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Sweet Life (1/2)

BBC Sherlock

Rating 15 (swearing, slash, drug-taking)

Summary: a long time ago Pudupudu was wanting someone to hurt Mycroft. I'm not very good at hurting him, but I thought I'd have a try. Betaed, yet again, by the indefatigable Blooms84.

Part 2


Among the perennial contests in Lestrade's head - Depp or De Caprio as preferred shag; Gloria Gaynor or Kylie; whether Anderson was more disturbing with or without the beard – there had been a recurrent one in the last eighteen months: Which Holmes was more annoying?  An obvious conclusion at first glance. Sherlock was a menace in every possible way. Working with him was a nightmare, and the one time Lestrade had ended up in bed with him had been worse. Lestrade hadn't been told so many times he was getting things completely wrong since he was last forced to learn trigonometry. He still regretted sometimes that he hadn't reacted in the same way as when he was fifteen: bunked off shagging Sherlock halfway through, and gone and had a ciggie behind the bike shed instead. Would have been a lot more satisfying.

When he'd finally met Mycroft, on the other hand, after years of hearing Sherlock complaining about him, he was not only posh, as Lestrade had expected, but had nice manners. And wasn't bad-looking, in a terribly starchy upper-class way. Lestrade had known a lot of public schoolboys like that when he was a teenager, who had turned out to be pleasantly randy little buggers underneath their fancy waistcoats. And quite a few more recently who only had to see a piece of rough like him to remember that aspect of themselves and be gagging for it again. Or gagging on it sometimes.

But ten minutes into their first meeting, he'd decided that whatever Mycroft's tastes were, he wasn't going near him. He didn't juggle razor blades for fun. There were entire conversations they had which Lestrade had only realised the point of days later. There was always an angle with Mycroft, a whole sodding angleload of angles. It was like being a pawn in some game, associating with him. No, probably more like being a poker chip; and he wasn't interested in finding out if Mycroft was bluffing. Mycroft Holmes might seem friendly, might even sometimes behave as if he liked Lestrade, but it was all just part of some complex attritional game with the world. Or with his brother, which was even bloody worse. And right now he seemed to be caught in the crossfire of another round in Holmes v Holmes. It was the only explanation, surely, for the Great Doughnut Fiasco of last month.

***

The case had started with a complaint about chapati flour, and ended up twenty-nine frantic hours later with a rather inept would-be suicide bomber besieged in a brewery. Mycroft had turned up halfway through the siege, which had stunned Lestrade. Everyone knew that Mycroft stayed away from the operational end of things, hated 'legwork' of any kind. It wasn't even as if his brother was around, which was the main reason Lestrade had known for Mycroft to leave his office and slum it with the police; Sherlock had lost interest in the case and buggered off as soon as he'd deduced the bomber's real identity.

Still, the man had been quite reasonable to start with: not trying to barge in and take over the incident, and even making a few helpful suggestions. But when they'd finally collared the terrorist - alive if soaked -  Mycroft had then gone and spoiled Lestrade's increasingly positive impression of him as the more sane Holmes in a couple of sentences:

"Well that was exciting, DI Lestrade, but I have one more request before I head off. Do you think you could briefly fill me in on more of the background of the case, how you got onto the man initially?"

Lestrade had bitten back his first comment about where Mr Holmes could stick his sodding request, and not bothering to stifle a yawn, said: "Gimme a cup of coffee and I'm all yours."

Mycroft's eyes widened. He expected manners at this point, did he, Lestrade thought incredulously. "OK, make that a gallon of coffee, please."

Next thing he knew, they were in some kind of posh tearoom – he wasn't even sure it was officially open, who had afternoon tea at 8.30 am? And he was gulping down scalding coffee, trying to get enough caffeine in his system so that he could come up with statements more coherent than: "There was this bloke called Yusuf, see? And then there was this other bloke called Yusuf. And then this third bloke came along..."

It was all going OK – well as OK as a meeting with the cleverest man in London was likely to go when you were half out of it from exhaustion – till the doughnuts. As soon as Lestrade smelled them he remembered that he hadn't eaten for hours, if not years. To hell with all the fancy cakes in the shop; he wanted these. The proper old-fashioned jam doughnuts he'd had as a kid.

"Can we have a plate of those, please?" he'd said, and they'd brought them over, still warm. He could feel his arteries hardening as he started shovelling them down, but he didn't care. Licking the trickle of jam off his chin, feeling the gritty sugar coat his fingers, because he was still alive and so was everybody else in London, and it was safe to go home and sleep again.

Mycroft was staring at him like he was watching some sort of freak show, he realised after a bit. Watching every bite Lestrade took intently, while he clutched the cappuccino he'd been sipping delicately. Why the fuck doesn't he feel anything, Lestrade thought. Can't he ever let go, unwind? You had to after a situation like this morning. He bet half of the officers at the siege would end up getting drunk and having dodgy sex in the next twenty-four hours. Always been his preferred way of getting over stressful cases when he was younger. Maybe he should have suggested that to Mycroft rather than coffee? Almost worth it, just to see his face. God, he was out of it, wasn't it? But the thing was, if you didn't let go sometimes, the stress got to you in the end. You gave yourself ulcers or a heart attack.

Talking of which, there was still one doughnut left on the plate, and even his stomach was starting to protest at how much he'd eaten.

"Have a doughnut, Mr Holmes," he said.

"No, thank you, Inspector," The clipped tones needled at Lestrade's tired brain.

"Why not?"

"I don't like sweet things."

He was lying, Lestrade was sure. He licked at his sticky thumb and Mycroft practically drooled in response.

"Yes you do, Mycroft," Lestrade said. "You want it, don't you?"

"I have to be very careful about what I eat, make sure I stick to a healthy diet," Mycroft said, and there was real tension in his voice now, as if he was about to split open. Maybe there'd  be jam pouring out of him as well, not real blood...

"Forget the diet for once. It's one doughnut. Eat the sodding thing!" He didn't know why he was yelling at Mycroft, why it mattered, but it did...And then he got up and stomped out of the tea-room because if he'd stayed there one second more he'd have rammed the doughnut down that posh idiot's throat. He went home and went to bed, and woke up to conclude that he'd probably been hallucinating the entire thing on some caffeine and sugar overload.

***

Three weeks later he got lumbered with the undercover operation from hell. He didn't like that kind of thing at the best of times – he was quite happy sticking with being Greg Lestrade, thank you – and this was rapidly turning into the worst of times. All the informant had revealed was that an attempt would be made on the Slindon diamonds at the Countess of Slindon's birthday party. A party so upmarket that it was absolutely unacceptable that even a disguised Lestrade could attend as a guest.

"Fine," he'd told the Commissioner. "There must be a bloody peer of the realm lurking somewhere in the Met. They can deal with it."

It turned out that DI Jones was the Right Honourable Athelney Jones and had been to school with the Earl of Slindon's son. But of course, that didn't let Lestrade off the hook, he didn't have that kind of luck. He was still on the case as well. Probably so that if everything went tits-up, the Commissioner had someone to blame who wasn't an Old Etonian. So here he was, dressed up as a waiter and about to make an idiot of himself. Under the watchful eye of Sherlock, of course, who was blue-blooded enough to be attending the party officially. And who was now expertly critiquing Lestrade's performance as he helped get things ready at Tarrant Hall.

"The best waiters are invisible," Sherlock announced, loading more glasses onto the tray Lestrade was struggling to keep steady.

"Sorry, didn't bring my magic cloak with me."

"I mean that they are unobtrusive. Generic, even. The guests see a waiter, not an individual. You're still exuding too much personality. Mainly of the sulky bear kind. Try and look a bit more as if you take professional pride in serving over-elaborate snacks to pretentious morons."

"You're not helping!"

"Or maybe you should just cultivate an air of glassy disdain. You know, like Mycroft's 'I may have a poker up my arse, but it's a solid gold poker' look."

"Just because your brother's got some manners, there's no need to sneer at him-" Lestrade began.

"Curious how defensive you are of him when he's criticised," Sherlock broke in. "As is he of you. I called you an inefficient ignoramus last week and he said, no, you were an excellent officer with very good negotiating skills."

It was surprisingly pleasing that he'd impressed Mycroft, despite the subsequent disaster. But he didn't have time to think about that now, might distract him from the current operation.

"I don't want to talk about your brother, thank you very much," he said rapidly. "I have enough on my plate dealing with you.  Quite literally. Careful, I can't carry any more than that!" God, this was a disaster waiting to happen, wasn't it? If only John was here as Sherlock's minder-

"John's foot's still not healed," Sherlock said, with exasperation. Trust Sherlock to guess what Lestrade was thinking. Or maybe it was just that Sherlock spent a lot of time thinking about John nowadays.

"And for once," Lestrade replied, "he's behaving like a sensible doctor, not a crazy ex-soldier and decided he's not going to rush around, making it worse. Surprised you're not at home looking after him."

"He's a grown man," Sherlock said haughtily, "and he has Mrs Hudson and Sarah both waiting on him hand and broken metatarsal. They seem to think he needs looking after properly."

For a moment Lestrade was tempted to laugh, and then he realised what he'd got himself into. Second in charge of an undercover op, and a pissed-off consulting detective to keep under control. The question wasn't whether something would go wrong, but when. Still, he could just about manage Sherlock...

"Good evening, Inspector," said a smooth voice behind him. "I must say I'm looking forward to this party. I don't get out much these days. And you do look commendably like a waiter. Well, from the ankles up at least. A bit more elbow grease on your shoes might not have come amiss."

Oh, fuck. This couldn't be happening, not twice in a month. He couldn't have got landed with Mycroft Holmes on an operation again, could he? His brain couldn't cope with the extra complications. Especially the fact that a dinner jacket suited Mycroft, made him look almost dashing.

"What are you doing here?" Sherlock demanded.

"I thought you might require additional assistance, so I obtained an invitation," Mycroft replied calmly. He beamed at Lestrade. "Not that I plan to interfere, of course, DI Lestrade."

"Jones is in charge of this one," he said hastily.

"You're interfering already!" Sherlock protested, staring sulkily at his brother.

"I am merely an observer. I'm always interested to see the Met in action, and this seemed like a good opportunity, congenial surroundings."

"You know you don't like parties," Sherlock said. It was going to be one of those rows, wasn't it, thought Lestrade. All done in code, so you knew they were trying to score off one another, but not how. He wished they could either have subtitles for non-Holmeses or not feel the need for an audience.

"A man can change his preferences, can't he?" Mycroft said. "Learn to appreciate new experiences."

"I think you should stick to your routine. It's better for you."

"My life needn't be so restricted as it has been."

"But it needs to stay balanced. Let's face it, Mycroft, you can't cope with situations like these. They always disrupt your...eating habits."

Oh, bloody hell, thought Lestrade. If Sherlock was starting needling Mycroft about his diet, this was going to get really ugly.

"You two sort it out between you," he said, "I've got to go and find where they want the canapés." He hurried off to the kitchen. What was Mycroft doing here? It must be some warped power game going on. The fact that he couldn't make head nor tail of it just proved how warped it was. Well, forget about Mycroft. He had a jewel heist to worry about.  He hurried off to the kitchen. If he could just stay out of the way of both Holmeses, things would be fine.

***

Of course, it turned out that he couldn't. Tarrant Hall was full of people rushing around trying to get things sorted out for the evening, from some hapless bloke who insisted he had to read the electricity meter right this minute to half a string quartet. In the midst of it all, Sherlock was buzzing round disrupting things, and even Mycroft found excuses every now and then to wander out to the garden and watch Jones and Lestrade trying to sort out their officers. Probably thinking he could organise the security much better, Lestrade thought grumpily. But they weren't being allowed enough people at the party itself, so they were just going to have to hope they could stop any dodgy customers as they came in. At least Mycroft was potentially another pair of eyes on the inside, though it was probably far too much effort on his part for him to help catch anyone.

Lestrade went back inside just before seven, because there were plateloads of stuff still to take through into the Great Hall, where the buffet would be. And the first guests were starting to arrive, so he had to try and look vaguely convincing as a waiter. He was cautiously carrying a large trayload of smoked salmon blinis down one of the corridors, when he saw a suspicious figure out of the corner of his eye. A tall man standing by the coat racks: something nervous, wrong about him. Lestrade looked surreptitiously around as he pretended to adjust the balance of the tray. Mycroft with his back turned, jacket off, rapidly rolling up one shirt-sleeve, his other hand holding something that to Lestrade's sharp eyes had the exact glint of a needle tip. He hurried away, hoping Mycroft hadn't spotted him.

It didn't make any kind of sense to him, but he wasn't a Machiavellian genius. Just possible it hadn't been a syringe, but there'd been something furtive in Mycroft's stance, he realised now. Maybe that was why he wasn't supposed to go to parties: because he got high at them. Mycroft's own way of coping with stress, perhaps, though it made all his complaints about Sherlock's drug-taking past seem pretty hypocritical.

Unless it was a very recent problem. Had Mycroft been behaving differently recently? Well, he'd started coming round to New Scotland Yard to talk to Lestrade more, for one thing...Oh fuck, that was probably it. It wasn't that Mycroft was interested in him, which was what had crossed his mind once or twice. It was that Mycroft subconsciously wanted to get caught. Knew he needed help, but not prepared to admit it directly. The stupid, bloody idiot.

It couldn't be easy, of course, being the British government and Sherlock's brother. Not Lestrade's problem though, at least not tonight. He ought to say something at some point, see if Mycroft needed help getting clean. But the key thing right now was the party. That was likely to be enough of a disaster as it was.

 

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
thesmallhobbit
Nov. 12th, 2011 10:50 am (UTC)
The description of Lestrade and the doughnuts has left me wishing I had one now. Very much looking forward to part two.
marysutherland
Nov. 13th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
Sorry to awaken hunger pangs in you. I prefer the taste of eclairs myself, but there is something very nostalgic about jam doughnuts for those of Lestrade's generation (like me).
rabidsamfan
Nov. 12th, 2011 01:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, I'm hooked. Very hooked. And making guesses, which I shall mumble to myself until they are proved or disproved.

marysutherland
Nov. 13th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
I think the central mystery is barely a one doughnut problem, but there may be one or two other surprises yet to come.
maggie_conagher
Nov. 12th, 2011 04:05 pm (UTC)
I am very interested and now, hungry. Wondering if Mycroft is a diabetic?

The excellent writing with smooth consistency of POV is as much a treat as jam doughnuts.

marysutherland
Nov. 13th, 2011 07:13 pm (UTC)
Glad you're enjoying it - sorry, I'm not good at writing fics with healthy food options in them. There are some raspberry tartlets to come in the finale, which I'll try and put up tomorrow.
2ndskin
Nov. 12th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC)
You are on such a roll with delicious, irresistible fics lately! Had to squeeze in a read before running off to dinner (sadly, no doughnuts). I adore this one and can't wait for the next part, even though I know how it ends! Some wonderful L character bits here. Onward to the party!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )