They’d been best mates through university. The day Greg got his job with the Met Police, Mycroft was the first to know.
When Greg married, it was with Mycroft by his side as best man.
That was before Sherlock started struggling; before Mycroft seemed to retreat ever further into himself, before eventually it’d no longer felt like Greg’s place to ask. Greg did what he could to help, and regretted they had not remained close as before, but with the demands of their careers and of his marriage..
He frowns into his drink, well, people drift apart, don’t they?
Greg watches as Sherlock turns to leave soon after John and Mary’s waltz. A lone figure slipping past the dancing lights and crowd, a tight smile that no longer reaches his eyes.
It all reminds him too much of—
He excuses himself, needing to make sure Sherlock is all right.
You couldn’t have done so for Mycroft. How you wish you had.
He steps outside into the night air, the sounds of music and joy muffled behind him.
The tall, dark-coated figure Greg has followed, carefully making his way across the lawn, is not Sherlock.
He looks far younger, and familiar in ways Greg cannot quite place. In fact he looks like— But it can’t be—
The startled grey eyes meeting his takes Greg back twenty years. Those recollections that have permeated much of his thoughts, that swirled with the beer in his glass, suddenly crystallising, striking and vibrant.
“Greg, wha— You were—” God, that voice.
It takes two tries, but when the man before him does find his words, they are steady and crisp.
“As I’ve assured you I’ll be quite fine, merely a migraine,” Mycroft tells him. “You should return to the dance — it’s your wedding day, Greg.”
And his evening is making less and less sense by the minute — has he really had that much to drink? — but there’s Mycroft. Greg still recognises his tells, and Greg has missed his best man.
So he hugs Mycroft, clasping his shoulder. “You take care, all right?”
He can feel the younger man slowly breathe in, but Mycroft doesn’t respond, doesn’t nod. Remains quiet and still in Greg’s arms.
He pulls back, searching Mycroft’s eyes. “You know I’m not going anywhere? Still here when you need me — your Greg, your friend. Always will be, if you want me to.”
“I—” Mycroft looks lost for a moment, looks anything but reassured; his gaze flickers down before he seems to catch himself. “Yes,” he says instead.
But Greg’s seen it, the fraction of a second in which Mycroft might’ve admitted something else, and sees the faint flush beginning to tint Mycroft’s cheeks.
“I hope you’ll be very happy, Greg,” Mycroft’s tone lightens then, his expression open and honest. “I ought to be going, and you need to return to the dance.”
Greg hears his silent plea, for Greg not to probe into what Mycroft cannot take back. “All right.”
It hits Greg when he steps back into the hall, once again amidst the music and lights. He’s dressed in the same suit he put on that morning, surrounded by familiar faces enjoying a celebration.
He looks out the windows into the darkened lawn. There is no sight of a Holmes.
He texts Sherlock as he leaves, and his thumb hovers over the name above Sherlock’s in his contacts. He slips the phone into his pocket as he waits for a reply, the name still weighing on his mind.
He thinks again back to the well-spoken, red-haired boy he met, Michaelmas term of university, whose college room was on the same staircase as his. To the conversations that connected them; Greg’s youthful passion and ideals that matured as he did, and Mycroft’s aspirations and clarity of mind that gave him certainty of his own. He thinks back to their shared hours in the library, to all the nights out where Mycroft was invariably the responsible, caring friend. The times he’d write a song and play it to Mycroft first; and his football matches that his mate was sure to see despite not caring for the sport.
He thinks about how Mycroft has been these many years, and pictures Mycroft twenty years from now: Mycroft alone, and not nearly as tough or cold as the image he prefers to present; Mycroft having someone to look after him instead, someone who sees his burdens and fears and bears them with him.. He pictures Mycroft being loved.
Greg thinks fondly of Mycroft’s eyes, beautifully expressive when he lets them; his smiles, those genuine ones that Greg’s only seen when they were alone, gentle and trusting or brilliant and sweet; Mycroft’s humour, understood by few, appreciated yet less; that prim posture of his, and when it relaxes..
Greg thinks of Mycroft, and he thinks of Mycroft now, right now. He checks his watch, and considers.
Heart thumping, he pulls out his phone and dials.
Mycroft answers on the second ring.
It’s Sherlock before anything else, of course. Just like old times.
But as the car pulls away from Baker Street, in the seclusion of the backseats, he braces himself for something long overdue.
“Listen, you’re not going to believe this,” he begins, shaking his head, a little embarrassed. “When I went looking for Sherlock I.. I thought I saw you. From when.. You as my best man.”
He risks a glance at the man seated beside him as he continues. “You left early — d’you remember? You weren’t well, and I just watched you slip away, didn’t even hug you goodbye before—” he notices the curious look on Mycroft’s face, “What?”
“You did. You did, Greg, and you said what you could to make me feel—”, he swallows, “I had not intended to disclose those feelings I harboured, but I could not have hoped for a kinder farewell.”
“Mycroft,” Greg says softly, realisation dawning, “was that why you stopped wanting to chat? It wasn’t just being caught up in work was it?”
“I couldn’t be the friend you wanted any more, for which I am truly sorry. I was sure you knew — I made the decision to distance myself because it..it hurt too much. I was in love with you, Greg.” He looks down and, more quietly, adds, “I’ve never stopped.”
“I’ve been a terrible friend,” Mycroft says to his hands on his lap, “and I am indebted to you, for all you have done, both for Sherlock and for myself.”
Greg frowns. “You know I’ve always loved you, Mycroft. Sherlock’s right — I probably would do whatever the hell you ask, go anywhere you send me. Because I want to.”
“And,” he admits as he shifts to face Mycroft, feeling every powerful beat in his chest, “and I’m an idiot for taking so long to realise..” — two weddings, one of them his; a marriage and a divorce in between — “to realise how easily I could fall for you too, if you let me.”
He reaches out a hand, brushes the back of his fingers down Mycroft’s cheek and chin. “Will you let me?”
Mycroft parts his lips slightly, and he's looking at Greg now, really looking, grey gaze boring into his.
The distance between them closes. Their mouths meet, and he feels as well as hears Mycroft say, “I could be persuaded.”
Greg doesn’t need to check to know there’s the softest smile now tugging at Mycroft’s lips, as he leans in to kiss Mycroft again.
When Greg followed Sherlock out into the night earlier that evening, he did not notice the streak of light across the sky, the glowing tail of a meteor as it traversed the planet’s atmosphere.
Careful when you make a wish, they say. It might just lead somewhere you did not expect.
“The end of an era,” Mycroft had said into the phone, the same afternoon, and paused when his brother compared it instead to beginning a new chapter, with all the optimism that Mycroft never had.
Mycroft had clung to the final page of his best times with Greg, long past its end. For years, circumstances did not allow for anything new — anything that might be even better — to commence.
And now, it shall.