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Holding Hands

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“Gregory.”

I look up to see Mycroft standing under his umbrella with a murderous look on his face and shake my head. “I’m fine.”

“You left before anyone could see to you,” he says angrily. “And to make matters worse, you’re sitting on a bench in the park, in the rain, with no coat or umbrella. Your shirt… there’s still blood on it, and you look like death on a cracker. How is that fine?”

“It’s…” I sigh. “You didn’t have to come.”

“Oh?” His eyebrow arches, and the head goes full tilt. “What should I be doing then? Sitting in my office, waiting for you to call and let me know you survived a hostage situation?”

“Hell, Mycroft… you could see the whole damned thing as it happened! You and your damned spy cameras…”

“Yes, I could see it all. On my phone while in a meeting with the Home Secretary and other important persons. Imagine that.”

“Shit.”

“And then you disappeared from the scene, causing me more worry.”

I shove a hand through my hair, and realize it’s soaked. Shit. “I just… well, I needed to get away from the chaos for a bit to clear my head.”

“Ah, yes… the guilt. It wasn’t your fault, Gregory.”

“Yeah, so they keep saying. But he was just a kid, and now he’s dead.”

“A kid-” he practically spits out the word -“who made the very adult decision to take a detective inspector hostage, and to keep a gun pressed to that detective inspector’s head for the better part of an hour. ” He frowns. “What more could you have done? You talked for an hour.”

“I…” I huff out a frustrated breath. “I was almost there! Ten more minutes and he would have given up.”

“No, he would not have. He was tired, high, and cornered. His hand was cramping, and was most likely going to shoot you and run. Him shooting you was not the desired outcome, Gregory.”

I hate the chiding tone he’s taken, but he’s right. “I know.”

“You DON'T!”

I startle, because Mycroft never yells. His skill is not raising his voice at all, which is all the more menacing. “What don’t I know?”

“Do you know what it would have done to me had he shot you?”

“Mycroft-"

“No, Gregory. Your job is dangerous, and I understand that. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, or that I’m going to sit idly by while some drug-addled punk with a jittery hand holds you hostage with demands for an aeroplane and a kiss from Lady GooGoo…”

“Gaga,” I correct automatically.

He shoots me a venomous look. “Had the choice been left to me, his fifteen minutes of fame would have ended the moment he touched you. I am sorry for his parents that the sniper shot him; however, I can’t be sympathetic to his idiocy in thinking that he would leave there unscathed. In every scenario of him holding that damned gun to your head, you are always the one who walks away alive.”

“I just… I’ve been a copper most of my adult life, and sometimes… I just wonder why I’m doing this. It’s not like I’m making a difference…”

“Gregory, don’t do this to yourself. At least not in the rain on a park bench. If you must reflect on life and its mysteries, can you do it at home in front of the fire?”

I chuckle at that. He’s nothing if not practical. “It is a bit nippy out.”

“Yes. So, let’s go home, get you out of those wet clothes, and into a hot bath. I’ll warm some Jameson, wrap you up in a thick, fluffy blanket, and you can have yourself a good sob on my shoulder. Maybe there’s some of that god-awful borscht your mother is fond of making still in the freezer.”

“Arguments over family recipes are the number one reason for killings among spouses.”

“I have no doubt.” He holds the umbrella up a notch, making room for me. “Shall we?”

I take stock of my soaked shirt, trousers, and shoes. “Don’t you have-"

“Nothing more important than you right now, Gregory. Are you deliberately being obtuse?”

“Not deliberately, no.” I know I’m antagonizing him, but I’m frustrated, and have no one else to take it out on. “I don’t want to be coddled.”

“I know, but you frightened me.” He makes a frustrated sound in his throat, then holds out his free hand, palm up. “So just for today, stop fighting me. Please?”

“Yeah, all right.” With a sigh, I take his hand. The metallic clink of our rings knocking together as I entwine my fingers with his makes me smile. “I’m all soggy.”

“Yes, but you’re also alive. The car can be cleaned.” His hand tightens on mine as we walk through the park. “Nothing else matters, Gregory. Don’t ever forget that.”

“I won’t.”

We walk hand in hand to the car; I don’t let go until we’re safe inside our home.

Continued in By The Fire