the bed, simultaneously checking the heart monitor and all the fluids. Placing the folder back into it's holder, he tapped Mycroft softly on the back and looked at him sympathetically, it would only be a matter of hours if his heart were to give out; realising the significance of the moment, he left the family together, even if it was just for a few moments.

"I could die happy now" Gregory said quietly, staring into the eyes of his baby girl, "with you all here, knowing that you would care for my kids when I'm gone"

"Gregory, darling, please. Don't say that, I'm sure your mother always told you to be careful what you wish for..." He sighed, "Anyway, I need to talk about your other kids. About Karen... If you die, Karen gets full custody and I have no claim to your children, and I'm afraid that I wouldn't be able to care and protect for them as you would want. They can still visit but if you leave us, I cannot count as their guardian, unless you gain full custody and I adopt them, or Karen, for any other reason doesn't want them"

"Jesus, Myc, how long have you thought about this?" He smiled, tiredly looking up to his husband.

"You've given me too much time to think," Mycroft replied, extracting their daughter from his husband's arms and calling John to take her back home.

Greg was asleep when Mycroft returned, the younger man had fallen into a pool of unconsciousness, but Mycroft couldn't bear to shut an eyelid, just in case anything happened, but just after 5'o'clock, Mycroft's worst fears were realised when he heard the machine flatlining, his heart had given out, and his body had given up; with fear coursing through his veins, he shouted repeatedly for the nurse, his lungs burning with lit with a smoky fire, creating a deep hoarseness in his voice. Before he knew it, a group of nurses and doctors ran into the room, each one slowly pushing Mycroft out as they pushed down onto his chest plate, trying to retrieve a heartbeat, until one of them gave up, declaring his time of death as 5:35, and slowly but surely Mycroft's world began falling apart. Darkness fell across the room as tear after tear poured down his face, the only word that he could elicit from broken sobs was 'Gregory', the love of his life, who was cruelty robbed of his future.

A few seconds later, a shred of sunlight bounced gaily into the room, it's beams dancing around the bed with an uplifting movement. Mycroft looked over to his husband, who loved watching the sun set and rise every day, it was the reason he woke up early every morning and always went to bed so late, as he looked over, he saw a finger tap the cool, crisp hospital bedsheets.

"Greg?" He asked, a shred of hope as he waited anxiously for a response, and the finger tapped again, but twice this time, "NURSE" he screamed again, but somewhat more desperate, "Is he alive?"

A young nurse placed two fingers along his wrist and held her watch out, and nodded as she could feel the blood pumping through his veins.

"It's a miracle" She said, beaming, "He's going to survive."

Chapter Text

"You look gorgeous" Mycroft mused as he leant on the doorframe, three piece suit hanging off him loosely; buttons undone and sleeves messily shoved to the elbow. Icy Blue eyes fixed on to his lover, who slowly combed strands of grey hair from his eyes. "I never thought your hair would look good long"

"It's awful," Greg said sadly, sweeping it back off of his forehead, each strand freshly cleaned and combed. He looked smart, yet he was only dressed in smart grey trousers, the rest of his outfit laying neatly on the bed. The tops of his shoulders were still dusted with droplets of water from where he showered. "I've never liked having long hair"

"It suits you" Mycroft replied, moving his tired and exhausted body over to where the older man was sitting, embracing him from behind and kissing his neck slowly to make him moan with pleasure. "Just imagine my fingers running through your hair as you softly move your tongue-"

"-Stop right there" Greg replied, looking down at his wheelchair, which he had been in since his heart operation six months ago, and soon he would be able to leave it behind, along with the physical therapy and the medication that had come with his operation. Soon again, he would be able to go back to normal, "You know what my doctor said, no often strenuous exercise, and you know what that means"

Mycroft sat down on their bed and rolled Greg towards him bringing him in for a long sensual kiss, moving his tongue around his lover's mouth, as his fingers tangled themselves in the neatly combed strands of hair. Drawing away, he pressed his forehead to Greg's, "Apologies" He said breathlessly, "I've been wanting to do that all day"

Greg chuckled in response, raising an eyebrow, "And why might that be?"

"Nice answer or real answer?" Mycroft smiled, he'd had a bitch of a day, and the what with Sherlock's "Christmas gathering" he felt almost suicidal.

"Both" Greg smiled, leaning in to kiss his husband.

"Nice answer: Because you're my husband. Real answer: Work was awful, the Koreans refused to negotiate and the Prime Minister may or may not have an illegitimate child. Our gorgeous daughter is cutting her first tooth and the nanny quit."

"Ah."

Mycroft stood up and held a hand out to his husband, "You might be more comfortable on the bed", he whispered seductively, and smiled warmly. Heaving himself up, gripping on to his husband, Greg smiled and collapsed onto the bed, breathing in heavily, the action to move clearly exhausting.

"One more month" Greg smiled sympathetically, "And I will no longer need that fucking chair." Mycroft laid back and stared into his husband's eyes, softly soothing him, and moving in to lie gently on top of him, legs straddling either side of his hips, tipping Greg's chin to reveal his neck, and he kissed him passionately. They continued in the throes of their passion, each man slowly kissing and groaning in reply. All of a sudden, the door swung open to reveal Greg's eldest daughter, Katie, who clearly in a rush was horrified to see her father and his husband clearly wanting some private time, as she saw this, she simply gave a surprised gasp, shuddered and slowly closed the door. Walking away, she attempted to remove the images from her mind. "God," She mumbled to herself, "I will never be able to un-see that"

A few minutes later, Mycroft dashed out in search of the teen. "Sorry, Katherine" He apologised to the teen, "We didn't realise you were home already"

"Myc, please call me Katie. And just give me a minute."

"Of course, Katherine" Mycroft replied, quickly changing the term of address as Katie's eyes flared with fire, "Sorry, Katie. Your dad and I were just- It's been a long day, sincere apologies"

"It's ok," Katie said, silently forgiving her father and his husband, "Just you never really think of your parents having sex."

Stunned by her reply, Mycroft blinked, "You see me as your parent?"

Katie nodded, "You helped me move to university, when mum and dad couldn't make it; you held my hand at Anthea's funeral, even though it was killing you inside and you were there to support me when Josh and I started dating"

"I did what I had to do" Mycroft said, consoling himself.

"No you didn't" Katie said, revealing disappointment on Mycroft's face, "You've done so much more. Anyway, once you and dad have finished... We need to get going, I've been anxiously waiting to see what the famous Christmas parties at 221b are like. Dad's told me about the one where Sherlock chased you with a machete..."

"Yeah, That was fun"

The three had arrived at 221b, which had been decorated with white lights and brightly coloured tinsel, they reached the landing of the flat and were instantly handed a glass of champagne (though Greg had to boycott) by John, and welcomed the family to join them as Sherlock played a medley of songs with his deft fingers on the violin. Looking up, the bow left the delicate instrument and begrudgingly the genius welcomed them. "Ah brother" He mumbled, nodding his head towards the government man. "Geoff, how's the heart?"

"It's Greg." He mumbled, and shook his head as the genius continued to deduce his disabled state.

"And Katherine" Sherlock smiled, "I have something I'd like to show you, and I hope you can shed some light on the matter"

The teen fled off with the genius, both eagerly chattering away, which raised confusion to both Mycroft and Greg, each man speechless by Sherlock's actions. The army doctor approached the pair, we confused as they were: "Do you know what's going on?"

"Not a clue." Greg replied, an eyebrow raised to his best friend and brother-in-law.

The night drew on and the festivities dulled slightly as everyone started to leave, couples had slowly started fade with exhaustion. Though both Holmes' and their husbands had few friends, the tiny flat had seemed to be packed full: people were filling almost every room; shorting and drinking with their merriment. An hour before midnight, Molly Hooper sheepishly came into the room, peering in through the door to see if anyone was still there.

"Hello" She said quietly, as if not to wake a sleeping child. She turned to the man who was fastened to her arm and beamed, "I think some of you know James." The elder man, who resembled nothing of Sherlock, or a sociopath, had completely turned Molly's life around. After possibly one of the worst years of her life (barring the Moriarty saga), Molly had shrunken back into her former life, an orphaned child, who when growing up had only her father to rely on, could only rely on that of her brothers- the pathologist had reduced into virtually nothing, leaving and breathing work until it had almost broken her. After the death of one of her brothers, Mark, she was inconsolable for months, slowly turning to hibernation. But then, James had turned up, who knew both Greg and Mycroft pretty well: he worked with the government as a crime scene specialist, and had gone to the same school as Greg, so they were all pretty familiar with him. It had seemed that Molly had met the one, they fitted perfectly together, like eloquent pieces of a jigsaw puzzle: both intelligent with hard working jobs, they spent time simply relaxing, enjoying each other's company instead of constantly going to the pub, like she did with Tom and actually spent time conversing instead kissing when there was an awkward silence.. She had transformed. James kissed her softly on the cheek before leaving to chat to the others: he was tall in stature; broad shoulders and a square jaw, leading up to a quiff of honey-blonde hair, streaked with brunette shades. He walked over to Greg, shaking his hand firmly and passing him a beer.

The two men started conversing, and Mycroft beamed, it was rare to see Greg with a smile constantly on his face these days. It's not to say that he wasn't happy, but a life confined to a wheelchair was strenuous, especially if part of your job was running around chasing after criminals all the livelong day. Molly walked over to the government man, clutching a glass of red wine.

"Greg looks happy. He's come along so well after.. well, that terrible evening" Molly stuttered, fear in her eyes as she spoke to him.

"Considering everything, I'm so proud of him," Mycroft smiled, "He would love to see James again, you two must come round for dinner. Once Greg is better, obviously, I won't dare to put you through my cooking."

Molly chuckled heartily, "I would like that. I think James would too, he misses the old days, ever since the whole thing with Dimmock."

Ah. Michael Dimmock, Mycroft recalled, Greg's former best friend who he had gone to university with, then excelled in the met and ran off with his wife. It wasn't a name that was mentioned anymore in the Holmes-Lestrade household. "Ah. Yes." Mycroft replied quietly, subtly indicating that he wanted to play no part in the conversation, "Where are you going for Christmas?"

"Oh, we're staying at home. James just wanted a small Christmas, just the two of us, you know? Boxing day we're going to my brother, Andrew's. They've just had a baby, a little boy, so, we decided to go and see them."

"Delightful, Molly. Another little nephew! Any names?" Mycroft queried, all of a sudden getting far too enthusiastic about Molly's nephew.

"Daniel Mark Hooper."

"What a lovely tribute to Mark, Molly. It must hurt though."

She nodded quietly, "You're off to Dorset, aren't you?"

"Yes. Tomorrow evening, so we will be there in the morning to wake up to the presents." Mycroft mused. Greg had spent a great deal of his childhood down there, and had made it a tradition to visit there every Christmas. This year, the whole Lestrade contingent had decided to join them, thankfully, without Greg's snake of an Ex-Wife, Karen.

"How lovely. Where abouts?"

"Oh.." Mycroft replied, deducing the girl further, whilst trying to calculate a response, "Just outside of Weymouth"

Christmas Eve dawned bright and early, and Mycroft groaned, his head pounding with the afterthought of the amount of alcohol he had consumed the previous evening; eyes burning at the very glimpse of sunlight that peaked through the shutters.

"Remind me" He grumbled to his husband, "I am never drinking alcohol again."

With a sleepy smirk lingering on his lips, Greg chuckled, before being dragged back into a senseless slumber, soft snores eliciting from the back of his throat. Rolling over, Mycroft snickered at his husband's comatose state. With all the energy he could muster, he moved his aching bones out of bed, before slowly collapsing on the floor. The door slowly resisted it's hinges, as the oak frame revealed a sleepy teenager draped across the burgundy-coloured carpet: clutching her laptop with slim fingers covered with chipped back nail varnish.

"Bloody hell, Annabeth." Mycroft whispered in surprise, "What possessed you to sleep, virtually, on our doorstep? Just knock!"

She rolled her eyes and pushed the frames of thick black glasses back up her nose, "I don't know how to break this without screaming from the top of my lungs. Myc." She took a death breath, "I-"

"Please don't tell me your pregnant, Annabeth, your father would blame me I can feel it in my bones."

She shook her head, before opening the shiny black lid to her laptop: "I have an offer from Oxford" She said quietly, hugging Mycroft tightly, "I woke up, and it was there waiting for me. The best present ever."

"Congratulations!" Mycroft said, trying to be as joyful as possible as his head continued to pound. He pulled her into a air-restricting embrace, his arms looping around her waist: "I'm so very pleased, but please go and tell your father- He will be bitter to discover that I found out first" Kissing her on the cheek, he winced at the movement, his head palpating with pain. The teenager nodded with vigour in response to his plea: her top-knot was slowly falling from its place: scraps of brown curly hair falling across her forehead and the back of her neck; tiny strands wandering over the rims of her glasses. The teen burst through the door and moved swiftly towards the bed, where Greg was sound asleep, each snore dragging him further into a deep slumber. Annabeth continued to move with a graceful-clumsiness, tripping over her tartan pyjama bottoms and falling into the bedroom cabinet. While sneezing rather vigorously, she collapsed into bed, rather harshly disturbing Greg from his much needed sleep.

"FUCK," Greg swore loudly with dismay, "Oh Annabeth, it's only you. Christ, what's wrong?"

She revealed the screen of her laptop to her father, he mumbled the words of the email as he slowly read it to himself: "Dear Miss Annabeth Elizabeth Lestrade, after your successful interview, we would be delighted to offer you a conditional place to study Ba(Hons) Law at Balliol College, with the university of Ox-.."

He paused, and taking one deep breath, he screamed, joy roaring from his lungs. "OXFORD

Even the most patient drivers would be tested through the bustling traffic on the M25 on Christmas eve, where drivers would curse and swear in abundance, and traffic would move at an excruciating pace, which could be compared to an elderly person attempting to cross the road. The "short road trip" of two hours and forty-five, which Mycroft had been promised ,hence he had agreed to drive, had doubled before they had left London. Cries establishing boredom from Lottie had fallen on deaf ears, each member of the family desperate to escape the trapping confines of the car.

"That's it." Katie sighed, anger fuming through her nostrils, "If one more word pours out of your tiny little mouth, Lottie, about how bloody bored you are, I will shove your Disney magazine where the sun does not shine. Now please, shut. your. face."

To this remark, offences and scorns were thrown to the teenager, causing turmoil throughout their car, which though luxurious in space , was still a confined space, where anger was fuelled by hatred and indignation, this was all before Mycroft Holmes lost it.

"I'm turning around. Christmas is cancelled." He announced, signalling to leave the queue, "all my life my Christmases have been ruined by my brothers, and for just this once, I would love to spend it with my family. However, since we left our house, there has been nothing but complaining, and now endless arguing. So we are going home."

Silence flooded the car, the only audible noise was the constant ticking of the indicator, before Lottie leaned over and flicked it up.

"We're not going home, Papa." She whispered quietly, "Let's be honest, you need a break. I'll read a book and Annabeth can listen to Moss and Katie can write. But if you turn around, I will have to kill you"

Mycroft chuckled at her audacity, before turning to Greg with bemusement, "Doesn't Annabeth listen to Muse?"

They both laughed heartily, as Mycroft pulled back over into the lane and slowly continued at the 5mph pace they had been maintaining for almost an hour. Slowly, but surely, the pace started to quicken, and before they knew it, they were out of London and driving speedily towards Dorset. Greg had always been compelled to go there, after spending so many Christmases there as a child- growing up in a chav-infected town, he cherished the moments away from it, relishing in memories of the beach huts and cobbled sands, the way the sun shone on the water, as if the Rays were blessing each droplet that belonged to the sea. He couldn't contain his excitement, as he felt his heart quickening in his chest, remembering the feeling of running across the beach with the sand between your toes and feeling the icy cold sea lap over damp sand. They had intended the holiday to be a small family Christmas break, but it was soon evolving into a trip of epic proportions:

"So," Greg said softly, grabbing Mycroft's free hand, as the other was draped over the steering wheel, "How many will there be at Christmas dinner?"

Mycroft mused, the cogs in his mind functioning as he racked over the memories, "Two of us, Four Children, Grace and her beau, along with Katie's boyfriend and Annabeth's, and my parents will be joining us for Christmas Day, but not this evening... They're visiting my dear brother and his husband"

"Twelve?"

Mycroft nodded his head, and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "What can you do?", but he glanced over to his husband, who was meticulously working out how many potatoes he would need to chop and peel if he was to assist his husband tomorrow. "I'm surprised that you didn't tell me off, Gregory"

"Why would I tell you off?" He pondered, winking at his husband before speaking with silky, sultry sounds, "Have you been a naughty boy?"

Annabeth unplugged her earphones in disgust. "Ew." She said, as if a bitter taste had appeared in her mouth, "the other two may be asleep, but I'm still alive.. And not deaf for that matter."

The pair giggled at her dismay, as the middle child placed her earphones back where they belonged, with a mild hint of aggression.

"Why would I tell you off, anyway, Myc?" Greg replied, swinging his focus from Annabeth to his husband.

"Will ever since Olivia was born, you persist in telling me off after making a cutting remark about my brother. You've let it slide. It's weird, I don't like it" Mycroft shuddered with the thought.

"Oi!" Greg replied, "You never pay any attention to it anyway!"

"And?! It's like me calling you Greg and not Gregory." Mycroft retorted as he drummed his fingers along the leather of the steering wheel.

Greg shuddered at the thought, "No, I understand, I get your point. Just never call me Greg again, that was the weirdest think you've ever done"

Mycroft chuckled as his foot squeezed the accelerator, and the car ran off like a dream.

Greg continued to plan the next day's festivities, when he paused, as if someone had laid a very large spanner in the works. "Why on earth are both boyfriends of my two eldest daughters coming to Christmas and not spending it with their own families?"

"Good question." Mycroft responded, a small smirk across his face, with the temptation of replying with 'Because I said they could come,' but for some reason, that didn't seem a good enough answer for his husband. "Joshua's family have gone to New Zealand to celebrate Christmas with his Step-Dad's family, but he couldn't afford a ticket and he doesn't really know them, so he thought it best to stay clear and join us. Matthew, as you know, is part Jewish, and his family don't celebrate Christmas, obviously.. So, not being very religious, he decided to spend the time with us." Mycroft beamed, "Anymore questions from the audience?"

"Voulez-vous me tuer si je me suis arrêté la voiture pour vous embrasser ? Ici. Maintenant." [Would you kill me if I stopped the car to kiss you? Right here, right now.] Greg replied with a velvety smooth accent which could only be compared to the feeling of soft luxurious silks.

" Je ne me dérangerait pas , mais , les filles ne seraient pas aussi indulgent" [I wouldn't mind, but, the girls wouldn't be as forgiving] Mycroft replied sweetly, leaning in for a kiss on the cheek.

"Peut-être ce soir, alors . Nous allons reprendre là où nous nous sommes quittés ." [Maybe tonight, then. We'll pick up where we left off.]

Mycroft smiled in reply, "I forgot how beautiful you sound when you speak French. It takes me back to when you proposed, in that lovely restaurant, where your father met your mother"

Greg smiled, how long ago all that seemed now.

By the evening, everyone had safely arrived and had all fallen into bed, with exhaustion being the only cause. Mycroft had spent a large amount of the evening slowly developing into a domestic housewife, learning how to marinate and baste a turkey, which everyone believed to be vital pieces to the day itself. The cottage, had not changed in Greg's eyes, it still held its thatched roof and log burner fires, and there were beds in abundance, certainly enough for the ten of them. Grace and Graham had decided to take the largest room upstairs, which was decorated with a light mocha coloured colour on the walls and deep earthy wood for the remains of the furniture. As Greg wished both of them a goodnight, he placed two full stockings just in front of the door: Grace's was a midnight blue with her name hand painted in yellow on a background of New York City, her favourite place in the world. Graham's, however, was a deep hunter green, with his name embroidered on the top, a single deer emblazoned the stocking, which held a quirky cloth pattern. As Mycroft played Santa, he visited Katherine and Annabeth's room: the room itself was perfect for teenagers, with a teal coloured paint all around it, and good trees delicately wall papered over the top to give an enchanted forest feel to the whole place. He left their stockings and a few other items tucked underneath the wooden bed frame, again, both stockings were individual: Katie's was fashioned out of a peppermint green with red candy cane-like stripes, her name spelt out with huge gold letters. Annabeth's, was much more understated, a lemon fabric with her name and a love heart stitched in a bright green, which always reminded her lemons; completely understandable if you had witnessed it in the flesh. Making his way downstairs, he then visited the boys, who were top-and-tailing on the sofa bed, which lay only a few steps from the Christmas tree, which was decked in lights and silver decorations. It reminded Mycroft of his own Christmases at home, where each child would receive their own tree: Mycroft's was decorated neatly with colour coordinated felt umbrellas that his mother had made him, among many edible gifts which could be found among the branches, Sherlock's, on the other hand, was always a complete mess, one year, he had even gone to the extent of burning his tree with a Bunsen burner, and created a small coffin for if with their father. It turned out to be a very morbid Christmas in 1983.. It was best not to talk about the other brother, even though it always hurt to think of him this time of year. All alone in the world, with no-one there, not even to hold his hand and reassure him that everything would be hunky dory in the hours to come. He finally arrived in his own bed, after placing the rest of the stockings with their future owners. Rolling over to give his husband a kiss, Mycroft paused, swiping away a stray bit of hair, which had found itself lingering on his nose. Checking his watch, the dial flashed to tell him that he was already half-an-hour into Christmas.

"Merry Christmas, My Love" He said with a passionate kiss, before slowly falling into the welcoming arms of his mattress.

"Wake up! Wake up!" Lottie screamed, jumping and leaping over the bed where her parents slept. "Santa Claus has been! He got me Roller-skates!"

"That's marvellous, Sweetie" Greg replied, more asleep than awake. "What's the time?"

Lottie wriggled into bed with them, crawling under the covers, and quickly yanking the arm of Mycroft Holmes to check the time. "It's 5:23" She announced proudly. As Greg groaned, he remembered how long Christmases had been since he had children.

"No more presents until everyone is up, and after breakfast" Greg commanded, closing his eyes sleepily, washing away another wave of tiredness.

"Oh, BUT DADDDD" The child wailed, to excited to fall back to sleep, she wriggled around between the two, squirming closer to Mycroft, "Please can we open more presents, Papa."

"Later, I promise" Mycroft whispered, slowly falling back to sleep, rolling over on to his back, wishing for anything, even a minutes sleep would be welcome.

Alas.

That didn't happen.

The whole house was alive with Christmas spirit, everyone bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, everyone voicing notes of joy and eliciting festive feeling, and soon, they all piled into the bedroom shared by Mycroft and Greg, first, Katie and Annabeth flooded in, perching at the end of the bed, each clutching the books they had been given for Christmas. Before everyone knew it, the room was alive with festive splendour, everyone chatting and laughing loudly, each voice slowly gaining excitement for Christmas.

That evening came as quickly as the morning had dawned, and Mycroft smiled proudly, helping his husband out of his wheelchair, with a silent prayer that Christmas next year would have him standing up and running around, and soon again that they would be hearing the pitter-patter of tiny feet. He hoped that Greg would concede to adding another tiny member to their family. The government man slowly rolled over and ran his fingers through his hair and kissed him, "Thank you for a lovely Christmas, my love"