A/N: This fic features damaged!Lestrade and damaged!Mycroft trying to cope with Sherlock's 'death'. Written for the amazing 'DreamandDiffer's birthday! Thanks to chasingriver for the beta job.
When Mycroft arrived at 221b Baker Street it was nearly eight, but the dense storm clouds and driving rain made it seem much later. Mrs. Hudson was happy to see him when she let him in.
"He hasn't left the flat in three days, Mr. Holmes, not since Molly delivered a package he wanted," she said anxiously.
Mycroft knew all this, having seen the surveillance reports, but he nodded politely. "Has John indicated when he's coming back?"
John wasn't talking to him. Every text he sent went unanswered, forcing him to rely on surveillance cameras, which were incapable of holding grudges.
"I had a text from him. He wants to stay in Edinburgh for another month at least. He says he can't come back to London so soon after Sherlock-" The landlady shook her head, unwilling to say it.
He shook the droplets off his umbrella. "I understand. I'd better go up and check on Mr. Lestrade."
Mr. Lestrade. No longer Detective Inspector Lestrade. Gregory had been sacked from the Met after he'd told off the disciplinary committee. They'd interrogated and chastised him for using the now-deceased Sherlock Holmes as a resource, and he'd lost it. Now he was staying at 221b during John's absence, unable to afford the rent on his North London flat, and apparently trying to decide what he wanted to do with his life.
"That would be lovely," she said gratefully. "Would you care for a spot of tea?"
"Thank you, but no."
Mycroft ascended the stairs, listening carefully. The building was silent, an eerie contrast to the days when Sherlock was alive and infecting the place with his hyperkinetic energy. He bit his lip, the sharp pain keeping his grief at bay.
He'd always suspected that Sherlock would die young, the victim of his impulsive nature. Mycroft had anticipated bullets, bombs, even accidental drowning. But never suicide. Even in death, his younger brother continued to perplex him.
When Mycroft opened the unlocked door to the flat, the first thing he saw was Lestrade sitting in Sherlock's chair in the semi-darkness, caressing something that looked like a dark blanket. A bottle of cheap scotch and half-full shot glass sat on the table next to him. The entire flat reeked with the burnt tang of bad liquor.
"Gregory," Mycroft said carefully as he closed the door and switched on the light. Lestrade squinted and hissed, "Shut it off."
Another flick of the switch and the rooms were dark again, the weak light from the street lamp outside providing the only illumination. But not before Mycroft had gotten a good look at –and recognized- the object on the ex-Yarder's lap.
It was Sherlock's Belstaff coat. Even at this distance, Mycroft could smell the harsh laundry soap that the morgue had used. There would be no bloodstains or brain matter on the fine fibres, but the fact that Sherlock wasn't wearing it now was an equally grim reminder of what everyone called 'the Reichenbach Fall'.
Mycroft's heart lurched. He felt things more keenly than it was safe for him to admit. He'd once told Sherlock that caring was not an advantage, but he'd really been reminding himself.
"I came to see how you were coping," he said.
Lestrade shrugged. "I'm downing a bottle of this shit alone. Does that answer your question?"
Mycroft approached, scanning the other man carefully. Lestrade was clean-shaven and his shirt and trousers were in decent shape, but his eyes were bloodshot and his hands trembled. He continued to stroke the coat as if it were a beloved pet.
Mycroft knew that the ex-policeman had loved his brother. Lestrade had rescued Sherlock from a filthy, graffiti-strewn crack house and given him cases that occupied his brilliant but wild mind and broke the allure of cocaine. The elder Holmes had often suspected that Lestrade's affection for Sherlock went beyond the protective and paternal. Now here was proof, when it was too late for those feelings to be anything but grief-tinged sentiment.
"Figuring it out at last, are you?" Lestrade's voice was rough. "And I thought you were supposed to be the smarter one."
"Many would disagree with that opinion."
"Doesn't matter any more though, does it? You're the only one now."
Mycroft's heart lurched, but he kept his voice level. "I live with that knowledge every minute."
"Yeah?" Lestrade slammed his now-empty shot glass down. "Want to know what I live with every minute?"
"I can tell by looking at you. But if it will make you feel better, Gregory, enlighten me."
After taking a generous swig from the bottle, Lestrade stood, the coat tucked under his arm. "I never had a son, you know. Kate couldn't have kids. When I found Sherlock in that fucking hellhole, it was like I'd finally gotten my wish. I watched him grow from a strung-out but brilliant junkie into a great man. He was maddening and gave me ulcers but he was so beautiful and saved so many lives. After awhile I stopped seeing him as a son, though, and he became my… my…"
His eyes shone with gathering tears.
"You loved him," Mycroft said gently. "So did I, although no one except Mrs. Hudson seems to believe that."
"Why should they?" Lestrade glared at him. The tears flowed freely now. "You sold him out to that bastard Moriarty and for what? Computer code, you said? There HAD to have been another way. I'd have pulverized that little rat from top to bottom before I'd have told him shit about Sherlock."
Mycroft lowered his eyes. He was genuinely tired of explaining himself. No one had his responsibilities- not Molly, not John, not even Lestrade when he was still with Scotland Yard. No one understood that beating the devil meant having to play on hellish terms.
"Gregory, I can tell that my presence is upsetting you. I'll just leave."
He turned toward the door, but Lestrade grabbed his arm. "Not so fast," the man hissed. "You want to help me? Make me feel better? That's clearly why you're here."
Mycroft examined his red face, wet eyes, and lightly shaking form for clues to his intentions, and saw none. It was rare that his assessments came up with nothing, so he was instantly uneasy. "Yes, I do," he replied cautiously.
"Then give him back to me. Sherlock."
The elder Holmes wondered if Lestrade was drunker than he appeared. Not wanting to anger the man further, he said gently, "How? Please tell me."
Swaying with drink and emotion, Lestrade thrust the coat at him.
"Put it on," he ordered.
Mycroft stared at the garment, heart sinking. He couldn't: city winds had whistled through its folds while Sherlock plummeted off the pathology building, and its lining had until recently been stiff and dark with his brother's blood. Touching that coat would agitate his still-simmering guilt: wearing it would be like burying himself alive… in Sherlock's grave.
"Gregory, I can't see how this will bring Sherlock back to you. Or bring me anything but nightmares."
"I don't give a flying fuck what it will do to you. You asked me what I wanted, and I'm telling you. Put it on. It's the least you can do, right?"
Mycroft knew that if he refused, he could never return to the flat while Lestrade was in residence. He didn't want to do this, but if it could bring the ex-Yarder a little bit of peace or comfort or whatever he was seeking, how could he not comply?
He laid his own overcoat and umbrella on the coffee table, took a deep breath, and put his dead brother's coat on.
Lestrade's eyes devoured every inch of his tall, slender figure as he stood there. "Oh my God," the former policeman whispered. "Oh, Christ. Don't open your fucking posh mouth. Don't say a word. Just let me… see."
Mycroft complied, his heartbeat an agitated bass note. He clenched his gloved hands into fists to combat their trembling. He'd never felt like more of an imposter in his life. Only a sense of responsibility to Lestrade kept him in place. But as soon as he left Baker Street, he intended to jump under a hot shower and scrub his skin raw.
"Oh," Lestrade breathed. He rushed over to the windows and drew the curtains partly closed, leaving even less light to see by. Then he returned to Mycroft and ran shaking fingers through the younger man's hair.
Everyone who saw Mycroft Holmes presumed that his auburn hair was fine and straight. Only Anthea and his valet (as well as Sherlock, of course) ever knew that it took at least half an hour of blow-drying and dollops of expensive gel to get rid of the natural curl and make his hair lie sleekly against his skull. Moisture and humidity from the storm outside had caused a partial wave to return, and now Lestrade's eager hands revived the rest.
This was wrong. But Mycroft couldn't bring himself to stop Lestrade, who was making a half-sobbing noise.
Something went around his neck. Thinking that the former policeman had finally lost it and was about to strangle him, Mycroft lifted both hands into a defensive position. But Lestrade had already let him go and stepped back, leaving Sherlock's scarf wrapped around his throat.
"Sherlock," the older man whispered. "Christ, how I've missed you."
Mycroft remained still and silent, letting the grieving Lestrade touch his hair and face as well as the garments. He breathed deeply through his nose, barely containing his emotion. He refused to cry here. He hadn't cried in years, and feared that if he started now, the rain outside would stop long before he did.
Lestrade finally stopped exploring and leaned against him, forehead pressed to Mycroft's chest. The elder Holmes drew him close and hugged him as he sobbed his pain and grief into the scarf and coat. The thunder roared overhead and rain splashed against the windows with unusual force, as if the very elements were grieving along with the two men.
"Sherlock," Lestrade moaned. "Why? Fuck, why? I loved you. I wanted to make love to you. Please let me do it now, before you go again. Please."
Thinking that the older man was merely vocalizing his unmet desires as well as his pain, Mycroft hugged him tighter. That was when he felt the hardness in Lestrade's trousers jab his belly roughly even through the heavy coat. It was such a visceral expression of need that Mycroft's own arousal stirred in response. When Lestrade detected it, he drew back sharply and looked at the elder Holmes, his eyes dark with lust. They stared at each other, their combined heartbeats and heavy breathing the only noise in the flat's tomblike silence.
Lestrade licked his lips. "Turn around," he whispered.
Mycroft obeyed. The next instant, strong hands seized his upper arms and pushed him facedown on the sofa. He held still while Lestrade positioned him with his shoulders lowered and arse raised. A heavy palm caressed his back before the coat hem was pushed aside and his trousers and pants pulled down around his knees.
Mycroft didn't resist because he understood. Forever denied the opportunity to make love to Sherlock, Lestrade needed his body as a substitute. He was Sherlock's brother, and despite a few surface differences such as hair colour and face shape, they had been eerily alike, even for siblings. The silence and dimness in the flat would enable the fantasy to persist, provided he didn't break the spell by speaking.
He waited, face pressed into cushions that used to cradle Sherlock's reclining form, and attempted to relax when rough, dry fingers prodded at his entrance. He hadn't seen any lube lying around, so this was going to hurt. Mycroft bit his lip but did not protest. He deserved this.
"God, so tight, just like I knew you'd be," Lestrade murmured. "But I won't hurt you. I promise."
The fingers disappeared, but soon returned and smeared him with something cold and slick. He breathed deeply and willed his body to relax. Hot, liquor-scented kisses rained onto his lower back as Lestrade worked him open. Then the sofa springs creaked with an added weight and a zipper descended with a soft rasp.
"Thank you for coming back to me," Lestrade said in husky tones. "I missed you, and fucking hated it that you went someplace where I couldn't follow. I nearly joined you after I lost everything else, did you know that? Not sure what held me back. Maybe hope that one day I'd have this." He stroked Mycroft's back, alternating slowly and lovingly between the smooth skin and coarse coat fabric, before grasping his hips.
As Mycroft moved his knees further apart, the long-suppressed tears finally broke through. He'd been lonely at various points in his life, but never like this. He was about to have sex with a man who wished he was someone else. Even paid sex (the only kind he had nowadays) didn't parody real intimacy so cruelly. Quietly pouring his desolation into the cushions, Mycroft waited for Lestrade to take him. At least his body would feel pleasure. His mind was now incapable of it.
Seconds passed without anything happening. Lestrade's fingers were still curled around his hipbones, but there was no shuffling forward, no gentle burn of penetration. Confused, Mycroft lifted his face and peered over his shoulder. Lestrade –or rather, Lestrade's silhouette- was staring down at him. What was he waiting for?
"I've never seen you cry before," the older man said, sounding puzzled. "I used to wonder if you were a bloody android."
Who was he talking to? Sherlock or Mycroft? The dead or the emotionally dying?
"Mycroft," Lestrade clarified.
The elder Holmes cleared his throat before replying. "If you're going to have sex with me, Gregory- or should I say sex with my brother- please carry on. I don't want to linger here any longer than necessary."
Lestrade's shoulders slumped and his hands fell away from Mycroft's hips. "Fuck," he muttered brokenly, falling back onto his heels on the sofa. "This is wrong."
"Perhaps it's time I concluded my visit." Mycroft masked his distress with clipped tones and precise diction. As he rose onto his knees and pulled his trousers and pants back up, he added briskly, "I hope that encounter left you somewhat consoled."
"Wait." Lestrade touched his arm. "Don't go."
"Why not? Is there something else you need me to do? Play the violin, maybe? Write you a discourse on tobacco ash? Ring Mr. Anderson and call him a moron?"
"Christ." Lestrade looked sober for the first time since Mycroft set foot in the flat. When the elder Holmes removed the Belstaff coat, rearranged his clothes and hair, and stood, he repeated, "Don't go. Please. I'm sorry, I should never have pulled such a-"
"Don't apologize, Gregory. I'm used to being many things to many people. Your request was unusual, but not out of line given the circumstances. Good night."
When Mycroft grabbed his coat and umbrella and tried to move past him, Lestrade jumped off the sofa- his zip still lowered - and intercepted him. Desperately needing to escape so he could fall apart in private, Mycroft pushed him away. When the ex-policeman seized his wrists, the umbrella clattered to the floor and a struggle commenced. It ended with the elder Holmes falling onto the sofa on his back and Lestrade landing on top of him, pinning his arms to the cushions.
"Let go of me!" Mycroft seethed. "I did what you wanted, now release me!"
"And what will happen to you if I do? Huh?" Lestrade grunted as a knee dug forcefully into his thigh. "You're in no shape to go anywhere. I pushed you too far."
Mycroft's distress had apparently shaken Lestrade out of his booze and grief-induced instability. His breath still smelled of scotch and his voice was hoarse from weeping, but his rationality was slowly returning.
"I'm not letting you up until you convince me that you're going to be all right."
The elder Holmes laughed bitterly. "I'll never be all right again. My brother is dead, and everyone despises me for it. But if it would set your mind at ease, you may accompany me down to my car."
"Listen." Lestrade squeezed his wrists for emphasis. "I've been fucking angry at you, but your talking to Moriarty was only a small part of the reason why. I know what you were up against: you think police officers never have to cut deals with criminals? Deals that backfire later? No, I was angry because Sherlock is dead and I can't shake him and tell him what a bloody selfish fool he was to jump like that. You're alive, and you fucked up. I thought I could get some shitty excuse for closure by hurting you."
"Yes. I'm alive. And, as you put it, I 'fucked up'. If it makes you feel any better, my pain started when my brother's stopped."
Lestrade shook his head. "Mycroft, I'm sorry. I should never have done this to you. I miss him so much, and tried to use you to feel close to him again. It nearly worked too, but seeing what it did to you... it wasn't worth it."
He released the elder Holmes and sat up.
"You can go if you need to," he said. "But I'd like you to stay."
Mycroft sat up too and prepared to stand, but those six words froze him in position. "Why?"
"We're both hurting, and dealing with it in the wrong way." Lestrade swallowed as he glanced at the half-empty liquor bottle. "I'm sitting here in this flat, going through his things, ignoring calls from my family and friends. You're willingly taking abuse you don't deserve. What's wrong with us?"
"I don't know," Mycroft admitted. "In most instances I'm able to tune out the hostility, but tonight, your request broke me. I felt my position more keenly than ever."
"I know. And that's my fault." The former Yarder's voice was heavy with self-loathing. "I'm so sorry."
Mycroft buried his face in his hands and took deep, shuddering breaths. He needed to get himself under control before leaving, lest his driver wonder what had happened. When he finally looked up again, Lestrade had shifted closer and was watching him with bleary but lucid eyes.
"What is it?" the elder Holmes asked.
"Please," the older man said softly. "Stay. I reckon neither of us should be alone right now. In fact, I think you need this as much as I do."
He leaned forward and brought their lips together. For a split second the elder Holmes was tempted to protest. But the kiss was so soft and beseeching (not to mention the first unpaid tenderness he had known in ages) that he yielded. Implicit in the gentle touch was a request for forgiveness. Mycroft buried his fingers in Lestrade's silver hair and granted it.
"Yes," he gasped, suddenly craving affection. "Yes. Please…. Make love to me."
They collapsed onto the sofa, limbs and tongues intertwined. Fingers fumbled with buttons and zippers in the darkness before clothes came off and nudity left no more illusions between them. Breathing heavily, they ground against each other, hands roaming everywhere and lips sucking bruises into soft skin. The air, already stuffy due to the closed windows, grew even denser with the smell of sweat and arousal.
As each touch, each kiss, undid him further, Mycroft realized that he'd seldom wanted anything as badly as he wanted Gregory Lestrade right then. Cynics would dismiss their tryst as 'grief sex', but when his legs closed around the ex-Yarder's waist and the pain of initial entry turned into a pleasure that made him cry from bliss instead of sorrow, he decided that he couldn't care less what anyone else thought. He dug his manicured nails into Lestrade's back, muttering encouragement into the other man's ear until orgasm plunged both of them first into blinding ecstasy and then contented silence.
For awhile they laid there on the sofa like post-coital teenagers, listening to the rain keep up the onslaught on the roof and windows. Downstairs, Mrs. Hudson's television was tuned to a police drama: Lestrade sighed as he listened to the sirens and shouted commands, all too aware that he'd only ever experience that excitement again as a bystander.
"You're supposed to be a genius," he said. "Do you think this hell we're going through will ever end?"
"Eventually. It has to."
"Yeah." Lestrade rolled onto his side and held Mycroft against his chest. "Thanks for staying, especially after what I did."
Mycroft had no idea what this was. A one-night stand, motivated by equal measures of guilt, loneliness, and lust? The beginning of a friendship forged by a common loss? A little of both? Only time would tell. Right now, the strong arms around him felt good, and that was enough.
After Mycroft notified his driver via text that he'd be staying the night, Lestrade pulled a folded blanket off the back of the sofa and covered them both.
Both men then closed their eyes and waited for tomorrow.
In the morning, they would find themselves covered by something extra: Sherlock's coat, which Mycroft had left on the coffee table. Each would silently conclude that the other had been awakened by the cold during the predawn hours and groggily grabbed it for additional warmth. When Mrs. Hudson entered the flat to tidy up after they'd left for coffee, she made an assumption of her own: that one of them must have opened the window in Sherlock's old room for added ventilation. She clucked over the rainwater on the floor, but was so glad to see Lestrade venture outside at last that she decided not to scold.
There'd been enough suffering all around, she decided.
And from his vantage point on the roof of the building across the street, Sherlock Holmes agreed.