Lizzie had had a call from Jacob, and then, an hour later from Pete, saying that Mycroft was upset, but that he had recovered. She had spent the whole morning biting her nails and hoping that he would do okay with the presentation, that he wouldn't flip out, and that his classmates would accept it. It seemed that she had had little to worry about. She was sitting in the car, waiting to pick up the four children. She saw Harry walking down from Bayside, holding John's hand, Sherlock running in zigzags behind them. Smiling, she wound down the window and unlocked the doors.
"Hey Harry darling. Where's Mycroft?"
"He said he wanted to walk home. He seemed fine." There was a moment of silent communication between mother and daughter, where Harry seemed older than her eleven years. Confirming from her daughter that Mycroft wasn't in danger of hurting himself, she accepted it and turned around in her seat to help buckle Sherlock in. Harry sat in the front. Her little finger reached out periodically to touch her mother's, sharing the worry about the older Holmes boy. Lizzie smiled at her, hoping it would all be fine.
Mycroft walked slowly, his hands in his pockets and his dirty white trainers scuffing the floor. He didn't understand. Pete had seen something special in him. He wasn't just pretending, Mycroft knew. But there was nothing great about him! Sure he was very clever, but all that had ever done was get him in trouble. He wasn't attractive, he wasn't sporty, he wasn't good with people. He was unable to cope with his life without cutting. He didn't protect Sherlock from their father. As far as he could see, there were very few redeeming features. But other people seemed to think he was wrong. They seemed to see good things in him, more than his father said was there. The Watson's seemed to like him. Mycroft bit his lip, walking a little slower at that thought. What if they didn't, not really? What if they were just tolerating him- because they felt sorry for him, or because they liked Sherlock? He tried not to think too much about that. He wanted desperately for them to genuinely care.
"Mycroft!" A voice yelled behind him, dragging him out of his thoughts. "Mycroft!". He turned and saw a slightly taller boy looking slightly out of breath. With a spark of realisation and a burst of nerves he didn't recognise, he recognised the boy. Gregory Lestrade. "I had to yell like five times, did you even hear me?"
"I- no, sorry. I was thinking" Mycroft shuffled his feet, unable to name the feelings swelling in his stomach.
"Cool. Thanks for accepting the party invitation" Greg said, walking forward in the direction Mycroft had been going. They walked side by side.
"No problem, I'm really looking forward to it." Mycroft bit his lip. He chanced a nervous glance at the other boy from under his fringe. Greg was tall for almost fourteen, but not as tall as Mycroft was for twelve. He had dark blonde hair cut short, a proud patch of fuzzy hair on his neck and freckles everywhere. He wore a dark green t-shirt and a checkered over shirt, matched with light blue jeans. Mycroft suddenly felt very small- his clothes did nothing to add to his already childish physique.
"I'm looking forward to it too. I've never been to a birthday party before." He redoubled his efforts to bite through his lip, wishing there was an undo button on speech. Greg frowned, confused.
"I-I mean... Maybe when I was really little... B-but... No" Mycroft stuttered uncontrollably, his tongue suddenly three times too big for his mouth.
"Well then, it looks like I have the honour of accompanying you to your first. I'll make sure you have fun."
"I-um thanks" Mycroft said.
"Look, I've got to go, we went past my house a few minutes ago. See you tomorrow evening, Myc!" Mycroft blushed bright red at the nickname.
"See you, Greg." Greg turned away with a wave and began to jog gracefully back to his home, leaving Mycroft floating an inch above the pavement.