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A Change in Scenery

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Greg has always considered himself to be a level headed kind of guy. Okay, so there was that one time he got dumped and he cried solidly for an hour on Sally’s shoulder but overall he thinks he can handle more things. He’s starred death in the face a few times, talked a suicidal teenager off a bridge and dealt with Sherlock more times than he can count on one hand but the sight of Mycroft stood in the entrance to a hotel suite wearing only a white t-shirt and pair of half mast blue tartan pyjama pants that look suspiciously familiar may just be the thing that sends him over the edge. 

“Are they mine?” He asks casually scanning the whole of Mycroft. He tries to ignore the flush to Mycroft’s face or the fact that his hands quickly move to cover the offending articles but can't help himself. “Because I think they are mine.”

“Arh yes… possibly… I”

“I wondered where they had gone.” He says with a smile - a shitty looking smile He has no doubt but then he is just about holding it together. The touch to the side of the face which Greg had brushed off with a gentle ‘I’m okay but give me a minute’ look was one thing but the fact that Mycroft had kept-

“I packed them… before…and I’ve…”

Greg shakes his head. He doesn’t want to hear it, (or remember that particular day) not yet anyway. Not until he has discussed Sherlock and the dead bodies he has got raking up. “We need to talk,” he says with a nod, “inside. This isn’t for public consumption just yet.”

The nod is enough for Mycroft to open the hotel room door fully and beckon Greg through the door. It’s a suite, because of course it is. Boutique is probably the right description for it Greg thinks and reminds them of a place they stayed in the North East for a dirty weekend away. Large bed, sofa, big screen TV, office space that is filled with Mycroft’s Laptop and piles of paperwork.

Yeah, pretty similar. 

“You work on the go now?” 

“Arh, yes. I don’t really have base yet.”

Mycroft looks uncomfortable – or nervous – Greg isn’t sure which, although to be fair Mycroft can show twenty four different emotions in one. People think he is cold and heartless, Greg knows different though. He is passionate, very funny and a complete bastard – sometimes in the space of ten minutes, but at the moment he just looks confused. Greg suspects the too-short Pyjamas’ aren’t helping matters either. 

“Need to talk to you about my murders,” Greg says closing the door; it locks firmly behind him cutting out the world like hotel bedroom doors seem to do. The room is warm and cosy and for a split second Greg wants to take his coat off and flop down on the bed like he has done a hundred times before in front of Mycroft. He doesn’t though, instead he stand uncomfortably by the entrance to the bathroom looking like a spare part. Mycroft has just showered Greg realises, there is still steam on the mirror and he can smell the posh orange smelling shower gel Myc used from here. He's missed that shower gel lots. “Well not about my murders, more your brother’s involvement in them,” he continues with a head shake.

“Sherlock?”

“Yeah, unless of course you have another rogue sibling hiding who isn’t a psychopath, or a very annoying consulting detective? For I know there might be a fourth Holmes out there living their best life working in B&Q.” 

That earns Greg a tut and he has to bite his tongue to not reply. It’s a low blow and Myc is still a bit touchy about Eurus even after all this time – probably more because his parents are still upset that he hid her from them – but what did the man expect? 

“There is no more of us, just Sherlock – and my sister and as far as I am aware she is securely locked up,” Mycroft replies sharply. “Why has he done?”

Greg knows this is going to take some explaining. There’s a small chance his team might be barking up the wrong tree but Greg doesn’t think so. It’s too convenient and to be quite frank – too obvious. “Surprisingly,” Greg begins. “He hasn’t done anything. We think he has a fan though.”

“A fan?”

“A fan, the first murder, well actually it’s the last victim we found, female, mid twenties, been dead about eight weeks, she was out with her camera taking photos of the park.”

“And this has what to do with Sherlock? He isn’t the biggest fan of nature I recall.”

Greg can agree with that. He  wasn’t sure Sherlock even knew what nature was unless it involved soil samples and Greg doesn't want to be reminded of Sherlock's ill fated soil sample blog. “No true, but she was wearing a t-shirt – not hers, mother has never seen before. We believe it was placed on her post mortem, pink with the words the game is afoot Sherlock written across  the chest. We think it’s been specially printed as the other stuff - the mugs and shit didn’t have Sherlock’s name on it.”

“Pink?”

“Bright pink. Probably bought from an Asda, one of my DI’s apparently has one similar.”

“Common place, boring and non-descript then.”

“Ha, well we all can’t afford our suits to be made on Saville Row Mycroft.” It’s another cheap dig but Greg can’t help it. Being in a hotel room with Mycroft and not just jumping into bed with the guy straight away is a strange feeling. “In fact, those pyjamas’ you are wearing are from Asda. £7.99 in the sale.”

“I was not implyi-.”

“I know you weren’t I’m pissing about with you. I just can’t get over the fact you still have them – they are too short in the leg for a kick off. I wouldn’t have thought you’d kept hold of them considering.”

“They are comfortable and they…”

Greg doesn’t want to hear it though and cuts Mycroft off with a deep sigh. The frustrated head tilt to the ceiling he makes after it probably makes him an open book but he doesn’t care. “I don’t give a shit about them. I just need your help – or advice. I don’t want any more bodies, dismemberments, dump sites. I know how that brain of yours works – you store things in it and leave them there until they are needed and I just thought… maybe, maybe if I jogged your memory? It might trigger something – something with Sherlock... I’m tired doll. Bone dead. It’s been a rough ten months. You were right before, I am exhausted. I’m running a large Serious Crimes Division – a bigger area than at New Scotland Yard and its’ been a long fucking day.”

It’s a relief to finally say it all out loud Greg thinks rather than to be deduced and force fed it because that’s exactly what Mycroft would have done. He’d have seen the tiredness in Greg’s eyes the moment he had opened the bedroom door, the coffee stain on his shirt, the pen marks on his face and the mud on his shoes. 
He would have known more about Greg’s day than Greg did.

“Have you eaten?” The question catches Greg off guard a little and he only realises what is going on when Mycroft shoves a room service menu in his hands.  “Order what you want. I suggest a sandwich this late at night.”

“Food?”

“Food. Then we talk about your murders.”

===

“Who found your latest victim?” 

“Young Gamekeeper by the name of Jason Hill. 23 - lives in the local town of Knutsford. He was out late; they have an issue with poachers in some areas according to his boss a Mr Hope. He’d been sent here to check the area and found the remains – or rather his dog did.” 

“Have you ruled him out?”

“Yep. Nice lad, horrified. Uses a motorbike not a 4 be 4. Probably gonna need some counselling. Dog bought him a foot as a present.” 

The sandwich and side serving of fries had been delivered with efficiency a few minutes before and were – in Greg’s opinion – going down a treat. By now he had taken his coat off and had positioned himself on vanity area close to the TV. He also wanted to slip off his shoes but thought might have been going a bit too far. 

“Delightful.”

“Hmmm – it’s been the nature of the case. They don’t have a lot of crimes like this up here so for some of the officers it’s been a bit of a culture shock.”

“It’s hardly the outback.”

Greg doesn’t disagree. “No, but it’s a different kind of criminal – hard to describe. Knife crime is on the rise but at a much slower pace than in London but the gang culture is different too. Less intense.” 

“And your victims, any patterns, where any of the others wearing items of clothing with the phrase on?”

Greg shakes his head in lieu of answering due to a mouth full of fries. It feels strange to be talking about this in the way they are. Greg sat in a suit eating a sandwich, fries and drinking bottled water, Mycroft sat on the edge of the bed in Greg’s PJ’s and bare feet. He still looks underweight but not as much as before and he has more colour to his face (Dubai probably had helped with that Greg suspects) the beard is also still there - it even looks like it has been tided up from the previous evening but something still isn’t settled with him. For the calm voice and demeanour Greg can see Mycroft is battling internally with something. 

“No pink – nothing written down,” he continues. He can’t dwell on Myc right now. Not when something just feels out their grasp. “We re-checked them yesterday in case we missed something. We where suppose to find Miss Bryan’s body first and when we didn’t we think he got annoyed and killed more.”

“Frustration then. Was her body in a better condition than theirs?”

Greg thinks back to the reports they had been poring over all day. He won’t admit it to anyone but after 4 victims their injuries had started to merge into one after a while. “She’d been there longer – but as for the damage post mortem – the dismemberment – everything was the same except the head and torso where still attached," he says. He's sort of missed this, bouncing ideas off a Holmes brain. 

“He’d taken it a step further.”

“Yes.”

“Escalated.”

“It looks like it.”

“The family are sure that she didn’t own the t-shirt?”

“Didn’t even know who Sherlock was.”

“What rather wonderful thing that would be.” Mycroft finally says after a pause. It’s not said in a jokey way and Greg knows that he doesn’t mean it really but then from what John had told him, the younger Holmes had been quite angry after finding out that Myc had broken up his and Greg’s relationship.

“You don’t mean that.” Greg says with a look of frustration. He almost misses the look Mycroft gives him in response due to eating a fry - but it's there, nervy and what some people would describe it as a flinch. Mycroft never flinched once. Not in the whole time they where together. “What did he say?” Greg asks realisation dawning on him. Apparently the Holmes brothers had been in contact more often than John had let on. “What did he say to you?” he repeats. He doesn't need to expand any more than that.

This time thought Mycroft has no umbrella to grasp, instead he is holding onto to the bedding either side of his thighs so tightly Greg fears he may tear it. “He called me an idiot. A fool.” 

“You were.” Greg replies nodding in agreement. It’s too casual he knows and this time Greg catches Myc’s flinch full on.

“I was doing what was best.” The words are almost bit out.

“For you.”

“For both of us Gregory.” The words are a little too loud and forced - like it’s hurting Myc to admit this stuff. Greg wants to hear it though he finally realises, even with the bodies piling up it might be his only chance. Who knows when they would see each other again.

It was time.

“They were determined to ruin me and I could not take that chance they’d ruin you too. Powerful people are running this country at the moment and it’s not the buffoon we have in charge. They summoned me to a room and asked me to ‘rein it in’ – their words – or shape up. I was repeatedly informed I was becoming too comfortable. Too happy. Too settled. My integrity was - compromised. Over the years Gregory I been involved in a number of decisions I am not proud of, my role within the security services exposed me to the worst of human nature but the day I wrote that email and chose my job over you is the day I will regret for the rest of my life.”

Well okay, Greg thinks as he bites down on another fry. Carrying on eating is probably not the response Myc was looking for after opening up like that, but Greg can’t really think of anything else to say at the moment, eating seems easier given the circumstances. 

“They really said all that?” He asks finally with a wipe of his hands. 

“They did.”

For the first time in a long time Greg feels sad. Sad at what Myc has just told and sad that the bloody idiot’s first thought was to dump him rather than let them deal with the situation together. 

“I would have stuck by you,” he says quietly. “You know I would have supported you. But you didn’t believe we would last as long as we did, did you?” It’s the lightbulb moment Greg has been waiting for the past ten months. It ridiculous and silly but there it is. “You never thought I would stand by you – so breaking us up? It was an easy get out right?” He continues confident that he is on the right path. It’s amazing how something can suddenly make sense. Greg is almost pleased with himself for having his own personal ‘Sherlock’ moment. 

“I…wouldn’t say it was easy Gregory.”

“You sent me an email. I mean your behaviour leading up to is was pretty shitty - distant, grumpy – I could go on but that email…”

He watches Mycroft drop his head in resignation. The silly stupid idiot. 

“I admit the method was easy. The content not so much.” Mycroft finally says still unable to lift his head. 

Truthfully? Greg isn’t sure whether to believe him or not. He’s only every dumped two people in his own life once when he was 15 the other was his ex-wife Jenna who was already half way out the front door anyway. Greg hadn’t been half way out with Mycroft though. He’d been fully inside with the drawbridge up. They both had. Or at least he thought they had.

“It hurt,” Greg finally says after a moment. “It really fucking hurt love.”

“I know.”

Greg rises an eyebrow at that. “Do you know because someone told you? Or did you ever feel enough for me that you somehow managed to break you own heart in the process?”

“My behaviour before and after the event was… difficult.” 

It’s one way of putting it Greg thinks. He would have said it had been bloody cruel but he decides not too. Not yet anyway. Greg can see Myc is working his way through something. That brain of his looks like it is going to explode.

“It was a stressful situation.”

Greg snorts sat that. “Adulting is stressful Mycroft. Relationships are stressful. Life is stressful. I have a dickhead running around Cheshire murdering people – that’s stressful but we deal with it, we work through it. You lean on those close to you; you ask for help, you regroup. You are so used to being alone you couldn’t – can’t – imagine that someone might want to go along for the ride with you. Am I right?” 

Judging by the expression on Myc’s face he doesn’t need to answer. Greg can see everything now. Bloody idiot Greg thinks to himself. It’s obvious Mycroft hadn’t been expecting to have this conversation, not like this, not wearing to too short PJ’s and with bare feet. Greg half suspects it was why he had turned up at his flat the previous evening. Then it would have been on his terms, not vulnerable like this.  

“God damnit Myc,” Greg says finally. He wants to laugh with frustration at it all but can’t.

“I behaved poorly and caused you great pain.”

“You did.”

“I’m so very sorry Gregory.”

Later when everything has calmed down Greg will tell Myc that this was the exact point his drawbridge was lowered again. Seeing the man he loved (because yes okay, fuck he still did – even after all this time and everything he had done) practically crumple in front of his would be his undoing. He’ll probably try to make it sound more romantic than it was – he’ll not tell Myc about the strange snorting / crying sounds he made when Greg had reached from across the bedroom and held him tight. Nor that he needed to get his tie dry cleaned due to the tears. No, instead Greg will tell him this was the moment they had held each other for a long time and Myc had repeatedly said he was sorry.

“I’m still angry with you,” Greg says after a few many more moments. He probably will be for a while he thinks. His anger can take a back seat at the moment though. It feels good to hold Mycroft’s body close and kiss forehead again. Where they will go from here he isn’t sure – he will deal with that later. 

“I deserve nothing less. I do have a question though if you would answer it,” Mycroft whispers. 

“Go on.”

“Was I the main reason you left London?”

It’s a good question Greg thinks, and yeah, he was partly. But Greg also needed a fresh start and something new but the main reason? No. “I’d had enough,” he says into the quiet and still of the room. They had moved up the bed and Greg had slipped his shoes off. Myc was still bare footed and for some reason that out of everything made Greg’s heart leap. “I’m 55; I’m getting too old for racing around the city. I needed to slow down – although you wouldn’t think it considering the shit I’ve got on my hands at the moment. London is all-consuming, here isn’t. I have a life, it’s calmer, a better relationship with my son and a good team under me. Plus Sal was biting at my ankles and she can get quite vicious when she wants something – but no, you weren’t the reason. It was easier having no ties though I admit.”

“You do seem calmer up here,” Mycroft says quietly. “But you where always the more stable, more resourceful of the two of us.”

It surprises Greg that Mycroft thinks that considering the circumstances. “You think?”

“Absolutely.”

“I still have a murderer on my hands though – my stable resourcefulness won’t help us there.” Greg replies suddenly remembering real life is outside waiting for him the moment he leaves the hotel room. “Someone is butchering people and leaving their remains in the countryside.”

“Apparently it follows you wherever you go.” 

Greg laughs at that and gives Myc a gentle nudge with his elbow. He’s still not 100% sure how he feels about what’s happened but for now he will roll with it.

Tomorrow will be another day and they need to talk more – Greg wasn’t going anywhere but Mycroft had the world at his feet. “It’s been a ride – you remember when we first met? That case with John and the gun and the shooting which we aren’t allowed to talk about or acknowledge?”

“Hmmm, I do. I remember it due to the ridiculous name John gave it on his blog. A Study in Pink of all things.”

“Four bodies as well.”

“Gregory…”

It takes Greg a moment to catch up with Mycroft’s tone so lost in what has just been said and admitted too between them only moments before. “A study in pink,” he finally whispers.

“Indeed.”

“You don’t think?” It’s a question that Greg knows there aren’t the answers for at the moment. With a flick of his hand he has pulled his mobile only to find a text from Dudley sat on the screen.

“Camera located. You are going to need to see this Sir. Call me.”