New Year's Eve

As he climbed the steps to 221B Baker Street, Mycroft admitted that he was impressed with John Watson.

Sherlock had been released from the hospital on December 29th, after both Mycroft and John assured Dr. Stamford that they would monitor him closely. Sherlock had tried to bin his prescribed medication on the first day, but John retrieved the pills and privately gave his new flatmate the daily dosage in tea, juice, and whatever else the younger man could be persuaded to consume. It was underhanded, but necessary when it came to Sherlock. Mycroft approved.

Property-wise, John brought remarkably little into the Baker Street flat. Two suitcases full of clothes, a medical kit, a few books and his army-issued revolver. That was it. But the difference he made in Sherlock's life was huge. His genuine awe of his flatmate's deductive abilities catered to Sherlock's vanity and elevated the younger man's mood. The ex-army doctor was also patient, taking demands for more tea, use of his personal mobile (if Sherlock happened to leave his in the other room), and in general more attention with good humour.

As Mycroft stepped onto the landing, he heard their voices floating out through the flat's open door.

"That man coming out of the café is definitely a veterinarian who just treated a large dog, John."

"I don't see how you can tell from here."

A sigh. "It's a simple matter of paying proper attention. Observe."

Sherlock rattled off a series of 'obvious' physical indicators. Mycroft had actually seen the man in question entering Speedy's Café moments before, and reached the same conclusion as his brother. But to John Watson it was pure magic.

"That's amazing!" he declared.

"Not really," Sherlock said smugly. "Now, more tea, please."

Shaking his head, Mycroft walked into the flat just in time to see John head into the kitchen. "You spoil him, John," he said mildly. "He's perfectly capable of getting his own tea."

Sherlock, who was still standing at the frosted window, spared him a glance before returning his gaze to the street. "I heard you on the stairs," he said. "What are you doing here?"

"I've come to wish you and John a happy New Year."

"You could have texted."

"I preferred to come in person."

"Well," Sherlock declared as he turned around, "since you're here you might as well sit. And since John's already in the kitchen, he might as well make you a cup of tea as well."

Mycroft hid his smile. This was progress indeed. Over a week ago, if Sherlock had so much as heard his brother's footsteps on the landing, he'd have flown into a rage.

As Sherlock sat in his chair and picked up his violin, John called from the kitchen, "Good to see you, Mycroft. Any New Year's plans?"

"Yes, thank you for asking. Gregory and I will be attending the ball at the Lanesborough."

John whistled. "Too posh for my blood. We'll will be staying in and ordering Chinese."

Mycroft settled into the chair opposite Sherlock and laid his umbrella across his knees. "There's been no further contact from Moriarty," he said before his brother could ask. "But I doubt he's idle. He'll be in touch."

Sherlock nodded as his long white fingers plucked the violin strings. "I know. I hate to say this after what he did to Victor, but the thought that he could appear any time makes life rather fun again."

"Just be careful, Sherlock. He's not run-of-the-mill."

As far as Mycroft was concerned, any criminal who succeeded in abducting both Holmes brothers within the same 24-hour period deserved his own national alert status.

Sherlock flashed him a look of annoyance. "I know. That's what makes him interesting."

The conversation was interrupted by John bearing three cups of tea on a tray Mrs. Hudson had left behind. When the Holmes brothers were served, he took the remaining cup, added sugar, and perched on the arm of Sherlock's chair.

"Living with my brother seems to suit you, John," Mycroft observed. The former soldier seemed relaxed and happy.

"There's never a dull moment," John admitted. He sipped from his cup. "I talked to Mike Stamford this morning. He says that Molly Hooper has requested two week's leave. Trauma over a breakup with her 'boyfriend'."

"Moriarty dumped her," Sherlock supplied.

"I'm not surprised," Mycroft said. "He didn't want anyone to use her to get to him ever again."

"You really think he cared about her that much?" John asked.

Mycroft nodded. He knew that Molly had broken down when Scotland Yard questioned her about Jim. The girl was too ingenuous: the realization that her boyfriend was a killer floored her, and when Moriarty sent her a text severing their relationship, her devastation was complete. She had no family other than a mother she didn't talk to, so Mycroft had arranged for one of his female operatives to move into the flat across from hers and strike up a friendship- as well as report back if Moriarty had a change of heart and tried to reconcile. Molly's love for the consulting criminal had been misguided, like Sherlock's infatuation for Victor Trevor, but she didn't deserve to suffer.

The three men drank their tea in silence for a few minutes. Mycroft surveyed the apartment, which was now gaudily festive with plastic wreaths, blinking strings of red and white lights, and a few dishes of hard candy. The fact that Sherlock had allowed the holiday spirit to enter the flat confirmed his affection for John.

"Well," Mycroft finally said. He put his teacup on the side table, stood, and re-buttoned his overcoat. "The tea was lovely, John, thank you. I must be going. Sherlock, don't forget your appointment with Dr. Stamford the day after tomorrow."

"Boring. He doesn't tell me anything I don't already know."

Under ordinary circumstances Mycroft would have found Sherlock's dismissive attitude toward his own well-being annoying, but in this instance it was proof that his younger brother was on the mend.

"If you go," John told him, "I'll get those activated alumina samples you need for that experiment. A former classmate owes me a favour."

"Fine," Sherlock huffed, but his eyes gleamed in anticipation. "I'll show up, but don't expect me to listen."

"Just showing up will be fine." John winked at the elder Holmes, who returned the gesture.

After bidding Sherlock and John goodbye and Happy New Year, Mycroft left the flat. He paused on the stairs to take out his phone and text Gregory.

On my way. MH

To his amazement, Lestrade texted back, I'm waiting in your car outside. You said you were going to Baker Street, and I thought I'd save you the trip. GL.

Normally Mycroft hated surprises. But this one made his heart race and an excited flush mottle his cheeks. He practically skipped down the rest of the stairs, causing Mrs. Hudson, who was coming out of her flat with a loaded tea tray, to exclaim with surprise.

"Mr. Holmes! Are you all right? You look feverish."

"Never better, Mrs. Hudson!" he called back as he opened the door. "Happy New Year!"

Snow had fallen during the brief time that Mycroft had been indoors, enabling him to clearly see the footprints that led up Baker Street and stopped beside the rear passenger door next to the curb. He hurried over, ignoring the fluffy white downpour, threw the door open, and jumped into the idling sedan.

Gregory Lestrade was lounging on the heated leather seat, wearing a tightly fitted black overcoat and a grey wool scarf with silver threads that matched his hair. His dark eyes lit up and his lips quirked into a smile when Mycroft sat next to him.

"Happy New Year," he grinned. He'd just gotten his hair trimmed- the elder Holmes could smell sandalwood-scented conditioner. It blended smoothly with his spicy aftershave, creating a scent so exclusively male that Mycroft shivered with arousal.

"Gregory," he breathed. "You look exquisite."

"And you look cold." Lestrade slid an arm around his shoulders and pressed against him.

"I am cold. Positively freezing, in fact." Mycroft shifted on the seat until his thigh worked itself between the other man's knees. "Perhaps I'd better take you back to my house so you can warm me up before the party."

Gregory's lips hovered over his. "Sounds good. Shall I start now?"

Mycroft did not hesitate. "God, yes. Please." As he eagerly unbuttoned Lestrade's coat, he called to the driver (a discreet employee who had been with him for years), "Jensen, just drive about for an hour, please."

"Of course, Mr. Holmes."

When Lestrade laid him on his back, careful not to put pressure on his healing injury, the elder Holmes moaned in anticipation. Gregory silenced him with a forceful kiss that pushed his head into the seat cushion and made him feel both dominated and loved.

It was a dangerous world for Mycroft Holmes right now. In addition to the usual dangers that accompanied his occupation, he and Sherlock were being stalked by the world's only consulting criminal, who was both insidious and resourceful. Future confrontations were guaranteed, and they probably wouldn't go as well as the hostage exchange had.

His logical brain knew all this. But for tonight at least, his newly-awakened passion would guide his actions. As Lestrade unbuttoned his shirt and placed a warm palm over his galloping heart, Mycroft swore that as long as he and Gregory had this, a thousand Moriartys would not exceed his ability to cope.


A/N: Thanks to all who have followed this story since it began in December. You guys are the best!