Disclaimer: Sherlock is not mine. I simply use the characters for recreational purposes and spend far too much time crying over Reichenbach.

A/N: So here is the next installation for my Mystrade series that started with 'Fancy a Smoke?' and 'Intrusions'.

Thank you everyone who took the time to read and review those two fics: Skyfullofstars, arty dian, myseybee, dreamer 3097, lizella and my three guests. You are truly an inspiration and every review gives me a little fluttery feeling in my stomach. You are wonderful.

OH! And if anyone has any ideas for a name for the series drop me a note, I'm shit at titles.


Three Meetings

One

The chill breeze was soothing as Greg sucked in a lungful of smoke.

God that was good.

And with any luck it would blow away the acrid tang of his cigarettes.

Three weeks of obedience to his wife's frankly ridiculous request all for nothing, and simply because an idiot couldn't follow orders.

Still it could have been worse….for the idiot that was, because Gregory Lestrade was going to be a dead man when he finally stumbled home.
He took another deeper drag.

Just as the sleek shape of a horribly familiar car drew-up silently beside him.

Greg bit back a curse. He'd thought he'd left this shit behind after the first time. A man slid out, his head dipped so that Greg couldn't make out his features, and moved towards him with a languid purposefulness. The door opened with a gentle click.

Obviously not.

The 'strictly no parking' sign stood defiant across the road; bold, red letters holding the Detective's attention even as the driver hummed impatiently at his side. He was a policeman after all, through and through. Greg wondered what reaction he would get if he charged them with a parking offence; he bit back a chuckle before taking in another burning lungful.

It wasn't worth ending up at the bottom of the Thames however.

The detective blew out the smoke in a lazy stream, watching the tendrils of grey as they disappeared against the black-silk-sky and crushing the butt beneath his heel with a violent twist of his ankle.

And just when he finally had a moment to himself.
Talk about bad timing.

Perhaps it was genetic.

More likely the elder Holmes had timed it perfectly to achieve maximum pissed-off-ness.

Well, it was working.

For a moment he considered telling the driver to fuck off. The words were on the tip of his tongue, his lips itching.

But Greg had some theories about his warehouse-loving kidnapper, theories he would rather not put to the test.

At least not on less than an hour's sleep.

So, with dumb compliance, he slipped inside.

She, as he suspected, was sat in the shadows, Her phone clasped lovingly in Her hands just as it had been at their previous meeting. She gave no reaction as he settled into the leather beside her, but still he indulged in a smile.

"Hello again."

She looked at him, almost as if he were an actual thing and not merely a pane of glass. Greg wasn't sure if he should take it as some victory or be completely terrified. The clicking of keys stopped momentarily as the very edges of Her mouth curved into something like a smile.

"Good evening Detective Inspector Lestrade."

With a gentle purr the car pulled away, taking a sharp left turn out into the glowing lights of the city.
The road was oddly quiet…until he remembered it was two in the morning and most normal people were tucked up in bed, dreaming of sunshine and days spent lazing on white sand.
A vein throbbed in his temple.

He really didn't deserve this.

The vehicle turned onto a narrow street that Greg didn't recognise, the street lamps flickering ominously before going out, creating a shroud of darkness around them. Could Holmes really….?
He rubbed his head and tried to laugh under his breath. Lack of sleep was making him paranoid. And this kidnapping wasn't helping either.

In an attempt at distraction-those lights were making him jittery-he turned back to Her, trying to sound casual but unable to disguise the exasperation that had turned the edges of his vowels sharp.

"Is there any point in asking where we're going this time?"

She lifted her eyes from the small screen without moving Her head; the corner of Her mouth pulling up a fraction, dark eyes twinkling in the dim light.

Lestrade sighed, returning his gaze to the buildings passing by outside.

"I didn't think so."

And so it began again.

Fifteen minutes later the car drew to a gentle halt in the shadows of what seemed to be a long-abandoned church.
Scaffolding wrapped itself around the decrepit stone, the spire was crooked and looked like it could topple with a sudden gust of wind. Greg avoided walking directly beneath as he crossed the small and very overgrown graveyard.
Behind the cracked glass a strong light sprung into life.

The detective slipped into the church, wary that the derelict site was overlooked by numerous houses and a lone figure in a dark coat wondering around at God-forsaken hours of the morning was bound to bring in at least two squad cars.

Inside he was greeted by the tall silhouette of a man leaning on an umbrella.

"You can cut it with the dramatics now," Greg said, mustering his most authoritative voice, "They sort-of lose their impact after the first time."

There was a low laugh, forced. The exact one the detective had heard before, note for note.

His eyes narrowed, lips pressed together into a thin line.
That was it.
He'd had enough already; time to find out what his abduction was in aid of and then get the hell away.

"What do you want?"

Tutting.

He was being tutted at again, the second time in just over a month. Normally he would grind his teeth and bear it, today overrun with exhaustion, frustration and the desperate urge for another 20 cigarettes it took every scrap of his willpower not slam his fist into that offending mouth.

"There's no need to be rude Detective Inspector," Mr Holmes scolded, his face crumpled into one of those exaggerated scowls Greg so vividly recalled, "manners cost nothing."

"Look, if this is about Sherlock…" Greg began, feeling his temperature drop a few degrees under those frosty eyes.

"Of course it is about Sherlock. Do you believe I make all my social calls like this?"

Greg stared for a moment. It wouldn't have been that much of a surprise if he was honest.

"The accident had nothing to do with me," he lifted his hands instinctively, some sort of peace offering, "I told him to wait for back-up but he wouldn't," the man would surely understand, he had grown up with Sherlock after all, "You must know what he's like," Mycroft was looking at him with that same dead stare. Greg laughed; nerves. "He must have been a nightmare as a kid."

A distasteful look flashed across the elder Holmes' face, as if he had just smelled something bad. When he spoke his voice was hard.

"Please leave your speculations concerning our childhood for another time Detective Inspector."

The man took a deep breath. The umbrella twirled once, twice.

"You need not fear; I hold you in no way accountable for Sherlock's fractured radius. He is pig-headed at the best of times."

Greg found himself nodding.
It was true, though Lestrade would have put less venom into the words personally.
Sherlock was a pain in the ass 97% of the time, but somehow he found himself liking the boy, wanting to help. Perhaps it was the big brother in him rearing its head now that his siblings had their own lives and were in many respects more successful than he.
And then there was Amy.

He scowled and focused back on the task at hand; dealing with a Holmes was bad enough when you'd had a full night's sleep, Weetabix and done the crossword in the paper. At this time it felt like Hell.

"So if you didn't bring me here to kneecap me.." opposite him he swore he saw the man wince.
Right, thought Greg, he's probably got a hundred more effective ways to inflict pain. Still he'd heard most gangsters couldn't resist a good old-fashioned patella-smash one in a while.
The frown deepened.
"...what do you want?"

Disapprovement etched itself into every line of that slightly-alien face. He was being rude again, wasn't he?
He stopped cleared his throat and then said, with his best attempt at sincerity, "…Mr Holmes?"

Holmes moved the umbrella out in front of him and leaned his weight heavily against it, a slow release of breath accompanied the movement and if Greg had thought the man was capable of human emotion he may have labelled it as somewhat-exasperated.
"I merely wished to enquire about my brother's general well-being and ensure that his care is adequate to his needs."

So in layman's terms; how is Sherlock doing?

Greg shrugged.

"You know you could just go and visit him."

Thin lips puckered up at the suggestion, icy stare cutting right through him as if he were nothing more than vapour.

Yet there was something else hidden deep within those grey-blue eyes, something Greg couldn't quite name but that was making his chest ache all the same.

"As I'm sure Sherlock has told you on numerous occasions, he does not desire my help or my companionship and I have learned forcing the issue is not worth the torrent of destruction he will unleash."

Greg wondered how many toys…or more likely books…a young Sherlock had smashed…or ripped.

"This is by the far the least troublesome way to deal with my darling brother."

"You mean snooping on him?"

"Snooping is such an ugly word Inspector," Holmes said his expression a peculiar mix of mild amusement and blatant aggravation, "I prefer the term 'over-seeing.'"

Lestrade bit back a laugh. Who did this man think he was kidding?

"Most people would use this as an opportunity to make up."

Again his suggestion only seemed to elicit disgust in the other man.

"Sherlock is not most people Detective Inspector Lestrade. Besides he has a broken arm, he is by no means on his death bed. Even then I believe the notion would be beyond optimistic."

Fighting a yawn, the fourth since the conversation had started, Lestrade fixed his best 'Inspector' stare and gave the elder Holmes brother a sideways glance he reserved for reprimanding drunk teenagers and telling his nieces it was time for bed on the few occasions they visited.
He was fed up now. The sooner this damned 'meeting' was finished the sooner he could get back to the hospital, check up on Sherlock and then head home, where the sofa was waiting with his name-and no doubt his pyjamas-on it.

"Just go and see him all right. He's pretty out-of-it at the moment anyway, he probably wouldn't even notice you there."

The other man raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow, unconvinced.

"Yeah, ok," the detective sighed, far too hopeful, "maybe not...But you should still go."
He added the last words quickly, unsure why he felt such a sudden desire to piece together their clearly very-broken relationship.

Guilt, his subconscious told him harshly, pure and simple guilt.

"I'm sure it won't be as bad you seem to be imagining."

Though knowing Sherlock, even just for a month, Greg could imagine it being pretty-darn-bad.

"Thank you for your advice Inspector."

In truth he sounded anything but thankful.

Lestrade ignored it, damning all Holmes under his breath and wishing the fellow would just hurry up and slink back into the shadows from whence he came, twirling his damned umbrella all the way.

He waited for permission to leave though, whether a hang-up left from his academy days or a fear of being clubbed over the head when his back was turned he couldn't tell.

However Mr Holmes seemed to have a different idea, the expectant look on his face an obvious indication that Greg should answer the question he had been asked earlier and that he should hurry up about it.

With sigh number…well he'd lost count by now, Greg finally replied.

"He's fine. In fact I think he's revelling in telling the doctor's how to do their jobs and insulting the nurses."

That's probably the reason they're keeping him so doped up.

Mycroft sighed. Lestrade got the strange impression that the man had just read his mind.

"Yes. Sherlock always did have a problem with authority," his eyebrow lifted a fraction of an inch higher as Holmes regarded him with cool interest, "It comes as quite a surprise he has taken so well to you."

Greg blinked, trying to keep his tone casual as he spoke.

"Maybe he just doesn't enjoy being spied on."

Holmes' almost-gentle expression morphed into another Greg recognised instantly from their previous meeting. Eyes going a hard shade of silver and lines cutting ravines through pale skin; at their previous meeting the sudden cruelty in those features had nearly bought him out in goose-bumps. This time he got a single tremor: perhaps all Sherlock's bitching had turned the man into something slightly less terrifying…or perhaps Greg was just too tired to care

Those tight lips twitched, the slightest smile forming on his otherwise frozen face.

"I am glad to hear that Sherlock is making a nuisance of himself, it bodes well for a swift recovery."

The suited man's face dropped again, eyes slipping to something gold cradled in the palm of his hand.

Lestrade craned his neck.

A pocket-watch?
Greg scoffed.
Who had a pocket-watch these days?

The glittering item disappeared back into the waistcoat pocket, leaving only the little chain visible against the grey fabric. Holmes had his phone out now, an identical model to his assistant's and was tapping away at the keys with vague interest in the exact way Lestrade had seen Her do. Greg wondered how long the two had worked together, She didn't look a day over 30.

"A pleasure meeting you again Detective Inspector," those blue-grey eyes didn't glance up once, "I'll have the car drop you home if you wish."

Greg shrugged; his shoulders felt horribly stiff and his stomach was twisting uncomfortably. Suddenly he really didn't want to go home; the thought of the scruffy sofa, with the seam that always pressed into his hip when he rolled over, made him sick. Besides Sherlock was currently sat alone in a bed in A&E, his sympathy instantly turned to the hospital staff.

"Actually I was thinking I'd stay at the hospital for a few more hours, just to make sure no-one kills him before the shift change."

The other man was looking at him again, there was something soft about his eyes; Gregory might have called it fondness in anyone but a Holmes.

He swallowed, feeling more uncomfortable under the suited man's stare than he had before.

"Of course."

The inspector nodded shortly and turned to leave; the other man didn't seem to notice, his attention fixed back on his phone and more important people than a prematurely greying DI.

Not that he cared. The elder Holmes seemed like a cold-hearted bastard.

Sherlock was less detestable, even with his drug habit, boasting and painful arrogance.

The only person 'The Suit' seemed to care about, and even that was in a rather disturbing way, was his brother and Lestrade was certain if he ever let Sherlock down the elder Holmes would take extreme pleasure in seeing the end of him.

"Good night Inspector Lestrade."

He stopped immediately and raised his eyes to the other man's face. Holmes still wasn't looking at him.

"I do hope Sherlock isn't too rude on your return."

Lestrade stared for a moment, watching the man's deft fingers dance their way over digits and characters; ordering hits? Arranging more abductions?
Greg didn't want to think about what the man did. If he did he probably wouldn't get a wink of sleep ever again.

Then without a word he turned on his heel and made his way back out of the church, behind him the floodlights dimmed before going out entirely.

Outside he shuffled his way back to the car.

The meeting had sapped the last of his energy, he'd be lucky if he made it back to Sherlock without losing consciousness.

She was waiting for him and from the looks of it hadn't moved a muscle since he'd last seen Her. She didn't so much as twitch as he flopped down onto the leather and he didn't attempt to make conversation.

Luckily the journey back seemed to take half the time and before he'd even had the opportunity to doze they were back outside the hospital, the fire-exit door still ajar and the remains of his half-smoked cigarette crushed on the curb-side.

Only as he opened the door, allowing a gust of frosty air into the car's warm interior, did She lift her chin and give a vaguely superior smirk.

"I'll see you soon Inspector."

Greg wasn't sure whether to take that as a threat. All he knew for sure was that kidnap number three was scheduled. It seemed there would be no escaping the Holmes' and their paranoia for the near future.

Greg sighed and heard the gentle purr of the finely tuned engine as he ventured back into sterile corridors, among white coats and people hooked up to saline bags.

Sherlock's room was blissfully quiet, clearly the nurse had upped his dosage again and while Lestrade knew the fallout from the addict would be awful he couldn't begrudge himself the silence. It would certainly make it much easier to sleep.

The next morning Lestrade woke with the smell of hand sanitizer in his nose and something else…smokier, like that really expensive musk he'd got a taster of that day he and Debbie had visited Selfridges.

He uncurled himself from the chair, stretching out his back.
Gez, he was going to have knots there for months.

There was a gentle thud as the door to the little private room swung shut, and the soft tap of footsteps and something metallic, like a stick…or the tip of an umbrella.

Greg smiled. So Holmeses-or at least one of the Holmeses-were able to take advice. It was certainly worth knowing.

"Lestrade."

Greg straightened. Beside him was a bleary-eyed, ruffle-haired but very much awake Sherlock Holmes, those pirecing eyes fixed on a point on his forehead.

Great! Why did these damned Holmes have to drag him into their ridiculous family feuds?

"What the hell was my brother doing here!?"

...

Two

"This is Anderson isn't it?" Sherlock snapped, rubbing his wrists. It was all for show of course, Greg hadn't even cuffed him.

"Lestrade! You can't seriously be listening to him. He's…"

The detective inspector lifted a hand and to his surprise the young man actually stopped talking.

He cleared his throat trying to hide his surprise knowing full well his attempts would be fruitless; they always were when dealing with Sherlock.

"I'm going to stop you before you say something you regret Sherlock."

The boy scoffed, silver eyes narrowed and lips curled up into an ugly expression, magnified by the alien angles of his face.
"I wouldn't regret it."

If this had been any other situation Lestrade might have laughed.

But, being as they both stood in a jail cell and Sherlock had just been questioned as the main suspect in a double murder, laughing didn't seem like the right reaction.

"I know…." he sighed, "Look you're just going to have to hang on for a bit all right Sherlock."
For God's sake we found you at the crime scene, he was screaming inside his head, covered in blood; your fingerprints were on the weapon! What do you expect us to do!?
"Let us do our job. If it wasn't you we'll find out."

Sherlock gave a humourless laugh, stalking across the small cell to curl up on the hard bed in one corner.
He looked small, ghost-like, his face half hidden in the shadows.
His voice was venomous.

"I'll have rotted by the time your men find anything."

The end of his sentence was punctuated with a dull thump as Sherlock punched the wall. Greg stepped forward, hoping the lad hadn't broken his hand but Sherlock turned away.

Another Holmesian tantrum; just what he needed!

Greg sighed again, deeper this time.
What was it with the Holmes boys and their penchant for dramatics?

"We've got no hard evidence on you Sherlock you know that. You'll be out by tomorrow," or tonight if that brother of yours has anything to do with it. He put his hands on his hips and took two steps back so he was lingering in the doorway, scowling.

"Now just shut-up and sit tight."

Greg pulled the heavy door closed just as Sherlock started to shout.
The final syllables echoed down the corridor, the gravelly sounds bouncing around inside Greg's head as he strolled towards the tall desk at the other end of the hall.

The warden on duty was obviously new; Greg had never seen him before. It made him suspicious. It certainly wouldn't be beyond the scope of the elder Holmes to install a man for a late-night rescue attempt.

"Keep an eye on Number 7 will you," he said, jabbing his thumb at Sherlock's cell, "A very, very close one. Two if possible."

The warden gave a faint smile and nodded obediently. Greg wasn't convinced, still if Sherlock was going to be rescued it would happen whether there was an inside man or not.

He left slowly, casting various glances back towards Sherlock's holding pen.

Having Sherlock in custody did have some merits however, such as the opportunity to go home before three in the morning and not fretting that the wild-haired youth would go off chasing suspects alone during the night.
Still he wouldn't sleep soundly, not with Sherlock banged up for something he didn't do.

Damn it!

For someone so smart he couldn't half be stupid!
He should have known lingering around two dead bodies and plastering the whole scene in his fingerprints in the meantime was going to get him into trouble!

He was so distracted thinking about Sherlock and the bloody mess they'd found in Hammersmith he missed his footing on the step and was lucky not to split his skull on the pavement: behind him Anderson cackled. He brushed himself down casually, keeping his hands busy would refrain him from planting one in the forensic's face.

A car pulled up alongside, Greg didn't need to look to recognise the finely tuned purr of Mr Holmeses standard black sedan.

He should have known, the only time he received a call from Sherlock's beloved brother was when the young man had been incarcerated or freshly fished out of the Thames.

The car door opened and She stepped out, all tanned skin and smart black dress.
He could sense Anderson staring, married though he was. Greg was going have to keep a wary eye on him.

Fortunately She didn't notice the lecherous stare. Or rather She didn't let on that She noticed.

"If you wouldn't mind."

She looked straight at him, her lips curving at the edge. Greg met her gaze, holding it for a moment before nodding and following her to the open door.

A wolf-whistle cut the air as She slid into the vehicle, skirt riding up Her thighs just a little. She didn't respond, not even with a nervous tap of fingers or an aggravated flutter of Her eyelashes. Still something in the pit of Greg's stomach told him Anderson's indiscretion was not a good idea.

Inside the car was lit more brightly than usual and Greg didn't catch sight of the much-loved Blackberry once.

She turned to him as soon as the car started moving.

"I'm afraid Mr Holmes cannot meet you this evening."

What a catastrophe! Lestrade thought, fighting the smile that was threatening to pop up on his face.

"He wanted me to send his regards."
She said it with the deepest sincerity but he highly doubted it. She smiled again, wider this time and Greg confirmed what he'd thought the first time they met; She did look remarkably lovely when She smiled properly.

"And hopes that Sherlock isn't giving your cell-warden too much trouble."

"Am I going to find him gone again in the morning?"

She looked at him, Her brown eyes sparkling but face strictly passive.

"I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about Detective Inspector. And I assure you Sherlock will remain exactly where you left him."

He didn't miss the fact that She called him Sherlock rather than Mr Holmes, Holmes Jnr or any of the other ridiculous titles he could imagine being used in such circles.
For the first time he wondered what position She held in Mycroft's household. Was she just his assistant? Confidant? Friend?
Lover was out of the question unless the two were able to repress sexual tension to levels satisfactory in a monastery: Greg doubted that for some un-place-able reason.

She gave a knowing smirk and then the phone was back, materialising out of thin air. She tapped something out; only a short message-no more than six words.

For a moment Greg wondered if She was reporting back his answers in real-time, before realising he was far too lowly a pawn in these games for the man to be that desperate for information. No doubt Holmes could find out everything he needed to without these furtive meetings.

The man just liked to flash his power, Gregory was certain of it.

Still he craned his neck, trying to decipher the string of letters and symbols appearing in rapid succession on the screen.

She chuckled and Greg started at the unfamiliar sound; perhaps he wasn't the only one enjoying Holmes' absence.

It was only when She stopped and his brain refocused that he noticed Her phone was now tilted so that he couldn't see the screen.

He was suddenly intrigued.

"What is it your boss actually does?"

She raised an eyebrow, giving him a sideward glance that would make lesser men quake in their boots.
Gregory Lestrade couldn't hide his shiver.

"That's not the way this works Inspector." Her voice was soft with threat.

Lestrade shrugged stiffly.

"So I'm just supposed to wait until he kidnaps me again, answer his questions and then bugger off."

She sent another text, then lifted Her head.
Her eyes twinkled again: mischievous and terrifying.

"That's the gist of it."

Greg sighed. Back to business then.

"Sherlock's fine," he began, "I mean, he's a bit pissed about it all, though I think it's more that we've got the wrong man than we've got him," Her lips quirked, "He's going to be a nightmare when we let him go tomorrow. But I suppose you know that. Is there anything else Mr Holmes wanted?"

"Just to ensure his brother is being treated with the courtesy you reserve for all your suspected murderers."

There was enough sarcasm there to drown him.

"I've made sure he's being watched."

He winced a little as he thought back to the suspicious warden.

She smiled again but there was no warmth this time; Her dark eyes had hardened and Gregory was instantly reminded of Her boss, all ice and sharp stares.

So She knew, that was hardly surprising.
She'd seen as well.
And she cared. As the elder Holmes did. In their own twisted way.

"As have we."

Greg tried to smile but he couldn't. There had been something in that look, something that twisted his stomach and made him want to rush back to the Yard and sit outside Sherlock's cell until work pulled him away again.
He had to remind himself firmly that Sherlock was a grown-up, hard as it was to believe sometimes, and that he was not a babysitter.

But that wasn't to say Greg didn't wish to help. Because he did. More than anything.

It wouldn't be easy; nothing with Sherlock ever was and Christ! he'd only known the fellow a month.

But maybe….

"Your home I believe Detective Inspector."

Her melodic voice jerked him out of his thoughts; he was suddenly aware that the car had stopped moving and that the door had been opened by the same bent-headed driver as always. They'd arrived quickly; Greg didn't want to think about how many red-lights they must have skipped though or what speed they'd been doing.

"I hope your wife won't mind you being a little early."

A smile forced its way onto his face. Fake. He'd probably still end up on the sofa; Debbie just wasn't interested at the moment. After a month of long cases and returning wet and covered in grime he could hardly blame her.

"I'm sure she'll be thrilled."

He'd never heard a more pitiful attempt at contentment.

She tapped something out on Her phone as he slid out of the vehicle. Her goodbye was short and sweet, things instantaneously switching back to their usual routine.

"Good bye Inspector."

"I know he's innocent."

He wasn't sure why he said it. Just wanting to ensure She knew of his…loyalty? Was that the right word? To Sherlock of course, the older Holmes could go fuck himself for all Greg cared.

She blinked twice but Her expression didn't change.

"Bye."

As he entered his house to the smell of his wife's awful cooking and something-probably a blanket-being thrown in his face Lestrade wondered whether the loss of his title meant anything.

He decided it didn't.

...

Three

"I would appreciate it Detective Inspector if you didn't get involved in my family's personal matters."

Sherlock was curled up at the back of the cell, forehead resting against his knees while his fingers tapped out a tune Greg hadn't recognised.

The young man looked absolutely dreadful; face damp, white; hair more knots than wild curls.
Still he looked better than he had when he'd turned up at the crime scene; high as a kite, hands shaking so much he had smashed the little magnifying lens he always bought with him.

The Detective Inspector hadn't had a choice.
Sherlock was brilliant, even in this state Greg would bet most of his information about the killing was correct.
But he had his job to think of.
And so to Sherlock's horror, complete with impassioned cries, he'd had the boy chucked in the back of the nearest squad car and had given him a few hours to sober up in a nice, clean cell.

"Sherlock we need to talk."

He didn't moved just kept tapping out the same rhythm over and over.

"No."

Greg sighed. He'd known this wasn't going to be easy but today had proven it.

The guy needed help, and Greg, damn his stupid, sentimental heart, wanted to offer a hand.

"Sherlock…"

"I know exactly what you are going to say and…no."

Third time lucky.

"Let me…"

"No."

Third time unlucky.

"Look, this has got nothing to do with your brother," Sherlock visibly flinched, "if that's what you think."

"I'm well aware of that Lestrade." The words came out as a snarl, dangerous, silver eyes flashing menacingly under a fringe of dark lashes, "My brother's attempts would be far more eloquent and far less heartfelt."

This was getting them nowhere, time for attack-phase 2.

"Sherlock, surely you of all people know what that stuff does to your body…to your head."

Eyes rolled skyward.

"Thank you Lestrade," the young man snapped, baring teeth, "I am well versed in the chemistry of 'that stuff' as you so wonderfully put it."

It doesn't make sense, Lestrade screamed inwardly, tugging on his hair until it looked like he'd just stuck his finger in a plug socket. He paused, taking a deep breath. But then addiction never did.

"Surely it's not worth it. Not for a momentary kick."

Sherlock's eyes bored into him as he stood on shaky legs.
Lestrade stretched out a hand to help, the young man knocked it away with a look of disgust.

He strode towards the door, looking no less fragile and Lestrade had half a mind to lock him up again. Better that than finding him face-down in the river tomorrow.

"When you find me something better at staving off this atrocious boredom let me know."

And the boy was gone.

Lestrade glared at the man standing opposite him, dressed in his usual three piece suit, umbrella hanging innocently from his arm despite the fact they hadn't had rain in over a week.

"I just want to help."

"Your kindness is noted Inspector."

There was no smile, no softness to his voice.

The umbrella did a single twirl before its point came down hard on the concrete, a few inches in front of Lestrade's toes, with a reverberating thud.

"But I am quite capable of dealing with this."

Greg's hands flew to his hips, an instant indication that he was becoming annoyed. Most of his officers would take a step back when they caught sight of their Inspector's little tick.
Holmes remained motionless.

"Well I don't see you doing much 'dealing-with-it' at the moment."

"The matter is delicate Detective Inspector," blue eyes scanned over the sweeping curve of his umbrella's cane handle as if it were suddenly the most interesting thing in the word. Greg tried to push away the feeling that he was two inches tall, "it will take time…"

Lestrade laughed. Cold and biting. He was spending far too much time with these men and their frosty hearts.

Mr I-wear-a-five-hundred-pound-suit-so-I'm-clearly-better-than-you cocked an eyebrow, his tone oddly flat. But Greg didn't miss the knife edge lingering behind those fluid vowels.

"Was something I said funny?"

He shook his head. Did this man have any idea at all just what he was getting himself into?

"You've never dealt with anything like this in your life have you?"

"And you are an expert in dealing with addicts now?"

Lestrade opened his mouth to speak but Holmes got there first, his strange features twisted up into something entirely inhuman. It sent a tremor through Greg and for the first time since meeting Sherlock and his frankly disturbing older sibling the young detective simply wanted to run.

"I suppose you are after Amy," thin lips formed a taunting smile, "How is she?"

Some people would claim that Gregory Lestrade had a short fuse. It wasn't true. Despite his job, his marriage he tried to remain an optimist, albeit one with a very realistic and often scathing view on society. He was practical yes, but he did his damnedest to see the good in people, well aware if he didn't he would probably end up in a padded cell by the age of fifty.

So despite what people said there were, in fact, very few things that make Lestrade truly angry.

And Holmes had hit one of them squarely on the head.

His fists balled at his sides, heart thumping against his ribcage.

How dare he bring that up!? What gave him the fucking right to…!? Posh bastard! How fucking-bloody dare he!?

A figure slipped out of the darkness behind Holmes.

Her.

She looked exactly the same as ever; designer dress, perfectly styled hair, smart heels. But…..

Lestrade had never seen an assassin, but he'd bet his life that if he did they would have the exact same look as She did then.

A viper poised to strike.

A hand was raised. She stopped moving completely. It didn't even look like she was breathing.
She remained just in sight though, hanging at the edge of the light just behind her Boss.

"Don't you dare bring her into this," Lestrade warned, pointing one finger at Holmes.

The man opposite seemed completely unaffected by it all; made of stone…or ice.
His face had slackened into its usual indifferent expression, his umbrella supporting his weight as he leaned forward.

"As a fellow older brother I ask you Lestrade," Greg felt a muscle in his cheek twitch. Using last names now are we Mr Holmes, interesting, "Leave this to me. You're doing a fine job keeping him distracted…" there was a resigned sigh, "…most of the time, but it would be foolish to involve yourself any further. Let us handle it."

….

….

"No."

Holmes jerked his head up.

He looked genuinely shocked and Greg nearly punched the air in triumph.

"Sherlock needs someone," he continued, wondering if he could tease anymore humanity out of this strange man, "he needs someone, someone he can trust, there on the frontline with him, not watching him on a dozen CCTV cameras!"

Was that a flinch!?

"Whatever you say, whatever threats you," he flicked his gaze over to Her, "make I'm going to do my damnedest to get him clean."

Something in Holmes' jaw tightened before the impassive mask returned.

This time Greg didn't believe it; he had seen the emotions…the human…behind the walls this man had built like an armoured fort around himself.
Gregory didn't pity him; he had no doubt that this…the suit, the car, the psychotic assistant…was all a choice made long before.

You sold your soul to the devil last night Inspector.
That's what Sherlock had said the morning after Greg had had him arrested, the morning after his first introduction to both the Holmes brothers.
He hadn't, Greg flicked his eyes to Mycroft Holmes and his mask of ice, but someone-else had.

"You're wasting your time Inspector," it was all calm, impossible calm, "Sherlock won't accept help, not from me, not from you."

He wondered how long ago it was that Holmes had given up acting and resigned himself to watching as his brother ran towards the cliff edge…the inevitable fall.

"Well I'd rather try," it wasn't said as sharply as he'd had liked but there was enough of a sting to make Holmes wobble, "For Christ's sake we're talking about your brother dying!" He sighed, it was all so sad, "And still you've got nothing."

The two held each other's gaze for a moment; brown fighting blue for dominance.

It was obvious who had won.

"Now if you wouldn't mind I'd like to get back to the Yard; I have a hell of a lot of paperwork that won't get done by itself."

He turned on his heel; enough with this bullshit, time to get back to somewhere where he could actually make a difference.

Behind him the familiar clattering of heels struck up, steps punctuating the brief second of silence between his own.

She stopped at the exact same moment as he did.

"You know as well as I do that one day it won't be enough," he looked at Holmes again, sickened by the defeat etched across those refined features, "That he'll need just that little bit too much. I hope to God it's not too late."

Sherlock was waiting in his office when he returned; sprawled out in his chair as usual, feet propped up on the desk muddying some paperwork he'd spent hours on the day before. Greg sighed.

The young man's mouth twisted into a pained grimace, mercury eyes following the Inspector's every movement with deepest suspicion.

"How is my dear brother?"

"A fucking bastard," Lestrade growled, hoping that the elder Holmes was listening. He probably was.

Sherlock gave that wildly joyous smile that made the detective shudder and clapped his hands together.

"You're setting a precedent Inspector."

Gregory wondered how many people had ever said no to the eldest Holmes…and more importantly how many had survived over a year.

Sherlock was still laughing when he'd collected himself.

"Mycroft will have to start watching his back."

"If I get shipped off to Siberia next week you'll know why."

The laughter stopped and suddenly Sherlock was giving him that perfectly tuned 'stop-subjecting-me-to-your-idiocy' stare.

"He's never had anyone shipped to Siberia; the Russians were never ones to play ball with the British."

Greg levelled a glare at the young man, a half-smirk pulling at his mouth.

"Well at least I'd be free from your bullshit for a while."

Sherlock looked almost moved if only for a split second.

A head shake cleared the puzzling expression; the Holmeses were being unusually emotional today. It was a little frightening. And more than a little refreshing.

So the whole 'interogation by a Holmes about an interrogation by a Holmes about a Holmes' mess was over and done with.

Greg could get on with the really tricky stuff now.

"I don't think that would be wise Lestrade." Sherlock interrupted; a frown creasing up his pale face, "Your wife would kill you. Stilettos are horrible things, leave a terrible mess."

Christ! Could the bloke actually read minds now!?

"I hadn't even said anything." Lestrade scoffed.

"You were thinking it," the boy yawned, rubbing his head at the same time for added effect, "And you think ever so loudly. It gives me headache."

"Can't you just think about it?"

Lestrade knew he was practically begging, that Sherlock was never going to let him live his moment down whether he acquiesced or not.
The rumours that would be circling the Yard in a week's time were going to be atrocious. And Debbie…oh God! He didn't even want to think about the slap he was going to get if Sherlock actually did agree to this.

"Hot water, central heating, proper bed, you can't enjoy living in that poxy bedsit. I'm not asking you to watch tele with us, or eat with us, Christ you don't even have to talk to us and I'm not going to force you to do or give up anything you don't want to," he lowered his hands, unaware that'd he'd been waving them around. He seemed to be standing as well. "But…it'd be easier, with the work and everything…and I'd sleep better at night."

He sighed.

"Don't worry about Deborah. I'll talk to her, she'll understand."

Sherlock picked something off of his sleeve and flicked it vehemently across the room.

"It might get your brother off your back for a while," Greg offered.

"Doubtful," Sherlock replied without a pause, but it wasn't viscious. If anything the whole conversation seemed to be boring him.

Suddenly a piece of paper was being thrust under Lestrade's nose. He recoiled as the stench of fish invaded his nostrils.

Opposite him Sherlock was grinning like a child on Christmas morning. A child with a piece of vital evidence regarding last night's shooting no doubt. It really wasn't decent for someone to be so happy when investigating a murder.

"If I say I'll sleep on it will you shut up and let me get on with solving this murder."

Lestrade nodded: it was clear he wasn't going to get any further while Sherlock had a case on his brain.

The young man was already talking as he muttered a gentle thank you and hoped tomorrow would yield better results.

Two days later, case successfully solved, suspect behind bars and paperwork nearly completed, Greg was woken up at two in the morning by the persistent ringing of his doorbell. Swearing, he stumbled out of his bedroom, practically fell down the stairs and scrambled to unlock the front door.

Debbie called down, something scathing punctuated by a variety of her own curses. The general gist was 'Don't open it, only homicidal maniacs and thieves are up at this hour.'

He didn't bother to tell her that burglars, in general, didn't ring the doorbell.

Much to his surprise, standing on the doorstep, was a rather bedraggled Sherlock, clutching a single rucksack and stinking of stale smoke.

Lestrade smiled, he hadn't meant to, sentimentality would destroy all his hard work if he wasn't careful.

The youth smiled back, the expression strictly measured but somehow that made it all the more genuine. He stepped aside, letting the lad into the relative warmth of the hallway before directing him to the spare room.

A short nod later and Sherlock disappeared up the gloomy staircase.

Debbie screamed, probably thinking she was about to murdered in her bed, and Greg rolled his eyes.

Time to explain; he eyed the coach with a mild sort of acceptance. He got the feelings he was going to be becoming very intimately acquainted with those hard cushions over the next week.


A/N: YAY! More pre-slash goodness.

I absolutely adore this stage of Mycroft and Greg's relationship, the banter is so much fun and older-brother!Greg is a delight to write. I just hope the characterisation isn't too dodgy.

Reviews as always are welcome: good, bad or indifferent. And as I said before any ideas for a series title would be much appreciated.

Hopefully I will have another ready by the time I come back from my holiday. See you lovely people in 4 weeks.