Actions

Work Header

A Change in Scenery

Chapter Text

Gregory Lestrade has always wondered where he would work if he could no longer work in London. Not that he is unhappy with the version of his life as it is now, he keeps reminding himself, because catching murderers and all that, but sometimes, when he allows it, it’s nice to think outside the M25 circular.


They talk about it regularly, him and DS Donovan. Over coffee and cake, or when there’s a lull in the proceedings. He sometimes questions the whole team when they need a distraction. “It can’t be Oxford, Morse has Oxford,” he says to the whole office one Tuesday morning after a double murder. They’d been up all night and he can tell most of them are exhausted. Many people would think it strange that they’re able to change from one subject to another, but then most people haven’t been dealing with a double murder and an axe all night. Usually he can see the moment when their brains catch up with his train of thought. It’s the split second look of ‘what the fuck’ then the realisation that he isn’t talking about the mess on Cable Street. 


“You do know Morse is fictional don’t you Sir?” one of them – a new DC Greg thinks – shouts across the room. 


“His car was dope though,” says another.


Greg isn’t going to ask what ‘dope’ means, he’s sure his son would know but keeps that to himself. Instead he throws another location into the mix just to keep the momentum going. “Northumberland. Beautiful scenery and I bet people don’t get their heads caved in with an axe in Northumberland.”

“You’ve not seen Vera then? Happens all the time.”

“Jersey?”

Bergerac.”

And so it goes on for the rest of the day. By 2pm the autopsy reports have landed in his in box and confirm what he already knew. Blunt force trauma with an axe or a hammer. It’s not an original way to die, he’s seen it a few times already this year but they’ve got finger prints this time and a hair sample which is a welcome bonus so he reckons they will have it closed by 5pm. 

They close it by 4.30pm. Female – 45 – unhappy that her ex-husband had moved on to a younger version of her. 

Gregory doesn’t bring up the subject of alternative places to work again that day until later when he and Sal are sat in the pub around the corner from Scotland Yard. He’s sent the rest of the team home; double murder investigations – even easy ones like this – can literally suck the life out of you. There’s so much paperwork that it can consume everything. Not that Greg isn’t used to being surrounded by death and blood, but a full 24 hours of it can get a bit much.

“I do wonder,” Greg says slowly, because he needs to word what he is going to say carefully. “How long I can carry on doing this for.”

“Sir?”

“I’m just thinking about those TV detectives, you know the ones we were talking about today, they don’t show the other side of it, or if they do it becomes the characters ‘thing’.” He doesn’t use any example of his own - his own failed marriage, unhealthy relationship (at times) with alcohol or the distant relationship he has with his own 18 year old son because he doesn’t need to. He and Sal have two failed marriages between them. 

“Bit different me and you though,” she says eventually. She’s also right too. “You weren’t married to a cop, I was. Should have expected it.”

“They where both shagging others. Same shit, different profession.”

“Thank god they weren’t shagging each other.”

Greg laughs at this. Hindsight is a beautiful thing and he knows it. In hindsight he wouldn’t have married Jenna and he should have seen the clues she was sending  that she wasn’t happy – but he didn’t which, is why he now finds himself alone, living in a flat above a laundrette and a 3 day old curry in the fridge.

“I still wonder though, how long…. I’m 54 Sal. I’ve got my years in.” It’s a subject that Greg and Sal have touched on a number of times, him moving on. Promotion, retirement, transfer, whatever. She’s ready to leap to Inspector, yet for some reason she has been holding back from moving on because of him. It’s probably time and they both know it. “There’s a Detective Chef Inspectors job come up - serious crimes division.” He says cautiously. “I’m thinking of going for it.” It’s a better then retirement at the moment. He’s not ready to play golf or wear slippers all day.

“I saw it,” she replies. “Cheshire Constabulary?”

“Yeah.”

“Saw it. I had wondered. And yeah you should. It’s time, sod the fictional cops.” 

===

The first step is applying. Well actually the first step is to inform his two immediate superiors, he knows they will be supportive, they’ve been pushing him for a while but for some reason he can’t explain – not out loud anyway – why he’s resisted it. He tells them over coffee and shows them the details. Both agree to give him a good reference and send him on his way with a glowing report if he gets it. He suspects they are probably glad to see the back of him because if he goes, Sherlock Holmes will be around less. Not that he’s around as much these days but Greg did give him a lot a leeway.

The second step is the man himself, Sherlock. He combines completing the ‘expression of interest letter’ first and then secondly the online application form with Dr John Watson who in turn will deal with Sherlock. They spend ages pouring over his experience and knowledge. The qualifications part he’s already nailed and the exceptional officer requirement speaks for itself. He had a perfectly respectable completion rate even without Sherlock but it’s nice to see it all written down. 
Of course John is outraged, he’s worried and Greg gets that – when isn’t John worried, but when Greg explains how he has been feeling, John gives Greg a look of resignation that he’s only seen a couple of times on the man. “It’s a long way to Cheshire.”

“It is mate.” Greg replies as he hits submit on the online application. “It comes with a good relocation package though, nice benefits. The cost of living is cheaper too.”

“How am I going to tell Sherlock though Greg?”

It’s a question that’s flashed through Greg’s mind numerous times. Sherlock can be difficult, he doesn’t like change, but he has John now and he seems to getting on better with his family too so maybe it’ll be a good thing. “Just tell him, just tell him over a cup of tea, while you are brushing your teeth, I don’t know, just wait till I’ve been successful – or not – then tell him.”

===

The interviews are the May the day after Greg’s birthday which means he gets a night in a hotel just outside Warrington, a five minute face time with his son who wishes him a forced ‘happy birthday’, a three course evening meal and a complimentary spa treatment if he wants one. The next day the interview goes well he thinks; they seem thrilled he might be fulfilling their diversity quota - something he isn’t going to overthink and he tries not to pour over his answers too much. Instead he has a drive around the area and a look at the small town and apartment complex they have suggested for the relocation package. It’s nice, quiet, there seems to be some classy restaurants there, he thinks he possibly might be in footballers wives territory but he can’t be 100% certain. 

They call him as he is half way down the M6 near the toll road. 

He tells them three months notice is the norm but he guesses they knew that already.

===

The next time the phone rings Greg has just joined the M25, and the back of a queue that according to the traffic updates on his phone, is four miles long and is due to a car fire. This time it’s a restricted number but Greg knows who it is, only one person uses a government restricted line and immediately declines the call with a flick of his finger. He’s not ready for that conversation yet, not until he has walked through the front door of his flat and taken his new suit off.

And even then he’s not sure he’ll be ready.

===

His mobile rings a further six times that evening. Greg busies himself with stripping his suit off, bobbing the Marks and Spencer meal for one he purchased on the way home in the oven and a quick shower to rid himself of the long drive.

There’s no messages left – because of course there isn’t. Gregory knows that Mycroft Holmes does not do voice mail – text, yes – boy can he text – but voice mail no. ‘I’d rather talk than leave a message on one of those infernal machines’ he’d told Greg once. Greg as always wondered if that’s the reason Mycroft text’s so much (or not in this instance) – impersonal and functional - ‘no feelings involved’ he had once told him over dinner. It had made Greg cringe inside – the kisses at the end of messages and the odd emoji he’d added to his messages to Mycroft suddenly turned silly. Now he realised it was just Mycroft pushing him away. 

No feeling.

No contact.

You are not my priority.

He thinks about this as his phone rattles away on the corner of the sink unit a restricted number flashing up on its screen. “Fuck off,” he shouts at it and if by magic the damn thing goes silent.  

===

A month later and Greg is now in the position to tell his team he is leaving them. They take well, most are happy, some aren’t. He suspects that’s because he knows they won’t get an easy ride with Sally. He was pleased as punch when she waltzed through the application and promotion board and he can already see her starting to take more of the lead when they get a shout.

It’s at one of these shouts – dead body, Thames – probably a jumper but Greg wants to make sure so requests an autopsy anyway, that a familiar black Audi pulls up silently.

“It’s only taken him six weeks Sir.” Sal says over his shoulder. Sal knows all about his history with Mycroft. She drank half a bottle of whiskey with him and his broken heart the night the elder Holmes had dumped him. She’d even offered to hold his silver fox hair back (her words) if he’d of gotten sick – a comment that had made Greg laugh for over an hour and then sob uncontrollably for another. 

“He’s been ringing.”

“Still?”

“Yeah, just calls, texting someone is impersonal apparently.”

“He’s full of shit.”

“He’s something.”

Of course Mycroft takes his time getting out of the car. Greg suspects he’s girding his loins for the conversation or something. Greg tries not to give a shit about it and shakes his head when the back door slowly opens. “Such a fucking diva.”

That comment earns him a laugh from Sal as he hears her walk off back towards the body. 

The Mycroft Holmes that steps out the car isn’t the Mycroft Holmes that Greg knows well though. For a kick off there’s the hair. Ruffled and looking more it’s natural colour (something that Greg had loved about him) than ever, it blows in the wind leaving a small curl sitting across his forehead. Well okay, Greg thinks and his eyes follow the line of the other man’s body. He’s lost weight too. The suit is sitting a little large on his shoulders (yes Greg took note when watching the new Queer Eye) and it’s hanging completely out of shape. It’s the beard though that catches Greg’s eye the most, not bushy or long fairly neat and very ginger and very not Mycroft.

“Is he okay?” Sal asks, causing Greg to jump. He hadn’t heard her walk back up behind him.

“He’s…” Greg starts to say but he can’t put words where there is none. 

“It’s looks good on him, the beard. I like it.” 

Greg likes it too he dares to admit to himself. But there’s something else that he can’t put his finger on that’s bothering him. 

Of course Mycroft heads directly for him as soon as the car door slams closed. “I’ll deal with him Sal.” Greg says with a sigh. He wonders what it is this time. Diplomat? MP? Cabinet Official? The body had been male, middle aged – looked like a business man. Could be one of Mycroft’s lot.

“Problem?” He asks as Mycroft gets closer. He forgoes the niceties – because they are well fucking beyond that now. Instead he chooses his words carefully and tries not to look at the dark patches under the man eyes. Pale, lack of sleep, shit diet. Three for three – he’s a text book case. “This technically isn’t mine, everything goes through Donovan now.”

Mycroft flinches at that, so he knows, Greg thinks. Good. Saves telling him and having to piss about explaining his reasons. 

“No problem Inspector. I was passing and…”

“You thought, you check it out?” Greg interrupts. “Not one of yours is he, possible suicide. Sal’s getting an autopsy done. I can arrange for her to forward you on the report if needed.” It’s easier this way, Greg thinks. Focus on work, the stuff he knows, everything else can piss its way down the Thames.

“No, no need.” Mycroft replies. He swallows deeply before continuing. “It would not be who you would forward it onto anyway.”

Greg feels his eyebrows shoot up in response. “Eh?” He knows it’s not the most dignified of responses he could have made but fuck it. “Who then?”

“Anthea, she will now be your teams liaison.”

“Anthea?”

“Yes.”
For a moment Greg wonders if he has entered a parallel universe because Mycroft Holmes not having his finger in the Met’s pie anymore just feels… well wrong. He takes another hard look at his former lover and tries not to purse his lips hard enough so they bleed. He’s lost, Greg thinks, he can see it more now Mycroft is closer. Gone is the hard edge, the sharp lines have blurred. 

“My status is being downgraded.”

“Wow. Okay. That’s not what I expected.” Because it isn’t, not in the slightest – Mycroft’s job is his life. Greg was categorically told numerous times where he stood on the pecking order of things and that was no where near the top. “Have you requested this change or is it being forced?” It’s a personal question and he knows it will rub Mycroft up the wrong way but fuck it, it’s done now.

“It’s…” 

Before Mycroft can answer though he is disturbed by Sal route marching up the small pier they found the body under muttering something about a gun shot wound.

“Back of the head,” she states with a quick nod to Mycroft. “Physically impossible he did it himself.”

Bollocks.

“Right, well. Wonderful.” Greg says pinching the bridge of his nose. By the time he has opened his eyes Mycroft is gone.

 

 

Chapter Text

It’s July before Greg has the opportunity to begin packing his belongings up and (as his mother said when he had finally told her) ‘to get this show on the road’. It’s not that he’s been putting it off; he literally just hasn’t had the time. The River Thames murder? The gun shot to the back of the head?  That turned into a manhunt when another four bodies where discovered by two amateur Thames Mudlarker’s looking for roman coins. They got the guy in the end, but not before he had to remind himself Mycroft wasn’t at the end of the phone anymore, talk Sal out of resigning her promotion because she thought she wasn’t good enough (she really is) and a hostage situation involving said murderer. 

By the middle of July though, his flat is filled with boxes and he is able to take a day off in lieu and travel up north to collect the keys to his flat. He is surprised therefore when he receives a phone call from his son Connor asking if he could tag along for the journey.

“What’s brought this on?” Greg asks as he puts the car into gear and pulls out of the end of the street they all used to live on. Of course Jenna had thrown a filthy look at him from behind the iron gates Greg had paid for but to be honest? He wasn’t going to rise to her bait, especially at 5.30am in the morning. “I mean, I’m not knocking it kid, but we haven’t exactly been on speaking terms recently.”

It’s a blunt question and Greg knows it will take Connor a while to answer; in fact it takes his son over an hour to even acknowledge Greg has asked him something. 

Greg can still see the little boy he’s comforted so many times in the very adult looking young man with shoulder length hair and a small white spacer in his ear currently sat next to him, so he gives him that time to get his words out. He’s like Greg in that respect even though he is the spitting image of Jenna. Each word spoken is well rehearsed and thought out. It’s the reason Greg thinks hates press conferences so much, there you are on the spot and any old shit can be thrown at you.

“Well,” Greg asks again as they pull onto the M1. “You thought of something yet?”

“I’m going to University in Manchester,” Connor says quietly. “In September.”

Its news to Greg but also that doesn’t surprise him. They’ve hardly been on speaking terms. He likes the idea of Connor being in the north closer to him though. It will give Greg the excuse to venture to a big city once in a while and his son an out of town base. His new flat has a second bedroom and still cost half the price of his small rented room in London.

 “So I thought it might be a good idea to come up with you,” Connor continues. “Thought maybe, we could go into Manchester, to see it. I mean I’ve been already with Mum… but thought you might want to look too.”

Well okay, Greg thinks. It’s not the journey he had planned but he can certainly accommodate it - London to Manchester and back in a day, yeah he could do it. “I need to go to the new place first, but yes, we can go into Manchester, have a look around, did you decide on a subject in the end?” His son is super clever, Maths, Chemistry, Statistics, the choice Greg suspects is endless.

“BSc in Biomedical Sciences. Studying plants, animals… biomedical use stuff. ”

Greg is still none the wiser after a full twenty explanation.


===

By 12pm, Greg has seen his flat, admired the large balcony he didn’t know was his – “you don’t get this in London,” and the spacious living ./ dining area that is probably bigger than the whole flat he lives in now.

“It’s alright this Dad,” Connor says they make their way back to the car and honestly? It’s the best thing Greg has heard his son say in years.

“You'll visit then, when you are not out partying?”

“Yeah, course. If I get in.” Connor replies with a laugh and Greg feels himself smile so hard he’s worried the expression may stick.

By 3pm they are in the city centre and searching for something to eat. They eventually find a small Spanish restaurant serving Tapa’s just off the main drag where Greg spends the first ten minutes marvelling at the menu and cost of the food.

“It’s so much cheaper than London,” he states numerous times. By the fifth or sixth time of him saying it Connor is giving him a dirty look and gently kicking him under the table.

“So,” Greg says in between a bite of spicy chorizo sausage, “are we going to talk about what’s been going on?”  

He hates this, and he knows that Connor hates it too. But for some reason Greg needs to know what’s been happening, and why his son suddenly backed away with the contact. One minute they where fine, the next they weren’t. It’s a shitty thing to compare it too but for a brief moment his son's behaviour reminds him of Mycroft’s. There one day and gone the next with no – well hardly – any explanation except some random bullshit about Queen and Country. 

He watches as Connor takes a deep breathe and a slow gulp of his drink. He looks so vulnerable Greg thinks and for a split second he wonders if he has pushed his son a little too far. Maybe Connor isn’t ready to talk, maybe it’s too hard, maybe… suddenly Greg starts to panic that something terrible has happened and a Tapas’ restaurant in Manchester isn’t really the place to talk about it…

“You beat me too it.” Connor says quietly. 

“Pardon? What?” Greg snaps. He can see his son is nervous but this isn’t an interrogation and he needs to remember that. “Go on,” he says more calmly.

“You beat me too it…I… I’m gay Dad and you beat me too it.”

“Sorry what?” Honestly? Greg hadn’t been expecting his son to say that.

“I’m gay Dad, and you beat me too it. Came out before me. With the guy? Mike? The one Mum said you where seeing.”

Jesus Fucking Christ Greg thinks and for a heartbeat  he is shell shocked beyond speech. First of all he wants to call Jenna and blast her out. How fucking dare she drag Mycroft into their shit. How fucking dare she tell their son about his sex life without his permission. It’s childish but he wants to ask Connor if she told him about her infidelity and all the people she was shagging because fuck her, but he doesn’t. He can’t.

It’s not about him.

Or her.

Or Mycroft – although he knows he now needs address that with Connor. 

It’s about son and the fact he has just come out to him.

“Bloody hell son, can we start at the top?” Greg asks with a slurp of fresh orange juice. He laughs to himself because he wishes he had alcohol because boy does he need it, but he has to drive hundreds of miles home and although Connor can drive he’s not insured and holy shit… “Can we start with the fact I’m so fucking proud of you right now? You are so brave. I’m so please you can finally trust me with this. Your Mum knows right?”

Connor nods slowly and for the first time looks him directly in the eye. Greg doesn’t show much emotion while out in public, his job has striped that from him, but right now he really wants to lean over the table and hug his son hard.

“Yeah mum knows.”

“She take it well?”

Connor shrugs. “She did, but then told me like father like son.”

“Right.” Greg fights the urge to call her right now and have it out with her.

“I love Mum. But she...” Connor waves off the rest of the sentence with his hand. 

Greg had received the same reaction from Jenna when he had told her he was in a relationship with Mycroft. He’d always been up front about his sexuality throughout their marriage so had been surprised when Jenna had kicked off giving him hell about hiding it from her and accusing him of ‘no doubt shagging half of London’, behind her back. He hadn’t but at the time he hadn’t had the energy to defend himself. He’d been in a good place with his job and sex life. He and Mycroft had been good and well there was nothing else to say except to ask Jenna to allow him to tell Connor himself.

Apparently she couldn’t bring herself to even do that.

Greg suddenly hates her a little bit more than he did before.

===

“So Dad, you still with him?” The question comes after a long conversation Greg feels he needs to have with Connor about safe sex, did he have a boyfriend (no) and the dangers of binge drinking at University (I don’t like alcohol). He’s got a feeling his son has heard it all before but Greg can tell from the glint in Connor’s  eye that he appreciates the effort. “Mike, the guy you where still seeing, you still together?”

They’d left Manchester an hour earlier, not before visiting the university Connor hoped he could attend and doing a rekey on the halls of residence he would be applying for. For such a good day the question therefore feels out of place a little and makes Greg take a deep breathe and suck at his teeth hard.

“I’ll take that as a no then,” Connor states with a laugh. “Come on Dad, spill.”

It takes Greg a while to form an answer. How does a person explain the complexities of a relationship first with Sherlock Holmes brother with an 18 year old? And then on top of that with a man who practically runs the government. And that was another thing Greg needed to sort out too what was going on with Mycroft right now? Downgraded? Mycroft? It just didn’t seem sit comfortably with Greg even though the problem was no longer his. Perhaps he should have asked more questions that day next to the Thames but he’d disappeared so quickly and Greg was more focused on the dead body that his ex’s ruffled appearance. There’s a good chance Mycroft may not have told him anyway but…

“Dad?”

“Yeah, right. Where to start. Mike is actually called Mycroft Holmes.”

“Cool name.”

“It is isn't it? Anyway, he’s Sherlock Holmes brother, you know the guy-.”

“I read the blogs Dad. Kids at school recognise my surname.”

Greg hadn’t expected that. “So okay. Anyway we met years ago when Sherlock was slightly more dependant on substances and Mycroft spent a lot of time dragging him out of some of the more unsavoury areas of London. I was still with your Mum then and I never thought anything of it. A few years past though and everything changed and one night he invites me out for dinner.”

“Had he not done that before?”

“No,” Greg thinks back to the night in question. He’d worn a new suit and shirt and polished his shoes. “He hadn’t. So we went out for dinner and it went on from there.”

He doesn’t mentioned the mind blowing sex they had later that evening or the ‘booty calls’ as Greg had called them in the back of the Audi because it’s not suitable for his sons ears. They happened though, more times than Greg cares to even admit to himself.

“And now?” Connor asks. 

“Now?”

“Yeah.”

For some reason Greg suddenly feels very nervous. His son would have made a very good police officer he thinks; his interrogation techniques were nearly as good as his own. “It ended – Myc ended it.”

“Did he give a reason?”

Greg shakes his head a little and tries to concentrate on the road even more than he was before. It’s technically a lie, Mycroft did give a reason but to say it out loud would make it sound even more ridiculous than it actually was.

“Dad?”

“It’s…”

For the first time in a long time Greg suddenly feels emotionally stripped bare and he’s in that place because his 18 year son apparently can read him like a book. He never imagined having to explain how his relationship with Mycroft had broken down to anyone except Sal so for it eventually to do it again to his only offspring is a little discombobulating. 

“He told me he needed to spend more time at work,” Greg begins and suddenly thinks it may be easier to do this if Connor had a bit of background information.

“Myc works for the British Government, like an advisor or something, security services, suits, top secret stuff, think of Bond. Or I think he did because  when I saw him last he said… anyway he was spending a lot more time at work and when I confronted him about it, he verbally slapped me down and told me it was none of my business. In fact, he told me I was a distraction-.”

“Dad…”

“He told me that it would be better for us to end our ‘liaison’ – that’s what he called it, and told me to leave.”

“Leave?”

“Yeah. We where practically living together.”   

===

They get into London just before midnight. Connor hugs him before he gets out of the car and Greg feels like for the first time in a long time his heart is healing a little. “Next weekend? You can come over and help me finish boxing up my stuff?” He asks. 

“Yeah dad.”

His flat is in darkness when he finally manages to find a parking space and get inside so it comes as a bit of a shock to find Sherlock sat on his sofa reading the car magazine Greg had left there the day before.

“I never liked the Volvo brand,” Sherlock says with a flick of the page, “I do like the new XC40 though, it looks robust and they give it five stars, maybe it’s something you should keep an eye out for one when you move to the country.”

“It’s Cheshire, hardly the wilderness Sherlock.”

“It’s not London.”

For some reason that tickles Greg and he laughs out loud. He isn’t going to overthink how Sherlock broke in to his flat but he can’t deny the man is right, it’s not London and Greg suddenly can’t wait. He can’t wait to get out of the city, away from the hustle and bustle and away from anything connected to a Holmes brother.

“So John finally told you, I wondered when you’d show an appearance.”

“Mere details Lestrade. I’ve known for a while. You’ve been up north today? Manchester, Tapas’, your son, a new flat.” 

Sherlock’s ability to deduce irritates and astounds Greg still to this day, but he can’t help but smile when Sherlock lifts his chin up in a challenge.

“What do you want Sherlock? I’m exhausted, back at work tomorrow. I have three weeks left and two cases I need to close – which I might add – I don’t need your help with thank you very much, so spit it out or leave, whichever is quicker. I’m still going. I’m still leaving London. I’m won’t be here this time next month.”

It takes a while but Greg sees the exact moment that Sherlock realises that he’s serious. Maybe he’d thought John was lying, but it’s a look he hasn’t seen on the consulting detectives face much over the years. 

“You’re really going.”

“I am.” He gestures to the partially boxes around him. “Finally clicked has it? How long have you been giving John shit for ‘bluffing’? Actually no, don’t answer that, just get it out what you want to say and go home. I’m exhausted.”

To distract himself from Sherlock’s continued huffing and puffing Greg begins to slip off his shoes and flicks the kettle on for a brew. It’s a bit late for caffeine so he grabs a decaf teabag Mycroft had made him keep in stock. The smell of it brewing instantly sends a bolt of pain through his veins. He hates that he man still has that effect on him.

He throws the half empty box of teabags in the bin. 

“My brother is up to something.”

“Not my problem anymore Sherlock.” Because it isn’t. 

“Well it should be.”

Greg sighs in frustration and refuses to stop himself from pinching the bridge of his nose. Deduce that Holmes. “Your brother ended our ‘liaison’ and that’s that.” He's used that word twice today but it was time he accepted how Mycroft saw their time together.

“Is that why you are proceeding with this stupid plan to move ‘up north’?”

No. Yes. Maybe Greg thinks but it’s about a fuck tonne other stuff too. He’s tired, he wants promotion, and he doesn’t want to retire or work in London anymore.

He doesn’t reply.

“My brother is being ousted from his role like an old warship off the the breakers yard. This government wouldn’t know a good thing if it hit them in the face. I may dislike his methods but even I’m loathed to admit he’s probably got us out of a number of sticky situations over the past thirty years.”

“So what’s he going to do?” Greg asks because there’s too much information for him to process in Sherlock’s rant.

“I don’t know.”

Mycroft always knows what he is going to. He can read a situation better than Sherlock. He’ll have plans, goals; the man is never ever anything other than efficient. “Bullshit.”

“It is the truth Lestrade. You cannot see what is in front of your eyes though can you?”

“It’s too late for this Sherlock. I’m leaving London. Go home to John.”

Because he is, everything is in place. He starts a new job in August, has a new flat, a new suit, a new start. This time next month he will be Detective Chief Inspector Gregory Javier Lestrade, Serious Crimes Division, Cheshire Police.

And won’t be coming back either. 

Not even if the Queen and Country asks him herself.

Chapter Text

Two days before Greg is due to leave and the night of his leaving do’ there is a terror incident in the city centre. Five separate sequential explosive devices are found attached to Vauxhall Bridge at equal distances from one another. Two activated, causing on-fatal injuries to six people, damage to the bridge and a number of vehicles around them, the third bomb is reported to have failed to detonate. The perpetrator is stopped from manually activating the misfiring device by a professional rugby player from Yorkshire on a three day break with his other half. According to the rugby players fiancé, the terrorist hadn’t factored in a 6ft 2in prop forward to his plans, nor had he factored in getting rugby tackled (literally according to the verbal report Greg gets off Sal) carrying the man 23 feet away and holding him down for ten minutes while another man (a gentleman on his daily commute) hit him over his head with a briefcase. 

Of course London goes onto full lockdown and from 11am to 4pm Greg is stood on a bridge surrounded by armed officers, various secret service agents (the bridge is next to the SIS building) and the counter terrorism unit. He half expects to see a black Audi too but then remembers that Mycroft has apparently been effectively made redundant (something he still isn’t sure even he can even process at the moment).

“Treat this as your going away present.” Sal says to him as they walk through his still-full-of-shit-office. He had put aside some time to pack it all up – he still has a wall full of certificates and commendations to sort out - but needs must.

“Thanks Sal, just what I always wanted. London on full lockdown and some dickhead strapping bombs to a bridge. It’s like they knew I was going and thought to themselves let’s fuck him up one last time lads.” He doesn’t actually think that. He’s actually quite shocked how the terrorist managed to get away with fastening the damn things to it anyway but that’s not his problem. 

“Aw come on Sir. This time next week you’ll be sunny Cheshire.”

He will be. And truthfully, Greg thinks to himself? Isn't that that a run of sunshine in all this darkness. 

It’s funny how he’s gone from wanting to be in London and the Met, to now not wanting anything to do with it at all. Something has changed in him over the past few weeks. There’s still some niggles that he can’t help worry about, one of them being the whereabouts of tall, pale and ginger, (and boy, has that frustrated him) but he knows, deep down, it’s the right decision.

“Your flat all clear now?” Sal asks as she flops down into one of the more comfy office seats he somehow managed to procure from the budget. 

“Yep, handed my keys in this morning before all this kicked off and the stuff went up yesterday. The removals company called me earlier to tell me it’s all in and set up.” 

Sal’s eyebrows shoot up at that. “That’s…efficient.” 

“It’s the new me apparently.”

“Fucking hell…Hotel till Saturday morning and then you are off?”

Greg nods and then laughs with her as it dawns on him they probably won’t be going for a drink later. “I’m not getting a leaving do am I?”

“I think we may be pushing it a little if we all go out boozing while the rest of the force is on high alert.” 

Greg sighs. He feels guilty for wanting to say goodbye to his team rather than deal with a terrorist but he gets it. He does. Stuff happens and gets prioritised and he thinks to where he has he heard someone say that before? Yeah, country comes first and a terrorist attack is right there at the top of the list. He knows though that the next two days are going to be hectic; tomorrow he really does need to pack up his office and then Friday he’s got a full day of exit interviews, and HR stuff and hand in his ID. He might not even get the chance to get back up to the parade room.

“Sal…”

“Shush, I know what you are going to say.” 

Greg bites back a smart arsed answer, instead he settles on the truth. “Best DS I’ve worked with.”

“Best Inspector I’ve worked with too.”

“You’ve only ever worked with one!” 

The laughter that follows reaches the other side of the office.


===

Greg is surprised to find out he has a team of five Senior Investigating Officers under him whose patches cover East Cheshire. In London they would have had that many SIO’s for one small area but as he has said to himself more than once already these past four months, ‘he isn’t in Kansas anymore Toto’

The far most northern division covers the area just below the Greater Manchester patch and is close to where Greg is now based so it’s no surprised that he sees a lot of the SIO for that area, an Inspector Chris Dudley, (35, 6ft 4in, Greek god like) -  a lot. 

“Sir,” Dudley says as he knocks on the door for the third time that day. He reminds Greg of himself a little at that age – keen, focused, pretty fucking good at his job even if Greg says so himself. Dudley had made a point of telling Greg early on that he was in a relationship with and looking to get married to a teacher called Tom and asking if that going to be a problem. Greg had told him straight up, no because his ex was called Myc (he never mentions Jenna) and ever since then they seemed to have found common ground, even more so when Greg turned up with a rainbow badge pinned to his lapel Connor had given him.

“Yeah?” Greg answers. He’s needs a break anyway. If he signs off any more overtime forms he’s going to develop repetitive strain injury in his hand.

“You’ve got a visitor at reception.”

Greg looks up from the form he’s about to sign with smile. It’s actually grimace because he really needs to talk to Spencer, (41, bit of a dick) one of his other DI’s about their overtime spend, but he thinks he hides it well enough. “Okay? Do we know who it is?”

“Female, dressed posh. In fact, Sir? Do you know what? She is posh. She’s really fucking posh.”

Greg only knew one woman who dressed posh, spoke posh, was really fucking posh, and it wasn’t Sal or his ex-wife. “Send her up. She got any ID?”

Dudley shakes his head and pulls of face that says ‘what do you think’. “Nah, she doesn’t look like she needs ID to be honest.”

Definitely Anthea then. His suspicious are confirmed when the familiar long dark hair of Mycroft’s assistant – or ex assistant – because Greg isn’t sure what she does now – comes striding through his office like she bought and paid for it. 

“Anthea, a pleasure as always, managed to park your Audi okay? Or is it tucked in your handbag?”

That earns him a small smile. Greg has always had a good relationship with Anthea; he's missed her a little. They somehow bonded over how to deal with a ‘Holmes’. Admittedly at times it was the same Holmes they needed to corral but he was sure the feeling was mutual.   

“Detective Chief Inspector Lestrade. And yes my Mercedes is outside.”

“Just call me Greg; we’ve known each other long enough. You know the score,” Greg replies with smile.

“Gregory then… Congratulations on your promotion. You are well?”

It’s long time since Greg has heard someone use his full name. In fact there was only ever two people who did, his mother and Mycroft, so to hear it out in the wild again makes his heart skip a beat and it takes him a moment to reply. “Thanks, I’m good ty, and you?”

Later when Greg replays this conversation over in his head he’ll probably overthink the long pause that takes before Anthea answers. He’s not good at the deducing game, that was Sherlock’s bag but even he can see that something is bothering her (and nothing ever bothered Anthea).

When she doesn’t answer for a further minute and looks at him like there has been a glitch in the matrix, he decides the best course of action might be to just come out with it. It’ll be easier for both of them he suspects. 

“Where is he?”   

“New York.”

Okay, well he hadn’t expected that. When Greg had suggested they go there for their one year anniversary Mycroft had shot him down (far too many people).

“Doing what?”

“He says a holiday.”

“And you think that’s bullshit?”

“It is bullshit.”

Well okay. For some reason, hearing Anthea swear, makes Greg smile. He remembers her stoic persona quite well and swearing normally didn’t come into it. Like Mycroft, she probably believed that swearing was a verbal emotion that was not to be displayed at any time. Of course in private Myc swore like a fucking trooper in private, but in public… 

“How longs he been there?”

“Three months.”

Greg’s eyes widen at that, he tries not to look shocked but he is. “That’s some holiday. So why are you coming to me? I have no control over your boss. We broke up; I’ve never had any influence on his movements, our ‘liaison ended, Myc decided work came first,” the irony of the latter part of that particular statement considering the current situation is not lost on Greg at all. “We’ve moved on. Well I have. He…”

“He was pushed Lestrade. Pushed. Apparently the new trend in the government is to employ beanie wearing short sighted idiot advisors whose first thought is naturally for themselves.” Anthea shouts. From the corner of his eye he can see his whole office look up in concern. It’s a nice feeling knowing they already have his back. No one more so than Dudley who is up out of his seat so fast that Greg quickly shoots an ‘I’m okay’ nod across at him as Anthea continues to rage. “They gave him a month. A month. In the fifteen years we have worked together I have never Mr Holmes mentally withdraw from a situation as quickly as he did after that. They broke him - in a month. Even when you…what I mean is... god damn it. Complete piss artists the lot of them.” 

Her fingers are so tightly wound with tension Greg is surprised she hasn’t broken the arms of his chair.

“So he was pushed.” Greg says carefully. He simply doesn’t know how to respond to a lot of it - especially the part that involved him. 

“Yes.”

“Okay.” No ifs or buts then. Straight from the horses mouth this time. Sherlock had indicated months ago this had been the case but Greg still couldn't wrap his head around it. 

For a brief moment he is suddenly reminded of all the times he stayed at Mycroft’s flat near Whitehall. By then they where almost living together, they would both leave for work at the same time, Greg would cook in the evening and have a meal ready for them both as his lover walked through the door. He would listen as Mycroft vented over a Spag Bol about someone undermining him or not listening to his advice while getting tomato sauce on his shirt. Even when he was annoyed he would talk passionately about what he did. The ‘minor official’ title he gave himself? Greg has seen through that straight away, which in the end made life easier when he came home at night. They’d sit on Myc’s comfortable sofa (it had taken Greg a while to show him the virtues and benefits of lounge wear but when he got it, he excelled) and just talked. They watched reality TV (‘Start your engines girls’) and ate popcorn. Then it just stopped.

It still broke Greg’s heart.

Still.

Even now. 

And my god wasn’t that a strange thing to finally admit too.

“What do you want from me Anthea?” he asks slowly. 

“I want you to bring him home.”

===

That night Greg gets home after midnight so he doesn’t have time to process anything Anthea said to him. In fact he doesn’t really have time to think about anything. DI Shadiya ‘Call me Miah’ Kumar, (a 42 year old Mum of one who Greg thinks Sal might have a been cloned from), who covers the sector furthest away from his base gets a report of a dismembered body in an abandoned farm house on one of the National Trust Properties that seem to litter this area. Of course it goes national immediately and Greg finds himself issuing a statement to the network press about the find while stood in pouring rain under a black umbrella that he thinks might be Mycroft’s spare. 

“Anyone would think you’ve done that before boss.” Kumar says with a grin later that evening.

Anyone would be right.

He checks afterwards that the umbrella isn’t loaded.

It isn’t.

It’s just an umbrella.

Chapter Text

Greg sleeps poorly that night. He spends it tossing and turning and listening to the rain hit the wooden decking on his balcony. In the end he gives up and turns the TV on he has had fixed the wall for such occasions. He ends up watching an western staring John Wayne. It’s the not the best of his films but it helps him to eventually close his eyes. 

The next morning at 7am precisely Greg wakes to barrage of text messages. He has taken to turning his phone off or putting it on silent when he isn’t on call or, like last night has gotten in late. It takes him a while to read them in between showering, sorting out email updates sent to him over night from DI Kumar and rescuing a stranded bird on his balcony but read them he does. 

Sal:  Looking good. Cheshire suits you. Next time warn me when you are doing a press conference on the BBC – I nearly spat my wine out.

Sherlock: There’ll be more bodies. Mark my words.

John:  I’ll call you later

Connor:  You’re famous! X

Anthea: Now I understand why you had to leave so quickly

DI Dudley: Ring when you get this

DI Kumar: We’ve got another 

He deals first with his DI’s because it’s his job and he is an adult. 

This time the body was found on DI Dudley’s patch (again on a National Trust property) and is in a worse condition than the previous. “Do think we’ve got a serial killer?” he asks them over a conference call. They are both up to their eyes balls in their own respective dump sites when he speaks to them. Before he leaves he only just remembers DU Dudley’s advice to 'wear wellies' for his crime scene and runs back upstairs to grab the pair he brought with from London for such occasions.

He texts Sal back during the daily morning briefing. He’s already had the full low down on Dudley’s body on the commute in – male, mid twenties – so he doesn’t need to pay as much attention as he would normally. Instead he and Sal compare and contrast current cases and she let’s him know Sherlock has been in already that morning.

“What did you give him?” Greg asks as he walks back into his office. There is already a case file on his desk with photo’s from both sites in it (fucking hell is the only response he can think of).

“Robbery.”

He agrees it’ll probably keep Sherlock busy for a while. He likes a robbery to break up the death.

His son Connor gets a quick reply and a ‘stay safe’ warning because Greg can and he’s his dad.

Sherlock he ignores.

John he does call, but he is with Sherlock and they are on the underground heading towards Whitechapel and so the signal cuts off. Not a bad result he thinks in the long run seeing as Sherlock was promising more bodies.

Anthea he leaves until last. As expected she doesn’t pick up the first time and he lets to go to voicemail. For the next hour he coordinates his other DI’s and updates his Chef Superintendent on the overnight discovery. 

It’s not until 4pm that Anthea rings him. She sounds tired and weary and Greg wonders if she has been up all night attempting to find her boss. New York is a few good hours behind so he suspects she has changed her sleep pattern to match it.

“Greg, Chief Inspector, I -.” Anthea says and then stops herself from going any further. Even over the phone it sounds like it’s going to be a hard conversation he can tell by the tone she is using. Rather than interrupt he waits for a second until he can hear that she has gathered her thoughts together. “I wanted to apologise,” she begins and Greg wonders what for. Before he can ask though she takes another deep breathe cutting off his train of thought. “You’re a busy man, in a new job and I put far too much pressure on you yesterday.”

“Anthea.”

“No… apologies. My concern for Mr Holmes is…apparently…unwarranted.”

Greg knows that that’s bullshit right there. “You spoke to him.” 

“I did.”

“You don’t sound convinced its unwarranted,” Greg says.

“I’m…not. But it was unfair of me to put pressure on you to ‘go get him’.”

Greg tilts his head at that. She’s not wrong. “I can’t go get him. I won’t,” and fuck does that hurt to admit. He knows it’s not what everyone; well Anthea in particular, wants to hear. Plus he’d spent the whole night loosing sleep over it himself. Gone are days he thinks when he drops everything for Mycroft Holmes and chases him like a lap dog. 

“I’ve just started a new job, I have a new flat, I’m happy.” Well as happy as he can be – but for once Greg really believes what he is saying, even with the bodies piling up (who said the countryside was boring?!) and Myc being AWOL. 

“Do you know how he dumped me Anthea?” he finally says after another one of her pauses. 

“I don’t.”

That surprises him. Mycroft didn’t do ‘friends’ – but Greg has always thought that Anthea would be the one whom  he may have confided in. The woman bought his toiletries for crying out loud, she surely would have known this.

“He wrote me a 1459 word email.” He can hear the gasp from the other end of the line. “I mean I always knew he was wordy – why say one word to dump someone when you say 1459 of ‘em.” 

Greg remembers the day really well. He doesn’t dwell on it much nowadays but in hindsight – and he uses that word a lot when he thinks of Mycroft – he should have known something was afoot. He’d stayed at his own flat that night because Myc had gone to Brussels for a conference. The next morning he had showered, gotten ready (he was wearing one of Myc’s ties if he remembers rightly) and gone straight to the office. The email had been there waiting for him, sent at 4am, it took him over 10 mins to read and not process.

Sally had been the only one to know exactly what had gone on, he had never told anyone else. It was lucky she was the one to find him slumped in the break room tears flowing down his face “has someone died?” she had asked, feeling more dramatic then he ever had Greg had wanted to say “only my heart Sal” but he hadn’t, and for that, he was now very thankful.

He tells Anthea all this so matter of factly that it hurts him to say the words.

“The utter fool,” she eventually says. “The utter, stupid, fool.”

Greg doesn’t disagree.

“That weekend,” she begins after calming down – Greg is worried for a brief moment about condition of her laptop considering how hard she seems to be hitting the keys. “That weekend was the start of it. Brussels. As you may remember we left the UK on the Thursday PM, however just prior to our departure Mr Holmes had been pulled into a meeting with the PM, the Deputy PM and the Home Secretary, when he came out he was visibly upset. Bright red, I thought he was going to burst. It took me all the Friday to find out what was going on. To cut a very long story short, like you say he can be very wordy, they had asked him to ‘job share’ his role with another advisor, one who would ‘help to share the burden’ of the role Mr Holmes currently occupied. That person is now doing Mr Holmes' role full time.”

This time Greg pulls a face. That can’t have been a good conversation. Myc wore his heart on his sleeve at times even if he didn’t admit he did. Greg could only imagine how angry he would have been. 

“They told him,” she continues, “that he was obviously distracted and they felt he maybe needed to step back a little. Have less responsibility.”

Greg forte isn't the deduction stuff, but this he gets easily. “I was the distraction.” Greg says out loud because one of them has to say it. He’s also not in the least bit surprised. He’d half expected it, if he was being 100% honest with himself. “Something had to give.”

“He’s a fool.”

“He made a decision based on the position he was put in Anthea – I can’t be angry at him.” 

It’s strange thing feeling when you have all the information laid out before you like Greg has now. At the time it felt like shit. He’d just had his heart broken and wanted to lash out. The email and method had hurt him more than the actual dumping if he remembered, but now he realises that Myc probably hadn’t of wanted to speak to him because Greg would have been able to talk him out of it ‘we’ll deal with’ he would have said.

“Answer me one question though Anthea,” Greg says suddenly, because something doesn’t add up. “The phone calls, the visit to the crime scene on the Thames, why did he do that? He rang me nine times that night, what was he doing? And fuck Anthea, he’d lost shit tonne of weight, the hair, the beard?”

Again, it takes her a while to answer. This time she isn’t even tapping on her keyboard. “I believe, he was saying goodbye in his own silly way.”

“He’d heard about the promotion.”

“He’d heard.”

A thought suddenly dawns on him. “He didn’t have anything to do with it did he?”

“That you were leaving the Met and your new role Chief Inspector? No, I don’t believe so, I think, looking back he realised he needed to do it his way – there was no fear of any emotion getting in the way to do it while you where at work – you were very short with him, I think that helped if that offers some comfort. As for the hair, the beard and the weight loss? I heard from a very reliable medical source you also did not cope well after the relationship ended?”

“I had my moments.” He replies. 

He was going to kill John. 

Or hug him.

He’ll make his mind up the next time he see’s him.

=== 

One of the most annoying parts of his new role is sometimes – just sometimes – his DI’s seem unable to make a decision without dragging him across Cheshire so he can ‘have a look himself.’ This time – a third body, is even worse than the last and Greg thanks his past self for remembering to store his Wellington’s in the boot of his car. 

“What’ve got Spencer?” He asks joining the huddle of various officers and CSI tech’s. It's pissing down again because of course it is.

“Looks like a female this time, blonde hair, only small. Maybe 5ft 1in, or 2in. Badly beaten from what we have got of her. Same guy?”

They’ve had three bodies in seven days now and as a police force Greg knows they are in serial killer territory. Each one is worse than the next, more violent, more hated and yet up to now they have no real leads. In his moments of calm Greg tries not to think about it too much, the hated someone must have to do this to a body but sometimes it pushes him to even his flimsy limits.

For now though, Dudley and Kumar think it’s a male, and Greg agrees, Spencer is unsure. He offers up his opinion and because they are never going to agree until forensics comes back anyway. “I’m going for male; the second victim wasn’t a small guy. He carried the body across two fields as far as we can tell. I say male.”

At 8pm Greg has held his third press conference and answered a barrage of questions on identity, connection between the victims and manner of death. He also reads out an appeal and a statement from the first victim’s family. He does his bit well he thinks, it’s time consuming and part of him really does miss the the cut and thrust (no pun intended) of doing actual detective work but overall he’s happy enough with is press conference performance to grab a Chinese takeaway and a few bottles of Peroni on his commute home.

In the takeaway he calls Connor and reminds him about staying safe. ‘Yes Dad, No Dad,’ is the general theme of the conversation but Connor ends it with a ‘love you’ so Greg knows he isn’t doing such a bad job.

By the time he reaches his flat he is bone tired. He can feel the exhaustion rolling over him in waves. Normally he would climb the stairs – he hasn’t put much of the weight back on he lost earlier in the year and he’s liking the more fitted suit but tonight, to the quite frank, he can’t be arsed. The doors ping open on his floor – there are only two flats on the top level – and Greg immediately sees a figure stood by his door looking like they are about to knock. From the side Greg can see the person is fairly, tall, relatively slim and wearing what looks like a casual linen looking suit with white trainers and a roll necked top underneath.    

“You alright mate?” Greg enquires searching for his keys. He’s flustered and not really paying much attention to the guy when he says it. But he knows he hasn't got the energy for persons lost and / or door to door salesmen and how the hell have they got up here anyway-

“I’m well, Gregory and you?”

Chapter Text

Greg has always wondered how he’d react if he ever found Mycroft Holmes stood at his front door again. That’s how their relationship had actually started – Mycroft stood either at his flat or office door offering advice and support after one of Sherlock’s many adventures. A glass of whiskey here, which had led to a quick blow job there, and before Greg had realised, he was leaving a tooth brush in the man’s bathroom. Now that he has an actual Mycroft Holmes stood there, Greg isn’t sure what to say. It definitely isn’t, “why the fuck are you wearing a linen suit? It’s like the Northern Tundra up here in winter,” but that’s apparently where he is right now, so he continues anyway. “It’s the middle of winter Holmes; people normally wear that get up while standing on a beach with a cocktail in their hand.” 

He’s thrown Mycroft and he knows it, more for the use of this last name than the comment about the linen suit Greg suspects but if he’s learnt anything from the past nine… ten months or however long it’s been, he’s in no position to use his ex lovers first name in public anymore. The man had even signed off the now famous ‘break up’ email with Mycroft Edward Holmes rather than just Myc and boy had that hurt. 

Greg can see that Mycroft’s rattled though. He’s still sporting the beard, although now it looks a little better maintained and the ginger hair is cut a little closer. He not all right angles and sharp edges though anymore. For a brief moment Greg thinks he looks gentler, at ease, but then clocks the tension lines around his eyes and the white knuckle grip he has on the door knocker.

“Well?” Greg repeats, eyeing up the linen suit again. “Been somewhere warm?”

It takes Mycroft another twenty seconds to answer; Greg knows this because he counts each second.

“I’ve been away…” 

This isn’t new information of course but he goes with it anyway. “So Anthea said, New York, but that’s not winter in New York you are sporting. That’s-.”

“Dubai.”

Nice, different, not what Greg had been expecting. Mycroft had always said he wasn’t fan of the Middle East when it came to the weather. Far too hot, far too dusty was his general opinion of the place. “Holiday?”

“Work.”

So he was working again. Greg isn’t surprised or maybe he is; he’s still trying to process seeing Myc outside of London. Since finding out Mycroft had left his job with the British Government Greg wondered if he would follow through with his eventual plan to set up his own consultancy. They’d talk about it lots during those quiet wonderful evenings they had spent together lay in bed. Admittedly his plans were for when he retired and definitely not in the Middle East but needs must apparently.

“Marvellous. Why are you here then?”

“I’ve just landed…”

“Smashing,” Greg says sharply. He knows that he is being flippant, he does – but he can’t seem to help it. For some reason seeing Mycroft Holmes stood outside his flat door on a cold wet night has suddenly annoyed the shit out of Greg. Mycroft sees it straight away – the frustration - because of course he can, maybe that’s why Greg can’t help himself – Greg  has always worn his heart on his sleeve and Mycroft isn’t stupid, he’s far better at the whole deducing game than Sherlock ever could be. He could probably tell Greg what he had for lunch if they stood here long enough but Greg doesn’t have the time or the inclination to play that game tonight. “It’s just that I’ve had a long fucking day, I’ve got a serial killer on my hands and my takeaway is getting cold. So if you want to discuss stuff,” and Greg definitely isn’t in the mood to do that, or he thinks he isn’t, “now is not the time.”

Judging by the way Mycroft face twitches that exactly what he’s wants to do Greg thinks.  

“I hadn’t realised you would be so busy.”

Greg allows a snort in response to that. He can almost hear the distain and arrogance in Mycroft’s voice that Greg’s job now is somehow inferior and less important because it’s not base in London. Mycroft could be a heartless bastard when he wanted too. Apparently wearing a linen suit had not dulled his shine to much. 

“You don’t watch the news?” Greg finally asks him. He pushes past the man and opens his front door as he says it. The place is a bit of a mess and he can still see the bird shit all over his balcony his stranded pigeon had left that morning but fuck it Myc had obviously decided to launch a surprise attack on him, he got what he saw. “Three dismembered bodies, left in three separate dump sites, all National Trust properties. To be honest, I hadn’t realised that this area was a hot spot for nature but apparently the footballers wives go wild for it. Deer stood on every street corner up here. Your brother thinks there will be more. Tea? Beer?”

Mycroft shakes his head. “I’m…no.”

“Food then? I think I may have over ordered.”

“Not right now.”

“So what then? A cosy chat? Because I gotta be honest, that’s not what I had in mind for the rest of my evening. You kind of said everything you needed to say in your email months ago – which by the way Anthea now knows about.”

He can see the discomfort briefly cross Mycroft’s face. “I am aware.”

I bet you are. “You spoke to her then?”

“Yes, we have had communication on a number of occasions.”

“She misses you I think, more as a friend than anything.” Greg says truthfully. He’s starts to fill an extra bowl of food for Mycroft anyway, the guy doesn’t look like he has eaten properly for weeks and well ‘old habits due hard’ and all that. “I don’t normally eat like this by the way.” He says in way of an explanation about the junk food. “The job up here gives me a little more time to cook. Plus Connor likes a home cooked meal when he stays over, but today’s been rubbish and I’m shattered.”

“You are enjoying your new position?”

Greg has to think about that and pauses to lick at the rice and satay covered spoon as he does so. He ignores the look Mycroft has been giving his flat  since he walked in, or how uncomfortable he looks stood in his linen suit as the rain pours outside the patio window. “I do,” he says eventually. “It’s not London, but then they broke the mould when they made that place, it’s quieter – less death – not that you would think it at the moment – it’s a slower, calmer pace of life. I have a good team under me. So yes, I’m enjoying it.”

“And your serial killer?”

Greg huffs out a large sigh at that question, he walks over hands Mycroft the bowl of food as he does. “Puzzling - sit down - no real evidence, no DNA – any that may have been left is gone, the bodies cleanly dismembered off site and dumped in the middle of muddy fields – therefore he has to have 4x4 to get across some of the terrain. Sites are miles apart, only connecting factor is they are all National Trust Properties – so access is restricted – but not monitored unless the vehicle parks up. One of my DI’s is working on the theory it’s a member who has a card so they can get onsite but the bodies must be being dumped after dark and most of the sites get locked up at 7pm unless there is an event so its frustrating. Why are you here Mycroft?”

If the question distracts Mycroft it’s meant too. Greg could already see that big brain of his working, processing the case details, trying to find a non existent link to the case, so the direct question tagged onto the end will have thrown him. 

“I…”

“You know,” Greg says as he sits in the chair opposite, “for someone who can be very wordy you haven’t got many at the moment.”

“I…” Mycroft replies again. It seems to be his standard opener at the moment when he doesn’t know quite what to say. “I wanted to see you. Our last meeting by the Thames was difficult.”

“Uncomfortable, unwarranted, intrusive and frustrating you mean.”

Mycroft sighs, pausing briefly to place his still full bowl on the coffee table. For a brief moment Greg wants to reach over and pick it back up for him and demand that he finish off the contents but stops himself before he does so. He’s no longer the person Mycroft relies on to ensure he eats or drinks enough. 

He’s not that person any more.  

He hasn’t been for ten months.

“It could be described as all of those things, yes,” Mycroft continues, “but I wanted… I wanted to see you. I wasn’t sure…I came to see you at the Thames because I wanted to apologise, but I could see how angry you were with me still.”

Still?

“I was fucking furious Myc.” Greg admits (he ignores his the slip of the tongue use of Myc - he'll ruminate more about that later). “You dumped me for work. You dumped me because you had been told to take a step back and rather than allow me to support you with those changes you removed the ‘distraction’ because that, to you, was the easier option. Am I right?” 

Part of Greg wants to cross the room and shake an answer out of him but he can’t, instead he watches as the elder Holmes’ head turns toward the kitchen’s central island that Greg loves and to the mobile phone that is currently belting out the opening cords to Blur’s Country House.

“God dammnit.” Greg says with a swipe to unlock it. Control – he doesn’t need to guess why are ringing him at this time of night. It’s written all over the operator’s voice. “DCI Lestrade. Where? That’s Greater Manchester’s patch isn’t it? Altrincham? No? It’s ours, right okay. How bad? Scattered. Jesus. Been there for at least three weeks – is that what the coroner says? Do you need me? This isn’t a good time… Right… tell DI Power I will be there as soon as possible.” 

Greg will have time later to curse the timing of it but right now he needs to engage his brain, grab a coffee and shove the rest of the prawn crackers into his bag.

“Another body?” Mycroft suddenly says. Greg had almost - almost - forgotten he was there.

“Yeah. One that’s been there a while could be the first victim, who knows.”

“You must go then.”

“I should yeah.”

“I’m staying at The Mere.” 

“Right.”

“I…stay safe Gregory.”

“I always do.” Greg replies on autopilot. It was something they always said to one another as they parted. The memory of it sends a sharp pain through his chest. 

“Before I go…You might want to look at the employees.”

“What?” Greg replies with a pause. “Where?”

“The National Trust staff. They have around the clock access to sites. 4x4’s, freedom to move.”

"You think so eh?" Because Greg doesn't want to admit they've might have missed something.

"I do."

"It would seem the obvious choice."

===

The body is female according to SOCO. Skinny, blonde, wearing hiking boots and an expensive walking jacket. DI Power – one of Greg’s more senior DI’s and who has been in this game for as long as he has looks like she has seen it all before. 

“We got an ID Jane?”

“Callie Bryan. Whoever did it left her National Trust ID in her back pocket, everything else is gone. You look shattered by the way.”

“It’s been a long day. Strange end to it.”

“Sorry for getting you out. It was either call you or DCI Wells and I haven’t got time for his arsing about tonight.”

Greg waves her off with a hand. “Probably stopped me from saying or doing something I shouldn’t have.”

Power raises her eye brow at that. “Woman trouble?”

“Man.”

“You’re a dark horse Lestrade.”

“Glutten for punishment more like.”

“That why you left the big city?”

The casualness of the conversation makes Greg laugh. Only an hour ago he'd been up to his neck in tension. But Power's question is becoming easier to explain these days. “Sort of. Wanted a change of scenery. London is London. Anyway we broke up, he’s back, or semi back – I’m not sure, he didn’t get chance to explain himself, and if he had of done I’m not sure he’d of made much sense or tell me something I didn’t already know.”

Power tuts in response. “Sounds like a tit. My dead body disturb you?”

“You can always bank on a dead body to kill the mood Jane. Anyway – speak to Kumar and Dudley in the morning. Have we looked at employees yet?”

Power shakes her head. “Not sure, you think it’s a employee?”

“Maybe, access, 4x4…” Greg has been thinking it over in his brain on the drive to the crime scene. It's a decent call, they will have interviewed everyone but maybe they missed something.

“Hmmm, good shout. Anyway, if we really get stuck, we can call your mate up from London. Holmes. He likes a dead body more than I do.”

Greg laughs at that and tried to pretend he hasn’t thought about ringing the smug bastard already.

===

Its 4am by the time Greg makes it back to the flat. He almost doesn’t even have the energy to peel the suit and shirt from his body and falls asleep wearing just his socks. He wakes at 7am to use the loo and curses when he sees the anonymous missed call and voice mail notification on the screen.

“Gregory, I wanted to apologise. My turning up at your flat last night was wrong of me. I realise now you are a busy man and your day had obviously not been the best. I do hope however you are able to get some sleep and rest before you listen to this message. I fear my presence here may be counter productive, however leaving London was the only option I felt I had at the time. My position was untenable however I realise… I realise now you should have been my priority not my job and that any attempt I made to deflect the attention coming my way from Anthea was wrong. I am sorry Gregory. I will be at The Mere for a further three nights. From there on I am unsure. I have no residence in London. This is my new number.”

Greg doesn't fall back to sleep.

Chapter Text

Later that morning Greg makes the phone he needs to, not the one he wants too - because he’s an adult and adults have responsibilities to others, and while it doesn’t mean to say Mycroft’s message hasn’t been on his mind (because oh boy has it), but for once the man’s timing couldn’t have been worse. 

In fact his timing had been pretty shit. 

A month ago Greg may have listened to the whole story and heard him out, but instead he tells himself whilst dialling DI Christie’s number, that Mycroft’s a clever bloke, he’ll understand if Greg can’t return his call right away.

“Conference room 5 here at 12pm please – briefing,” he says to his DI’s answer machine. All he needs to do now is make sure Conference 5 is free.

===

It is, thanks to a Greg’s new favourite secretary Hazel. “You could have given me more notice,” she says as they head towards it. “This isn’t the Met; we don’t have an abundance of space. It’s not all go go go up here.”

Greg laughs at that and flashes her a cheeky smile - it’s a bit flirty and he knows it, but someone once said he could turn heads at 100 paces and the playful tut and shake of the head she gives him confirms he hasn’t overstepped the mark. 

At 12pm his DI’s start to pile in, Dudley and Kumar are the first to arrive, arms full of laptops and witness statements, and then a tired looking Christie who Greg thinks probably needs an IV of coffee. Spencer arrives looking like he’s been dragged through a hedge backwards (Greg had unsurprisingly received his transfer request a few days earlier, he wasn’t going to miss him – plus he’d already sent a text to Sal that he would have space on his team soon).

DI Power is late or will be according to her last text message. A visit to the morgue and an autopsy report apparently taking up her morning.

“She won’t be long Sir, she doesn’t half sound flustered. Jane never gets flustered.” Kumar says as she flops down into one of the vacant conference chairs. “She’s like a Cyberman; I don’t ever think I’ve seen her sound flustered.”

What follows is a five minute discussion on Cybermen, who was the best Master and Dudley bemoaning the fact loudly his Elliot his boyfriend is a massive Doctor Who fan. “We have fanart of the Tardis above the toilet,” he says with a look of someone who has had his fill of the show. 

Greg feels his pain. “Connor’s a massive Doctor Who fan – went to a convention last year – has a framed photo of him and Jodie Whittaker in his room at Uni.”

“Next time his goes he can take my husband,” Kumar says.

“Elliot would be up for that too – they can discuss scarfs or sonic screwdrivers with one another.”

The conversation carries on until Christie chimes in that he prefers Star Trek and suddenly Greg feels like he has finally found his way in with the detective. They haven’t had an enormous amount of contact since he started as Christie had been off sick when Greg had transferred in. He’s only been back six weeks and had continued to use the old DCI who had been promoted upwards for his peer support. Now that that had been transferred over to Greg and he understands a little more about why Christie had absent.

For that reason Greg starts the briefing by not discussing the case. It’s probably not what they are expecting but as a DCI he knows up here his team are the front line and he the rear guard. “So,” he says to the four of them – he can speak to Power separately later. “How we all doing then? And I don’t mean with the case.”

It takes a minute for them to catch up with the change in subject but they get there eventually. Dudley is the first to respond.

“I’m doing ok, the team are okay – had a small issue with a new DC but I put it down to experience not that they can’t do the job.” 

“They shadowing someone?” Greg asks as he makes a note on his pad of the DC’s name.

Dudley nods. “Yeah, all good.”

The conversation goes pretty much the same way with the others. “You guys know about the Health and Wellbeing phone line Cheshire Constabulary have right? We are dealing with some dark shit here – four dismembered bodies, multiple dump sites – it’s a lot of pressure.” Greg says with a pause. “I’ve had to use the one the Met had a few times. Bad cases involving kids, personal stuff – they are usually pretty good and it gives you someone else to speak too outside of this place.” What Greg doesn’t say is that he used a similar phone line after Mycroft had broken up with him. Sal had forced to get some help before his drinking had gotten any worse. He’d tell them if they asked the reason why – he wasn’t ashamed to admit it, even if it does have him thinking about Mycroft’s voicemail all over again. “They pointed me in the right direction.”

When they finally get around to the case in hand its 12.45pm and Power still hasn’t appeared. “Can we call her Miah? Make sure she hasn’t been bored to death by Mr Trev, you know what he gets like when he starts on Toxicology reports.” Greg asks as he flicks through the crime scene photos from the first victim. “I feel like we are missing something, like we’ve missed a really key bit of information guys. Something doesn’t feel right.”

“I agree, me and Jane said the same the other day,” Dudley says reading his notes. “It’s not adding up. It’s like whoever this is has appeared out the blue and there’s bugger all that stands out – no signature, nothing. Whoever it is knows the terrain well enough to hide the remains in locations that can’t be process well.”

Greg can’t disagree. He hasn’t seen anything like this before. “They are playing a game with us,” he says casually. It’s an off the cuff comment but he can’t be help think it’s the truth. “Any ideas for where he might appear next? What’d this place?” He asks pointing to a large area on the map, “Tatton Park. National Trust?” he’s fairly sure it is but even after five months he’s not 100% familiar with the area. 

(He probably needs to get that rectified in the summer. He has the walking boots and new wellingtons to aid him).

For the next fifteen minutes they discuss Tatton Park and tentatively agree it looks like a good dump site – if that ever could be a thing. It means shuffling the teams around a little, Christie agreeing to work with Kumar on it and vice versa if needed as Tatton falls into her patch “I’m not sure I’ve got the manpower if he decides to go there,” she says with a frustrated sigh. Christie has though and Greg instructs the two of them and Dudley to liaise and search the area and ignores the fact that Tatton Park’s land backs onto the Mere Hotel and Golf Club and Mycroft.  

At 1pm Power finally surfaces. “We thought Trev had bored you to death,” Kumar says with a smile.

Greg can see there the expression Power is carrying on her face though isn’t a smile. He also notes the oversized travel mug of coffee and packaged sandwich she is carrying. “What you got?” He inquires. “And I don’t mean what’s on your sandwich.”

“Callie Bryan?” Power replies with a huff. She looks worried and ever so slightly out of breathe. “She’s our first victim not our last. Trev says she’s been there for eight weeks not three. All the others come after it.”

Greg had suspected as much when he had seen the deposition on the body parts.

“That isn’t all though.” She continues.

“Okay…”

“Me and Chris felt like we had missed something, something big the other day. Well I think we’ve found it Sir…. It looks like he stripped her and redressed her post mortem and added another layer – one Trev didn’t find until he stripped the torso down. She was wearing an additional t-shirt that her mother says definitely isn’t hers.” Power says with a deep breath. 

“Okay…”

“One that says ‘the game is afoot Sherlock’”.

===

It had started, if Greg could remember that far back, a few years ago after a throwaway comment Sherlock had made while investigating the (in)appropriately named “the Case of the Half-Naked Golfer” (thank you John). The press, Greg told his DI’s, had been following the case as it involved a MP and an escort.

“Think Christine Keeler and the film Scandal but with golf and no Russian’s,” he says while showing them the link to John’s blog. The film reference will probably go over most of their heads Greg thinks but he’s pleased to see Jane nod when she finally makes the connection. “Sherlock had been asked to investigate due to the strange behaviour of the aforementioned MP and as he and John where seen leaving the golf club one evening Sherlock apparently said it in front of the Daily Mail and it went – according to my son – viral.”

Jane snorts disdainfully at that and Greg can’t help but agree with her. “I bet Sherlock loved that,” she says taking a bite out of her sandwich.

“Strutted about like a peacock for days.”

“So why has it now appeared in our case then Sir? Do you think whoever is doing this is playing a game? How has it now appeared on a t-shirt?” Jane continued.

Greg has to think about that and the answer is enough for him to shake his head at. It’s like he has gone right back to the beginning. There had been t-shirts, pens and mugs with the phrase on. Hard core fans who would follow the man to the ends of the earth, “Sherlock.” He says with a sigh. “This whole fucking thing is about Sherlock.”

===

“So Sherlock eh?” DI Power says as they walk up to the main house at Tatton Park. They have been there for the majority of the day and while Greg has seen the place in daylight he decides it looks a bit cold and eerie at 8pm at night. Large and stately with its long now grassed over tree lined driveway out of use Greg could imagine the place at one time being busy with carriages and people. Now it’s just full of patrol vehicles and blue flashing lights. Greg didn’t know Cheshire Police owned that many patrol cars.

“Yeah Sherlock,” Greg finally replies. “I’ve just gotta feeling.”

“A deduction?” 

Greg huffs, “Deducing was never my game that was Sherlock’s…” (and Mycroft’s but he doesn’t want to say that) “…still is. He did all the head stuff I just had to make the charge count. We once had to a make a charge stick purely on Sherlock’s theory alone. We did it of course, but it took some leg work but we did it.”

“So why do you think he’s involved now?”

Truthfully Greg isn’t sure, and he’s not quite ready to answer that question yet, but something just doesn’t ring true about the whole thing. He can’t help but think if they’d of found Callie Bryan’s body at the start they would have saved more lives and he might kick himself more about that thought later, but for now he just needs to stop the bastard before he kills again. “What colour t-shirt was she wearing – the one Trev said was dressed on her post mortem?” he asks. He can’t remember if they’d discussed it earlier. 

“Pink.”

“Pink?”

“Yeah. Mum said it couldn’t have been hers; she hated pink – more a muted colours kind of girl apparently. Took wildlife photos, the day she went missing she’d gone to take photo’s of deer so pink might of scared them off.”

Greg tilts his head at that. “Did we find the camera?”

“No. Still looking.”

“Damn it.” Now would be perfect time Greg thinks for someone to walk up to them and tell them they’d found it at the previous dump site. They’ve been at it all day, it’s getting colder, and he’s exhausted. It feels like Mycroft’s voicemail message happened a million years ago. “They check everywhere?”

“Apparently so.”

By the time they reached the house the temperature feels like it has dropped another few degrees.

“Sir!” This time it’s Dudley running towards him carrying something in his hand. Greg nearly didn’t recognise him in the jeans and woollen jumper.  

“What you got?”

“Does this mean anything to you? I mean I know what it is but...”

The item is in a clear evidence bag but Greg knows what it is before Dudley has even handed it over. 

“Baker street is circled,” Jane says as she flicks on the torch on her phone. Suddenly the rest of the underground map is clear and bright and Greg can see all the places he knows so well. For a brief moment his heart beats so loudly for his home town that he’s worried the others can hear it.

Whitechapel.

Holborn.

Crouch End.

Even Convent Garden and he never really liked that place.

“And you found it here?” he says shakily.

Dudley nods. “Over by the coppice at the far end of the estate.” 

It takes Greg a moment before he answers, it’s got to be done and he knows it. “I’m going to need to talk to Myc,” he says with a sigh. Because fucking hell he does. 

“Who?”

“Your ex?”

Both officers speak at once.

“My ex yeah.”

“What the fuck has he got to do with it Sir?” It’s DI Power that asks. 

He forgets that he’s mentioned Mycroft’s name to some of his new team but not all and he’s been so careful not to use his full name at any time. He can’t decide if they are going to hate him or not.

He finally answers while huffing out another sigh.  “Mycroft? My ex? He’s Sherlock brother.” 

===

When Greg walks into the lobby area of the Mere Spa and Golf Club it’s a shock to see all the Christmas decorations. Greg had forgotten they where so close to Christmas but at one end of the lobby there is a massive Christmas tree and a bar area covered with fairy lights with multiple screens all turned to the BBC News Chanel. He half catches a story about a new flu strain in China (and thinks what the fuck) before he remembers that he needs to show his badge at the reception desk and ask for Mycroft. 

“Nothing untoward,” he says to the male desk clerk. “Just tell him DCI Greg Lestrade is here.” 

Greg supposes he could have called Mycroft from the car park and invited him down to him – let the mole come to the molehill he thinks, but no, this is the better way, more formal, more indirect. He doesn’t think about the fact that he maybe he’s about to get invited up to the bedroom – because Mycroft isn’t that stupid – formal and professional all the way.

Apparently Mycroft is that stupid though because five minutes later Greg finds himself stood outside Mycroft’s suite door waiting for the man to open it up.

Greg’s not ready for this – if he is being honest with himself, Myc at such close quarters. Its 10pm at night the man could have been in bed, asleep and Greg has just woken him…

“Gregory?”

It’s the voice that gets Greg first and he has stop himself from falling through the door. It’s not business like, it’s soft and in a tone that Greg has heard so many times before. For a brief moment he’s transported back to Mycroft’s old apartment where Greg would sneak after a long shift.

The feeling is suffocating, like he is in the deepest ocean and can’t surface.

“Gregory. Come in. You look exhausted”

It takes Greg a few seconds to compose himself. It suddenly dawns on him that he is so tired and if he goes into Mycroft’s room he may never get out again that evening. “I shouldn’t have…”

“You absolutely should have,” Mycroft says with a gently placed palm to the side of Greg’s face. “You absolutely should have.”

Chapter Text

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.”

Chapter Text

Not for the first time this week Greg wonders what on earth possessed him all those years ago to join the police force. Sure, at first it was the uniform, it got him the girls (and boys) but he suspected that if he’d of known where his career would end up he would have run a mile – sex or no sex.

“I… we need to go,” he says not really wanting to break the moment between them but apparently murderers don’t give a shit about your love life. Mycroft is here and settled and Greg is warm and calm – or he was – he almost resents Dudley for spoiling the moment.

“We?”

“Yeah,” Greg replies casually. He suspects that Mycroft heard most of the conversation with Dudley – he was sitting right next to him of course – so the question surprises him little. “Get dressed, I’ll meet you downstairs, I’ve gotta make some calls; wear something warm if you have it – no fancy suits. We aren’t in Whitehall anymore.” 

“Where are we going?” It’s a valid question Greg thinks. Dudley hadn’t mentioned Tatton during the phone call – he hadn’t needed to – his DI had been there most of the day Greg had known exactly where he was. He tells Mycroft anyway.

“Tatton Park.”

Five minutes later Greg is stood in the hotel lobby watching the rolling ticker tape of news on the BBC News channel knowing damn well his knackered face will be splattered all over it in about eight hours time.

Wonderful. He'll need to warn Connor he thinks. It's always a shock to see your dad looking his absolute worse on TV.

DI Dudley’s call had felt like a kick to the gut. They’d found the camera – but what they had found afterwards – in the guys home had made Greg’s heart lurch through his chest.

Frank Hope.

The name hadn’t meant anything to Greg at first – his brain too busy  swirling with the situation with Mycroft and then the possible link to one of Sherlock’s cases – but then slowly, slowly it’s had all started to fit.

Jeff Hope.

Frank Hope.

Brothers.

Greg wanted to shake his head in disbelief at it all.  

“Sorry for the delay.”

“Eh?” He had almost forgotten about waiting for Mycroft for a moment so it’s almost a shock to see him stood there looking the most un-Mycroft Greg has ever seen him. “Is that mine?” he asks pointing to the blue cashmere jumper Myc is sporting. He ignores the dark blue jeans, the sturdy walking boots and the Burberry scarf he has wrapped around his neck. He hasn’t got time to process all that at the moment.

“One similar. Yours is in storage.”

At least that was something Greg thinks, although there is a part of him slightly bereft that Mycroft hasn’t just worn him – Greg wouldn’t have minded – not really. “Jumpers and PJ pants. You have quite the collection,” he says with a small smile.

“I. Do. Not.”

This time Greg laughs. For all Mycroft’s protests, huffs and puffs and given the circumstances Greg is secretly pleased he can still get a rise out of the man.

===

To anyone else they looked like a couple of business men walking out of the hotel – one in a crumpled suit and one looking like he was going for a quiet drink at a country pub - but as they make it to the car park and Greg flicks the key fob to locate his car he can feel the air of tension settle between them. This isn’t their first rodeo together but somehow it feels like it is. In the distance there are sirens and Greg thinks he can see blue and red strobing through the trees. Fucking hell – he says to himself as the noise gets louder. They aren’t close enough to Tatton that they can walk to where Dudley told them to go but then they aren’t miles away either. The whole thing is practically on the Hotel’s doorstep.

“Maybe…my vehicle may be better suited,” he hears Mycroft say as he hears another siren start up in the distance. The sound makes Greg sigh into the cold air.

“Yours?” he wasn’t even aware Mycroft owned a car. “You’ve got a car?”

“A recent purchase.”

“Recent?”

“Today.”

The vehicle it turns out isn’t just any vehicle – because of course it isn’t. It’s a brand new Jaguar F-Pace 300 Sport that Greg reckons probably cost above £75k. “Dubai paid well then?” he asks as the slides into the heated leather seats and watches as the bright parking display flicks on illuminating the whole of the interior.

“It had its benefits.”

“And New York?” 

“New York was… beneficial in more ways than one but not financially. Dubai was a necessity. I also was extremely well ‘paid off’ by Her Majesty’s Government and I have a pension from them also.”

It doesn’t surprise Greg in the slightest. He had always wondered if they had paid him off – Myc knew far too much about everything for them not to keep him quiet with cash. “So you’re sorted then.”

“I’m comfortable.”

It takes them ten minutes to make their way around to the entrance to the country park. A lone uniform police officer waving them through the gates after Greg shows him his ID badge. “We need to go up to the house then follow the road around to the back – the gamekeeper’s cottage, Dudley won’t be there, he made the arrest, but Jane – one of my other DI’s will be,” he says as they make their way along the single track road. 

“Gamekeeper?”

“Frank Hope, our guy, is the gamekeeper here. He was Jason Hill’s boss, the lad that found Callie Bryan’s body.”

“Are they sure it’s him?

Greg nods. “Yeah – our killer. No contest.” 

It feels like it’s been long time since Greg was at a crime scene with Mycroft. A year ago he would have been regular sighting even if he wasn’t needed and especially if Sherlock was involved – so it feels strange for him now suddenly to be arriving at one with the man. “It’s like old times,” he says quietly. 

Mycroft doesn’t answer – Greg doesn’t think he needs to if he was being honest. He can tell by the stillness on the man’s face that he is thinking the same thing.

“Listen, before we get out, before all this,” Greg suddenly says softly placing a hand on Mycroft’s arm as he pushes the gear stick into the park position. He babbling but he needs to get it out now before they go into the cottage. “We… probably need to talk, away from this. Somewhere quieter – not a hotel room though – somewhere neutral.” Greg wants to suggest his place but for some reason he is holding back. Maybe his place wouldn’t be such a good idea though. They would no doubt end up in bed and that’s not what he wants at the moment. He wants talk, he wants to know where Myc is going next, Greg wants to set his stall out so Mycroft knows things are different now.

“It would seem like the right thing to do. I treated-.”

“You did, but we still need to talk,” Greg cuts him off before he can get into all that again. They’d only get emotional and wound up (Mycroft included) and Greg doesn’t need that right now. “But first I need to deal with this mess okay?”

It takes Mycroft an age to nod a reply but when he does Greg can see the ghost of a smile following it. “I shall wait here for you,” Mycroft finally says. His voice is quiet and careful and tender. It’s almost submissive Greg thinks. “This is not my gig.”

This time Greg shakes his head. “Actually it is.”

“Pardon?”

“Jane sent me some photos – it’s… well you’ll see.”

=== 

DI Power waiting for them at the edge of the taped off cordon. She looks tired and harassed – her short blonde hair is sticking up in all angles – weirdly Greg thinks its suits her. He can also see she’s wearing gloves and is holding enough spares for the two of them in her hand though.. 

Fucking hell.

“Jane – Mycroft, Mycroft - Jane.” Greg says quickly as way of introduction. He doesn’t need to say Myc’s last name – Jane isn’t stupid – he can see her eyeing him up and down as they approach. Instead of replying she hands them both the gloves and some shoe covers. “What have we got?”

“The strangest shit I’ve ever seen.”

Well okay, Greg thinks, if Jane thinks it’s strange then it has too be. “Did he go in okay?” he asks her. 

Jane pulls her face at the question. “Yep, kinda – I think he’s pissed off Chris arrested him. He asked for you a couple of times.”

“Right.”

“Asked for your brother too,” she says nodding at Mycroft. “Kept muttering that this was for Sherlock. Where was Sherlock? Did we like his game and the present’s he left. He’s got a bit of a hard on for your brother has Frank Hope.”

That makes Greg huff. She’s not wrong judging by the t-shirt Callie Bryan had been wearing and the photo’s Jane had just sent him. 

Mycroft eventually replies with a grimace. “My brother creates his own drama where ever he goes – or doesn’t go in this case.”

“Brothers eh? Troublesome bastards. Mine's an arsehole.” Jane finally says after a moments silence. “I’m sensing a theme.”

The cottage itself is illuminated by search lights and surrounded by white protective suits scuttling back and forth to what looks like the smaller building at the rear Chris had told him about over the phone. “Is that where he took them?” Greg asks pointing to the stone building structure separate to the smaller cottage. It’s almost hidden except for a gap wide enough to fit a vehicle through. As a gamekeeper Frank Hope would have been able to come and go with the body parts as he pleased.

“A larder,” Mycroft eventually says the cold air bright in the dark. “I’m unsure of the correct term of if there is even one, but after a kill a gamekeeper will safely grallooch the carcass off site and then store it here. There are rules and regulations one must abide by, I imagine checks also.” 

“Except Frank Hope wasn’t storing deer. Deer stalking wasn't even in his job remit.”

“Arh. No.”

“That’s not everything Sir,” Jane continues – Greg isn’t sure who she is addressing at this point. “You saw the photos I sent you? What I sent was only half of it.”

The door of the cottage is of course open. It’s a not a large space but from Greg can see even before he steps inside it’s not unlike the Tardis. Pulling a pair of foot covers on and indicting for Myc to do the same he takes a deep breathe before stepping over the threshold.

“Holy shit.”

“Yep.

“Good Lord.”

They all speak at once. 

Over the years Greg has probably seen everything. He’s seen the worse that a human being can be and can do. He’s been on the receiving end of it a few times. But this? This was different. This was calculating, planned and shrine like. 

“Hidden behind curtains,” he whispers to himself. He notes the heavy velvet curtains pulled wide open first before scanning the scene in front of him. “Who found it Jane?”

“Uniform asked to come in and speak to him, spotted Callie Bryan’s camera sat on the side. Apparently the officers a photographer in his spare time and recognised the description. Mr Hope hadn’t pulled the curtains together enough; the officer saw Sherlock’s picture and well…”

Well indeed Greg thinks. It takes him a moment to process the scene in front of him. 

“This was a game to him; he blames the lot of you I think.” Jane says breaking the silence and Greg can’t disagree with her at all. Not when their pictures cover every wall. 

Sherlock.

Mycroft.

John.

Him.

Sal.

Baker Street.

New Scotland Yard.

Most of the images are of Jeff Hope though – the man –the taxi driver - who John killed with a bullet to the head. 

“The guy in middle photo? The older guy? Chris confirms it’s his brother.”

“It’s Jefferson Hope,” Mycroft answers and Greg turns towards him unsurprised that he remembers the guy’s name. “And the resident of this cottage must be Franklyn Hope, his brother.”

Jane nods, she’s staring at the gallery in front of her as she replies. “Younger – Jefferson was the older of the two. He was shot and killed in London in 2010. Your case wasn’t it Sir I remember you saying so?”

Greg nods. He’s ashamed to admit the information about the brother must have wiped itself from his memory. “It was, then it got turned over to SI, big inquest, I ended up in court four times – got hauled over the coals for it. Did you know he had a brother?” he asks Mycroft. 

“I knew he had family located in outside of London it was my job too given the circumstances. Franklyn Hope was in America at the time of the murders and never attended the inquest. Their parents had property there in Utah – Mormon country - hence the names – Jefferson and Franklyn – American presidents. Out of interest and if you don’t mind disclosing the information Detective Inspector Power, what where the names of the victims?

“Earl Davies-Fletcher, Joseph Moss, Callie Bryan and Rachel Wolf.” 

“Rachel?”

“Yep. Second victim – found at Dunhelm Massey.”

“Revenge.”

“Pardon?”

“Rache is revenge in German.”

===

“So,” Greg hears Jane say as they exit the cottage. It’s not a concerned ‘so’ or a lets discuss the case ‘so’ – no instead it’s a intrigued I want to know more ‘so’.

“That’s him is it?”

“Yeah.” Mycroft has already left and is currently on the phone to Sherlock he suspects judging by the hand movements and he look of frustration on his face. He’s still wearing the crime scene gloves and foot coverings even though he is outside the cordon – for some reason that makes Greg smile because he doesn't think he's ever seen Mycroft wear protective clothing. 

“Posh.”

“A bit, more serious than posh to be honest. He warms up when you get to know him.”

“Are you and him… you know?”

To be honest Greg doesn’t know. He knows more than he did 24 hours ago which can’t be a bad thing he supposes. “It’s complicated.”

“Sir, he looks at you like you’ve hung the moon and stars.”

Greg laughs at that, because seriously? “Fuck off.”

“I’m not an expert at these things, my love life is a absolute shit storm but if someone looked at  me like he looks at your I'd be dragging him up the aisle.”

“Jane…come on, we’re at a crime scene.”

“I’m serious.”

“So am I, it’s complicated.”

“What’s he doing here then? In Cheshire? Still.”

It’s a question Greg has gently asked himself a few times in the past 24 hours. “Told me he was here for a few days then he didn’t know.” 

“Ask him.”

“Jane.”

“Just ask him.”

===

“You tell him?” Greg says as he approaches Mycroft. It’s been over an hour since they’d left the cottage so SOCCO could finish processing it, since then Greg has drunk two cups of shit coffee and watched Mycroft sit in the drivers seat of his Jag and make endless phone to god knows who at this time at night. Anthea, Greg suspects given the expression on his face, then his brother who then no doubt woke up John with the news.

“I told him.”

“And?”

“My brothers ability to masks his utter joy at the most heinous crimes has got worse over the years.”

“I bet he’s a bit annoyed we didn’t need him to solve it.”

“Furious.”

The thought of that makes Greg smile. He can just see Sherlock stomping around Baker Street like a 5 year old demanding attention. Fear of missing out and all that. “Frank Hope wanted Sherlock to come after him" Greg begins. There's parts he didn't know and stuff he did but it all fits none the less, "blamed him for his brothers death wanted revenge. I think when we didn’t find the first body with the message he got pissed off and sent his poor trainee up there to trip over it. He had free moment between the sites; his DNA and fingerprint was already all over the place anyway, he could hide the bodies without being noticed. Only he had the key for the larder. Me moving up here was a pure coincidence, he only realised I was in Cheshire after seeing the first press conference.”

“The cherry on the cake.”

Greg chuckles at that. “Something like that, yeah.”

By now Greg is standing by the car door, forearms loosely lay where the window should be. He can feel the warm air from the heaters – he wants to climb in and ask Mycroft to take him back to the hotel but he can’t not yet, he's got to brief his team and prep the two detective's who will conduct the interview. He already spoken to one of them Jen who just happens to be DI Power's daughter - he'd left her practically chomping at the bit at the opportunity.

“You should get home…” Greg begins. He reaches out instinctively to lay a single finger on Mycroft’s hand as he does. Myc doesn’t stop him. Their fingers twist together loosely. For Greg it feels like anchor. “What you still doing here, in Cheshire Myc?”

“Pardon?”

Greg sighs; he rubs his other hand over his face in frustration. “You heard me. What are you still doing here – in Cheshire?”

“I…”

“You staying?” It’s a question and a half and Greg knows it. They’ve been through so much up to this point and if Greg wants to set his aforementioned stall out it needs to be now.

It takes Mycroft a time to answer. He starts stops and starts against only to stop and pull out his phone and quickly flick to a webpage. “I’ve heard it’s a nice area, a change of pace, you are not going anywhere” he says carefully. “You can get a lot more for your money.”

“You can and I’m no, I’m not going anywhere. This is it for me...” Greg replies eyes turning to the screen. Fucking hell. “A lot more for your money.”

“It’s an option.”

“It’s a £3 million pound house in Tarporley with a pool and a tennis court.”

“I sold my flat in London for £3.75 million.”

Greg doesn’t know what to say to that, it’s a big step. It’s all still quite raw. It’s not stable. 

He feels Mycroft fingers tightened around his. “I want to kiss you but I can’t.” He hears himself say – it’s a ridiculous thing to admit given the location and maybe later after the dust has settled he’ll being declaring himself an idiot to all and sundry but for now he’ll just roll with it and let Mycroft reach down and kiss his fingers instead.