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A Tangled Web

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He could tell just by watching Lestrade that the Detective Inspector was waiting for the hammer to fall. Sherlock caught him more than once checking the news for whatever story that Magnusson had threatened to drop. Mycroft obviously knew, but he wasn’t talking. It was clear as day that Greg was considering what to do, perhaps even stating publically whatever Magnusson was blackmailing him with. Sherlock kept him busy with cases and harassing him to keep his mind off such a stupid stunt without letting it be known that was what he was doing.

While he would never admit to liking Mycroft, Sherlock wasn’t about to let what his brother did be in vain. Nor would he admit that it was in repayment because what the man had done had stopped his own drastic plans.

It really was terribly obvious that Lestrade was his brother’s ‘goldfish’. As if Mycroft would ever go to such extremes for anyone else! There was an awkward atmosphere now whenever the two were in the same square block and it was starting to grate on his nerves. Whatever Mycroft had told Lestrade when he woke up in the man’s bed had changed things.

“What are you frowning about?”

He looked up from his laptop at John. The doctor was cradling a cup of tea and he honestly seemed wearier than he’d ever seen him. He hadn’t spoken with Mary for three months now, ever since he’d found out that she had shot Sherlock.

“Nothing.” He closed the laptop in a casual manner. “I’ve just closed the Magnusson case.”

John blinked. “What? How?”

“I’ve spoken with Mycroft, gave him some evidence. I assume that Mycroft will arrest him or something. Either way, boring. He won’t be bothering anyone again.”

Sherlock didn’t think John bought it, but the beauty of admitting it right then when his friend was sleep-deprived and stressed meant he wouldn’t care enough to look into it. And perhaps, just maybe, he was abusing John’s trust by lying, but much like how Mycroft would never let it be known to Greg what actually happened, he couldn’t tell John the truth either.

“You’re not really going to tell me what happened, are you?” Before Sherlock could argue, John shrugged. “You know, I can’t bring myself to care. Somehow he managed to ruin everything, so if he’s sitting in solitary confinement somewhere drooling on himself, seems like justice to me. I feel like I should be more upset than I am, though.”

“You’re just tired,” Sherlock told him. “You slept approximately three hours last night, and two and a half the night before that.”

The doctor gave him a skeptical look, but for whatever reason, let himself be mollified. He turned and dropped down in his usual chair. “I suppose that’s one case I shouldn’t blog about then?”

“Mycroft’s people might take issue with it,” he said blandly. “You’re welcome to write about it anyway.”

John’s fingers twitched, but he didn’t reach for the laptop. “I…can’t bring myself to. It’s too much because it all ties back to Mary. God, Sherlock, it feels like my entire relationship with her was a lie.”

Sherlock kept his expression even as he listened, resisting the urge to say ‘it was’. Mary had created her backstory and her life and kept it up for two years. It was enough that it could make someone wonder whether or not her personality was fabricated too, and for John who valued the person over the body, that was a great betrayal.

“Are you going to look at the thumb drive?”

There was a moment of silence before, instead of answering, John asked, “Have you?”

“Yes.”

“Then no.”

His eyebrows rose to his hairline in surprise. “Why not?”

“Because you’ve seen all there is to know about her and I don’t. One of us knows her and that’s enough. It lets me decide based on the past two years and not on who she was.”

“…It does?” he said, mystified. “How?”

“It just does.”

The thing that he didn’t want to tell John was how he really felt about Mary. Honestly, he didn’t really have any feeling for her at all good or bad originally. Reading her file was as easy and detached as any other. What made him dislike her was how what she had done affected John. He knew she loved him dearly, but he would never forgive her for the heartache her actions had caused.

That didn’t stop him from trying to push John to Mary, though. His time away had made Sherlock see that, truly, Mary was better for John. He was safer with her than with Sherlock, who couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t hurt him. Besides, John was so worried about being ‘straight’ for people that it would make him happier to be that way, wouldn’t it?

Sherlock knew that if he pushed for something romantic, it was unlikely that John would say no. He knew John cared that much about him and had that deep, depth of feeling that could be called ‘love’ even if he didn’t recognize it. Yet it was probably the worst decision that John could make in choosing him. He had told the truth in his best man speech and nothing had changed.

“You really don’t mind me staying here, right, Sherlock?”

John’s words broke the comfortable silence between them. He smiled a little. “No. Have you ever known me not to speak my mind if it was something I didn’t like?”

That actually made his friend smile, a rare image as of late. “Not really. In fact, sometimes I could kill you for it.”

It was tempting to let that quiet come back as before, but Sherlock couldn’t let it be. “John… You know you don’t have to leave if you don’t want to.”

“That’s good to know, but is that the beginning of the kick-out speech?”

“No,” he said, knowing that John was trying to make a joke, but the underlining question was serious and clear. “I’m just saying that it might be…good…to talk to Mary.”

“You believe her?”

“When she said she loved you? Yes.”

“I just don’t know if I love her. I don’t know if the woman I loved was ever real.”

“What would you do if you didn’t go back?”

“I don’t know. Stay here maybe? Stay separated? Get a divorce? I don’t know. I already know what you think.”

Sherlock honestly wasn’t sure what possessed him to say the words, but they were out before he could take them back. That’s what John did to him. “No, you don’t.”

John blinked at him and set his cup down, leaning forward. “What do you think? I probably don’t have to say this, but be honest.”

“I think she loves you deeply. I think she hurt you very badly and I don’t like her because of it. I think she’s safe for you.”

“Safe?”

“She won’t cheat on you. You can be assured that she wouldn’t do anything further to jeopardize your relationship. She’s a known quantity and predictable.”

John was staring at him now and he shifted uncomfortably. “So…despite not liking her, you’re pushing me toward her over someone else because of stability.”

“I suppose you could put it like that.”

“Sherlock…”

He stood up, wishing he had a case so that he had an excuse to leave the flat, but they both knew he had nothing on right then. So instead, he moved to his lab in the kitchen and sat at the stool, pulling the microscope toward him.

Only to have it pushed away by John, who had followed right on his heels. “Sherlock, we’re not done. Who are you pushing me away from?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, John.”

“I think you do, and I think I know who. Since there are two people in this world that are the most important to me—”

“John, don’t say it.”

“—you’re pushing me toward Mary and away from you,” John finished resolutely.

There was a long silence between them and Sherlock took the opportunity to do something he rarely needed to do: gather courage. He bolstered himself emotionally and looked up at John. While he took in all the minute details of his flatmate’s expression, he dared not deduce what it meant because if he was wrong, and there were a few times that Sherlock had been wrong, then…

“If Mary wasn’t here when you came back, what would you have done, Sherlock?”

“But Mary was here, so there isn’t any point—”

“Answer the damn question, Sherlock.”

“I might have kissed you.”

“But not now?”

“John—”

“No, Sherlock. I’ve got what I need for now.”

And just like that, John moved away and quietly went into his room, closing the door behind him.

-0-

Sherlock could almost see the frown on his brother’s face as he picked up the phone. “What is it, Sherlock? I’m quite busy at the moment.”

“Tell whatever President you’re talking to that you can call them later.” He leaned back in his chair and braced his feet up on his desk. John was at the hospital, so he had it on speaker phone. He’d dragged his laptop in his lap, only half concentrating on updating his website.

“What do you want?”

“Well, you do owe me.”

“I thought I’d made that abundantly clear. Am I to assume that you have your request?”

“Maybe. What did you say to Lestrade?”

The confusion in his voice made Sherlock smirk. “When?”

“When he woke up. Things are different between you two.”

“I apologized for drugging him, but I felt it was necessary that he get some sleep. That’s all.”

“And he didn’t find it strange or awkward when he woke up in your bed?”

There was a moment of silence and Sherlock imagined his brother shifting in his seat. “Perhaps he did, but it’s hardly important. Can we get to the point, Sherlock?”

“Fine. I want you to tell Lestrade you’re in love with him and you want to date him.”

“…This is your request?”

“No, of course not. I’m not going to cash in that favor for something like that.”

“And you think that I’ll do it just because you say so?”

“No.” Sherlock felt himself grinning fiercely. “You’ll do it because if you don’t, I will and do you really want your little brother telling your crush about your feelings in the most detail-ridden explanation possible?”

“…You wouldn’t dare.”

“Well if you feel that way, then take your chances. Have a good day, Mycroft.”

“Wait.”

His finger, hovering over the end call button, paused. “Yes?”

“Fine, but I’ll do it my way.”

“So long as you do it, I don’t care how. Just keep in mind that I’ll know if you haven’t. I’m giving you one month.”

“And your favor?”

“Stored safely away. Now go away.”

“You were the one that called me.”

He ignored the truthful comment and ended the call, cursing internally. As much as he hated talking to Mycroft, it was better than sitting here and stewing about what was going on in John’s head.

-0-

Lestrade studied Mycroft across the table from him. This was their third lunch since he’d woken up in the man’s house and he wasn’t sure where this was going, but at least it seemed to be going somewhere. Mycroft was sipping at his drink, seeming the perfect gentleman and he had to admit that he looked good enough to eat. Greg had never denied his desire for the politician, at least to himself, and even though he never acted on it, he wondered if his ex-wife had picked up on it in the years they’d known each other.

“Mycroft.”

The man looked at him and Greg had to fight not to drown in that intelligent gaze. He had, by no means, considered himself a stupid man, but whenever Mycroft’s eyes were on him, it felt as if he lost higher brain functions. “Yes?”

“What did you do?”

“About?”

“There hasn’t been a peep about…what I told you. No word from Magnusson or on the news. I asked you not to do anything to cover it up—”

“And I haven’t, I assure you. From all reports, Charles Magnusson has gone on a trip out of the country. America, I believe, or at least that was the last I heard about the matter.”

His eyes narrowed a bit, but there was nothing about Mycroft’s eyes or face that said he was lying. He had a gut feeling that there was more going on than he was saying, but while Lestrade could have pushed for it, he knew that would only make the man pull away instead. He had no proof that his friend wasn’t telling the complete truth.

Instead, he asked, “So what are we doing here, Mycroft?”

“I believe we’re having lunch. Is that not what you’re doing?”

Greg tried not to smile at the faint grin on Mycroft’s lips, but it was impossible not to. “Yeah, that part I get. I meant more…” He gestured futilely with his hands before trying again. “I mean, we’ve had lunch three times in the past week, so I was wondering if it had, I dunno, a deeper meaning.”

“If you’re meaning to ask am I courting you, then yes, I am.”

He couldn’t help but choke on his drink at Mycroft’s blatant statement. Who used the word ‘courting’ anymore?! There was a slight sparkle to the stateman’s eye and he wondered if that word had been chosen in particular just for that reaction. He glowered a bit. “Tell me you’re not being serious.”

“I’m afraid that would be a lie.” Mycroft reached over and took his hand, kissing the back of it and making Lestrade blush to the root of his salt and pepper hair. “I’ve decided that I should embrace my feelings rather than run from them.”

“W-Why?”

Something flashed over Mycroft’s eyes, something Greg didn’t know. Whatever happened had galvanized him into action. “I realized there was the possibility you’d be taken away from me and I couldn’t stomach that.”

“Taken away by who?”

“It doesn’t matter, it’s been dealt with, but it didn’t change what could have happened. I’m not sure where this is going, Gregory, but I’d like to find out, if you’re amenable.”

“If I’m amenable…?” He couldn’t help but laugh. “Yeah, I’m amenable to the idea. Seriously, Mycroft... You sure know how to woo a guy.”

“No. I know how to woo you. I’ve only been considering it for seven years.”

Greg grinned. “So you’ve got other surprises in store for me then?”

“Plenty.”

“Bring it on then.”

“I’d suggest food first. That is why we’re here. For lunch.”

“For lunch. Right.”

-0-

John stood in the doorway, staring at Sherlock’s back. The detective seemed to be resolutely staring out the window as he played his violin, refusing to turn around. That was fine, actually. It made whawt he was about to do quite a bit easier. “Hey.”

The bow paused. “Took you longer than usual.”

“Went by…Mary’s flat to get a few things I need if I’m going to stay here permanently.”

Sherlock was motionless, but John knew that his partner was riveted to his words. He dropped the small bag by the door and stepped up behind the slim man, resting his hands on his hips. “Think there’s a bit of room in your bedroom for me?”

He blinked as Sherlock whirled around, arms sweeping around John in a smooth motion and he grunted as he was actually bent back a bit. He was about to protest when shapely lips landed on his and chased away all thoughts that might have managed to come to mind. He let out a soft moan and finally, for the first time in five years, touched those curly strands of hair.

There wasn’t a great deal of expertise or finesse in the kiss, but there was that stunning passion that Sherlock brought to everything he did and John’s knees might have gone a little weak. Only when their lips broke did he mutter, “Do you have to be so dramatic?”

Sherlock smirked at him. “You enjoy it.”

“If I say yes, it’ll only make your ego bigger.”

“Then don’t say anything at all,” was the reply, purred at him almost. “Now let me show you how much room I’ve left for you.”

“Sounds good. Just one thing first.”

Sherlock let him straighten. “What?”

“What’s this about Mycroft owing you a favor?”

There was a long pause as his partner just stared at him. “How do you know about that?”

“Mycroft called me, told me to tell you that you can always ask him to fix the paperwork. What does that mean?”

Sherlock growled deeply under his breath and grabbed John’s arm, tugging him down the hall. “He means changing your marriage license so instead of Mary’s name, mine is on there and I’ll kill the smug bastard for this, right after I’m done with you.”

John found himself grinning even though he wasn’t sure he had a right to. He kicked the door closed behind them as Sherlock wrapped his arms around him again, pulling him in close and latching on tight. “And what are you going to do to me?” Sherlock leaned in, nipping at his ear, and the heated, whispered words in his ear made him shiver. “I like that plan. When do we start?”

“Right now.”

-End-