He let himself back into his quiet flat, hung up his jacket by the door where it would be collected the next day by his assistant to be pressed, and went into the living room. The fire had ebbed down to its embers, the faint orange glow the only thing preventing the room from plunging into darkness. The brandy glass he had hastily left on the side when he had gone to see Sherlock still sat half full and unmoved. A new, second glass was perched beside it.
“Apparently,” came a voice from the direction of the study , “Cathy is having an affair with Becca’s PE teacher.”
Closing his eyes, he lowered himself onto the sofa and attempted to arrange his voice into something that didn’t echo with borrowed heartbreak.
“Well that boorish Maths teacher she left you for was never going to keep her interest for very long.”
“I can’t believe,” the voice said, starting to get closer, so he opened his eyes and quickly transformed his face into one of physical tiredness, not emotional drain, “he,” Sherlock, it was always Sherlock, “can figure out who my wife,” not ex-wife, separated not divorced, possibly temporary, transitory relationships, no absolute commitment “They all care so much. Do you ever think there’s something wrong with us?”, “is sleeping with after I’ve spent a few hours with her this week,” thirty hours this week, thirty-five the week before; Christmas was a busy time for families, “but has yet to work out,” Lestrade finally entered the room and heading straight over to the two glasses started to top them up with a bottle of Cyprus brandy he had been keeping back for just this occasion as it was more Lestrade’s taste than his own, “the two of us.”
Lestrade handed him the glass and he took it with a carefully arranged thankful expression. Lestrade instantly pulled the glass away from him and frowned.
He could never lie to Lestrade.
“Nothing that wasn’t inevitable,” he said.
Still looking concerned, Lestrade handed him the glass and sank down slowly onto the sofa next to him.
“Are you alright?” he was asked.
“Do you ever think there’s something wrong with us?”
“I’m fine,” he said.
At Lestrade’s narrowed eyes he added, “Sherlock is rather more-“ Devastated than he had ever seen him, even worse than after Mummy died, “-worse for wear, but John is with him.”
Lestrade snorted and leaned back against the cushions. “That’ll be goodbye to Jeanette then.”
“An added bonus,” he conceded which had the desired result of eliciting a momentary flash of his partner’s slightly cheeky grin.
It faded into a sad but fond smile as Lestrade asked, “Are you sure you’re okay? I don’t have to go to Dorset tomorrow. I’ve barely seen you lately and I’ve just spent Christmas Day evening with your brother rather than you-“
He waved Lestrade into silence. “Of course you must spend Christmas with your children. And if you hadn’t accepted Doctor Watson’s invitation it would have been suspicious. No, I’ll see you in a few days.”
Lestrade put his own glass of brandy down on the side table then wrapped him in his arms. He relaxed against his partner’s chest, warmth finally perforating through him, chasing out the cold and leaving a feeling of safeness and being so very loved in its wake.
“I’ll make sure you’re my New Year’s kiss,” rumbled through the chest beneath him.
“Of course,” he said. “If anyone else got there before me I would have to make sure they disappeared.”
A laugh quivered through his body and a kiss was placed on top of his head.
“If you want to tell me what’s wrong-“ “Do you ever think there’s something wrong with us?” “-you can. Even if it’s tomorrow, you could call me.”
“Thank you,” he said, resting his head so he could hear his partner’s heartbeat and smoothed his hands over the buttons on his shirt. “I can’t but… I’m glad you care.”
Another kiss into his hair and a gentle squeeze from the arms around him. “Always.”