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End Game

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 Three Years Later

 

Mycroft managed to wait until mid-afternoon. Knowing the flight had landed, he couldn't bear to keep working any longer. His clients would have to wait until the new year.

Then, he thought, as he closed his laptop, this late into the day on December 31st he was sure they all had more important matters to attend to.

He certainly did.

He stored his laptop in the safe, checked his phone and called a taxi, arriving in Gustavia just after three. The capital was full of sunshine, excitement and beautiful people. St Barts was in peak season for Christmas and New Year, and the docks were a hive of activity on this glorious afternoon.

Mycroft sourced himself a patch of shade in which to wait and watch the horizon, fingers drumming gently on his knee.

The villa hadn't been cheap by any means. An entirely enjoyable expense, though. This year had far exceeded his expectations. With Greg's earnings, their income was now eminently comfortable - and came with the added joy that a fortnight in the Caribbean required no permission but their own.

"St Barts, right?" Fond arms circling his waist, gentle kisses at his jaw. "Fuck, yes... let's get it booked, gorgeous. We can work while we're there. D'you think our villa's still available?"

'Our villa'.

It made Mycroft smile to the soul.

Then, he rarely needed a reason to smile anymore. The past three years hadn't been void of challenges, and a great deal of hard work had gone into securing their comfort - but there was something about hard work with another hard worker at your side.

'No matter what' were reassuring words indeed.

As a likely boat appeared in the distance, Mycroft felt his heart lift. The nearer it drew the more sure he became, until he couldn't bear to hang back in the shade any longer. He moved to linger by the wooden pier as the boat docked, watching the stream of passengers disembark. He checked each face that appeared, his stomach tight with anticipation. Three years... three long years...

He saw her the second she appeared.

Her assistant alighted onto the docks first, offering a hand back to steady her step. She smiled, pleased, took his arm and allowed him to help her down, her other hand resting on her stomach. She was showing every day of her twenty-four weeks, glowing in her soft white sundress.

Mycroft's feet pulled him forward at once.

As she saw him coming, Anthea's face opened into a smile.

Mycroft's feet sped up.

As her arms wrapped around his shoulders, he felt his heart heave against the front of his chest. He didn't want to hurt her, not for anything in the world - but it was so hard not to hold her tightly.

"Mycroft," she murmured in his ear, as if just saying his name gave her joy. Her arms tightened. "You look wonderful..."

"As do you..." Mycroft couldn't bring himself to let her go. It was so strange to think he'd once seen her everyday without fail; those days felt like a lifetime ago. "You're a picture of radiance, Anthea... was the flight comfortable?"

"You..." she chided, softly, and drew back to look at him. Her eyes shone as she took him in. "The flight was perfectly comfortable, thank you. Harry has taken excellent care of me."

"I'm glad to hear it." Mycroft turned to her assistant with a smile, extending a hand. "Harry - good to see you again."

Harry beamed, shifting Anthea's travelling bag onto his other arm in order to shake hands.

"And you, Mr Holmes. You're keeping well, I hope?"

"Sublimely, thank you. I hear heartening things about you, young man. Anthea tells me you're become more indispensable by the month."

Harry glowed. "Anthea's a wonderful employer, sir. I'm very proud to assist her."

"She learned from the best," Anthea murmured, glancing fondly at Mycroft. His heart swelled. "And where are the men of the moment, might I ask? I'd hoped to hear something by now."

"Awaiting their connection in Piarco, when last I texted. I imagine they'll be boarding fairly soon."

Anthea's eyes glittered. "I see. Have you been given any hopeful hint?"

"I'm afraid not," Mycroft replied, amused. "I assume we're expected to wait for the news in person... I'm choosing to surmise that means it's good."

Glancing over her shoulder, he spotted another familiar figure disembarking the boat - and his heart jolted into his mouth.

"Harry," Anthea purred, the very model of discretion. "Let us relocate to terra firma, shall we? Before I'm accidentally tripped backwards into the bay..."

"Yes, ma'am. Of course. Here, let me help you."

As Harry gave her his arm, and they made their way along the pier, Mycroft stepped past them. His heart was leaping behind his ribs.

John Watson - boardshorts, checked shirt and sunglasses, with a hold-all slung over his back - spotted him first.

"Sherlock - " he said, grinning.

Sherlock barely had time to turn. He let out a startled noise and stiffened as he was grabbed - then recognised the arms now wrapped around his shoulders.

Mycroft felt the tension ease from him at once.

"Hello, brother mine..."

"Hello, Sherlock." Mycroft smiled into his shoulder, breathing in. "I'm very glad you could come."

"John would hardly have permitted me to refuse." Sherlock's arms quietly encircled him; he settled against Mycroft, comfortable. "I'm also pleased to be here. Thank you for inviting us, Mycroft. You're very kind."

"How was your flight?"

"Tolerable, thank you. Where is Greg? We have his birthday gift. It's whiskey. I'm afraid he'll have to cope with festive wrapping paper."

"Currently changing flights in Trinidad," Mycroft said, unable to fight his smile. You recalled his birthday. "He should be here by nightfall. I'm sure he'll be very touched by your gift."

John grinned from ear-to-ear as Mycroft turned to him.

"John - "

"Mycroft..." The hug was brief but tight and very fond, all back-slap and grip. Mycroft found himself struck all over again by how thoroughly he approved of John Watson. "You're looking great. How's life?"

"Rather wonderful, thank you. I trust London is still treating you well?"

"You're not missing anything. How's that?"

"That will do nicely," Mycroft said, amused. He reached for the handle of their largest suitcase, helping John to carry it along the pier. Sherlock was donning sunglasses with a frown, his pale skin bleached bright white in the sun. "You'll be glad to settle after your flight, I imagine."

"God, yes..." John grinned. "In the pool with a cocktail by four, I think. How's New York?"

Mycroft gave him a wry look. "Two degrees in January," he said, "on a good day. Greg is always rather keen to exercise his wanderlust in winter."

"He's here already, is he? Have we heard about the deal? Was it a yes?"

"Not yet," Mycroft said, pleased. "He should be with us in a few hours. Neither Anthea nor I have been informed of any news. We suspect we're being kept in suspense with some purpose..."

"That's got to be good, right?"

"I certainly hope so."

"John?" Sherlock squinted back along the pier at them, pained. "Did we pack sufficient sun cream? I'm being subjected to a greater cacophony of UV rays than I anticipated."

"When you say did we pack the sun cream, d'you mean did I pack the sun cream?" asked John. "Because yes, I did. They don't have December here."

"Clearly," Sherlock remarked, frowning at the sky. "Curious to think it is New Year's Eve..."

As they stepped off the pier, he said,

"What is consumed for Christmas dinner here, Mycroft? I can't imagine it's turkey and roast potatoes."

Mycroft had had passion fruit and whipped cream from Greg's fingers, if he remembered rightly.

"A variety of things," he told his brother, with a smile. "Let me call us all a taxi. Anthea, are you quite comfortable in this heat?"

 


 

The villas were barely a minute away from each other. Mycroft ensured John and Sherlock were settling first, then left them in peace to unpack, with a reminder of dinner in Gustavia at eight.

He then called at the next villa, and was shown out to the terrace by Harry.

Anthea and her bump were already settled comfortably on a sun lounger, enjoying a virgin daiquiri and a paperback novel in her bathing suit.

Mycroft was sitting in the lounger beside her before he recognised the book.

"Ahh," he said, with a smile. "Swatting up?"

"Informing myself of what to expect," she said, amused. "He really is rather good, isn't he?"

"So I tell him."

"Such a deliciously unpredictable plot. And the sex scenes are frankly incendiary, Mycroft... I posit that you're a lucky man."

Darling, you've no idea. "I will certainly never lament Greg's imagination," Mycroft said, neatly.

"Do you go to the signings?"

"Some," he said. "Always the launches, at least. I try to keep myself innocuous at the back." He couldn't fight a smile. "It's both wonderful and a little strange, seeing people adore him as much as I do."

Her eyes sparkled, face softening with fondness for them both.

"With due respect," she said, "I doubt that's possible, s- Mycroft."

Humour stirred in Mycroft's heart. "Almost."

"Old habits, sir. They die hard." Anthea flipped to the first page of the book, smiling. "This one's dedicated to you, I note."

Mycroft was helpless against his grin. "Yes, they... all are."

"Of course they are." Anthea folded the novel around her bookmark, laying it aside with a little smirk. "Is he working on one at the moment?"

"He's just completed a draft, and the next is in its early stages of construction." Mycroft's stomach squeezed happily. "He wakes me in the night with ideas. It's... rather delightful."

"The pair of you will be the end of me," she said. She reached for her drink, taking a delicate sip. "It's no wonder that he's going down so well, of course. Handsome former detective - and British. Does that work in your favour, too?"

"With clients, you mean?"

"Mm."

"I suppose when one works in private finance in New York, there are certain advantages to sounding like the villain in an action film. The presumption of competency is helpful, at least."

"Is it pleasant to live there?" she asked, eyeing him with interest over her sunglasses. "America."

"Busy, but extremely pleasant." Mycroft smiled at her, intrigued. "Why do you ask?"

"I've often thought it would be." Her gaze brightened. "And it suits you marvellously, of course. I can't wait to see Greg."

Nor can I. "New York suits him, too. Very much indeed."

"I do believe you suit him, Mycroft. The geography of the thing is a minor factor at best."

"I hope you're still joining us for dinner tonight," Mycroft said. "The reservation is for eight o'clock, if that's alright. We have a table booked out on the sand."

"Of course we will," she said, fondly. "I wouldn't miss it for the world. 'Shellona', isn't it? I've heard marvellous things already."

"It is rather wonderful." Mycroft smiled, feeling his heart expand. "All the more, for such good company."

"Speaking of which," Anthea said, pushing her sunglasses up onto her forehead, "I believe you need a drink in your hand. It's New Year's Eve, after all. Harry?"

He appeared at the patio door a moment later. "Yes, ma'am?"

"Would you be kind enough to bring Mycroft something pink and alcoholic, please? If there's a little umbrella in it, all the better."

 


 

They talked contentedly for the next two hours, trading news of former colleagues which quickly strayed into shameless gossip - but then, Mycroft found, it was impossible not to gossip while drinking something pink on New Year's Eve through a straw. Harry, the little marvel, turned out to be rather generous with his gin; Mycroft had always known the boy would do well.

Throughout the conversation, a name seemed to be going unmentioned. Mycroft waited for it to arise - and when it didn't, he concluded that Anthea either knew nothing on the matter, or didn't feel it worthy of comment. Considering her elevated rank these days, and the wealth of information she could now access without lifting a finger, it was more likely the latter of the two.

Finally though, as she adjusted the rim of her sun hat, and glanced at him coyly from beneath it, she said,

"I note you haven't asked about her."

Mycroft smiled, stirring the final two inches of his cocktail with the straw. "I suppose I haven't."

Anthea took a delicate sip through her straw.

"Would you wish to know?" she asked.

Mycroft thought about it for some time, then took a drink.

"No," he said, "because I believe I can surmise already... at least, I can narrow the field to two likely outcomes for her fortunes. And as to which of those two transpires to be correct, I'm not overly concerned."

"Indeed?" Anthea sat back in her lounger, neatly recrossing her ankles. "What outcomes do you suspect, out of interest?"

Mycroft smiled, rolling the straw between his fingertips.

"One," he said, to begin. "Following her termination, you've monitored her rather closely. You've taken every discreet opportunity you can to impede her success in life - in small ways, I believe, but over time they've added up deliciously. I imagine speeding tickets are common. Interview processes are curiously stopped without much explanation. Loans are denied on sparse reasoning. She has struggled to make much of herself, and lives an unsatisfying existence without the power over others that so pleases her - and, worse, she is bright enough to be fully cognizant of why her fortunes seem so thin these days."

He took a slow sip of gin, watching Anthea's eyes. No hint of agreement nor denial could be found in them.

"From this," he went on, "I would conclude that Ilka Fielding has learned a valuable lesson. By their actions, an individual has the power to make the lives of those around them easy or hard - often without detriment to themselves. She chose to make lives hard. Those she kicked on her way up are now waiting with a bat on the way down."

"Well-phrased," Anthea noted, and waved a small insect away from her bump.

Mycroft smiled.

"Option the second," he said. "After her termination, Miss Fielding entered the private sector - where she has done extremely well. She found her way into a company as ruthless and success-minded as she is, and has saved them a fortune by slowly depriving its staff of more and more benefits. Her superiors are delighted. Her subordinates suffer, but haven't the power to challenge her. She lives without a flicker of remorse, and why shouldn't she? She has done no wrong. She now presents her termination from the security services as a great success. She lives comfortably and with pride in her achievements. She will, of course, go onto greater success."

He took another sip of gin.

"From this," he added, "I would conclude that every organisation in the world will happily sacrifice the wellbeing of its lower ranks, in order that those in authority can have two holiday homes instead of one. It is the nature of humanity. We are self-minded creatures."

He watched Anthea drink, her face impassive and unreadable.

"And I would find myself very glad that Greg and I now operate outside of the hierarchy," he said, smiling. "We can advance our interests without battling those above us or exploiting those below us. Our financial stability has been hard-won, and the last three years have not been easy - but I applaud our decision, and I would make it again without a second thought."

Anthea's small smile curled the edges of her mouth.

"You seem entirely content either way," she remarked.

Mycroft felt his heart breathe that in. He thought of Greg, and their apartment - happy memories in black-and-white around the walls - the first three years of a life spent together.

"I am," he said. "Without question."

"To clarify the matter would be unnecessary, then."

"So it seems."

Anthea smiled, her eyes sparkling. She took another drink.

"A gratifying outcome," she said, and stretched a little in her sun lounger. "I'm very pleased you have your stability now. Satisfying to have worked for it, I imagine?"

"Entirely," Mycroft said. "I was fortunate to have my savings, to help us settle. I can't present to you that this was achieved from a standing start."

"You worked for your savings too, Mycroft." She regarded him fondly. "You exchanged two decades of your life for them."

Mycroft finished off his drink. "I suppose I did," he conceded, and gave her a small smile. "My compensation is rather fairer these days. Thank God."

"Any future plans?" she asked him, casually, as she adjusted her sunhat. "Now you're both financially secure, that is..."

Mycroft knew at once to what she was referring. He tried to stop himself smirking, masking the expression as he swatted away an insect. "Discussions have perhaps been held."

"Mm? 'Discussions'?"

"Only sensible," he remarked, "for a couple to confirm there is agreement in the expected progress of their relationship."

"Highly sensible. Am I to expect a gold-rimmed invitation at some point?"

God help me.

"I'm afraid I wouldn't know," Mycroft said, attempting discretion. It was rather hard while smiling. "The developments leading to such an eventuality, I'm informed, are now out of my hands."

"Ahhh."

"Perhaps I too will end up in Heat magazine," he added, smirking, and she swatted at him with her sun hat.

"Rogue," she chided. "I had to send people to their offices. They've been warned never to print another photograph of me again, or their editor can enjoy a lengthy jail sentence... I'm hoping news of the baby can be kept quiet for as long as possible..."

She returned her sunhat to her head, neatening it carefully.

"Did you know there are people on the internet who believe I'm not real?" he said, amused. "'He never tweets about her'. For heaven's sake..."

The patio doors slid open. Harry appeared, tablet in hand. "Ma'am?"

Anthea craned her head round to him, as she sipped the very last of her daiquiri. "Mm, Harry?"

"I've had an update from Saint Maarten. They've arrived safely. It looks like they're taking the shuttle flight rather than the boat, so they should be here sooner than planned."

Anthea and Mycroft shared a smirk.

"Are they indeed...?" she said. "And catch us unawares... hmm. We'd better make ourselves look unaware, then. Thank you Harry."

As Harry nodded and returned inside, Mycroft placed his empty cocktail glass on the table.

"We'll see you at eight o'clock, then?" he said, rising from his chair. "We've arranged to meet John and Sherlock at the restaurant. I hope that suits."

"Mm, perfectly. I'm looking forward to it."

She opened her arms to hug him. Mycroft leant down, put his arms around her and smiled into her hair.

"It's wonderful to be here with you both," she murmured, holding him. "I've - missed you very much."

"I've missed you, too. If our fortunes continue to improve, we might be in danger of establishing a yearly tradition."

"Beginning each year in St Barts? Heaven. Don't tempt me, Mycroft."

Mycroft smiled, drawing back from her.

"Would you be permitted that sort of leave?" he asked. "I seem to recall having to fight tooth and nail for mine."

She gave him a sly glance.

"You smashed quite a hole in the wall as you left," she said. "Enough people fled through it after you that senior officials must now be courted and indulged, rather than chained to their posts."

She reached for her novel again, and resettled herself on the sun lounger.

"They don't really deny us a thing these days," she said. "I've already been told I can work remotely for my maternity leave, and return when I'm quite ready. I think they live in fear that I'll tell them to fuck themselves and run off to New York."

Mycroft's eyes crinkled at the edges.

"I'd recommend it," he said. "Wholeheartedly."

"It does look wonderful," she admitted.

"Mm. It seems I've done quite well, for the most hopeless man who ever drew breath."

Her eyes shone. "So you have," she said. "Enjoy the rest of your afternoon, Mycroft. Give Greg my best... when you're done giving him yours."

 


 

As Mycroft let himself into the villa, he found himself smiling almost ear-to-ear. He might only have a few minutes to get ready. He swapped his shirt for loose-necked white linen, checked his hair in the bathroom mirror, applied a little cologne behind his jaw, then took a bottle of white wine from the fridge.

He carried it, along with two glasses, out to the terrace on the hillside.

Though this view never changed, each time Mycroft laid eyes on it he seemed to see it afresh for the first time - the open sky and the ocean, each filled with colours that existed nowhere else in the world. The sun was just kissing the horizon. Its heat would soon ease, and the coolness of the night would blow in across the ocean.

As he poured out two glasses of wine, Mycroft realised his heart was hopping with excitement.

Two nights apart; it felt like two months.

Greg almost hadn't gone - almost ready to tell his agent to rearrange, for the sake of not leaving Mycroft alone here. Mycroft had almost forced him to go. "I'll catch up on work, darling. You'll be back in time for John and Sherlock to arrive, and perhaps with additional reason to celebrate. I insist you abandon me in St Barts."

Soft phone calls, both nights. Words of love and longing.

And now only minutes to wait.

Mycroft attempted to relax on a sun lounger, reached for his wine glass, and watched the sun set as he did his best to foster patience.

It was rather impossible. Time apart was now so rare that the prospect of reunion felt a little like a miracle. At home, Greg kissed him even before stepping into his office for an hour. Their lives were inseparable. A few face-to-face meetings each week, and the rest of Mycroft's time belonged to Greg.

It was still a marvel; it always would be.

He only had to open his arms, I want, and Greg stepped into them. They ate out several nights each week. If they wished, they walked the few blocks to Balthazar on Spring Street on a whim for brunch. If they wanted to spend a week out of state together, they could. The laptops came with them. Everything was easy. If it was two o'clock in the afternoon, and Greg cosied up behind Mycroft while he was making coffee, nuzzled into his neck and sent a shiver down his spine, the bedroom was only a few steps away.

As he sipped his wine, watching the sunset, it occurred to Mycroft that this was where he'd first waited, three years ago.

He'd worried he wouldn't be able to entertain Greg Lestrade for a week. He'd feared he'd see the man grow bored with him, grow tired of his needs.

Three perfect years.

Nothing would ever change how it felt to wake up, turn over in bed, and find sleepy brown eyes gazing at him, full of hopeful love, waiting for him to be awake. When he was tired, Greg enlivened him. When he was fractious, Greg soothed him. When he put his arms around Greg and whispered, and felt the man sink with perfect trust into his care, Mycroft felt like he was irreplaceable.

There was no better feeling in the world.

The sound of footsteps pulled him from his memories.

Before he'd even thought, Mycroft lifted his head and looked - and there he was.

Perfectly at ease, as if he walked this hillside trail every day of his life, Greg strolled between the low-lying plants. He moved with the same calm and steady purpose that had first caught Mycroft's eye all those years ago. He looked like he was fresh this moment from his meeting, black shirt and leather belt, suit jacket slung over one shoulder, sporting the deep tan that had returned after barely three nights here.

He was grinning from ear-to-ear.

Mycroft's heart heaved with joy inside his chest. He watched Greg approach, unbreathing, realising all over again that he was the single luckiest soul on the planet.

Greg stepped onto the terrace without a word. He passed along the poolside - slow, steady steps - and came towards Mycroft's sun lounger, holding Mycroft's gaze as he did.

Reaching the foot of the lounger, he discarded his jacket on the ground like it didn't matter at all.

He placed a knee between Mycroft's legs, a hand on each arm of the lounger, and leant down.

"I missed you..." he breathed as they came apart for air. Mycroft tightened his fingers in Greg's hair, scrunching it with longing. His lover's eyes flashed across his face. "I missed you to hell... you know that? You're so bloody beautiful..."

Mycroft's heart was pounding. "Greg..."

Greg grinned, biting his lip. "Your brother get here okay?"

"Mhm - "

"Anthea okay on the flight?"

"Yes - she's fine - "

"Yeah? Good..." Greg cupped Mycroft's face in one hand, stroking a thumb across his mouth. "We still on for dinner?"

Mycroft gave a nod as he shivered, his lips parting in instinct. "How was your meeting?" he asked - and as he saw Greg's eyes ignite, he knew at once. "Tell me, Greg..."

Greg's grin widened.

"Signed," he said. "Done. Pre-production starts next month."

"Greg - oh darling, I'm so pleased - "

"They want me as - what the hell was it? 'Co-executive producer'? In with the production team, script-writing..." Greg's grin barely fit on his face. "Looks like it's happening, gorgeous. 'Now a major feature film.'"

"Greg, I'm thrilled. I'm so proud."

"Want some more good news?"

"Tell me - "

"Ethan got it. He got the lead role." Greg bit down into his grin. "He's gone to tell Anthea now."

"Signed?"

"Signed." Greg laughed as Mycroft's arms flung around his neck, hugging him hard. "I told them it was part of my conditions, like you suggested. He did the audition piece I wrote him, and they didn't even blink. Said they'd already had him in mind."

"Oh god, I'm so pleased."

"Can't imagine anyone better, they said. Ethan's over the moon. Except..."

"Except?"

"Well, they'll be filming in New York. Keeping it all on location. So Ethan's gonna have to be there for... what, months on end? Which means..."

Mycroft made a deduction.

"Mrs Sterling will find herself either impelled to relocate," he said, smiling, "or deprived of a husband."

"Yeah..." Greg hesitated, reading Mycroft's eyes. "D'you think she's gonna be upset?"

Mycroft smiled slowly. "Something tells me she's put some thought into the matter already."

Greg grinned, stroking back a little of his hair. "You think?"

"Mm. I do."

"I s'pose with the baby on the way, she might take some time off... I guess she and Ethan can talk about it." Greg kissed him gently between the eyes. "Looks like I'm taking you to the pictures then, posh. D'you think you get free popcorn if you wrote the film?"

Mycroft felt his his grin grow with his heart. He wrapped his arms around Greg's neck, pulling him down into the lounger. They squirmed, kissing and shifting until they found a comfortable way to lie side-by-side, their legs wrapped tight, hands in each other's hair.

"I love you," Mycroft breathed between kisses, shivering as Greg's arm curled around his waist. "I adore you. You wonderful, wonderful man..."

"Christ, love..." Greg pulled him closer, breathing in. "I love you, too... you know that? I wouldn't be anything without you. Not a damn single thing. My gorgeous Mycroft."

"You changed my life three years ago. This very night. You changed everything, Greg. I owe you my every happiness."

"Yeah?" Greg grinned, stealing another soft kiss from his lips. "Imagine what I'll do with another three years..."

"God almighty..." Mycroft raked his fingers through Greg's hair as he inhaled, feeling his heart drum with joy. "Just let me love you. Please. It's all I could ever want."

His partner laughed, his voice soft; his hand stroked across Mycroft's lower back.

"Mhm. Sure I can manage that." He leant close, brushing his nose along Mycroft's jaw - then gave a low, fascinated groan. "Jesus, you smell amazing... what is that?"

Mycroft bit into his smile, heart swelling.

"New," he said. "A small indulgence. I did hope you'd like it."

"Christ, I love it..." Greg followed the trail of scent to its source at the corner of Mycroft's jaw, breathing in deeply. His arms tightened with longing. "Fuck me up..."

"Can be arranged."

Greg grinned against his neck. "You wearing that tonight?" he murmured. His fingers flexed, pawing at Mycroft's lower back. "Won't be able to keep my hands off you."

"Mm? Unfortunate." Mycroft began to trace a lazy circle at the nape of his lover's neck, feeling waves of overwhelming affection wash through him. "Perhaps it would be safest to take care of you now... ease some of these restless inclinations of yours..."

Greg shivered slowly. "My..."

"But then, will indulging each other now sate our needs? Or just inflame them? History leans us towards the latter."

"Inflame me," Greg breathed, and took a hold of Mycroft by the arse, squeezing. Mycroft's pulse jumped. "Please. Missed you. Couldn't sleep last night when you were gone."

"Greg... you should have called back..."

"Mnh. Wanted more than your voice." Greg inhaled at the corner of his jaw again, drinking the new cologne. "C-Christ, love. Let me watch you come. Please. Don't know if I can wait until tonight."

Mycroft felt his blood heat in immediate response. Tingles cascaded down his neck. "Greg..."

Greg's fingertips cosied beneath the hem of his shirt, stroking across the skin of his back. The brush of his lover's hands felt like the spreading of soft flames; Mycroft gasped, arching, inviting them on.

"What would you like?" Greg murmured against his jaw, voice easing low. "What would feel good?"

Mycroft's breath caught. He ran his fingers through Greg's gorgeous grey hair, stroking it back on itself, and gloried in the shiver it caused.

"Let me suck you," he whispered. "I - want you in my mouth, Greg. I want to show you I've missed you."

Greg's quiet groan ignited his nerves in a rush. "Darlin'..."

Breath tightening together, they reached for Greg's belt. As Mycroft found the buckle and undid it he kissed his lover, soothing his tongue into Greg's mouth and stroking with a pointed slowness, promising him, like this. Lazy. Tend to you. Greg shook and exhaled a quiet groan against his mouth. Mycroft took his time with the fastening, enjoying the kiss - it had only been two days, but he'd missed the feeling of gently arousing Greg. Nothing quite compared to being trusted this way. There was a certain vulnerability in being looked after; he'd learned that lying right here, safe in Greg's hands.

Now Greg was safe in his.

He turned Greg gently onto his back on the lounger, wanting him to rest, and loosened the buttons of his shirt. God help me, this shirt. Black with tiny white dots. Greg wore it when he wanted to look both authoritative and approachable, and it worked on Mycroft like a bloody dream.

Only Mycroft got to see the look in Greg's eyes as it was tenderly undone; only Mycroft got to lean down and paint the skin beneath with his mouth, sweeping pleasure and love across Greg's chest.

By the time he reached the open belt, Greg's fingers were tremoring in his hair.

"Baby..."

"Mm?" Mycroft leant down, brushing the very tip of his nose against the fabric of Greg's boxers. He was gorgeously hard already, the black cotton damp with pre-come. "Are you alright?"

Greg's fingers curled hopefully at the back of his neck. "B-Baby..."

Smiling, Mycroft wrapped his lips around Greg's cock through the fabric - teasing, soft. Greg shook and groaned, his head dropping back against the lounger.

"Fuck," he whispered, and as Mycroft caught the waistband of his boxers, lowering them enough to free his cock, he inhaled deeply. "Oh, god..."

Hard for me. Desperate. Mycroft's whole body seemed to burn with it. He leant forward to nose gently along Greg's shaft, shivering and stroking his mouth.

"I missed you, Greg," he whispered, gazing upwards as he flashed his tongue across the head. "I missed you so very much..."

Greg's pupils were huge. "Y-Yeah?"

"Mm..." Mycroft closed his eyes, let his lips part, and took Greg's cock slowly into his mouth.

"Jesus..." Greg stirred, his groan cutting as he swallowed. "Oh Jesus, Myc - M-Myc - "

Mycroft stroked his hands across Greg's stomach, petting, as he concentrated on making this good - wet lips, idle coils of his tongue, slowly taking Greg as deep as his throat would permit for now. As he worked, listening to Greg breathe, he realised this wasn't a chase towards climax. It was pleasure-giving, unhurried and easy; he'd stay here until dinner if Greg allowed him.

After long minutes, he helped ease Greg's trousers and boxers down to mid-thigh - enough to keep him restrained, but allow Mycroft to cup and tug gently at his balls as Greg liked, massaging them in rhythm with the deeper movements of his mouth. Greg strained against the lounger and began to pant, hips just now lifting with the urge to fuck, to chase, to find. Easy. Mycroft began to disrupt his rhythm with purpose, never sustaining too fast for too long. Greg's soft moans of frustration and longing were more beautiful than any music.

Reaching down the lounger with one-hand, Mycroft loosened the tie of his linen trousers.

Easing out of them took a little time, but Greg was deliciously distracted. His fingers were now restless in Mycroft's hair, scrunching and dishevelling, gentle even in his state of high excitement. His heavy cock stirred in and out of Mycroft's mouth as he was sucked, tiny longing little thrusts against his tongue; Mycroft could feel that fine and beautiful vibration just beginning to thrum in his thighs.

Wanting me. Needing me.

Greg would have what he needed. Mycroft had thought about it all day, burning slowly in anticipation of this moment. How I missed you. How I want you.

He let his trousers slip from his ankles onto the hot tiles, thanking himself for the forethought to forego underwear today. Now bare from the waist down, his mouth and throat still full of Greg's cock, he plucked open a few buttons on his shirt, too restless to undo them all. Greg was panting at some pace, trying to thrust hopefully into his mouth, fingers firm and gentle on the back of Mycroft's neck as they persuaded him towards building rhythm.

As he disengaged his mouth, Greg shook. He let out a weak and desperate sound.

"M-My - My, I need to - "

Mycroft crawled up the sun lounger, took Greg's jaw in both hands and kissed him, hard. Greg's arms dragged around him, hands fisting in the back of his shirt. In every brief breath of air, Greg tried to speak.

"B-Baby, please - " He groaned as Mycroft's tongue pushed through into his mouth, gasping. "P-Please - I'm not kidding - "

Mycroft reached behind his back to catch one of Greg's hands. He squeezed it, then lowered it - nudging it down between his thighs.

Greg's breath hitched at once.

Mycroft had pulled this particular trick enough times for it to be recognised now. As Greg's fingers quickly sought and found the flat base of silicon, his reaction was no less pronounced for the predictability. His frantic moan rasped against Mycroft's mouth, muffled by the curl of their tongues. He pulled Mycroft astride him, panting with urgency.

Mycroft held onto his beautiful jaw, sustaining the fierce kiss as Greg took hold of the plug inside him. He felt it begin to slide, and couldn't fight a desperate moan. Two days. Oh god, two days. Greg didn't wait. He didn't tease. He drew the toy out, dropped it somewhere to the ground, and guided his desperate cock into place.

Fuck - fuck, yes -

No waiting - no teasing - the slick nuzzle, the nudge, the stretch, and Mycroft cried out against Greg's mouth as Greg pushed up inside his body. Shaking hands appeared at his waist, restlessly pulling him down. More. Please more. Mycroft shook and swallowed, kissing Greg with ferocity as he obeyed the gentle tug of his hands, letting his weight drop slowly onto his lover's cock. Greg slid deeper with every breath; his fingers dug into Mycroft's waist, gripping and holding. Yes. God, yes. At last, as he sank the last inch and shuddered at the sensation, Mycroft felt Greg convulse beneath him.

Greg struggled, cutting the kiss.

"F-Fuck," he gasped. "Fuck, fuck - "

Mycroft panted against his mouth, breathing in his breath. "I love you. I missed you."

Greg's eyes flashed, roaming across his face.

"Show me," he whispered. His hands tightened at Mycroft's waist again, pulling. "S-Show me, baby."

Mycroft braced a hand on each arm of the sun lounger.

He'd meant to go slow - to draw this out, take his time to feel and remember, make Greg wait, make him beg - but as Greg began to move in him, thick and demanding, the urge to fuck overwhelmed Mycroft in a rush. He felt his head fall back, and heard his own voice gasp, "Oh fuck, you're - fuck - "

Greg pulled at his waist, shaking. "My - "

Mycroft began to ride him, hard, rising up as much of his cock as he could lift each time then driving back down with a groan. Fuck. Fuck me. Oh god. Oh fuck. Greg groaned and swore and pushed up in response, bucking into his body in desperation.

In only seconds they were panting. In minutes they were sweating, fucking as if they'd never done this before, kissing as if they'd never get the chance again. Mycroft rode for as long as he could, groaning his pleasure against Greg's mouth on every stroke, until the muscles in his thighs began to weaken and a tremor of exhaustion arose in his lower back. Greg felt him tiring before he could even say. He shifted beneath Mycroft, grabbed hold of him tight, and with some squirming and gasping and laughing they managed to switch positions.

As Greg parted his thighs over the arms of the sun lounger, and grinned down at him from between them, hair now on end and still wearing his open black shirt, Mycroft realised he was more in love than he ever had been.

Greg nuzzled back inside him, filling him with a shaky breath; Mycroft shivered, swallowed and wrapped around him.

"You okay?" Greg breathed, and began to thrust - deep, hard and driving.

Mycroft fisted his hands in the back of Greg's shirt.

"Fuck me," he begged, tightening. "Oh, god, fuck me. Make me feel it. I missed you."

"I missed you too," Greg whispered, burying his face in Mycroft's neck. "I love you. I need you."

As his teeth closed on the crook of Mycroft's shoulder, Mycroft howled his name across the hillside.

In their afterglow they cuddled in an exhausted tangle, shining with sweat, drinking wine from one glass as they watched the sun go down.

As it dipped beneath the horizon at last, Greg stroked his hair and whispered, "D'you want me to shift to the other lounger, darlin'? More room?"

Mycroft tightened his arms, and kissed him hard. "Don't you dare."

 


 

The others had all reached the restaurant before them.

Finding a shirt that covered Mycroft's new bites had proved impossible, though not through lack of effort.

"Fuck it," Greg soothed him in the end, grinning, and nosed with puppyish fondness against the marks. "Been two days. We've missed each other, and we're on holiday. They'll know we're fucking in a frenzy every chance we get."

From the grinning looks they received as they made their way towards the table, Mycroft was left in no doubt about that.

"Ethan," he said, too happy in this moment to feel embarrassed.

Ethan rose from his chair to hug him.

"Mycroft! It's been too long - good to see you - "

"Far too long. Congratulations upon the role - I'm so pleased for you both. Very well done."

Ethan gripped him, beaming. "Can't wait," he said. "Can't wait to work with Greg, too. It's going to blow the box office to pieces. I know it."

"We can only hope," Mycroft said, smiling as they parted. "I'm so glad."

Greg was now making his way around the table, being greeted and hugged in delight by the others. Anthea folded him into her arms with the warmest of smiles, kissed him on the cheek and glowed as he fondly greeted her bump.

"Twenty-four weeks," she said, as Ethan resumed his seat beside her. He wrapped a loving arm around her chair. "They offered to tell us, but we've opted for the surprise."

"Sophie for a girl," Ethan told them, proud. "Oliver for a boy."

Greg grinned, heading around the table to John and Sherlock.

"And it's 'Greg' as a middle name for both, right?" he said. "'Sophie Greg Sterling'? Catchy."

Anthea and Ethan shared an amused glance that Mycroft didn't miss, their hands sliding together in a knot. Ethan laid a hand on his wife's stomach, kissed her shoulder, and murmured something that made her smile.

Sherlock squirmed as he was enclosed in Greg's arms.

"Aghh. Hello, Lestrade."

Greg grinned, scruffing his hair. "Hello, mate. Bloody missed you."

"Congratulations on the film deal. You must be very pleased."

"Thanks. Still can't really believe it."

"Have you told your former colleagues at Scotland Yard?" Sherlock asked, and Greg laughed aloud.

"Christ, no. Not yet. Think they'll be glad for me? They were mad enough when I got the book deal... imagine what they'll do when they see me with Ethan at the premiere..."

"Their loss," John said, grinning as stood up to hug Greg, "is your gain."

Mycroft watched them embrace, feeling his heart shine. Indeed it is, he thought.

"Can we get everybody a drink?" Greg offered, looking around the table with a smile. He slipped an arm around Mycroft's waist. "Cocktails, yeah? We've got a new year to see in. Let's do it in style."

"A virgin daiquiri for me, thank you, Greg."

"No worries Anthea. John? Sherlock? Cocktails? We'll get you on a Pink Indies, Sherlock. You'll never look back." Greg kissed Mycroft's shoulder, grinning. "Give me a hand, will you, love?"

As they made their way through the busy restaurant towards the bar, Greg's fingers slipped through Mycroft's.

"D'you remember?" he asked, his dark eyes shining in the lantern light. "First time we were here..."

Mycroft felt his heart squeeze with utter happiness. "How could I forget?"

 


 

Mycroft had never been so happy on a New Year's Eve before. The five people around him were assuredly his favourites in the world, and to see them laughing together and sharing food filled his heart with a warmth that didn't feel like it would ever ease. Greg kept an arm around his shoulders throughout the meal, feeding him little pieces of food with a grin, occasionally dipping his mouth low to murmur some delightful little comment in his ear.

"We need to do this every year," he said, as everyone laughed at one of Ethan's stories. "All of us, get together somewhere... things are good now. We can afford it with the film deal, can't we?"

Mycroft couldn't imagine anything more wonderful. "I'd like that too," he said, and squeezed Greg's knee beneath the table, smiling against his lover's jaw. "Thank you for suggesting this. I'm having a wonderful time."

Grge grinned, kissing his temple.

"Thanks for bringing me here, darlin'. Can't believe it's been three years since the first time..." He rolled a cherry tomato from Mycroft's plate and fed it to him with a smile, his eyes dark and beautiful as he watched. "We've had a good three years, you and me..."

Mycroft smiled, swallowing the tomato with a little hop of his heart. "Indeed we have."

"Yeah?" Greg bit his lip, eyes shining. "Would you do it all again?"

"Yes. In a heartbeat. All of it."

"Even all the fuss?"

"Even all the fuss," Mycroft murmured, leant close and kissed Greg's cheek. "For you. Of course I would."

He felt Greg's chest swell gently beneath his hand.

"Darlin'..." Greg murmured, and for a moment seemed overcome by something. He watched Mycroft gently, his gaze soft. "Hope you know what you mean to me."

As Mycroft opened his mouth to reply, his heart drumming with hope, he realised they were being approached. A nervous young woman had stolen shyly up to their table, clutching an autograph pad and a fluffy pen.

"I'm really sorry to intrude," she said, grinning bashfully at them all. "I just... my family's eating over there, and I had to come over... my sister's got a massive crush too but she doesn't dare come say hi. I said I'd do it."

Ethan - more than well-practiced in his routine - gave her a broad and welcoming smile.

"You can tell your sister we're a friendly bunch over here," he said, warmly. "We'd love her to come have a photo. Would she like an autograph, too? Is that her pad?"

The young woman squeezed the book, beaming.

"Oh - no, this one's mine. You honestly don't mind?" she said - and Mycroft realised with a bubble of amusement that she'd barely even glanced at Ethan. Her eyes were centred on this side of the table. "I've gotten so interested in crime since you. We didn't know if it was definitely you or not, but I saw your photo in the paper last year... would you mind?"

Sensing bewilderment beside him, Mycroft smothered a smirk. He poked his fingers discreetly between Greg's shoulder blades. She means you, darling.

"Oh!" said Greg, and sat up with a grin. Across the table, Anthea was now laughing over her daiquiri at her husband's blush; Ethan was attempting to hide himself behind a menu. "Sure. That's really sweet of you."

"I can't believe it," the young woman said, thrilled, and extended the pad - to Mycroft's left. "Sherlock Holmes! I can't wait to tell everyone back at work!"

As John laughed, throwing his head back in delight, a baffled Sherlock took the pad and fluffy pink pen.

He glanced for guidance towards Greg, who was too busy biting into his cheek and staring down at his food.

Suppressing his amusement, Mycroft stepped in.

"Write something nice for the young lady," he said. "Good wishes for the new year, perhaps."

Sherlock arched an eyebrow, wrote, "Good wishes for the new year, SH," and dubiously handed it back to her.

"Thank you so much!" she said, overjoyed. "I'm so glad I got to meet you! I'll go fetch my sister..."

She hurried off between the tables.

John wiped a tear from his eye, still chuckling.

"You two," he said, shaking his head at Ethan and Greg. "One multi-million-pound film deal, and you think you're big shots. Brilliant."

 


 

As they came to the end of their desserts, John insisted it was his round of cocktails. He dragged Sherlock up to the bar to help.

His seat was immediately filled by Anthea, sliding sideways to cosy up to Mycroft.

Her husband joined her, smoothly.

The pair of them smiled.

"Why does this look like trouble?" Greg said, amused, as he held half a doughnut dipped in honey for Mycroft to eat. "You're not going to invite us to an orgy, are you? We've been through this, mate. The answer's no."

They both smirked.

"Not on this occasion," Anthea said, and flipped back her hair. "We wished to ask you both something. You're very welcome to decline, but... we'd be thrilled if you'd accept."

Mycroft raised an eyebrow, trying to read it in her face.

She smiled back at him, inscrutable, her eyes glittering with affection.

"Go on," he told her, intrigued.

Anthea glanced fondly up at her husband, who kissed her head and gave her shoulder a squeeze. With a breath, she said,

"Sophie or Oliver Sterling will be needing a godfather. We... thought it might be rather nice, if they had two..."

Mycroft's heart ached. "Anthea..."

"Christ..." Greg breathed beside him. "Guys... are you serious?"

"Completely," Ethan said, his eyes shining. "We couldn't think of anyone better. We'd be honoured."

Mycroft felt his throat squeeze as he swallowed. He knew he'd moved already beyond the point of words. He sat forwards in his chair without speaking, folding Anthea immediately into his arms.

As they hugged, he felt Greg get up to embrace Ethan.

"You are too kind," he managed in her ear. He felt her sigh with contentment. "I - h-haven't the faintest idea how to offer guidance to a child."

"You offered it well enough to me," she murmured. "I'm sure a child will be easier." She smiled against his cheek. "Mycroft?"

"Mm?"

"Ethan and I are moving to New York while he films Greg's book."

"You will like it," Mycroft warned her. His heart swelled with happiness. "You will stay."

She chuckled in his ear. "Perish the thought..."

 


 

At fifteen minutes to midnight, as a gin-addled Sherlock tried to explain mass spectrometry to a baffled Ethan, and John escorted Anthea to the dance floor, Mycroft felt a quiet kiss pressed to the back of his neck.

"Hey..." came the hopeful rumble.

Mycroft bit into his lip, smiling at once. "Hello..."

"C'mon. While they're distracted."

"And where exactly are we going?" Mycroft murmured, his pulse picking up, as Greg's hands stroked down his arms.

"S'nearly midnight." Greg kissed the side of his neck. "Want to see in the New Year with you."

Grinning, Mycroft took his hand. He let Greg lead him through the crowded room, winding their way between tables of laughing New Year's revellers, out through the doors into the moonlit night air.

Even before Greg tugged on his hand, Mycroft knew where they were going.

The beach was not entirely deserted. They were a few other couples here, shapes in the darkness under the stars - some dancing slowly, others sitting side-by-side upon the sand. Greg led him all the way along the shore, until the music of the restaurant was just a murmur beneath the hushing waves. Their footsteps crunched softly over the shells and sand, and Mycroft's heart was dancing in his chest, fingers knotted tight with Greg's.

They helped each other over the rocks. Nearly to the cove, Mycroft slipped - Greg caught him before he even knew he'd lost his footing. They kissed, grinning, laughing in relief, and reached the shore safe and sound.

Greg pulled Mycroft into his arms at once. His fingers stroked through Mycroft's hair, brushing it back, sweeping it off his forehead.

"Wanted you to myself for this bit," he whispered. "Is that okay?"

Mycroft's heart was pounding; he felt so in love he couldn't breathe. "New Year?"

"Belongs to you." Greg's arms tightened. "Every year does. Want to end them with you, start them with you. Always with you."

"God..." Mycroft felt himself start to tremble, unsure why. Greg..."

"Three years," Greg breathed, nuzzling into his neck, as the waves brushed across the sand. "Happiest three years of my life. No contest. No challenge." His voice thickened. "M'so in love with you. My best friend. I wake up everyday and just look at you, and I..."

God almighty.

Mycroft shook, holding tightly onto Greg's shoulders. "You are my world," he whispered. "My whole world, Greg. You always will be."

Greg swallowed.

"S'good to hear," he said - and something in his voice caught Mycroft's breath.

"G-Greg?"

There came a bang somewhere in the sky behind Mycroft. He watched the first flash of a midnight firework filled Greg's eyes with a shower of gold. It was followed by another two, crackling and fizzling, and the distant cheers from the restaurant along the shore - and as Greg gazed at him, Mycroft felt his heart take a deep breath.

"Mycroft..." Greg said, and took his hands.

Oh.

Oh. God.

"Myc..." he whispered, and sank to one knee.

Mycroft's heart shattered into fragments. His eyes blazed with instant tears.

"Yes," he gasped. "Yes, I will."

Greg gripped his hands, hard. His expression ruptured into relief, shoulders shaking, and the grin that broke across his face was the most perfect sight of Mycroft's life.

"I h-haven't asked you yet, posh. I've got to ask first. Then you say yes. S'how this works."

Mycroft's sob and laugh escaped him as a single breath.

"Oh, fuck. Ask me. For Christ's sake, ask me."

Greg gazed up from the wet sand. His hands shook, his eyes shining with tears and fireworks.

"Marry me," he begged. "I'll make you happy. Forever. I promise."

Mycroft broke down. He couldn't speak.

He found himself kneeling with Greg in the sand, crying and laughing as seawater soaked into their trousers, holding onto Greg so tightly that Greg's heartbeat felt like his own. The sky erupted in colour and sound behind them. It was the first of January.

And he was Greg Lestrade's fiancé.

Greg rubbed his back, rocking him, laughing in his ear as they cried.

"Christ! Wait - " Greg scrabbled for his pocket. "Jesus, I was meant to - "

As he produced a ring box, Mycroft felt his heart blow apart in a shower of sparks.

"Oh my God - "

The ring was platinum - masculine, gorgeous, inlaid with a double groove. Mycroft covered his mouth in desperation, tears now streaming unchecked down his face.

Greg gave him a pained look. "I was probably meant to show you this first? Bloody hell..." He bit into his grin, shaking. "Can we go back over the rocks, please? And we'll try this again. C'mon."

Mycroft collapsed into tears once more.

Greg dragged him back into his arms.

"God, gorgeous... here, let's..." Greg took his hand.

Mycroft convulsed as Greg slid the ring into place on his finger. It settled as comfortably as if it had always been there. He wrapped his arms around Greg's neck, wept into his shoulder without shame, and they knelt together in the sand until the fireworks were almost over.

"I love you," Greg breathed in his ear. It rolled through Mycroft in a wave of utter joy. My fiancé. My fiancé's first 'I love you'. "I'm going to love you everyday. Every way I can. I'm never, never going to let you forget."

"God almighty..." Mycroft pushed a hand across his eyes, trying to wipe away the tears. "D-Do they all know?"

"No, love... just you and me. Kept it quiet." Greg pulled back to cup his face, grinning, brushing away the tears with his thumbs. "Where're we getting married? Here in St Barts?"

Oh god. "Oh god - yes - "

"Yeah? We'll have whatever you want, love. Everything. We'll plan it all together. Make it perfect."

Mycroft began to weep again. "For god's sake - Greg - "

Greg laughed, leaning forwards to kiss him. Mycroft's heart heaved against the front of his chest. He pulled Greg close and they wrapped their arms around each other, shaking as they kissed.

When they came apart, Greg was shivering with joy and relief.

"Shall we head back soon?" he whispered. His face shone in the moonlight, gazing at Mycroft as if he were everything. "Tell them all the news..."

Mycroft looked into his eyes, overwhelmed.

"F-Five minutes more," he said, as he stroked Greg's cheek. My fiancé's face. My husband's eyes. "I - w-want you to myself a little longer."

Greg cupped the back of his head, grinning.

"You'll have me to yourself forever," he breathed. "Every single day of your life. Whenever you need me, whenever you want me, I'm gonna be right here. I promise, darlin'. You can count on me..."

As their lips met Mycroft let his eyes fall shut. He buried his fingers in his fiancé's hair, happier than he could ever remember being. Greg kissed him, stroking his back.

As they exhaled, the ocean breathed with them.

Neither was ever lonely again.

 

The End