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The bedroom, once afternoon had slipped through their fingers and the light outside had begun to dim, became something of a liminal space in Mycroft’s perception. Greg had gone to the en suite for a damp cloth, and upon his return had gently, without discussion, cleaned them both. He had also swiped the headboard clean with a rueful tilt of his lips, but hadn’t commented out loud on the sticky handprint there. Things seemed delicate; fragile. Mycroft was disinclined to speak and break the contented silence between them, and Greg seemed to feel the same. 

They fell, exhausted, into one another’s arms and proceeded to doze, to touch, to kiss very softly and without intent, for hours.  

Mycroft could hardly imagine two more days of this. It was too sweet. Too wonderful. It was impossible to remember ever being quite so calm and… happy. 

He spent long minutes simply watching Greg drift in and out of sleep, and even longer ones allowing his own eyes to close and his mind to clear, lulled into peacefulness by the sound of Greg’s even breaths or the gentle rise and fall of his chest. Or both. There were moments he thought their skin would fuse together, their skin was so warm and close, and others when Mycroft wondered if he could ever feel close enough.

Greg’s long, deep inhale and stretching legs announced his waking from a second cat nap. 

“Mmmycroft,” he mumbled to Mycroft’s chest. “You awake?”

“I am,” Mycroft whispered back, tracing his fingertips carefully down the line of Greg’s arm. “How are you?”

“Perfect,” Greg replied, shimmying up to push his face into the crook of Mycroft’s neck, mumbling and humming to himself as he breathed deeply in before pressing kisses there. “You?”

“Yes,” was all Mycroft could manage. 

Greg’s arm, slung across Mycroft’s bare torso since he last drifted off to sleep, tightened. One of his legs slid deliciously between Mycroft’s. There was, once more, no place at which they did not touch. “Good.”

I don’t want to get out of this bed, Mycroft thought. I don’t want to ever wear clothes again. 

“All of that,” Greg says, sounding more awake by the moment. “Was it all okay for you? Anything… not good?”

Mycroft could barely believe he was being asked such a ridiculous question. At the same time, being asked filled him with a sense of incredible gratitude. Was there any person on Earth as caring as Greg Lestrade? At that moment, Mycroft sincerely believed it to be impossible. “It was much more than okay,” he replied, letting a note of teasing enter his voice. “You are…” Everything. “A miracle.”

Greg puffed an amused breath against Mycroft’s throat before lifting his head. 

Mycroft barely spared a thought before pushing his fingers through Greg’s mussed hair - it almost felt second-nature to do so, already. 

“A miracle,” Greg repeated with a frankly adorable wrinkle of his nose. “Not me. You, maybe.”

Mycroft smiled, and used the hand in Greg’s hair to guide him up, gently, into a kiss. “We can both be miraculous,” Mycroft conceded, then kissed him again. Impossibly, the slow, lazy drag of Greg’s mouth against his own relaxed him even further. 

“Sounds fair,” said Greg breathily when they parted. “God, Mycroft, this is…” 

“I know,” he said simply. 

He fished with one hand for the rectangle of plastic and metal he knew had found its way to somewhere near his right hip. His fingers found it beneath the blanket, and after some digging, he was able to unearth the tablet. He rolled to his side and curled toward Greg, mirroring his position and holding the tablet between their chests. “I… want to tell you something.”

“I want to hear it,” Greg said, hushed. 

“I never knew how lonely my life had become, before your books,” Mycroft said. The words left him easily. He was no longer surprised that such a thing could be so simply stated when speaking with Greg. He’d had a year to get used to the way Greg’s presence seemed to put him at ease, and improbable as it might have felt at the time, the first touch of Greg’s mouth to his only a handful of weeks ago had… done something. Changed something, somewhere - a place in Mycroft’s chest, or hidden just behind his teeth, or in the back of his throat. Whatever door had held these things back, though sometimes still a bit stubborn at the hinges, had had its lock shattered. “For a time, after I began to read them, I… believe I spent a period of time grieving.” 

Greg’s eyebrows had drawn together, his eyes soft with concern. “Grieving?”

Mycroft nodded. “It’s the best word I can think of to describe it. My chest… at times, it was a physical sensation of hurt. Pain, as if from an injury. I hadn’t been so keenly aware of the absence of affection and intimacy in my life in years. Decades. Suddenly, I was. Because of what Anthea called the sweet books.” Mycroft sighed. “Sweet books,” he repeated. “Sweetness was so utterly foreign to me that I couldn’t even recognize it when I had it in my hands. All I knew was that, when I didn’t feel oddly bereft when reading, I felt incredibly full with… something.”

“Sweetness,” Greg echoed, and leaned forward to kiss Mycroft softly at the tip of his nose. “Oh, sweetheart… You realize that you’ve always had that in you, don’t you? I didn’t put it there. My silly books didn’t put it there.”

Myroft reared back a bit, offended on behalf of the books. “This,” he said, and gestured with the tablet, “is not silly. It doesn't matter if I had it in me, as you say, it matters that I had let it go dormant. I ignored it. Tried to cut it out, to let it die, and failed miserably. Suffered for it, but didn’t have the wherewithal to know that I was suffering.”

At some point during that, Greg’s hands cupped Mycroft’s face between them. “Must be hard for you,” Greg murmured. “Admitting to not knowing something.”

The little joke helped. Mycroft found his body relaxing, a tentative smile tugging at his lips. “Well, of course I hate it,” he said. Greg smiled back and stroked his thumbs over Mycroft’s cheekbones, but kept silent. “But then, I always was adept at finding the correct source material, the right expert, from which to learn a skill or familiarize myself with a concept. This was no different, I suppose. But theory isn’t practice. Experts are worth much more than words. Your willingness to do this, your patience with me—” 

“I am not being patient with you,” Greg interrupted gently. “Wait, I’m sorry to cut in, but—” he shifted closer, slipping one hand down to Mycroft’s waist to hold him there. “If you think it’s any hardship for me to go slowly, to use my not-silly books as a way to learn the things you like, the things you might want… you haven’t been paying attention.” 

“Most people,” Mycroft began—   

“Most people are boring,” Greg said with a laugh. “Something your brother says all the bloody time, and while I’d never tell him to his face, he’s right!” Greg’s hand squeezed gently at Mycroft’s side. “You don’t have to be like most people with me. Please don’t.”

Mycroft was amazed he hadn’t begun to tremble; he certainly felt as if he could quake with the force of his happiness, his disbelief at his sheer luck. “I won’t always need to color code the things I want,” he offered. 

Greg shook his head and rolled his eyes, kissed Mycroft’s nose again, and then the corner of his mouth. “I wouldn’t mind if you did. I like it.” 

Mycroft laughed. “Does that make you as odd a person as I, or somehow even moreso?”

“Which would you prefer?” Greg teased with a grin. “I’d say we’re probably about even, wouldn’t you? Let’s not label me the expert, by the way. I get the idea we’re both a bit messy in the past-relationships department, and both of us are coming off a long stretch of stupidity when it comes to letting people get close. You color coded a stack of romance novels instead of trying to date someone; I churned them out for the same reason. Maybe we’re just right for each other. Maybe this was fate.”  

“If such a thing exists,” Mycroft murmured, “then this would almost be proof, hm?” 

“Exactly.” 

Mycroft sighed, feeling unburdened and languid with it, and rolled, letting the tablet fall to the side as he covered Greg’s body with his own. “I don’t want to be the sort of man who does not remember how to feel,” Mycroft said. “Or who does not value the things and people who make him feel. Not ever again.” 

“You don’t ever have to be,” Greg replied, shifting and wriggling under him in an attempt to open his thighs, tilt them up. “Let me—”

Mycroft raised an eyebrow, feeling suddenly playful here at the end of yet another emotionally charged conversation. “Hm? Let you what?”

“‘m trying to be smooth, here,” Greg huffed. “Trying to take advantage of the fact that you’re so lovely and sexy, and it’s been so long since the opportunity for a multiple-orgasm day has presented itself that my cock thinks it can go another round already.”

Mycroft laughed, burying it in Greg’s shoulder. “My god,” he said. “Well, far be it from me to prevent you from—”

Greg flipped him, with little grace but considerable force, and Mycroft let out a grunt as his back hit the mattress and Greg’s weight landed on his chest. 

“Ah-ha—” Greg crowed. “Knew I could do it.”

Mycroft half-laughed, half-moaned as Greg caught both of his wrists and pinned them to the pillow on either side of his head. “I think you broke one of my ribs.”

“Oh, stop,” Greg teased. “I didn’t. I wouldn’t hurt you.”

“I know,” Mycroft breathed, completely sincere, and tried to lean up for a kiss. 

Greg grinned and hovered back, pressing Mycroft’s hands even harder into the featherdown. “Hmmm…” 

“What?”

“Bet you could flip me,” Greg said thoughtfully. 

“I assure you, I could not.”

“You were MI6,” Greg said offhandedly, like that information had been given to him and wasn’t classified as all hell. “At least, that’s my theory.”

Mycroft wanted to say all sorts of things to that. Instead, he quirked one eyebrow. “Is it?”

Greg hummed in the affirmative and leaned down, still keeping Mycroft’s wrists pinned, to trail a series of kisses along his collarbone. “Even if you weren’t - still pretty sure you were, though - you’d have been trained to get out of much more serious holds than this, just in the course of your work. In the event of kidnapping, maybe. Or terrorism.” He shrugged. “Whatever.”

“Whatever,” Mycroft echoed with a roll of his eyes. “What is it that you think I do? I hold a minor position in the—” 

“Department of Transport,” Greg finished, eyes sparkling. “Right, right, of course. Still. Bet you could—” 

Mycroft tried not to laugh, wanting to control his breathing, really put some oomph behind his movements, but he couldn’t help it; he laughed even as he executed the maneuver. It was a simple matter of sliding his knee just so, shifting his weight very slightly, and shoving up with his arms, and he had just enough time to catch the delighted surprise in Greg’s eyes before he was not only gaining the upper hand, but throwing Greg up and back. 

Greg yelped. Mycroft neatly guided him down so that his head rested at the foot of the bed rather than at the head, and perched atop his thighs with an ease and lightness he hadn’t been sure he could still pull off. Mycroft would have looked much more dangerous had he been able to stifle the laugh. Instead, he snorted in an attempt to keep a straight face as he pinned Greg’s hands behind his back, Mycroft’s arm wrapped behind him and held over his wrists like a bar, and couldn’t catch his breath through the ensuing laughter. 

“That was so sexy,” Greg breathed. “I didn’t think you would actually do it.” 

“I shouldn’t have,” Mycroft said, getting himself under control and applying his lips to Greg’s throat. “I could have thrown my back out.” 

Greg tried to do something with his hips, and his half-hard cock did manage to find some friction against Mycroft’s belly. “Gonna hold me here for the rest of the day?”

“Are you certain that you want me to let go?” Mycroft teased, then immediately worried he was misunderstanding. “That is, do you dislike having your hands—” 

“You can hold me down,” Greg said, grinning widely. “Did you mind when I did that?”

“Not at all,” Myroft murmured, moving up to bring their lips together in a teasing, catching kiss. “Should I keep you at my mercy for a while? I’d only have one hand to work with. However…” He slipped his body to the side, giving himself room to explore, and trailed his free hand down Greg’s torso before laying it flat against his pelvic bone, slipping it carefully between Greg’s belly and the hardening shaft of his cock. “There’s always my mouth, too.”

“Hnngh,” Greg shifted restlessly. “Mycroft, you know that’s really sexy, don’t you?”

“Mm? What is?” Mycroft smiled to see the flicker of dismay on Greg’s face, followed immediately by mock-annoyance. 

“You’re playing dumb.”

“I prefer the term coy,” Mycroft said, and turned his hand palm-up to close his fingers loosely around Greg’s erection. 

Greg hummed his approval. “So you’re a secret romantic and secretly a dirty talker?"

Mycroft huffed. “I have never talked like this in bed,” he said. “Perhaps I’m learning from your own considerable skill in that area.”

“Perhaps,” Greg said, biting his own lip thoughtfully for a moment. Then, “Well, Mister Bond… now that you have me trapped, what d’you plan to do with me?” He fluttered his eyelashes. 

Mycroft smirked and leaned in, unsure what words were about to spill from his suddenly emboldened mouth, but rather interested in finding out. 

Somewhere across the room, the emergency ringtone sounded from Mycroft’s mobile.

Greg choked on a laugh. “Oh no,” he cried. “I mentioned work and put a jinx on you!”

Mycroft groaned, letting his head drop to Greg’s chest. “Damn.”

“It’s alright, sweetheart,” Greg murmured as Mycroft released his hold on him. 

“It certainly isn’t,” Mycroft replied, careful with his tone. “Please.” He dropped a hopeful kiss to Greg’s chin. “Wait here?”

“Won’t move a muscle,” Greg agreed easily, and Mycroft could see that he wasn’t feigning his acceptance of a work interruption. He was playing it up, certainly, exaggerating his relaxation by folding his hands behind his head, shooting Mycroft a little wink. But it was for Mycroft’s benefit, and not faked.

It made Mycroft angrier at whoever or whatever was about to interrupt his time with this man who had just—  who had been about to— 

The screen of his mobile showed Anthea’s work line, and Mycroft took note of the time: nearly five. On a Saturday. He grit his teeth and prayed his guess was incorrect. 

“Tell me he is not—” he said into the phone, not bothering with a greeting. 

Anthea did not sigh. She did not growl. She did not click her tongue against her teeth. She said, “Sir, I have the Prime Minister here in the office.” 

Mycroft closed his eyes. “Do you?”

“Indeed,” Anthea replied, her voice taking on the slightest hint of vocal fry on the long vowels. She was displeased. “He wonders if you might be available for a brief chat, I have offered to place you on speakerphone.” 

“And am I on speakerphone at this time?”

“Not at all, sir.”

“The gray pinstripe and the purple tie?” 

“Mm, yes sir.” 

“Good. Place me on speakerphone.” 

“Very good, sir.” 

Mycroft stood very straight and very still, keeping his body turned away from the bed, forcing himself to focus on the wall above his lamp. If he looked anywhere else, he risked catching sight of Greg, naked and waiting in his bed. Whether out of the corner of his eye or in the reflection of the lamp’s shining base, it wouldn’t matter; if Mycroft saw him, he would lose his composure, and this would only take longer. 

“Sir, you are now on speaker.”

“Now see here, Holmes—” 

Mycroft spoke smoothly over the Prime Minister, the great buffoon, without bothering to raise his voice. “Apologies, Prime Minister, I am currently indisposed and cannot speak for long.”

“Mycr—” 

“I am willing to make very few concessions in the interest of securing your promise that I will not be contacted directly by you or any person before Tuesday morning, as was my preference when I left London to take my first holiday in nine years. I believe that I made it quite clear to my deputy, and to you when last we spoke, that all inquiries were to go through her until I return to the office. I simply cannot imagine that any emergency has taken place which would justify an interruption, seeing as my deputy would surely be notified and up to speed on any crisis long before news of it so much as crossed the threshold of Downing Street.” 

The Prime Minister spluttered. 

“Therefore,” Mycroft continued, “I can only assume you have come to press my assistant for my plans for next steps regarding the matter about which we spoke several days ago. I told you on Thursday that my input would have to wait until Tuesday, which again is the day I will return from my holiday. There is no need, I assure you, to discuss it before then, and were there a need, I would surely have closed the matter before leaving for my holiday. And so, Prime Minister, I must tell you, that if you absolutely do require an immediate opinion on the matter, you may have that of my deputy, for whose judgment I can vouch. You may consider her word to be a representation of my own.” 

Mycroft thought he could detect the sound of the Prime Minister drawing a breath to protest. 

“A good night to you, sir,” Mycroft snapped off, and hung up on the fool. 

“Wha—” 

At Greg’s shocked exhalation, Mycroft held up one hand. 

“She will call back,” he explained, not turning around (he still couldn’t). “Apologies. One more minute, and I promise this will have been handled.” 

Exactly when he expected it to, his mobile rang again. 

Mycroft answered: “And?”

“He’s gone,” Anthea sighed and growled all at once. “I am so very sorry, sir, I would never have interrupted for any other—”

“You did the right thing,” Mycroft assured her, though she hardly needed reassurance. Anthea knew she had done exactly the correct thing. “Please, do not apologize. How long did you have to deal with him before you resorted to me?”

“Twice last night, once this morning, and for the last two hours,” Anthea replied through her teeth. “He was going to attempt to go around me eventually, by contacting the Home Secretary.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes heavenward. “I’m sure he thought he would have the nerve, to say nothing of the futility of such an endeavour,” he mused. “His tie choice today, however…” Mycroft tsked. “Indicates lack of confidence.”

“The tie?” Anthea sucked her teeth. “Damn, I always miss something.” 

“You do quite well,” Mycroft murmured, meaning it, but knowing he didn’t sound like himself, now that he no longer needed to perform for the blowhard who believed himself Mycroft’s superior. He cleared his throat. “With what did you bargain my freedom?”

“A few signatures,” Anthea said apologetically. “I’ll need to ferry them to you, I’m afraid. I make you a solemn promise that I shall be in and out. You’ll barely know I’m there.”

Mycroft pinched the bridge of his nose. “It’ll be nearly eight by the time you arrive.” 

“That is correct.”

He turned and glanced at Greg, who watched him, dark eyes unreadable in the low light. 

There was no way on Earth that Mycroft could let her come out and turn right back around again for another two hour drive. He wouldn’t allow it normally, and Greg would think it beastly if he did now. 

“A moment,” Mycroft said to Anthea, and pressed the icon to mute his end of the call. He turned fully to Greg. “In order to avoid further interruption by the most odious man I have ever met in my life—”

“The PM,” Greg supplied.

“Indeed,” Mycroft said, fighting down an involuntary twitch of his lips. “I am going to need to complete some paperwork this evening. Anthea will need to bring it here, and it is my worry that she will not only go without dinner, but—”

“But you can’t send her back to London so late,” Greg finished. “Of course you can’t.”

“Is that…?”

Greg’s brow creased with confusion. “Are you asking my permission? It’s your house, sweetheart.”

“I don’t wish to make you feel… I promised a weekend away from work.”

Greg shook his head. “It’s a couple hours, Mycroft, I’m not going to make a fuss.” 

“I also promised a certain degree of privacy.”

Greg rolled his eyes. “Mycroft, take the poor girl off hold and tell her to bring an overnight bag. The house is palatial, I’m sure there’s room.” 

Mycroft teetered on the edge of indecision, though at heart he knew that his mind was already made up. He took the phone out of mute and brought it to his ear. “Anthea.”

“Sir.”

He sighed. “Bring your bag. I’ll check that your room is made up.”

“Mycroft,” she said, a mix of reproach and disbelief.

He winced. “I assure you it is quite alright, my dear.”

“I…” She sighed. “This is hard for me. I want to be nosy, so I want to stay. But I want to be a good little enabler, so I want to tell you no.”

“Telling me no is, sadly, not an option.”

Anthea made an amused hum but was otherwise quiet. Mycroft could picture her, standing at his desk—  behind it, to make clear to every dickhead who crossed the threshold that she was in charge in Mycroft’s absence—  but probably with her heels off and kicked under the desk by now, one earring in her hand, being rolled thoughtfully between her fingers. 

“Fine,” she said at last. “I’ll bring dinner.”

“Acceptable,” said Mycroft. “Text the details, I will choose wine to pair.”

“Of course, sir,” she said smoothly, and rang off. 

Mycroft dropped his mobile to the top of his dresser and rubbed a hand over his eyes before turning around to find that Greg had left the bed on quiet feet and was standing just behind him. “Oh!” 

Greg slipped his arms around Mycroft’s waist as he stepped further into his space. “Don’t worry,” he said, slow and deliberate. “Stop worrying right this instant.”

“I— Well. Alright.” It seemed pointless to protest or deny, and he felt, in that moment with Greg’s affable half-smile and his arms snug and proprietary around Mycroft’s body, that there was no need to question it. “I won’t worry.” 

“Good. How long do we have?”

“Two hours,” Mycroft estimated. “And some change.”

“Hmmm…” Greg leaned in for a brief kiss. “Shower with me again?”

“I’ll see you a shower together and raise you a bath?”

“You genius,” Greg breathed, and while they did eventually make it to the bath, Mycroft first spent an enjoyable interval trying not to knock the lamp off the dresser while Greg brought him off with hands and filthy words, right up against it. 



***

 

By a little after eight they were bathed and dressed, and trying hard to contain their sheepish glances at each other from their places on the sofa in the conservatory. Mycroft scrolled through the wine spreadsheet on his phone and making his picks, while Greg stretched out with his feet in Mycroft’s lap and Mycroft’s tablet in his hands. 

Mycroft didn’t want to know which highlighted bits and pieces Greg perused now, because it would ruin his composure to so much as think about it, but Greg kept shooting him speculative little glances over the edge of the tablet. 

Anthea arrived a few minutes after Mycroft and Greg returned to the kitchen from the wine cellar (“It’s small for a house of this size.” “Posh. Fuckery.” “I know…” “Hey, sweetheart, I like your posh fuckery, c’mere…”) carrying several bottles that Mycroft thought would go well with the meal she planned to bring. 

While Mycroft made his way to the foyer to let her in, Greg dug around for plates and cutlery. By the time Mycroft showed Anthea in, the end of the kitchen table was set and Greg had managed to find the old radio in one of the lower cupboards. He was opening bottles to the low tunes of a station playing old Big Band music. The windows behind him showed only darkness, and the spotlighting over the island worktop which Mycroft had allowed some enthusiastic designer to choose years ago bathed him in a pool of golden light while casting all else in shadow. The effect was...

Anthea drew up short in the doorway and cast wide eyes to Mycroft. “My god,” she breathed, and looked back into the kitchen. 

Mycroft followed her gaze with his own and found himself smiling helplessly. He felt Anthea staring at him again. He glanced at her stunned face and then back at the beautiful, well-lit man currently humming under his breath and polishing wine glasses in Mycroft’s kitchen. 

He nodded. “I know.” 

“Marry him, sir,” she whispered. 

Mycroft cleared his throat. “Come have a seat and a drink, no need to accompany me to the study,” he said, announcing their presence to Greg, who looked up from his task with a grin. 

Anthea smiled, pleased - both for the clear end of her work day, and what she correctly interpreted as one of the few times Mycroft would permit her to study Greg one-on-one in peace. “Sounds lovely,” she said, and handed over her briefcase before stepping into the kitchen to set bags of food and her purse on the worktop. “Hello—” 

“Greg,” he told her, and took her hand. 

Anthea’s other hand closed over his, clasping it between her own in a decidedly calculated move, as was the way she tilted forward, held her shoulders just so . “Greg,” she said warmly, as if only just then learning his name. “Call me Anthea.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes. She’d have Greg eating out of the palm of her hand by the time he finished his work in the study. On impulse, he crossed the kitchen and leaned over the island, beckoning Greg close with a crook of his fingers. He kissed him lightly and murmured: “Don’t give her an inch,” and then avoided Anthea’s delighted gaze as he turned to leave. “I’ll be less than an hour,” he said, aiming for a warning tone but sure he came off as anxious, instead. 

 

***

 

Mycroft was unsurprised to return to the kitchen to find Greg and Anthea deep in conversation, glasses of wine in hand, and an assortment of finger foods spread between them on the kitchen table. 

“He did the entire meeting with a fever like that?”

“Four hours,” Anthea confirmed. “There was a break, which he spent on intravenous fluids and taking a twenty minute nap. Then the state dinner.”

“Christ,” Greg muttered. “That daft genius, why?”

Anthea made a noncommittal hum. Mycroft raised a hand to knock lightly on the doorway and announce his presence, but he paused when Greg spoke again. 

“You’re not really his P.A., are you?” 

Anthea’s smile was visible in profile, spreading appreciatively across her lips. She reached for a slice of bread and the butter knife. “I am, in a sense,” she said, and spread first butter and then what Mycroft recognized as her favorite roasted garlic spread over the slice before taking a bite with a sound of relish that reached Mycroft’s ears. She was relaxed, then, in Greg’s presence. Mycroft’s heart skipped. “Mostly, I am the person who has kept him running for the last several years. I facilitate his ability to do his job.”

“Does that include scoping out the interloper? Bribing him with takeaway French cuisine?” Greg asked. 

Anthea shrugged with a little laugh. “No, of course not. That’s just being a decent friend.” 

“This the part where you warn me that you know how to hide a body? Don’t hurt him, or else? Et cetera?”

“No,” Anthea murmured, tearing the crust off what was left of the bread in her hand. “That would insult his intelligence and yours. He wouldn’t choose so unwisely; you already know I probably know how to hide a body.”

Greg laughed. “Understood.”

“I’ve gotten him this far,” Anthea said. “He’s not easy. He’ll insist he can lead summits with swine flu and try to control the uncontrollable for you, around you, despite you. But—” 

“You don’t have to tell me he’s worth it,” said Greg steadily. “I’m well aware.”

Anthea popped the last of her bread into her mouth and chewed thoughtfully. “In that case,” she said, and extended her knuckles across the table for Greg to tap with his own. “Welcome to the team.” 

“We’ll need a secret handshake, of course,” Greg joked, and then glanced toward the doorway, where Mycroft still hovered. 

Mycroft winced. Caught out. 

Greg simply grinned his way, prompting Anthea to turn and raise one well-groomed eyebrow. She had known that he was there. 

“All finished, sweetheart?” Greg asked. “Hungry?”

Anthea’s smile widened at the endearment. Mycroft wasn’t sure he had ever seen her smile quite like that. Then, he was sure that whatever his face was doing—  he had lost his ability to control that sometime on the drive to the house— was equally brand new

“Starving,” he said, and stepped into the kitchen. 

 

***

 

Later, while Mycroft picked up their dirty plates and piled them into the sink to soak, Greg sat on top of the worktop with one last glass of wine and watched him. 

“Don’t feel compelled to help,” Mycroft said, a gentle tease. 

Greg sipped his wine. “Oh, don’t worry, I won’t.”

Mycroft swatted at him with the tea towel he had draped over one shoulder, and Greg caught it, used to it reel him in. 

“D’you want help?” He murmured, lips just beside Mycroft’s ear. 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Mycroft said. “I’m nearly finished.” He turned his face just enough to press their cheeks together. He breathed in, slow, pausing for just this moment to appreciate the fact that he wasn’t alone in this kitchen; in this house. That the two people who cared about him the most were here with him. Had talked about him so… lovingly. Had joined forces to cajole him into a second helping of dessert. He wanted to remember what Greg’s hair smelled like, what his stubble felt like. What it felt like to be the person he suddenly was; unrecognizable to himself.

“Thank you,” he said after a moment, pulling away a bit but not going very far. Greg’s arm wrapped around his waist to hold him close. “For being so accommodating with regards to Anthea.”

Greg smiled, soft and warm as ever. “I like her. She clearly thinks the world of you. Think she approves of me?”

“I know she does,” Mycroft replied, voice hushed to match Greg’s. “How could she not?”

“I thought maybe she wouldn’t like me being a distraction to you,” Greg said. “But…”

“Quite the opposite. She would probably like you to be more of one.”

“After your job, is she?” Greg teased. “I see how it is.” 

Mycroft chuckled and gently extracted himself from Greg’s hold in order to gather up the last of the wine glasses and set them to the side of the sink. “For the first time with one of my assistants, I am quite certain that Anthea has no ulterior motive regarding her efforts to...mellow me, somewhat. In recent years she has grown more comfortable voicing her disagreement with the way I sometimes…”

“Work yourself half to death?”

“Well.” Mycroft gave a sheepish shrug as he washed his hands and dried them on the towel before tossing it toward the worktop. “Yes, unfortunately. I have been known to do that.”

“Is she your successor?”

“Oh, without a doubt.” Mycroft took the wineglass from Greg’s hand and drained the last swallow of red before setting it aside in favor of leaning in for a kiss. Mycroft adored the way Greg’s hands moved on him, holding and pulling at his body possessively and gently all at once. He loved the way Greg asked permission, with softening lips and the tease of tongue, to deepen the kiss. Mycroft was happy to grant it. 

By the time they parted for air, one of Greg’s hands had found its way to Mycroft’s backside, and the other to his hair. 

“I’m glad she’s there for you,” Greg whispered, then pressed a kiss to Mycroft’s cheek. “I think she and I’ll make a pretty good team. We’ll mellow you out the rest of the way. No problem.”

Mycroft let himself melt forward into Greg’s hold, arching into the fingers carding through his hair, allowing himself to be pulled more fully into the vee of Greg’s legs. He pressed his nose to Greg’s throat and said, “Please do.”

 

***

 

On Sunday Mycroft woke before Greg and arrived in the kitchen just in time to find Anthea filling a travel mug with coffee, a croissant between her teeth and her things already in hand. 

“There is no need to rush off,” he protested, knowing she wouldn’t stay but wishing her to know he would be glad if she did. 

“Oh there very much is,” she said through a bite of croissant, holding it now in one hand and tucking the travel mug between her arm and her side. “I’ve got to get those documents filed and then I’d like to have some semblance of a Sunday before Monday starts elsewhere in the world.”

Mycroft winced, opening his mouth to offer his early return, or at least some assistance from afar. 

“Don’t make me smack you with a rolled up newspaper,” Anthea warned, hitching her purse higher on her shoulder. “I’m more than happy to take on a working weekend now and in the future. Now, listen closely, because I need to go and I think now is a good time to say this; you can be embarrassed as I walk out the door: I have never seen you so happy, and it is my privilege to have helped put that look on your face. He suits you. Marry him. Start planning your retirement together. Be happy. I will see you on Tuesday.”

With that, Anthea smiled brightly, popped three quarters of a croissant into her mouth in one jaw-dislocating motion, chewed, winked, and bumped Mycroft with her shoulder on her way out of the kitchen. 

Mycroft found himself laughing helplessly into his hand, unaccountably misty-eyed as he contemplated her advice. Marry him. Your retirement together. Be happy.

It might help if he let the man waiting in his bed know that he did, in fact, love him to a ridiculous and life-changing degree. Mycroft resolved to manage it before the end of their time away. Just… not during sex. That would be, he is fairly certain, considered poor form. 

 

***

 

Mycroft should have realized, however, that when it came to his resolutions not to do something with regards to Greg Lestrade, he didn’t have the best track record. 

He first damned himself by bringing the man breakfast in bed. A tray of lighter options, since dinner the night before had been so rich. A carafe of juice and a pot of tea. A flower from the hallway arrangement in an old milk bottle he found stashed in the pantry. It was all a bit twee, and Mycroft second guessed himself from the kitchen to the bedroom. But Greg was awake and quietly reading Mycroft’s tablet when he toed open the door, and at the sight of Mycroft he smiled so gorgeously that Mycroft nearly dropped the tray. 

“That’s for me?” Greg asked, astonished, only noticing the tray at all after a beat spent grinning at him from the bed. 

“No, it’s for the birds outside,” Mycroft replied drily. “Open the window, won’t you?”

“Very funny,” Greg drawled, setting aside the tablet. “Look at you, you’ve brought me a flower.”

“I—”

“This is lovely,” Greg interrupted, and leaned over the tray for a kiss. “Thank you, sweetheart.”

“You’re… welcome,” Mycroft managed, speaking over the voice in his head screaming at him to profess his wretched, insufficient, undying love now. No really, now would be perfect.

They ate. Greg asked after Anthea and sighed to hear she had already gone. “She could’ve hung around,” he said.

“She did not feel unwelcome,” Mycroft assured him, refreshing both of their teacups. “Merely in a hurry to enjoy her Sunday while she could.”

“Bit of a hypocrite, isn’t she? She works too much, too.”

Mycroft laughed. “Tell her so, please, next time you see her.”

“Something tells me she’d have me killed for impertinence.”

“I believe she is too fond of you for that,” Mycroft murmured, and thought: How could anyone not be obsessively fond of you?   

Breakfast was a drawn out affair. Mycroft was surprised to learn that food tasted better when Greg fed it to him from his fingers and followed it up with a kiss. For once, they did not spend much time talking. They had spent most of their time since the beginning of this- when what they had was friendship- talking to each other. For whatever reason, this Sunday morning inspired quiet. 

Once the tray had been set aside, Mycroft tried his hand at initiating what Greg called a good cuddle.

“Mmmmmyessss,” Greg sighed, curling instantly into Mycroft’s side under the blankets. “Are we having a lie-in?”

“If you like,” Mycroft replied softly. “What would you like to do today?”

Greg’s face was hidden at this angle, but his silent laugh could be felt in the way his body juddered against Mycroft’s. “You?” Greg said. 

Mycroft bit his lip to contain his grin. He couldn’t talk and smile with his entire face at the same time. Once he had sternly told himself to stop acting like a besotted child, he managed a reply. “All day long?”

“We could try it.” 

“We could chafe something,” Mycroft retorted, then had to force down yet more ridiculous grinning when Greg laughed at the joke.

What on Earth is happening to me?

“Maybe,” Greg murmured, shifting closer to tuck his leg over Mycroft’s and press his lips gently to Mycroft’s chest. It seemed he was simply aiming for whatever part he could reach. The sweetness of it made Mycroft’s chest ache. “I suppose I’m not as young as I used to be,” Greg continued. “Don’t want to use up all my limited energy too early in the day.” 

“You are in excellent shape,” Mycroft protested. He traced his fingers over the line of Greg’s toned upper arm. “I’m afraid I am the one who won’t make it past noon if we attempt any athletic feats.”

“Oh no, no, no,” Greg heaved himself up on one elbow and rolled, settling on top of Mycroft with a grunt. He framed Mycroft’s face in his hands. “I have a new rule.”

Mycroft held him steady, kept him from rolling right back off again, with an arm around the waist. “A new rule? Do we have other rules of which I am unaware?”

“Unspoken ones, maybe,” Greg said, his smile reassuring; Mycroft had, he thought, said that last bit without letting on how it panicked him to think there were rules that he might have been breaking. Greg kissed him, perhaps for good measure to reassure him. For the hundredth time, Mycroft marvelled at the easy intimacy that seemed to come so easily to Greg, that was starting to come easily to him as well. 

“What is this new rule?”

“No pedestals,” Greg replied, and all traces of humor have fallen away. He’s serious. “And no self deprecation.”

“I…” Mycroft hesitated, searching for the right words to use in response to that. “I will find that… difficult.”

“Me, too,” Greg said, and kissed him again briefly. When he pull away he stroked one hand through Mycroft’s hair, soothing. “I spent a lot of time in a toxic marriage. I believed a lot of the things that were said to me about myself, for years. I let myself believe I deserved to be treated badly. I have a passenger train’s worth of baggage, you know.”

“Good lord,” Mycroft murmured. “If you have a passenger train, I’ve got all of bloody Heathrow.”

Greg laughed. “Right, well… Let’s try, then. That rule. Remind me about it when I break it, will you?”

Mycroft closed his eyes, overcome. He felt Greg’s nose nudge against his own and tipped his face into the kiss without looking. When it ended, he nodded and opened his eyes. “I will do my best, both in obeying the rule and helping you to do the same.”

“Your speech patterns get very formal when you feel awkward,” Greg observed, then placed a hand over Mycroft’s mouth to cut off his readied reply of: Apologies. “I don’t mind it a bit,” he said. “I like the way you speak. But one day I hope you won’t feel awkward, not about anything, with me.” 

Mycroft had to kiss him then, and for quite a long while.

 

***

 

The day stretched on, and Mycroft was grateful. That night would be their last; the following day would be an unbelievable luxury in that there would be no work, but at the end of it they would have to part ways. It was only right that Sunday should seem supernaturally long. 

They had a lie-in, and then Greg brought them a snack in bed. 

“It’s second breakfast!” He’d cried. 

“You’re going to be the death of my meal plan,” Mycroft had sighed, taking the napkin-wrapped croissant from his hand.

Greg had rolled his eyes and kissed him quiet. “Just for the weekend. Besides, if hobbits do it, it must be fine.”

“Must be,” Mycroft agreed, and ate his croissant. 

After, they sunk together into a decadent bath, where Mycroft nearly nodded off yet again, so relaxed was he by the gentle way Greg scooped water into his hands and let it fall down Mycroft’s shoulders and chests, softly telling him the plot of a book he’d like to write one day - not so much a romance, though it did contain that, but more a bit of fantasy. 

He called it “silly.” Mycroft tsked and reminded him of the new rule. Greg kissed him just below the ear and murmured a thank you before correcting himself. 

The bath carried them into the earliest part of the afternoon. 

“Hungry?” Mycroft checked as they dressed in a mix of pajamas and actual clothing: Mycroft in Greg’s joggers, because they just looked so soft, and his own favorite old jumper to ward off the chill of the house; Greg in a pair of Mycroft’s nicest brushed egyptian cotton pajama bottoms and his own Arsenal hoodie. 

“Not yet,” Greg said, slipping a hand under the jumper to pet at Mycroft’s lower back. “Wanna show me a film on your big cinema screen?”

“God, yes,” Mycroft replied. “I know just the one.”

They watched North By Northwest, pausing it near the middle to take a phone call from Greg’s youngest niece, Delia, who was cross that Lucy had been allowed to Skype him at his boyfriend’s house. 

Mycroft found, as he listened to her letting Greg have it for not telling her first about this major development in his weekend plans, that she reminded him strongly of Sherlock at that age. At ten, Sherlock had been… rather a delight, actually. Not yet awkward and sullen with hormones and a sudden awareness of the cruelties of the world. Not a baby, either, or even really a child any longer, but a strange in-between creature who still thought Mycroft was an adult and, as such, probably had matters in hand. He had also been very opinionated and quite convinced of his own status as the most important person in the world. 

Delia, aged ten, gave off the same confidence-tempered-with-sweetness. Mycroft found himself smiling as she huffed and puffed over the line. 

They finished the film once she had been shuffled off the phone by her mother, with apologies for interrupting their weekend again (though neither of them minded a bit), and spent a perfect hour walking the grounds again, talking about it. 

“I’d love it if you showed me more like that,” Greg said, his hand tight in Mycrofts as they walked. “I’m not up on classic cinema at all, but that was fantastic. He was great. Educate me, please.

Mycroft, pleased down to his bones, tightened his hand around Greg’s. “Gladly. Cary Grant is a favorite of mine. Perhaps another of his films next time.”

“I wouldn’t complain,” Greg said. “He was tasty, hm?”

Mycroft laughed outright. “If you only knew how much time I spent thinking about Cary Grant in my misspent youth. Perhaps you were right, and I do have a type.”

“Steady on, don’t start comparing me to Hollywood sex gods, now. I’ll end up with an inflated ego.” 

Mycroft stopped and backed Greg into the nearest tree. “That’s almost a violation of the rule,” he said, letting his voice drop low and quiet, pleased with himself; he has wished, over and over for months, that he could manage some semblance of composure with Greg. If not to hide from him (Mycroft was realizing that he didn't wish to do so), then perhaps as a means of seduction. He seemed to be hitting a stride, at last. “But let me explain; First, Cary Grant had a smile that could stop traffic.” Mycroft traced a finger over Greg’s rapidly-fading grin, letting the pad of his fingertip feel the slick inside of his lower lip as his jaw fell open. “Second, when he was older, he went gorgeously silver, and then later, white.” Mycroft buried a hand in Greg’s hair and leaned in close. “Third, and finally, he was a rumored bisexual, who shared a home with a man for over a decade.” Mycroft pressed his lips to Greg’s gently, once. “Your ego could stand to inflate.”

“So could yours,” Greg murmured, and tugged until they were kissing yet again. After long minutes had passed, Greg turned his face with a gasp. “Christ, we are going to chafe something. It’s bloody cold out here. Let’s go back to the house, I want to kiss you some more.”

What, Mycroft thought, will I do when this weekend is over?

 

***

 

Mycroft insisted that they go out for their dinner, and they did, to a charming inn a town over rather than to one of the more upscale establishments Mycroft had frequented on his own in the past. Mycroft drove them, to Greg’s delight. 

“I feel we have established that, of the two of us, you are the anxious driver,” Mycroft teased as he took his place in the driver’s seat. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Greg replied, taking the ribbing with aplomb. “It’s just I didn’t know you could drive.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t always… me.”

Greg took his hand across the center console. “You’re fantastic,” he said. 

The drive to dinner was not long, nor was the meal itself. Mycroft found that he barely noticed the taste of his food. He was utterly entranced, for the duration, by the easy sparkle of Greg’s eyes across the table; his laugh and his voice. 

“This was good,” Greg said while they waited for pudding: chocolate tart with salted caramel to share. “Not just the meal. Going out like this.”

“I agree,” Mycroft said, catching sight of the server heading their way with the dessert in hand and leaning back to allow her to set it between them. “Thank you.”

Greg murmured his thanks, and the server said something chipper that Mycroft didn’t register, before hurrying away again. 

“It’s good because I like to be out with you,” Greg continued where they had left off. “But also because now I get to watch you eat this.”

Mycroft stared at him and his beautiful dark eyes, darker even than the swirl of chocolate on the plate between them, and more liquid as well, and felt like pinching himself once again.

“Shall I start with chocolate, or with caramel?” 

Greg smiled, slow and full of promise. “Why not both?”

 

***

 

They returned to the house in the dark, and on the walk from the car to the front door, Greg tilted his head back and gave a low whistle. 

“I love London,” he said. “Love it more than anything, really. But look at that.”

Mycroft paused beside him on the walk and looked up, smiling. “Yes,” he said. “They’re very bright, here.” 

“I bet you know all the constellations.”

He laughed. “I know many of them,” he said. “I had a bit of a fascination with astronomy as a child, and for a time with astrophysics when I was older. Space…”

“The final frontier,” Greg finished, and they smiled at each other out of the corners of their eyes. “Were you a little Trekkie?”

“Oh, yes, very much so,” Mycroft admitted. “And a dedicated Whovian.”

“Fantastic,” Greg sighed. “We’ll agree on what to marathon on lazy weekends like this one, then.” 

Mycroft slipped their hands together. “I hope there will be many more.”

“I know there will be,” said Greg simply, and leaned up to kiss the edge of his jaw. 

Mycroft stood with him and looked at the stars for long moments more, feeling his ribs expand and contract, feeling his fingers interlacing with Greg’s and holding tight until he could not tell which fingers were his own. 

 

***

 

The door had barely shut before Greg was on him, using his body weight to knock Mycroft off his center of gravity and against the door itself. His hands were under Mycroft’s overcoat and suit jacket in a flash, the chill from his fingers seeping through the fabric of Mycroft’s waistcoat and shirt. Mycroft’s own hands were gloved, and he wanted both to keep kissing Greg and to pull away to remove the leather gloves so that he could feel Greg’s skin against his fingertips. But then Greg pressed his cheek into the soft leather and moaned, and so Mycroft thought he would keep the gloves on forever if he was asked to do so. 

“You have too many layers,” Greg muttered. It didn’t sound like a complaint. He pulled back and set to removing Mycroft’s gloves himself, then pushed his coat off his shoulders. 

“Not that many,” Mycroft protested nonsensically, trying to rid Greg of his jacket as well. 

They practically grappled against the door, each trying his best to undress the other. In the end, overcoats, suit jackets, Mycroft’s waistcoat and gloves, and Greg’s shoes were left behind in the foyer. The rest was shed on the staircase and in the hall leading to the bedroom. Greg had his fingers hooked beneath Mycroft’s sleeve garters as they tumbled inside, joined at the mouth. Mycroft had a grip on Greg’s backside by then, and he used it to control their progress toward the bed. 

“Sleeve garters,” Greg sighed happily as he was pressed back into the mattress. “Who wears these?”

“I do,” Mycroft replied, working on the buttons of Greg’s shirt. 

“I know,” Greg said, sitting up to shrug out of it. “I love that.”

“I am glad,” Mycroft said, and applied his mouth to Greg’s collarbones while his own shirt was yanked enthusiastically untucked. 

“Let me undress you, damn it,” Greg grumbled. 

Mycroft laughed and rested on his heels in order to let him sit up and make quick work of Mycroft’s shirt. The end result was Greg, thighs spread over Mycroft’s lap, grinding down against him as they kissed, their bare chests pressed together. 

“Want to ride you so bad,” Greg murmured filthily into Mycroft’s ear. “Just like this, sweetheart.”

“Oh, god,” Mycroft gasped. “Yes.”

“Yeah?”

Mycroft tipped Greg onto his back once again, and Greg bracketed his hips with his thighs and tilted up into the grind of their erections with a groan.

“Yes,” Mycroft replied. “Though, I don’t—  I’ve never— I wouldn’t wish to hurt you.”

“You won’t, sweetheart,” Greg said, mouth against his cheek and pressing kisses to Mycroft’s skin between words. “Lots of lube. Take it slow. Want you so much.”

This is really happening to me, Mycroft thought even as he shuddered into Greg’s hands. 

They stripped each other out of trousers and underthings, shoes and socks toed off and cast to the floor. Mycroft dug the bottle of lubricant and a condom out of the night table, but tossed them to the side on the mattress rather than force his shaking hands to do anything with them just yet. Greg noticed and held Mycroft’s fingers between his palms, pressed kisses to the tips of them. 

“Don’t be nervous,” he said. 

“I’m afraid I can’t follow that rule,” Mycroft managed to say. 

Greg smiled, and endearing crinkles bloomed at the corners of his eyes. Mycroft kissed them and thought how silly it was to be nearing fifty and on ground this shaky in bed. 

Like a mind-reader, Greg tsked at him and laid him back against the pillows, saying: “Stop that right now,” before initiating a trail of wet kisses in an exploratory path down Mycroft’s chest. 

Mycroft hummed his appreciation and told himself to relax. He did accomplish it, at least somewhat, and by the time Greg had begun to lick lazily over the crests of his hip bones, Mycroft was both desperate and content; he could lie here for days and be touched this way, or he might die of anticipation if something didn’t happen soon. 

From the vicinity of his right hip, Greg said, “Do you want to get me ready for you, or shall I?”

“Oh, god,” Mycroft gasped, eyes squeezing shut and hips twitching up into nothing. 

“Okay,” Greg said, amused. “I’ll do it.”

Mycroft opened his eyes at the sound of the lube opening. “No,” he said. “That is… I want to—” 

“Mm,” Greg handed him the lube. “Good, because my fingers aren’t as long as yours and I’ve had some seriously fantastic ideas about what you could—” 

Mycroft interrupted him with a kiss, surging up and drawing him in with a hand at the back of his head, and Greg made a satisfied little groan as their tongues slipped together. Mycroft reversed their positions slowly, guiding Greg with his hands and following him down to the bed without breaking their kiss. It only deepened, Greg’s arms wrapped tightly around Mycroft and his thighs cradling him so that they aligned perfectly, gently rocking together. Greg’s sounds went soft and breathless with each careful movement of their hips, the friction more a tease than anything. 

When Mycroft pulled away to sit up between Greg’s knees and roll the bottle of lubricant between his palms, Greg’s breath shortened even further than it already had. Anticipation. Mycroft felt unbearably powerful and completely out of his depth. 

“Not to sound desperate for it,” Greg said roughly, “But please god, touch me.”

Mycroft had to look away from his face then; it was too much, too perfect and handsome and drenched with desire. He focused his gaze on his hands, on squeezing lube onto his fingers and closing the bottle. He rubbed the small pool of slick between thumb and fingers, warming it. 

“Go slow,” Greg murmured, drawing Mycroft’s focus to his face again. His eyes were soft, but intent on Mycroft’s own. “But you don’t have to go too slow. I’ve been… let’s say practicing. ‘m ready for this. I’ve been wanting it. Badly.”

With his clean hand, Mycroft stroked the inside of one of Greg’s thighs, beginning at the knee and sweeping down, encouraging him gently to let his legs fall further open. 

“That is…” Mycroft couldn’t think what he was going to say. His first tentative touch to Greg’s body, slipping his slickened fingers behind the heavy weight of his balls, was met with a slight jump. 

“Just a little cold,” Greg laughed. 

“Sorry—” 

“Keep going,” he insisted. “Actually—” He reached for Mycroft and pulled him down for a kiss. “Don’t look, just feel. C’mon, gorgeous. You can’t do it wrong.”

That was factually incorrect, but Mycroft appreciated the sentiment. He felt the jangle of his nerves fading now that they were close; he felt less exposed, and didn’t have to wonder where he was welcome to look. His fingers slipped on the soft skin of Greg’s perineum and then—  they both gasped, and then laughed at the perfect harmony of it, lips mere inches apart. Mycroft let one fingertip circle the pucker of skin, and Greg’s laughter went breathy. 

“Don’t be a tease, now,” he told Mycroft, hitching up with his hips eagerly. 

“I’ll be a tease if I want to be a tease,” Mycroft replied, even as he slipped just the tip of his index finger inside, still teasing the outer skin with his middle finger. 

“Mmmmdon’t,” Greg said, unfocused, trying to move in such a way that he could force Mycroft’s finger deeper. 

Mycroft huffed and pressed forward, wondering at the ease with which Greg’s body accepted his finger, the satin heat closing around it. “Is it uncomfortable?”

“No,” Greg replied. “No, not at all, I want another.”

Mycroft drew his finger out a bit, and then drove back in gently, crooking it before pulling back out again, returning with both index and middle—  more slowly now, gently, carefully, as Greg sighed at the stretch. Mycroft remembered what he had once liked best, on the other side of this equation, and tried a gently rocking motion to work his fingers deeper. 

“Yeah,” Greg moaned. “God, that’s good.”

Mycroft turned his face and caught Greg’s lips in a soft, catching kiss. He worked his fingers deeper and then attempted to find Greg’s prostate on the next slow draw out. The deep, guttural moan earned by the motion went straight to the pit of Mycroft’s gut. He deepened the kiss and repeated the motion, drinking down Greg’s sounds and feeling them vibrate against his own chest. 

It was slow work, adding more lubricant and gentling Greg’s body into relaxation. Despite his insistence that he didn’t need that much preparation, Mycroft knew from experience that rushing would be the worst possible thing they could do. Besides, he was enjoying the experimentation of it. Finding just the right way to twist his fingers, pulling back to watch Greg’s eyes flutter, his teeth catching and biting his lower lip, the flush spreading down his chest. 

Mycroft felt bold, suddenly, and sat up to give himself room to work, to see; to watch his fingers - three, now - disappear into Greg’s body, and to watch Greg’s head rolling from one side to the other. His cock was flushed dark red and leaking against his belly. Mycroft added lube to both hands and, as he thrust two fingers back inside, wrapped the other fist around Greg’s cock in a long, slow stroke. 

“Fuck!” Greg’s eyes flew open and he stared down his own body, wide-eyed. “God, gorgeous, your hands.”

Mycroft leaned forward and nipped at Greg’s swollen lower lip. Greg leaned forward, attempting to meet him in a kiss, but Mycroft pulled back. 

“Tease,” Greg said, drawing out the word. “Such a tease. Love it, though.”

This had the side effect of causing Mycroft to need to kiss him, and Greg laughed against his lips. Mycroft thrust and curled his fingers, tightened his hand around Greg’s cock, and closed his palm in a swirl over the head just as he found the exact right spot. Greg keened into the kiss. Mycroft did it again, and then once more, before abruptly gentling his movements. 

“God,” Greg gasped. “Oh, god. A little more lube? Please? And then—  I need—”

Mycroft couldn’t speak. He could hardly breathe. He did as Greg asked, and slicked his fingers more thoroughly than seemed necessary, and then a bit more after that for good measure, and massaged the pool of lubricant into and around Greg’s stretched entrance. He felt relaxed, ready; Mycroft felt the need to be very, very sure. He couldn’t bear to hurt him. 

“You’re certain?”

“Dead certain,” Greg growled, shoving Mycroft off him and arranging him to his liking against the pile of pillows at the head of the bed. He fished for the condom with one hand and pressed firmly against Mycroft’s chest with the other in a clear command: stay. He needed both hands to tear open the condom. “Jesus, look at you,” he breathed, eyes sweeping over Mycroft’s body. 

Mycroft steadfastly did not look down to see what Greg was seeing, sure that whatever it was would not be what Mycroft would see: pale chest blotchy with a flush, soft middle, skinny legs. 

“Gorgeous,” Greg said, and then without warning swooped down, sucking the head of Mycroft’s cock between his lips. 

“Oh!” Mycroft nearly arched up off the mattress. The sudden shock of pleasure set his nerve endings alight. He’d nearly forgotten his own need, so focused on wringing small sounds and deep groans from Greg; on learning all the ways he liked to be touched. Trying to remember what he had liked, himself, a lifetime ago. 

Greg moaned in satisfaction, and the vibrations were sublime. He sucked and licked and teased, but only briefly, surging back up with darkened eyes and wet lips to take Mycroft’s mouth in a hard, deep kiss. Mycroft’s eyes rolled back at the taste of himself on Greg’s tongue combined with the tight grip of Greg’s hand as it rolled the condom down Mycroft’s length. 

“Where’s the—” Greg felt blindly around the bed, still pressing breathless kisses to Mycroft's willing lips and not bothering to stop and look for the tube of lubricant. “Ah—” 

“I—” Mycroft didn’t have a clue what he’d been about to say, he simply froze as Greg made quick work of slicking his length and moved into his lap. “I—“

“Are you alright?” Greg asked, whispering, so close that their foreheads touched. 

“Y-yes,” Mycroft managed, overwhelmed at the very idea of what was about to happen. “Are… you?”

Greg smiled, beautiful and soft. “Of course,” he said. “I’m gonna… take it slow, at first. You’re big , sweetheart. ‘m probably going to feel this in my throat. But first, slow. Just to get used to it. Good?”

“Yes,” Mycroft breathed through numb lips. 

Greg leaned in to kiss him, and reached down to guide Mycroft’s cock, hold it still. Mycroft found himself clutching at Greg, practically holding his breath as he felt the tight resistance meet him, and then slowly give way as Greg carefully rocked his hips down. And when the head of Mycroft’s cock breached Greg’s body for the first time, they both gasped. 

“Greg—” 

“Shh, s’okay, slow, slow…”

Mycroft was… astonished. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t hold words in his head. Words like: hot; tight; Greg; love; darling; please.

Greg’s mouth was open, little panting gasps leaving him as he rocked back up and then down again, taking a bit more of Mycroft’s length, and then repeated the motion, and then again. 

“Oh,” Greg panted against Mycroft’s cheek. “It’s so… It’s been so long, I—” 

“Greg,”

“Mycroft, darling, don’t—  don’t move just yet.”

Mycroft had to picture himself literally clamping down on the instinct to twitch up into the welcome of Greg’s body; he hadn’t even realized that he had nearly done so. “I’m sorry—” 

“No, love, no, it’s alright, it’s good, it’s so good,” Greg rambled, and rocked again, again, taking Mycroft deeper into his body. 

Mycroft felt strangled by the words he couldn’t seem to keep in his mind. He was suddenly, horribly aware, that soon they would simply spill out, beyond his control, and god only knew what they would be, or what they would mean. He felt blinded by unnameable emotions - by tears stinging the backs of his eyelids. He held on to Greg and held himself very still. 

And then, Greg had taken all of him, was seated flush against Mycroft’s thighs, trembling. His eyes were wide as they stared down into Mycroft’s face, and a little wet at the corners. 

“Mycroft,” he breathed, and kissed him more gently and sweetly, Mycroft was sure, than anyone had ever kissed him before. 

“I…” Mycroft paused, swallowed hard against a lump in his throat. “I love you.”

“Wha—” Greg moved to sit up and gasped at whatever sensations the shift of his body had caused. “Oh, you, you what?”

Mycroft had gone numb with panic. “I—” 

“You perfect fool,” Greg interrupted, and fell forward into another kiss, this one much less gentle, but equally sweet, and now filled with such... joy. “I love you so much,” he gasped, and hitched his hips up, then down. 

Mycroft wanted to let his eyes roll to the very, very back of his head, but the desire to see Greg’s face ensured he didn’t allow it to happen. “I didn’t intend,” he forced himself to say, “didn’t mean to say it now.”

“I’m sure you didn’t,” Greg replied, and executed a rolling motion with his hips that was… transcendent. 

“It’s gauche,” Mycroft tried to say, though the words were broken by a moan as Greg rolled his hips down again. “Poor—  poor form. I’m sorry. But, I love you.”

“I love you,” Greg repeated, laughing and beginning to move in earnest.

Mycroft’s hands slipped in the sweat beginning to gather and slicken Greg’s skin. God, all of that lovely skin. Mycroft wanted all of it, wanted his mouth all over it. Now. Always. 

Things began to truly fall apart from there. Greg rode him, at first with a steady, deep rhythm and moans that sounded as if they were being punched from him, and then with less finesse, almost frantic with it, letting Mycroft hold him close against him and practically rutting, rocking himself back and forth, up and down the length of Mycroft’s cock as his own slid in the sweat between their bellies. 

It was, like the other times they had come together, both beautifully emotional and intensely dirty. It was unlike anything Mycroft had ever experienced with another person before, and he wondered how he had ever done without. Where had these imperfect delights been all his life? What had he done to deserve them now? 

“Want you to come in me,” Greg was growling into Mycroft’s ear, the words transmuting into cascades of electric shock down Mycroft’s throat, his spine, across his nipples and all the way into his toes; his skin tightened in their wake. 

“What about—” Mycroft slid one hand between their bodies, trying to provide Greg a tight space in which to thrust. 

“Oh, fuck,” Greg gasped. “Fuck, Mycroft.”

Mycroft felt his orgasm rushing towards him and gasped, his free hand tangling in Greg’s hair. “Greg, darling, I love you, I love you, please—”

The rhythm of Greg’s hips stuttered; stopped and started. He seemed torn between the movement that would bring him more friction against his own cock, and one that would spur Mycroft toward release. Mycroft summoned self control he had thought lost to him at this point, and planted his feet flat on the bed. 

“Come for me,” he panted, stripping his hand over Greg’s cock and thrusting up into his yielding body. “Greg, come, now, now, come for me.”

Greg went wordless with it, and still, frozen for long moments as his cock jerked and pulsed in Mycroft’s hand, his release painting Mycroft’s belly and knuckles. And then his body moved again, his hips meeting Mycroft’s desperate thrusts, shoving down when Mycroft moved up, rolling and twisting in ways that were maddening and impossible and so blindingly good.  

Mycroft came, hard, with a shout he had no ability to muffle. It was world-ending, he felt, in intensity, this release. Like the absolute death of whoever Mycroft used to be. He was completely heedless, as it shook through him, of the mess on his body and on his hand, which was now clutching Greg’s hair in desperation, pulling him close enough that they shared air between their gasping mouths. 

“I love you,” Greg ground out, and kissed him, taking whatever breath was left in Mycroft’s lungs like it belonged to him. 

And, as a matter of fact, as far as Mycroft was concerned, it did.

 

***

 

Mycroft drove Greg’s car back to London the following afternoon. 

“It’s really hot,” Greg commented as Mycroft merged onto the M40. “You, behind the wheel of my car.”

Mycroft, perhaps the most relaxed he had ever been in his life, let alone while driving, only smiled sideways and allowed his hand to be held gently over the gear shift. 

And after long minutes spent in comfortable silence, Greg spoke again. “Mycroft?”

“Mmm?”

“You should redecorate that house.”

Mycroft changed lanes and drew in a deep breath. He let it out slowly, and imagined for a moment what his terrible house could be, if only he decided to make it that way, with this man in mind as he considered the variables. It could be beautiful. It could, perhaps, cease to be such a symbol of isolation and loneliness, and be reborn as a home. He squeezed Greg’s hand. “I will redecorate the house,” he agreed, “if you will help me.”

Greg grinned at him and brought their joined hands up to press his lips to Mycroft’s knuckles. 

“Done,” he said.