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A Tangled Web

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Mycroft gritted his teeth, his hand clenched on the arm of his chair tightly as he stared at the CCTV image on his desk. What the hell was Magnusson doing? Mycroft had never liked the man, but he knew that he was a necessary evil. He had to stomach him for the things that Magnusson knew. Contrary to what his brother might think of him, he didn’t want to protect the man, but he had to.

So why was Magnusson sitting across from Greg Lestrade in his office? Didn’t he know that the Detective Inspector was also under his protection? Though the picture wasn’t exactly high definition, he could see by the man’s expression that he was shocked by something. Did Magnusson feel that having a detective inspector under his thumb would be a good ‘buy’ or was Lestrade working on some case he was interested in? No, Mycroft would have known that. Was it because he knew that Lestrade was friends with Sherlock and helped him? Was this about that little break-in at the office last month?

Currently Sherlock was recovering from the bullet and he seemed to be making the most of his condition with John, who had, supposedly temporarily, moved back into 221B Baker Street following the revelation of what Mary was. It wasn’t news to Mycroft, he had bugs all around Sherlock’s apartment that the man hadn’t found yet. Not that he was objecting, because he preferred John with Sherlock; his brother was just so much better when John was there, and happier as well.

He stood up, straightening his suit, and stepping out of his office. “A car, Anthea. Now. We’re going to the Yard.”

She looked up from her computer, saw the set line of his jaw, and immediately stood up. Within moments, the car had pulled up front and they were moving toward Lestrade. While Mycroft tried to keep their conversations professional over the years, other things had leaked through. Apparently Greg found it impossible to have a purely professional relationship with anyone and they had managed to become…friends. It was a stunning enough revelation to him, but Mycroft wasn’t about to lie to himself that he knew that he felt more than just friendship.

He had found his ‘goldfish’, but he wasn’t about to let anyone in on that fact, particularly the goldfish himself.

The car slid up to the sidewalk in front of the stairs where Greg was sitting, smoking a cigarette. Mycroft leaned over to open the door from the inside. “Do get in, Detective Inspector.”

“I’m not really up for company today, Mycroft,” the man replied, voice as weary as he had ever heard it.

“Get in, please…Gregory.”

Lestrade blinked. “That’s the first time you’ve ever used my first name. I’ve been telling you for seven years to use it…” Mycroft didn’t say anything and after a minute, the detective dropped his cigarette, stubbed it out with his foot, and got in the car. As the door closed, he asked, “What did you need, Mycroft? I’ll add it to the pile.”

He had never seen Greg this tired, this resigned, before. Sherlock would have gone straight for the jugular, asking about Magnusson, but not Mycroft. “How bad is today?”

“Bad enough that I think I’ll be fired, or at least demoted.”

Mycroft carefully kept his expression and posture the same. “What about? Your record is clean.”

“For the most part.”

“What do you mean, for the most part?” What had he missed?

“Well, I guess it won’t matter if you know, since it’ll be all over the press tomorrow anyway… Back when I first joined the force, right after I married Rachel, we’d had a big row and I went down to the pub to drink. I shouldn’t have because I was on-call, but I was just a constable back then. I hadn’t even been on the force for more than a year. Long enough to have known better, though. You got a drink?”

Mycroft blinked at the sudden pause in the story, but he leaned forward and reached under his seat to find the bourbon that he kept for emergencies. Before he could say or do anything else, Lestrade snatched it from his hand and took a long swallow from the bottle itself. Looking closely, he could see how pale the Detective Inspector really was, how his hands were shaking. He was not as calm as he was trying to appear.

“Can you tell where the story is going? Yeah, I got a call and it was nearby. So I was drunk when I responded.”

“What was the call?”

“Robbery. Broke into a jewelry store that was near the pub. So I rushed out and when he saw me, he ran. I trapped him in an alley. He had no way out, the back was blocked up. He turned and then I saw a gun in his hand, so I ducked behind…something. It might have been a skip, I don’t really remember. I told him I was a copper, I hope I wasn’t slurring, and knowing what I know now, he wasn’t a hardened criminal. He was just a teenager, starting out his life of crime. He’d done minor things, like shoplifting, until he’d found that gun somewhere. He was too scared to shoot; all I had to do was keep him in there until backup arrived.”

“…But you were drunk.”

Lestrade nodded and took another long swallow. “I was drunk with adrenaline flooding me at the same time. I wasn’t thinking right, Mycroft. So instead of just talking to the kid, keeping him occupied until everyone else arrived, I paid attention to what he was saying. I couldn’t tell that his voice was shaking back then, that he was just bluffing when he said he’d kill people. So I rushed in instead and grabbed the gun.”

When Greg fell silent, his face ashen, Mycroft said quietly, “You fought over the gun.”

“Yeah. It was against procedure. They’d told me not to confront him, just to contain him. Those were my orders. I wasn’t ordered to go in there and I did…and the kid died because of it. The trigger was pulled accidentally and it shot him in the chest. I was terrified. I tried to stop the bleeding, but I couldn’t. He was dead by the time anyone else arrived.”

He let the story settle, watched as Greg took another heavy swallow of the bottle. “It isn’t in your file.”

“No. Soon as he got on the scene, the Inspector in charge could tell I was drunk. I was honest. I told him what happened. I was drunk against regulations when I was on call and I disobeyed orders by going in rather than just blocking the entrance. I was sure they’d kick me off the force for this. It’d ruin my marriage and my career, but I deserved it. This kid was dead because of me.”

“That’s not what happened.”

Lestrade gave a bitter laugh. “No. The Inspector, he knew me. We’d worked together before and he’d even written a letter of commendation once. He said I had a bright future and that I was good. That I had talent. So—”

“So he lied,” Mycroft supplied.

“Yup. I don’t know what he said to the ME, what he did, but when the medical report came out, there was no mention of me. I was sent to secure the perimeter of the crime scene so no one else would know that I was drunk. I wasn’t even mentioned in the final report at all and no one came to talk to me. When I sobered up, I was terrified. I went to him in his office, asked what was going to happen to me now. You know what he told me? ‘Nothing’.”

“He covered it up.”

“Of his own accord. I begged him to come clean, but he said what happened would end my career. If I wasn’t fired, I’d never have a shot at a promotion.” Greg stared at the bottle he now held in his lap and gulped. “And damn me, but I listened. I listened to him when he said not to say a word. I knew what I did was wrong and I deserved punishment, but I never did anything about it. It’s made me sick to my stomach for years and I’m the only one that knows. Both the Inspector and the coroner retired years ago and whatever he did, it was good enough that no one ever opened the case for review. No one. A case that involved a gun and someone dying, and no one ever questioned his account. I still don’t know just who he knew to make that happen…”

“So what happened today?”

“I thought no one else knew and then this man came to my office. Said he owned a massive media empire and if I didn’t do what he wanted when he said he wanted it, everyone would know. Charles Magnusson.”

“You didn’t participate actively in the cover up, Gregory.”

“No, but that doesn’t make a difference. It was swept under the rug years ago and it would make the department look really bad. So who’s the scapegoat? Me. Because I did it. I’d be fired, among other things. It’d make the inquest into me when Sherlock faked his suicide look like a light tap.”

“And you told him no.”

“That would be the polite way of putting it. The more accurate way was I said words my mother would hate me for and threw him out. I told him no matter how many times he came to me, the answer would be the same. So…it’ll all be over tomorrow, I expect.”

Lestrade took a deep, deep breath and Mycroft heard how shaky it was. The man put the cap back on the bottle, rather than take more, and covered his eyes with his hand, leaning against the door. His shaking was more pronounced and Mycroft, who had sworn he didn’t have one, felt his heart break a little. The man was trying to keep composed, desperate to do so in front of him, and while he knew that his presence often inspired others to firm themselves and show no weakness, that wasn’t what Mycroft wanted right then.

So he reached out against his better judgment and placed his hand on Greg’s knee. The detective inspector turned to look at him and he saw the sheen over his eyes of tears he was refusing to shed. He wanted to tell the man to ask him to help, but knew that he’d only get a negative response. “Your fortitude, your honor, is amazing, Gregory,” he said honestly. “You’re completely incorruptible.”

“I don’t want you to cover anything up, Mycroft.”

“No,” he agreed. “I won’t cover up what you’ve told me.” No, he had no need because it was already covered up. He just had to deal with Magnusson to make sure that the cover up stayed in place. “I agree with your Inspector, though. You are a great, great man. To see you lose everything because you were drunk like that would have been the greatest crime of all. Particularly since you’ve learned your lesson, I take it? Never drank on duty again?”

“Didn’t touch a drop in thirty-odd years. At least if I’m not off.”

The car slowed to a stop and Mycroft got out, coming around the other side of the car and opening the door for Greg before he could touch the handle. Greg was looking around the street, the street lamps just starting to come on as the sun went down. “Where are we?”

“My home.”

“What am I doing here?”

Mycroft didn’t ask for Greg to come in. Instead, he ushered him inside without waiting, closing the door behind them. “Stay here for the night, Gregory.”

Lestrade’s eyes narrowed. “Why am I here, Mycroft? The man that came to see me… Do you have something to do with him?”

“I have business with him, yes—”

“You saw him come to talk to me and that’s why you came, isn’t it? If this is part of some—”

“No,” he quickly assured the angry man. “No, I promise you that isn’t what this is about. It’s part of my job to keep tabs on him and I saw him go to you, but I swear I didn’t know why he was there. I came to find out, to make sure that…you were okay. He’s not a trustworthy man.” He struggled with the last part, but he had to make Greg understand that he wasn’t on Magnusson’s side. After hearing what he did, he couldn’t be. He could handle anyone else being targeted, even his brother because they knew how to at least defend themselves, but not Greg. He was too honest of a man to use the dirty tactics necessary to save himself.

It seemed to mollify Greg and really, the man trusted him far too much. It made him feel a stab of guilt for what he had done in the past and what he was doing now. Greg would never approve… Yet despite knowing that Mycroft should never be trusted, he did. They were ‘friends’, weren’t they? It was because of this trusting nature that Mycroft couldn’t leave Greg alone. No, he had to be protected at all costs from things that he wouldn’t protect himself from. So Mycroft had to do it for him, because he couldn’t bear to lose him.

“Have you eaten yet?”

“No.”

“Then come with me.”

Mycroft led him to the kitchen and made him sit down on a stool. “You’re going to cook for me?”

“I do know how.”

“Never would have pegged it.”

“I’m not surprised. You’re the only one I have ever cooked for, besides Sherlock and we all know how that always turns out.”

“Yeah, I think I can guess.” Mycroft watched from the corner of his eye as a faint flush went up Greg’s cheeks. “I’m honored then.”

“Honored because I’m cooking for you? I’m not that good.”

“No, because you’re doing something for me you’ve only ever done for Sherlock. You think I don’t know how much you adore him, no matter what you say? I’ve never met anyone that would sacrifice so much for someone else…at least until Sherlock met John. You’d do for him what Sherlock would do for John. As selfish as both you Holmes’ can be, you’re also so highly self-sacrificing for the few you care for. No one is more important to you than Sherlock and the fact that you’re putting me in the same hemisphere as him by cooking for me makes it an honor.”

Mycroft was glad he had his back to Greg, otherwise the man would have seen him blushing. Maybe one more person was as important to him as Sherlock, he thought, but could never say it. Instead, he slipped off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. “You are truly a good detective, no matter what Sherlock says.”

“Really?” He could practically hear the grin. “Thanks.”

The evening went smoothly and the benefit of cooking the meal was that Mycroft was able to slip a sleeping aid into Greg’s drink. He carefully lifted the man from sofa where he’d been siting once the man had nodded off. Honestly, when was the last time he had slept? Why wasn’t he taking better care of his health? Didn’t he know that there were people that would miss him if something happened to him?

Mycroft sighed and carried the man upstairs, setting him in his bed. He pulled off his shoes, dropping them by the door. The man’s coat was still downstairs, so at least he’d be as comfortable as Mycroft dared to make him. Looking down at the sleeping, exhausted man, it only steeled his resolve. Eyes never moving, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. If his fingers punched the number with a tad more vehemence than the device deserved, he ignored it.

“This is Magnusson.”

“Mr. Magnusson, it’s Mycroft Holmes.”

“Hello, Mr. Holmes. I was expecting to hear from you. How is your dear little brother?”

“Oh, he’s fine, I expect,” Mycroft replied, an expert at keeping his voice level. His fingers gently brushed the salt and pepper hair before leaving the room quietly. “However, I do have a matter that I would like to discuss with you alone.”

“Oh? What have I done to warrant such attention from the great Mycroft Holmes?”

“I’d prefer not to discuss it over the phone. I will send my assistant around to pick you up, if that’s convenient.”

“Quite. I’m looking forward to it. Goodbye, Mr. Holmes.”

Mycroft listened to the dial tone for a moment before he took a deep breath and relayed his instructions to Anthea. She didn’t ask any questions and a moment later, a driver was at his house once again, with a small paper bag with him. The statesman took it without comment and slid into the backseat. He sat in silence for a moment before he pressed a speed-dial.

“I don’t want your case, whatever it is.”

“I don’t have one,” he told the grumpy man. “I have another task for you.”

“What makes you think I’ll do whatever it is?”

“Go to my home and watch over the occupant there for me.”

“No.”

“Sherlock, if you do this, you have but to ask and I will do anything you want.”

“Anything?”

“Yes.”

“Even if I said to never contact me again even to the day I die?”

He took a deep breath. “Yes.”

There was a suspicious silence on the other end for a long moment before he heard a reply. “Fine. This better be damn important.”

“It is, brother dear. It is.”

Of course Sherlock hung up without saying goodbye, not that he expected anything different. He pulled out what was in the bag and slid it into an internal pocket of his jacket. He took a moment to make sure that his suit was straight and he appeared impeccable, but that only took a few seconds, leaving the rest of the ride insufferable.

It felt like an eternity, but fifteen minutes later, he was in an abandoned factory that Magnusson had once used and closed down. He stepped out, spotting Anthea standing on the sidewalk next to the door. She wasn’t looking at her phone for once, instead staring into his eyes, but didn’t stop him or say a word as he passed.

Magnusson was looking around the dusty main lobby that hadn’t been used in years, windows boarded up and the furniture removed. “So what do I have that you want?” the man asked, hearing Mycroft’s footsteps.

“You have information about a certain Detective Inspector that caught my attention.”

He could tell by the way Magnusson’s posture changed that he had surprised him. So the man hadn’t known that Mycroft was in any way related to him, beyond the superficial. “And you want the files.”

“No.”

Magnusson turned around. “No?”

“You don’t have files. You have nothing physical in your possession.”

A slow smile that grated on every one of Mycroft’s nerves appeared. “So you are smarter than your brother. You know that I have all the information and news now doesn’t need evidence. All I need to do is say the words.”

“Exactly.” He reached into his jacket pocket. His fingers touched on his checkbook and moved just to the left, slipping the cold metal into his hands. “Which means that information dies with you.”

Magnusson had time to widen his eyes before Mycroft had whipped out the small gun and pulled the trigger. He felt no remorse as he watched the body fall from a bullet to the head. He had saved not only Greg, but Sherlock and John. He wasn’t foolish enough to ever believe that Sherlock had given up going against Magnusson and whatever scheme he decided to do would end up with disastrous consequences. No one could ever hurt Sherlock and Greg, and if he had to stain his hands again to make sure they were safe, he would do so without a moment’s hesitation.

“It appears as if I’m too late.”

Mycroft didn’t even turn around. “I told you to go to my house.”

“I did. When I saw who was sleeping there, it all made sense.” Sherlock came to stand next to him, both looking down at the body. “You know you’ll get in trouble.”

“Are you concerned about my career?”

“Hardly. You’re too invaluable to them. They won’t dare lose you.” Sherlock paused. “He’ll hate you for this if he finds out.”

“Then he won’t find out. Charles Magnusson owns a media empire with many contacts around the world and some of those places are not safe.”

“So he’ll conveniently disappear and then appear a few months to a year later in another country, found dead. It’ll be attributed to the violence in the region. No one will know anything.”

“I’m sure I have no way of knowing that, just that the world is a dangerous place.”

“Only a select few will know of your crime and I’m sure you have ways to buy their silence. Will you try to buy mine?”

Mycroft turned to look at Sherlock at his threat. Only his brother could see his weakness. Anthea might suspect, but Sherlock would know just how potent the threat was. “I told you that I would owe you anything.”

“And you said yes if I demanded that you never speak to me or ever see me again.”

“Yes, I did.”

Sherlock stared at him for a long, long time before saying, “Stop being so self-sacrificing, it’s annoying and doesn’t suit you. I’ll tell you what I want later.”

As his brother turned to go, Mycroft just couldn’t let it be. “Pot calling kettle black, Sherlock?”

The man paused. “What?”

“I’m saying you shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses, Sherlock. You call me self-sacrificing, but you might look at yourself. Sacrificing what makes you happy because you think that John would be better off with Mary. He’s living with you again and his relationship with Mary is rocky at best. You could make him yours and you know it, but you’re as self-sacrificing as you claim I am.”

Sherlock didn’t say anything and after a minute, he stalked out the lobby. Mycroft glanced down at the body before following. As soon as he was outside, three men entered and he knew the body would be disposed of. He didn’t need to be here. So he slipped into the car and Anthea herself drove him back to his home.

Greg was still asleep in his bed and Mycroft slowly sat in a chair next to the bed. He would always watch over him. If what he did made him a demon, then that was fine. He would take the darkness, so Greg remained clean. Always.

Chapter Text

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-