A is for Anthea

"Mycroft, I have to ask you something," says Greg. Mycroft sets down the draft peace treaty between Georgia and Russia. Whoever wrote it can't spell 'terrorism'. Mycroft makes a note of this in the margin in red pen.

"You have my full attention," he says. Greg shifts slightly in the office chair. Mycroft thinks he should look out of place in this office, all polished teak and olive, but he fits in surprisingly well.

"Did you, in an attempt to make sure that your assistant was the best in all the land, surgically graft that Blackberry to Anthea's hand?" Greg asks. He's grinning wickedly. Mycroft sighs.

"Are you so very bored?" he questions. Greg looks sheepishly at the magazine he's been reading for the past half hour – Golf Monthly – and Mycroft realises with a sinking feeling that Greg doesn't play golf. "All right. I'm sorry. Permit me ten minutes to correct the grammatical errors in this document and we may leave."

Greg beams.

"I bloody love you, Mycroft Holmes," he says. Mycroft feels himself flush.

"I'm rather enamoured of you, you know," he mutters.

"Well, sir, someone has to be," says Anthea.

B is for Bedtime

"I refuse," says Mycroft. Greg pouts. It probably won't work; Mycroft's had years of perfecting a steely defence against puppy-dog eyes from having Sherlock as a brother, but it's worth a go. Mycroft huffs. "I have far too much work to do. That look will not work, Gregory."

Greg tries a different tactic. Mycroft's eyes widen. This one will probably work.

"That look will not work, Mycroft," says Greg, voice low.

It works.

C is for Coffee

"It's not that I'm morally opposed to it," says Greg, looking suspiciously at the mug that Mycroft is holding as though letting go would cause immediate organ failure. "It's just that it tastes like shit."

"I believe you said the same of caviar," Mycroft coolly retorts, blowing on his coffee in an attempt to cool it. Greg blinks.

"Yes," he agrees. "Because caviar is fish eggs, Mycroft. I don't care if it's served on a plate made of gold and bloody children's laughter."

Mycroft shrugs.

"Put it to the Commonwealth," he suggests. Greg raises an eyebrow.

Mycroft's coffee goes cold.

D is for Dog

"No," says Greg, closing the door behind him and dropping his bag of shopping in shock. "No. Absolutely not."

The dog leaps from Mycroft's arms and pounces on Greg. It's not a small dog and Greg stumbles backwards.

"Genevieve!" cries Mycroft. Greg watches from his vantage point (lying spread-eagled on the floor) as Mycroft heaves the dog into his arms and looks at it, crossly. "That is no way to treat your Uncle Gregory."

"Genevieve," says Greg, because of course the bloody dog's called Genevieve, what else? Mycroft turns to look at Greg and Genevieve seizes the opportunity to lick his face. Mycroft winces.

"She belongs to the French dignitary," he explains. "He was taken ill and I thought it pertinent to assist, for reasons pertaining to our delicate political liaisons."

Greg blinks.

"You really wanted a dog, didn't you."

"Yes."

E is for Enigmatic

"I think it must be a Holmes thing," says John, downing the last of his pint and regarding Greg sympathetically. "Sherlock does it too. It's bloody annoying."

"Does Sherlock even own an umbrella?" asks Greg, furrowing his brow. He could really do with a glass of wine, but he thinks that would probably get him lynched in this pub. John smiles tightly.

"No, which explains why I don't seem to, either," he replies. "But no, he goes in for the whole enigmatic genius thing, too. He just turns up his collar and sort of sucks in his cheekbones. It's really irritating once you notice it. I keep seeing him at crime scenes and thinking of Dolly Parton."

Greg winces. It's not a pleasant mental image.

"So, mine twirls his umbrella, yours turns up his collar. Holmeses, eh?"

"He's not mine," John mumbles.

Greg's heard that before.

F is for Freckles

"I think I knew," says Greg, pausing to allow a content yawn. He stretches tiredly, leaving spaces where his skin had touched Mycroft's, and Mycroft huffs, moving to hold the other man more tightly and reconnect them. "I think I knew when you kidnapped me and asked me to spy on Sherlock."

Mycroft laughs into Greg's shoulder, his breath warm even in the humidity of August.

"That isn't particularly romantic," he says.

"I had a very romantic session in the shower afterwards."

"That is even less romantic."

"Well, you should have been there, then."

"Perhaps I should have."

Mycroft counts the freckles on Greg's left shoulder. It's too dark to see them but he knows them well enough.

"When did you know?" Greg asks, suddenly and softly. Mycroft brushes his lips over where he knows freckle number three to be.

"I may have lingered around a handful of crime scenes," he confesses. He can feel Greg laughing.

"How many?"

"Four or five. Perhaps eleven."

Mycroft discovers an entirely new freckle that night and spends a good half hour blushing about it during his meeting with the Japanese dignitary the following morning.

G is for Garden

Greg sighs for what Mycroft thinks is the twenty-third time. Well, he doesn't think it. He's been counting.

"It's not quite right," says Greg. Mycroft digs his nail into his palm and exhales.

"What, precisely, is wrong with it?" he asks. Greg looks at the floor – genuine 18th century polished floorboards, thank you very much – and shrugs.

"I sort of wanted somewhere with a garden," he says quietly. Mycroft narrows his eyes.

"Why exactly would we require a garden?" he asks. "You forced poor Genevieve back into the clutches of the French after she soiled your uniform."

"It was my best shirt," Greg mutters. "And it doesn't matter. This is fine. It's your money."

Mycroft doesn't know where he went wrong. He puts his hand on Greg's shoulder and the other man leans into it. Not so wrong, then.

"Gregory," he says. They're silent for a few moments and the estate agent sneaks out. Mycroft is thankful.

"My kids," Greg replies eventually. "I thought they could come and visit. If you wanted, I mean. But they're at that age, you know? All they want is to climb trees and eat mud. Just a thought."

Mycroft feels something in his heart swell a little bit and he moves his hand from the other man's shoulder, strokes the nape of his neck just below the hairline.

"We'll ask the estate agent," he says.

H is for Holiday

"No."

"Gregory, it's imperative - "

"No!"

"It is merely a business trip."

"No."

"I know it's our anniversary, but I must attend."

"No."

"You know, I would invite you along, but I know how you feel about the French."

"No-one knows how I feel about the French."

"Tell me how you feel about the French."

"They're too French."

"So you do not wish to accompany me to Paris for our anniversary, then."

"I didn't say no."

I is for Ignorance

Greg hears the door slam and looks up as Mycroft positively storms in.

"What's wrong?" he asks, worriedly. Mycroft flops down into the kitchen chair opposite Greg and puts his head in his hands. Greg reaches across the table and pats him on the elbow in a way he hopes is reassuring.

"I may have been forced to sever political ties with Estonia," Mycroft answers. He rubs his face and puts his hands on the table, smiling tiredly at Greg. Greg swallows hard.

"Why?" he questions. Mycroft holds Greg's hand in his own. He looks exhausted.

"You're not familiar with Estonian, perchance?" he says. Greg shakes his head.

"Is anyone?" Mycroft raises an eyebrow. "You are," mutters Greg. "Of course you are."

Mycroft looks at the floor.

"Look up the word 'pede'," he says.

Later that night, Greg does just that. That night, he makes sure to hold Mycroft more tightly than normal.

J is for John

Mycroft looks at the feed from the close circuit camera he's installed in his brother's living room. He looks again. Yes, it's definitely John and Sherlock. He hadn't intended on seeing quite so much of either of them.

He cuts the feed.

K is for Klingon

"Did you know that 'ice man' in Klingon is 'd'akturak'?"

"No, Gregory. I did not know that."

"You do now. What's for dinner?"

"Bahgol."

L is for Love

Sherlock bristles, sending a veritable wave of static throughout the room. It seems to be at least two degrees colder than when he walked in. Mycroft stands his ground.

"You are not ill, Sherlock."

Sherlock barks out a laugh.

"I beg to differ, Mycroft. I am unable to concentrate on my work – the work, Mycroft! I've never had a problem with concentration before! – and my stomach aches, my head rushes – don't laugh. Why are you laughing?"

Mycroft sighs. How he ever thought he was going to turn out to be the less socially awkward of the Holmes brothers, he'll never know.

"You're not ill, Sherlock," he repeats. "You're in love."

Sherlock raises an eyebrow.

"In love."

"Yes."

Sherlock pauses. He seems to be considering the option. Mycroft can't remember the last time his brother considered anything he said.

"Stop spying on me, Mycroft."

He sweeps out of the room, black coat leaving cold in its wake.

Greg later tells him that John missed their lunch appointment. Mycroft isn't surprised.

M is for Mummy

- You have one new message

"Hello, darling, it's your mother here. I know it's been a few months since I last called – well, you could call your poor old mother too, you know! – but I have been quite extremely busy. The estate is in a bit of a mess, truth be told. No, no, don't worry, the inheritance is all still there. I know that's what's most important to you. Fear not, when I leave this mortal plane you'll still be able to afford to keep that man of yours in the luxury to which I'm sure he's become accustomed. Anyway, I was just phoning to see how you were, you and your brother. I hear he's got himself a... 'boyfriend' of sorts. How typical. He always did seem to live in your shadow, that boy. Of course, it used to be something of a larger shadow! How is the diet going, dear? Have you put all that weight back on yet? Not that I'm expecting it, no, not at all, but you know how these things are. I wonder what that policeman would think if you were to revert to your old ways? I expect it would give him quite a shock. Oh, you mustshow him some old photographs, dear, they're so amusing - "

- Message deleted

N is for Necking

"I hate that word," says Greg, wincing at the characters on the screen. "Even more than I hate Eastenders, actually. Can we change the channel?"

He looks at Mycroft. Mycroft appears puzzled.

"What's wrong?" Greg asks.

"I have never heard anyone refer to that particular activity as 'necking' before," confesses Mycroft. "It seems to be a rather erroneous definition."

Greg stifles a laugh.

"Want me to show you why it's so apt?" he says. Mycroft blushes. They miss the end of Eastenders. Greg doesn't mind.

O is for Origami

"When I was ill," says Greg. "Mum used to make me a paper crane. No idea why. Think she got it from a story about some dying kid. Always cheered me up, though."

Mycroft thinks.

The next time Greg stumbles in with a hangover and misses Mycroft's early rising, he finds a paper crane on his lover's pillow.

He only shouts at Anderson once.

P is for Pizza

To: Sherlock Holmes

From: Mycroft Holmes

Subject: Desist Immediately

Sherlock,

I understand that you are easily bored, but if you could possibly stop ordering a minimum of ten pizzas to my home address each evening, I would be eternally grateful. I might even consider re-evaluating your suitability for a knighthood.

I would also remind you of an old saying; 'only boring people get bored'. One hopes that John is able to cope with such a tedious flatmate.

Good evening.

- MH

To: Mycroft Holmes

From: Sherlock Holmes

Subject: RE: Desist Immediately

I would remind you of another old turn of phrase; 'who ate all the pie? Mycroft did'.

Enjoy the pizza. I got you margherita. I know how much you like cheese.

- SH

To: Sherlock Holmes

From: Mycroft Holmes

Subject: Re: Re: Desist Immediately

Sherlock,

Do enjoy the delivery I sent, won't you?

- MH

To: Mycroft Holmes

From: Sherlock Holmes

Subject: RE: Desist Immediately

If it's a war you want, Mycroft, then I am more than willing to provide it.

- SH

PS John very much enjoyed the egg-fried rice. He was less enamoured of the duck in hoisin sauce.

To: Gregory Lestrade

From: John Watson

Subject: (No Subject)

Greg,

So, it seems that our respective significant others have got into some twisted sort of takeaway war. Sherlock's taking it really seriously. I assume Mycroft is, too. We have terrible taste in men.

However, this does mean that I have an abundance of chicken chow mein and a couple of cans of Carling in the fridge. Fancy coming round and watching Die Hard? It'll have the bonus effect of pissing Sherlock off.

- John

To: John Watson

From: Gregory Lestrade

Subject: Re: (No Subject)

Yippee-kay-ay.

Q is for Quetzalcoatl

"No, Mycroft. It doesn't count."

"I assure you that it is a real word."

"I know that, but it's a proper noun. You can't have it. I don't care if it is the third highest Scrabble score in history."

"Well then, in that case, I shall disallow your misspelling of 'necessary'. I had thought to let it pass, but you are clearly less amiable when it comes to the rules of Scrabble."

"That's how you spell it! Isn't it?"

"Not if you've left primary school, no."

"We are never playing Scrabble again."

"That's absolutely fine with me."

"Hey, does 'smug bastard' count?"

"Only if 'you started it' is also allowed."

"So, Cluedo?"

"Also a proper noun."

R is for Royalty

Crown polished. Will be returned to you ASAP. All is well, Liz.
- MH

Unless that's a really obscure euphemism, I think you sent that to the wrong person.
- GL

Ah. This is why Anthea usually handles such things. Pay no heed to that text.
- MH

But I'm intrigued now! Crown?
- GL

A mere trinket, I can assure you. Back to your desk.
- MH

Anderson's there. I'm hiding. Who's Liz?
- GL

No-one you know. He left approximately two minutes ago. There's a nice stack of paperwork waiting for you. Chop chop.
- MH

You're hilarious.
- GL

Yes, Gregory, I love you too.
- MH

Hold on
- GL

Crown
- GL

Liz
- GL

Bloody Hell, My, don't tell me that text was meant for the sodding queen!
- GL

You have the queen's phone number?
- GL

You call the queen LIZ?!
- GL

I am going to have a lie down. Preferably next to a really large bottle of Scotch.
- GL

There's one in Anderson's desk. See you later.
- MH

brring liz tooo say hellooooo!
- GL

No.
- MH

S is for Stars

"It's not like you don't know it all already," mutters Greg. Mycroft shrugs and draws the blanket more tightly around them. Greg recognises the cliché of the image, tries to let it bother him, but it doesn't. What's the point in having a rooftop accessible by stairs if you don't use it?

"Perhaps I like hearing you talk about it," Mycroft replies. Greg rolls his eyes.

"What is this, Dawson's Creek?" he grins.

"No, Ursa Major," Mycroft counters. Greg looks up at the sky. Polluted as it is, only a few stars are visible here and there, most of which he recognises from a few science lessons and a bored weekend father with an astronomy degree.

"My dad always called it the Plough," he says, surprising himself by how fondly he manages to speak of his father. "Silly sod studied it at university and still couldn't tell the difference between a constellation and an asterism."

Mycroft raises his eyebrows.

"Enlighten me."

Greg leans back to look at the sky more easily.

"Well, in layman's terms – and I don't have the luxury of a degree, so that's all you're getting – an asterism is basically part of a constellation. They're patterns more than anything."

Mycroft looks at him. There's something in his expression that Greg can't quite pin down.

"I could listen to you talk about this all night, you know," he says, and he lies down, the pull of the blanket obliging Greg to do the same. He feels himself turning red, a mixture of pride and embarrassment. He's never been that good at taking compliments.

"Well, good," he says. "Because once you get me started, I probably won't stop until I fall asleep."

Mycroft closes his eyes.

"I have no objection to that."

Greg manages to explain the origins of black holes, white dwarfs and supernovas before he falls asleep. Mycroft stays awake to the end.

T is for Tea

Sherlock turns up half an hour late, bits of bramble stuck in his hair and a scuff on his shirt sleeve. Mycroft sighs.

"Interesting case?" he asks, holding the door open. Sherlock stalks in. With the cut above his lip, his pale pallor and his billowing coat, Mycroft thinks he looks a little like a vampire. He keeps this to himself. Their relationship hasn't been this congenial for years.

"Disappointingly mundane," calls Sherlock from the kitchen. "Child serial killer. Police were stumped. Turned out to be – what a surprise! - a convicted child serial killer escaped from prison. Case closed. Where do you keep the tea? No, no, I've found it."

Mycroft hears the clattering of cupboards as Sherlock raids them before he walks back into the living room, a packet of PG Tips in his hand and a look of revulsion on his face. Mycroft steels himself.

"Yes?" he says.

"You have PG Tips in your cupboard," Sherlock states.

"Excellent deduction, Sherlock. Truly worthy of a Holmes."

"Oh, that isn't my deduction," Sherlock crows, bounding across the room and flopping into Mycroft's armchair. He tosses the packet of teabags from hand to hand, looking at Mycroft thoughtfully, and points at him. "You are a tea snob."

"Another truly marvellous inference," Mycroft mutters, taking the chair opposite. "How do you do it?"

"A tea snob, Mycroft, would not permit PG Tips within ten miles of their kitchen cupboards," Sherlock begins. Mycroft sighs. "You prefer to drink Whittards, or, when you're feeling guilty or fat, Twinings. Lestrade drinks PG Tips. These are his teabags."

"Yes, well observed."

"But drinking tea is an integral part of your day. It's built into your ritual. You have exactly four cups before lunch and exactly five after. It never changes. So it stands to reason that you wouldn't change the tea you drink unless something else about your ritual changed. Lestrade moved in two months ago. Since then, you've let him buy the teabags, even though that means putting him in charge of the most important part of your day. Why?"

Mycroft looks at him, levelly.

"Because it's not the most important part of your day any more!" Sherlock finishes. "Your days have a new focus. Of course. How saccharine." He throws the bag of teabags at Mycroft, who catches it deftly. "I do hope I'm best man at your wedding."

Mycroft puts the PG Tips down on the coffee table, stands up and heads towards the kitchen. Sherlock follows. Mycroft sighs.

"What is it, Sherlock?" he asks. "I'm going to find the Twinings. There should be some left."

Sherlock hands him back the packet of teabags. He looks mildly ashamed, an expression that can't have marked his face many times before.

"PG Tips are fine," he says. He pauses uncertainly for a few seconds. "I recently made a similar change myself."

Mycroft processes this.

"I'll put the kettle on," he says.

U is for Umbrella

Sherlock says Mycroft's got a sword hidden inside his umbrella. Is that true or was he just making a really inappropriate joke?
- JW

Don't ask me! Never touched the bloody thing.
- GL

You're not curious, then?
- JW

No, John. It's an umbrella. I own three myself.
- GL

But what if it's not just an umbrella? He does seem very attached to it.
- JW

You're making me curious now!
- GL

Go and check, then.
- JW

John, I am not sneaking downstairs at 2am to examine Mycroft's umbrella for the possible presence of a sword.
- GL

OK, when you put it like that, it does sound really strange. Fine. It's probably just an umbrella anyway.
- JW

Greg?
- JW

Helloooooo?
- JW

Earth to Gregory Lestrade...
- JW

Are you asleep?
- JW

IT'S A FUCKING SWORD
- GL

I knew it!
- SH

V is for Video

5 things that Mycroft Holmes has discovered due to the tactical secretion of video cameras in Sherlock's flat:

John and Greg meet up every Thursday afternoon and bitch about their respective Holmes men.

From these sessions, Mycroft has learnt that John hates it when Sherlock wears his socks in bed and Greg would prefer Mycroft not to drink coffee before kissing him.

He has also learnt that he doesn't want to know any more about his brother's sex life. Ever.

Mrs Hudson is, in fact, their house keeper.

When Mycroft and Greg argue, Greg doesn't 'find a hotel' as he usually says he'll do. He sleeps on Sherlock's couch. Mycroft thinks this is a good thing; it means that Greg is willing to be found. He's not sure why Sherlock hasn't lorded this over him yet.

John's blog entries average approximately 1,000 words. This takes him an average of 3 hours to type.

Greg has left Post-It notes for Mycroft's cameras to pick up. Mycroft's personal favourite is 'stop spying on your brother and get back to bed, where I am right now'. He wonders how Sherlock felt upon finding that one.

He has to wonder because at the time Sherlock found it, Mycroft was indeed in bed.

Greg counts this as a personal victory.

W is for Wales

"You had no objection to attending my last business trip with me."

"No, Mycroft, because that was Paris. This is bloody Llanelli. Excuse me if I'm not overjoyed at the prospect of spending the week in the country that the 21st century forgot."

"Oh, come now, Gregory. Wales is not a third world country."

"It might as sodding well be. They think that 'w' is a vowel, Mycroft, and they don't even have 'j'! What kind of sick people are they?"

"Sick people who are permitting the use of an entire country estate for the duration of my stay."

"Ah. And they're paying for your train tickets, right?"

"First class train tickets, yes."

"And it would only be a week."

"Yes."

"Y'know, you could have mentioned the whole country estate thing at the beginning."

X is for X-Ray

Greg isn't really in his ex-wife's good books at the best of times, but when his six-year old son comes to stay for two days and manages to fracture his tibia within the first half hour? Greg is pretty sure he's on some sort of hit-list at this point.

Rachel pulls apart the cubicle curtains with a look of sheer fury on her face. James is mercifully asleep.

"Half an hour, Greg," she hisses, rushing over to the hospital bed and taking James' hand in hers. "Half a bloody hour and he breaks his leg. You were supposed to be responsible for him!"

"I can't stop the forces of gravity, Rachel," he retorts bitterly. He runs a hand through his hair. "Work called, and... look, he's a kid. He'll be fine, the doctors said - "

"I don't give two shits what the doctors said!" she cries, then seems to realise how loud her voice has become and puts her head in the hand that's not holding James'. She takes a deep breath. "Gregory," she begins. "I never thought I'd say this, but when you're called into work at the last minute, you should call Mycroft."

She looks pained to say it. James looks at Greg. Greg looks at Rachel.

"Really?" he asks. She nods.

"Really." She lets go of James' hand, who stirs in his sleep, and stands up, taking Greg's hands in hers. "Look, I know I was a bit freaked out at first – can you blame me? Ex-husband moving in with a bloke, that's going to freak out any woman – but you know, he is your partner. He should be involved." She looks pointedly at James. "Especially if it helps avoid these situations."

Greg looks at the floor.

"I'm sorry," he says. "I didn't know how you'd feel about it."

"Look at me," she says. "I am fine with it, Greg. I'm fine."

Mycroft collects them both from the hospital an hour after an x-ray reveals it's fractured and not broken.

Y is for Yesterday

If you were to ask Mycroft what his favourite day of the week was, he'd say it was yesterday. Greg would say tomorrow. Sherlock says they should both stop being so bloody avant-garde and just say Tuesday like any normal person, but that wouldn't serve the purpose of annoying Sherlock, so they don't.

Mycroft likes yesterday because you can't forget to do something that's already been done.

Greg likes tomorrow because you can't lose the memories of something that hasn't happened.

Sherlock likes Tuesday because that's when Barts gets most of their deliveries to the morgue.

Mycroft likes yesterday because it becomes part of the past. It's things said and done.

Greg likes tomorrow because it's part of the future. Their future, although he doesn't say it.

Sherlock likes Tuesday because that's the day Greg is going to actually say it and he can stop crying on John's shoulder about the possibility of a rejection that's not going to happen.

John likes Sunday because he's already booked the pub for the congratulations party and any excuse for a beer is absolutely bloody welcome.

Z is for Zealous

"Look, I didn't think there was anything odd about it."

"Gregory, you proposed in front of the Eiffel Tower at midnight, having paid an entire string quartet to provide the music for the occasion."

"All right, so I was a little over-zealous when it came to the planning. You still said yes, though."

"I did."

"And you were very over-zealous about it, if I may say so."

"I thought I was just the right amount of zealous."

"Hmm, maybe. You might have to remind me."

"With pleasure."