On the patio of a restaurant where the rich, famous and beautiful gathered, sipping cocktails and nibbling delectable bites of decadent food, the sun shining brightly and the wind blowing gently…
“I am in agony…”
Dolly giggled at Mycroft, who was being typically dramatic, but doing it behind the heavy shield of his disguise, so it was even cuter than normal.
“No, you’re not. You’re having a grand time with your old mum while your dad has a museum day with your brother and Greg’s off doing his Hollywood stuff.”
“Gregory is enduring countless interviews and other degradations with scarcely a moment to sip water, let alone have lunch. And he simply laughed when I pointed this out, telling me that Mr. Anderson would shove chips into his mouth during their ride from one horrid interview to the next. Laughed! I am convinced California has made him insane.”
“Well, won’t be the first time that’s happened. But don’t forget it’s all old hat to him. And Philip’s ever so good at taking care of Greg. You should buy him a little something to thank him for that.”
“Gregory pays him a princely wage. Gifts are not required.”
“Being nice isn’t ever required, but it’s a fine thing to do, nonetheless.”
“I have no interest in being fine. Or nice.”
“Oh, you said that perfectly! Bette Davis would’ve been proud.”
Dolly giggled loudly as Mycroft gave her a look over the top of his sunglasses, then took a long sip of her colorful, fruity cocktail.
“Bette Davis likely would not have succumbed to a browbeating by her mother to escort her to purgatory.”
“Is that where we are? Wasn’t the name on the door, but alright. I like it, actually. Sort of not what this place is at all, so it’s rather funny, all things considered. Even you have to admit, it’s absolutely brilliant here… all I have to do is open my eyes and there’s a celebrity! None as big as Greg, though, which means I still win at famous-people Top Trumps, but I wouldn’t shove any of them out of my kitchen if they popped round for tea.”
The activity schedule had been carefully, and heatedly, negotiated, Mycroft knew well, but it was still dashed unfair of Anthea to have actually secured a table here today just because Sherlock had won the coin flip and got to spend the day visiting several museums with Father and he had to escort Mummy shopping, sight-seeing, and to lunch. At least, given this was ignorant, illiterate America, Father would undoubtedly discover innumerable inaccuracies in the various exhibit placards, which would have him immediately summoning the closest museum employee to point out the mistake, explain in painstaking detail why it was a mistake, then explain in even more painstaking detail how to correct it, before castigating the carelessness and insult to visitors possessing intelligence and basic knowledge of historical fact. On second thought, perhaps he had gotten the better end of parent-minding the stick…
“And you fit so well here, dear. So handsome and important looking. They treat you just as you like, too. Acted like you weren’t anybody special while making sure you knew they knew you were incredibly special at the same time.”
“The staff have been marginally agreeable.”
“I knew you were pleased. Greg was right about this place. The food’s scrummy and you really feel like a film star sitting about where you can see and be seen. They’re all seeing you, too. I’ve lost count of the number of people giving you a look over because they’ve asked their server who that sexy gent is and find out it’s the world-famous writer Mycroft Holmes, here in Hollywood for the world premiere of his film. They’re being polite about it though and not darting over for your autograph, which is probably why Greg suggested this as a spot for lunch. You can be admired and adored from afar, which is more how you like things. Ooh! There’s Anthea! Doesn’t she look fab and chic?”
Mycroft rolled his eyes at his agent who was strolling towards them like she owned the place and anybody who claimed otherwise was going to lose their throat to a well-placed, sharp-heeled kick. And, of course she was wearing sunglasses. Expensive ones. The fact he was, too, was entirely beside the point. His were nicer, in any case.
“Hello, dear, you’re looking marvy, as always.”
And, doubly of course, she and Mummy had to air kiss. It was likely writ somewhere in Nostradamus’s book of prophecies for precisely this date and time.
“Thank you, Dolly. Your silence is thanks enough, Mycroft darling.”
“I do not appreciate being spoken to in Hollywood lingo.”
“Unless it’s Greg doing it.”
“Naturally. It acceptably counts as jargon of the trade which, while somewhat impenetrable at times, is nonetheless proper and expected.”
“And it makes him tingly.”
Mycroft cut eyes at his mother who was smiling proudly and making a finger wiggle for their server to bring another round of alcoholic delights.
“Thank you, Mummy. By the by, how has your day fared, Anthea? Jettisoned me as a client yet with your treasonous conduct?”
“Like one of those enormous anchors that keeps battleships cemented to one spot, you’re impossible to jettison without a nuclear explosion. But, yes, I did have a couple of productive meetings this morning to line up some potential talent for the new-author imprint the publisher is wagering will grow some future money-makers for their accounts.”
“You found an American writer who can spell? I am most astonished.”
“Says the man who worships Edgar Allan Poe and wrote a love letter to Ray Bradbury.”
“Untrue. It was simply a small note to say how much I admired his work. And I was… much younger then.”
“You were thirty-eight.”
“Your point being?”
“No idea. In any case, you were the one who was bemoaning the predatory and commercial state of publishing and thought someone should give baby novelists a chance to get their start. Well, I’ve set that in motion, including possibly opening a conduit for tilling the graphic novel soil for healthy sprouts on this side of the Atlantic. We already have a few people signed, but it’s been a bit tough getting them to break through, so opening opportunities for exposure was a tidy way of wrapping up the morning’s business.”
“While I languish.”
“While you languish on a gorgeous day with a drink in your hand and nothing more on your shoulders than seeing your mother isn’t kidnapped while strolling along Rodeo Drive or seeing the handprints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater.”
“Is our driver armed?”
“Oh, stop it. But, yes, I think she is.”
“Good, for I have no interest in giving my life protecting Mummy’s virtue when she foolishly bends over to compare her hands to those of Joan Crawford. And I still cannot fathom why it was impossible for Charles to chauffer us about. He is marvelously skilled at trouncing ruffians.”
Anthea and Dolly carefully schooled their expressions away from laughter at Mycroft’s last-line flick of the wrist. The man was more snooty celeb than the snootiest celebrity in existence.
“Because. my dearest son, the star of your film hired him a scandalously-delicious car and he’s taking Martha and Molly for a spin up the coast and having a late lunch at one of those perfect little places that cater to the sort who can afford delicious cars and coastal drives. Tomorrow it’s shopping and the beach, so don’t get any ideas about dragging him into one of your schemes then, either. Let the poor man have his little holiday free from your nonsense.”
Mycroft huffed and took a long sip of his martini, which was a stellar example of the breed, it could not be denied, and decided to blame all of this on his lover. Gregory was not here, so he was a handy scapegoat for this basket of troublesome snakes. Surrounded by the most vapid of the so-called Hollywood set. Besieged by his aspirational agent. Mummy. All would be laid at Gregory’s feet when he returned tonight as damning proof of betrayal and neglect. Fortunately, Gregory was always keen to restore good graces and the door to his hotel suite was next along on the corridor of their very private floor…
“Mr. Holmes, fancy meeting you here.”
Mycroft smiled an impish smile at Greg who was approaching him as if they were casual acquaintances bumping into each other at the entrance of the Huntington Library where completely-coincidental photographers lurked about for shots to run in the entertainment news. They’d have gotten better, and more profitable, snaps if they’d made it to the window of a certain hotel suite last night. And this morning. But the world probably wasn’t ready for that much sexy, so it was for the best the hotel had extremely tight security and spotted paparazzi with the skill of a hawk spotting a tasty mouse.
“Ah, Mr. Lestrade. Care to join me for a look about?”
“I’d love to! Will the rest of your family be joining us?”
“Later, perhaps. They are rather taken by various elements of the collection and gardens, and prying them away from their personal transfixion will take nothing less than the sound of Gideon’s trumpet.”
“Is that what it took to pry you away?”
This impish smile practically lit up the room and several adjacent ones, besides.
“It is. It is an impressive place, Gregory. A well-curated quality collection is always a pleasure. And the gardens… such a beautiful oasis in this accursed land.”
“Then I look forward to you showing me some of the things you’ve seen. I’ve never actually been here, so it’ll be a treat.”
“You are able to remain awhile?”
“A short while. I’ve got a schedule to stick to, but Anderson squeezed in as much time here as he could so I’d have a little time to relax with my favorite writer in the whole wide world.”
“That is me, correct?”
“That is you. And, tomorrow, the evening is free so I can decompress and get some rest before… it happens.”
Mycroft clapped his hands in glee and Greg drank in his lover’s glow of excitement like the finest wine.
“Anthea has provided me with details as they are finalized and… I think I shall enjoy this, Gregory. Not the aspects concerning the press, of course. Or public. Or well-wishers who are too aggressive bestowing their praise, however, the rest is rather stimulating to contemplate.”
“I’m glad to hear it! I talked to Janine today and she’s got Anthea and your mum booked for the whole hair and makeup thing with the person she uses when she’s got a function in Los Angeles. They’ll pretty much go straight from there, looking like queens, to Ground Zero, collecting your dad, Sherlock and John on the way. They’re having their own bit of a spa day, but with my chap who popped in yesterday to get their measurements so they can be fitted for the perfect look. You already have your perfect look, which is the most perfect that perfect can be, so the lads will just help you into it and see your hair is combed and shoes shined. Anderson and me will let down the side, looking like mongrel dogs, as usual.”
“I have never seen you appear as a dog and I was of the impression you would be wearing a tuxedo for the premiere.”
Was he joking? With Mycroft it was impossible to tell.
“I will be wearing a tuxedo and a handsome one, at that. Not as handsome as yours, though.”
“I agree. And you’re looking very handsome today, as well.”
Mycroft wore color well, but the sky-blue button-up made his eyes gleam like sapphires. Which married very well with his shy, pleased smile.
“Thank you, Gregory. I worried this exceeded my threshold for vibrancy, but decided that in this hedonistic land, I could wear naught but peacock feathers and would be considered sedate and demur.”
Greg nodded solemnly, making note of the various people milling quietly around them, enjoying the ambience while defiantly not wearing peacock feathers.
“It’s a bold choice, that’s true, but it definitely works for you.”
“It does, that is true. And…”
“I will admit, though it is a terribly difficult thing to do, that there are aspects of this hellscape that are less hellacious than I predicted.”
And those are exactly what you will continue to enjoy, my lovely man. Only a peaceful, happy, exciting experience for the man I love. Nothing else allowed. So sayeth Greg, and he’s got final word on the subject, so no naysaying you there in the back. I see you, so fuck off until you can be a bit more supportive.
“I’m glad you’ve found at least some morsels of fun in this corner of the world. I hate it and love it, depending on the day. We don’t have much time together on this trip, but one day we’ll come back and I’ll show you some other non-hellacious places and things to do I’ve found over the years. Nothing but hell-free fun for the world’s greatest mystery writer!”
“I normally abhor travel, but… but I think I might grow fond of the practice if it is a shared one.”
Look at your hopeful smile, Mycroft Holmes. Baby steps, but they’re getting you there one by one…
“Then share it we shall.”
“Will we have a private plane?”
A monster has been created. Wearing a hopeful smile. It was a tiny, adorable, plush-doll monster, though, so fear factor equaled naught and kiss factor equaled a billion. Payment due when they were back at the hotel tonight, with the lights turned low, candles burning softly and the world belonging only to the two of them and the love they celebrated…
“If you’d like, that can probably happen.”
“I much preferred that situation to the alternative. Might we be assured of choice of upholstery color and air fragrance?”
“Perhaps I should simply purchase a plane. Charles, despite his recently-acquired sluggardly ways, would likely enjoy learning to fly it and that would ensure all travel would meet precisely my specifications.”
“Well… do you have any idea how much planes cost? Or the maintenance expenditures you have to make? Fuel?”
“I am most skilled at financial negotiation.”
“I tell you what, when we have the chance, I’ll take you plane shopping and you can get an idea of what’s what.”
“An excellent suggestion. I have little information on the subject and that, of course, would need to be rectified before I make a final choice. However, my coffers will be suitably enhanced by my agreed-upon percentage of my film’s revenue, so the expense will not be a ravaging one.”
“Oh, you think you’re stepping into a fortune, do you?”
“I do. My remuneration was a hard-fought element of the contract I signed and, given the inevitable success of my film, I predict a handsome windfall shall land in my proverbial lap.”
He’s beaming like a spotlight. Could he be any cuter? Could anything be cuter? Maybe a fluffy duckling. Wearing a bonnet. No, not even that could take first prize.
“Inevitable success… that sounds optimistic.”
“It is. For I am.”
Mycroft’s adamant tone and small jutting forth of his chin married well with the confident gleam in his eye, all things that made Greg fall more in love with the man, something which he wouldn’t have predicted as possible. Even if Mycroft was fluffy and wearing a bonnet.
“Good. I am, too. And, day after tomorrow, our confidence will be rewarded when everyone is lavishing praise on us for a fantastic, amazing, extremely smart and serious film.”
“Giddy! I am giddy with anticipation!”
“Might that giddiness extend to giving me a professional-quality tour of this fine place?”
“It most certainly shall and gleefully, at that.”
Mycroft darted forward, stopped, turned around and made a ‘follow me’ motion at Greg, who laughed, bowed and darted after him. Yes, this interlude was actually publicity work but he was going to enjoy every moment of it. Then, tomorrow evening… Charles wasn’t the only one who had a car hired for their little holiday. A certain actor had one, too, though his was an incredibly nondescript thing that would gain them absolutely no notice as he took his writer for an evening drive where they could talk, laugh and just might have a chips and shakes stop along the way. It wouldn’t be their chips and shakes, but they would do in a pinch. When one was motoring about a hellacious hellscape, allowances had to be made…
“John, where is my brother?”
“On the roof.”
“Preparing to jump?”
“Very well, I suppose we’ll know soon enough, but I’d rather have him not usurp the day’s news via a messy and attention-seeking death. Father! Kindly set down your book, tempt your son away from leaping to his doom and make yourself ready to leave.”
That his father didn’t jump to his feet to carry out orders didn’t surprise Mycroft in the slightest, but it did vex him and today was not a day for vexation.
“Did you not hear me?”
“I believe my reply to your shout serves as answer to your question.”
“Oh my god… go and get Sherlock from the roof and prepare to leave! You cannot be late for the tailor and you know well how difficult it will be, even with an on-time arrival, to complete all necessary tasks before the car comes to collect you. Sherlock is ever a bother for things such as this and I shall blame you, fully, for any tardiness to my premiere.”
Bertie pointed looked at John, narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips slightly as if falling deep into thought.
“Sherlock, as you may remember, has a partner. Said partner is standing 1.4 meters from you and, from a cursory glance, appears to retain both his limbs and his senses. He is better suited, both by conjugal proximity and egress proximity, to perform your errand. I want to finish this chapter of my book.”
“The chapter shall be there when we return.”
“By happy coincidence, it is also here now.”
“California has corrupted you, Father, and I shall not stand for two corrupted parents in my life. I simply shall not.”
Anderson stood slightly out of sight of the open door of Mycroft’s hotel suite and contemplated carefully his life choices. At least Greg was now sufficiently housetrained to get himself sorted for public events, with only the occasional frantic text when something unexpected arose, like a spot on his nose or a lost shoe, but this new kennel of puppies was far away from that degree of readiness.
Creeping inside with as much stealth as he could muster, Anderson grabbed John by the collar, dragged him into the corridor and beat back John’s argument that watching the Holmes family bicker was greater entertainment than pulling Sherlock off a grimy roof, though he agreed wholeheartedly with the basic point, and spurred him into finding his other half, putting a boot up his arse and getting him down here for final checks before the great parade began.
One car taking Greg for a few pre-premiere events. One car taking Dolly and Anthea for a leisurely late breakfast, then for a combination spa session/dress the queens session with Janine. One car taking Sherlock and John for their own leisurely late breakfast and a strictly-timed 45 minutes at the morgue so Sherlock could compare it to his personal favorite in London, and to put him in a slightly more amenable mood for the rest of the very long day. Said car would then deliver them to be dressed and groomed in preparation for the big event. A final car would wait for himself, Mycroft and Bertie while Bertie played documentary filmmaker and chronicled the early-ish morning preparations for the great Mycroft Holmes. That car would then deliver Bertie to intersect with Greg to accompany the actor through a few morning activities while this overworked agent saw Mycroft with a good breakfast and his own strictly-timed 45 minutes at The Last Bookstore before joining the other males for the great dressing adventure, Mycroft’s own tuxedo having been delivered last night to the shop for a final check for any problems that may have arisen in transport.
THEN it was a train of cars to the venue where either all hell would break loose or things would go smoothly. There really wasn’t any in-between with this lot. Either way, the press would love it…
“Mycroft? You can’t stay hidden forever.”
Greg smirked at the ‘away with you’ hand that shot out from behind the dressing area currently housing his lover since it wasn’t Mycroft’s hand but looked suspiciously like Sherlock’s.
“Let your partner in crime finish dressing you stupid actor.”
“Thank you, Anderpander, for wafting your garlic breath in my direction.”
“I haven’t had any garlic today, you prick.”
“Then you’ve got a condition. A stinky one. Any emergency notices yet?”
“Nope. Studio chatter is the normal racing in circles, but no grenades have been lobbed yet. Looks like everything is on schedule, all this’s and that’s present and accounted for, planned tidbits leaked to various news outlets…”
“Any word on the ladies?”
Anderson took out his phone and happily showed Greg the photo Anthea had sent him of her, Dolly and Janine sipping mimosas while having a mani-pedi.
“They’re having fun.”
“Loads of it. I was checking a few things with Anthea when Dolly’s hired treasure chest arrived and that was a bit of excitement I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
“Dolly got her diamonds. Well done her.”
“She didn’t even bat an eye giving up her aquamarine pendant for the day, that’s how flabbergasted she was.”
“She absolutely adores the earrings that she doesn’t know Mycroft is buying for her as a memento of her big day in Hollywood. Gorgeous 1940’s vintage things, very glamorous but won’t look ridiculous if she wears them out for a nice dinner with Bertie or her sons.”
“When I peeked back there, I noticed Bertie giving his tie pin and cufflinks a close inspection and an appreciative nod.”
“Excellent. I did see those and they very much looked his style, even though he might fuss as much as my mum over the cost. Speaking of Mum, she phoned.”
“Wishing you luck?”
“Reminding me that I represent more than myself now and not to behave like a prat.”
“That’s good advice. I’m surprised they didn’t want to fly out for this one, though.”
“I asked, but they’ve had their fill of this sort of thing. Besides, Dad’s got plants coming today and that takes priority.”
“He does like giving your mum a lovely garden.”
“That he does. They’ll have the telly on, though, and get the gist of it all. Besides, Bertie did an interview with them before we left for his cinematic extravaganza and they actually liked that. Made them feel like they were contributing to the grand gala besides bringing my raggedy self into this world.”
“Well, then… older generation sorted. And it appears we all need to get sorted because here’s Wiggins and that’s our cue to leave. Admittedly anytime he shows up is a cue for other people to leave, but it has special significance here.”
“Fuck you with a rudely-shaped carrot, Anderson.”
“Ready for your contractually-obligated snaps, Mr. Photographer? I’m surprised your camera still works after being dazzled by Dolly’s diamonds.”
“Mrs. Holmes is looking very classy and tasteful, I’ll have you know, unlike you who looks like the rudely-shaped carrot you fuck yourself with. They’re about ten minutes behind me, so gather up whoever’s left alive and get ready to go.”
“Good. Very good, actually. Crowds are huge, so says Henry who’s been conscripted to relay questions between the press scrum and studio people since he’s Mr. Special Access Boy. Attendees are arriving, too, and getting the energy up good and high. As predicted, it’s A-list from both sides of the pond and that’s already racing through the press who are drooling over the star power and interview potential. And all looking surprisingly elegant for something as big as this. Seems everyone got the memo to leave the ridiculous kit at home and drag out what would make their mothers proud.”
Greg heaved an enormous sigh of relief because it could easily have gone another way, even with the behind the scenes word going out that purple tuxedos and dresses nine hundred leagues long and made of tinfoil were not the uniform of the day.
Yes, his heart skipped a beat hearing Mycroft’s voice, but fuck anyone who thought that was silly.
“Are you prepared?”
“Got it. Hold on, let me get in best viewing position… ok. Yes, I am prepared for you.”
Mycroft stepped out from where he’d been getting dressed and Greg’s heart skipped another beat. His man was so utterly amazing…
“That is perfect… absolutely, positively perfect. You look exactly you’ve stepped out of a film, yourself! Oh, that’s a sight, that is. Just wonderful…”
“A fat penguin is still a penguin. Except fat.”
“And you, Sherlock, are horrible.”
Though he hadn’t besmirched his very nice tuxedo yet, so credit where credit was due.
“I, Lestrade, am not horrible. I am oppressed by this entire pantomime and Mycroft’s deluded belief he is Douglas Fairbanks.”
John flicked Sherlock’s ear, then smoothed the lock of hair that had been disturbed by the flicking. Must look nice for the cameras. He and Sherlock wouldn’t be doing the red carpet walk proper, because there was far too much opportunity for Sherlock to do something ridiculous, but they would do a quick version of it and linger a moment with Greg, Mycroft and his parents before moving along to enjoy the amenities inside the cinema, where Charles, Molly and Mrs. Hudson were already indulging, having been the ones who delivered Henry to his assigned duties and had texted to say the food was incredible, the drink was unlimited and any swag bags left behind were to be stolen because they were gold.
“Douglas Fairbanks Senior or Junior, Sherlock?”
“Only you would ask that question, Father.”
“Your response did not address the content of the question I posed.”
Greg cut eyes and Anderson and John, all of whom silently agreed that Bertie Holmes was going to set many pensioner hearts aflutter, first and foremost his wife’s, because the man cut a fine figure in his vintage-style tuxedo, specifically chosen to demonstrate that Mycroft’s acorn didn’t fall far from his dad’s mighty oak, but in no manner whatsoever shade his little sapling’s moment in the sun. Besides, anything fashioned after 1965 just would look weird on Bertie Holmes. The universe had declared it so halfway through the Big Bang and there was no changing things now.
“Your spittle also does not address the content of the question I posed.”
If the ladies’ driver hadn’t stepped inside to announce their arrival, this easily could have gone on all day, which would not have made Anderson’s schedule in the least happy. Time to commando and get his team in motion.
“Ok, off we go. Greg’s done this before but for the rest of you, wait until the driver opens your door to step out and it may take a short while for that to happen since the press is going to focus heavily on who just got out of their car and we give that a minute or so to die down before that car moves off and the next one rolls in. First car is me, Greg and Janine and that will take more than a minute or so, but we’ll move that car along so the second, with Mycroft and Anthea, can come up and Mycroft can get his arrival, then share some friendly hellos and good lucks with his leading talent. They’ll start along the walk of death while the next car arrives with Mycroft’s family who Mycroft will wait to greet. Sherlock and John will linger a second, then start forward, linger another second with Greg and Janine, then continue on while Mycroft, Bertie and Dolly do their walk of death, making certain to do some friendly chatting with Greg and Janine, lots of smiles and laughs if you please. Then Bertie and Dolly can slow walk it inside, stopping to chat as desired, Anthea will be steering that ship, and Mycroft will wow the crowd with the three prepared stops we’ve already rehearsed with friendly press and some smiling and waving to the crowd. Greg and Janine will do the heavy lifting for crowd pleasing, but after our circus has come to town, the rest of the cast, director, other high-level contributors, etc. are going to be arriving so they’ll also be working the fans. Firth is going to do his own smiling and laughing with Greg and Janine, Greengrass will, too, not to mention all the various faces that have been arriving and will continue to arrive after us, so… you begin to see why we start all of this so fucking early in the day. By the time everyone’s inside, there’s still various people wanting to say a few things and introductions, then the film itself, then the press and crowds afterwards and the parties, only your brief appearance at your publisher’s gathering, Mycroft, no changes there, and waiting for the first reviews… it’s going to be a long day. Good luck, everyone!”
Greg gave Mycroft a pinkie squeeze and smiled encouragingly.
“I… perhaps less so than I was.”
“The only things you should take from that long-winded blather is that Anderson likes the sound of his own voice, he’s got this planned down to the tiniest detail and you’ve got eyes on you the whole time so, at any point, give your signal and you’ll be escorted inside away from the madding crowd. Remember your signal?”
“Tap the right side of my nose three times, then sniff.”
“And that will set Anderson, Anthea, Henry or Wiggins into motion. You remember your ultra-secret special signal?”
“It’s just between you and me. If you need me, just… walk up and poke me in the back. Try it.”
Mycroft looked puzzled, but extended his finger and poked Greg squarely in the back.
“Perfect! That way, I’ll know that what you need is me. Then you and I will have a nice chat that I’ll play a monkey for so the press will lap it up, but you’ll have my full attention.”
“Oh… that is helpful to know. I… I am determined that I will have no need for it but…”
“But things happen and that’s why we plan for it. And, along those lines… none of your existing specimens would work without marring the line of your fine garments, but this little one nobody even noticed and I’ve had him all along.”
Greg reached into his pocket and withdrew a clear crystal sphere, no bigger than a marble, that he rolled between his thumb and forefinger.
“Even the one I gave you to bring to the studio is too big for today, but this teeny fellow should do the trick. Won’t bulge your pocket when you don’t need him, but he’ll be here to fiddle with when you do. Just stick your hand in your pocket and there he is!”
Mycroft reached out and made sure that only Greg could see his misty eyes as he took the little sphere, rolling it for a few seconds as Greg had done before pocketing it with a smile.
“It is perfect, Gregory. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome! Now… shall we?”
“We shall. And I anticipate glory in our future.”
“Loads of it.”
“Glorinormous amounts of it.”
“Yes! Oh my god, that’s brilliant.”
“And, so the glory begins.”
“Think it’ll continue to me winning an Oscar this year?”
“I thought an artist cared not for such rewards.”
“True, but I’ve got an empty place on my dresser after Sherlock killed my Danger Mouse figure.”
“Then let us keep a hopeful thought.”
Well, that hopeful thought came to naught. He hadn’t won an Oscar for that role.
Just a nomination. And a Golden Globe. And BAFTA. And Critics Choice Award. And vindication. Acknowledgement. People had to admit that Greg Lestrade had acting chops and the film positively dripped glowing reviews. Janine kicked her way out of being the brunette bimbo and into serious films and he’d punched his way out of his own paper sack so he was getting scripts of all sorts now. Still plenty of his usual fare, but other things, too, that he’d taken and done some amazing work with, if he did say so himself.
He had, however, won that coveted golden statue for the next Diogenes Bell film. Even Mycroft admitted the second book in the series was better than the first and the film brought that extra bit of polish to the screen. He didn’t keep his glittery prize on his dresser, though, because Mycroft adored seeing it prominently placed in the sitting room when he visited London, which was surprisingly often given the Oscar-winning actor Greg Lestrade was frequently found visiting his dearest friend Mycroft Holmes at the Holmes country residence that even the most relentless paparazzi had given up visiting because it was all so terribly boring and nobody, not for money, drugs or whatever, had any salacious stories about the high-profile chums to share. They could be seen riding along in Holmes’s baffling golf cart, puttering around the gardens, acting out scenes in one of Holmes’s books, but where was the filthy shagging in the bushes! Nowhere. Loud parties and drunken revelry? None. Boring. Same in London. Boring. Besides, wasn’t Greg having it on with that new little starlet he met while filming Fire in the Desert? Yeah, that was it… at least this week.
Blah, blah, blah. He and Mycroft were the ultimate old, boring married couple and it was the greatest thing in the world. He kept working, Mycroft kept writing, they were together whenever they wanted to be, which was more often than he’d predicted, even with Mycroft’s much-needed alone time, and he knew real married couples who saw far less of each other than they did. Greatest. Thing. In. The. World.
And wasn’t Mycroft having a gem of a time with his new book series. Book serieses… seres?... whatever the fuck the plural of series was, he was having a ball. The number of awards his work with Henry and Wiggins won was eye-watering and it really gave Henry his start as a novelist… second book due out in the summer, than you very much… opened new eyes to Wiggins’s work and provided his Mycroft another outlet for his creativity. And, if he was honest, gave Mycroft his own bit of vindication that his talent could reach other readers than his norm something which, and this was still a huge secret, gave his lover the courage to collaborate with Henry again, this time on a book about the history of British mystery writing, which was Mycroft’s toe dip back into his first love and one his dad was eagerly facilitating with lots of the fiddly research work that took a real expert to dig up. Or, more importantly, an expert who adored that sort of thing and would have been very put out if his offer of help had been refused by the authors in question.
Not that Bertie had ages of time on his hands, mind you, what with his media empire, which he steadfastly maintained, though he had taken a step back to let appointed mentees handle some of the productions under, naturally, his strict supervision. But, it kept quality high and, importantly, gave him more time with his lovely wife who had decided that visiting London with greater frequency was a grand thing, what with her new connections to the entertainment world that got her and Bertie tickets to shows, cocktail afternoons with her London group of ‘girls’ and a seat at various events that let her wear her new earrings and stuff her madly-loved husband into his tuxedo with cufflinks and tie pin. And it gave her more chance to scrutinize both her sons love lives to ensure all was up to spec. No messing about on Dolly’s watch! Nip little problems in the bud because nobody wants repeats of past issues, either from Sherlock or Mycroft, and if that meant she had to endure London, with its champagne, caviar and diamonds, then so be it.
And Sherlock needed his watching, too. Not for any new reasons, just the same old ones. Working dangerous cases with John and, on occasion, doing a bit of consulting work that Anderson arranged for him. Since he cared little about money, except when he was wresting it from his brother or effective brother-in-law, production companies could hire him for less than one of their normal experts for various questions about crime, detective work or science and, for smaller outfits, that was worth putting up with his nonsense. Further, with John usually coming along to ensure Sherlock didn’t try to take over all technical aspects of production, a little free medical consultation came along with the price, giving more than a few independent films a better quality representation of wounds, diseases or surgery scenes than they’d otherwise have.
“Gregory? Oh, are you looking at that again?”
Your smile when you see our memory book, Mycroft Holmes, puts mine to shame. Nearly five years together and your smile is still the most beautiful thing these eyes have ever seen.
“Of course! Gotta add these snaps from the other night, don’t I? Your first Dagger Award! And you collected it personally!”
Which had set the crime and mystery worlds aflame again because, with beautiful consistency, his Mycroft still eschewed publicity and public events like the plague though, with sufficient vaccination beforehand, he could stand a little infection once a year or even twice if the cause was good enough. Such as, for example, the first of an award he’d never won before, which had rankled like a pebble in his shoe.
“It was a soul-destroying experience.”
“Pfft! Everything went according to script, including the actual script for your speech, and you did a grand job. Standing ovation! All those crime writers, and your mum, on their feet just to celebrate your brilliance.”
“As is right and proper, however, I missed my television program because of it.”
“You recorded it and we watched it when we got home.”
“It was not, however, live.”
“It wasn’t ever.”
“It was live when they were filming it.”
“Which was, if I recall, this past winter.”
“Your point being?”
Greg laughed then patted the arm of his chair for Mycroft to have a seat.
“My point being I love you and I hope you never, ever change.”
“I doubt I shall, but I am happy to know my command of reason still appeals to you.”
“Command of reason… it’s one of your most stimulating features. Our film ready?”
“Soon. Mrs. Hudson was delayed in preparing our popcorn because of… him.”
“Are we certain it’s a him?”
“Molly has inspected and verified he possesses testicles.”
“A him it is! Tom the cat, not… Sue the cat.”
“Its name is not Tom. It is Greebo.”
“You thought that up right here and now.”
“I most certainly did not.”
“When did you think it, then?”
“Last Tuesday, but it was due to a lost wager. I requested Mrs. Hudson prepare a mousseline sauce for the asparagus as I fancied something with a bit of citrus to it and she said I was thinking of sauce maltaise and I told her she was incorrect and…”
“You made a cooking wager with Mrs. Hudson?”
“I had researched it! For Death Comes to Dinner I researched the various sauces and… I confused the two. They both start with an ‘M’ and it has been a number of years since that book was published and… I had to name the blasted cat as my penance.”
The blasted cat had adopted the house three months ago and had a hate-hate relationship with the homeowner. At least, that was what Mycroft liked people to believe, though he also probably thought nobody fathomed out who set out dishes of food for it when he thought no one was looking and let the mog into the kitchen when Mrs. Hudson was out so it could indulge in the warmth and some tasty meat while said homeowner enjoyed a quick cup of tea and the local newspaper which he also thought nobody knew about him reading. A certain actor had 10 quid on the cat being openly adopted in four more weeks, though Molly thought it closer to two and had a vet appointment booked in preparation.
“And you chose Greebo.”
“Originally, I chose Ulthar, in honor of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Cats of Ulthar, but Mrs. Hudson correctly noted that the name denoted the collective, not a single cat, per se. Also… it lacked a certain ‘cuteness’ factor that she felt was required for the mewling beast. As you have, of late, reminded me of Sir Terry Pratchett’s works, I felt this an appropriate appellation for there is little doubt this feline is of the most nefarious sort.”
The nefarious sort was small, grey and had bright green eyes that positively twinkled when you paid it some attention. Mycroft had fallen in love with it at the first meow.
“Greebo it is, then. Evil sod.”
“Verily, that is the case. However, our nibbles should be ready very soon, so if you wish to finish here, we may begin the rest of our evening.”
“Oh, I don’t know… by the time I kiss each picture and coo over it, could be dawn! I’ll set this aside for now and content myself with chiding Mrs. Hudson for her gambling while she gets our popcorn ready.”
“Chide gently, Gregory, lest she take revenge.”
“Getting the oil to popcorn ratio wrong?”
“Or failing to fully melt the butter so there are… globs.”
“Not the globs!”
“I daresay she would do that and more besides.”
“My heart couldn’t take it.”
“Then let us tread lightly.”
“I’ll compliment her dress so she’ll take extra-special care of us.”
“It is magenta, Gregory.”
“And that’s… bad?”
“It is very nearly purple.”
“Which is bad.”
“Today, it is not as bothersome as it might be on another occasion, but it is a source of mild agitation, nonetheless.”
“Then I’ll not compliment the dress and both of us will know it’s our bit of revenge for her being an agitator. Likely on purpose.”
“Excellent! Shall I inform her of the slight?”
“Nah, it’s more fun when it’s secret.”
“And we do cherish our fun, do we not?”
“We do, which is why we have so much of it.”
Greg held up his pinkie, which was quickly locked with Mycroft’s who was pulled along towards the kitchen and their next round of fun. Which, Mycroft knew very well, would lead to another, then another, then another… but, that was simply the norm when one was in love, was it not? It certainly was the case for him and his dearest Gregory. He had a chart that demonstrated this phenomenon clearly and with unassailable statistical significance, so the point was easily, and mathematically proved…