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Adrift in a Cold Sea

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Mycroft Holmes was fine. Mycroft Holmes was fine. He took a deep breath and flexed his hands, breathing slowly and deeply until the office stopped moving. Of course he’d gone straight back to work with barely a day off. The world would hardly stop for one family’s…. small problems.

He took another breath and got up, fixing himself a drink and sitting back down to his work. The globe still spun, fires still needed putting out. Sherrinford was being cleaned up and settled.

Idiot boy.

It wasn’t even the worst thing he’d ever heard from his mother. But that one stuck in his craw. That and calling Sherlock the responsible one when they had no idea. But that was his fault too, wasn’t it? Trying to shield them from the worst, to keep them happy.

Keeping everyone else happy, that was the goal, after all. His own wishes and desires? He’d buried everything in the name of ambition, in the name of getting to a place in his life where he could see those he cared about taken care of. His whole life had been spent building an altar to his family, with his own desires nothing more than kindling and sacrifice.

He pinched his nose, took a breath in. Blindly he opened a drawer and took out his notebook, flipping to a well worn page. He kept a list of things he’d given up, a secret list in its own code. He traced his finger past names, people he could have loved, places he could have gone, paths he could have taken. Most of them were long in the past, but there were a few more recent.

Mycroft tapped a finger next to a name. So many almosts, but he’d always pulled away, always thrown up walls, claimed the ice. It was too late now, wasn’t it?

He remembered Greg’s warm eyes as he got him home, the gentle concern in his voice. And, as always, Mycroft had pulled away, assured him he was fine, seen himself to the door and closed it behind him. Even his home didn’t feel safe anymore, not after what Sherlock had done, but where else could he go?

Clearing his throat, Mycroft closed the book with some finality and stood, reaching for his coat and tucking the book into a pocket. Everyone else had already gone home for the day, He ensured everything was locked up, picked up his umbrella and headed out.

But he didn’t call a car, not yet, anyway. He let his feet carry him where they would. From another pocket he fished out his cigarettes and lit one, taking a drag. Terrible habit, but one he’d never quite managed to shake, though generally he didn’t indulge that often. The weather was chill and a bit misty, proper London weather.

Perhaps that London feeling was part of what brought him to the edge of the Thames. He leaned on the railing and looked out at the old river, flicking his spent cigarette out at it, breathing slowly, unable to stop his mind from going to another river, another time and place.

It wasn’t entirely surprising when Sherlock materialized out of the fog and took his place by Mycroft’s elbow. No doubt someone had alerted him to his whereabouts. They hadn’t discussed what had taken place, but then, what was there to talk about? Things had happened, they had gone badly, but they’d all come out the other side.

Sherlock stayed silent as well. Which was good, Mycroft never could stand platitudes. Though it was true he was more comforted by his brother’s presence then he’d admit. The wind whipped through their hair and he welcomed the chill.

Finally he straightened and pulled out his mobile. “Would you like a ride back to John’s?” he asked, texting for a car. The flat was still uninhabitable, but they were working on it.

Sherlock shook his head. “It’s not far.”

Mycroft looked up from his mobile to see Sherlock watching him closely. He raised an eyebrow at him.

Sherlock gave him a soft look for a moment, and then his face closed again and he turned away, walking off into the fog like a wraith, just before the car pulled up.

The car was warm and dry as Mycroft got in. He found something to busy himself with on his mobile for the drive, then quietly thanked his driver before getting out in front of his home.

He took another breath as he walked up to his door and entered the new code.

Something felt off as the door opened. He frowned and held his umbrella at the ready. He doubted it was another attempt to exploit his fear of clowns, but still, one never quite knew.

Quietly, he moved deeper into the house.

There, in the den. He frowned and flipped on a light only to startle the man napping on his sofa.

Lestrade?” What the devil was he doing here. And he was going to have to update his security. Again.

Lestrade sat up and rubbed his eyes, blinking in the light. “Sherlock gave me the code, told me to wait for you.”

“Why on earth would he do that?” Mycroft moved past him, towards his liquor cabinet.

Lestrade smoothly stepped between Mycroft and his objective. “Because he’s worried about you,” he said, honestly. “And so am I.”

“I’m fine, Inspector,” said Mycroft, taking a step to the side, only for Greg to block his way.

“Sherlock told me what happened,” Lestrade said quietly.

Mycroft rolled his eyes. “I suppose tomorrow all the papers will have news of our family crisis,” he said with some bitterness to his tone. “Some great scandal.”

“Hey,” Lestrade grabbed his wrist. The sudden contact startled Mycroft into silence.

“Sherlock told me to look after you, and I am.” Lestrade led him over to the sofa. Mycroft couldn’t help but notice the way it was warmed by the other man’s body. “Nobody else knows,” said Lestrade.

“I have endeavored to keep my family safe,” said Mycroft.

“And you have,” said Lestrade. “But you also need to rest, and a proper night’s sleep.”

“I’m fine,” repeated Mycroft, crossing his arms.

“And I know how you Holmes are,” said Lestrade.

“I and my brother are not entirely similar,” sniffed Mycroft.

“Close enough,” said Lestrade.

Mycroft rolled his eyes and shifted to take his coat off. Suddenly the notebook fell from his pocket onto the floor, falling open and small pieces of paper escaping onto the rug.

Before Mycroft could move, Lestrade was picking it up, gathering the pieces of paper, and decidedly not looking at the contents. Mycroft frowned, surprised by the lack of curiosity. Why did Lestrade always surprise him?

“Thank you,” he murmured politely.

“You’re welcome,” Lestrade set the notebook aside and reached to help him take off the coat.

“Thank you,” said Mycroft again. Lestrade put the notebook in his hands and got up to put the coat and umbrella away. Had he found the coat closet? How long had he been here?

“You should eat,” called Lestrade.

Mycroft set the notebook aside and got up, though he knew that normally the fridge was more a decorative item, he had the feeling that there would be food inside of it this time.

Sure enough, there was a box of takeaway. He took it out, dumped it on a plate, and put it in the microwave, not even bothering to investigate what it was.

Lestrade came back and leaned against the doorway. “You mind if I spend the night?”

“You’ve been here half of it already, so, you might as well.”

“Two A.M. is always an interesting hour,” said Lestrade, following him into the expansive dining room.

Mycroft frowned and looked at his watch. It was that late, wasn’t it? How had it gotten to be so late?

“I’m no doubt keeping you up and away from your duties,” he said, taking a seat.

“Off the next couple days,” said Lestrade, taking a seat and leaving a gap between them.

“Well you may be, but I am not. Always work to be done.” He started eating, more out of rote habit than any actual desire to put food in his mouth.

“When was the last time you took a holiday?” asked Lestrade.

Mycroft scoffed. “Depends on if you count Christmas with my parents as a holiday.”

“Considering what happened that day, I wouldn’t.”

Mycroft inclined his head. And then New Years and then… everything else that had happened. He put the fork down and pushed the plate away. “I’m afraid I can’t.”

“Finish supper or take a holiday?” asked Lestrade.

“Either.” Mycroft wondered why he was even answering his questions.

Lestrade moved down a seat to be next to him. “Couple more bites, yeah? Don’t make me break out the airplane, I used to have to do that with my nephews.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

Lestrade smiled at him and picked up his fork, making semi-passable airplane noises. Mycroft glared at him and snatched the fork back.

“Prefer the choo choo?” asked Lestrade.

Mycroft kept up his glare as he shoveled in a few more bites of food. Lestrade kept smiling at him. Apparently all these years had indeed rendered him some immunity to Mycroft’s glare. Most would be quailing by now.

Lestrade got up and brought him a glass of water. Mycroft ate a bit more than half his plate before pushing it away again.

“Why don’t you go on up and take a shower,” suggested Lestrade.

“I’m not a child,” growled Mycroft.

“No, of course not,” said Lestrade mildly, heading back towards the kitchen with the plate.

Grumbling, Mycroft headed up the stairs as the clock struck 2:30.

He quickly got out of his clothes, avoiding the mirror as he stepped into the shower. He made it fast, going into his bedroom with a towel around his waist and looking for his pajamas.

“Hey, Mycroft….”

He’d forgotten about the open door in his hurry, and now Lestrade was standing behind him as he leaned over an open drawer. With whatever remained of his dignity, Mycroft collected the pajamas and turned to face Lestrade with one hand holding the towel.

Mycroft had expected derision, but instead Lestrade had a look akin to wonder. He frowned as Lestrade stepped into the room and carefully approached him the way one would approach a skittish animal.

“Inspector…?”

“Call me Greg, please,” he said, stopping a few feet away. “You’re gorgeous, do you know that?”

Mycroft scoffed. “You’re growing blind in your old age.”

“Maybe for reading a bit, but I can see you just fine. Emphasis on fine.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes. “Flattery will get you nowhere. Why are you in my bedroom, Inspector?”

“Greg. And I just wanted to let you know I’m camping out in the room next door if you need anything.”

“I doubt it.” Mycroft gave him a look. Lestrade took in the view for a moment longer, then smiled and headed for the door. “Goodnight, Mycroft.”

Hesitating, Mycroft met his gaze. “Goodnight, Gregory.”

Lestrade smiled even broader, if that were possible, then stepped out, closing the door behind him.

Mycroft shook his head and put on the pyjamas. He turned off the light, climbing into bed. He heard Lestrade’s door shut and then the house was quiet.

The darkness quickly closed in around him. When he closed his eyes he heard a single gunshot echoing in a sealed room and his eyes flew open again. He took a breath, than another, before throwing back the blankets and putting his feet on the floor.

He scrubbed his head in hands and stood, moving quietly out of his bedroom. He could faintly hear Greg snoring as he passed his door. The clock struck 3 as he went back down to the study.

Mycroft didn’t bother with a light, he knew the house well enough. He went to the liquor cabinet that he’d been blocked from earlier and poured himself a glass, though he briefly considered just taking the whole bottle.

He took some cigarettes and a lighter from his desk, moved quietly to the back door and let himself out into his garden. The rain had stopped and the moon lit up puddles as clouds moved in front of it.

He settled into the old wooden chair that looked out over the flowers and lit up. In the back of the garden was an old air raid shelter, now mostly used for his gardener to keep supplies. Anderson shelters had saved plenty of lives, and, if he were honest, he took some comfort in the fact that it was there, that if the skies came down again, that he’d have somewhere to go.

If only there was some shelter from the demons in his mind.

It wasn’t as if Mycroft had never seen someone die before. A job like his, he’d ordered his fair share, had his own agents turn up dead. There had been Magnussen. But this was different. This was personal. The Governor wasn’t a bad man, just someone doing his best, as they all did. Eurus had always been a special case.

To his surprise the door opened and closed and Lestrade came out, taking the other chair. He swiped one of Mycroft’s cigarettes for himself.

Mycroft flicked the remains of his own to the side. “Not leaving me alone?” he asked.

“Not with your thoughts, no.”

Mycroft scoffed and sipped his scotch. “What do you even know about it?”

Lestrade looked out at the garden. “Surprised you don’t know. One of my early days as a copper.”

“I’ve read your file, but a man with your career, I haven’t read all of it, no.”

“Pretty early, was still just a patrolman. We got a call about a kid on a roof. We got there just a few minutes too late.”

Mycroft bit his lip. “I’m sorry.”

“I see the worst in my line of work. Can’t dwell on it too much or I’ll go crazy.” Lestrade gave him a soft, sad smile, then reached over and took his hand.

Mycroft was shocked by the touch. He looked up a Lestrade’s, no, Greg’s eyes.

Greg flicked his own cigarette away and leaned closer. “Nobody sees you, do they?”

Mycroft swallowed hard and shook his head. “That is by design,” he said quietly.

“Of course it is. No one sees you, then nobody can hurt you.” Greg’s free hand reached up to cup Mycroft’s cheek.

Mycroft nodded.

“I’ve seen you for a long time, but you’ve always pulled away, thrown up walls. Mycroft, you don’t have to. Not with me.”

“Gregory…” his voice cracked.

Before he could protest, Greg closed the distance and kissed him. Gently and soundly all at the same time. Mycroft sucked in a ragged breath, reaching out to grasp Greg’s arms.

“I’m here,” promised Greg, his own voice a little rough. He kissed Mycroft’s forehead. “When was the last time you slept? Properly.”

“At least two days,” he admitted.

“That’s what I thought. Come on.” Greg tugged him to his feet, led him back inside and up the stairs. He took Mycroft all the way back to his bed, lay him down, and then gathered him against his chest. “Okay?”

“I may still have nightmares,” he said softly.

“I’ll still be here.”

Mycroft sighed, letting go of tension he didn’t realize he was holding. Greg kissed the top of his head and Mycroft snuggled in, eyes closed, letting Greg’s heartbeat lull him to sleep.

**

Sometime much later, Mycroft opened his eyes, surprised to have had a dreamless sleep. He was alone, and going by the light it was late morning. He had a strong suspicion he’d already been called out of work for the day.

Greg reappeared a few minutes later. “Morning, sunshine.”

Mycroft burrowed a little deeper under the covers with grumble, pulling them up to his nose.

Greg sat next to him and gently ran his fingers through his hair. Mycroft couldn’t argue. He found himself starting to get used to Greg’s touch. It was such a rare thing for him, to be physically touched. At least outside a formal handshake.

“I made breakfast,” said Greg, interrupting his thoughts.

“Of course you did,” muttered Mycroft, sitting up and letting Greg’s hand slip away.

“Should I bring it up, or would you like to come downstairs?”

“I’ll come downstairs,” said Mycroft. “Will you join me?”

“Of course,” said Greg. “I’ll give you a minute.” He kissed Mycroft’s cheek and headed out.

So not just at three in the morning, it seemed. Mycroft got out of bed, made it, and then exchanged his pyjamas for a slacks and a soft long-sleeve shirt.

Greg was setting down tea when Mycroft came down. He’d even managed to find flowers from somewhere and put them between the two set places. Mycroft took his head, took a breath and gave Greg a tiny smile. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I hope I got your tea right.”

“I’m sure it’ll be sufficient.” Mycroft took a sip. A bit sweeter than he usually liked it, but tolerable. He picked up his fork and started eating, even without Greg threatening airplane noises.

Greg dug into his own food. Mycroft was comforted by the silence. Sometimes it could be oppressive, but with Greg here, it was fine. Better. As if Greg himself were an anchor, keeping the stormy seas from swallowing him up.

As they finished, Mycroft picked up the plates and carried them into the kitchen to do the dishes. Greg happily dried for him, figuring out where to put them away, humming a bit as he worked.

“Is there a plan for today?” asked Mycroft as they finished.

“I didn’t have one. If you’d like to hang out at home, we can. Or if you’d like to go out, that would fine too.”

Mycroft shrugged. “We could simply watch telly, I suppose. Isn’t that what normal people do?”

Greg smiled. “So I’ve heard.”

Mycroft led him back into the den and pressed a button, an impressively sized television sliding down from where it was hidden. “Ruins the aesthetics if it’s always visible,” said Mycroft as Greg gave a low whistle.

They settled on the the sofa and he opened a drawer under the coffee table and handed Greg the remote.

“Ooh, giving me the power, eh? Well, let’s see what’s on.”

Soon enough they were watching football highlights. Mycroft glanced over at the notebook and picked it up, flipping through it. He tucked the small pieces of paper deeper into it and closed it again. Greg put his arm up on the back of the sofa, inviting.

Swallowing, Mycroft set the notebook down and scooted closer.

“Looks like I lost anyway, here, you pick something.” He handed the remote to Mycroft.

Mycroft flipped through the channel and landed on some terrible looking old B sci-fi movie. “Okay?” he asked.

Greg grinned. “More than.” He held Mycroft a little closer. Mycroft sighed and let himself settle along Greg’s side, craving his presence more than he’d imagined he would.

As the afternoon wore on Mycroft found himself talking and even laughing a bit as he and Greg took apart the ridiculous movie. As it finally ended, Greg leaned in to kiss him gently.

Mycroft sighed softly. “Would you care to go out for dinner? As much as I enjoy your cooking, you shouldn’t be responsible for all of it.”

“Well that’s kind of you.” Greg said.

Mycroft nearly laughed. Kind was never a word applied to him. Greg must have seen something in his eyes because he cupped Mycroft’s cheek, making him look into his eyes. “I mean it, Mycroft. You’re a good man.”

Pulling back, Mycroft turned away. “I’m nothing of the sort.”

Greg moved behind him, cupping his shoulders as he leaned into his ear. “You, Mycroft Holmes, are a good man. You’ve done everything for those you care about it, be it Queen, country or family.”

Mycroft found himself starting to tremble. “You don’t know what you’re saying,” he whispered.

Greg squeezed his shoulders. “I do. I’ve known you almost ten years. I’ve seen you with Sherlock. I may not know half of what you do, but I know enough.”

“You… you can’t.” Mycroft’s voice threatened to crack.

Greg let go of his shoulders to wrap his arms around Mycroft and hold him securely against his chest. “Yes I do.”

Mycroft took a ragged breath. “Gregory…”

“I have you,” whispered Greg.

And just like that Mycroft knew that he was safe, that he was cared for, that here he could let go and nothing would be held against him. He felt the dam break and his ragged breathing turned into a sob he couldn’t contain.

Greg kissed his shoulder and that was the last push he needed. Mycroft hung his head and started to cry, burying his face in his hands as he shoulders shook. He thought of the governor, he thought of Eurus. He thought of all he’d tried and failed to do.

He didn’t know how long he sat there, crying and shaking in Greg’s arms. Greg rocked him gently, saying nothing, but handing him a kleenex when he started to really sniffle. By the time his tears slowed, Mycroft was exhausted and empty.

“Bed,” said Greg gently. “Rest is more important than food right now.”

There was no argument. Mycroft leaned on Greg as he helped him up the stairs and into bed, not even bothering to change. Greg spooned around him, still keeping him secure in his arms as Mycroft slipped into dreamless sleep.

**

When he woke up hours later, Mycroft still felt weary, but better too. He realized what had woken him when Greg stepped in with a tray of food. “I’ll take you up on dinner out later,” he smiled, setting the tray down.

“Thank you,” said Mycroft, voice still raw.

Greg patted his knee. “Just have to do some washing up, call me if you need me.”

Mycroft nodded and realized just how hungry he was. He ate every bite, including the small piece of chocolate cake Greg had included. When he finished he set the tray aside and got up to take a shower. The water was warm and relaxing and he found himself growing drowsy all over again.

When he came out, the tray was gone. It was already dark again, so he changed into to pyjamas. He thought about going downstairs, but exhaustion still clung to his bones, so he lay down and was asleep before he knew it.

**

He woke again in the early hours, finally feeling refreshed. Greg snored softly next to him and he rolled to his side to contemplate the man. Greg was someone he’d been interested in for a long time, so of course, he’d always pushed those feelings away, no matter how much interest Greg had shown.

But now, things were clearly different. Greg had seen him at his darkest, and yet here he still was. And more then that, he’d seen Mycroft through it, steady as a lighthouse. He reached out and carefully ran his fingers through Greg’s hair, for the first time in a long time, feeling hope.

Mycroft kissed Greg’s forehead. He thought about getting up to do some work, but decided to keep the world at bay a little longer. Instead he rolled over and picked up a neglected book from next to his bed and his reading glasses, turning the lamp on low so as not to bother Greg.

**

Greg woke near dawn. Mycroft set his book and glasses aside and scooted down next to him. “Good morning.”

Smiling sleepily Greg pulled him close and kissed him. “Good morning.”

Mycroft kissed him back, feeling the flicker of desire. Greg must have felt the same as he slipped his tongue into Mycroft’s mouth.

Moaning, Mycroft, reached out to wrap his arms around Greg’s neck. It felt right, the last piece of a puzzle falling into place.

Greg pushed the blankets aside and moving over him, slotting his leg between Mycroft’s thighs. With a groan, Mycroft rutted against him, wanting.

“I’ve wanted you a long time,” whispered Greg as he broke the kiss. “Yeah you’re gorgeous, and brilliant and amazing. And so aloof. I wanted to break through, see the man on the other side.”

“Only you, Gregory,” responded Mycroft, leaning up to kiss him.

Greg smiled and pressed him back. Mycroft could feel Greg’s interest against his own thigh. “It’s been a very long time,” Mycroft admitted.

“It’s all right. Let me take care of you.”

Reverently, Greg undressed him. His hands moved along the pale skin, clearly taking it in, fingers and lips worshiping Mycroft as he was bared. All Mycroft could do was surrender, needing this far more than he could put into words.

“Beautiful,” murmured Greg again, leaning back to take him in and pulling his own shirt over his head.

“Take me,” whispered Mycroft, spreading himself open for him. He reached over to the bedside drawer and pulled out lube. While Greg watched he coated his fingers and began touching himself, moaning as his eyes slipped closed.

Greg murmured under his breath, leaning in to kiss the inside of Mycroft’s knee, then slowly up his thigh. Mycroft added another finger, feeling Greg pick up the lube.

He opened his eyes at the crinkle of a condom. “Had those in your drawer too,” said Greg, as he rolled it on and slicked himself.

Mycroft withdrew his fingers and wiped them on the sheets.

Greg didn’t need any further invitation, simply moved forward, kissing Mycroft as he pressed into him. Mycroft wrapped his legs around his waist, encouraging him deeper.

Mycroft kissed Greg back, one hand in his hair, grounding himself. Greg fit him perfectly, moving slowly. It wasn’t even about a race towards climax, simply two men finding comfort and care in one another.

His heart ached with all of it. All his life had been about putting others first. Now, someone wanted to put him first. His erection flagged as tears stung his his eyes all over again.

Greg smiled softly at him. “I'm here,” he promised.

And he was, Mycroft knew that with his whole heart. For once he wasn't alone. For once someone else would keep the demons at bay. It was greatest gift he'd ever been given; a regret he could scratch off the list. He leaned up to kiss Greg again before whispering in his ear. “Thank you.”

Greg smiled at him, thrusting deeply with a soft groan. “I'm yours.”

“And I am yours.” Mycroft squeezed around Greg and felt him come, panting against his shoulder.

Greg worked a hand between them, but Mycroft shook his head. “I’m fine,” he said softly, kissing Greg. He cupped the other man’s cheek and met his eyes. “I’m fine.”

Leaning in, Greg kissed him. “If you insist, but I’m taking care of that later.”

Mycroft smiled at him. “I’ll hold you to it. But right now, just hold me.”

“For the rest of your life, if you’ll let me.”

Mycroft tucked his head against Greg’s shoulder for a moment. “I just might.”

“Good.” Greg carefully pulled out and went to bin the condom. He came out and curled up around Mycroft. Mycroft drifted off to sleep again in his arms, holding Greg, feeling like he’d been adrift forever and had finally found his way home.