A tender brush of lips, fingers gliding down expensive wool, straightening a tie that was perfect to begin with. One last touch, a quiet ‘love you’ answered by ‘be safe’ and the door closes with a gentle click.
“There is no reason for you to wake at 4 when 6 is just as acceptable.”
“But you have to get up for work.”
“I fail to see how that matters.”
Because I like to spend time with you in the morning. Because we won’t see each other all day. Two days. A week. Because I’d like to kiss you goodbye.
Mycroft still hadn’t woken him, but he hadn’t been able to hide the joy in his eyes when Greg joined him at the kitchen table the morning after, 15 minutes before his car arrived, hair mussed and still in pyjamas. On Mycroft’s insistence, they’d switched location a week later.
“You have trouble getting back to sleep once you leave the bed. It will be easier if I join you there instead.”
Now, socked feet steal beneath the blanket every morning and Greg wakes to the smell of tea. He presses closer to the warmth beside him, always careful to avoid wrinkling his lover’s clothes, and hums contentedly. Few words are exchanged, the time too precious to fill it with meaningless chatter. When Mycroft’s phone vibrates in his breast pocket, it ends their quiet sanctuary. Greg awakes an hour later to an empty flat and an empty mug on the bedside table.
There’s a pot of coffee in the kitchen, still warm and steaming gently. Beside it lies his current case file with a yellow post-it note stuck to the top. He smiles at Mycroft’s handwriting and the ‘x’ drawn carefully at the end, hesitation visible in the straightness of the two lines, so unlike the elegant curves above.
Mycroft, for all his intelligence, does not like to boast in front of Greg, afraid somehow that it will put him off. Greg doesn’t like to think about what that says about his lover’s previous relationships and friendships, but he doubts it’s anything good or healthy. Mycroft’s almost shy about his superior intelligence, afraid to overstep and offer advice where it isn’t welcome. A stark contrast to Sherlock’s constant need to belittle the people around him and Greg wonders what has changed in the seven years the brothers are apart.
He wonders, also, when Mycroft has learned that hiding away was the best way to face emotion. Where others rage, he retorts with clipped and empty words, never raising his voice to a shout. And if faced by rage, he does not respond, the tightness in his shoulder and thin line of his lips all that betrays he’s heard. For those who don’t know him well, it’s a sign of arrogance. Here is a man too important to care for the opinions of others, not even when they’re directed at himself. Especially not when they’re directed at himself.
Greg, however, knows better. He can see the unhappiness in the lines on his lover’s face and the barely there downturn of the corners of his mouth. How he picks at his food over dinner, his eyes empty and carefully avoiding his gaze. How his fingers curl tight around the receiver when he talks to his mother over the phone, his voice small and too calm for the whiteness of his knuckles.
He can see it in the way his gaze flicks towards his shoes whenever Sherlock makes an especially nasty comment. About his weight, his look, his need to meddle in Sherlock’s life. If Greg pays witness to the jibe, the space between them in the car home seems endless. With his fingers curled tight in his lap, Mycroft stares out the window, rejecting comfort before his need for it could be rejected.
When Mycroft is hurting, he grows quiet, withdrawing into himself to a point even Greg sometimes fears he cannot reach. Fortunately, Greg has learnt to reach deep. It had taken time and patience and love, but here they now were.
Quiet mornings. Post-it notes stuck on case files and fridges. Short texts throughout the day. Cuddling on the sofa before bed. Small gestures of affection and time spend simply enjoying the comforting company of the other.
Today, all phones have stayed silent. There's been no word from Sherlock, nor a call from the Holmes parents. No letters in the mail besides the usual mix of advertisements and bills. But today of all days, the silence is not welcome. It leaves an emptiness behind that Greg tries his best to fill.
The post-it block lies half empty on the kitchen cupboard, a dozen of its pages scattered among Mycroft’s briefcase and throughout his work day. The one stuck to the vase of bright tulips on his desk was very much worth the favour Greg now owes Anthea.
There's an extra text when lunch time comes around.
Do you have time to go out for lunch today? - G
Surprisingly, yes. There’s a suspicious gap in my schedule today.
You don’t happen to have anything to do with that, do you? - M
Anthea is a very clever woman. Meet me at our lunch place in 30? - G
Basically thrown out of his own office at 6.30 pm, Mycroft opens the door to their flat to the sound of music. Greg greats him in the kitchen, wearing a soft jumper and warm smile, a light dinner laid out behind him on the dining table. There’s crusty bread and salad and Mycroft’s favourite vegetable soup simmering on the cooktop. In the soft glow of the dimmable kitchen light they eat and drink and dance, until they both sway on their feet. When they fall into bed, Mycroft giggles happily and Greg’s chest expands with joy, wondering how anyone couldn’t strive for this man’s happiness.
He takes Mycroft’s face between his hands and caresses his temples with his thumbs. Slowly, he leans down until their foreheads touch and sighs happily, before he seals their lips.
“Happy birthday, love.”