Characters/Pairings: fem!Mycroft/Lestrade, implied John/Sherlock
Word Count: 4400
Summary: She sometimes wondered if it would be easier, as a man, and then realized maybe it was better this way. More challenging. More fun.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Everything belongs to BBC, the Magnificent Moffat, Godtiss, etc.
A/N: Wow, okay, I'm going to name-drop all over this. Thank you, flecalicious, for being a terrible influence and inspiring the sudden genderbendiness. NEVER STOP WRITING, DEAR. Next, lillyankh and holisticalice for encouraging me as I went. Double thanks to Alice for the beta edit, too! Credit to s0mmerspr0ssen for one of the images used near the end - YOU KNOW WHICH IT IS. Title taken from T. S. Eliot's poem "Gerontion."
I LOVE YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH ♥ AND SORRY I DIDN'T GET IT BRITPICKED. (GO READ THEIR STUFF WHEN YOU'RE DONE WITH MINE! ALL OF THEM!)
When Mylara was four, she wanted a calculator. Yes, a calculator. Not that big one with the voice, asking her what two-plus-two was - she wanted the one that meant business, which could divide and multiply and didn't have a smiley face stuck to it.
Her mother thought she was the sweetest thing in the world. "Her favourite daughter," Mummy said.
Only daughter, Mylara wanted to retort. And just because she was the daughter, apparently, she wasn't getting a calculator.
Instead, she was getting Barbie dolls. Now wasn't that wonderful?
Within four hours, Mylara had married Barbie and Ken. Then, they had kids, and grandkids. Then Ken was shot to death by an evil stapler.
Sure, Mylara could have killed them in other ways. Or had Ken hit Barbie. Something. But it was boring; she already knew what would happen.
There were no surprises in sight. There was no challenge in animating little toys into doing her bidding.
Mylara shoved the Barbies in the cupboard (Mummy wanted the floor clean) and never looked at them again. She asked for a calculator.
"Play with your toys," said Mummy. "Mummy's busy. And I don't want you growing up too fast, my precious little girl."
Sherlock, one year old, was being fed from a spoon, not fawned over in the least. Unimportant. Mylara watched Mummy feed her brother, wishing she could speak up. But what was there to say?
Girls were to be seen, not heard. Mummy said she wasn't sexist; Mummy thought she wasn't sexist. So did their father. But they were wrong, and Mylara didn't know the word "sexist," but she knew it meant that when he was three-and-one-half, Sherlock was getting a calculator.
Mylara was getting a journal with flowers printed on the front, for her sketching. Mylara filled the first pages with mediocre drawings of rainbows and families, a sketch of Sherlock and then a sketch of herself, as a boy.
Mylara wished she were a boy. It wasn't that she was forced to wear dresses, be pretty, be brainless. No, this was much more insidious.
Instead, they told her, "you can be whatever you want to be." And then when she walked out of her room wearing trousers and doing maths and watching historical reenactments on telly, they looked at her not with adoration, but with disappointment.
That was her weakness. That would always be her weakness. Above all else, Mylara never wanted to disappoint.
By the age of eighteen, Mylara was a dangerous woman. She knew martial arts. She could command armies, if she wanted to. She could strategise. She understood politics and laws. She knew everything. She was everything.
Except, of course, herself.
When Sherlock-the-teenager walked by, he sneered at his older sister. Yes, he was the first one to jump up and defend her when boys teased her or hated her or whatever else, but he was also the first one to loathe her for what she had become.
She wasn't obese, no. But she was undeniably chubby. She walked around with her head ducked, unable to look up, because she'd never been taught to be the best. She'd been taught to be the shy young woman, which, apparently, was an attractive quality in females. Mylara was a woman of many skills who didn't know how to use any of them.
So, she inevitably disappointed herself. And turned to eating. And Sherlock teased her, and she disappointed him, and Mummy, and would never be good enough.
What was she even going to do with herself? Her parents were incredibly helpful, they told her, "Do what you want to do." Mylara wanted to scream. She didn't know what she wanted to do. Maybe if they'd taught her to go out and do something, rather than to sit around and glare at her when she actually tried to go out and do something...
It was enough to make her want to run away.
Then, of course, she went to London, and met Gareth. From there, everything changed.
Gareth was the key. He told her how to stand up on her feet and fight in the face of both colleagues and superiors alike. Through him, she found a position in the government, and one that would, she noticed, go places. She would be the keeper of the keys.
She learned quickly, she found all the right organizations and contacts and memorised their names.
It was only a matter of months before she was transferred, and shortly after that, she became Somebody in the Ministry of Defence. Mylara was becoming a force in her own right.
And at night, she became a woman. Gareth took her in. He knew she wasn't very interested in sex, but he was, and he knew that if nothing else, she would find it interesting and useful. It was a win-win. Gareth got off with the aid of a beautiful woman, and Mylara learned how to make a man beg for her - a skill that had use both in and out of the bedroom.
Then, the year 2006. The height of it all. Gareth and Mylara, making the world tick on every front. Gareth, the highest analyst, reporting directly to the best of the best. Mylara, at the point where she no longer required a position - she had her own network, her own agency of contacts and such.
It was a terrorist attack, which she learned only afterwards. The tower was razed to the ground. Of eight hundred employees, only twenty or so survived; Gareth was not one of them. She hadn't been in love with Gareth, but she had owed everything she was to him. Everything.
At his funeral, she learned that Gareth had a girlfriend, named Adeola, and Mylara had never known.
Mylara... Okay. So maybe she was a bit in love with Gareth. Regardless, Gareth was dead, Adeola was also dead, and Mylara was in control of the world. She had a perfect figure, a perfect life, nothing boring at all.
She hated all of it. Especially her brother, who could, for some reason get away with being boring and leaving, and doing drugs. He didn't care about disappointment at all. Fuck him.
Some tiny bit of flame inside of Mylara had been, once again, extinguished. She lived, but not for herself. She lived because there was nothing else to do but live. She controlled. She rigged elections. She slowly changed public opinion, allowing for more freedom, keeping Britain on top and society at peace with itself.
Maybe if she made just one person's life better, she wouldn't be a complete waste.
When she next saw her brother, he didn't sneer at her, not even at her waistline. Instead, he looked at her with disinterest, and then disdain, and then boredom. But, most importantly, just before he left - he glanced at her, and all she saw was pity.
Mylara didn't know exactly what to expect of Dr John Watson, when she first invited him to meet in one of the many "secret lairs" of Britain, as she privately called them.
She leaned on the edge of her umbrella, dressed in a pinstripe suit that, excuse the pun, suited her well. It was "sexy" and at the same time practical and intimidating; John Watson would know instantly - she was not to be touched. Males, Mylara thought. All the same.
John surprised her. John surprised everybody, Mylara thought wryly. He held his ground, even faced with the obvious threat that Mylara was.
He held fast to his integrity and loyalty, all for Sherlock. She still rather loathed her brother (why couldn't he just stay clean, why was he better why was he smarter why couldn't she be a man like him and...) but she was happy for him. John was going to be important.
John was going to save her brother's life. Not in the way he would later that night, but in a different way. John would make Sherlock better.
Mylara didn't need to be made better. She was already the perfect woman, after all. If there was a tiny voice in the back of her mind saying, "I'm broken, I'm worthless, I'm a disappointment and can never succeed" she ignored it, because thinking like that? It was the path to failure.
At the scene of the crime, she watched her brother and his friend giggle, and told Jones to heighten their surveillance to grade three.
It was then that somebody (dared) to tap Mylara on the shoulder, instantly snatching her attention. Jones was on his PDA, not on alert at all, so clearly, there wasn't a threat. Mylara turned around, pasting an emotionless smile on her face.
"Excuse me - who're you? This is a crime scene, ma'am, and I doubt it's really where you need to be."
"Detective Inspector Lestrade," Mylara said, allowing her smile to become a bit predatory, perhaps even a little bit flirtatious. Interested in sex or not, Mylara knew a man when she saw one, and though she'd never in five years met Lestrade, had never needed to, she knew he was a man with taste.
Lestrade, to his credit, only raised his eyebrows when she spoke his name. "That would be me. Can I help you?"
"You already have," Mylara replied, winking. "Gareth?" (Was it bad that her PA's current false name was the name of her ex-not-boyfriend? Perhaps.)
"Everything's ready, sir," he said obediently. She always found it adorable that he called her "sir."
"Right. It's wonderful to finally meet you, DI Lestrade. The name is Mylara Holmes, and yes, that Holmes." She waited - there it was, the sudden recognition. Mylara made a note to go back and snap a picture of his face from the CCTV later - just for amusement, of course.
Shaking his hand, she left with Jones, climbing into a limo with ease. She could tell Lestrade was watching her, and for once, she was rather pleased with herself over it.
Oh - ah. Mylara's streamlined mind ran through the different possibilities and outcomes of this sudden emotion, and there it was - potential. Surprising. She liked Lestrade, more so than most of the people she had met. There was something about him that made her want to flirt, not to flirt towards some purpose.
It wasn't love - ridiculous - or even a crush - preposterous. But it had the ability, with time to turn into either.
Mylara's lips curved into a smile. She did love new things. If her brother was entitled to a new play-toy, surely she was as well?
She didn't see Lestrade again for the longest time, but after that meeting, her thoughts buzzed with him. She didn't dare show her interest. It would be too easy to ensure that they met by design on a regular basis. Not even Jones knew, she was sure.
And it was so tempting to go into the CCTV and watch him, to stalk him, to devour every inch of Lestrade's life with the obsession and focus she usually gave to studies and politics, but she didn't. Wherever she showed interest, she inevitably failed. It was a lesson in life she'd learned: if she loved it, then she was never going to succeed.
She again came upon him after the case with the Empress Pin, when he'd returned from his holiday - looking tan and suave, Mylara thought, smiling.
"Mylara Holmes," he greeted her with a nod. “Is there any reason you’re standing by my door, waiting for me?"
"Sherlock," Mylara answered truthfully. Well, mostly truthfully.
"Of course," Lestrade said, and he was correct, of course. Apart from Sherlock, there was no other reason for the lowly DI to ever meet somebody in Mylara's posting.
Lestrade was a good man, and in Mylara's line of work, there were no good men. Well, Jones, perhaps - but he was a PA. A brilliant PA, yes, but never a leader.
"You and my brother have been acquainted for... Is it five years now?" Mylara asked.
"A little over that. But you didn't have to ask, you already knew."
"Sherlock has told me a bit about what you do. He says you're actually the British Government. I don't know that I believe that."
"What makes it so implausible?"
"You don't seem like you'd settle for just one country."
She'd never heard that one before. Without her permission the sides of her lips rose, and she was actually smiling, not intentionally, either.
Oh, potential, indeed.
"You're smarter than you look."
"Is that a compliment or an insult?" said Lestrade. He crossed his arms, leaning against the gate.
"Both." No sense in coddling him. "Shall we go in?"
They had a very nice tea, during which Mylara laughed four times, three of them along with Lestrade. A success, she said to herself. A voice in the back of her head cheered.
"So, you're her assistant?"
Lestrade's voice. Mylara would have smiled, had she even remotely felt like smiling.
"What's your name?"
"Is that your real name? No, never mind. Can I go - talk to her?"
"I can speak for myself, you know," Mylara said, raising her voice over the crackle of flame. "And yes, you may."
Lestrade approached. She heard the shuffle of his feet against the ground, kicking the pavement - too tired, too exhausted to bother picking his feet up properly. "Did they tell you yet?"
"Missing, both of them," Mylara reported, clipped. "One body found, yet unidentified, wearing a badly charred suit. One dropped gun found, a Browning." Mylara's smile was entirely displeased. "Oh, and the missing missile plans. Was there anything more?"
"Do you know where they are?"
"If I knew that, I would be telling Sherlock what an idiot he is already. Of course not."
"So they're missing?"
"Off the grid entirely. Sherlock knows how to avoid me, and I suppose John has gone with him. They're underground." Mylara tapped her boot against the ground, and frowned, allowing her frustration to show, if slightly, on her face.
"Why are you still here, then?"
"I have no idea. It's absolutely pointless. I'm getting nothing done. All I'm doing is staring at the fire." She sighed. "Speaking fairly, it's a rather beautiful fire."
"It is, that. You wouldn't think a place housing a pool would go up so fast." Lestrade tucked his hands into his pockets. "You care about beautiful things."
"I have an appreciation for fine things," said Mylara. "Some of them are beautiful."
"Are you worried?"
"Yes, I'm worried. However much I dislike my brother, I would never wish ill upon him. I can only hope John knows how to keep Sherlock from entirely earning that insanity for which he is already so well known."
Lestrade put a hand on her shoulder, sympathizing. Touch, Mylara thought. She took a deep breath, centering herself. Mylara wasn't often touched. In fact, it was one of her best skills - she deliberately projected the feeling that she was untouchable, physically and otherwise, and so people never even tried.
The last time she had been touched for more than a handshake... To be honest? She couldn't even remember. Probably Gareth, she thought - not Gareth her PA, Gareth her not-boyfriend, Gareth who had died.
And she was okay without being touched. But -
Lestrade's hand, she could feel every callus, felt that his hands were so much larger than her own and grasped firmly. Held her steady.
Closing her eyes, Mylara licked her lips. "You know," she said, slowly, "if you wanted to slide that hand down a bit further, I would let you."
And to her eternal surprise, it did, but not in the way she had implied. His hand brushed over her shoulder, past her arm, and wrapped itself in her hand, gripping.
He was holding her hand. DI Lestrade was holding her hand.
Well, wasn't that just fantastic.
Mylara began to giggle incessantly, perhaps a little bit hysterical. In the corner of her eye she saw John's (John Lloyd now, not Gareth Barrowman, as they'd agreed) eyes widen and he stared at her, stared openly, and she didn't care.
Lestrade was holding her hand, and the fire was in her face, and her face was hot, and she bent over slightly, laughing and perhaps breaking down a little and that was okay, and Sherlock would be okay because he had John.
"Sir?" John asked. "Are you alright?"
"Of course I'm alright," Mylara said, smiling at him. She turned to Lestrade, her giggles under control. "Thank you very, very much, Detective Inspector Lestrade."
He was watching her with a strange, dare she say fond smile on his face. "It's my pleasure. Will you Gareth be driving you home?"
"Gareth?" Mylara turned to John. "Do you know any Gareth, John?"
John schooled his face into one of absolute innocence. "I don't, sir. You could try the phone book, I'm told."
Lestrade dropped his forehead into his hand, sighing. Reluctantly, or so Mylara wanted to believe, he disentangled his fingers from hers.
"I've got to get back to my team," Lestrade told her. "John, you will drive her home, right?"
"It's my job," John said, shrugging. "But I would anyway, DI Lestrade."
"Good. And..." Lestrade frowned, as though he wanted to say something, and couldn't. No, wouldn't.
"I'll be fine," Mylara cut in, curtly. "There is work to be done."
"Don't overwork yourself."
Mylara raised an eyebrow. "You've formed some sort of emotional attachment to me, haven't you," she said plainly.
"No use denying it. You're as bad as he is."
"Yes. But I still care. God help me, but I do."
"You just like me because I'm pretty," Mylara challenged.
"No, I like you because you're sexy," Lestrade retorted. "And because you can hold a bloody conversation, and you're smart, and you're interesting."
Mylara opened her mouth to reply, waiting for the witty comeback - and there was none.
"You don't have to prove yourself to me, Mylara. In the end, you're as much a person as anybody else."
Mylara didn't know what to make of that. She knew she was a person. So (and okay, she was proving herself to him, and to the world, constantly proving because she didn't know how not to) she didn't make anything of it; she just smiled, accepted the compliment.
Lestrade wasn't boring.
He was exciting; he kept her off-balance, seeing through her and looking at her at once, noticing her and yet treating her as unimportant. He was attracted to her, he cared about her. Mylara felt... cheerful. That was the best way to put it. Or perhaps optimistic.
Here was a man who didn't treat her like a woman, but would love her as one.
And inevitably, he did. She still wasn't terribly interested in sex, and never would be, but she didn't mind it with Lestrade. And Lestrade understood.
Sometimes he understood even when she didn't.
"He's not dead, is he?"
Mylara lazed upon Lestrade's couch. Her heels had been kicked into the corner of the room, one of them standing straight and the other on its side, the plastic red shining with the reflection of fluorescent light above. Her knee-length black dress was hitched up slightly, carelessly showing one thigh. Mylara glanced at Lestrade, who stood in the doorway.
She sighed, and took another swig of the cheap beer in her hand.
"You're not going to tell him. Or even me. You're just going to let John keep believing that Sherlock's body is somewhere over a waterfall in Switzerland."
Mylara ran her finger around the tip of the beer bottle, wordless.
"Fuck you," Lestrade said. He moved towards her and, unconcernedly, Mylara continued to stare at the beer bottle. "You're just - sitting here. Getting drunk. I want you out."
She looked up. She raised an eyebrow.
"Out!" he shouted.
Mylara shrugged. She rose to her feet, gracefully rearranging her dress. Swiftly she picked up and slipped into her shoes again, and finally, she took her umbrella, which until then had leaned carefully against the glass table.
She looked up at Lestrade with cool, collected eyes.
"Have I disappointed you?" she asked. Because she needed to know.
And then his hand was in the air; her mind froze up and she shut her eyes, bracing herself -
Opened her eyes. He'd stopped. He was staring at her.
She stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek before whirling out the door.
She couldn't help but think: if she were a man. Would Lestrade have raised his hand? Would he instead have understood, the one time she really needed him to? Would Lestrade have ever wanted her in the first place?
At the end of the first year, they were friends.
By the second, they were once again lovers.
But it wasn't until the third, when Sherlock returned at last and John gave up the pretence of ever not being in love with him and everybody was so fucking happy, that Lestrade finally came back to her.
Which was good. She was tired. She was getting old, even.
For nearly a year, sometimes he would appear at her doorstep, and start kissing her, and the first time he did it, he woke up that morning, terrified - she had seemed willing enough, yes, but he knew she wasn't interested, and maybe, had he -
No, she told him. No, you never could. I consented.
And he ran.
And a week later, he came back, kissing her deeply, lovingly, but not a word of love passed his lips and he hated her. She knew he did.
Sometimes she would appear at his house and naturally, she didn't ask for (take from him) any sex. She would slip out of her shoes and her dress, wearing only her underthings if anything at all, and she would climb into bed again. Skin against skin, and sometimes he would be hard, other times he wouldn't. Nothing happened.
He'd hold her close and let her sleep and it wasn't love, it was hate, but it was need as well.
So it had lasted, until then.
He'd never dared to come to her offices before. Not once.
When Lestrade found her, Mylara was scribbling out forms, signing reports and bills and God only knew what else at a very automatic pace.
(He later told her about the bags under her eyes and the way that oh, he had never seen her so thin and pale. She scared him, because in the darkness, the ever-deepening shroud of those three years, he'd never seen her. Shh, she said, pressing a finger against his lips. I'm okay now.)
The motion of her pen halted.
"You had to stay quiet for Sherlock, didn't you."
There was hope in his voice.
She swiveled around, her eyes catching his. "He's back? And he was... successful, in his mission?"
Lestrade smiled. "John's completely off the wall."
"As he should be," said Mylara. And she added, hesitantly, "I'm sorry."
"You couldn't have said that years ago?"
"No, I couldn't."
"Okay," he said. "Then I want this - whatever we've been having, in the shadows, I want it to stop." He entered the room, crossing that chasm of silence, and cupped her face, running his thumb along the edge of her chin.
She closed her eyes, and felt, for the first time in far too long - touched.
"Is this the part where you kiss me?"
"No," said Lestrade. "For once, no. This is the part where I want to take you home with me, screw your work, screw the world, and we have an X-Files marathon. You can make cheap jokes about real aliens and I can have a nice drink. Sound good?"
"Heavenly," she murmured, smiling.
Time rolled by, a lazy tumbleweed across a dusty plain.
Mylara, dressed in a white football jersey and jeans, perhaps the only pair she even owned slammed the car door shut. She looked to her left, her eyes scanning the grasses, noticing the white boxes that stuck out against the sea of green and yellow. Bees, she thought with amusement. Of all the things Sherlock might choose to do in his retirement, he had chosen to keep bees.
“Ready?” asked Lestrade.
Mylara tossed the car keys at him. “Yeah,” she replied. “I guess I am.”
They made their way up the path, and came to a small blue cottage house. Mylara knocked on the door, sharply, twice.
It opened instantly. They were expected.
Sherlock’s eyes narrowed. “Mylara.”
They stared each other down for a moment. Then, awkwardly, Sherlock hugged Mylara, in such a manner that it almost made her laugh. It was as though he’d never hugged somebody in his life.
“Good to see you,” he said. “Won’t you come in? And you too, of course, Lestrade.”
Mylara grinned. “Where’s John?” she asked.
For a moment, Sherlock scowled, a look of irritation sweeping over his face. “He’s in the kitchen. He insisted on reorganizing it. I swear he’s getting increasingly over-attentive with age.”
“I really don’t think you’re complaining.”
“Not really,” Sherlock admitted. He smiled, his eyes softening slightly. “I’ll go get him, I suppose.”
Love, Mylara thought wistfully.
Lestrade put a hand on her shoulder once Sherlock’s back was turned, mimicking that first time.
She leaned backwards, and he caught her against his chest.
( Originally posted at http://lizzledpink.dreamwidth.org/17017.h