Author's Note: I feel like I have been gone forever, and perhaps I have. I have been in a slump, and unfortunately not a minor one. Hopefully I am beginning to get through it, for I have finally finished some things I had started quite some time back. Here they are, and may they be the beginning of my return to writing. Thank you for your patience and for not giving up on me.

As to 'Bearing Gifts,' I do not know when I will get back to it. I am stuck, and having a hard time pressing on. If you kind people have any ideas or suggestions, I would be more than delighted to hear them, and perhaps together we can find something to get this story back on track.

Once again, thank you for your patience, your encouraging words, and your time.

Mycroft had, of course, been aware of the existence of one Inspector Giles Lestrade of Scotland Yard for some time, though he had never had reason to actually meet the man before today.

He had first heard of Lestrade from the freshly promoted Inspector's superior; Superintendent Beals, his name had been. Lestrade had been useful then; he had been largely responsible for beginning and organizing the scouring of Scotland Yard.

Beals had spoken highly of the man; Lestrade was dedicated, diligent, and uncompromising in his pursuit of justice. He was a common man, certainly not highly educated, but where his simplicity of thought and speech might have hindered another, Lestrade simply worked all the harder to make up the difference. He was stubborn almost to a fault, but his instincts were usually good. He did however, have little knowledge of or patience for the social graces.

Leland West had said little of his interactions with the man, but both what he had and had not said had spoken volumes. That he had been able to both work with the Inspector and trust him, in spite of their frequent confrontations confirmed that Lestrade operated under strict-and very high-standards while at the same time managing a practical approach to upholding those standards.

He was not the sort of man that would be useful to Mycroft's line of work, and so he had let this Lestrade slip from his notice for a few years.

Then Sherlock had found a sympathetic ear at Scotland Yard and begun consulting for the police regularly. That sympathetic ear had been none other than Inspector Giles Lestrade.

It had been nearly a year since the two men had been introduced, and Mycroft had found himself actually surprised by his brother. He had not thought Sherlock would have the patience to continually work with someone like Lestrade; the Inspector was ill equipped, to put it mildly, to keep up with Sherlock, and Mycroft's brother had rarely been able to tolerate those with lesser developed mental faculties than he for more than a few minutes at most.

He did not doubt that if the two men had spent any time together at all that Sherlock had offended the Inspector-Sherlock was free-handed with his insults even if one ignored the often unkind observations and deductions he so frequently made about others. It was also somewhat of a surprise, then, that this Giles Lestrade had in turn found the patience to routinely deal with Mycroft's little brother.

Mycroft had kept a closer watch on the Inspector since then, but had so far kept his distance. He had been content, until now, to simply wait and watch the situation between this Giles Lestrade and his brother unfold.

Now he had a reason to involve himself.

Inspector Lestrade had gotten himself entangled in a small matter that Mycroft himself had already been keeping an eye on. To be accurate, the matter was a small one to Mycroft. To the Inspector it was a potentially deadly one, and one that he had dragged Sherlock into.

Mycroft had sent a message to the Inspector suggesting he leave Sherlock out of his investigation, but had gotten no reply. He had also sent word to his brother advising him to keep out of it, knowing all the while that it was a futile endeavor.

When Sherlock had disappeared he had been only mildly concerned. When on a case his brother occasionally vanished even from Mycroft's sight, rare though the occurrence was. Sherlock also did not often stay invisible for long.

Mycroft had, however, sent a note to Scotland Yard suggesting that Lestrade meet with him at his earliest convenience.

He reflected that he had, perhaps, underestimated the man's lack of social awareness. Mycroft's message, however politely worded, was nothing less than a summons to be obeyed immediately. Only a fool would debate that.

Inspector Lestrade, however, had ignored the summons completely and failed to make an appearance. Mycroft had, for the first time since his appointment at Whitehall, been forced to go to someone, and a mere policeman at that.

When he reached Scotland Yard, a tall, fair-haired Inspector greeted him politely even as his eyes took in more about Mycroft than the average man would have. This man was fairly intelligent, though not as much so as he fancied himself to be. He was young, but had been here long enough that he was confident about his standing at the Yard.

He also seemed to realize that Mycroft was not someone to be trifled with.

"May I help you?" He asked smoothly. The man had had a considerable education, but an incident in his youth had sent him irrevocably down the path that had led him here, to Scotland Yard.

Mycroft identified the man as Inspector Tobias Gregson and recalled that Lestrade had vouched for him personally. He had found little else about the man of interest at the time, however, and quickly dismissed him.

"Yes, Inspector Gregson," the man's eyebrows went up at the use of his name, but he resisted the urge to interrupt, "I am looking for Inspector Lestrade. I was wondering if you might be so kind as to point me in the direction of his office."

"He's not in." Inspector Gregson offered. "You're welcome to wait, all the same." Inspector Gregson was irritated with the other Inspector, though the why mattered little to Mycroft. "I don't know when he'll be back."

"I've been back for about an hour." Inspector Lestrade looked from Inspector Gregson, who was trying not to look startled by the other man's appearance, to Mycroft, who had seen him coming as Inspector Gregson had been speaking. "My office is this way." He looked back to the other Inspector. "Did you find that report?"

"It's on your desk." Inspector Gregson replied, but offered nothing else. Whatever issue he had with the other Inspector, he was at least professional enough not to address it in front of someone outside of Scotland Yard.

Lestrade led Mycroft without preamble back to his office. He gestured for Mycroft to take a seat even as he found his own behind his desk. The report Inspector Gregson had left on his desk caught his eye, and he resisted picking it up. Instead he settled his gaze on Mycroft.

Dark eyes took in everything about the man they studied, and though the mind behind them was either unable or unwilling to process most of what they saw, it did not forget. Lestrade would not forget him.

He would also not speculate on the identity of his guest. He refused to do so, in fact shutting down his suspicions before they could fully form.

He had, however, already learned enough about Mycroft already to take the time to speak with him when he obviously wanted to be somewhere else.

Lestrade was also waiting for Mycroft to speak, though it was certainly not out of respect for the man before him.

"I understand that over the past year you have been doing a considerable amount of consulting with one Mr. Sherlock Holmes." Mycroft said, and saw something click in the young man's dark eyes.

Lestrade was not as slow as his Superintendent believed.

"You sent the note telling me to stop." The Inspector's choice of words was almost painfully blunt. "I didn't, so you wanted me to come to Whitehall." Mycroft could not remember the last time anyone other than Sherlock had actually frowned at him.

He watched as the Inspector stood and opened his mouth before reconsidering what he had been going to say next, a wise decision on his part. "I've been busy, or I would have come."

"I am fully aware of the details of the Sandserson case, as you call it." Mycroft told him. Lestrade blinked; it seemed to take him a second to comprehend what he had just heard.

He recovered and raised one eyebrow at Mycroft. "Do you know about the other three cases I'm also working?" He asked.

It was not the most elegant way to get across the point that one was busy, but at least he had not simply said it outright.

"You don't want me working with Mr. Holmes." Lestrade felt he had spent enough time here already. "I've been through this with the Superintendent and the other Inspectors and the press enough times to be thoroughly sick of the matter, but I'll tell you what I told them. Mr. Holmes is an asset to the force, and I'm not about to let someone die because I was too worried about what other people think about me consulting an amateur."

He had missed the point, though his defense of Sherlock was an interesting, if unexpected development.

"And are you willing to let him die simply so you can solve another case?" Mycroft could be blunt, when the situation called for it. Lestrade was a self-educated man, his vocabulary limited; Mycroft could loose him far too easily if he were not careful.

Though his facial expression never changed, the man's eyes and the sudden tension in his body gave him away. Mycroft might as well have dealt him a physical blow for the effect it had on the Inspector.

He was angry now, though not at Mycroft. He was angry with himself for involving Sherlock. Inspector Lestrade stood abruptly, seizing the report the other Inspector had left for him as he did so. "If you'll excuse me, Mr. Holmes, I have work to do." He said as he started toward the door.

Mycroft stood and blocked the Inspector's path before he could leave. Annoyance flashed in the other man's dark eyes as he stopped, and he met Mycroft's cold gaze without blinking.

"My brother has been missing for four days now, Mr. Lestrade." Mycroft said quietly, and was rewarded with another blink before the Inspector's dark eyes grew even darker.

His words, as he met the gaze of a man more than twice his size, were calm and even in spite of his agitation. "That's Inspector Lestrade." He said, and Mycroft found it interesting that that was what he chose to address first. He betrayed himself by taking a steadying breath before adding, "And it's been five days, not four, and with all due respect I could be out looking for him now if you weren't blocking my door."

The dark shadows under his eyes were a result of Sherlock's disappearance, then, as were the rumpled clothes and the shave missed this morning. This Inspector had been looking for Sherlock since he had first realized the boy-Mycroft found it difficult to think of him as a man-was missing.

He stepped out of Lestrade's way. The Inspector darted past him and out into the hall, but turned back to face Mycroft, his expression grim.

"I'll find him." It was a promise, or as good as one, and it was all this Lestrade felt he needed to say. No apologies for involving Sherlock, or for putting him in danger's way, no condolences that everything would be all right.

He turned again and was gone, down the hall, refusing to discuss something with Inspector Gregson as he left. Without asking permission or even excusing himself, Lestrade had left Mycroft Holmes standing in his office.

It was an interesting experience, perhaps even somewhat refreshing.

Mycroft found his own way out of Scotland Yard, all but ignored by the Constables and few plain-clothes men he passed on his way out.

His thoughts returned to Giles Lestrade later that evening as Mycroft finished his dinner. The man was not a fool, and he was not an idiot, and he certainly was not incompetent.

The man might be useful after all...