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The First Step Together

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Mycroft stands at the edge of the scene and twitches when the first few raindrops hit his collar. He opens his umbrella without thinking and lifts it to protect him as his gaze falls back to the scene.

Or, Lestrade on the scene, to be more correct.

He's standing several dozen meters away, lit up by the high-powered mobile lights from forensics. His shirt is in a state, wrinkled and creased. His trousers are wrinkled in a way that tells Mycroft they're supposed to be one of those magical fabrics that does not do that. But this is Lestrade's third scene in nineteen hours, Mycroft knows, because this is the third scene he has been to as well. No amount of polyblend can keep fresh when someone is moving swiftly to eliminate informants to some of Mycroft's lower colleagues. Mycroft's people, led by Anthea, are working the angles they have. Sherlock is buried in information to find the angles they do not see. Lestrade is doing what he does the very best: being the boots on the ground.

Mycroft watches Lestrade yawn hugely, then turn and say something to a tech that makes the equally tired man flash him a brief, amused smile. Lestrade scrubs a hand over his hair, then looks up, squinting as the rain hits his face. It's nothing more than a light misting, truly, but Mycroft steps forward anyway, pleased at the people who nod at him in recognition. Lestrade had been insistent that his people know Mycroft on sight so he could move as easily as needed at these particular scenes, and Mycroft appreciates as always how well Lestrade understands what people need.

"Detective Inspector," Mycroft says when he's a few meters away. Out of Lestrade's personal space but close enough to be easily heard.

Lestrade holds up a finger. "Two ticks," he says, flashing Mycroft a quick look to see his agreeing nod.

Mycroft watches Lestrade walk over to Donovan and have a brief conversation. The tension in her shoulders loosens minutely, and she flicks Lestrade on the chest in a friendly fashion that makes him grin.

Oh, that grin, Mycroft thinks. Such a dangerous weapon on the wrong man. Possibly even more dangerous on the right one.

Lestrade squats down to look at what Anderson is photographing, then he's back on his feet, working his way across the scene to the constables keeping watch at the tape. He says a few words, hands three cigarettes to one of them, laughs quietly at some reply, then leaves them to their work.

Mycroft is somehow certain the constable only requested a single cigarette, but Lestrade would never hand over one when he has several. It is yet another sign of the goodness of his heart. The goodness of the man.

"Mycroft," Lestrade says when he finishes his circuit and comes to a stop in front of Mycroft, hands jammed in the pockets of his trousers, his coat pushed back off his hips due to the stance. It makes him one very lovely masculine line from the top of his head to the tips of his shoes. The mist is just starting to flatten his hair, but the water makes it glimmer, and Mycroft cannot believe how devastating the mere existence of this man is to his being.

"I was going to offer you a bit of protection," Mycroft says, tipping his umbrella slightly forward. "But I am not sure you'll feel its use now that you've gotten damp."

Lestrade takes his hands out of his pockets and shakes his coat by its lapels. Water droplets fly off to the sides. "Waterproof," he says, "so I'm pretty dry overall. But I wouldn't say no to a little head protection while we compare notes."

"Certainly," Mycroft says. He steps forward at the same time as Lestrade, and they meet perfectly centered under Mycroft's umbrella. For a moment, all Mycroft can catalogue is the warmth that radiates from Lestrade's torso, the tiny cut on his chin where he nicked himself shaving, the scent of bitter, burned coffee that clings to his collar.

"Same as the others," Lestrade says, reaching up and pushing his hair backwards through his fingers. It makes it stick up more.

Mycroft gets a brief hint of mint and lavender shampoo mixed with the smell of new rain, and oh, that's different. The addition of the water to that smell that Mycroft has known for what feels like a very long time. This is what Lestrade would smell like in the shower, Mycroft thinks, and then blinks the thought away. "Stabbed through the back of the neck with signs of torture pre-death?" Mycroft asks to keep his mind focused on the present.

Lestrade sighs deeply, and there's sadness in his eyes. He feels every death he investigates, Mycroft knows, but he also carries that weight with a grace that Mycroft has very rarely seen. It is a cousin to the grace Lestrade has that has him taking a moment to cheer his team. To give three cigarettes to a random constable. A relation to the grace Lestrade showed Sherlock and then Mycroft the day they all met.

Mycroft has been unquestionably and foolishly in love for a very long time. There is no other way to be in the face of a grace so casual given by a man so effortlessly beautiful.

"Yeah," Lestrade says. "How's it going on your side of things?"

"No updates, I'm afraid. And nothing from Sherlock."

Lestrade quirks a smile, then a small, dry laugh. "So, he has nothing, or he's hared off and doing something stupid."

"I would hope Dr. Watson would inform us if that were happening, but he is...occasionally unreliable."

Lestrade smiles at Mycroft, wide and amused, the flash of happiness in his eyes making Mycroft feel like he can't breathe at all. "John's entirely reliable. He will always be by Sherlock's side when he's being a fucking berk."

Mycroft huffs a laugh. There's warm annoyance and fondness in Lestarde's tone. Signs of friendship and care. Of sincere concern and affection. "I cannot argue against your accurate description."

The rain suddenly comes down harder, switching from mist to a proper downpour. There's shouts of displeasure from the scene techs, all rushing to try and preserve what they can. Mycroft is not surprised that Lestrade does not dart away to help. He is a man with a keen sense of when he's useful versus when he's not, and he will only be in the way as the techs rush with precise teamwork to cover the scene in sheeting.

"Shit," Lestrade mutters, pulling his coat around him and tying it closed. "I know we haven't found fuck-all at the other scenes, but the possibility we just lost something is going to hit the team right in morale."

"You will overcome it," Mycroft says. "Your people know you will not blame them."

Lestrade looks at Mycroft, gaze flittering over his face. Mycroft stays still, allowing his face to stay open and readable. There's a shift to Lestarde's gaze when their eyes meet. From curious to pleased, and then from pleased to...Mycroft isn't quite sure.

Or, he is sure, but he won't name it. There is only so much he allows him to hope in any given situation. Lestrade's continued enjoyment of his company moment to moment has always required the full thimble of hope he keeps for himself each time they meet.

Lestrade takes a half-step forward, just enough that they're truly close together under the protection of Mycroft's umbrella. More than enough to sharpen Mycroft's attention on him. "What do you see when you stand here and watch me?" Lestrade asks. The directness of his tone matches his gaze, matches the confident way he stands. Mycroft is terribly tempted to kiss him. To take a kiss he has wanted for so long he feels like he's always wanted it. And to get it here, sharing his umbrella in the rain. It would be utterly ridiculous and silly and romantic.

He does not lean forward for that kiss. He has no right. Not even with the look in Lestrade's eyes. His heart is thundering in his chest louder than the rain hitting the umbrella just above their heads. "Everything," he finally says because it's the truest answer. He shivers when Lestrade's look sharpens. "Or perhaps not," he adds from the force of that look.

Lestrade nods slowly. A pleased light flashes in his eyes. He glances over his shoulder and takes in the scene. "Scene's basically useless now," he says. "But I need to check a few more things. When I'm done," Lestrade turns to look at Mycroft again, "me and you, let's get a pint. Warm ourselves up a bit and get a breather. Been a rough couple of days."

Lestrade's face tells Mycroft everything. It's not just a pint. Not just a chance to wind down with someone who understands the strain of being in charge. It's exactly what Mycroft saw and was afraid to name. Hope. Interest. Curiosity. Warmth.

"I'll wait in my car," Mycroft says. He tips the umbrella towards Greg. "Please make use of this."

Greg takes the umbrella. He gives Mycroft one more warm look, the hint of a smile, and then a sharp nod. "Ta," he says and walks away.

The way his shoulders and back straighten as he makes his way back to Donovan makes Mycroft feel warm even as the rain drenches him. He'd relaxed with Mycroft, comfortable to show a bit more of himself. Comfortable enough to take the chance he's just taken. It is another piece of Lestrade--Greg; he will insist Mycroft call him Greg if they go out for a pint--that Mycroft has seen over and over, that bravery in the face of the personal, a willingness to take the measure of the person in front of him and take a leap because he trusts his instincts. It is the reason, Mycroft is utterly certain, that his brother is still alive. 

Mycroft walks briskly to his car, ignoring Anthea's amused look when she looks up from her phone and sees how wet he is. She shifts her umbrella so it covers them both.

"Any change, Sir?" Anthea asks.

Mycroft snorts at the utter flatness of her tone. Anthea cuts him an amused look. "Not in regards to leads," he says and lets her read on his face that, yes, there has been one change.

"Shall I fetch your spare suit from the boot?"

Mycroft glances over his shoulder. Greg has left the umbrella with Donovan and is making his way around without it. Were he a Renaissance painting, Mycroft thinks, his grace would glow around him like a lantern. "I am sure the heat in the car will be adequate," he says. He will never have Greg's grace, but he is very curious to try it on in some small way. They'll both be disheveled and damp when they sit down for their pint. It warms Mycroft to think of it.

"Very good," Anthea says with a blank look that laughs at his romantic fancy as she opens the door. "I assume we are waiting for the Detective Inspector to join us."

"Yes," Mycroft says. "Thank you."


"Of course." She gives him one more quick look, then shuts the door. He listens to the rain hit the roof, the quieter sound of Anthea's heels clicking on the wet pavement. He hears the boot open, and that surprises him, but there is no rustle of his garment bag before the boot is closed. 

Anthea opens the front passenger door and slips inside. There is a closed, dry umbrella in her right hand. She slides it across the front seat and sits next to it. She gives her umbrella three, efficient shakes with her left hand before pulling it into the car and shutting the door after. 

"Where is Edgar?" Mycroft asks as Anthea passes him the dry umbrella and slides behind the wheel, leaving her wet umbrella in the foot well on the passenger side.

"I sent him for tea," Anthea replies. "He should return in four minutes."

Mycroft sets the umbrella upright between his legs and lays his hands over it. It focuses him, puts him into his usual position of exchanging information with Anthea. "Anything at all from your team?"

"A few small threads, but nothing's pulled loose yet," she says. "I put the success of those inquiries at thirty percent but would be glad to be proven wrong."

"It is rare I wish you to be wrong, but I share the sentiment," Mycroft says. He glances out the window. Greg is walking towards the car, coat held tightly closed at his throat. He has Mycroft's umbrella in his other hand. 

"He does realize it would work much more effectively if he opened it?" Anthea asks. 

Mycroft cuts her a warning look, to which she replies with a perfectly prim and perfectly timed pressing of the button to raise the privacy screen. Mycroft lets himself smile as he opens his door and opens his dry umbrella. "Dare I ask if your good Sergeant broke my brolly in a fit of pique?"

Greg laughs and shakes his head. Water flies in all directions. "You're not the Holmes that causes the pique," he replies. 

"Please," Mycroft says, gesturing for Greg to get into the car. He chuckles when Greg reaches for the belt on his coat. "Do not concern yourself," he says. "The seats have handled worse than a bit of London rain."

Greg gives him a sidelong look. "I don't want the details," he says with a great sense of false gravity. He ducks into the car before Mycroft can reply. Mycroft follows him in. A moment after he closes his door, the privacy screen rolls down two inches, and a towel is tossed back. Greg barks a laugh as the screen rolls back up. "Should I be insulted?"

"No, Anthea is simply amusing herself." Mycroft presses the button to lower the privacy screen again. Anthea is turned towards him, an expectant look on her face, every inch a professional if you don't know her. 

"Detective Inspector," she greets. "There will be tea momentarily."

"Appreciate that," Greg says, scrubbing his hair with the towel. "A good brew is exactly what I need to feel my bones again."

"If only you'd had some way to keep a bit warmer and dryer," Anthea says. 

"If only," Greg agrees. "But one does not leave one's Detective Sergeant without an umbrella. That's how you get your coffee dumped in the trash right in front of you."

"I've always liked Donovan," Anthea replies.

"Me, too." Greg gives Anthea a quick flash of his grin, then turns and gives Mycroft a softer version. A warm smile that welcomes him to join the conversation, to enjoy the humor being shared however he'd like. 

"Anthea, Edgar is late. Please ring him while I speak with the Detective Inspector for a moment."

"Yes, Sir," Anthea says, and she turns her back to them as the privacy screen scrolls back up. 

Greg raises his eyebrows in question. "Don't tell me I was too friendly with the help. It's clear you two are thick as thieves."

"An apt description," Mycroft says. He takes a slow, deep breath as he slides across the seat. He stops just before they touch, close enough his intention cannot be misunderstood. 

Greg understands him perfectly, pressing his fingertips lightly to Mycroft's knee. Mycroft nods. Greg flattens his hand to Mycroft's leg, then relaxes his fingers. He looks at Mycroft's face, gaze resting on Mycroft's mouth for a long moment. 

"I need to be honest with you," Mycroft says. "About…" He covers Greg's hand with his own. He isn't sure how to finish that sentence. There are too many things to tell Greg. He decides to focus on the single thing he wants the most at this very moment. "I want to kiss you," he says. 

Greg beams. "Oh, good," he says. He laughs as he leans in, pressing a kiss to Mycroft's lower lip. "I was afraid you might have missed my cues," he says against Mycroft's mouth as he lifts away then presses in again. 

Mycroft kisses him back. He lifts his free hand and skates his fingertips across Greg's cheek. He feels his stubble, a tiny scar on the edge of his jaw, a dry bit of skin just by his ear. 

When they pull apart, Greg's smile is contained to a soft, inviting quirk of his mouth. Mycroft strokes his thumb along its curve. "Your cues," he says, "have you been showing them to me very long?"

"On and off," Greg replies. "You never backed away from them, but you never stepped forward. Not until tonight."

Mycroft thinks about earlier, the two of them under the umbrella. The way they stepped towards each other. "I have wanted to step forward for a very long time. I am sorry it took me so long."

"None of that," Greg says, then grins, mischievous. That smile that is entirely too dangerous on the right man. "Or maybe just enough of it that you buy the drinks."

Mycroft feels a grin slip across his own face and watches the way Greg's eyes light up at the sight of it. He's proud of himself. Proud he's made Mycroft smile. 

Entirely too dangerous by half, and Mycroft could not be more pleased. The intercom beeps, and Mycroft takes an extra moment to memorize the details of Greg's face before turning and answering it. 

"Sir, we have tea and news from your brother. One of our leads matches his personal theory."

"Oh, yes," Greg hisses in glee as Mycroft lowers the privacy screen.

"I will be certain to tell him your team found it first," Mycroft says to Anthea as she passes their tea back. 

"If you could record his reaction, I'd consider it a bonus," Anthea replies. 

"Of course," Mycroft replies as Greg snorts a laugh. "Edgar, we'll be going for a drink."

"Anthea's caught me up," Edgar replies, and his eyes flick to Greg in the rear view. "I know a place that might suit, Sir. Quieter than a local. Not so posh it hurts."

Mycroft turns to Greg. Greg's eyes are open and narrowed. He's reading something in Edgar. He glances at Anthea. She's ignoring him, busy sending instructions to her team. "Greg?" Mycroft asks. 

"I won't question the taste of Anthea's brother," Greg says, meeting Mycroft's gaze.

Anthea's typing stops for a single moment, then picks back up. "Lucky guess," she says. 

"Sure," Greg agrees, then laughs when Anthea makes a show of pressing the button to roll up the privacy screen. 

Mycroft turns towards Greg as the car slowly starts to move. "How did you know?" he asks, impressed by Greg's discovery. "They look nothing alike."

"Same stare," Greg says. "I caught it in the mirror. A stare like that can't be learned. You can only get it through genetics."

Mycroft laughs quietly, draping his arm along the back of the seat. Greg leans back, resting his head on Mycroft's arm. "I am very pleased I stepped forward tonight," Mycroft says. "It has led to an already exceptional evening."

"I kiss that good, do I?" Greg asks, that dangerous grin coming out again. 

"Obviously, that is exactly what I meant," Mycroft agrees blandly, and Greg's laugh warms him even more than the tea.

For a night like tonight, Mycroft thinks, he will find a way to step forward every single day.