As usual, Anthea had made a fantastic choice. Mycroft was pleased with his new chef in every possible way. The man was quiet, and polite. His cooking was fantastic and only seemed to be getting better and more specific to his taste with every meal. He was always cooking when Mycroft awoke, lunch was always brought on time, and dinner was ready at the requested times. Most of all, the man wasn't bothered by him in the least. Mycroft knew, mostly from experience, that there were few people who could go this long in his personal space without being unnerved. Mycroft couldn't think of anything specifically that he did that would cause people to become uncomfortable, but he never thought much of it. He wasn't exactly a people person, though he was fantastic at pretending to be.
Gregory wasn't bothered by him. He'd always greet him 'good morning', even if Mycroft had been up all night and looked worn for the worse. He'd always smile when he noticed Mycroft was watching him or more often thinking while absently staring at him and/or the space near him. He never seemed to be bothered when Mycroft didn't respond either because he wasn't listening or because he found it required no response. He was never bothered by the fag Mycroft occasionally had in the living room, even though he knew Lestrade was clearly trying to quit. If Lestrade thought he was cold, he never said anything about it, nor did he act as though he were, or tried to 'warm him up'. He was very professional.
Gregory had Sundays off, and Anthea was sure to let him know each Sunday that he had the day off, but he never actually took time off. He still made breakfast in the morning, and still brought lunch, and still made supper even if Mycroft reminded him that it was his day off. Again. Only once did Mycroft ever get a reason, and it was the exact reason he thought. Gregory had failed to remain close friends with his ex-wife due to his work and though his clients liked him and were even friendly towards him, they weren't his friends. His hobby was cooking and his pet bird needed no extra care. Even if Gregory were to take the day off, Mycroft knew he wouldn't know what to do with himself. They were alike in that way.
Then, one day, Mycroft had a day off. They were few and far between and like the rest, this one was forced. He understood the need for normal people to relax, but Anthea had to understand that things didn't just stop because he needed to sit down for a few. Of course, she proceeded to remind him that he wasn't working everything single-handedly and they could survive a measly twenty four hours without him. Then she'd lock him in his own home. Which, on other circumstances, would be counterproductive, but Anthea never did anything that was counterproductive. She did, however, make sure there wasn't anything in his entire flat to work on. He knew that long before he had awoken on his day off.
As it so happened, his day off was a Sunday and when he needed it most, there was no breakfast smell. Mycroft couldn't be upset, but he would be lying if he said he wasn't disappointed. A bit of breakfast would have wasted away at least a lit bit of his already wasted day. He could be working right now. Even if he couldn't actually get anything done today, Mycroft still awoke at the same time he always did and still decided to shower and dress, even if it was only to have anything to do.
Upon exiting his room, however, he was met with a voice.
"You're not being very professional about this. You fired me and I have the right to seek out other employment. What exactly did you think was going to happen?" So Gregory was still here and in the kitchen. Mycroft abandoned his route to the bathroom and instead headed off for the kitchen. If he was in the kitchen, he was most likely cooking, or had been in the middle of cooking, when he took the call. Gregory wouldn't have called someone while he was cooking simply based on how seriously he took his job.
"This isn't about the money." Judging by the half of the conversation Mycroft could hear, and old client, who had fired Lestrade, was calling to get him back. By Gregory's tone, he was offering three times the old amount. The silver-haired man stood before the fridge with a bowl in one hand and milk in the other, clearly attempting to work but continuing to be distracted by the ear piece.
"Yes. That might be contributing to why I don't want to come back." Most likely a sentence starting with 'is this about' following by a non descriptive suggestion to a previously inappropriate act towards Gregory. The chef placed the bowl down on the marble counter and managed to get the top of the milk open before he stopped working again.
"That is not something you should be joking about." Tone suggesting something personal, blush suggesting an admission of love.
"This-this is very inappropriate!" Definitely a love confession, most likely false to win back the amazing chef. Its effects were unreciprocated.
"I am happy at my new job," Gregory demanded stubbornly, seeming to understand that the confession was a desperate attempt. "If you call again, I will report you." Angrily, he attempted to hang up the phone. After several moments of pushing what appeared to be the right buttons, it was clear they were not.
"Greg! PleaseGreg!" Those were volume buttons. Mycroft could hear the man on the other side yelling now. A man. Interesting. Gregory resorted to yanking the piece out of his ear and depositing it into the garbage disposal. Not the most elegant solution in any case, nor effective for that matter.
"Justlistentome! I'msorry, Greg!" Disgruntled and frustrated, Gregory finally managed to get the battery out and end the phone call. Perhaps an easier to use phone was required. He sighed irritably, tossing the now useless object onto the counter and returned to his breakfast. He practically snatched the bowl off of the counter. He turned on toe and was instantly met with the sight of Mycroft patiently watching him. He was obviously startled for the bowl of eggs was introduced to the floor in a twitch of panic.
"Bleein' hell!" As if he'd just turned a switch off, Gregory's dialect changed. Mycroft was instantly hit with the discovery that the man was faking a proper tone, though he wasn't sure if it was specifically for him or work. The chef held a hand over his face and politely looked away as if it were taboo for Mycroft to be in pajamas. The thin, cotton v-neck and stretchy slacks were hardly improper in his own home, though it did occur to him this was the first time he'd dressed so casually around his chef.
"Oh. I'm sorry, Mycroft. I didn't mean to wake you up." And the proper tone switched right back on. The man kneeled down quickly, using the towel over his shoulder to clean up the mess of raw egg and very deliberately not looking at his client.
"You didn't," Mycroft assured him. It was like Gregory to have an argument without raising his voice. Even if he had started yelling, it was likely the noise wouldn't have penetrated the thick walls.
"Ah. Well. I, uh, I'll get something whipped up quickly. I don't want to make you late."
"It's my day off," The Government informed. Gregory stopped what he was doing completely and stared him dead in the face. It was clearly not something he was expecting to ever come out of Mycroft's mouth. He shook it off, though Mycroft guessed that he hadn't actually meant to shake his head.
"Right. I, uh." Gregory didn't know what to do with that information. "If you wouldn't mind waiting a bit, I'll make a proper breakfast. I've ruined these, but how about some pancakes and bacon?"
"It is your day off," Mycroft reminded as he always did, but this time with a different purpose.
"I keep telling you, it's fine. Pancakes?"
"I don't mean the breakfast," replied the employer. Lestrade seemed unsure for a moment, but seemed to take his lack of response as a 'yes' and distracted himself with the making of food.
"The call? I really didn't want to talk to him, anyways. Don't worry." It was hard to tell if he was simply playing dumb or whether he didn't actually notice his slip up. Most likely the second, since Mycroft knew the chef wasn't cocky enough to think he could pull a lie over his head.
"You don't naturally talk like this," Mycroft specified. Greg blushed a sudden shade of red. It was the first time he'd seen the man actually blush. Was he embarrassed of it.
"You heard that?" He was just now recalling he'd slipped up. Lestrade dipped his head down a little, hiding his face behind the bag of flour momentarily.
"It is your day off." Mycroft returned to his original statement, giving it new meaning. Lestrade still looked a little unsure, however, preferring to keep his eyes on his food and ultimately no where near his boss. Gregory frowned a little, but didn't offer a complete answer. Mycroft didn't bother pushing the subject. He was clearly uncomfortable and it wasn't particularly useful to anyone either way. However, Gregory's little phone call was something he needed to worry about.
"I'm assuming your ex-employer was attempting to get you back. Is this something that needs to be worried about?" Mycroft suggested pointedly. It would be best if he could deal with little situations like this before they got out of hand. No one could actually find the older chef, but given the strange habits of some more eccentric 'celebrities', it would be best if not everyone was looking for him. Gregory flinched slightly.
"He- he shouldn't be dangerous," his chef assured him uneasily, proving that he wasn't entirely sure of his own statement.
"Shouldn't?" Mycroft repeated.
"Well. He ain't," Gregory promised, loosening up just a little bit. "It's not him I'm worried about. He was one of the other chefs I was working with a couple years ago. It was a really odd job, before I started getting so popular," he explained, going about making their morning meal all the while. It wasn't often that the man actually held conversation while he cooked, or did anything else for that matter. Mycroft assumed that Gregory was worried about bothering him.
"He was a really strange little man," Gregory murmured, as if the thought had grown stranger since he had last thought about it. "He would eat just about anything and his assistant was always bringing in some strange, foreign meats and produce. Bleedin' pain to cook with foods you'd never eaten before. It was good pay, though. Good work conditions. Then one day he disappeared. Everyone else was still there, but there wasn't any more pay. When I complained, I was fired. That was that." His chef shrugged it off easily.
"You seemed apprehensive towards this man," Mycroft noted, insisting on getting the most out of the situation. Gregory sighed irritatedly, but it clearly wasn't for his boss.
"The man I worked with, the one on the phone, he was a bleedin' alcoholic. A great cook, I'll give 'im that, but no self control whatsoever. I was younger then, less," he motioned to his greying, salt and pepper hair. "Let's just say, some touching was involved. Then knives were involved." Capable of being violent; good to know.
"The man I actually worked for, Richard something, if he cares at all, he might be a little more than willing to hunt me down and make a scene." Gregory frowned a little. "He never showed any sign of paying me any attention, so I doubt he cares, but once he gets determined, he can be pretty dangerous. I'm pretty sure he owned guns."
"I'll keep it in mind," Mycroft promised, needlessly. Gregory was completely aware of how well protected the flat was. Along with the fact that there was always someone close by, uniformed or otherwise, it would take a lot more than 'pretty sure he owned guns' to cause them any damage.
"Not that I'm worried when this place is a bleedin' fortress," Gregory scoffed as he began to heat up his favorite pan on the stove. It was clearly his favorite, not that it required much for Mycroft to notice.
"Does that bother you?" Mycroft questioned with little inflection. Gregory snorted.
"Not me. I still have somemates on the outside." He might not have many close friends, and certainly not any he would spend too much time with, but he wasn't that seclusive. He still spoke to Dimmock on occasion, though his colleague had recently received a promotion to Detective Inspector. He was also in touch with Molly, as well, and a few friends from college. Even if Gregory did wish to spend time with any of them, it was awkward to converse with people when his current job was so fishy sounding. The last thing he needed was someone trying to convince him something weird was going on. Gregory was certain that if he didn't stick his nose in it, it wouldn't bother him.
"Not so sure about you, though," Gregory admitted. "I still don't know what you do, but I'm guessing it has to do with a lot of people," he scoffed. Mycroft was minutely impressed.
"Why would you guess that?" Mycroft didn't show any signs of working with people, especially considering most of the time he never worked directly with people, but as it was, people made up his entire job. At least, that was how he made himself so indispensable to the government. After that it was easy to take control with some skillful strategy.
"Because you're alone the rest of the time. You come home and you're alone. I drop lunch off to you and you're alone. So either you're a complete hermit in which case, you'd probably be socially awkward even in the smallest of company. Or you work with people all day everyday and the last thing you want is to spend it with them when you don't have to," the chef pondered, most likely without the intention of offending him. Mycroft wasn't offended. His reasoning wasn't soundproof, but it was better than most and he was actually right.
"So I think it does bother you." Gregory glanced over his shoulder a little. Mycroft didn't show any sign of proving him right, though. "It's not my place, clearly. But seeing as it ismy day off; not all people are unpleasant, Mycroft. And I would hope that those pleasant people overlap with at least a few people that aren't trying to kill you."
"That's very insightful, but I really have no interest in 'friends'. Friends are time consuming for little to no use. As you've guessed right and I do work with a generous amount of people, it is rather tiresome to try to juggle anymore. I make 'friends' where appropriate and useful. Anything else is a waste of valuable time," Mycroft rattled off harmlessly. Gregory looked at him again, more worried than anything. For a normal person, perhaps such a mindset was unusual and unhealthy, but Mycroft was a Holmes and his intelligence made it possible to reject the needs of normal people.
"I'll be your friend. Everyone needs at least one friend," Gregory uttered patiently. "I'm time efficient, as you know, and we get along. If it helps, I can be your friend and chef. Not wasting time if I'm cooking. Problem solved." The older chef placed a well prepared plate in front of him and smiled. Mycroft didn't smile back. Such a strange man.
The day progressed much quieter. Mycroft poised himself in the study, door cracked just enough for him to listen to his chef, and browsed absently through his phone. Sherlock was being quite the pest lately much to his dismay. He wouldn't actively try to do anything about it unless Sherlock put himself directly in danger. Otherwise, he'd simply be starting an argument for no reason. Still, that meant he was still frustrated with having nothing to do. He wasn't the kind of person to be easily bored, nor did he always have to be working, but he was a man of habit and there was nothing habitual about this. In the end, he sorted through his thoughts. At least, he has been.
"Fuck!" That was clearly his chef. Mycroft opened his eyes as if he would find the man in front of him. He didn't, of course, but he could still hear him. "God dammit." The man was quieter now, but apparently distraught. Hopefully it didn't have anything to do with the phone call earlier. Mycroft went to examine the source of obscenities.
"Gregory?" Mycroft questioned and Gregory glanced over his shoulder a little.
"Ah. Sorry. I - I forgot you were here," he admitted in his mock tone. Gregory took a step away from the door, clearly having trouble with the buttons.
"The door won't accept my code," he grumbled. "I swear, it's right."
"It is," Mycroft assured him. Gregory's phone was out of commission so Anthea clearly wasn't intent on trying to explain anything to him. Mycroft easily dialed her number, Gregory pretending not to be embarrassed at needing help with a door.
"We'd like to leave," he stated firmly.
Why. She insisted stubbornly.
"To be outside, clearly."
"I won't be going to work if that's what you're assuming."
Gregory. Mycroft patiently handed the phone over to a very confused Gregory as if it were absolutely normal.
"Uh- yes? I was going to do some shopping. I- if he wants, I suppose." The chef pulled the phone away, staring at it in bemusement.
"I guess you're coming with me. I don't really want to find out what she'd do to me otherwise."
"Nor I," Mycroft answered casually, pocketing his phone again as the doors opened on their own. Gregory glanced at him again.
"Your 'day off' huh." He was clearly teasing him. Mycroft paid him no mind. He followed his chef out of the building and down the street. That was right. Gregory [i]walked[/i] everywhere. He was regretting his decision. To think Gregory did this every day was exhausting, but it made sense with how fit he was.
"Morning Greg," the woman butcher greeted him fondly with a grimace of a smile. Gregory smiled back, clearly not bothered by it.
"Mornin' Sally," he retorted in a friendly fashion. Mycroft nodded a small greeting and she eyed him pointedly.
"Your boyfriend?" she questioned invasively. Gregory gave her a pointed stare that suggested they weren't close enough for him to want to share information like that.
"Meat, Sally," the older chef insisted.
"Yeah. Yeah. What can I get you today?" she questioned. Mycroft got the feeling she was unpleasant to be around for very long. Gregory examined the glass for something decent looking before deciding on a nice looking piece of poultry. She folded it up and Gregory paid her. She handed him another piece of paper and Mycroft took extra notice to it.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Sally," Gregory assured her. Sally eyed Mycroft again.
"Mm. Good luck," she answered pointedly. Mycroft shot her a warning look and she cringed. Gregory didn't notice with his back turned. He followed his chef into the next store, a sweet smelling bakery.
"Greg," the man responded almost sourly, but Gregory responded as if it was no different than usual.
"Here." His chef handed the folded piece of paper over the counter and the sour little man became a little less sour looking. For the length of reading the message, at least. Mycroft deemed it a love letter. Affairs, which this clearly was, should be kept off paper.
"Thanks. What can I get you?"
"Course." Gregory was less likely to use his fake voice outside of the flat, obviously. "Let's see. A couple of muffins, half a loaf of white bread, and- some sweet rolls will do it, Anderson." The man packed up his request into a paper bag and Gregory packed it into the sack with his meat purchase. He paid the baker and they moved on to the next store.
"Hey Greg." Everyone around here knew him, clearly. Mycroft didn't know any of these people personally, or impersonally really. He might have checked them out in the beginning, or when they started working here, but those were just precautions. Even more so, it was likely he left that for Anthea to do.
"Mornin' Sarah." Gregory smiled at the little brunette woman as he entered. The shop was small, but it was clearly in possession of all the produce the chef would need.
"Who's your friend?" she questioned kindly enough. Gregory glanced at him, as if he wasn't sure if he was allowed to introduce his boss.
"Mycroft Holmes." Mycroft introduced himself with a small shake of the hand. She smiled sweetly at him, but he didn't like it. She was very familiar.
"Sarah Sawyer. Nice to meet you." Names could bring up all kinds of things and Mycroft had always known this. Sarah Sawyer was one of John's, his brother's flatmate, ex-girlfriends. She had clearly had a change of occupation. With all the complaining Sherlock had done, he was probably thrilled. Unfortunately, it was too much of a coincidence for him to be okay with this. He'd look into it later.
"Anything good in?" Gregory questioned from the other end of the tiny store. Sarah hummed in less than quiet thought.
"Beets. Broccoli. There's some good celery too," she assured him. Gregory thanked her and purchased enough vegetables and fresh herbs until tomorrow and they promptly left. Mycroft was already fairly sick of all this walking, but Gregory just kept going. What else could he possibly need? Fresh cut flowers, birdseed, newspaper, some hygienics, and a new notepad, as it turned out.
"I didn't think to bring lunch," Gregory informed, motioning his boss to a quaint little bench under an overgrown maple tree. "I'm usually done before now." He chuckled and Mycroft frowned.
"I despise legwork." He had clearly kept them back by not keeping Gregory's ridiculous pace.
"Well, the leisurely walk will do you some good. Healthy food alone won't cut it, you know," Gregory murmured, shuffling through his bag and retrieving a plump peach. The chef withdrew a little retractable hand knife and skillfully flickered the blade out. He cut the piece of fruit open and separated it from the pit before offering it to his boss. Mycroft accepted half graciously. It was sweet and juicy and sat lightly on his empty belly. Gregory ate the other half.
"I guess we should catch a ride back home. Don't want ya passing out," Gregory murmured with a small hint of affection. Mycroft didn't find it funny, however. It was good to know he was paying his chef well for work like this. Unnecessary work, of course, since they would gladly take him wherever he needed to go.
"This was nice, though," Gregory admitted. "I usually don't have company."
"It could be because this is a horrible trek to take everyday," Mycroft assured him. The chef laughed.
"It gets a little repetitive, but you get out what you put in. I doubt you'd appreciate it if I started using less than fresh, low grade food. And I'm sure your people have better things to do than bring me shopping," he mused calmly, rotating the peach pit between his fingers. Mycroft considered it. No, he decided, he liked the way Gregory cooked now. He watched the man stand, displeased at the thought of walking again, and walk around the bench. The chef kneeled calmly, dug up a little patch of dirt, and deposited it in the hole. He covered it back up, brushed his hands off on his pants and returned to the Holmes' side.
"Ready to go, then? I'll make us some lunch when we get home," Gregory assured him. Mycroft decided that this had been a rather eventful walk. It wasn't often that he was continuously finding out new information about someone, but new information kept popping up about Gregory. It was nice, he supposed.
"I'll call a car."
The rest of the day passed without incident. Mycroft wasn't nearly as anxious now that Gregory had made him walk a 'leisurely' marathon. It wasn't until after dessert, of which remained Mycroft's favorite part regardless of how delicious everything else was, did anything else significant happen. Gregory cleaned up after himself, as he always did, and retired to his room. That, of course, wasn't unusual, either, but Gregory seemed a tad off. That, unfortunately, was very unusual. He didn't even give a 'good night' and that gave Mycroft reason to be perplexed.
He approached the chef's room cautiously, knowing better than to approach any situation without knowing the consequences. He knocked twice and a small 'hmm' answered. Mycroft gingerly pressed the door open and was met with the sight of his chef quietly sitting on the edge of his bed with his little bird perched on the back of his hand.
"You appeared distraught." Which was problematic seeing as Mycroft hadn't the least idea what had happened between dessert and now to cause him to be. Gregory only smiled at him, though.
"Just got to thinking, that's all," he admitted quietly. "Didn't mean to worry you." Mycroft examined his face with pointed meaning and Gregory continued to force his smile.
"I'll be fine," the chef answered so the Government wouldn't have to ask. Mycroft pursued a frown.
"Don't give me a reason to assume you're like the rest. Don't do anything stupid."
"No," Gregory said patiently, but firmly. "That's not the kind of thinking I was doing. But, thank you." Mycroft gave him a final search in the unlikely event that he had missed a vital clue before nodding curtly.
"Good night, Gregory."
"Good night, Mycroft."