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Opposition Party

Chapter Text

“I need you to go on holiday.”

Greg Lestrade sighed and scrubbed his hand across his eyes. He looked wistfully at the luggage full of dirty clothing he'd set down on the floor of his new flat to answer his mobile. "Hello to you too, Mycroft. How's things?"

"Inspector, this is important. I need you to go to Dartmoor."

"Dartmoor?" Greg pulled a face. "Why the hell do you need me to go to Dartmoor? No wait—I know exactly why you need me to go to Dartmoor."

"Yes, I'm afraid Sherlock is making friends with the locals as usual, and I'd appreciate your supervision."

"I'm not your brother's keeper, Mycroft."

"No, but your bonhomie with the local constabulary might be beneficial for this situation. Give them the 'Lestrade charm', I believe you might say?"

Greg sighed again. "Leave it to you to make what should be a compliment into something…garish. Fine, Mycroft, I'll go. Where and when?"

"I'll have my assistant text the details to your phone. Thank you, Inspector. I do so appreciate it."

"Right. Yes, sure, whatever. Goodbye, Mycroft."

Mycroft rang off and Greg stood there holding his mobile in his hand wearily. He’d just walked in the door. And he was never going to get used to the flat at this rate; he hadn't even finished unpacking yet. Greg threw himself full length on the sofa and placed his mobile on his sternum to wait for the text. This was going to be a very long night.


Greg grinned into the bright Devonshire sunshine. It was good to get London out of your lungs, but it was also good to get free of the bitterness of the holiday; the south of France was, as usual, a lovely place to visit, but it was certainly better without the end of his marriage hanging over his head. The plan for him and his (ex)wife to sign their divorce papers on holiday, to wash themselves clean of their marriage in the sea, had been a good one in theory but horrific in practise. He suspected his wife had been messing about with at least two of the resort staff by the end of it. The quicker he got used to the idea of being alone, the better off he'd be; thus, this second holiday and his inability to say no to bloody Mycroft Holmes when he sent Greg on a chase to babysit his younger brother.

He left the boys to it back at the pub and wandered around the building, spying a map posted with the local hillwalking features. He stood idly in front of it, not really reading.

"A trek through the wilderness doesn't seem quite up your street," said a familiar voice behind him. Greg spun in astonishment to see Mycroft Holmes himself standing there, cool and looking almost unrecognisable in a blue blazer, no tie, and pristine white trousers. "If you don't mind me saying."

Greg closed his jaw before he caught flies in it. "What are you doing here?" He realised, belatedly, that he sounded a bit too much like Sherlock for comfort.

"Oh, just...checking in." Mycroft waved a hand lazily, as if it were the commonest thing of all for him to put on casual-wear and be there personally. The closest to it Greg had ever experienced was being kidnapped halfway through a case to explain something. Perhaps this was a strange version of that.

Greg looked at Mycroft dubiously. "Checking in, hmm?"

"How is my brother doing, anyway?" Mycroft cast his eye about as if he didn't know exactly where his brother at any given moment, ever. It was one if Mycroft's creepiest qualities. Oh, let's be reasonable, Greg thought to himself: it was Mycroft's creepiest quality. The rest could be chalked up to some public-school-public-servant affectation that made Mycroft not seem to approve of any of your choices without specifically indicating which made him smile that wan, tight-lipped smile the least. Greg had known Mycroft for years, and didn't once think he'd seen his genuine smile.

He decided to play along with whatever Mycroft's game was. "He seems to be fine. Didn't know my name is Greg. Or he deleted it." Greg rolled his eyes.

"Yes, my brother can be very forgetful when it comes to the details of his friends' lives."

"Friends?"

"It can be most tiresome."

Greg wanted to roll his eyes. "Whereas you don't forget a thing."

Mycroft pinned him with a look. It felt shockingly intimate. "Naturally."

Greg found it was difficult to look away, but eventually he managed to. "Mycroft, what are you really doing here?"

"As I said," Mycroft replied, raising an eyebrow. "I'm merely checking in."

This was ridiculous. "I have never known you to leave your office or club unless it's to go home," Greg said. "Or to go annoy your brother. So I can only assume this is a more extreme version of the latter. I just can't tell why you dragged me into this."

"Did I drag you into this?" Mycroft asked. This time both eyebrows went up.

Greg sighed. "That's it. I need my tea." He walked toward the car park. "Are you coming?"

He heard more than saw Mycroft splutter and follow him. "Inspector—"

"If we stay here your brother is going to see you, and I know you don't want that. I figured your next move was to whisk me off somewhere, so I'm just heading that off at the pass."

He glanced sideways during Mycroft's shocked silence and smothered his own amusement. "Come on," he said as he unlocked his car. "Get in, I'm starved."

Mycroft looked very out of place in Greg's practical, mid-sized sedan. He took up more space than a weedy toff ought to, his head nearly reaching the ceiling, and he looked so uncomfortable sitting there buckled in safely with the seat pushed all the way back that Greg actually chuckled. He snuck a peek at Mycroft from the corner of his eye as he pulled out of the carpark. "Which way?" he said. "I bet you know a good restaurant around here. You know everything."

"As flattering as that is, Inspector, I don't—oh. Well. There is a lovely little establishment which operates as an adjunct to a hotel I've visited in the past. That should suffice."

Greg chuckled. Of course Mycroft knew a place.

Mycroft directed them for about ten awkward minutes before they drove into an idyllic hamlet tucked up against a woodland on one side and a large hill on the other. Quaint shops lined the road, signs of a sleepy tourist trade, and Mycroft pointed to a large, white-fronted building with an old fashioned sign hanging out front.

Greg parked on the street, peering up at the unmistakable sight of a 19th century-style inn.

"Don't underestimate the establishment by the look of the facade," Mycroft said as they got out. "It's exactly as old as you think it is, but the character is stunning. As is the food, as a matter of fact."

When they cleared the doors to the foyer Greg understood what Mycroft had been talking about. It was classically beautiful inside, a little bit Romanesque, a little bit Gothic, clearly renovated and toned down for modern tastes but still lovely. Greg had thought the building a simple one-up one-down shopfront, but instead the entire front covered the large foyer and a wide staircase which led a stately path up to the first floor. Presumably the rest of the inn spread left and right from this central staircase. It was huge.

Greg turned to look at Mycroft and found the man already watching him. "Wow," Greg said in undisguised amazement, and Mycroft appeared gratified.

"Wait until you taste the bisque," Mycroft said, flashing Greg a tiny smirk before leading him to a large dining room down the corridor on their left.

They spoke little as they got settled and put their drinks orders in. Greg was overly aware of the poshness of this place and felt a strong pull to gaze around them at the decor, but the idea of appearing overawed was repellent so he kept his eyes front. This meant that he was forced either to stare at his menu or at Mycroft.

While Greg felt a bit outclassed, Mycroft looked right at home. He sat up straight, neck long, poring over the menu like a lord. Which, as far as Greg was concerned, was as near the truth as made no difference. Greg sipped at his tonic water and tried not to feel like someone's country cousin.

"As I said, the seafood bisque is a delight, as is the salmon and grapefruit ceviche," said Mycroft, eyes on his menu.

Greg scanned down the row of starters to find anything that sounded vaguely familiar. "Bruschetta?" he said, looking up at Mycroft.

He received a small smile. "A simple choice, but delicious nonetheless."

"Some have said the same about me," Greg said to his menu, not expecting any response, but to his surprise Mycroft actually chuckled. He looked up to find an unfamiliar light dancing in Mycroft's eyes. Greg couldn't help but smile back.

"I doubt anyone calls you simple," Mycroft said.

"Not to my face." This made Mycroft chuckle again. Greg wasn't sure what was going on, and it made him internally squirm.

It took some rapid decision-making, but when the waiter came to take their order Greg was ready. He ordered the bruschetta and something with pork, and Mycroft went with the bisque and a chestnut-stuffed chicken monstrosity. He pointedly didn't flinch when Mycroft ordered their wine for them, however he was beginning to wonder how many meals of cheap risotto he was going to have to eat over the next month to justify paying for this. Splashing out on an expensive meal was not what he had in mind when he suggested this excursion. Then he looked up at Mycroft and realised he knew exactly who was going to be paying for this meal—this meal which he wouldn't be eating if Mycroft hadn't grabbed him by the metaphoric ear and dragged him across the country to play nursemaid.

The starters were excellent.

Lestrade wasn't sure how crusty bread and tomato managed to taste that good, and the spoonful of bisque was fantastic even if Lestrade didn't really enjoy seafood.

"…So I was outside the building waiting for my friend to be finished, knocking a football about," Greg was saying, "when this guy came pelting down the stairs and out onto the pavement. He pushed me down, and while I was getting up another guy came down yelling that the first guy had stolen something. So kicked the football at the guy's head and hit it, bang on. He stumbled and fell." Greg grinned. "One in a million chance. I didn't have to buy a round for weeks."

"Is that when you decided to become a police officer?" Mycroft said, finishing his bisque.

"No." Greg pulled a face that indicated that was laughable. "That's when I decided never ever to stop playing football."

Mycroft's mouth quirked. "Seems wise. You never know when it could come in handy."

"This is what I keep telling my teammates."

Mycroft raised an eyebrow. "You have a team?"

"Yes. ‘Team’ sounds more official than, 'a group of people who get together and ruin themselves on the pitch every couple of weeks.'"

Mycroft gave Greg a small, insincere smile, and Greg suddenly wondered just how much of a bore he was being. He fumbled for a new subject just as the waiter brought their mains.

"So," he said, and cleared his throat. "Do you have an adventure story that happened at university?"

Mycroft talked while Greg started in on his meal. He tried the pork and was transported into another place, a world of earthly pleasure and meat and…nngh. It made his eyes roll back into his head. He made a noise in his throat that he just barely stifled, and Mycroft gave him a strange look.

"Sorry," Greg said, remembering his surroundings. "Go on." He'd vaguely been paying attention to the story; it was something about stealing the hat off some porter and how it made the rounds through a college. It didn't sound particularly like an adventure to Greg, but perhaps that was just a matter of definitions.

He tried to pay attention this time when Mycroft spoke. "So I finished delivering that poor man's hat and went back to my studio."

"I'm sorry," Greg cut in. "Your studio?" He couldn't for the life of him imagine what Mycroft was talking about. Had he missed something?

"Yes," Mycroft nodded, a note of amusement in his voice. "My art studio." Greg stared at Mycroft, dumbfounded. "Surely, Inspector, you don't imagine my brother is the only one with what our mother terms, 'art in the blood'."

"I…" There seemed no diplomatic way to answer that. Luckily, he didn't have to. Mycroft just continued his explanation.

"I carved out time while I was at university to paint. It helped me think."

"Do I detect past tense?" Gregory ate a rogue bit of endive, which gave him a chance to chew and contemplate the amusing mental image of Mycroft in some sort of smock, painting still-lives of newspapers and leaded-glass brandy snifters and expensive pens.

"Alas," Mycroft said. "You do. I rarely have time to paint anymore."

"You should make time."

Mycroft raised an eyebrow, and Greg wondered if that might not have been a bit presumptuous. Who was he to suggest what Mycroft do with his time? As far as Greg knew, the entire world would fall to pieces if Mycroft took an afternoon off to paint.

To his surprise, Mycroft dipped his head in assent. "I probably should, yes." He frowned into midair. "I was indeed happier then."

Greg felt like he was intruding on this introspection, and tried to steer the conversation onto more familiar ground: needling a Holmes. "So, are you ever going to tell me what you're doing here in Dartmoor?"

Mycroft's eyes zeroed in on Greg's face, which would be alarming if he hadn't been terribly, dully inured to that sort of look. "As a matter of fact, Inspector, I am not."

Greg took a bite of his pork. "Fair enough." And he gave him a cheeky smile.

Mycroft blinked, a caricature of amusement, then he wiped his mouth with very precise movements and stood. "If you'll pardon me a moment, I have a telephone call to make."

Greg excused him with a nod and continued eating. He wouldn't be surprised to find that Mycroft's "call" was purely a contrivance to make Greg uncomfortable, but if so Mycroft was underestimating Greg's nerve. He was nearly finished with his meal by the time Mycroft returned.

"My apologies," Mycroft said.

"No problem."

"Where were we?"

"I was being nosy and you were trying to make me uncomfortable, if memory serves." Greg tamped down the smile quirking the corner of his mouth and went on before giving Mycroft a chance to respond. "So what's good for pudding?"

Mycroft, it turned out, was rather fond of a fruit tart, a fact which Greg was sure to laugh sophomorically over with John as soon as they were able. Greg ended up ordering a slice of walnut-encrusted chocolate cake that almost made the whole venture worthwhile.

"Well, Inspector, this was an unexpected pleasure. Thank you for the suggestion."

Greg looked up from his cake and wondered what Mycroft's game was. "I hope it justified your trip all the way out here to…?"

"Check up on things," said Mycroft, and ate a bit of tart.

"Of course," Greg said, and did not roll his eyes in the slightest.

When the bill came, he slid it across the table to Mycroft's elbow. "I have been home less than an hour in two-and-a-half weeks," he said. "You pulled me out here, and I don't even know why because you're out here too. So you can pay."

To Mycroft's credit, he betrayed not one lick of surprise. "Of course," he said. "That does seem fair. Thank you again for interrupting what I'm sure would be a most invigorating session of unpacking and laundering to come out to Dartmoor and roam around the moor in your own personal Blyton-esque adventure. That does sound most dull."

Greg was surprised Mycroft managed not to drip sarcasm on his tie. "As a matter of fact, I had been looking forward to some down time before I went back to work."

"Oh, Inspector. Surely you can mourn the death of your marriage in slow moments while hunting a ravaging animal across the English countryside."

Greg boggled, and then he fumed. "Excuse me? What do you know about it?"

"Enough." The diners at the tables around them cast Mycroft curious glances, but Mycroft ignored them. He lowered his voice. "I know enough."

"You don't get to bring up my wife. Ever."

"Ex-wife." Mycroft blazed quietly at Greg, and Greg stared at the muscle twitching in Mycroft's jaw. "Your idiot of an ex-wife, who cheated on you for nearly two years. With whom you went on holiday to sign the divorce papers. A rather foolish idea don't you think, Inspector? Trapped in an island resort with a woman who even then was having sex with one of the resort staff several cabins over? Futilely hoping she'd see the error of her ways and come back to you?"

Greg stood. "I'm done here." His heart raced, and his vision was starting to swim with fury. "Phone your assistant," he said. "She can take you home." Greg walked out to his car, leaving Mycroft sitting at the table with the bill and his wallet and a complex expression on his face.

Greg sat in his car for a good ten minutes, just trying to breathe, fighting to clear the red from the edges of his vision before he could drive off. Luckily Mycroft didn't appear, or Greg wasn't sure he'd be able to keep from tearing the insufferable, presumptive, arsehole limb from limb.

He took a deep breath as he put the car into gear. Simply leaving and heading back to London was an appealing idea, but his luggage was at the inn and, truth be told, a rebellious part of him really was looking forward to scrubbing himself clean of the hellish holiday with a good bit of detecting and a tromp through the woods.

Damn Mycroft. Damn the man.

Chapter Text

A PC walked up to Lestrade as he bent by one of the flags SOCO had left. "Sir, there's a call from the Chief Super. He'd like you to call him back."

"Why didn't he just call my mobile?" He peered at her.

She shrugged and wandered off. "He didn't say, sir," her voice trailed back to him.

He stood with a grunt and snapped off one of his gloves so he could fish his phone out of his pocket. Twenty feet away, Sherlock was bending over to examine the trunk of a tree while John pretended he wasn't examining him. Business as usual, then.

The phone rang out only once before it was snatched up and a brisk male voice answered. "Ah, Greg. Good. I was just on the phone with Tracey. He says that the body belongs to the woman who was sent the ears last week?"

"Yeah. At this point we're treating it as a related inquiry."

"Good. Listen, there's a reason I told Tracey to have you phone me. We've just had a call in. I know this sounds odd, but there will be a car to pick you up in a few minutes and take you to a meeting at Whitehall." There was a distinct sinking feeling in Greg's stomach. "I've tried to explain that you're in the middle of a case, but apparently the case is why you're being sent to this meeting, so…"

"Don't worry about it, sir." Greg sighed. "I suspect I know exactly what this is about."

As soon as he stood at the trailhead to wait for the car, he dialled Mycroft. "Why are you doing this?"

"I don't know what you mean, Inspector."

"The hell you don't. Explain to me why I'm being sent away from my own damn crime scene just to report to you."

"Because my brother won't do it."

The black car pulled up and the driver opened the door. "I'm sorry," Greg said, "but that's not a good enough reason for me."

"Then why are you getting into the car?"

Greg scowled at the driver as he closed Greg's door and walked around the front of the car to get back behind the wheel. "You've won this round, Mycroft. But you'd better have a pot of tea waiting. I've been out in the woods for the better part of the morning."

"With Garibaldis?"

Greg huffed at him.

Mycroft sounded smugly cheerful as he said, "I will see you in twenty minutes, Inspector."

 

It wasn't the first time that Greg had been to Mycroft's office—his real office, not the official one in Whitehall—and yet for all that, it never ceased to impress him. On its face, it was a nondescript office building several streets away. But inside was all Mycroft's: the heart of his own little empire, the place where his army of assistants and un-spies and security staff surveilled and evaluated and created elaborate reports. Greg didn't really know exactly what they did, but he wasn't stupid, and he sure as hell wasn't unobservant.

As usual, he stepped into the lift in the deceptively-empty foyer, and it immediately took him to the proper floor. Every time Greg visited he tried to discern just to what floor the lift took him, but he could never quite decide. Was it the third? Or the fourth? There were no lights or buttons on the elevator that indicated, only one menacing button with a label that specified it was to be pressed only in case of life-threatening emergencies. Lestrade leaned back and stared at the mirrored wall and caught himself posing as a fine specimen of a human male for whomever was watching the security camera behind the mirror.

When the door slid open, Greg stepped into a small corridor that led to the outer office.

"Good…" The assistant's eyes flicked to the clock at the corner of her monitor and back to whatever she was typing. "…afternoon," she said.

Greg looked at his watch. 12:03. "Technically afternoon, yes, I suppose. But I'm not actually inclined to agree that it's a good one," he said, and thought he caught a hint of a smirk at the corner of her well-formed mouth.

"Mr. Holmes is expecting you. Please have a seat."

Mycroft was going to make him wait, now? Out here in the uncomfortable silence, being ignored by a pretty young woman and several awkwardly-placed-yet-well-tended pot plants? Greg sat and propped his hands on his knees, then blew out a breath. A wave of lethargy hit; he really hadn't been sleeping well, and it was beginning to catch up to him. There was a beep from the phone on the assistant's desk, and after she picked it and listened she put it right back down again without saying a word.

"He's ready to see you now," she said, and Greg sighed. This all felt decidedly like Mycroft demonstrating his control over the situation. Greg got the picture.

By the time Greg was sat in front of Mycroft's large and lacquered desk, he'd already had enough of the smug git's face. He looked down at the array of biscuits and tea set in front of him. "Why do you always think you can bribe me with food?"

Mycroft raised an eyebrow. "Can't I?"

"No."

"Then with what shall I bribe you?"

Greg rolled his eyes, unwilling to mask his annoyance. "Listen, Mycroft, this isn't how it works. You don't get to use me as an emissary between you and your brother. Stop being children."

"Inspector, if you did not volunteer to intervene, he would have made your life difficult throughout the..." Mycroft tipped open a folder from his desk and scanned it. "…Vinelli case. Don't you agree?"

Sitting back in his chair, Greg folded his arms and peered at him. "If I don't comply, you don't get his help."

Mycroft quirked his head and stared evenly at him. "That is true."

"So perhaps you ought to treat me a little better. I could walk any time. You think I'm afraid of Sherlock in a sulky fit? Who do you think picked up the pieces after the case with the cryptogryphs? Who do you think talked him down because he didn't translate the dancing men correctly? Who kept him from relapse?" Greg hadn't moved. He delivered this entire screed reclined back in his chair, holding Mycroft's gaze.

"You did. Of course you did, Inspector. Why do you suppose I continue to ask for your assistance?"

"Because you like having me as a whipping boy."

"Trust me, Inspector Lestrade. If I wanted you for my whipping boy you would know it."

Long seconds ticked over as they stared at each other. Greg staunchly refused to squirm. Then there was a brief twitch in Mycroft's eye, and Greg relaxed.

"Well," he said. "Perhaps we should get on with it?" Greg raised his eyebrows at Mycroft, who nodded briefly and pressed a button on his phone.

"Please send in those files."

After a few moments, the attractive assistant entered and handed Greg a folder which showed that the corpse in the woods, Susan Bishop, worked within Mycroft's organisation in an uncertain capacity. Many of the paragraphs were blacked out with marker pen.

"So you see," Mycroft said, "I'd appreciate being kept current on the investigation."

"It's an active investigation. Even as her employer, you don't have the right to—"

"Oh, I'm not sure that term adequately categorises our relationship." Greg's head snapped up. Was Mycroft saying they two had been… "No no," Mycroft said, looking a bit disappointed at Greg's assumption. "The relationships formed within my organisation often transgress traditional and expected boundaries, but not in that…manner." There was a look of distaste on his face. "I cannot explain why, but you must trust me."

"I don't trust you."

Mycroft pinned him with a glance. "I am aware of that, Inspector."

"What makes you think I'm going to, then?"

"Amy Richards."

Greg blinked. How did Mycroft—oh, of course. "That's in my file?"

"Not your official file, no. But the one I have, yes."

Amy been a brilliant young PC, sharp as a tack, going places, and Greg had operated as her mentor and her support, being almost fatherly in his interactions. She had been killed in the line almost five years ago, but Greg still remembered how much it had devastated him to have someone who held much of his hope and care cut down so young and in such a brutal way. Was it possible the corpse in the woods was Mycroft's Amy?

No. Mycroft? Impossible.

"So how do you know about Amy, then?"

"More tea?"

Mycroft wanted to play it this way? Fine. "I really need to get back to the crime scene."

"Sherlock will be long gone by now."

"...You do know I have duties other than caretaking your brother?"

"Yes. I do." Mycroft was staring at Greg with a steely gaze.

Greg huffed out a laugh. "Why do I get the feeling you know more about what I do than any civilian ought to?"

"That's assuming I'm a civilian."

Greg held up a hand. "I don't…want…to know."

Mycroft broke the tension by getting up and peering out the window. "That's a relief to me, since I couldn't tell you regardless."

"Or you'd have to kill me?"

"No no, Inspector." He turned around. A trace of humour quirked Mycroft's mouth. "Or I'd have to have you killed."

"I appreciate the distinction."

"That's something about you I enjoy."

"I'm glad to know there's something."

"Please," Mycroft said. "Do not underestimate me."

"How could anyone? You never give them a chance."

Mycroft lifted an eyebrow. "Because I show them exactly what I'm capable of?"

Greg looked around at the pristine and spacious office set in an edifice which seemed more like a well-dressed fortress than any listed building described as such. "Yes," he said. "You make your capabilities perfectly clear."

"Good. That's good." Mycroft gave Greg a wan smile, and they just looked at each other for a moment.

Greg sighed. "Fine. I'll keep you up to date on the case. But don't tell anyone I'm doing it," he pointed. "Don't get me in trouble."

"I wouldn't dream of it, Inspector."


With the fact that Susan Bishop had worked for Mycroft, Greg had been expecting the case to involve twelve governmental agencies, a cover-up, and probably a secret lab somewhere. However, it turned out to be a simple matter of revenge and passion and anger, and the expression on Mycroft's face when Greg reported this was…complex. They were sat at opposite sides of Mycroft's desk once again, and Greg had been talking so long the tea had gone cold.

"So the ears had been meant for her sister," Mycroft said.

"Yes. It was all a case of mistaken identity."

Greg watched the curious sight of Mycroft slumping in his chair and scrubbing a trembling hand over his features for a moment. He felt as if he were intruding on something private, something he wasn't meant to see.

"You know what it's like, Inspector. To be given that sort of gift, for someone to… It's more than emulation. It's…" Pain flashed over Mycroft's face, and though he'd tried to conceal it by looking down at his desk, it was plain as day to Greg. He didn't quite know how to respond to this. It was more than a little unnerving.

So he simply said, "Yes. I know what it's like."

Mycroft sighed, and it looked as if he was putting all his pieces back together, bit by bit, reassembling himself into the stark and gracefully dangerous man Greg had always known. Mycroft looked up at Greg. "Thank you, Inspector."

"For?"

"Understanding."

Greg swallowed. "You're, er. You're welcome."

Mycroft pressed his mouth into a line. "I also believe I owe you an apology."

"Do you."

"Yes." Mycroft looked out the window. "I believe I was a bit brusque when we were at the restaurant outside Dartmoor."

Oh. "Brusque is not exactly the word I would use."

"What would be more appropriate?"

"You were an arsehole, Mycroft."

Mycroft's mouth twitched. "I think that's probably true." He turned to Greg again. "Will you accept my apology?"

There were many things that differentiated the Holmes brothers, and this appeared to be one of them. "I suppose. You owe me, though."

Mycroft blinked at him. "Do I."

"Yep."

"The fact that I was forced to make my own way back to the inn is…"

"Doesn't matter. You were an arsehole, and you owe me." Who knows. This could be fun, having Mycroft owe him a favour. Besides which: the words he'd thrown out about Greg's (ex)wife still stung, flying round and round in his head like angry bees. Even now as he thought about them he became angry again.

"Very well. I owe you for my indiscretion at the restaurant," Mycroft said, and Greg was suddenly sick of the sight of him.

He drank a mouthful of cold tea. "Apology accepted," Greg said, and used the excuse of paperwork to get out of there soon after.

Chapter Text

"Sherlock is working on something," Greg said into his mobile as he sat in his car. Rain pelted down onto the roof and made it difficult to hear. He thumbed the volume control.

"I have no doubt. He is often working on something," Mycroft's smooth voice said over the line.

"It's related to this case," Greg said. "I know it. He's withholding information again."

"Why don't you use your usual chicanery to get the information from him?" Mycroft said.

Greg bristled. "Like you're one to talk. My methods don't involve spies."

"Nor do mine."

"Well that's utter bullshit, Mycroft. Do you think I'm an idiot? Oh never mind, of course you do."

"I do not, Inspector. I'm simply objecting to the terminology."

Greg snorted. "Listen, can you just get him to tell me what's going on?"

"Why don't you ask John?"

"My powers of kidnapping aren't nearly as good as yours."

"I do not kidnap."

"Objecting to terms again?"

"John also refused to tell you, didn't he?"

"Of course he fucking did. Of the two of us, which one do you think has more of John's loyalty?"

"I know precisely how much loyalty John has toward my brother."

"Because of your spies?"

There was silence for a moment. "No," Mycroft said, then cleared his throat. "There will be a car over the road in two minutes, Inspector. Do be ready for it."

"I'm always amused when your kidnapping involves a warning. Glad, don't get me wrong. But amused."

"Please be there," Mycroft said. "I don't like to be kept waiting." Then he rang off.

True to his word, the black car pulled up to the kerb two minutes later. When the driver opened the door, Greg slid in and was shocked to find Mycroft sitting there instead of one of his assistants. Mycroft took in Greg's dripping hair and rain-spattered jacket, and raised an eyebrow.

"Not everybody carries a damn umbrella everywhere they go, Mycroft."

"Surely you had one in your car."

"I didn't want to be bothered with it for a twenty second walk over the road." He was so annoyed he didn't even register that the car was moving.

"And you didn't feel waiting under an overhang was prudent?"

"Jesus christ, Mycroft, just… Let it alone, will you? What the hell do you care?"

Mycroft flashed a disapproving scowl, but thankfully changed the subject. "You wish to know about the case my brother is investigating."

Greg wanted to roll his eyes at the theatrics. "Yes, Mycroft, that's why I'm here."

Mycroft settled back against the seat, then reached into his jacket to retrieve a handkerchief. He handed it across to Greg, who snagged it to dry his face. He finished, then scrubbed it across his hair as Mycroft continued. "The case involves a senior minister and a very secret, potentially-dangerous document which has disappeared from his home. If word spreads that the document is missing, or worse, the contents of the document come to be known, it could cause widespread war. This is a very, very important document."

"So am I right? That has to do with the Lucas murder?"

"I do not know, Inspector. I suspect so, but I am not in possession of all the facts."

Greg furrowed his brow. "Why are you telling me this, then?"

"I am hoping you might easier find the document if both of you have as much information as possible."

"You really want this document to be found, don't you?"

Mycroft's face was a blank. "Desperately."

"War, huh?"

"Indeed."

"And you wouldn't be exaggerating for effect, would you?"

"Not in this, no."

Which indicated that other times he did."Fine." Greg blew out a breath. "Okay. No pressure."

"A great deal of pressure, as a matter of fact."

Greg rolled his eyes. "Yes, Mycroft, I know. I was being sarcastic."

"I am simply underlining the importance of this situation."

The world out the window was wet, dim, and nowhere near where they started. "Wait. Where the hell are we?"

"I wish you success, Inspector."

"Mycroft, my car is how far away?!"

"Perhaps you might continue your queries at number eleven on this street."

"Mycroft you insufferable prat."

"Have a nice day, Inspector."

Greg scowled at him. "I cannot believe you."

"Would you like to borrow my umbrella?"

"Would I like to— You know what? Yes. Give me the damn thing." Greg pitched the sodden handkerchief at Mycroft and was pleased when it splatted on his nice, pristine trousers, then he snatched up the umbrella from where it had fallen sideways onto the floor. The car pulled up to the kerb and Greg pushed out before the driver could open the door for him. "Thanks but no thanks, Mycroft," Greg said, and snapped open the umbrella. "You still owe me a favour."

"I relish it," Mycroft said, and Greg slammed the door in his smug face. He looked around at his surroundings and scowled. Bastard. Fucking bastard.

Greg walked down the road to number eleven.


Mycroft was right. Which made it all the worse that one of his PCs could be turned by a pretty face and was now facing disciplinary action, and that a second smuggler went down before they found the document—in the clutches of the minister's wife, who had been spying for Georgia before emigrating to the States, and who had been planning to use the document as leverage to keep her family safe from a gang of Russian Mafia who had discovered her identity and were threatening blackmail and murder.

When Greg reported this over tea a few days later, Mycroft didn't look as relieved as Greg had expected. In fact, he looked worried.

"What?" Greg asked.

Mycroft shook his head slightly. "Nothing, Inspector. Everything is fine."

"You're worried about the Russia angle, aren't you."

For a moment Mycroft didn't answer, and Greg hadn't expected him to. But then, to Greg's shock, Mycroft twitched a nod. "This complicates things in a way I cannot explain, I'm afraid." He gave Greg a weak smile. "But thank you."

"Out of the frying pan into the fire?"

Mycroft shrugged with one eyebrow and a tilt of his head. "It could be. Solve one problem and another arises." He stared into the middle distance for a moment, then blinked back to the present. He looked at Greg. "Thank you," he said, then stood. "I need to make a few phone calls. You can see yourself out?" And without waiting for a response Mycroft walked out of his own office, leaving Greg sitting there confused and just a little bit worried.

If Mycroft, the picture of implacability, looked concerned about something, who knew how deep the trouble truly ran?


Greg scoured the papers for a few days, looking for clues. He saw very little until midway into the next week, when there was a small sidebar about a Russian ambassador and a Palestinian leader that had Mycroft's fingerprints all over it. Greg ate his cereal and chewed thoughtfully before putting on his trainers and heading out to the municipal field.

An hour later, his team were making a pathetic push across the pitch when a familiar sleek black car pulled up to the kerb.

"Hold up, guys," he said, letting Cordoba and Kirkpatrick defend their side against the other three for a little while. No one was dedicated for goal this afternoon, and both the teams' scores showed it. Greg was glad to take a break from the beating as he trotted over to the side of the field, wiping sweat from his brow with the shoulder of his t-shirt.

Mycroft Holmes stepped out of the car, looking tall and cool and not-at-all-sweaty in a pale grey suit, and Greg felt suddenly like a dirty potato just pulled from the ground. He surreptitiously wiped his hand on his shorts and extended it as he crossed the last ten feet. "Was that your handiwork I saw in the papers this morning?" he said.

Mycroft took Greg's hand and, yes, it was just as dry and cool as he was. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about."

Greg snorted, and shoved his fists in his pockets. Why had he just shaken hands with the man? "I'm going to take that as a yes."

If he hadn't been playing close attention, he'd have missed the twitch at the corner of Mycroft's mouth. "Inspector, I have a case I'd like you to look at."

Greg quirked his head. "You know that's not how it works. I've explained this. You need to talk to the Chief Superintendent."

"I'm talking to you," Mycroft said, a pointed eyebrow raised in his direction. Greg would have been uncomfortable if it hadn't already become a familiar expression.

"And I'm saying that I can't just investigate whatever case I pick up during a game of football. I have accountability."

Mycroft's eyes scrubbed over the field, Greg's coworkers, and then Greg himself: the sweat, the dirt, the graze on his knee from when Barrad had turfed him. Greg fought to remain still under the scrutiny.

Apparently he passed muster because when Mycroft's eyes finally met his again, they were filled with a strange light. "Very well," Mycroft said, capitulating far more easily than Greg would have expected; he had thought he'd have to fight it out far longer than this. "I will speak to Pitts this afternoon." He turned, and Greg was hit with a delicious smell: clean cotton and aftershave and cologne, subtle enough not to be noticed unless Mycroft's suit coat hadn't wafted it in his direction. He smelled amazing. A thrum of desire blazed in Greg's gut for a moment before he remembered his circumstances and just who the hell this man was, and that shock of realisation was like a cold shower. He stepped back and watched Mycroft retreat to his car, noting the way Mycroft was making a fist and then opening it repeatedly as he made his way back. He was probably trying to restrain himself from physically making Greg get in the car and take the case, Greg thought. Good. It was satisfying to make a Holmes go through the normal channels for once, and as Mycroft drove off again and Greg walked back to his game, a peculiar curl of happiness sat in his gut. Good.


Greg understood why Mycroft had wanted him to take the case, but couldn't understand why he'd initially wanted to use the back channels to do it. Unless…

"Did you know Milverton?" Greg asked, watching the man being wheeled out in a body bag. Perhaps Mycroft thought Greg had missed him startle at the question, but Greg knew he was not an idiot, no matter what the Holmes brothers thought.

Mycroft very nearly preened next to him, settling his ruffled feathers. "Milverton was nothing but a petty blackmailer," Mycroft said. Greg made a quiet noise in assent and watched Sherlock across the way gesticulating to one of the PCs, wondering to himself just how much of Milverton's information Sherlock had stolen or destroyed before he’d called in backup. Greg supposed he should at least ask, but he'd do it later. After fewer people were in earshot, at least. Someday one of these arseholes was going to cost Greg his job—he was sure of it.

"I took your advice," Mycroft said smoothly next to him. Greg's brain spun as he tried to fit the sentence in with their conversation, but came up empty.

"What advice?"

Mycroft turned to him. "I've started painting again."

Greg looked at him in shock. "I thought you were just…I don't know. Placating me."

"I was not," Mycroft said, amused. "I've set up one of the spare rooms as a studio. You were right. It is most…effective."

"Effective?"

"For thinking. I've completed two paintings already, in the evenings."

Greg blinked and spoke before he had time to think it through. "I want to see."

The pleasure that spread across Mycroft's face was gratifying, however, and he didn't seem to be annoyed at all at Greg's boldness. "Perhaps you will. Some day."

Greg peered at him. "Good."

"Excellent," Mycroft said, looking a bit smug as he turned forward again to watch Sherlock bully one of the paramedics, and Greg took that as an excuse to break from the conversation to help John step in and prevent the second murder that night.

Chapter Text

Greg fumbled for the phone and knocked it off the bedside table. "Fuck." With a groan, he stretched over and actually managed to find it and answer it by the fourth ring. "Hello?" he rasped.

"Inspector?"

Greg peered at the display on his phone while his eyes adjusted, and blinked until he could focus. "Mycroft?"

"I am sorry to wake you, but I would have waited if it had been possible. I require your assistance."

"What the hell…?"

"My brother isn't answering his texts, and—"

"Mycroft," Greg growled. "DON'T put me in between you and—"

"This is an urgent matter. A colleague's life may hang in the balance."

"Why isn't he answering your texts? Did you do something?"

"Inspector."

Greg heard an unusual note of strain in Mycroft's voice and relented. "What do I need to do?" he said with a sigh.

"I would like to brief you on the situation, and then have you relate it to Sherlock."

"I can pass him a note before class, sir."

There was a moment of silence before Mycroft answered. "Inspector. I would like to send a car to pick you up in ten minutes."

Greg looked at the clock. "Jesus, it's 3:42? Mycroft, what in the hell could be—"

"Inspector. Ten minutes?"

"Fuck, Mycroft, just…just give me a moment. You woke me out of a dead sleep, okay? What the hell were you doing still awake?"

"I was not."

"You sound it."

"I was awakened a considerable amount of time ago to deal with this…issue."

Greg scrubbed a hand over his face. "Fine, Mycroft. Fine. I'll see you in ten minutes." He stabbed the mobile off and tossed it to the side, then flopped back onto the pillow. "Get up. Now," he said to himself.

And promptly fell back asleep.

He awoke with a shock to find Mycroft shaking him awake. "Inspector."

Heart in his throat, Greg shoved himself to sitting and hastily covered himself with the duvet. "Jesus christ, Mycroft. What the fuck are you doing?" He vaguely remembered something about Mycroft, something about…

"You were meant to be dressed and waiting. You fell back asleep."

Greg groaned and pressed his palms to his eyes. "Ngh. Sorry."

"I've taken the liberty of making you a cup of tea."

"Mycroft. How are you in my house? You made tea?"

"I think you'll find it exactly as you like it."

"Did you break into my house?"

Mycroft held up a steaming cup of tea, complete with a saucer Greg didn't even remember owning. "Please, Inspector. I need you to be coherent now."

"I'm coherent enough, damn it. Did you break into my house?"

"Such an ugly choice of word, 'break'."

"Why is it always terminology with you?" Greg took the tea from Mycroft and sucked down half of it straightaway. He reluctantly admitted it was perfectly made. But that really wasn't the point.

"May I help you find your clothing?"

Greg blinked at him. "No you certainly may not. Get the hell out of my room while I change."

Mycroft held up both hands in submission and sauntered out the door. "You have five minutes, Inspector. And then I'm coming back in."

"I don't need chivvying out the door like a schoolboy, Mycroft," Greg called through the closing door.

"On the contrary. It appears you do," Mycroft said, and the door clicked shut.

Greg rolled out of bed and stretched, then threw on the closest clothing to hand. His limbs shook with weariness. After splashing his face and cleaning his teeth he felt a bit more human, and he opened the door to find Mycroft poised to knock.

"Ah, good," he said. "Shall we?"

"This is a weird fucking morning," Greg said.

"You curse a lot more when you've just awoken," said Mycroft.

"I curse a lot more when some arsehole has woken me up before 4am because he and his brother are having a little spat."

Mycroft stopped short and turned to face him. "I woke you because I need your help, and I know you'll get the job done. You've proved that to me, Inspector."

Greg's brain was still a bit logy, and he didn't know what to say, so he just stared at Mycroft open-mouthed. Mycroft spun on his heel and oozed out the front door. Greg recovered and followed, giving the door a glance-over as he locked it behind him. There was not a scratch on it. Fucking Holmeses.

Greg dozed lightly in the car ride, and Mycroft didn't say a word. "Where are we going?" Greg said after about twenty minutes, and cleared his throat. He was sleep-rough and slurring.

"My office," Mycroft said. "I would prefer to talk there."

"Is there any way I can get you to stop doing this?"

Mycroft looked out the window. "I don't believe so, no."

"No bribe I can offer? Information I can trade?" Greg slumped against his own window and discreetly tried to rub the bleariness from his vision.

"Of course not."

"So I'm pretty much stuck being kidnapped according to your whim."

"I assure you, this is not whimsical. Whimsy is a spontaneous flood of inspiration and fun, and both of those are thin on the ground when I am involved."

"I don't know if I'd say that."

"Indeed?" Mycroft turned to look at him.

"Whimsy is alive and well and living on your desk blotter."

"I beg your pardon?"

Greg chuckled. "Cabbages and sealing wax. Never mind. I'm just…exhausted. I was doing paperwork until one." He pressed his forehead to the window. The chill helped.

They rode in silence the rest of the way to Mycroft's office.

"So why do we have to do this here?" Greg asked as they rode up in the lift. He was slumped against the wall.

"There is evidence which I would prefer not to be transferred in any other location."

"But transferring me is just fine."

He didn't miss the smile quirking the corner of Mycroft's mouth. "Indeed so."

"You're such a knob."

Mycroft's head snapped to him and he blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"You heard me." Greg let his head tip back and he closed his eyes for the last remaining seconds until they arrived at Mycroft's level.

"I hardly think name-calling is necessary," Mycroft snapped as he led them to his office. To Greg's surprise, there was another of Mycroft's endless stream of assistants sitting outside, typing away on the computer. She looked up just long enough to nod at him, then went back to work.

"Why is she here right now?"

"Does it matter?" Mycroft said. He shut the door and the usual silence of his office fell heavily around them. It was particularly noticeable at this hour; perhaps it was something to do with the darkness outside the windows and the wavering reality that sleep deprivation inspired.

"I was just asking—"

"Sit down, Inspector."

Greg stayed standing, but he did consider throwing himself onto the sofa against the far wall, rolling over, and taking a damn nap. "Listen, Mycroft, I am doing you a favour here—"

"I asked you to sit down."

"No, you told me to sit down."

Mycroft expelled a heavy breath, then sat on the edge of his desk in front of the chair Greg usually found himself in. It looked oddly casual, but then, this was an odd night. Greg sat and looked up at him, waiting.

Mycroft folded his hands in his lap and looked miles away for a moment. "I have an acquaintance. We have known each other for many years, and he currently works for the GCHQ as a translator, chiefly in areas of Mediterranean politics. Melas came into London for work three days ago and has not been seen since."

"Why aren't you going through the proper channels for this?"

"Because," Mycroft said quietly, and crossed his arms over his chest in a vulnerable gesture, "I said that he has not been seen since, but I did not say that he has not been heard from."

Curious. Greg sat up straight, finally awake. "You've heard from him."

Mycroft nodded. "I have, yes. In the process of doing some manner of work for which he was kidnapped, he managed to smuggle out a code for me. He does not know where he is being held, but he did allude to a strange situation with another Greek prisoner and a woman, as well as substantial fear that if the authorities were to become involved it would mean his life."

"Did he give any more details?"

"He did not. Unfortunately for us. And for Melas."

Greg blew out a breath. "Where do I start?"

"You start, Inspector, by looking over this file and then contacting my brother."

"You're not going to let me bring this file anywhere, right?"

"Correct."

With a sigh, Greg opened up the folder Mycroft had handed him and perused its contents. He whistled. "Syria? He's been working on something with Syria?"

"And another with Palestine."

"That's not good news."

Mycroft raised an eyebrow. "No, Inspector, it is not."

Greg closed the folder on his index finger. "I don't suppose you could get me a cup of coffee? I'm going to need it."

Mycroft leaned back to press the intercom button on his phone, and Greg's sleep-sodden mind instantly zeroed in on the sensuality of the position. The long line of Mycroft's thigh eased up into his slim torso and then further into his neck, craned back and corded with tension. Greg felt a mutinous stab of desire, and yanked his gaze away and back down to the folder. But his heart rate was still elevated, and he fancied he actually could see the thump of it through his shirt. Jesus. He marshalled his thoughts back to the crisis at hand, and after a few minutes the assistant came in with the coffee. As he took it from her she smiled. She was lovely—all of Mycroft's assistants seemed to be, as if he lived in some sort of Bond film, and some day he really was going to have to ask Mycroft about that—and likely brilliant, and could probably kill him with her little finger, but a traitorous thought still compared her with Mycroft and found her wanting.

Which was utterly, massively ridiculous, and Greg needed to stomp that thought immediately. What a horrendous idea.

He sucked down the first cup of coffee without tasting it, then started more slowly on the second as he memorised as much of the file as possible. When he'd finished, he set it aside and took a deep breath. His gaze alighted on a large oil painting above Mycroft's desk that Greg was sure hadn't been there before.

"Is that one of yours?" he guessed.

Mycroft didn't glance back. "Yes."

"Did you just paint it?"

Mycroft denied it with a twitch of his head. "I didn't. It's one from university."

Greg examined it. It was hard to say what it was supposed to be, and Greg didn't feel he knew enough about art to guess. But the colours were warm and rich, and the shapes blended into one another with easy gradations and smooth, confident brushstrokes, and Greg wasn't really sure how he was supposed to feel. He felt… He was unsure. It was a surplus of emotion. "Were you angry? No. Sad?"

"…Both, I suppose." Mycroft was examining his face with intricate focus.

Greg avoided Mycroft's gaze while he contemplated the painting and sipped at the coffee. "You had talent."

Mycroft raised an eyebrow. Greg was almost becoming fond of that expression. "Is that to say I don't now?"

"How am I to know about your particular talents unless you show them to me?" Finally Greg looked Mycroft in the eye, and was stunned to see a light of humour there.

"I thought you could extrapolate."

"I'm a detective, not an art critic."

"Yet you saw fit to comment."

"It was a passing compliment, not a scathing critique."

"Lord save us from small favours. I'd hate to feel the keenness of your tongue."

"When you feel my tongue you'll know it." Fuck. Greg regretted saying it right away, but even then he couldn't make himself break their locked gaze.

But neither did Mycroft. His breathing was heavier, and he had colour in his cheeks, and jesus christ did Greg need to find a way to break this tension before something…happened. He wasn't feeling enough in his right mind to handle whatever the hell was going on here.

Finally, he clutched at reality. "I should probably call your brother."

That seemed to be the right thing to say, because the tension sapped from the room immediately in a frigid wash. Mycroft blinked and stood, then wandered behind his desk. "Please do," he said, and picked up the topmost file. "We've waited too long already. It's a shame you don't have an eidetic memory."

"Yes, what a shame I'm perfectly average in that respect, and have to memorise things the hard way."

Mycroft looked up innocently. "Quite."

"What a shame we're not all as brilliant as you and your brother."

At that, Mycroft's expression melted into a scowl. "I did not say that."

"You meant it, though."

"On the contrary, I—"

"No, no. I understand. It must be difficult to stoop to our level on a regular basis."

"You are purposefully misunderstanding me." Mycroft stood.

"No, I think I understand just fine." Greg stood. "You need my help to talk to your brother. I understand that. But it's troublesome not to be able to have your emissary be as brilliant as you." He slapped the file down on Mycroft's desk. "I'll go be your toady now. You're welcome."

"Inspector—"

"I'll text you when I know he'll take the case."

"Inspector."

Greg opened the door. "Don't worry about it." He swallowed down his anger; this wasn't the time or place to get involved in emotional displays. A man was missing, and at this moment the onus fell on Greg to fix it. And he had to do so without his team and outside the legal purview of the force. This was a very, very bad idea. "I'll be in touch," he said, and closed the door behind him before Mycroft could follow. He nodded at the assistant, who didn't even look up at him, and pressed the down button on the lift. Greg begged for the door to open before Mycroft emerged from his office and, luckily enough, it did. He rode down with his heart pounding, drying his sweating palms on his thighs, and tried to focus on a plan to get Sherlock in on the case.


In the end, appealing to John's strong moral judgement worked a treat. Soon, they were on Melas's trail, following on from his last whereabouts before his disappearance, and after two frustrating days Greg barged into a row house to find Melas suffocating to death in a small, enclosed room with an unknown, recently-deceased man.

"Phone my brother," Sherlock said, as the paramedics rushed Melas into the ambulance. He knelt down to examine the corpse and snapped on his gloves.

"I'll call him later. We're not done here."

"Call him now, Lestrade. He keeps texting me, and it's annoying."

"He can wait." Greg was still annoyed with Mycroft.

Sherlock shrugged and reached his fingers into the corpse's mouth. "Suit yourself," he said, as John made noises of disapproval.

They determined the corpse's name (Paul Kratides) and his physical state (weakened from starvation), but they didn't get much further than that before Greg's mobile rang.

"Lestrade."

"I hear you've successfully found Melas."

Greg sighed. "Yes, Mycroft we did. I can give you more details later, but right now I still have work to do."

"I would appreciate it if you would take some time and explain now."

"Mycroft," Greg said, starting to feel the annoyance crawl up his throat. He ignored the smirk on Sherlock's smug face, and felt annoyance about him too. Fucking Holmeses. "I can't. I have work to do."

"This is important."

"This is too! A man has—" He growled quietly. "A man has died, we're not done with the investigation, and you are going to have to wait." He saw Sherlock's head rise from where it was bent over the corpse, and Greg scowled at the look of shock on his face. He left the room to find a quiet corner.

"The political implications of this are more important right now. The dead man won't be saved if you take fifteen minutes to explain it to me."

"It's not going to be fifteen minutes. You're going to tell me you're right outside the door, and that I have to get in the car because this house isn't secured, and it's going to take an hour. And that's only if you don't drive off and leave me halfway across the city. Again. No, Mycroft. I will talk to you later."

"Inspe—" was all Greg heard before he stabbed his phone off and strode back into the room.

"Not one word," he said preemptively to Sherlock, and the man's mouth clicked shut. John seemed far too amused at the entire spectacle, so Greg scowled at him as well. "Just tell me what we've got, Sherlock."

After the scene had been handed off to SOCO, Greg strolled out to the front pavement. He desperately wanted a cigarette.

"You mustn't give in to the cravings," came a voice to his right. Greg huffed and walked over to Mycroft.

"I don't plan on it." He didn't bother asking how Mycroft knew what Greg was thinking about. "I had been planning on getting a coffee."

"Would you mind terribly if I accompanied you?"

Yes. "No. Fine."

Greg walked briskly toward the nearest Starbucks, but Mycroft on his long legs easily kept up. With a stab of dark humour, Greg hoped that Mycroft-the-desk-jockey would get out of breath and drop behind. But it obviously hadn't happened yet, if it was even going to, because Mycroft still had adequate breath to speak. "I presume that the rush has passed, and you have some time to give me a report about the case."

Greg stopped short, his annoyance blossoming into fury. "I don't report to you. I don't report to you. I am not your underling, I don't work for you, I am under no obligation to do anything. I risked my job to take this case outside the proper channels. And because there was a dead man at the scene, I'm going to be called on the carpet for violating procedure, so thanks for that, Mycroft. Thanks. I look forward to the official reaming I'm going to get later today."

Mycroft's expression was blank. "I apologise, but it was necessary—"

"No, Mycroft. No. Don't try to wave this away. You had me do something illegal for you, and I did it, and now I'm going to pay the price for it. As it should be, but don't you dare wave this away like it's nothing, or like it was your due. I don't owe you anything. In fact, you still owe me." He held up a hand. "You know what? I don't want to talk to you right now. I'll send you a report, maybe after I find out whether I still have my job or not."

Mycroft blinked at him. "I don't think that's a very secure—"

"I'll send by damn courier or something. Just. Just don't talk to me." And Greg stormed off. Thankfully, Mycroft remained behind.

Chapter Text

After that, Greg avoided contact with Mycroft like plague. He sent off a begrudging report, managed to bend under the withering reprisal from the Chief Super but not break, and spent the next few weeks absolutely not calling Sherlock in on cases.

Until he got a text from John.

Need backup at 221B tonight at 8pm. Secretive. Don't scare off the potential murderer.

Oh for fuck's sake. What the hell were they up to now?

He spent most of the day texting the both of them, and he even stopped by the house, but for the first time ever, no one was home. Not even Mrs Hudson. Panic and anger was rising in his throat by mid-afternoon, so he sent a text to Mycroft.

What the hell is your brother working on?

A few minutes later, he received a reply.

I cannot answer that, Inspector.

M

Like hell you can't. They're requesting backup now, but didn’t say why. And now they're not responding. Where are they?

My brother and John are perfectly fine.

That's it. He was done with this.

Ten minutes later he was standing in the front lobby of Mycroft's office building with a security agent pressing him to the wall.

"Tell Mycroft I want to talk to him. Now."

"Sir, I need you to stop. You are causing a scene."

"I've seen you. You know who I am. Get Mycroft."

"I'm afraid I can't do that, sir."

"Tell him I'm sick of being whipped around by him and his brother. If he put Sherlock onto something, he needs to tell me, now, before I can use police resources saving his arse."

"Sir, please step outside. Mr Holmes is in a meeting right now."

"What, is my voice going to disturb them, five storeys up?" Greg was furious—with the Holmes brothers' secrecy, with their tendency to use him like a tool but disregard him whenever they liked, with the oleaginous tone of the security man's voice as he tried to calm Greg down. He was having none of it.

"Sir, please don't make me subdue you."

"Get Mycroft. NOW."

"Sir…"

"Oh, they're not going to hear me. These walls are fucking soundproofed, aren't they. Get Mycr—"

The security guard moved, and for one heart-stopping moment Greg thought he was going to be broken and left in a million pieces in the lobby to be swept out with tonight's refuse. But instead, the guard held up one finger, so Greg fell silent. The guard listened to the voice coming through his earpiece. "I can escort you up now."

Greg started with, "I don't need an escort," but stopped after that. He'd hardly been an example of perfect decorum, and this was the sort of place that required it. Now that he had got his way, he regretted the way he'd been behaving. Greg was still blisteringly angry, no mistake, but as he rode up in the lift that anger became tempered with a bit of shame.

He was manhandled out of the lift just in time to see the door to the stairwell closing. Standing in the doorway to his office was Mycroft, glaring daggers at Greg through the small waiting area.

The security officer let go of Greg's arms and fell back into parade rest at his side. "Thank you," Mycroft said to him, and his voice was cold. "I believe I can take it from here." He stepped back into his office, glaring at Greg all the while, and lifted his arrogant face to beckon him inside. "Inspector Lestrade. Please join me in my office."

"Gladly," Greg spat, and stalked past him into the room.

The door had barely shut before Greg found himself crowded against it. "Don't you ever come in here and cause such a scene again," Mycroft growled. He wasn't touching Greg anywhere, but it was a near thing.

Still, Greg leaned forward another inch into his face. "So when your friend might be in trouble, sure, you can break into my house. But when it's your brother, everyone can go hang?"

"I told you. My brother is fine."

"How am I to know you're not blowing me off?"

"I think you can assume that if my brother's life were on the line, I would take any help offered."

"I don't assume anything, when it comes to you."

"Not even about my brother?"

"Especially about him."

Mycroft leaned further into Greg's personal space. "You don't think I care?"

"I think you're arrogant enough to think you can handle things you can't."

"And I think your hero complex is getting a little too large to contain."

"Hero complex."

"You desperately want to save people. Desperately. Even if they don't want to be saved."

Greg was losing track of the conversation. "And you think you're infallible."

"I have to be."

"And don't you think…that's how I…" Mycroft's face was right there, with his smell surrounding Greg. "This is the way I do things. This is how I do things by the book."

"You are astoundingly deluded about yourself, aren't you?"

"Pardon me?"

"You do things by the book only if it suits you. Otherwise you ride roughshod over the rules until you get the desired result."

"Ridiculous."

"I have two words for you, then: 'Drugs' and 'bust'."

Greg spluttered. "Excuse me? What the hell right have you to say word one about it? You do whatever you like and then go back and fix the record afterward."

Mycroft's eyes flashed fire. "What are you accusing me of exactly, Inspector?"

Greg leaned forward and sneered. "The same thing you're accusing me of, Mycroft."

Mycroft's narrow chest heaved with fury, and his breath hit Greg's face, and without a second thought Greg closed the distance. His mouth closed over Mycroft's, and he panted as his brain suddenly flooded with white-hot desire. He felt Mycroft's hands come up and grab his head, and that same desire surged throughout the rest of his body. He groaned.

Mycroft was holding his head in place and biting at his lips over and over and over again, making a whining noise in his throat. It ratcheted up Greg's lust until his body raged with arousal; he could barely breathe, or think, or feel anything except want. He grabbed around Mycroft's ribs and squeezed their bodies together, then clawed his fingernails down the back of Mycroft's expensive white shirt.

A guttural noise ripped from Mycroft's throat and he gasped into Greg's mouth. "Gregory."

Oh jesus christ. "Oh fuck." He heard himself making a high whimper and crushed it into Mycroft's mouth.

Somehow he found himself with his arms pinned between Mycroft's back and the wall, but still he pressed tighter, unable to get nearly as close as he needed to be. He ground against Mycroft's thigh and felt Mycroft cry out into the kiss. Mycroft himself was already getting hard, rolling his hips relentlessly against Greg's body, and arousal pulsed like lightning in Greg's blood. He dragged his hands down to Mycroft's arse and clutched two massive handfuls, then pulled their lower bodies together and writhed.

The kiss broke as Mycroft's head fell back and hit the wall, and he let out a broken cry that sent Greg's brain offline. He groaned in response and applied his teeth and lips to all that skin on Mycroft's neck. The combination of smoothness and the bare rasp of stubble was delicious.

He felt hands working at the base of his spine, then he realised Mycroft was pulling his shirt tails out of his trousers. The feeling set off a Pavlovian chain of memory, and suddenly he was ten times harder, ten times more desperate for skin. He ripped Mycroft's shirt out of his trousers and shoved his hands up underneath his vest to place them flat on his hot, smooth back.

Mycroft made a splintered noise and wormed his own hands under Greg's shirt. Greg shuddered at the sensation of slender hands kneading near his spine as they writhed together, chasing friction against each others' thighs.

Greg pressed his face to the crook of Mycroft's neck and inhaled, and there was that smell, that incredible smell. His eyes rolled back and he moaned, loudly.

"Gregory," Mycroft whined, then he scraped his nails down Greg's back.

More. He needed more. He needed all of it. His eyes couldn't focus, so he blindly unfastened his own belt buckle and flies, leaving Mycroft to his own. Their knuckles brushed together in their desperate frenzy, as did their mouths. Greg's trousers dropped to his ankles and Mycroft's did a few seconds later, then they pressed together once again. He felt the fabric of Mycroft's pants with remarkable fidelity, then realised that his cock had pushed through the flies on his shorts and was rubbing against the cotton of Mycroft's boxer briefs. His knees went weak, but Mycroft was the one who moaned.

He shoved his hands down the back of Mycroft's pants and was gratified when Mycroft's hips kicked forward. His own cock jumped against Mycroft's thigh, and he swallowed Mycroft's groan in their kiss. It was biting again, harsh, and Greg tasted blood in his mouth. He didn't care.

Mycroft had barely been quiet since the kiss began. He was noisy, vocal, letting out a constant stream of gasps and whimpers and moans as he groped down Greg's back and shoved his tongue in his mouth. His enthusiasm was hotter than hell. It had been ages since he'd been laid, and he was rapidly losing control of himself. The breakdown of the usually-restrained man pressing against him pulled an animalistic growl from Greg's throat, and he ripped Mycroft's pants down to his ankles.

He caught Mycroft's cry in his mouth and swallowed it. Then he touched every goddamn inch of Mycroft's body he could reach: up under the tails of his shirt to his hips and back, down lightly-furred thighs, and around to that narrow arse that was flexing and tensing with each roll of his hips. That body. It was lithe and just a little soft, and it made Greg feel a visceral tug of need that curled his fingertips into Mycroft's arse cheeks and pulled them apart.

Mycroft ducked his head and pressed harder into the kiss, almost shoving Greg off-balance, but Greg leaned into it and fought to push Mycroft back into the wall. Mycroft growled, a guttural thing that made Greg's eyes roll back, and he tore Greg's pants down to his knees. Greg huffed out a breath when he felt Mycroft's nimble hands grasping and clutching at his arse.

Greg broke the kiss and let his head fall to Mycroft's shoulder so he could breathe. He licked up Mycroft's neck inside the collar and then bit down, hard, right on the meat of his shoulder, getting a mouthful of cotton. Mycroft's hips kicked forward, and before Greg's brain registered a plan with the rest of his body he found himself with Mycroft's cock in his hand.

It fit there perfectly, slim and sleek and already damp. Both of them groaned. Greg's eyelids fluttered against Mycroft's shirt as he rolled his forehead back and forth with the satisfaction of it. Only a moment later did Greg feel the cool of Mycroft's hand close around the hot skin of his cock, and Greg moaned down between their bodies. Mycroft was panting in his ear.

Mycroft's hand never stopped moving. It slicked over the head and down to Greg's balls, pulled them for a moment and slid back up. God it had been so long. Greg's head was full of Mycroft's scent as he thrusted into his hand over and over, pulling at Mycroft's cock and feeling it twitch in his palm. It was a bit slicker after that, and Greg smeared wet circles of pre-come around the head. He heard Mycroft groan through a clenched jaw.

"Yesss…" Greg moaned, and sped his hand. The picture in his mind of what they looked like was pornographic, hot as fuck with half their clothes still on, panting and gasping and getting each other off in a frenzy against a wall like teenagers. He puffed like a steam engine into the humid crook of Mycroft's neck as he felt his orgasm begin to coalesce down at the centre of him, a knot of pleasurable tension that drew nearly all his focus. Nearly, but not all, because he could still listen to Mycroft go to pieces. It had been a while since Greg had had sex, though from the way he was losing cohesion Greg suspected Mycroft had gone without for even longer. His hips thrusted in an unsteady pattern, he clutched hard at Greg's shoulders for leverage, and he kept gritting out a wavering moan over and over. It made the hairs on the back of Greg's neck stand on end to hear this particular man lose control. It was unbearably hot, and Greg's orgasm was already starting to tighten in his balls when Mycroft's hit.

His spine bowed as his hips rolled all the way forward and he grated out a tortured cry into Greg's ear. It sounded as if he were pushing out the orgasm, like ground glass and pained pleasure and something just on the edge of tolerance. Mycroft's fingers dug into Greg's shoulders as he held himself up. Then it was as if he'd broken through some kind of wall, and his orgasm seemed to become slick and easy. His hips juddered and he convulsed repeatedly, moaning with uncontrolled bliss as he came in loose spasms all over Greg's hand and their shirt tails.

He worked Mycroft through the end of his orgasm, wanting to draw out the precious time that Mycroft was lost to the world. Oh jesus fuck. God Greg needed to come. If he had been nearly there when Mycroft came, after that demonstration he was desperate.

Just as he decided Mycroft was too far gone to reciprocate, Greg felt a slick hand wrap around his cock. It tugged—forcefully, confidently. thoroughly. The wetness and the shock and the roughness knocked him suddenly over the edge. He clutched close to Mycroft's body and moaned into his ear as bliss slammed into him, leaving him senseless, squeezed and rocked with pleasure.

Greg rubbed up against Mycroft as he ejaculated, satisfying the urge to come all over Mycroft's body and clothes. He rode out his orgasm onto Mycroft's thigh. When the spasms finally relented he shivered, then he moaned into Mycroft's ear. Mycroft shuddered and Greg smiled hazily as hormones coursed through his system. He sighed and let his forehead fall to Mycroft's shoulder while he attempted to catch his breath.

There was silence, and then Mycroft cleared his throat. "Erm," he said, then let that stand on its own for a while.

Greg puffed out a few breaths as his entire nervous system reset itself. "Well…" His knees felt like rubber.

Mycroft shivered with a violent aftershock. "Ungh."

Greg rubbed his mouth on Mycroft's shirt and tried to think of something to say, but he still felt a bit vague and fuzzy. He wanted a nap.

Awareness settled in, brick by brick. They were standing in Mycroft's office with their pants and trousers around their ankles, a mess of semen all over their shirts, their thighs, and their hands. Mycroft's hair was a wreck and his face was blotchy with a receding flush, and Greg's mouth was still abraded raw. He tasted the tang of copper.

Still, Greg felt a sense of satisfaction he hadn't felt since lord-knows-when, even if he really didn't fancy having the talk they were bound to have. He really just wanted that nap. And maybe some dinner.

Instead he wiped his hands on his shirt and pressed his forehead against Mycroft's collar. He refused the notion that he was hiding. "Erm. So."

Mycroft cleared his throat again. "Yes."

"That…happened."

"…Yes."

Greg pulled himself together and stood up. He still avoided Mycroft's eye, instead to staring at the wall behind him. From this distance he could see the subtle speckle of the paint. He let it mesmerise him instead of focussing on the issue at hand.

Mycroft swallowed and shifted from foot to foot. "I…" Greg felt a thrill of apprehension, not having the foggiest idea what Mycroft was going to say next. "…I have a shirt you may borrow for your ride home, if you wish."

Greg was unsure about the strange intimacy of wearing another man's clothes—even for a ten minute car ride. He'd rather just clean up as best he could and flee for home. "Erm. Where's the nearest toilet?"

Mycroft pointed to a door in the corner, and Greg found a full, well-appointed bath behind it, complete with a gleaming shower stall and towels and a medicine cabinet. It smelled like Mycroft in here. Greg shivered.

He cleaned up as best he could; he was going to have to strip once he got home anyway, but he'd rather damp shirt tails tucked against his stomach than a slimy mess. When he emerged from the en suite, Mycroft had completely changed into a new suit and was fastening up a waistcoat to the top button. His hair was still a wreck, however, and spots of pink still lingered on his cheeks. His mouth was swollen-red. Greg felt a pang of affection but swallowed it down.

While Greg watched, Mycroft attempted to smooth his hair with his palms. He grabbed a suit jacket from his chair and shrugged it on as Greg shut the door behind him and stepped back towards Mycroft's desk. Mycroft said, "I've, er. Sherlock is… Sherlock is investigating a missing crown diamond. He has set a trap for the thief, but there is some danger the trap might fail so I asked him to ensure he had backup. I expect his mobile is off because he's doing some undercover investigation, and it's probable John is with him. Last I heard from my agents he's fine, Inspector. But I… I appreciate your concern."

"If not my methods."

"Well…" Mycroft glanced across the room, out the window and down into St. James Park. A smile just barely graced the corner of his mouth. "Not those, no."

Though the side effects were fucking incredible. Greg blew out a breath. "I'll call in a team and be ready. Do I need an explosives unit?"

Mycroft shook his head. "I don't expect so. This is a slippery man, and a murderer, but the likelihood of him escalating the destruction is minimal."

"So you know who it is, then."

Mycroft's mouth was a line. "Yes. I do."

"How?"

"He was the man who was in here just before you so gracefully interrupted."

Greg blinked. "What?!" He looked around, as if the man could be hiding somewhere. "Here?"

Mycroft inclined his head. "We met to discuss an unrelated matter. Sherlock was sure it was he but I remained unconvinced, so I invited him to go over a policy change. The way he held his hand in his pocket confirmed for me he was the man."

Greg shook his head, uncomprehending. "What…?"

At that, Mycroft pinned him with a glance. It was the first time they'd had full eye contact since before they'd had sex, and the hairs on the backs of Greg's arms started to rise. It added fuller weight when Mycroft said calmly, "He was fingering a gun."

A heavy awareness settled into Greg's brain, then, a realisation that standing in front of him here was a colder, stronger, more complex man than Greg had ever given him credit for being. It was attractive, and it was terrifying.

Greg pulled himself up tall and swallowed. "I'm going home to, er, change, and then I'm going to prepare a team for tonight."

"I'll be eating at Simpson's this evening, should you need me." For a second Greg thought Mycroft was going to invite him along, but the moment passed. He wasn't sure if he was relieved or not.

He also didn't know what to say next. "Okay," he ended up with, and stepped toward the door. "You know how to find me, if you have an update. More information."

A small, wry smile graced Mycroft's face, though he didn't look directly at Greg. "I do."

"I know." Greg stopped with his hand on the doorknob. "I'll…erm…"

"Good luck tonight, Inspector. For my brother's sake, if nothing else."

Greg swallowed and forced a smile. "Thanks."

Chapter Text

After his shower, Greg wiped the steam from the mirror and caught a glimpse of something that made him groan.

Oh, fuck.

He didn't remember him doing it, but somewhere in their frantic clash Mycroft had apparently sucked a bruise into Greg's neck where it would plainly be seen by everyone and their mother. Talk about feeling like a teenager. Goddamn it, Mycroft. He was going to see Sherlock in a few hours, and there was no way on earth this was going to avoid comment. Goddamn it.


Sherlock was gesticulating wildly as Sylvius and Merton were being led away, but he stopped short in the middle of a flail and peered at Greg. He stepped closer to examine Greg's neck and pulled a look of revulsion. "Ugh. Who was she?"

Greg tried to look as innocent as possible. "Who is who?"

"Don't give me that look. The woman. The poor female who took pity on your loneliness and slept with you this afternoon."

"Sherlock," John said.

"I don't think it's any of your business." Greg folded his arms.

"I hope it wasn't anyone I know." The expression on Sherlock's face indicated just what he thought of that prospect, and Greg almost laughed in his face.

John stepped up to him with a smile and shoved Sherlock out of the way. "Well. Congratulations, I guess? Moving on?"

Greg felt himself go pink, unfortunately. "Look, can we not talk about this?"

John shrugged as if it were nothing. "Sure. Not a problem."

"She wasn't your ex, was she? No, wouldn't be, hickeys are often proprietary markings, and of your ex-wife's many issues, jealousy is obviously not one."

"Sherlock…" Greg warned him. If Sherlock ever figured out what was going on, recollection of this conversation was going to require a lobotomy.

"Love bites are also marks of passion, which she hasn't shared with you in years. Also, they tend to be made by inexperienced lovers."

Oh, this was too funny. Still, Greg had to shut him down. "Sherlock, be quiet, or I won't let you examine what else Sylvius had in his pockets."

Foiled, Sherlock scowled and flounced out of the room, then spun immediately back to retrieve his wax double. The two of them disappeared down the corridor and the bedroom door slammed behind them.

"I absolutely do not want to know what he plans to do with that sculpture now," John said.

Greg grimaced. "Don't put ideas in my head."

John smirked, but didn't seem too horrified. "So. Can we come down to the station in the morning? I think Himself is going to need a good night's sleep after three days on the hunt."

"You look like you could use some rest yourself," Greg pointed out.

"That obvious?" John gave him a mischievous smile.

Greg's eyes narrowed. "What am I missing?"

John waved that away. "Nothing. I just had fun on this case, is all."

"Well, I'm glad to know you take cases because they're fun." Greg softened the barb with a smirk as he moved toward the door.

"You know what I mean."

"I do, actually. Much to Pitts’s chagrin."

John snorted and opened the door for him. "10am?"

"I'll see you then. Thanks, John."

"Of course. Have fun with your paperwork."

John flashed a cheeky grin and Greg rolled his eyes. "Tosser." The door closed behind him, and Greg let out a slow breath. That could have been massively embarrassing. He hadn't the foggiest idea whether he wanted a repeat of his encounter with Mycroft, but if he eventually decided he did, that conversation wouldn't likely be the easiest one in the world.


Greg spent the next morning in an agony of low-level, sublimated horniness. It was as if breaking the seal on his enforced chastity had left him completely without barriers. He had inappropriate thoughts about everyone he saw, including John and Sherlock, PC Maillard, and the courier dressed head-to-toe in leather who dropped off some packages at the mailroom. Once again he was reminded of the embarrassing riot of hormones that were involved in being a teenager, fancying everyone he knew—or, at least, wanting to have sex with them.

At least this time he had the self-control of a middle-aged man more used to his body, but that didn't keep him from absentmindedly rubbing his lips with his fingertips as he read a report, or shifting in his seat so often he became over-aware of its squeak.

There was a ruckus outside Greg's office, and he threw down his pen to see what was going on. A team of men and women in expensive black suits were gathering up evidence bags from last week's case and sitting down at computer terminals. The displaced officers were standing around looking distressed, confused, and furious. Greg strode up to one of the black-clad interlopers.

"What do you think you're doing?"

The young man ignored him, but another approached Greg and handed him a note. It read, simply, "M." Greg spun on his heel and slammed the door to his office behind him.

"What do you think you're doing?" he said into his mobile when the other end picked up.

"Exercising my authority," Mycroft said.

"Did you really just send a team down to claim jurisdiction over the evidence in the Lambert case?"

"As well as all your computer files."

"You're allowed to just…hack into my system?"

"Oh no, this is all perfectly legal. I do so enjoy going through the proper channels and still getting what I want."

"Why are you doing this, Mycroft?"

"Because I need to. And I can."

"You need to?"

"Oh, Inspector, I'm afraid this is beyond your salary grade."

"Why is it that when you say my name these days it sounds like an insult?"

"What the ear hears..."

"Fine." Greg scowled. "I suppose I have to trust that you know what you're doing. You are aware of the larger implications for this case, right?"

"She'll walk."

"Yes. And you're comfortable with that?"

"Of course I'm not comfortable with it. But it must be done."

"For important reasons."

Mycroft sighed as if it pained him, though Greg suspected it did not. "Yes."

Greg said flatly, "Heavy the head that wears the crown."

"Inspector," Mycroft said, sounding disgustingly pleased, "I do believe you're not half so idiotic as you pretend to be."

"Well. I'm flattered and insulted. Just another afternoon with Mycroft Holmes."

"I do so like to be consistent."

It was infuriating. But as much as Greg wanted to be angry with Mycroft right now, a large part of his lizard brain wanted to express this anger by holding Mycroft down against the desk and fucking the hell out of him, and that wasn't doing good things to his ability to focus. He could almost smell Mycroft's cologne right there. "Why are you always trying to make me angry?"

"That's just my charm, I suppose."

The derision in Mycroft's voice put paid to any thoughts of a repeat performance. It was absolutely dripping with condescension. Okay, then. "So I'm just going to have to take this lying down?"

"There's no use putting up a fight, no. You'll find all of this is perfectly legal."

"You are an incredible arse, Mycroft."

"So I've been told."

Greg hung up without saying goodbye and tossed the phone onto his desk. He scrubbed his hands over his face. Ugh. So much for all that work last week. He hoped that whatever Mycroft was doing, letting Lambert go free and risking more lives, was worth it. He hoped Mycroft was sure about his endgame.

Chapter Text

There was a call on Greg's mobile. "Lestrade, you've been summoned for a meeting with the Assistant Commissioner," said his Chief Super, sounding distracted and busy and in absolutely no mood to mess about.

Greg's stomach seized. "What."

"There's a meeting you need to attend at 3pm. Dress nicely; there are going to be important people there."

"What?"

"That's all I know right now. That address, three in the afternoon, important meeting, wear a suit."

"But I—"

"Just do it, please."

Greg rang off and pressed the edge of the phone against his mouth, mind whirring. What in the hell is this shit about? Was he in trouble? Was there a problem? The Assistant Commissioner? What was he meant to have done now?

He snuck out without anyone asking where he was going, which was a blessing because he couldn't for the life of him focus on anything except his diffuse panic. He didn't want to face the Assistant Commissioner, he didn't want to put on a damn suit, and he absolutely hated not feeling prepared. He showered and changed at home, put on the suit he used for press conferences, and made it out to the correct office by 2:55.

He took the lift up to the correct floor, and when he stepped out into the cold corridor he stopped short. One of Mycroft's assistants was sitting on a bench outside the Assistant Commissioner's office. Her eyes flickered over him and she gave him a wry smile.

"Shut up," he said, and the wry smile spread into a smirk before she went back to typing on her mobile.

There was the sound of a running tap in the lavatory behind them, and the sound of a hand dryer, then Mycroft emerged. "Before you ask, no, I do not know what this is about."

"How can you not know?"

"I do not know everything."

Greg blinked at him in disbelief, and to his surprise the corner of Mycroft's mouth twitched with humour. It helped, just a little. The nervous flutter in his stomach eased, the anger softened, and Greg sat down on the bench to prop his elbows on his knees. "I guess it goes without saying that I have no idea what's going on."

"I assumed."

For a brief moment Greg almost smacked him, but decided that decorum was the better part of valour.

The corridor was carpeted in a cheap, industrial blue, and Greg slid the slick leather sole of his dress shoe along the pile for a few seconds, trying to think of something to say. He completely failed. Furthermore, he was still frustrated with Mycroft. Frustrated, annoyed, angry, and worst of all, craving his touch. Greg stood up and paced away from the Assistant Commissioner's door, then back towards it. It opened.

"Gentlemen," she said, and stood back in an implicit invitation for them to enter. Greg's gaze flicked up to Mycroft's for a split second but he saw nothing helpful, so he walked in first. The assistant stayed outside.

"Assistant Commissioner Callihan," Mycroft said in a slightly greasy tone, sticking his hand out. Greg supposed that was his "sucking up" voice. He had probably been head boy. To Greg's surprise—and fear—she was having none of it. She gave Mycroft's hand a perfunctory shake but remained frosty.

Callihan and Greg exchanged nods and she gestured for them to sit. "Now," she said. "I read a disturbing report over the weekend." She slid an open file across her desk over to them. It was the writeup of what happened with Melas's kidnapping.

"Inspector Lestrade, please explain to me exactly how you came to find Mr Melas and Mr Kratides?"

Greg's system flushed with nervousness and blinked at her. "Well, it's… Ma'am, as I wrote in the file—"

"I know what you wrote in the file. And I know what you told Chief Superintendent Pitts. What I can't seem to understand is why, exactly, you thought it would be a good idea to investigate this case on your own, outside of standard protocol, without backup."

"Ah, well, if you'll note, ma'am, Sherlock Holmes—"

"Inspector Lestrade, do I seem like the sort of person who wants excuses?"

"No, ma'am."

"If I ask you this question again, are you just going to give me excuses?"

"I…don't know, ma'am."

She scowled and looked to Mycroft. "Mr Holmes. Is it true your brother took on the case first, independently, before the police became involved?"

Mycroft swallowed and lied. "Yes, ma'am."

"Is it true you called in Inspector Lestrade instead of the proper authorities?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Is it also true that, in the past, you've managed to use the authorities properly, even if you did so only to request Inspector Lestrade be assigned to the case?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"So clearly you know how these things are supposed to work. Mr Holmes, I don't appreciate you placing my officers in this position. Obviously you used the time-sensitive nature of the case to coerce Inspector Lestrade into investigating outside the sanctioned purview of the Metropolitan Police."

Mycroft opened his mouth, but Greg cut in. "He did, but I didn't have to listen to him." Both of them turned to look at Greg. "It wouldn't have been the first time I told him to take a walk."

"Then why didn't you?" she asked.

"Because he's a good detective," Mycroft said, and both heads swivelled to look at him. "He's a good man, and I used that against him."

Callihan narrowed her eyes. "I don't know who you think you are, but you do not have the authority to call in my officers to help with private investigations, no matter your intentions."

Mycroft seemed frozen. Greg waited for him to pull out his real credentials, but instead Mycroft relaxed back against his seat. "I understand, ma'am."

It was odd, seeing Mycroft submit like that, and it made Greg supremely uncomfortable for some reason. It was like looking at a particularly well-crafted mask. No—it was, Greg thought, not unlike watching Sherlock sham for a case, and once again he found himself marvelling at how well the Holmes brothers had learned to lie. Greg sat forward. "As I wrote in the report, ma'am, I did what I thought was best at the time."

"And I think your judgement was flawed." Both Greg and Mycroft sat quietly and waited for the hammer to fall; surely Greg was going to be suspended, or worse. She glared. "I don't like this. At all. I think you showed extremely poor decision-making skills, Inspector, and I think you need to stop taking phone calls from Mr Holmes." Her gaze flicked between both of them. "You should have known better."

Greg waited on tenterhooks for her to continue. His mouth was dry as dust. "However," Callihan added, "Your DCS speaks highly of you and your work, and he has assured me that you are capable of rectifying your behaviour. So I'm not going to argue for your suspension." Greg's muscles went rubbery with relief. "However, you can consider this a warning. Put one more toe out of line with Mr Holmes, and there will be consequences. Do we understand each other?"

After a rough swallow, Greg could answer. "We do, ma'am. Yes. Thank you."

"And you." She turned her attention to Mycroft. "I think you'd better rethink just how you use my resources for your private investigations, kidnapping or not. If there is trouble, you contact the police through the proper channels."

Mycroft nodded. "Yes, ma'am."

"Good." She nodded at them, looking them over. "Inspector Lestrade, you're dismissed. And you too." Callihan looked back down at her desk and picked up a folder.

Greg couldn't get out of there fast enough. It felt as though insects were crawling underneath his skin. He walked straight out her door and over to the lift, not stopping to look at either Mycroft or his assistant, stabbed at the button, and waited with his hands behind his back, jiggling his keys and staring up at the lighted indicator over the lift door.

Mycroft stepped up close to him. "Inspector. I would like a word with you."

First floor, second floor…

Mycroft leaned forward slightly. "Inspector."

…Third floor…

Then Mycroft said, quiet and almost at a growl, "Gregory."

Oh god. Greg's brain lit up with arousal, and he closed his eyes and sucked in a breath. He let it out slowly. "What."

"I would like to have a word with you. Privately."

"Can't you just say it now?" The doors opened, but Greg didn't step into the lift.

Mycroft did, however, and he held the doors open for his assistant and then for a very reluctant Greg. They slid closed.

"Well?" Greg asked, his eyes flicking to the assistant. He rather fancied an audience for whatever this would turn out to be.

But Mycroft ignored him until the lift reached the ground floor and his assistant left. She disappeared instantly into the foot traffic on the pavement, leaving Greg alone with Mycroft in a gently-moving sea of people. "Where did you park your car?" Mycroft bent his head and spoke directly into Greg's ear. Greg stifled a shiver.

"A couple of streets away," he rasped.

"Do you have a moment?"

Greg gritted his teeth. "No."

"Will you tomorrow?"

"No, Mycroft."

"When may I—"

"Mycroft," Greg said and spun to face him. That put him directly in front of Mycroft, only six inches away, which was not his best plan ever. He was warm and close and soft and horribly, terribly desirable. "You need to stop. You heard Callihan; I cannot lose this job. This is it. This is what I do. This is all I have right now."

"You didn't give me up."

Greg looked up into Mycroft's strangely vulnerable face. "What?"

"You didn't… You lied about Sherlock having been on the case first. You never said I enlisted your help before I had Sherlock's. You didn't say I was using you and your exhaustion to get my way."

"You said I was a good detective."

"I said you were a good man." Mycroft's words echoed around Greg's head before someone jostled them on the pavement and Greg stepped back safely out of Mycroft's sphere of influence.

He cleared his throat. "That fact was between us. It didn't matter."

"Of course it did."

Greg looked around at all the people walking past, going to meetings or home or the shops. "Do we have to do this here?"

"Come back to my office." Mycroft's gaze bored into him.

This was an insanely bad idea. "When?"

"Now. We can take my car."

"I'm not going to leave my car—"

"We can come back for it. Please. Inspector."

Greg took a steadying breath and made a poor decision. "I think I like it better when you call me 'Gregory.'"

The expression on Mycroft's face was stunned. Without a word, he walked down the pavement, and Greg followed him to where the black car was waiting. Mycroft slid in, then Greg, and Mycroft shut the door behind them.

"What about…er…your assistant?"

"She can follow behind."

Tension was forming at the base of Greg's spine, in his thighs, in his shoulders, and anticipation thudded with every beat of his heart. Mycroft leaned back against his seat but didn't stop looking at him, the flush blooming on his cheeks obvious even in the shadow of the car's interior. Mycroft licked his lips, leaving them shiny. Greg remembered clearly how hot and wet that mouth was, and it took all his restraint not to launch himself across the aisle between the seats to taste it again.

The car rumbled over a rough bit of pavement, and the butterflies in Greg's stomach roiled. "You were manipulating me."

"And you were perfectly aware of that fact."

Greg swallowed and blinked into a small nod. "I was."

"Melas's life might have been in danger had we involved the authorities," Mycroft said quietly.

"We don't let that stop us. We find a way around it."

"But you didn't this time." Mycroft's gaze bored intently into Greg.

"I didn't think about it. I just did it. Because you asked me to." Greg looked across the aisle at Mycroft, who appeared uncomfortable for a moment. "Why do I do that? Really? I'm with the police for a reason, Mycroft. I want people to be safe and secure. But you, you just…" He glared. "You do things like let Lambert go free, and you won't tell me why except, 'we have our reasons'. What am I supposed to do with that? How am I supposed to—"

"We have her."

Greg wasn't sure he heard him correctly. "You what?"

"We have her." Mycroft was tracing his finger up and down a seam in the seat, which probably would have been distracting had Greg not been angry and completely boggled by where this conversation had gone. "She was only at liberty for an hour before we incarcerated her in our own facilities."

Greg leaned forward. "When were you going to tell me?"

"If it became necessary."

"You are unbelieveable." His chest was tight.

"We both got what we needed."

Greg scooted forward on his seat. "You need to tell me these things."

"I do not."

"You need to tell me these things. Trust me. Tell me so I don't feel so goddamn—"

"I trust you."

"No, I don't believe you do."

"I'm learning to."

"No. You're just trying to soften me up so I don't think about why, with one word from you, I completely abandoned my responsibilities and went off to solve a crime with Sherlock like someone with a Batman complex."

"If you ask me, I think you were enjoying yourself too much."

"Well I didn't ask you." Arsehole.

"I think the case at Dartmoor reminded you what it's like to go outside your usual parameters, and you miss it."

"Fuck you." The tension in the car was rapidly spinning into a different sort entirely, a more unpleasant kind.

"Am I wrong?"

"Yes."

"You don't like feeling like a hero, sometimes? Not being hampered by your official role?"

"Vigilantism is a slippery slope and harmful—"

"Gregory." Greg shut up immediately. Mycroft continued. "Spare me the party line. You found it exciting, didn't you."

Greg restrained the urge to punch Mycroft in his smug, pointy face. But he had to admit to himself that yes, he'd found being needed to be intensely satisfying, and to be flying without a net invigorating, and looking back he realised he'd been doing some really good work over the last few weeks because of this massive dickhead and his machinations. "…Yes," he said.

But instead of an expression of victory, Mycroft's gaze turned darker. "I did too."

Oh. Greg took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"We make a good team," Mycroft said, not breaking eye contact. "I like watching you do your job well. You like being given license to do what's necessary to restore peace. You are…good. Good at it. And I like to watch you do it. I like to make you do it."

Greg swallowed. "You just like manipulating me."

"Of course. But you like being given control. Unhampered."

"I have a team. I can't just go off and do whatever I want because it gives me some sort of jollies."

"I have a team too. We both have to make tough decisions. No one knows better than I how seductive it is to break out of the shackles sometimes."

"Sometimes."

Mycroft blinked. "Of course. You wouldn't be yourself if you completely abandoned the rigid tenets of the police force. And for all its faults, working within the legal restrictions of the government has benefits for me."

"So what the hell are you talking about, Mycroft?"

"I am saying…" Mycroft licked his lips. "That when you break out of your bindings to do something heroic, I want to be there. And if I do something outside of my usual role, I'd like you to watch."

Greg exhaled. "That sounds a bit kinky."

The corner of Mycroft's mouth quirked up. "If you like."

"You have a hell of a seduction technique." Greg huffed a laugh and scrubbed his face with his hand. Jesus.

One of Mycroft's eyebrows lifted. "Is that what I'm doing?"

At that, Greg just had to smile. What an arse. "Shut up."

They spent the last three minutes of the car ride in silence.

Greg shoved his hands in his pockets once they arrived at Mycroft's building, and he kept them there in the lift and the outer corridor. He found himself slowly digging his fingernails into his thigh. But as soon as the office door closed behind them, he reached for Mycroft.

They came together violently, one of Greg's hands scooping up the back of Mycroft's head and the other closing around his back, crushing them together in a ridiculous, heart-stopping, open-mouthed kiss. Mycroft whined into it, clutching desperately to Greg's suit, and the sound nearly buckled Greg's knees. "Oh christ."

The sound Mycroft made was a bit broken and pathetic as he seemed to be trying to force them both into the same place in space-time. "Not quite, no," he said. His arms closed like a vice about Greg's ribs and he tilted his head to kiss Greg with bruising force.

Greg fisted both hands in Mycroft's hair and held on for the ride. After a few moments, he fought back and shoved his tongue into Mycroft's mouth to stunning effect. Mycroft broke into a frenzy, whimpering and letting his hands clutch everywhere they could grip: Greg's back, his arse, his hips, his elbows, the sides of his face, the back of his neck. Mycroft's hands were everywhere, as if he couldn't decide how best to hold him. Greg took pity on him by grabbing him round the waist and the back of the head again and pinning him into a deep, gulping kiss.

Greg's focus had shattered into a million pieces, but it was still clear this wasn't nearly enough. He couldn't stop moving; half of the reason he held on to Mycroft so tightly was to keep himself from squirming out of his embrace entirely with the desperate, overwhelming sensation of need.

They both were breathing deeply, roughly, quickly as Greg tore off his jacket and Mycroft ripped off his own. But even that time apart was too long, and they crashed together again into another violent kiss. Mycroft bit Greg's lower lip and Greg gasped. "Fuck, I want you so badly."

"I couldn't focus," Mycroft said. "I couldn't focus."

"I've been turned on for three days." Greg shuddered as both Mycroft's hands came up to cradle Greg's head and tilt it into a deeper kiss. Shaking, Greg fumbled for Mycroft's belt buckle and felt him whimper. He dragged his knuckles up the thin placket of Mycroft's dress trousers and found him already hard, as if he had been on the edge of arousal and just needed a few gasping kisses to coax him to a full erection. Greg groaned at the thought. He knew the feeling.

"Do you know," Mycroft said in between kisses, unfastening Greg's belt buckle, "how many times in the past thirteen years I've masturbated in that en suite? Once." He moaned as he opened up Greg's flies and palmed his hardening cock. His voice was rough when he next spoke. "Do you know how many times I've been forced to masturbate in that en suite since the last time you were here? Once a day."

"You've had a wank in there three times this week?" Greg tried to envision what that looked like as he slid Mycroft's open trousers down to his ankles, and his cock jumped. He imagined the flush on Mycroft's face as he carefully stepped out of his trousers and pants, laid them neatly on the sink, and wanked furiously until he came into the shower. He moaned. "I need to watch that."

Mycroft froze for a moment, then as the thought trickled down he almost convulsed with arousal. "Oh my god," he breathed. "Yes. Watch me."

Greg's brain was hazy, but he knew a kink when he saw one. The thought burned down his spine. He grabbed Mycroft's face again for a frenzied kiss.

Mycroft's hands knotted in the back of Greg's shirt, pulling it tight across his front, but when Greg reciprocated his hands slipped on the silky back of Mycroft's waistcoat. He started unbuttoning Mycroft's waistcoat from the bottom up, and after a moment Mycroft began unbuttoning it from the top down. Mycroft flailed in his haste to wriggle out of it and let it fall to the floor. Greg immediately shoved his hands underneath Mycroft's vest and shirt and scraped at the skin of his back. Mycroft hissed, then melted against him. Greg bit him on the neck. There was a startling moment where Mycroft twitched with a violent jerk, but that moment melted into arousal when Mycroft moaned bitterly and ground against Greg's thigh. "Jesus, you're sensitive." Greg trailed his fingertips against the toothmarks, making Mycroft shiver, then lightly kissed the spot.

"It's been a while."

"How long?"

"I'll tell you later," Mycroft said. "I'm a bit busy." And with that he dropped down and mouthed over the bulge of Greg's erection trapped inside his boxers.

Greg huffed for breath as his head fell back, and he rested his hand gently on the top of Mycroft's head. He just barely resisted the urge to shove his groin harder into Mycroft's face. It was a close thing; he couldn't remember the last time someone's mouth had been this close to his cock.

He waited for Mycroft to pull down his boxers, or pull his erection out through the flies, but instead Mycroft just hummed with pleasure and started nosing around, breathing in audibly. Mycroft moaned and stood to capture Greg's mouth in a sloppy, wet kiss. Greg felt his cock twitch harder. He was going to be desperate in about thirty seconds. Oh, hell. He was desperate now.

Greg grabbed one of Mycroft's wrists, causing Mycroft to pull back with a startled look. But all Greg did was start unbuttoning the cuffs. There was a light of understanding in Mycroft's eyes, and a few moments were spent unfastening each other's collars and cuffs before Greg lost patience, grabbed the hems of both of Mycroft's shirts, and stripped them over his head.

Mycroft pushed his pants down and stood there in front of Greg, naked except for shoes and socks, trousers and boxer briefs puddled around his ankles, and Greg's hands itched to touch. He looked thinner than he felt—a well-constructed structure of fine bones and soft skin, flushed blotchily from his face down into his chest but milk-pale otherwise, freckled and densely furred and fucking gorgeous. His eyes, when Greg finally dragged his gaze up to his face, were full of terror.

Greg swallowed down his own nervousness. "You're beautiful," he murmured.

Mycroft's brow furrowed. "Shhhh," he said, before his hands came up to cradle Greg's face into a passionate kiss. Greg toed off his shoes and pulled Mycroft close.

The skin on his back was even nicer to touch without his vest dragging against Greg's knuckles, so Greg gave his hands free rein up to Mycroft's shoulders and all the way down to his arse. He skated his knuckles up Mycroft's spine, making him shudder.

Mycroft broke the kiss to yank Greg's shirt over his head, presumably jealous of all the skin. "Let me look at you," he said.

Greg wriggled his boxers down and stood before him, unashamed of his arousal. Mycroft's eyes went even darker as he scanned Greg's body from shoulders to ankles, and when he brought them back up to Greg's face they flared. Mycroft's jaw dropped slightly and he huffed out a breath. He practically jumped Greg, then, grabbing him into a frantic and undulating embrace and kissing him for all he was worth. Greg groaned at the sensation of all that skin writhing against him. His nerve-endings were on fire.

He grabbed Mycroft's arse and ground them together at the groin, making them both moan with the friction, and Mycroft bit at his mouth. Greg was done with the slow striptease. He stepped out of his pants and trousers and socks and felt Mycroft do the same thing, then walked them—still attached at the mouth—over to the sofa against the far wall. He yanked Mycroft down to lay on top of him.

They both moaned, loudly and unabashedly, at the feeling of it. Greg's eyes fluttered closed and he licked his lips as he grabbed Mycroft's arse with both hands and started arching up against his body, a wild thrusting that left subtlety far behind. Predictably, Mycroft responded to this blatantly sexual movement by crying out and thrusting down in counterpoint against him.

It was nothing more than rutting like teenagers again, Greg thought. What was it about sex with Mycroft that made him ignore every bit of sensuality he'd cultivated over the years and just default to desperate friction? Why did he always want so badly just to rub up against Mycroft and come?

Not until Greg had scratched his nails along every plane of Mycroft's body he could reach and had started biting and sucking on every inch of his shoulders and neck that Greg realised what this was: hunger. Greg was hungry for him, and like starving men they were pawing and filling their mouths and trying desperately to sate themselves as quickly as possible.

For some reason, the thought made Greg even hungrier.

He shoved his hand between them to grab Mycroft's cock, then lined them up together so he could shove up into his hand, against Mycroft, and hopefully stimulate Mycroft as well. Mycroft's eyes shot wide and he propped his weight on his hands to look down between their bodies and watch.

When Greg rolled his hips up for the second time he watched Mycroft's face. It contorted, his jaw dropping wide in astonishment and then squeezing into a rictus of unbearable pleasure. Success, then. The third time he did it he rolled his hips and arched his back, and Mycroft actually cried out into the room. The sound shot all the way down to Greg's balls and he flared with additional arousal. Oh my god.

Over and over again Greg thrust up into his hand and against Mycroft's cock, and each time Mycroft let out a high broken cry directly into Greg's ear, and after about thirty seconds of this Greg was so turned on that his hips slowed into a steady, slow, machine of movement, each thrust building on the previous towards what was definitely going to be a stunning orgasm. He couldn't breathe, couldn't stop, and he kept his eyes open to watch Mycroft's face as he gasped and shuddered and thundered inexorably toward his own release.

Each thrust began to let off such a wrench of pleasure that Greg began to moan on every breath. Mycroft's eyes opened and their gaze caught, and Mycroft's jaw gaped wider with shock. He made an inhuman noise. Mycroft gritted his teeth, eyes wild, and ground down against Greg with an incoherent judder of his hips before he yelled full-voiced and started to come. Greg watched him lose complete control of himself, convulsing, moaning at the top of his lungs as he spurted all over Greg's hand and belly. Greg let go of them and grabbed Mycroft's arse with both hands so he could shove up against his body, ramping up almost immediately into hard, slow thrusts that spilled into a gorgeous, satisfying, seemingly-endless orgasm.

Greg's head fell back against the armrest and he groaned repeatedly, feeling the hormones flood his system with warmth and bliss and lassitude. He slowly rolled his hips up against Mycroft's body, shuddering through an unctuous series of aftershocks, gasping to regain his breath. "Oh god yes," he moaned, squirming underneath Mycroft for a last few moments before dropping completely boneless. He blew out a breath. He couldn't move.

At some point Mycroft had melted on top of him, and was now breathing in Greg's ear and seemed spectacularly disinclined to move as well. Greg nearly dozed off before Mycroft murmured, "That was…" He blew out an unvoiced sigh. "Fantastic."

Greg's eyelids fluttered. "Uh-hunh." He still couldn't have moved if he'd wanted to.

"I feel…emptied."

"I think that's good," Greg said without really opening his mouth.

Mycroft, too, was starting to slur. "May I sleep like this?"

If he'd wanted to, Greg would have shrugged. "Whatever."

And Greg let himself fall off into a doze.

Greg blinked awake slowly. His eyes felt like sandpaper. "Whatimeizzit?"

"6:34." Mycroft sounded only marginally more awake than Greg felt.

"How do you know that?"

Mycroft shifted with an aborted attempt to point across the room. "Clock on the wall."

They were both silent for a few moments. "That was incredibly good," Greg rumbled, still not really on board with the idea of waking up. Mycroft shifted, and Greg grunted and his eyes flickered back with echoed pleasure.

Mycroft made a noise of confirmation, then settled back to nuzzle his face into Greg's chest hair. He let his weight fall fully onto Greg again.

"Are your legs off the end of the sofa?" Greg asked.

"Mm-hmm."

"Isn't that uncomfortable?"

Mycroft sort of shrugged, but said nothing.

An idea occurred to Greg. A terrible, wonderful, poorly-planned-out idea. "Wouldn't you rather do this in bed?"

Slowly, Mycroft's head lifted to look at Greg's face. Greg could feel it, but he pointedly left his head tilted back against the armrest in studied nonchalance. "I'm just saying," Greg added, "I think a repeat performance might be better conducted in a bed." A swarm of butterflies in his stomach fluttered.

He heard Mycroft swallow, then felt him bob his head. "Maybe with dinner, perhaps. And some sort of shower."

"And dessert," Greg said, a grin beginning to spread across his face as he looked down at Mycroft.

"Don't push it too far, Inspector," he said, quirking a sleepy smile. Greg laughed.

Chapter Text

It had been a long, busy, stressful week.

"Sherlock," Greg said, massaging his fingertips into his forehead. "Did you really have to clock him over the head with the fence post?" He blinked. "Wait. Explain to me first where you got a fence post."

"It was—" Sherlock hissed as John did something in his examination of Sherlock's shoulder. He was bleeding all over John's hands, but John didn't seem to care. "It was in the lumber yard."

"You chased him through a lumber yard? Where is there a lumber yard?"

"Or maybe it was someone's storage. Whatever." His voice sounded hazy with pain and blood loss. With his free hand, Sherlock waved that away as unimportant, then he rested it on John's head and stroked his hair for a moment. Greg peered at them suspiciously.

Sally radioed from the car that the suspect—6'3" of muscle, no longer armed with a several board-feet of nail-studded oak—was finally coming around from the unconsciousness into which Sherlock, John, or both had sent him. Greg pointed at the two of them. "When I come back, you're going to tell me if I'm sending you to hospital." As he rounded the corner out of the alley, his suspicions were confirmed when he caught John pressing his lips to Sherlock's forehead. Huh.

The suspect spat and swore, but wasn't giving up anything useful. Greg told Sally to let him stew a while longer while he took care of Sherlock, and she pulled a face. He very nearly rolled his eyes at her. The grudge was tiresome.

"Sir, he can handle things on his own. He does it all the time."

It was a fair point, but as he opened his mouth to explain that while she didn't like Sherlock, Greg sadly did, so if she could kindly hold her horses while he ensured Sherlock wasn't going to go into some sort of septic coma in the middle of a filthy alley, he looked down the street to see Mycroft strolling along, spinning his umbrella without a care in the world.

His world brightened.

"He's in the alley," Greg said to him while he was still ten feet away, unable to wipe the grin from his face.

"I know."

"I know you know."

Greg sauntered around the corner toward Sherlock and John, pleased to have Mycroft at his back.

"What are you doing here?" Sherlock asked as John finished cleaning the wounds on Sherlock's shoulder and started to inspect them.

Mycroft rolled his eyes. "Might I suggest a light round of antibiotics after having several puncture wounds driven into one's shoulder?"

"I've had my jabs," Sherlock said. Then he jerked as John did something to the second wound.

"It looks like you're getting your jabs again right now," Greg snarked, amused at Sherlock's usual unwillingness to just go to hospital without putting up a fight. Every damn time, he did this, even if he fully intended to go to hospital in the end. He caught Mycroft's eye, and was delighted to see humour there, with a fond smirk playing at the corners of his mouth. Greg smiled back at him for a moment.

"No." Sherlock sounded strangled. "No no." Then he groaned, and Greg looked at him. "Oh, you've got to be joking."

"What?" John asked, busy covering up the wounds with precision, for all that the bandages were temporary.

"Them," Sherlock said, and jerked his chin. "Lestrade. And Mycroft."

"What about them?" John started cleaning off his hands with another sterile wipe and scanned them both, obviously looking for some clue what Sherlock was talking about and not succeeding.

"They're…shagging," Sherlock spat with distaste, and John's face immediately cycled through a series of expressions—shock, disgust, amazement, bemusement, comprehension—before he finally settled on a not-entirely-convincing smile.

"Oh," he said. "Er, that's great." Greg supposed John had never really been Mycroft's biggest fan, but that didn't really matter. It was just sex. It's not as if they were together.

Mycroft settled in for a casual bicker with Sherlock to get him to submit to the fancy facilities to which Mycroft usually dragged him, and John stood up to get out of the line of fire.

"How long has that been going on?" John asked quietly as Mycroft crouched down to speak with his brother in low, biting tones.

Greg shrugged. "A few weeks."

"So he's what. Your boyfriend?" John was clearly putting a brave face on it, which Greg appreciated no matter that it wasn't necessary.

"No, it's casual," Greg said, shaking his head, staring at the curving line of Mycroft's back and the way he was holding his umbrella.

"Is it?" John asked, and something in his tone caught Greg's attention.

"What? Yes, definitely. Why?"

John shook his head, his eyebrows creeping toward his hairline. "No reason. No. That's… That's good. A bit of fun."

"Exactly." Ah. And here was Greg's chance to change the subject. "Like you and Sherlock?"

John flushed crimson. "Erm."

Greg smiled and chuckled at him, then clapped him on the shoulder. "The case with…the diamond thief. Sylvianus?"

"Sylvius," John corrected, then smiled sheepishly.

"You both looked knackered."

"Shut up."

"And like you'd been up to something."

"We had."

"Is that why Sherlock had hickeys on the brain?"

John's eyes shot wide. "Was that—" He pointed over his shoulder at Mycroft. "Was that him?" At Greg's smirk, John's face blossomed into an expression of delight so pure Greg was sure he was going to strain something. "Oh, wait 'til he figures it—"

"OH GOD."

"—out," John finished, and started laughing his arse off as Mycroft stood up and brushed pointlessly at his trousers.

"Oh god, just. Take me to hospital so I can get away from them and delete it. Delete it all," Sherlock was saying as Mycroft walked over to the mouth of the alley where Greg stood. He had a supremely evil smirk on his face.

"This almost makes the constant distraction worthwhile," Mycroft said, leaning over and purring against Greg's ear.

Greg smirked, his arms breaking out in gooseflesh. "Almost?"

"Very nearly."

"You two are such children."

Sherlock scowled at them as John ushered him out of the alley towards Mycroft's car. John flashed an amused grin as they went past.

When they were gone, Mycroft looked around them and took Greg by the jaw, pulling him up into a brief kiss. "Tonight?"

"Can't tonight," Greg said, and kissed him again as an apology. "Paperwork. I'll be done far too late for supper."

"I wasn't talking about supper."

A slow grin spread across Greg's face. "Well now that's all I'm going to be thinking about while I'm filling out reports."

"Good." Mycroft kissed him again. "I wouldn’t want to think I took the night off for no reason.”

"The entire world won't fall to pieces if you take the night off to shag like rabbits?"

"I've ensured it won't."

"Lucky me."

For a moment, Mycroft flashed a smile that stopped Greg's heart. It was real—lines around his eyes and nose, white teeth, bright eyes—and beautiful for all that it was fleeting. Greg blinked and Mycroft's usual expression of quiet amusement was set in place again. He wondered if some day that happiness might linger. He leaned up to kiss him softly.

"Isn't your sergeant going to wonder where you are?"

"Let her wait," Greg said against Mycroft's mouth.

"Prerogative of the boss?"

"You should know."

Mycroft's nimble fingers scratched at the back of Greg's neck, making him shiver.

"Are you going to tell me tonight why you were in Dartmoor?" Greg asked, capturing Mycroft's face in both hands and sucking lightly on his lower lip.

"No," Mycroft said.

"Are you ever?"

"No."

"Evil."

"Obviously."

"I'm going to go back to work, then." Greg couldn't stop kissing him.

"Wise." Mycroft nuzzled his face into Greg's hair. "I need to bring Sherlock to hospital."

"I will be a responsible boss. And then later I can make you scream."

Mycroft shivered, then chuckled, a dark thing that quickened Greg’s breath. "Perhaps tonight I can demonstrate just what happens in that en suite."

Arousal flared in Greg’s gut and he had to shut his eyes for a moment. “Yes. I think that sounds like an excellent plan.”

“Mmm. I can’t wait.”

“You are such an arsehole. Damn you.” How the fuck was Greg meant to concentrate now?

“At last you understand.”

"As if I didn’t know that before," Greg said. "Okay. Here I go." He mustered all his self-control and stepped back, trying not to look too hard at Mycroft for fear he'd just want to ruin him against the alley wall. He blew out a slow breath to steady himself.

"Here we both go," Mycroft said, and smirked, and together they walked out of the alley into the fading sunlight.