For you! And happy Mystrade Thursday.
When John told him that Sherlock had once loved a dog beyond all sense and reason, it would not be much of a stretch to say that Greg was surprised.
But when in further discussion John explained, the surprise had hardened into shock.
It was apparently Mycroft’s birthday, and John was wrestling aloud with the enduring complexities of Sherlock’s familial obligation. While Greg listened to him vent, he considered. In the shadowed, secret places of his heart, a spark of affection began to glow.
The warmth of that affection sat like a banked coal, growing in heat and intensity for a year and a day, fanned into flame each time they met. Finally, upon Mycroft’s next birthday Greg arrived at his office bearing a small plastic crate.
Mycroft froze. “What is this?”
"Happy birthday," said Greg.
From inside the container came a scratching and a feeble, wistful whine. Mycroft’s eyes became impossibly wide. “Inspector?” More than surprise, more than amazement, more than anything else, he looked terrified. After a moment of coaxing and very little speech, Mycroft opened the crate. Out poured a tiny red setter puppy, dark as an old penny and sleek as silken sheets. His enthusiasm spilled him over Mycroft’s desk and into his lap.
"John told me," said Greg as Mycroft stared at the puppy with undisguised astonishment, "you used to have a dog just like this one, but that it became Sherlock’s when he was a toddler."
"They were inseparable," Mycroft murmured, mesmerised by the wriggling creature trying to burrow into his stomach. "And he calmed Sherlock down. It seemed the best course of action to let Redbeard go to Sherlock."
"You gave up your pet to your baby brother."
"It seemed expedient."
Because you love him, Greg thought. “Well. If you’d like, this dog could be yours. For your birthday.”
"For my birthday."
He must have been in shock. There was no other explanation for Mycroft’s vacant lack of comprehension, and for the fact that he was idly watching the puppy lick his fingers. If he hadn’t witnessed it himself, Greg never would have believed it; Mycroft seemed otherwise too fastidious for that sort of thing.
"Yes," Greg said.
Wasn’t it obvious? Greg cast about for a way to explain. “You…” He cleared his throat. “You love Sherlock, and that’s why you once gave him something of his own to love.”
That seemed to finally break the spell. Mycroft dragged his gaze up from the dog and stared, scanning over and over Greg’s face, cataloguing. Assessing. Greg saw his chest heave. He blinked, and slowly, incrementally, his jaw went slack. “Oh,” he breathed.
"Yes." Greg allowed himself a small, sincere, tremulous smile.
There was a beat in which their futures—Mycroft’s, Greg’s, and the dog’s—hung in the balance. Then Mycroft leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Greg’s mouth, a kiss as soft and fervent as any Greg had ever had. Relief flowed like water down his spine. He curled his fingers in Mycroft’s lapel and lost himself in love.
Eventually, the kiss slowed until it was little more than a careful, tender brush of lips. Greg felt Mycroft’s breath on his cheek. It shook.
Greg broke away with a sigh. “I’ll take that as a yes, then.”
Mycroft’s mouth was red, and still very, very close. There was a crease between his brows, as if he were being presented with too much all at once, and the wealth of it hurt. “Yes,” he said. “Yes. Please.”
For a heavy moment, Mycroft just touched Greg’s cheek and stared, just as entranced as he’d been moments earlier by the playing puppy. “Without a doubt,” he said. Between them, the dog roiled like an exciteable storm of fur. A smile touched Mycroft’s eyes, and Greg felt a new future roll out before them: a path paved with joy. “A happy birthday, yes indeed. The very best.”