The Case of the Cuddle Chapter 22

Dear All, Thanks once again to every last one of you who has read this story, reviewed and favourited it. I am so, so grateful. I can't believe its done so well. I have so enjoyed being with you every day, and it has been an enormous learning exercise, especially dealing with such difficult and often poignant material. Thank you for being so receptive.

DON'T PANIC! This may be the last episode, but I already have a sequel on the boil, and you can look forward to a post-Easter, Post Reichenbach continuation of John and Sherlock's roller-coaster love affair, a light sprinkling of Mystrade and, because I promised Mirith, a spot of fisticuffs in the park. Don't forget to put me on Author Alert if you don't want to miss it!

Happy Easter everyone!

Warning: Last chapter of this odyssey, with forebodings afoot for series 2.

Mycroft slipped out onto the roof terrace, barefoot. He wrapped his silk dressing gown tightly around his body and fumbled in the pocket for the packet of Rothmans and the lighter that he kept there for just such rare occasions. He took a lungful of the chilly night air and lit himself a cigarette, then blew a long trail of smoke out into the abyss below the railing on which he leant. Up here, far above the street lights, it was surprisingly dark, the only illumination the eerie glow of the underwater uplighters in his rooftop pool. The water lapped at the sides, casting shimmering fish-scale patterns against the side of the penthouse.

The Thames formed a ribbon of midnight at the foot of the tower. Overhead, a Lear jet skimmed the rooftops, heading down river towards City Airport to land. Further up, the red lights of incoming jumbos blinked, stacking over London on the final leg of their long haul flights, limping in from Jakarta or Cape Town in the last hours of night. No outbound flights would take off for several more hours. He watched them, wondering about the passengers on board, what adventures and nightmares they carried in their hearts, whether they were returning home to loved ones, or leaving them behind.

The tip of his cigarette glowed orange. Across the river, Big Ben chimed. He took another long drag. It was always hard to sleep on nights like this, nights when the memories and fears and words left unsaid flowed through him like a glacier. His own heart was filled with darkness.

He became aware of movement behind him. The bi-fold doors opened with a soft crunch, and warm arms slipped around his waist. Greg, wrapped in Mycroft's plush towelling bathrobe. He pressed his body against Mycroft's back, resting his cheek on the spy's spine.

'Can't sleep?'

Mycroft shook his head, took another drag, and offered it over his shoulder.

'No thanks. It was hard enough to quit the first time.'

Mycroft laughed briefly. 'I don't usually.'

'I know.'

Mycroft drained the last inch of tobacco and flicked the butt into the chasm of the river. He watched the point of orange light twirl into the darkness until it disappeared.

'What's wrong, love?' Greg whispered.

'I fear I have done that which I ought not to have done, and left undone that which I ought to have done, and there is no health in me. As Thomas Cranmer would have put it.'

'I don't understand.'

'Book of Common Prayer.' He sighed. 'I can't rid myself of the sneaking suspicion that I have made a catastrophic mistake. I've searched and searched, but I just can't work out what it is.'

'Everyone feels like that sometimes,' Greg said, sliding around his lover's body until they were facing one another. 'It's just normal paranoia.'

'Paranoia in a man of my profession is a survival trait. This is something different.'

'Your spidey sense is tingling.'

'I beg your pardon?'

'I mean, you're feeling a sense of foreboding.'

'Yes, I suppose so.' He looked deep into Greg's dark eyes, searching for the comfort he always found there. 'Something is coming, Greg. Something bad, I can feel it. Steel wrapped in velvet. Something cruel. I just can't see where it's coming from.'

Greg gentled Mycroft's cheek in his palm, fondly. 'Whatever it is, we'll deal with it.'

Mycroft smiled back at him. 'Thank you for being here.'

'Come back to bed, love,' the inspector whispered.


Coming soon THE SEQUEL: After Sherlock's death, John has to face the prospect of going to Sarah and Andrew's wedding without the love of his lifeā€¦