When Greg arrived at the office on Tuesday - early, to get there before his team and have a minute or ten to himself just to settle in - Sherlock was already there waiting for him. Greg only paused in the doorway for a second, then rolled his eyes and considered himself lucky that Sherlock was sitting in one of the guest chairs and not the one behind Greg’s desk.
“I don’t want to hear it, Sherlock,” Greg said, sing-song. He had no plans to indulge whatever snit had brought Sherlock here so early without a case on. “Whatever it is.”
Sherlock said nothing and remained still in his seat, not so much as twitching a muscle at Greg’s arrival. He was striking his usual pose - elbows bent, hands in prayer-position, tips of his steepled fingers resting just under his chin - and he was staring already at the seat Greg was about to take.
Greg took it with a sigh, not bothering to hide his wince as certain recently-used muscles registered a protest. He half-expected some reaction from Sherlock for that, but there was none. Greg decided to mimic the other man’s posture and wait him out. Why not? Not like he had anything better to do; he’d been out of this office for three long and glorious days.
After a couple of minutes, which Greg spent mentally making a grocery list, Sherlock straightened in his seat.
“Mycroft is a liar,” Sherlock intoned.
Greg, rather than follow Sherlock’s example and go all stiff-spined and braced for a fight, relaxed back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. “Oh?”
“He is a master manipulator; a practiced actor. You need to be aware that he is adept at presenting whatever face or personality is required to get what he wants and maintain whatever status quo is most advantageous for him.”
“Or for England,” Greg supplied, raising one eyebrow.
“Occasionally,” Sherlock sniffed. “You are not a bad detective, Lestrade—”
“It is, actually,” Sherlock snapped, and then continued. “You are not a bad detective but you are, historically, a bad judge of character when it comes to your love life.”
Greg might have, at one time, taken offense at that, or at least gone on the defense. But not only was he still incredibly relaxed from his long weekend, and not only was he sure that whatever Sherlock was getting at was bollocks, but what Sherlock said was mostly true.
“I understand,” Greg said.
Sherlock’s eyebrows flew up, disappearing under his disheveled curls; he’s in need of a haircut. Life with a toddler has made him a bit lazy about such things. “Do you?”
“You’re worried for me, and for your brother.”
“Mycroft does not need me to worry for him.”
Greg only smiled and said, “Really?”
“Don’t be tiresome, Lestrade.”
Greg studied Sherlock for a moment and took a guess at what the motive was for this little visit. “Sherlock, what do you think is happening between me and Mycroft?”
Sherlock’s lip curled. “I prefer not to think about it.”
Greg rolled his eyes. “Oh, grow up, Sherlock,” he groused. “You can’t come into my office and try to tell me how to conduct my affairs while insisting you don’t think about what those affairs might entail.”
“Mycroft is very likely using you.”
“Gee, Sherlock, thanks for that—”
“It is no reflection on you, Lestrade, it is entirely his nature which is to blame for the way that he is.”
“Cold,” Sherlock snapped. “Mycroft is practically frigid. His petty digs at me over the years have illustrated that. His insults are a self-portrait. He may have some experience in this area but it was short-lived and limited, and occurred a very long time ago. Mycroft sporadically and half heartedly attempted intimacy with another human and found it repellent enough that he never attempted it again. Until now. No offense, Lestrade, you are charming in your own way, but he is unlikely to have changed since the last failure.”
Greg sighed. If Mycroft’s insults are a self-portrait, what are yours? He wanted to say, but didn’t. Sherlock was still a bit thin-skinned about his relationship with John; quick to get defensive, easily embarrassed by his own clear inexperience. Greg refrained from making a dig or even just trying to make Sherlock see how much his assumptions were colored by his own insecurity. That was a brick wall Greg had no interest in banging his head against.
“It’s none of your business, mate, what your brother is or isn’t when it comes to… those matters.”
“Nor do I wish it to be,” Sherlock insisted. “But I would prefer not to see you treated badly by him.”
Somewhere deep down, Greg was touched by that. But this conversation was quickly finding its way to his last nerve. “Sherlock,” Greg said softly, lowering his voice so that Sherlock really had to listen. “Mycroft isn’t using me. I can’t imagine what you think he would be using me for. The only thing I can give him, other than myself, is help for you. You and I both know that’s been on offer for free for over a decade.”
“And I don’t know where you’ve gotten the idea that Mycroft or anyone could use sex to manipulate me, but I am a bit insulted.”
“Since your divorce—”
Greg bit his lip, tried not to laugh. “I was never so lonely, Sherlock, that I was desperate. That’s not what this is, and to imply that insults Mycroft, too. ”
After a silence, Sherlock asked, “Then what is it?”
“I love him,” Greg said simply. “I’m in love with him. We’ve been working on a friendship, Mycroft and I, for over a year. Things grew naturally from that. We love each other. It’s that simple.”
“Oh, Lestrade, you must realize he will never be able to return your—”
“He does return my feelings,” Greg says evenly.
“Did he say—”
Sherlock reared back, blinking. “That is… Concerning.”
“It is unprecedented, as far as I am aware.”
Greg rested his chin in one hand and smiled. “Is it?”
“Oh, don’t be sentimental, it’s gauche.”
“You never get sentimental, Sherlock?” Greg asked, thinking of little Rosie Watson, of her father, and the way Sherlock looks at them both. “Never?”
“I am not the issue, here, Lestrade.”
“Oh, but I think you are,” Greg said, and stood from the desk with a groan at his protesting, achy muscles.
“Ugh,” Sherlock gagged, finally losing his grip on his reactions. “I can see the activities all over you.”
“You knew I was away with him,” Greg said “You must have known. You didn’t need to come here and witness the after-effects.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes and said nothing.
“Sherlock,” Greg said gently, “do you have any idea how much Mycroft loves you?”
Sherlock’s nose wrinkled, the obstinate expression shaving ten years off his face in a heartbeat. He did not respond.
“The answer is: endlessly. Unconditionally. Very, very deeply.” Greg rounded the desk and clasped a hand over Sherlock’s shoulder. “I know, because I know him very well. You don’t need to warn me off him. You should maybe talk to him. Get to know him. He’s a good man. But don’t ever do this again. It’s none of your business, and you are completely out of line. Good. That’s settled, then.”
And with that, Greg gave Sherlock’s back a hearty slap before letting himself out to go fetch a coffee. By the time he returned, Sherlock had gone.
“Weird visit from your brother today,” Greg mumbled into Mycroft’s chest.
It was late; both of them had paid rather dearly for their time off, and hadn’t managed to leave their respective offices until hours past dinner. Greg had confessed over the phone while he sat exhausted in the car in the car park, to having forced down a limp salad at his desk. Mycroft had been at that moment on his way to a working dinner somewhere stuffy but delicious. They had both been less than enthused about an evening apart.
Greg had been home for two hours when Mycroft texted to say he was done for the day. Greg, of course, had replied: Just come over here already.
He’d left the door unlocked and gone to let himself fuse with the sofa. Mycroft arrived to find him immobile and a bit culture-shocked at the abrupt return to the reality of day-to-day life. He had made the very excellent decision to simply shed his outer layer of clothing and join Greg where he was. They’d been plastered together with the television on in the background for nearly an hour before Greg spoke.
“I am not at all surprised that Sherlock felt the need to speak with you today,” Mycroft said in reply, his voice a smooth rumble under Greg’s cheek. “I assume he attempted to warn you off?”
“Mm,” Greg hummed in confirmation. “Told him to pack it in and go home. May have told him I’m in love with you. Sorry.”
“Did you tell him that the feeling is mutual?”
Greg smiled to himself and rubbed his face indulgently against the fine fabric of Mycroft’s shirt. “It’s good?”
“He was going to find out sooner or later,” Mycroft said. “I can guarantee he didn’t believe you. He may never believe you. Or me.”
Greg thought on that for a moment, enjoying the way he could hear Mycroft’s breathing from this position while his mind drifted. He eventually found the words he needed to say. “Can I ask you something?”
“Do you… Is this - us - something you plan to be pretty open about?” Greg leaned up on one elbow, needing to see Mycroft’s face. He looked up at Greg, neutral and waiting, obviously aware that Greg had more to say. “I mean, we’ve gone out in public since this… changed. I just wondered if you planned to be… I don’t even know if you’re out in general, actually. I’m sorry, love, I should have asked.”
Mycroft’s lips twitched into a dear little smile, the sort Greg had never seen him make before they started this. It warmed Greg to think he was the only one who could make it appear. “It is sweet of you to be concerned,” Mycroft said, reaching up to trace his fingertips over the worried crease between Greg’s eyebrows. “But I have been out, so to speak, for most of my adult life. It wasn’t something I could have hidden even if I wanted to, after a certain point in my career.”
“Grounds for dismissal, until my mid-twenties, yes,” Mycroft interrupted, sounding unbothered. “Let us say that this last longer one was not the only of my… ah, dry spells seems a fitting turn of phrase.”
“God,” Greg groaned, lowering himself back down to wrangle Mycroft into a full-body cuddle. “I hate that. I can’t stand to think you were ever so… I dunno. Alone. I won’t say unhappy, because for all I know, you weren’t.”
Mycroft made a thoughtful little sound. “Sometimes I was content,” he said. “Other times, I was not. Truthfully, the two most significant romantic relationships I have had in life occurred first at University, and then very soon after, early in my career. By the time the dust settled after the end of the second, I was on my way out of MI6 proper, and it would be a few years more before I achieved a status that made my sexuality rather a non-issue.”
“You made yourself indispensable before allowing yourself a personal life,” Greg interpreted.
Mycroft sighed. “That is… accurate.”
“Don’t like that,” Greg muttered.
Mycroft’s body shook under him as he laughed. “I appreciate it, darling, but I did survive.”
Being called darling in that gorgeous posh accent filled Greg with warmth that spread from his chest all the way down into his toes.
“God, I love you,” he blurted, then pressed his face into Mycroft’s chest again, ungodly embarrassed at his own soppiness.
Mycroft shook again with a soft chuckle. His fingers threaded gently through Greg’s hair. “And I love you,” he said gently. “Please say it as often as you wish. And… to answer your question: I won’t hide our relationship. Your security will be a concern, but Anthea is already monitoring any and all chatter related to me with an eye toward ensuring your safety.”
“Mmm, I’m not worried,” Greg said. “Might be naive of me, but I’m just not.”
“You really have no need to worry,” Mycroft murmured as his nails scratched deliciously over Greg’s scalp. “So I am glad to hear it. If the certainty of your safety is ever in question, you will be the first to know.”
“Presumably as I’m being loaded into a car headed for some mysterious safe house,” Greg joked.
Mycroft went still beneath him. “Well…”
“Oh, Christ!” Greg’s stomach sunk. He had the distinct feeling he’d gone and put his foot in it.
“It hasn’t happened before,” Mycroft said softly. “But the possibility of it has been… daunting, to some.”
Greg rushed to sit up again. “To someone you were dating?”
Greg closed his eyes. Yeah, he’d firmly fucked this up.
“It wasn’t serious,” Mycroft said, nudging Greg with the side of his knee. “Please, do not worry for my feelings. I was referring to— Lord. I apologize. We are both too tired to dig into my less-than-excellent track record with romantic partners. Suffice to say that the question of security was only relevant to one other partner many years ago. It was a contributor to a certain amount of tension in the relationship, along with my schedule and disinterest in a more traditional trajectory. He wanted to settle in the suburbs and adopt. I… frankly don’t know what he saw in me or what made him think I would be a good candidate for such a lifestyle. We parted amicably. It was not a great heartbreak, cold as that sounds.”
Greg’s heart squeezed nonetheless. “Sorry,” he said. “I really want to know everything about you, you realize. I want you to tell me these things. The little heartbreaks and the big ones. The ones that made you roll your eyes. Whatever.”
Mycroft took a slow, measured breath, and Greg settled back in against him, offering him a little less eye contact while he gathered his thoughts.
“I would like to tell you about them,” Mycroft said after a pause. “Will you tell me yours?”
Mycroft kissed the top of Greg’s head and finally brought his arms back around him. “Alright,” he said. “But not tonight.”
“No,” Greg sighed and let himself go boneless with tiredness, picturing fusing with Mycroft this time instead of with the sofa. “Not tonight. But I want you to know that I know who I’m with. I know at least a little bit what I’m getting into. And I don’t… care.”
He could feel Mycroft’s raised eyebrow; he didn’t need to see it.
“I know it sounds… careless. Or flippant, maybe. But I really just don’t care at all. You could be the bloody secret lovechild of the Queen and Winston Churchill and at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised or bothered.”
Mycroft swallowed a laugh and rubbed a hand over Greg’s hair, mussing it “Well I’m happy to report that I am not, in fact, the bastard child of our monarch.”
“That you know of,” Greg teased, rolling further on top of Mycroft and copping a feel as he did. He propped his chin on his folded arms, resting them across Mycroft’s chest.. “Anyway - back to the other thing. I’m not what we’d call out at work, having been married to a woman and everything. People just assumed and I never corrected them. Sally knows, because I told her I was going away with you. Or, well, with a man. She wasn’t surprised. I think she knows about the books.” He winced. “Don’t want to think about that; it’s not the point. Point is, I’m too old to care if anyone finds out. S’not like I’m gonna be bullied over it or blocked from promotion, is it?”
Mycroft’s hands stroked soothingly down Greg’s back, and then he snuck a little grope of his own. “So, you would be comfortable being… shall we say casually public?”
Greg smiled and leaned in for a kiss. “Yeah,” he said. “I guess that’s the best way to put it. I want to tell people about you if they ask if I’m seeing anyone.
“No one is going to ask me,” Mycroft said with a sardonic twist of the lips. “But I don’t want to hide our relationship. I want us to go out together. I would like to go on more weekends like the one we just finished. I want… a future.”
“With you,” Mycroft replied, and his arms tightened around Greg’s waist as he head tipped up for another kiss.
“I’m glad all that’s settled,” Greg said with a definitive nod once they parted.
Mycroft’s eyes crinkled beautifully with his smile. “Quite tidily, yes.”
“I love you, too. Quite desperately, I’m afraid.”
That weekend, they both had to work. Greg ended up attending to a horribly mundane knifing late Saturday night. It was windy and rainy, and while the case was open-and-shut— all that blood, the taking of a life, over a drugs dispute— Greg found himself not just soaked but exhausted to the bone. When all was said and done, he wound up bundled away from the street outside his office in a fancy car with dark windows. He fell asleep on a two hundred year old sofa at the Diogenes club, wrapped in a bathrobe from god knew where, his clothes sent out for cleaning. The sound of Mycroft typing away at his desk lulled him, and the gentle stroke of Mycroft’s fingers over his forehead woke him hours later.
Mycroft helped him into fresh clothes - his own, but not anything he’d been wearing that day.
“Anthea broke into my flat?”
“One of her many underlings, I believe,” Mycroft told him, a wry smile in his voice, though Greg couldn’t see it while Mycroft was down on the floor slipping a sock over Greg’s left foot.
“We’re always dressing each other,” Greg mused. “And never have time to undress each other. Unless we run away to the Cotswolds.”
Mycroft huffed. “Yes, I know. Anthea has opinions on it.”
“On our sex life?
“Mm.” Mycroft finished with Greg’s shoes and socks and paused where he knelt on the floor. He placed his hands over Greg’s knees and looked up at him in the dim light. He looked mussed, his hair fluffed in a way that meant he’d run his hand through it in annoyance and scrubbed out the product in the process, down to his shirtsleeves and the sexy garters just above his elbows. Greg reached out on impulse and hooked his fingers through one. “Our sex life,” Mycroft continued. “My sleep schedule. My retirement plans. The color of my tie today. Anthea has opinions about all of these things and more.”
“Sure she’s not trying to steal your job?”
The line was becoming a bit of a running joke between them, at that point.
Mycroft chuckled. “Eventually, in a sense, I suppose she is.”
He leaned up and Greg gladly met him, bowing into the kiss with a sigh. It was soft and chaste, the only thing either of them had energy for tonight.
“She feels I should cut back,” Mycroft said when it was over. “Travel slightly less often; spend far fewer late nights and weekends at a desk. She thinks…”
“I hope she doesn't think I’m going to raise a fuss,” Greg said softly, concerned. “You know I won’t. At least, I hope you know.”
“I do,” Mycroft said. He ducked his head and seemed to study his own hands where they rested on Greg’s legs. “Anthea isn’t worried that you will object, she is concerned that I will become resentful of the work.”
“That seems unlikely,” Greg said, then paused at the shift in Mycroft’s posture, the stiffening of his shoulders. “It’s… not unlikely?”
“It’s already happened. Is happening.” Mycroft sighed and replaced his hands with his elbows on Greg’s knees, resting his chin on interlaced fingers and straightening his spine to look up into Greg’s face. “It would have been unlikely at any other time in my life, with any other person, for my feelings on my work to be negatively affected by a relationship. But, as Anthea so kindly reminded me this morning, I am no longer twenty years old with seemingly endless decades stretched out before me.”
“Ouch!” Greg winced. “Doesn't she know that people born in the eighties are supposed to be kind to us senior citizens? God!”
Mycroft chuckled, dropping his forehead for a moment to press against his fists.
Greg was suddenly breathless at the picture he made; Mycroft Holmes, on his knees, confessing to… something. Laughing. His pointy elbows digging into the tops of Greg’s legs. Not the British Government or anyone’s distant, powerful brother. Not unsure of himself. Just a man. A lovely one. Greg tried to catch his breath, unable to do that or to believe his own dumb luck.
Mycroft continued, raising his chin again. “She’s right. I’m not young anymore. It was made abundantly clear to me long ago that she would not stand for my original plan, which I am embarrassed to admit involved my working until I simply dropped dead over my desk or in the middle of a handshake. Perhaps while waiting for a meeting in Buckingham Palace. She has warned me, several times, that she has no intention of allowing me to forget that retirement is, as she says, a thing.”
“You’re what,” Greg wondered. “Fifty? Is she expecting you to retire early because of me?”
“No.” Mycroft shook his head. “But she is expecting me to begin behaving like a person with a life . Her words, again. She is… incredibly intelligent, Anthea. Insightful. She is nearly my equal in analytical ability, but she far outstripes me when it comes to matters of emotion and delicate interpersonal communication. Anthea has a beating heart and has never been afraid to acknowledge it. I trust her judgment in all things, this included. She is right.”
“So, what are you saying?”
“I’m going to make an effort,” Mycroft replied softly. “I am going to attempt… balance.”
Greg felt himself grinning. “Good.”
“Would you like to join me in this endeavour?” Mycroft wondered, freeing one of his hands from under his chin to trace a finger along the edge of Greg’s hairline, still damp from the rain earlier. “Perhaps… we could both have delegated this evening. Stayed dry. Left the office. Gone to bed together.”
“Had sex without needing to drive two hours away to accomplish it?”
“Well we can’t do that every weekend, even if we do cut back on our work schedules,” Mycroft sighed. “Especially not if I have contractors working on renovations for a while.”
“Right.” Greg leaned in and pressed their mouths together. “Listen… the other night at my place, I mentioned not being worried about… you know, being open, having that affect my job. It’s the twenty first century so I don’t expect it to, but it’s also just that I don’t plan on going any higher at the Met. I used to think…” Greg sighed and pressed his forehead to Mycroft’s, wanting to say this from close up. “When I was married, I always thought: when I get to DCI. When the job starts to take place behind a desk more often than not. That’s when I’ll cut back on my hours. I’ll learn how to play the politics a little better and they’ll eventually send me further up the ladder and I’ll just… wait it out. But— and don’t take this the wrong way— your brother has pretty much carpet bombed my career over the years. I’m not making DCI. I’m not going up the ladder. And I’m glad. My divorce, the writing, my nieces getting older and needing me again when Laura’s own divorce started. It all made me less invested in the idea of dedicating myself to all that until the bitter end. And now… there’s you.”
“Oh,” Mycroft murmured softly. “So… I take that to mean we’re on the same page, so to speak?”
“Sounds like it,” Greg replied with a grin.
God, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt this way. So giddy and full of anticipation for the coming days. The coming years. Maybe if he was younger, if he hadn’t been through the wars already, if he didn’t know this man so well, he might think: Slow down. It’s not forever. Don’t get tied down. Don’t put your eggs in someone else’s basket. But Greg wasn’t younger and he had been through the wars. He knew Mycroft. Knew him in so many ways now. And he loved him. This is it, he thought. This is everything.
“I don’t plan on a three-day work week beginning tomorrow,” Mycroft warned, mock-stern.
Greg laughed and hauled Mycroft up into a kiss.
“Shut up,” he said between one locking of lips and the next. “At least take me home tonight.”
“Obviously,” Mycroft scoffed, pulling himself off the floor into Greg’s lap. “I want breakfast with you tomorrow.”
A kiss. “Done.”
“I want to wake up with you.” Mycroft smeared their lips together and sighed.
Greg cupped his face, angling him just right. “Yes.” He kissed him again, with plenty of suggestive tongue.
“...Every day.” Mycroft gasped when they parted again.
Greg felt his entire body turn to liquid, a grin tugging almost painfully at his lips, at his cheeks. “Yeah?”
“Every day,” Mycroft repeated, and Greg would remember the fierce expression on his face until he died, he was pretty sure.
“Okay.” Greg took Mycroft’s hands from his own shoulders and cradled them between his own. “Every day? Starting when?”
“As soon as possible.”
Greg kissed Mycroft’s knuckles. “Just tell me where to send the moving trucks, sweetheart.”
Mycroft’s eyes closed. His lips smiled, grinned, hard enough to match Greg’s straining muscles. “I’ll work on some options.”
Things didn’t change much right away, but by the time spring had sprung they were spending at least two weeknights together, plus their usual Sunday evenings.
“I get home before seven on a Wednesday sometimes,” Greg huffed as they hauled bags of groceries purchased specifically for their dinner that night. “How about you?”
“Never,” Mycroft replied, far less winded. The bastard. Greg had recently discovered his running habit and had resigned himself to the fact that he would need to dust off his own trainers in order to keep up with him. “This is lovely. It was still light when I left the office.”
“Will wonders ever—” Greg meant to pause at the top of the stairs to catch his breath before barreling forth to his doorstep, but he was brought up short by the sight that awaited him there. “Oh for fucksake.”
“Did we forget something?” Mycroft queried from a step behind. “Blast, do you think we need more garlic after all?”
Blast, Greg thought fondly, besotted by those funny little turns of phrase and old-fashioned expressions. “No,” he sighed. “Just your bloody brother is camped at my door.”
Mycroft merely sighed.
From a mere two yards away, Sherlock glowered.
“What does he want?” Mycroft groaned, and Greg knew the pressure between his own shoulder blades was Mycroft’s forehead.
He smiled to himself. To Mycroft he said, “Dunno.” To Sherlock: “What do you want?”
“Neither of you will answer my texts,” Sherlock replied flatly, pushing off from where he’d been leaning against Greg’s door.
“Because you’re a dick,” Greg filled in for him. For a couple of days after his appearance in Greg’s office, Sherlock had sent periodic text messages composed entirely of emojis, all of them strangely easy to interpret as disparaging screeds against Mycroft’s character. Greg took the last step into the hallway and Mycroft followed.
“Brother,” he heard Mycroft say coldly.
“Mm,” was all Sherlock could bother to toss Mycroft’s way. To Greg he said, “John says we are required to invite you to dinner.”
Greg laughed and shook his head, shouldering Sherlock aside to get at the door and unlock it. “Great! Time and place, we’ll be there.”
“We,” Sherlock spat. “Ugh.”
Mycroft stayed close to Greg’s back and said nothing.
“Hey.” Greg set down the shopping and abandoned the key in the lock. “Yes, we. Stop it, Sherlock, you’re not being funny. Be nice to your brother or I won’t work with you.”
Mycroft went very still. So did Sherlock.
“Greg,” Mycroft murmured.
“You can’t be serious,” said Sherlock.
“I’m very serious.” Greg crossed his arms. “At the very least, you aren’t allowed to disparage him to me. The texts have to stop. And you are never to imply our relationship is not real. Ever again. Once was plenty, you utter shit. Stop it.”
“I wasn’t going to say anything about your relationship,” Sherlock sneered. “John got very cross with me about it after your pints last week.”
Greg couldn’t help but smirk. “Oh?”
“Apparently, Rosamund needs all the family she can get,” Sherlock sniffed, his gaze flicking away. “Mycroft we’re stuck with. Lestrade we like well enough to keep. The child calls you both Uncle already. Un fortunately.”
Mycroft’s hand slipped unobtrusively onto Greg’s waist from behind, his fingers giving a little squeeze that somehow communicated amusement and it’s alright.
Greg tried to swallow his smile. “Sherlock,” he said, “did you just say I’m family?”
“Shut up,” Sherlock snapped, and swept past. “No.”
“Yes, you did,” Greg taunted. “Ah, that’s lovely, mate! Really sweet of you!”
“I can’t stand you,” Sherlock grunted, and waved without turning around, heading down the staircase.
“I love you too, you mad bastard!” Greg called after. Mycroft shook with amusement at his back. Greg turned, grinning. “That was fun.”
Mycroft snorted in a way that should have been extremely unattractive and not at all wonderfully endearing. “He does count you as family, you know,” Mycroft said fondly. “I think, sometimes, more than he considers myself or our parents as such.”
“That daft idiot loves you, Mycroft,” Greg told him. “You know he does, because you still love him too, no matter what a dickhead he can be.”
“I know,” Mycroft murmured. “He’s Sherlock.”
“That he is,” Greg sighed, all fond exasperation now. “Let’s torture him at that dinner.”
“Oh,” Mycroft breathed, giddy. “Of course.”
The dinner went quite well. Greg spent a lot of it on the floor doing blocks with two-year-old Rosie. Mycroft spent a lot of it having an unfathomable silent argument with Sherlock while also watching Greg with an expression of awe and longing. Sherlock spent it sulking. John blinked at Mycroft, bewildered, several times, and eventually took to elbowing Sherlock every fifteen minutes or so. Molly Hooper swung in, and Mrs. Hudson was there for a bit as well. Both were visibly surprised to find both Greg and Mycroft in attendance, and Greg felt a pang of guilt. A side effect of never having time for a personal life meant never spending time outside of work with any of these people; and the fact was, these were Greg’s friends, other than Yard coworkers. It was sad that they didn’t do this more.
He glanced to Rosie Watson: happily oblivious, pink-cheeked, and sticky-handed. Sherlock might have said it in that stroppy tone days before, but he’d meant what he said. A kid needed a family. Outside of her parents - and it really did make Greg’s head spin to see in person how very much Sherlock had become her parent - Rosie only had the people in that room.
“Quit glaring at each other, you two,” Greg called to Sherlock and Mycroft, aiming his tone so that Mycroft would understand that the words were meant for him. Sherlock huffed and flounced off to the kitchen. “Come sit with me,” Greg murmured, beckoning up toward Mycroft.
“On the floor?”
Greg grinned. “Yeah.”
Mycroft rolled his eyes but he was smiling as he folded his long legs under him beside Greg on the floor.
“Oh!” Rosie grinned, holding out a block. “Unc’ My, take it.”
Mycroft smiled gently and took the block. “Shall I place it here?” He held it over the small tower she’d been working on.
“Mmyeah!” Rosie chirped, clapping her hands.
Mycroft added his contribution and said, “This is a wonderful tower.”
“Towerlondon,” Rosie agreed.
“Ah yes,” Mycroft murmured, his eyes sliding sideways toward Greg. “The Tower of London. When we finish building it, we can take your Uncle Greg prisoner in it, hm?”
Greg laughed. “I’m wounded. She’s turned on me quickly.”
“I believe she is just agreeing because she is an imminently agreeable child,” Mycroft soothed, handing Rosie another block. “I’m pleased she remembers my name. I haven’t seen her in months now; they forget so easily at this age.”
“Yeah?” Greg scooted a little closer on the carpet, letting his hand settle beside Mycroft’s, brushing their pinkies together. “You’re good with her.”
“I…” Mycroft reached out and nudged the block as Rosie placed it, steadying it without being obvious, keeping the tower from toppling under her wobbly hand. “I spent a lot of time with Sherlock when he was this small. I was ten. I remember it very clearly.”
“Course you do,” Greg murmured. “I remember when Laura was this little, too, and I was even younger than that. And not a Holmes with a mind palace stocked with all my memories.”
Mycroft huffed a little laugh. “I don’t keep all my memories.”
“Hmm.” Greg took and placed a block Rosie offered him, and then it was Mycroft’s turn.
“I also did babysit her, once, more recently,” Mycroft admitted. “I’ll admit I was rusty at first. But she is quite bright and very sweet. Yes, Miss Watson?” He held a block at the ready, looking to her for approval before placing it.
Greg’s heart skipped several beats.
“Mmhm!” Rosie agreed absently.
“When did you babysit?” Greg wondered, absolutely fascinated.
“Oh, a few months ago. Some time just after the holidays.”
It was a shocking little reminder: it had only been a couple of months since Mycroft called and confessed about the books. Greg couldn’t quite wrap his head around it. He was in so deep, and so completely unphased by it… wonders would never cease.
“I would have liked to see that,” Greg said at last, blinking away his thoughts.
Mycroft smiled softly at him and Greg had that familiar old mind-read feeling he often got around Holmeses. “I’m sure John would be grateful if we offered our nanny services here and there.”
Greg wanted to kiss him, so he did. Very quickly, just a peck, on the cheek. “Perfect,” he murmured.
“Ooooh,” Rosie intoned, at the same moment Sherlock made a retching sound and was shoved back into the kitchen by John. “I can have?”
“Have what, pixie?” Greg asked, reaching for one of the blocks to hand over.
“Kiss,” she said, lisping a bit on the sibilant.
Greg missed when his nieces were so tiny and simple to please. “Of course,” he said, and leaned forward to peck her loudly on the forehead. “Anytime, doll.”
Greg’s face nearly cracked in half with the force of his grin. Mycroft had already displayed a delightful blush from the second Greg’s lips touched his cheek. It bloomed then into a full blown flush.
“Me?” He stammered.
“Mmyes, kiss from you, Unc’ My.”
And then Greg was treated to the most delightfully precious thing he had ever seen; Mycroft Holmes being veritably climbed by a tiny girl with pigtails and traces of jam on her hands, which framed his shocked face very seriously before she laid one on him.
Greg nearly burst a blood vessel holding in his laugh. From somewhere, he heard the electronic click of a phone taking a photo.
He’d have that printed and put on his desk.
“I love you,” Greg sighed one lazy Sunday morning as summer drew in, while sweat cooled on his back by the breeze coming in through the open window. His front was plastered to Mycroft’s side, and Mycroft was propped against a mountain of pillows. Greg used to only have two pillows on his bed. He had no idea how many Mycroft had on his bed at his London residence, because Greg’s never been there and Mycroft just closed on its sale, so he never will. At the country house, the beds have a lot of decorative pillows, sure. But since Mycroft all but moved into Greg’s flat, five absurdly plush down ones have appeared in the bed.
It was nice. They were good for his back when he wrote in bed, or when Mycroft sat up to read like he was at that moment. They also came in handy for certain adventurous sex positions, one of which had just been tested to excellent results.
“I love you,” Mycroft echoed. “And I think we can put that one directly into the purple category,” Mycroft murmured, doing something to the tablet with the hand not scritching absently at Greg’s hair, and Greg hummed his agreement.
“We’ll never be done, you know,” Greg murmured. “You’re very inspiring. I’ve been writing on my lunch breaks, which I never did before. I’ve come up with all sorts of interesting new ways to fuck you senseless. Can’t wait to see how you color code those.”
Mycroft chuckled and set the tablet aside before sliding down to share a pillow. “Good,” he said. “I look forward to doing just that.”
“Of course you do. Insatiable.”
Mycroft laughed and hid his face. “No.”
“Yes,” Greg drawled, digging his fingers into Mycroft’s side, not enough to really tickle, but enough to threaten it. “Don’t pretend to blush, don’t give me the who me? face.”
Mycroft said nothing, laughing into the pillow before turning his face out of it and rubbing his hands over his own reddened cheeks. “You’re awful to tease me,” he chided.
“Am not!” Greg protested, and slipped up closer to kiss Mycroft’s bare shoulder.
“You are,” Mycroft replied without heat. “But please keep doing it. Always. I like it.”
“It keeps me from forgetting that you know me.”
“Do I?” Greg breathed him in and awaited the answer with curiosity - he thought, sometimes, that he didn't know Mycroft well enough. That he never would. Mycroft putting it just that way was an opening Greg could never have dreamed of.
“Better than anyone else,” Mycroft murmured. “Barring Anthea, perhaps. Though, there are things you know about me that I hope she never finds out.”
Greg snickered and took to tracing his fingers over Mycroft’s chest, allowing himself to be tugged a little closer, his leg drawn up over Mycroft’s with the sheets all twisted around them. “Tell me something I don’t know about you,” he said after a moment.
“Oh,” Mycroft cleared his throat. “Well… No, let us be more precise than that. You ask me what you’re clearly wondering, and I shall answer honestly unless the information is classified.”
“Is any of your romantic past classified?”
Greg couldn’t see it, but he could feel Mycroft wincing. He drew back far enough to see his face. “Is it?”
“No,” Mycroft sighed. “If only.”
“Aw.” Greg leaned up to kiss at the edge of Myroft’s jaw. “Come on, it’s alright. You don’t have to tell me if it’ll upset you. Seriously, sweetheart, I’m dying of curiosity but it doesn't matter.”
“It does matter,” Mycroft protested with another deep sigh. “You have been nothing but forthcoming about your past.”
“Well, and you knew pretty much all the dirty details already.”
“Not all the details,” said Mycroft softly, his arm tightening around Greg’s shoulders.
That was true. Telling Mycroft all the gory personal horrors of his divorce and the infidelities that came before had been hard. It had come about a month into their relationship, and had involved a bit of drinking.
“I told you because I was ready to tell you,” Greg said after a moment. “You don’t have to tell me anything you’re not ready to say.”
“It’s not a question of readiness. It’s… an embarrassing topic.”
“You must realize why.”
Greg leaned up on his elbow to look at him, but Mycroft glanced away. “No. Why?”
“The last serious relationship I managed to maintain took place in the eighties,” Mycroft snipped, flicking his eyes to and away from Greg’s face. “The last sexual contact I had with another person before you was, sadly, not much more recent than that.”
“So?” Greg wanted to wince, because he had known that Mycroft’s life had been solitary and celibate for years. He had expected it could’ve been a decade, based on things Mycroft had said in passing. But this implied decade s. Multiple. That was… Well, it was something. He carefully kept his face still and his breathing even. “Am I meant to break up with you now? The last sexual contact you had, period, was with me, fifteen minutes ago. Anything else doesn't matter to me. I only want to know so that I know you.”
“Intellectually, I know that.”
Greg lowered himself back to the bed with a sigh of understanding. “Yeah,” he muttered, and curled around Mycroft protectively. “I get it, sweetheart.”
“Nevertheless—” Mycroft cleared his throat again. “Was there anything specific you wanted to know?”
“Well…” Greg thought for a moment. “Did you ever do this with anyone else?”
“Do… what, exactly?”
“I dunno. Sunday morning lie-in with sex that might throw your back out?”
Mycroft laughed, which was an immediate relaxant to Greg’s worried muscles. “Ah, I’m sure I did, but not often enough to remember it,” he said. “No, I’m afraid most encounters were one-offs, or casual arrangements. The two people I was ever… I suppose we could say serious? The only people about whom I was serious entered my life at times when Sunday lie-ins were rare indeed.”
“Tell me about the first one,” Greg suggested quietly, and then very nearly held his breath waiting for the response. He was surprised when Mycroft barely hesitated.
“Michael,” he said, a wistful sigh in his voice. “University. Older than me by a handful of years. I thought he was so… I don’t know.”
Mycroft laughed again and buried one hand in Greg’s hair to tip his head back and meet his eyes. “Perhaps,” he acknowledged, then dropped a kiss to Greg’s smiling mouth. “But more… perfect. I thought he was perfect. He very decidedly wasn’t, in the end, but I was in my late teens and early twenties, and therefore an idiot. I believe I can be forgiven for the error in judgment.”
“Of course,” Greg agreed easily. “We’ve all been there.” He could read it in the way Mycroft spoke of his own naivete: he’d had his heart thoroughly thrashed, once upon a time. Michael, Greg thought with venom. What a shit. And clearly deficient.
“Hm, perhaps.” Mycroft petted Greg’s hair, but his eyes were distant with his thoughts. “He was very masculine. Very closeted. Sadly, he had plans for his future that very decidedly did not involve me. He also joined the security services, around the same time I did. A rather different career track, though. Our paths have crossed many times since we ended our relationship; he has never acknowledged it. He has barely acknowledged that we ever knew each other.”
Greg bristled. “What? How long were you together?”
“Five years,” Mycroft said delicately, then gave Greg a squeeze. “Don’t be upset; it was a long time ago, and I am fine.”
“But you weren’t fine!"
“No, not at all,” Mycroft agreed. “But—” He shrugged. “It is what it is.”
“Did you love him?”
Mycroft made a sound of good-humored self-disgust. “Ugh. Terribly. Yes, I did.”
Mycroft smiled and shook his head. “It is somewhat sick, I expect, that your upset on my behalf, your caring about such an old hurt, almost makes the old hurt worth living through.”
“Stop it,” Greg teased, nuzzling at Mycroft’s jaw. “But yeah, okay sure. It was all worth it. I’m the prize at the end. Do go on, it’s great for my ego.”
“You are,” Mycroft insisted, soft, hushed. “You don’t see it, but you are in fact the prize at the end.”
He rolled, pinning Greg beneath him.
“I love when you do that.”
“I know,” Mycroft said. “The second, and only other, serious relationship came just months after Michael ended things. I did not love Paul, but I wanted to. I tried. He was a body man, of sorts, for a high ranking official I can’t speak about. Rather the Anthea to that man, I should think. He, sadly, loved me. But the insecurities left in the aftermath of Michael made it impossible for me to function in the relationship, and it was my turn to break a heart. He wanted a partner. I couldn’t imagine that being a possibility. I couldn’t muster the trust.”
“D’you ever see him these days?”
“He died,” Mycroft said, tinged with sadness, but his voice was even. “AIDS. Mid-90s. He was thirty five.”
“Yes, quite,” Mycroft murmured. “I experienced, for a time, an intense feeling of guilt. I wasn’t ready, when he was, to commit. I probably never would have been, but that didn’t seem to matter at the time. I felt as though I had indirectly caused his death.”
“Oh, love.” Greg pulled Mycroft down, knocking their foreheads together. “I’m so, so sorry.”
“That was the last serious one,” Mycroft said. “I did casually date a small number of men. I have recently thought of one of them rather often. Rhys. We were seeing each other casually, on and off, for about a year when I heard of Paul’s death. Rhys was another person looking for permanence. He didn’t say it outright to me, but he implied it. He was amenable to changing his lifestyle and plans to fit around my own, and made it clear. Then it became clear what all of that would entail in terms of security, which did not go over particularly well. When I realized he wanted a family, I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in that at the time. Or ever. That was that. It was not a bitter end, but a natural one. He is in fact married now, with children. It took some time, but from what I understand they had adopted three boys by the time they could legally wed. At one time, I found myself simply… bewildered by such a thing.”
“Why?” Greg winced, horrified that he had interrupted such a stream of information.
Mycroft rolled his eyes and kissed him. “You may ask questions. I won’t…”
“Okay, so why?”
Mycroft smiled. “I said I found myself bewildered at one time. I could never understand why a person who wanted such things would choose me of all people with whom to get involved. I thought I wasn’t the permanent sort.”
“Because of that first idiot?” Greg ventured, wishing he could roll Mycroft off him and just blanket him. Mycroft, though, when he wanted to be on top of you he was basically immovable. Not that Greg could really complain.
“On some level, yes,” Mycroft agreed. “But also because, at the time, it was impossible to imagine a time when it would be truly acceptable to settle down with another man, and to do so openly. It was equally impossible to imagine ever wishing to deprioritize my work for another person’s happiness. Which doesn't even begin to approach the complications children would bring to the equation. The way I grew up… I never wanted to be like my own parents.”
“And now, at this late date, I realize I am in fact too old to take on the role of parent and indeed I don’t think I wish to do so. But the role of partner… the idea of family in that sense. It appeals. Immensely.”
Greg closed his eyes and just let that sit between them for a moment. Good, he thought. Yes.
“What I mean to say is,” Mycroft said, interrupting Greg’s moment. “Thank you for showing me the light.”
Greg laughed and opened his eyes, finding Mycroft’s crinkling down at him in a matching smile. “You’re so very welcome, Ice Man,” he said. “Now get off me. We’ve got three flats to view in an hour, and dinner with the girls later.”
Mycroft rolled off, but only let Greg move halfway out of the bed before grabbing him back, drawing him down and kissing him in that devastating way he had when he remembered he could just take such things from Greg; they were always on offer. He always made the sweetest little sounds when their mouths parted; tiny noises of surprise and satisfaction. Greg was happy to kiss back and drink those sounds down, appointments be damned.
“We’ll find our home today,” Mycroft said with certainty when they parted.
“And then you’ll meet your family,” Greg replied, and left so that Mycroft could be stunned in private.