The pub was noisy and full of people on Friday evening. John absolutely loved it. The chatter of conversation all around him, strangers meeting and breaking up, a faint smell of alcohol and a mix of other people's colognes; all those things that usually made Sherlock cringe and John smile.
John Watson was a sociable man; he liked the crowd and once in a while he needed to become a part of that crowd, to spend an evening with his friends in a pub. He loved Sherlock's company, oh well he loved Sherlock, but John's poor soul and mind needed a rest from his flat mate's genius.
Greg had an evening off; a rare occasion as he usually was either busy at work or, as he claimed, had to rush home. John didn't question the man about his family situation. This time though the DI had been free and they decided that a trip to the pub was absolutely necessary; well more like John insisted that he needed a drink after Sherlock's latest experiment at their flat.
"He's just…" John looked up from his pint, searching for the right word. He settled for, "Impossible."
Greg snorted; no doubt he'd have used a stronger word.
"Well, living with him is fun and all…"
"Fun in the same way murders are fun?" Greg asked sarcastically. "Did I miss something or was that head in the fridge particularly funny?"
"What? No! People dying is not fun. Don't pretend like you don't understand what I'm talking about, Greg." He sounded petulant and took a sip from his pint. He heard the other man chuckle and then laugh outright. John stared at the tabletop sullenly.
After calming down he mumbled, "You have no idea how hellish it could be."
"Excuse me?" Greg exclaimed, suddenly serious and unnecessary scandalized.
"Sherlock is incorrigible. He might be a genius. He is a genius." John snorted. His fingers encircled the glass in his hand, absorbing the coldness of the perspiration gathered on the side. "But living with him…is awful. Simply awful."
"Well yeah," Greg's agreement came as unexpected. Though it were his next words that actually surprised John. "But you wouldn't trade it for the world."
John didn't even need to think before agreeing. No matter how much he complained he'd never leave 221B, because it was his home now; it was where he was the happiest. Exhausting nights and restless days during Sherlock's investigations, long days watching TV with Mrs. Hudson when the consulting detective was between cases. It was where Sherlock Holmes was. John would never leave that place.
That did not mean that he could not complain about the consulting detective's terrible habits though, "It's pure hell – living with a Holmes."
"Yes it is," Greg agreed with more confidence than John was expecting; it struck him as odd.
"How would you know?" John frowned. Greg's incredulous stare gave John a suspicion that he was missing something important here. Something big. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"He didn't tell you?" Greg asked in amusement. Laughter glinted in his hazel eyes, surprised and slightly teasing.
Eyes narrowed, John stared back at him, dozens of thoughts running through his mind. How would Gregory Lestrade know what it was like, living with Sherlock Holmes? A dark unpleasant suspicion uncurled in his mind, his frown deepening and hand clenching around the glass. Was Lestrade…and Sherlock…Were they?
"Wipe that frown from your face," Greg said with a throaty laugh. "I don't know what you were thinking in that head of yours but stop looking so murderous. Really."
"Sorry," John said, averting his gaze.
"So, Sherlock didn't tell you, huh? Don't know why I am surprised though…"
"Didn't tell me what?" His patience was wearing thin and Greg only seemed to enjoy it.
Greg kept silent, a grin stretching his face as he kept a dramatic pause while John's anticipation built and curiosity reached its peak. Then with a flourish he waved his left hand and proclaimed, "I'm married to a Holmes."
All the thoughts running through John's head came to an immediate stop. "What?" He couldn't understand the meaning of that.
Greg sighed, his hand falling flat to the table, and said very slowly as if explaining something to a child. "I am married to Mycroft. Mycroft Holmes. I'm sure you've met him sometime." The last part he added sarcastically.
"What?" John repeated unintelligently. "You," he waved his hand. "And Mycroft. Married!"
"Yes we are," Greg confirmed happily. "Six years this spring actually."
"And Sherlock didn't even think to mention it." John wondered. "I mean he gives away so much unnecessary information every day and yet he didn't think it would be nice to tell me that our friend is married to his brother."
"That's Sherlock to you." Greg said before drinking the last drops of his drink. "I'll go get another."
While Greg left to the bar, John processed the new piece of information. Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade and the man from the government, Mycroft Holmes. Two people so different that before this moment John doubted that they'd ever met. But then why would Greg tolerate Sherlock if not for Mycroft's sake? That actually made sense. John himself sometimes wondered why he still had not punched his flat mate in the face. Probably because it'd be a shame to ruin such a handsome face…Yes, that must be the reason.
A thud of glass being put on the tabletop brought John back from his thoughts. Greg retook his place across the table. "Don't think about it too hard." He advised.
"I'm not…I am not…" John repeated slowly. He smiled. "I'd say congratulations, but I'm six years late…"
"Don't let it bother you." Greg shook his head with a smile. "You can congratulate me any time; I'm still a happily married man."
"That's nice." It seemed like a shallow thing to say, but John meant it and hoped that his friend understood. Then he muttered. "But Sherlock doesn't even know your name."
"Well, he does now."
"Yeah, he found out about a week ago. Didn't he bother to learn it when you were marrying his brother?"
"He wasn't at the wedding."
"Mycroft didn't invite him?" John could imagine that happening, but still he believed that Mycroft would want his younger brother at his wedding at least for the sake of tradition. Sherlock was family after all.
"Nah," Greg shook his head. "Mycroft invited him, but Sherlock was locked up in jail that day."
"You put him there?" John asked with a frown.
"I did. But it wasn't the way you think it was."
The doctor didn't even need to voice his doubt.
"Really." Greg nodded his head emphatically. "John, I want you to understand, my relationship with Mycroft always was very complicated. And Sherlock is one of the main reasons."
"I can imagine that." John's tone was soothing. "And I won't even blame you for getting Sherlock out of the way on your wedding day."
"Haha…the most shocking part is that I didn't. He got into jail all by himself."
"Well, he is the great Sherlock Holmes." The statement was so heavy with sarcasm that they both laughed.
"I told you…" Greg started but fell silent. "I told you that my relationship with Mycroft wasn't easy…Since the day we met."
"When was that?"
"That," Greg's eyes became unfocused as he remembered. "Was probably twelve years ago. Mycroft remembers the exact date. But only because he has records of everything."
"Have you been together ever since?"
"No, not at all." Greg laughed softly, fondly.
John looked at him, a small smile on his face and a warm glint in his eyes at the memory of his beloved and asked, "How did that happen?"
Greg had just become a Sergeant. Elation and accomplishment, those were the feelings of his new life. This, this was a moment when he finally felt strong and independent, following his path in life and making his own career despite what his family expected of him.
He was meeting his friends in the evening and had a couple of hours to spare until then. Going to a café and reading a book seemed like a nice idea, if a little too tame for him but, hey even he needed some peaceful time in his life. Communication with his friends would surely be tiring, involve a lot of drinking and maybe even some drunken singing. Greg loved his mates.
So a café it should be before he'd have to meet up with them.
There was one nice place not far away from the Yard and he settled there with his book.
When Greg was finishing his cup of coffee he tore his eyes from the book to look around at the other occupants of the café. His gaze fell on a young man sitting two tables from him, nose buried in his own book. He was quite handsome if not in a traditional way, his whole frame thin and bony but attractive in his expensive suit, features sharp, skin pale and eyes grey blue – such an aristocratic look, sophisticated and elegant. He was also giving away the cold air of indifference and arrogance. Greg smiled as he watched him; the Sergeant didn't mind a good challenge.
"Hello," were his first words to the handsome man as Greg slid into a seat at his table. Not original but neutral and nice.
There was no response, not even any reaction from the man.
Greg put his hands on the table and leaned forward on his elbows. "Hello." He repeated.
The stranger heaved a suffering sigh as if replying would be such a hardship and tore his gaze from the page. When his eyes fell on Greg they were cold but beautiful. "Yes?"
"Hello," Greg repeated for the third time but no less friendly.
"Good evening," the man replied and stared at Greg, expectant.
"My name is Greg," he extended one had over the table.
The man eyed the hand as if it offended him personally but then clasped it in his for a handshake. "Mycroft Holmes." He introduced himself. "Now, Mr.…."
"Lestrade. But you can call me Greg," he insisted.
"Mr. Lestrade," his voice was as cold as his eyes and he pronounced every syllable slowly, drawling the words slightly. "I'd really appreciate it if you left right now."
"Well then we have a problem." Greg stated simply. When the man, Mycroft – such a strange name – tilted his head to the side in inquiry, he explained. "Because I don't want to leave. But we might have a compromise."
"No compromises." It booked no argument but Greg was not so easily swayed.
"You give me your number and I leave. Immediately." He smirked. The man was not amused.
"How about a no?"
"No. That won't do." Greg insisted. Later when he analyzed the situation Greg thought that he might have gone overboard with over-confidence. He should have backed off with the first rejection he got. On the other hand, he never regretted those minutes of humiliation that followed, because that was the moment he had met Mycroft Holmes, laid eyes on him for the first time, talked to him, got ridiculed by him – even that became a good memory as their years together went on.
"Mr. Lestrade," Mycroft said, voice as cold as ice. "Or should I say Constable? Though no, you do look like a man who has just got a promotion. Too young to be a Detective Inspector, or more likely too stupid, so Sergeant it is. Sergeant Lestrade, let me explain something to you." He put his book flat on the table, not bothering with a bookmark, and leaned back in his chair. Grey eyes were fixed solely on Greg, giving him all the attention he wanted but he wasn't going to be happy that he finally got it. "You are either too stubborn or too stupid. I'd go with the latter since it'd take an immeasurable amount of stubbornness to ignore every outright rejection. So, I'm sorry to tell you this but a Sergeant is the highest rank you'll ever achieve since you are incapable of anything more remarkable."
Greg's smile slowly slid from his face with every word from this handsome stranger.
"Also you'll probably grow grey by your mid-thirties," he squinted as he eyed Greg. "I can already see some grey strands on the temples. By that time you'll still be alone, divorced if you'd be happy enough to find a partner who'd be able to tolerate you. Most likely unhappy and hating your job."
Greg looked back at him, all the excitement and interest in the handsome stranger fallen and stomped on by the cold and cruel words. Without another word he got up and left.
"He was such a cold hearted bastard when I first met him." Greg commented as he finished the story. He was smiling and John couldn't understand how a memory of someone putting you down in such a manner could be a fond one. On the other hand…John would be a hypocrite to think so. He had his own spiteful Holmes at home.
"But how did you…? If your first meeting went so awful how did you get together? How did you even meet for the second time?"
"Well, Mycroft was building his own career at that time. He wasn't as important as he is now."
"But he had enough arrogance to compensate it?"
"Yes," Greg laughed. "By the way almost none of the things he predicted for me happened. I'm a happily married Detective Inspector."
"Your hair is grey though."
"Yeah…But Mycroft loves it." Greg admitted. He smirked. "He finds it sexy."
"I'm…not sure I wanted to know that."
Greg laughed. "Later he told me that he was meaning to drive me away so he exaggerated his observations. Though I do admit that I tended to seem over-confident at that time."
"Well, I can imagine all that rather vividly." John admitted. "So how did you meet him for the second time?"
"An investigation." Greg said. He leaned closer to John, probably not wanting to be overheard. "A team I was part of was working on a new case. It seemed simple at first. A theft and a murder but after we went deeper with the investigation we realized that it was more serious than that." Greg's voice dropped lower and John was intrigued despite himself. "By that time the higher-ups realized that some of their secrets were leaked out with that murder it was too late to give away the case to someone else. They didn't want to attract attention to it. Furthermore we were doing pretty well with that investigation." There was hint of smugness in his tone that made John smile. Greg nodded to assert his point and continued. "So they sent a man, a supervisor of sorts."
"Yes, Mycroft. He still refuses to tell me what position he had at that time but it wasn't as high as he wanted, that's for sure. He was pretty irritated with, I quote 'babysitting a group of detectives'."
"I'd say you were lucky he called you detectives and not something else."
"I guess." Greg agreed. Then he laughed. "You should have seen his face…"
"And this is Sergeant Lestrade, a very promising lad." Greg's DI was saying to a man sitting in a chair across from his desk as Greg entered the office. The man turned and, as Greg's eyes fell on him, he froze in the doorway. His shock was probably written all over his face and for a moment it mirrored the expression on the man's face, but the man quickly took his feelings under control, features neutral, cold and detached just like Greg remembered.
"Well, hello." Greg greeted and for a second an emotion akin to irritation flashed across the man's face.
"Sergeant, this is Mr. Holmes. He'll be working with us on this case." The Detective Inspector made the introductions, oblivious to the sudden tension. "One of the best men in my department. He's sure to make a DI one day or maybe even a DCI."
Mr. Holmes - Mycroft, if Greg remembered correctly, after all it was difficult to forget such a name as well as the person it belonged to - looked like he swallowed a whole lemon, the corners of his lips turned downward and his nose scrunched slightly. Greg wanted to laugh while looking at him.
"Looks like your second meeting didn't end up with love either." John commented when Greg stopped laughing after finishing his story.
"John, don't get me wrong," Greg said. "I still insist it was love at first sight."
"On your side, maybe." John made an assumption, but his tone was light and teasing. "How did you get to where you are now if everything started like such a disaster?"
"Well, you know, the usual. Me striking Mycroft with my brilliance while solving the case. Bringing him a cup of coffee once in a while…"
"I though Mycroft hates coffee."
"Here, got you coffee," Greg said as he put a cup with the said beverage on Mycroft's table.
The man glanced at him, gaze flickering up from the paper he was reading to Greg and then quickly back again. "I don't drink coffee."
Greg, undeterred, moved the cup closer to him. "Come one, you've been reading through those documents since early morning and I know you did not get enough sleep."
"How do you know?" For the first time Greg heard his voice without the note of disdain. There was just calm curiosity.
"I don't need to be a genius to see those circles under your eyes."
Slowly the man put the document down and looked up at Greg again, this time he did not avert his gaze the second their eyes locked. After a moment of silence during which Greg struggled to maintain a friendly smile, Mycroft reached tentatively and took the cup. "Thank you."
"Pen. Pen I need a pen." Greg mouthed as the person he was on the phone with rattled out an address of a witness and he couldn't find anything to write it down with.
When in desperation and irritation at himself for never keeping his desk organized Greg started throwing papers around, the search getting more vigorous as he memorized the address first. A hand grabbed his, stopping the frantic movement, and a pen was put between his fingers. Greg looked up, startled, and saw Mycroft standing by his side. The slight tilt of the man's head could be considered condescending, but there was a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips. A hand covering Greg's was cool and gentle, skin so soft. And for the first moment their hands touched it felt like an electrical current running through Greg's system.
"…a shared smile over the corpse…"
"Well, no. Not really. Although…"
"You said you found something interesting?" Mycroft prompted the medical expert while Greg peered at the body lying on the slab.
"Yes, something I didn't notice from the beginning." The medical expert, a nervous middle aged man, admitted. He stepped to the slab. "See, this thing here…these marks…"
"Oh," Mycroft let out a breath. His eyes widened a little as the realization hit him. "Is this…?"
"Yes, it definitely is." Greg agreed and grinned at the other man over the body. This was the clue that could be invaluable to their case. He felt elated and proud of their work. What made his grin widen was Mycroft's answering smile.
"It went smoothly from there?" John inquired.
"Not really." Greg shrugged. "He is a Holmes after all."
"Oh well, that always seems like the biggest issue." John replied.
"At least your first meeting with Sherlock went better."
John thought about it for a moment, remembering his first impression of Sherlock Holmes. Slight irritation but also a bit of wonder and respect and definitely an interest. "We did not hate each other on the first sight. I'd say that irritation came much later."
"Today is the day he left human organs all over the kitchen, again." John grimaced at the memory. He did not mind it so much, he was a doctor after all, but it was hellish getting rid of all the blood, not to mention the bottles took all the space on the kitchen counter. "Anyway, how did your first date go?"
"Terrible," Greg said with a grin. "I took him to the movies. I should have known that a Holmes and large crowds of people don't go well."
John laughed at that.
"And then I took him to the pub." Greg admitted.
"That's not very romantic." John ventured, careful not to offend.
"I wasn't really a romantic at that time…You can say Mycroft brought up a better taste in me."
The pub was noisy and full of people, the chatter of animated conversations enveloping him the moment they stepped inside. Greg led his date through the crowd with a hand on the small of his back, navigating them to the other end of the pub.
"This is…nice." The way Mycroft said it indicated clearly that this was merely a polite compliment and definitely not what the man was truly thinking. Greg was resolute to change his opinion by the end of the evening. Mycroft was always so proper, polite and considerate – a true gentlemen; Greg wanted so badly to break that cold exterior, bring all his feelings to the surface, see a true radiant smile and genuine affection.
"Relax," he whispered in the man's ear. Mycroft half turned to him and the small movement brought their faces together. Grey blue eyes stared in his, calm. Greg smirked and leaned in to plant a soft kiss to his lips. That was the moment that he remembered through years, one he reminisced about while he was choosing a ring and the same he remembered on the morning of their wedding. The exact moment when the first crack in Mycroft's armor appeared. In reaction to the unexpected kiss Mycroft lowered his eyes, a faint blush dusted his cheeks. Then he turned away and headed for the nearest empty table, but Greg managed to catch sight of the slight upturn of his lips – Mycroft's shy smile.
"So I take it the date started bad but ended pretty good?" John guessed.
"Oh yes…" Greg's tone and smile were somewhat indecent and John had to look away. Clearly his friend had a lot of good memories of the time when he was wooing his future husband.
"What about the second?"
"It was even better." Greg smiled. Then he full on grinned. "But you know which date was the best?"
Greg wanted this date to be memorable. He had cooked dinner, using all his strongest points, acquired some candles and flowers on the advice from Sally, dressed up for the occasion. He was ready but still the ring of the doorbell startled him.
As Mycroft stepped into the flat Greg's worry dispelled; they had many successful dates behind and many more in the future. It gave him strength to take his lover's hand during dinner and whisper, softly. "I love you."
Mycroft did not look surprised. He put down the glass of wine he had been holding and covered Greg's hand holding his with his own. "I love you too."
That memory brought John to his next question:
"How did you propose?" He blurted out, tact be damned, he was too curious to care.
Greg frowned into his pint. They'd been in the pub for quite a while already, had consumed a measurable amount of alcohol so his cheeks were flushed and his gaze slightly unfocused. John himself was feeling pleasantly warm and relaxed. He was sincerely interested in the story of Greg Lestrade and Mycroft Holmes, since Sherlock didn't bother to tell him. Huh, just another thing the consulting detective didn't bother to mention. John brushed those thoughts aside and concentrated back on his friend's words.
"…was hell." John only caught the end of the sentence but it didn't surprise him much.
"I had been carrying the ring for months…" Greg continued with his story. He let out a wistful sigh. "Was waiting for the right moment."
"How long did it take for a right moment to happen?"
Greg laughed. "As if I know…"
At John's confused frown he elaborated. "Let's say Mycroft was waiting for that moment as well and he has a short temper when it comes to relationships."
It was not his name that attracted Greg's attention; it was the tone of his lover's voice. Tentative and timid, lacking Mycroft's usual confidence.
By that time they were practically living together. Greg still spent some nights at his own flat, when he returned from work drained of any energy and only wanted to fall asleep. But he spent most of his time at Mycroft's. His lover insisted that his place was bigger, had more space for both of them and, most importantly – and Greg still smiled every time he remembered Mycroft's frown as he said this – it wasn't such a terrible mess.
Greg followed his lover's voice from the bedroom to the living room.
"I've…" Mycroft started but stumbled over his own words. He sounded lost and, as his eyes found Greg's, the DI saw confusion in them.
Mycroft was standing in the middle of the room, unmoving, his hands clenching Greg's jacket, one he had carelessly discarded the moment he entered the flat. The jacket he wore that day. The jacket that held…Oh…
The piece of cloth fell from Mycroft's hands and Greg could see a black velvet box clutched between his pale fingers. "Oh…" His breath left him as his heartbeat picked up.
"Indeed, oh…" Mycroft said softly.
Greg came up to him, every step slow and cautious. "Mycroft…" He did not know what to say. He had been waiting for the perfect moment for so long and now, so abruptly, all his carefully laid plans of making this a memorable romantic occasion were ruined because he had dragged it out for too long.
Mycroft took a deep breath, probably to calm himself, and said, "I had suspicions."
Greg frowned, "Really?" Mycroft was an intelligent man but when it came to relationships he could be worse than a lovesick teenager. Greg hoped he wouldn't even think about marriage before his partner mentioned it. Well, there couldn't be a bigger clue than an engagement ring. There was no going back, he supposed.
"I was waiting for a good moment." He admitted. Mycroft nodded and stared at the box.
Carefully Greg extracted it from his grip, taking his lover's hand and pressing a kiss to his knuckles. "No use waiting now." He muttered more to himself. And then, not taking his eyes from Mycroft's face, he lowered to one knee. Mycroft's hand was trembling slightly in his, or maybe it was Greg whose hands were shaking.
"Mycroft Holmes," he said solemnly. His voice was raspy, betraying his nervousness. But his tone did not waver. "Will you do me the honor of becoming my husband?"
Mycroft took a shuddering breath, and yes, Greg felt him shaking, but he was not the only one. He was waiting for an answer, trepidation straining his nerves, terrified of rejection. Somehow when he imagined this moment Mycroft always said 'yes' to him. Greg had not considered the other option…
"Yes," Mycroft said so softly it was barely a whisper. And then he repeated with more strength in his voice. "Yes."
Greg's smile could not have been wider as he put the ring on his lover's finger. And then, as if all the patience he had was spent on that gesture, he got up in one swift movement and swept his fiancée off his feet.
"At that moment I couldn't have been happier." Greg admitted with a silly grin on his face.
His elation was contagious and John found himself smiling as well.