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Mycroft found the first book in a pile of discarded magazines in the small, bleak “lounge” purporting itself to be intended for ‘VIP’s’. He was stuck in a small, classified, backwater airport, so tired that he could barely remember what country they had landed in due to engine trouble. Normally, he might try and catch a brief, upright cat nap. But Anthea looked twice as run down as Mycroft felt, so he nodded toward the neck pillow peeking out of her large carry-on tote to let her know that she should use it and rest. He could keep watch. 

Neither of them liked to sleep unguarded. She had done him the favor before. He made the silent offer, and within minutes Anthea was asleep. Shortly after she dropped off, Mycroft realized that the mobile signal here in the middle of nowhere was practically nonexistent. 

His eyes reluctantly strayed to the subpar reading material spread out on a chipped, lopsided side table. Only one magazine appeared to be in English, and sadly Mycroft wasn’t confidant he could manage anything outside the realm of germanic or romance languages at the moment. Cyrrilic and Japanese and Chinese characters swam before his eyes as he nudged listlessly at the magazines and well-out-of-date newspapers.  

He picked up the small paperback because the alphabet on the cover, picked out in lurid pink swashes over an illustrated image of a shirtless man, was latin, and after a slow blink at the gaudily-painted fingernails raking their way across the pictured chest, Mycroft’s brain interpreted the title as, in fact, English. 

Claws of Desire.

Mycroft snorted and nearly set the book back onto the pile, resigned to an hour or so of entertaining himself internally.

But.

Something made him open the book. Something made him smirk at the obvious nom de plume: G.L. Mystere. Mycroft rolled his eyes and began to read. 

When Anthea woke hours later, it was already hidden in the inside pocket of his coat. 

He nearly forgot his half-formed intention to look up the author’s name, and in fact would have, had the book not tumbled from his coat when he threw it into the backseat of a waiting town car in London, days later. 

Mycroft wasn’t thinking of much before the book landed with a thud on the carpet: a hot shower, a stealthy check-in with Sherlock’s security detail, and a glass of scotch, in that order. But he turned the book over in his hands and thought: why not? 

He took out his mobile and did a simple Google search for the first time in… ever, and found that G.L. Mystere had written over ten romance novels—  all available in ebook form; much easier to read discreetly. Mycroft bought several to start with before the car had left the street. 

 

***

 

What stood out to Mycroft, at first, were the first kisses. Based on stereotypes, one would expect a romance novel with a cover like that to focus on ravaging by the male protagonist. Taking. Overpowering clutches. Plundering tongues. 

But in Mystere’s books, as Mycroft had found to be the case in Claws of Desire, the initial kiss between the main characters was almost always tentative. 

The male protagonists were often the shy ones, which Mycroft found interesting. 

The women were always smarter, more competent, than their male counterparts, which Mycroft found realistic.

In G.L. Mystere’s most recent title, set in some unspecified but distant historical time period, the female lead Lucinda was in fact passing as a man at the time of the first kiss with the slightly scattered, socially isolated male main character. It was an incredibly layered moment. The story managed to imply bisexuality on the part of the male character, Gil, without stating it explicitly. It was sly; Mystere had deftly slipped a bit of subversion into what was on its face a traditional, heterosexual tale, marketed toward a very specific demographic. 

In this book, the first kiss was utterly wretched with uncertainty and fear, and Mystere had written it as a tremulous thing, picked out in words that evoked reluctance and shivering anticipation. It was delicate while still managing to be explosively cathartic. Mystere followed it with a literal powderkeg explosion which interrupted the fledgling lovers, moved the plot along, and incidentally revealed the heroine’s true identity.

It was interesting, emotional, and… affecting, actually. 

Mycroft was beyond embarrassment (to himself, at least) about this new, secret little hobby involving the books. But he did find himself flushing when, alone in his own sitting room, he felt the need to press his clenched fist over his heart as Lucinda and Gil confessed to one another. 

“I wanted you as a man. I want you as a woman. I will want you until I die and then again--and again--in every life I live until the world’s end.” 

Mycroft had to close the book and take a walk. 

 

***

 

The thing about G.L. Mystere was that Mycroft couldn’t deduce their gender or personal sexual preferences from the words they had written. It shouldn’t have been difficult to figure out, but it was, for reasons Mycroft couldn’t quite pin down. 

His working theory at first was that the books were written by a gay man with some experience with heterosexual intercourse and close familiarity with women other than the few with whom he may or may not have engaged in sex. 

Mycroft had uncovered, with some deeper searching and a bit of light deductive work, that G.L. Mystere published male/male romance and erotica under a separate pen name: L.G. Derien. This supported his theory, as did some speculative chatter on various romance-focused blogs and online community spaces. 

Mystere/Derien did not maintain a blog, but did possess accounts on multiple social media platforms. None of the accounts contained personal details pertaining to the author’s identity or day-to-day life. 

In Mycroft’s opinion, the seven books featuring two men as main characters were far better than the thirteen featuring heterosexual couples. 

Though, Mycroft had to admit, none of the Mystere books were terrible. If they had been, he never would have gone looking for more. Never would have chosen to order a few of his favorite titles in paperback, just to have them. 

On their surface, all of the titles between the two pen names were fairly basic romance novels with somewhat unusually explicit love scenes (according to Mycroft’s recent, albeit tentative research into the genre). But they were heartfelt works, and the dialogue was very good. 

The stories felt real to Mycroft, and to reviewers leaving five-star ratings on the books’ product pages.

Mycroft had read his fair share of frivolous nonsense, his definition of which encompassed such works as the mainstream news, John Watson’s blog, press releases, popular acclaimed novels, so-called classics, reports which crossed his desk, texts from his mother, and beyond. 

Mycroft had been forced to consume plenty of nonsense with his own two eyes, but this nonsense he chose to read, at least. 

And in his more honest moments, Mycroft could admit that these books weren’t nonsense at all.

In all seven of the gay romances, and nearly half the heterosexual ones, Mycroft had the uncomfortable sense that at least one main character was oddly familiar.

It was an interesting thought exercise: who wrote these? Upon whom in that person’s life were these characters based? How did they compare to people Mycroft knew? 

Mycroft amused himself with scenarios, profiling the author in his mind when he needed to backburner difficult problems; sometimes turning his mind away resulted in unexpected moments of clarity while he thought of other things. He mulled over the identity of Mystere/Derien when he couldn’t sleep, or while he stared blankly at computer screens at the ends of long, tedious days. 

L.G. Derien lives in London, the author biography at the end of the book always read, and that was it. It was followed by the title of the book, the number it held in a series or in publishing order, and the URL for Derien’s website, which was similarly devoid of information.

Mycroft set an alert so he would be notified of new releases. He joined a newsletter. He steadfastly refused to join any of the online discussions, even if IantoLuvr76 was completely wrong in their assertion that the fourth Derien title, Crossing A Line, was far superior to the fifth, Crown and Country.

 

***

 

The erotic material within the books was, at times, particularly inspired. 

It was frequently, thrillingly, closely-suited to Mycroft’s personal and long-ignored sexual appetites. L.G. Derien’s third title, given the eye-roll-inducing title of Bit of Rough , were it a paperback and not a file on Mycroft’s highly secure e-reader, would have several dogeared pages and a well-worn spine by the time Mycroft had spent close to a year reading the author’s work.

Mycroft very occasionally allowed technicolor, vaguely-cast films of his own imagining to play out behind his eyelids as he cried out into the dark of his bedroom, or muffled himself with his own hand in hotel rooms or in his office, bringing himself to the edge and back while literary masturbatory fantasies scrolled across his imagination. 

He forced himself not to dwell on the fact that when he called up particular passages from Derien’s work as a basis for these fantasies, he couldn’t quite bring himself to imagine them played out with the characters from the books. He did not examine why, when he imagined himself in these scenes of passion and lust, his partner was quite faceless. He refused to admit to himself that in the final throes, those shivery moments just before orgasm, Mycroft’s mouth felt desperate to form a name he didn’t know. 

 

***

 

It wasn’t just the nature of the physical actions in the books. It wasn’t just the… well, the pornography. 

It was the intimacy woven into those actions. The way they were used to develop the story, and not just serving to titillate. 

Intimacy dripped off the pages, soft and warm and sweet. Closeness. Adoration. Respect. Love. It was profoundly comforting. 

That was embarrassing, truly, no matter how badly Mycroft wanted to believe he was above such a feeling. He would cringe at himself if he wasn’t so busy breathing through the exquisite ache in his chest as he finished the last pages of Hearts In Winter.  

“I love you!” He shouted, not caring who heard him. People paused in their travels to cast interested glances his way. “Do you hear me? I’m trying to tell you I—”

The window clattered in its track when Martin threw it open. “The entire street can hear you,” he laughed as he leaned out. “God, you ridiculous man, get up here.”

 

***

 

It was two weeks before Christmas, and Mycroft was delayed, waiting for his brother at New Scotland Yard. He’d left his briefcase in the car, which meant he was without something useful to do in the interim. Sherlock’s text in response to Mycroft’s request to meet (to force Sherlock to sign his own name on their parents’ Christmas card) had indicated that he was already present at NSY, not halfway across London in a cab in the middle of poor-weather traffic. 

“You can wait in my office,” Detective Inspector Lestrade told him with his usual friendly grin. “I’ve got to dash to another floor for a minute, but I’ll be back to keep you company if his highness doesn't show up soon.”

Mycroft thanked him, awkwardly, and found himself hovering there in Lestrade’s office, unsure if he should move a box or stack of papers from one of the three visitor’s chairs and have a seat. 

He’d known people this messy before; Lestrade likely called this a “system.” For all Mycroft knew, it was a functioning one. He didn't allow himself to analyze the teetering piles of work and empty teacups for information about the man’s life. 

He did allow himself to do what Anthea would call some light snooping about , the thought of which made him roll his eyes to himself, the same way he would were she there to deliver the words in her dry, amused tone. 

Mycroft cast his eyes around, moving from corner to corner, hands folded behind his back. Here was a photo of a younger Lestrade, receiving a commendation from some superior in front of a seal and a flag, shaking hands in a formal uniform. Here were knick-knacks painted by childish hands (two nieces, Mycroft recalled). A shelf held manuals and books, stacks of paper held down with a Best Uncle In The World weight. Mycroft’s eyes skipped from spine to spine in a stack of books teetering on the topmost surface before he meandered to the desk. 

A framed photo of two children posed with a woman whose warm brown eyes matched those of her brother. File folders. The center drawer gaped open to reveal paperclips, a pack of chewing gum, stray cigarette cellophane torn away and dropped in haste, a stray dry teabag with no string. The bottom-most drawer on the left was entirely open. Lestrade had rested something across it for lack of desk space. Papers had fallen inside, partially obscuring the contents. 

But-- 

Mycroft would recognize that color scheme anywhere, the edge of a publisher’s logo just barely visible. 

Mycroft’s eyebrows reached his hairline as he nudged the papers aside. There in that deep drawer, spines up in two layers, was a selection of titles by Mystere and Derien, all in pristine condition. 

Mycroft blinked. He heard Lestrade’s laugh from somewhere close by, just beyond the office door, followed by Sherlock’s stroppiest intonation, the words unintelligible. 

He stepped hastily away from the desk and posed awkwardly to its side, mind whirring. 

Before he could make much of his discovery, Sherlock blew in, an annoyed John Watson and a clearly amused Greg Lestrade following in his wake. 

Sherlock opened his mouth, and for the moment, Mycroft set aside all thoughts of the books. 

 

***

 

Lestrade sent Mycroft a text message on the first Sunday of the New Year

GL (13:54): Hi, wondered if you might be interested in drinks and a catch-up. Been a while. 

Mycroft blinked down at his mobile. 

What.  

He had never had “drinks and a catch-up” in his life, and would certainly remember if he had done so with Greg Lestrade. Another text arrived before he could formulate a response. 

GL (13:56): Shit, sorry! Wrong number! Embarrassing. 

Mycroft huffed, half-relieved, half- ...something. Disappointed? He scoffed at himself. 

MH (13:59): Quite alright. I hope all is well. Your holidays were enjoyable?

Mycroft winced. What the hell was that?

He turned to the book he had been reading - Not a Mystere or a Derien, but a romance. It had been recommended to him based on past purchases. It wasn’t good. 

His phone chimed again after a short time. 

GL (14:06): Yeah, they were great thanks. Yours?

Mycroft set down his tablet, clicking it to sleep and turning his full attention to his phone. 

MH (14:09): Fine. Quiet. Involving only a long distance phone call with my parents and no crises from Sherlock, just as I prefer it. You spent it with your sister and her children?

The reply came a while later. 

GL (14:38): Yeah, always. It’s fun with the kiddos. Last couple years I’ve been able to help her out a bit more with expenses, get to see their faces when they open fancier gifts. Things we never had as kids. The oldest finally got a computer all her own this year and she just about wept. It was lovely. 

GL (14:40): Sorry, you probably weren’t asking for that much detail. Proud of them, is all. 

MH (14:40): That does sound lovely.

MH (14:42): Don’t apologize. The doting uncle role suits you. I am glad to hear things are going well for you. You deserve it. 

Mycroft winced at himself again. He set his phone aside for a moment, and ignored the chime of a new text a minute later. Rubbing a hand over his eyes, Mycroft sighed and took a moment to get a grip on himself. 

Boundaries were important, and he had already crossed several with this conversation. Mycroft was not... friendly with Lestrade. But he had thought, more than once over the years, that it might be…

Nice wasn’t really the word. 

Mycroft cleared his throat and reached for his phone again. 

GL (14:44): Listen, my old schoolmate- the one I meant to text earlier? Has apparently emigrated to Spain. I had no clue. Serves me right for losing touch the way I did. Anyway, I’m dying to get out of the flat. Are you free later? Drinks? Catch-up? Haven’t seen you since that scene with Sherlock before the hols. 

Mycroft blinked, and something in his mind finally shifted, having gotten stuck some weeks ago without his conscious notice. 

Before Christmas. Getting Sherlock to sign the card. Lestrade’s office. The perfect spines of unread paperbacks. L.G Mystere. G.L. Derien. GL. Extra money for his sister. The strange echoes of familiar mannerisms and speech patterns of characters who had made Mycroft ache for something he was fairly certain could only exist in books. 

He recalled the arrangement of the drawer with photographic accuracy- the most recent title present in that drawer had been Mystere’s Abandon, published in 2011. Lestrade had finalized his divorce that year. 

Lestrade hid the copies in his bottom desk drawer. A side venture he kept from his estranged wife. Most likely he would keep the ones published and sent to him after the divorce at home. 

Mycroft knew the release date of Mystere’s first title. 2007. During Lestrade’s first separation, after the first instance of infidelity. Mycroft could remember a brief meeting about Sherlock; Lestrade’s unshaven face and ragged, bitten-down nails. 

Derien’s first appearance. 2010, during the second and final separation. Two books a year on average since the divorce. 

None in 2012, an outlier year (the year Sherlock fell). 

Four in 2013 (Mycroft remembered that Lestrade had been experiencing a certain level of career recovery at the time. Remembers a photo of him in the paper, looking clearer and healthier than Mycroft had seen him in years). 

Christ. Mycroft was appalled at himself; he had known this, on some level, since the moment he spotted that open desk drawer. Why hadn’t he allowed himself to finish the thought? Now what?

His fingers shook. He didn’t have a clue what to type. 

Your light snooping will get you into trouble, Mister Holmes. 

I haven’t the faintest clue what you mean, Anthea. 

The women are always smarter. More competent. 

Fuck. 

Mycroft absolutely could not have dinner with him. 

 

***

 

“Thanks for humoring me,” Lestrade said, hours later. “I hope this place is okay. Didn’t think you’d go in for my local.”

Mycroft bit back a number of inappropriate responses and smiled. “This is more than fine.”

“Good wine list,” Lestrade remarked, settling into the seat across from Mycroft at a little two-top by the window. “Lots of little plates of nibbles.”

“Tapas,” Mycroft supplied, subverting his nerves into fiddling with the menu. 

“Right.” Lestrade grinned. “My friend in Spain recommended it. Apparently she went mad for tapas when she studied there at University. That, and her husband- he’s from there. They moved to be closer to his aging mum.” 

“I hope she wasn’t too put out that you hadn’t been in touch.”

“Nah.” He shrugged. “That’s how it goes, sometimes. I dated her a bit, once, and dumped her through my best mate. If she can forgive me that, I suppose she can forgive me anything. Then again, we were twelve at the time.”

Mycroft chuckled. “A heartbreaker? You?”

“Not really,” Lestrade said. “I’m actually a hopeless romantic. It’s pathetic. But all twelve year old boys are idiots. Weren’t you?”

Mycroft settled for shooting him a withering glance over the menu. 

A hopeless romantic, murmured the Anthea in Mycroft’s mind. You don’t say… Mycroft shoved her viciously aside.

Lestrade was laughing when the server arrived to take their drinks order. 

 

***

 

“You can’t seriously tell me you never did something stupid like that,” Lestrade insisted later, once they were both settled with glasses of rich Temperanillo, chosen for both of them by Mycroft at Lestrade’s insistence. “Even you had to have gone through an awkward stage.”

Mycroft, who had felt stuck in his awkward stage his entire life, huffed. “Be that as it may,” he said, “I can’t say I made a habit of devastating nice young ladies left, center, and right. At that age, or any other.”

“Well—” Lestrade leaned forward. “Right, but...well. Look, stop me if I’m out of line, but did you never...break the heart of a nice young man back then?”

Mycroft tried to cover his surprise, but judging by the amused, soft-eyed smirk with which Lestrade leveled him, he had failed. 

“No,” Mycroft said after a moment, his eyes searching Lestrade’s for some hint of judgment; disgust or pity or anything of the sort. There was none. “No, at that age I was rather more awkward than I’m sure you were.”

“Hmm.” Lestrade shrugged. “Dunno. You’d be surprised. I was spotty.”

This startled Mycroft into laughter, and again the server approached for their order. 

 

***

 

There was a lull in conversation during the first set of small plates. Mycroft found himself distracted by Lestrade’s hands as they took hold of a small knife and spread spicy crushed tomato over a slice of bread. His traitorous mind supplied him with a vague mental image, a reflection of the words Mycroft had read from his tablet recently - a reread of a Derien title. The passage had spoken of long, nimble fingers. Curious that Mycroft was reminded of it in particular, when Lestrade actually possessed shorter, broader ones. Strong. A little callused. But careful, where they wielded the knife. 

Mycroft realized he was being spoken to and dragged his attention to the here and now, picking up his wine and drinking for want of something to do, but too unsettled to eat. “Sorry?”

“I asked if you usually spend the holidays on your own.”

“Mm,” Mycroft hummed in the affirmative. “Yes, every other year, sometimes more. Sherlock and I obviously avoid each other unless our parents are in the country and feeling the need to reinforce familial ties through the pantomime of Christmas obligation. I don’t mind it; the quiet is rare, and welcome.”

Lestrade had paused, the tiny slice of bread poised in front of his mouth. “ The pantomime of Christmas—  You posh bastard, really?”

Mycroft wanted to laugh again, but he feigned outrage. “ Inspector Lestrade, ” he intoned, and Lestrade all but guffawed, setting his food down with wide eyes. 

“First of all,” he said, pointing at Mycroft from across the table, “no titles at a drinks-and-catch-up. It’s Greg, thanks, even if you are pretending to be appalled at me.” 

Mycroft smirked and found himself reaching for the grilled oyster plated between them, suddenly at ease again and starving. “Very well,” he said. “Greg, then. You enjoy family Christmases, I take it?”

“Well yeah, like I said.” Greg nodded and resumed his meal as well. “It was a little hard just after the divorce. We’d always go to my sister’s--that’d be Laura--and of course I still did after, but it felt different. A bit lonelier. I don’t care for the lead-up to Christmas much, but the day...yeah, it’s nice. My sister’s house is a bit chaotic with the kids, but we keep it pretty low-key, actually. It calms down once they open their gifts and head off in their directions. Laura and I play cards or watch telly; sometimes we just...sit. It’s lovely to be with people who know you. You know?”

Mycroft returned to his wine, swallowing it down and hoping to wash away the ache in his chest with it. “Mm,” he murmured, noncommittal. 

Minutes passed, the two of them picking over the plates before another set arrived. The server was very good; she delivered and cleared and was out of their way, no attempt at engaging them in chatter. The mood was pensive for a short while, before Greg broke the quiet. 

“I do get it,” he said. “Needing...space. Alone time. Especially with Sherlock for a brother, Christ.” 

“Yes,” Mycroft agreed. “Sherlock, and… our parents are good people, but.” He shrugged. “We’re very different.”

Greg nodded. “Yeah, I get it. You know, Laura was a problem child.”

“Oh?”

“Oh, yeah. She was always in trouble. Drinking, parties, even caught riding in a stolen car once.” Greg shook his head, concentrating for a moment on building a piece of bread from the plate of tomatoes again. “She didn’t calm down until I was in training and she fell pregnant with Lucy--that’s my oldest niece. Our mum was sick by then, and dad had already gone. Laura came to live with me. She and Luce were with me til, oh...until Lucy was about three, I’d say.”

Mycroft blinked across the table. In this story was the echo of the plot of a Derien novel. Until that moment, he had been mostly successful in pushing aside thoughts of the books. It took him a moment to set that aside and find his voice.

“Really? I had no idea.”

Greg chewed thoughtfully for a moment, then swallowed and said, “Yeah, I pretty much raised Laura in those years. Got her through the last lap, so to speak. She was only seventeen, and needed to grow up fast for the baby. And then I guess I was there to make sure Lucy survived the baby years in one piece. Laura met her ex, moved out, had the two others… and yeah, she’s turned out alright.” Greg grinned. “She runs a little creche, now. Finished her schooling while the middle kid was still small. I’m proud of her. Really proud. But Christ do I remember the rougher days…”

Mycroft had to swallow hard against the pressure in his chest again. You’re so good, he thought. He was fairly certain he didn’t know any other people as genuinely decent as the man sitting across from him. Mycroft cleared his throat and said, “It’s admirable. Your support of your sister.”

“Same to you,” Greg replied gently. “With Sherlock.”

Mycroft averted his eyes and permitted himself a small, grateful smile. “Thank you.”

Under the table, Greg nudged Mycroft’s foot with his own. “You’re welcome.”

Mycroft spent the rest of the meal wishing Greg had kept his foot there, pressed to Mycroft’s, instep to instep, and trying not to make a complete fool of himself. 

 

***

 

On the way home, Mycroft stared blankly out the window of the car as London scrolled by, and tried not to think too deeply about the fact that he was entirely certain that Greg Lestrade was the man behind G.L. Mystere and L.G. Derien. 

He failed. 

He couldn’t stop himself from thinking of a specific scene in one of the Derien titles. A particularly... robust love scene that had been more like a half-marathon of sex, featuring two characters who had waited quite a while to be together. Mycroft had been impressed by the way Derien managed to write actions that would be considered by most to be simply pornographic, and imbue them with tenderness and caring. Mycroft couldn’t stop his brain from presenting him with the words exactly as they had appeared on his tablet. 

“Open your mouth.”

Mycroft shuddered and closed his eyes against the strobing lights of the city as they passed him by. Don’t think about this now.

Laurence obeyed, slackening his jaw with a sigh. He stared up at Kendall, his eyes soft, his cheeks red with a flush of expectation. 

“Good,” Kendall groaned, cupping the side of Laurence’s face in his hand, his thumb sweeping over one hot cheekbone. “I’m gonna—”

Mycroft’s fingers dug into his own thigh and he squeezed his eyes shut more tightly. It did nothing to stop the sudden mental image of Greg Lestrade kneeling above him, stroking himself until he began to come, pressing the head of his cock against Mycroft’s obedient lower lip to deliver the first spurt across Mycroft’s waiting tongue. It didn’t stop Mycroft from getting achingly hard in his trousers while still a ten minute drive away from home. 

The Greg Lestrade in his mind was better than the fictional Kendall, who had been a tad unrealistically ribald with the dirty talk mid-orgasm. In Mycroft’s traitorous imagination, Greg wouldn’t be able to manage all of that. He would go silent at first, tensing with the initial wave of pleasure, and then a groan would stutter from his chest as— 

Mycroft wiped his brow with a shaking hand and fumbled for the climate controls to turn on the air conditioning. The driver would hear it switch on and wonder about it, but Mycroft would simply have to feign a disagreeable stomach, make up something about needing a bit of air, if asked. He shook his head at himself. The driver wasn’t going to ask; he was specifically trained not to ask. 

Mycroft opened his coat and sat back in his seat with a frustrated sigh. He decided there was nothing for it; he would have to cease all contact with Greg Lestrade, starting immediately.

 

***

 

Instead, the dinners became an informal standing appointment when schedules allowed. Greg spent most Sunday mornings with his sister and her children, but usually was available in the evening. Mycroft traveled, at times, on the weekend, but often was back on British soil and awake enough to be on British time around supper. 

They had dinner more Sundays than not. Despite his admonishments to himself not to allow it, they became a highlight of Mycroft’s week. Any weekend that he found himself unable to attend, or recieved a regretful text from Greg saying that he was needed at work, was spent in aimless annoyance and vague discomfort. When it happened twice in a row in March, Mycroft found himself downright agitated for the entire week before they were able to meet for dinner again. 

“You haven’t been reading,” Anthea remarked to him one night in early Spring.

“I read constantly,” Mycroft protested, absently highlighting a passage in the report before him before using his red pen to note that it was repetitive and unnecessary for the final package to be sent to the Prime Minister. “I am reading at this moment.”

“I meant your books,” Anthea clarified after a few moments’ pause. “The - sweet ones.”

Mycroft huffed and set down his pen. “Anthea—”

“A new title was released last Friday.”

“Yes,” Mycroft hedged, slapping shut the packet of papers and tossing it into his outbox for her to deal with later. “Is there a point to this? Perhaps I have tired of that particular...diversion.”

Anthea hummed speculatively. “Perhaps you have.” She reached for the report and scooped a dozen other smaller sheaves of paper along with it. She tapped them against the desk to straighten them. “I hope you aren’t embarrassed, sir. You should know by now that I’m no snob. I read a couple of them, myself. Quite nice, I thought.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes. 

“You don’t agree, sir?”

“I think you are rather intrusive,” Mycroft replied mildly, endeavoring to keep his tone neutral. “I wasn’t aware that the contents of my personal devices fell within your purview.”

“They do not,” Anthea breezily agreed. “However, I noticed a collection of paperbacks the last time I visited your flat to retrieve your overnight bag. I found them interesting to look at and so made an order on my own personal device. If you like, you can think of it as a recommendation I am happy to have received from you.”

“From my bedside table, I think you mean.”

Anthea smiled blandly across the desk. “I believe I have come to a conclusion about both the identity of the author and the reason for your loss of interest in their works.”

“It is not lack of interest. I have been busy.”

“Yes,” Anthea agreed. “Dinner with GL, 8pm this Sunday night. And last Sunday night. And four Sunday nights ago. No need to look so annoyed with me sir, your diary is certainly within my purview. I simply observed its contents.”

“You are treading a dangerous line,” Mycroft snapped, giving up on neutrality. “My personal life is not your concern.”

Anthea sighed and stood delicately, smoothing down her skirt. “I only wished to express my congratulations to you sir. Any man who writes like that..”

Mycroft pinched the bridge of his nose. “You are dismissed for the night, Anthea.”

“Of course, sir,” she said with a smirk in her voice. 

“Please go before I fire you.” 

She snorted indelicately “Of course, sir,” she said again, sarcastic. 

Mycroft did not remove his hand from his eyes to watch her go, certain that if he did she would make full eye contact and cause his traitorous face to blush

 

***

 

The truth was, Mycroft had been unable to keep reading the books once he realized that Greg Lestrade was their author. First and foremost, the inappropriate and wholly involuntary fantasies were an impediment to being able to participate in any sort of intelligent discussion with the man.

It also, somehow, felt as though Mycroft would be intruding on the man’s inner world if he read the books now that they had established a rapport. It was a ludicrous thought; presumably, hundreds - if not thousands - of individuals had read these words and the balance of probability was that many - if not most - of them had experienced similar...reactions to them. 

But now Mycroft looked into Greg Lestrade’s affable, handsome face over upscale small-plate feasts, over hasty cups of coffee when a reservation could not be held because work got in the way, and even, once, over dripping greasy cheeseburgers in Greg’s office when all the other Yarders had gone home, and found himself not just willing, but desperate, to truly get to know him. To nurture a friendship. Mycroft simply could not do that and then go home to re-read his favorite of the Derien titles, hard and frustrated under the covers of his lonely bed. 

He couldn’t touch himself thinking of the (he assumed) sweet hands and soft mouth of a person who wrote about such things. Not now that he knew the face attached to that person, and found it still, after all the years he had known it, devastatingly attractive and, unfortunately, exactly Mycroft’s type. 

It wasn’t just that he felt a bit… lecherous having fantasized about the author. It was the small clues he had gathered so far that showed how Greg’s life influenced some of his plots. 

The Mystere books featured women that were, as far as Mycroft could tell, the precise opposite of the former Mrs. Lestrade. There were never mentions of infidelity. In all but two of the titles, the main character whose journey was the focus of the narrative was indeed a woman, usually a sensible professional type (Mycroft spotted Sally Donovan, and now based on conversations with the author himself, Greg’s own mother in these characters), but also sometimes a plucky, nervous sort (echoes of Sherlock’s friend Molly Hooper, loving hints of Laura Lestrade). 

The male love interests in the Mystere novels varied greatly. In one title, the male protagonist in question was dangerously similar to Sherlock. Mycroft couldn’t bring himself to reread it, of course, but after his third dinner meeting with Greg during which they discussed Sherlock’s many quirks and flaws, the connection between the character and his younger brother clicked into place. It was there in the affection with which Greg described something Sherlock had said that would have been, for literally anyone else, unforgivably rude. It was there in the way Greg managed a more than passable impression of Sherlock’s voice. 

Mycroft spent the car ride home having a mild and completely internalized emotional breakdown over the deft, humorous way Greg had redeemed that character, and then the utterly scorching, life-affirming sex with which he had bestowed the Sherlock avatar. 

Mycroft made peace with his horror and embarrassment and managed to compartmentalize his desperate adoration for anyone who could gift that to Sherlock, even if just a facsimile of him, before the car pulled up to his flat. 

The Derien novels were far, far more personal. These were the books that contained some breaths of Greg Lestrade in their protagonists. The man did not insert himself into his stories, but in the Derien works, he did allow his characters more of himself. In hindsight, Mycroft understood why he liked those fictional men so much. After Greg mentioned his caretaking of his young, single-mother sister and her daughter, Mycroft connected the experience to one described in what Mycroft could only assume were much more favorable, less exhausting details, in his least favorite Darien title. 

It had always been his least favorite title, but he never had been able to put his finger on why. 

Now he wondered if the personal ties to the narrative had stayed Greg’s hand with the proverbial pen ( How does he go about the writing of these things? Surreptitiously on his work computer? At night in bed on the battered laptop he sometimes keeps in a messenger bag? That seems most likely… Mycroft shuts down this line of thought before it can conjure the image of a softly mussed Greg Lestrade wearing a pair of reading glasses and hunching over a screen upon which word after word appears—)? 

Mycroft’s theory was that the reason he didn’t much enjoy the more biographical title was the lack of real resolution for the protagonist. The story concerned itself with his sexual identity crisis, and rather than a happily-ever-after involving a committed relationship, the ending was more open-ended and uncertain. Mycroft had closed that particular book, one of the few he owned in paperback, and slipped it behind another book on his shelf. The story had felt oddly familiar, and upsettingly realistic. Mycroft had found himself worried for the main character. Found himself unable to suspend disbelief long enough to conjure a blissfully happy future devoid of loneliness. 

He’d felt bereft for days after, and then all over again when he realized how much of Greg must have been on those pages. 

So...no. Mycroft could not continue to read the books while growing a friendship with Greg Lestrade. He simply could not move through life with that constant hollow feeling in his chest; it might slow him down, after all.

 

***

 

Besides, if Mycroft had continued… working himself up with the books, questions like the one Greg posed to him over a late dinner one night in the summer would likely have been impossible to answer without his flaming red face giving him away as the lonely, pathetic bastard he knew himself to be. 

“So we established you’re no heartbreaker,” Greg said, ending a lull in their conversation. 

They were seated outdoors, on an upper-level terrace. Mycroft’s attention had drifted to the street below, where a youth had been casing the cars parked along either side for the last twenty minutes. Mycroft guessed he would make his move on the hybrid on the corner, but not for another half hour or so, after the shop just there closed for the night. He pulled his attention away. 

“What? When, pray tell, did we establish that?”

“Tapas,” Greg reminded him. 

Mycroft was surprised; he remembered, of course, but it was only a throw-away comment in a much longer conversation. He wouldn’t have expected Greg to retain that detail. 

“Indeed,” Mycroft said. “And?”

“Well, what’s your deal then?”

“My deal?”

Greg laughed, not quite throwing back his head to do so, but tilting attractively, exposing the line of his throat and shooting Mycroft a glittering, amused look from under his lashes. “Yeah, your deal. You could be married for all I know. You don’t talk about yourself.”

“I talk about myself,”’ Mycroft said carefully. “Perhaps there is not much to tell.”

“So not married, then.”

Mycroft felt his lips twist, and he carefully didn’t think of a single novel in which an exchange such as this one would be the start of something. Would be the spark which lit the fire of flirtation. He had left the books behind him, and had at this time disconnected their narratives from his perception of their author. Mycroft thought this very, very sternly at himself.  

“No,” he said, maintaining his calm on the surface. “Well- I have been accused of treating work like…”

“Ah, I’ve heard that one too,” Greg said. “But I’m not actually married to the job; I’m not a true workaholic. I’d kill for room the breathe, some weeks. Is it the same for you?”

Mycroft sighed. “It is and it is not. My work is quite specific to me. There is no one to pick up the slack, for lack of a better phrase, when I am indisposed or attempt a break. It isn’t that I am repelled by the idea of a personal life, I simply wouldn’t be able to conduct one in a way that works for another person.”

“Have you tried?”

Mycroft paused to think about it, and had to admit to himself that trying wasn’t what he’d done. “Not exactly,” he murmured, still turning it over in his mind. “I… allowed myself to consider trying, in the past, and dismissed the idea when it became clear that it would be incompatible with my lifestyle.”

Across the table, Greg regarded Mycroft thoughtfully. “That sounds like bullshit to me, Holmes.”

Mycroft barked a laugh, then caught himself, cutting it off with a clearing of his throat. His eyes drifted out and down to the street again. “Inspector,” he said. 

“Greg.”

“No, I fear at the moment it will have to be Inspector. I believe that I am witnessing a crime in progress.”

Greg dropped his fork. “You what?”

Mycroft nodded, and Greg followed his line of sight. 

“Oh for—” Greg’s napkin hit the table beside his plate with a thump. “Christ. Want to wait here a moment? Do me a favor and call it in while I go down there?”

“Of course.”

Greg shot Mycroft another amused look on his way up out of his seat. “Speaking of work always getting in the way of a personal life.”

 

***

 

Mycroft didn’t fully consider what those parting words could have meant until later, after Greg had detained the would-be hotwirer and then delivered him into the hands of the constables who arrived soon after. He found himself waiting outside the restaurant while Greg spoke with one of the young officers, smoking and turning their conversation over in his mind. 

Did he count as part of Greg’s personal life? Had Mycroft counted as part of anyone’s personal life in the last ten years? In the last twenty? 

He couldn’t have brought himself to admit to Greg that the last time he had ‘tried’, however feebly, to forge a relationship with another person, had been some time in the mid-90s. And that had only managed to exist as a casual sexual arrangement in the end, and only for a short period of months before it fizzled out. The man, whose name Mycroft was alarmed to realize he had forgotten ( Jonathan? No— ), let Mycroft down gently before ending up engaged a handful of months later. 

Rhys, that was his name. Married a man called Peter and became a stay at home parent. Mycroft blew out a stream of smoke and marveled at such a thing. 

He never could have been with someone who wished to marry and have children. When would he ever have seen them? Any child would think of Mycroft as the unfamiliar visitor who sometimes arrived to upset routines and make stilted, awkward attempts at familial caring. 

Mycroft remembered the years before Sherlock was born quite clearly. He could still recall the smell of his mother’s perfume as she embraced him, stiffly, upon her return from a fellowship at a university in Norway. 

He hadn’t seen her in nearly a year. 

Mycroft was more than a little discomfited to be thinking of such things now, in public, yards away from Greg Lestrade - who, in fact, was headed Mycroft’s way. 

“Thought you quit smoking,” Greg said. 

“I did,” Mycroft replied. “I like to prove I can have just one, every so often.”

“Same,” Greg said with a grin. “Can I trouble you?”

“Of course.” Mycroft presented Greg with his cigarette case and lighter. He rolled his eyes at Greg’s pointed, cheeky look at the silver squares. “Try not to make the obvious dig. I know I am an unbearable fop, and you know it as well, let us move forward.”

“Not unbearable,” Greg teased as he lit his cigarette. “Rather charming, actually.”

Mycroft shook his head and lit another, hiding behind his hand to hide the heat in his cheeks.

 

***

 

Things came to a head nearly a year after they started spending time together. 

Anthea, of course, had been right to prod Mycroft about ceasing his habit of following Mystere/Derien’s new releases. It turned out that without them, Mycroft developed a...craving. An itch. One he couldn’t scratch, and which worsened the longer he went on insisting to himself that managing a halfway decent friendship with a handsome, decent man ought to be good enough for him. 

He found himself alone one Sunday night, delayed by heavy rains in New York City and unable to fly home the day before as planned. He’d had to cancel a dinner date - dinner meeting - with Greg, and he was annoyed. 

The hotel bar had proved too loud for Mycroft’s frayed nerves and so, after two double scotches, he took himself up to his room and opened a bottle there in the peaceful quiet. He sorely regretted sending Anthea ahead on Friday. She would have stopped him from the ill-advised third glass. 

He found himself toying with his mobile, rolling it between his palms. He wanted very badly to type out a text message to Greg: I miss you. I know about your books. 

Mycroft was desperate to be free of the secret knowledge of the books. He felt increasingly guilty over it, and strangely anxious over what having this sort of secret would do to a friendship. His limited experience hadn’t prepared him for such a situation. All he knew for certain was that knowing but not saying felt like a terrible deception. 

He could send a text and release himself from the guilt or good. And then… 

Here in his musings, tonight and every other time the idea of coming clean presented itself, Mycroft drew up short. What would happen next? His usual approach was useless. There was no metric by which to predict it. 

Because I miss you felt entirely necessary as a way to begin. And Mycroft never missed anyone.

If he confessed, could he go back to reading the books? Would doing so scratch that unreachable itch? 

Mycroft knew he was a little drunk, and starting to feel panicked. He ought to take himself to bed and forget the entire thing. Again. 

Instead, he unlocked his mobile and, for the first time, placed an actual call to Greg’s number. 

His voice was rough with sleep when he answered. “H’llo?”

Mycroft glanced wildly at the clock beside the hotel bed and nearly hung up in his panic. It would be nearly two in the morning in London. He couldn’t believe he was forgetful enough not to take the time difference into account. 

“Mycroft?” Greg prompted, sounding more alert, the rustle of bedclothes over the line telegraphing his movements: sitting up in bed, pushing the blankets aside. “Everything okay?”

“I’m so terribly sorry,” Mycroft forced himself to say. “It’s late, and I am in a completely different timezone—”

“I know—”

“Still, that isn’t an excuse, just. I didn’t think—”

“Must be a first for you.”

“I can’t believe I—  What?”

Greg’s smile was audible in his voice. “Not thinking. Can’t imagine you accomplish that, much.”

Mycroft breathed out, slowly. “Well.”

“Is everything okay? Or is this a social call?” 

Mycroft rested his forehead against the cool glass of the window. “It was a social call, before I realized the hour. I shall let you get back to sleep.”

“Nah,” Greg said, then made a strained sound of discomfort--rearranging himself in bed.

Mycroft swallowed, hard. “No?”

“I wouldn’t mind a chat.”

“It’s the middle of the night.”

“You called me,” Greg pointed out. “Makes me think you must have had something very interesting to say.” 

Mycroft drew a slow, steadying breath. Perhaps it was the distance that allowed him to finally say it, or perhaps it was the scotch. Either way, he opened his mouth and said, “I have read all of the books you wrote and published before we started...having dinner. Some of them multiple times. I’ve kept it from you, and I feel extremely guilty about it.”

There was a taut, frightening silence. Mycroft swallowed another mouthful of scotch and waited, his eyes unfocused on the sweeping, glittering views of the Manhattan skyline. 

Then, Greg let out a loud, gusty breath and a choked laugh. “Jesus Christ,” he groaned. 

Mycroft couldn’t bring himself to say anything more. 

“How in the fuck did you find out about those,” Greg wondered. Mycroft was relieved to find that Greg’s tone was simply curious, perhaps embarrassed, but there was no anger or upset to be detected. At least, not yet. “I don’t even handle the contracts for them in my own name, and the publisher is basically microscopic.”

Mycroft took a hurried sip of his drink, and forced words past his lips. “It was rather accidental. You may be surprised to learn that one of your paperbacks made it to a sad little lounge in an airport which officially does not exist, in a country the name of which you have perhaps never heard, or at least, have never had cause to think about.”

“You’re nervous.”

Mycroft huffed. “And what makes you say that?”

“You get very wordy when you’re nervous,” Greg murmured. “Which book was it?” 

Mycroft told him, stuttering over the words, and Greg laughed heartily. 

“That title is such shite,” he snorted. “Oh god. I’m so embarrassed.”

“You shouldn’t be,” Mycroft hurried to say. “You…are very good at what you do. How you write about the things you…ah…write about.” He rolled his eyes at himself. That was appalling.

After a pause Greg said, quietly, “Thank you,” and then cleared his throat. “So, yeah, L.G. Mystere, at your service.”

Mycroft had to peculiar urge to shock him then. He smirked at his own reflection in the window before turning away, striding across the room to set his glass down on the desk with a clink. “Pleased to make the acquaintance of the talented and inspired Mr. Mystere,” he murmured. He sat on the edge of the bed. “Now, do I also have the honor of meeting the even more talented G.L. Derien tonight, or shall I wait another year to admit I know of him as well?”

“Fucking hell,” Greg cried. “Of course you know about those, too. Mycroft...no,” he groaned.

“I told you not to be embarrassed.”

“They’re just so…” Greg sighed. “You know, risqué.”

“Some might think so, yes.”

“You don’t?”

Mycroft thought carefully about his response while he shifted to sit up against the headboard. The scotch was still warm in his veins, but he felt less unsteady now that the truth was out. He felt he could allow himself the lassitude and slightly freer speech that came with this level of intoxication. For once. With Greg, he could. 

“I don’t think risqué is a fair descriptor for work that is so… emotionally significant,” he said finally. “Which your books are. It’s why I...well. It occurs to me that you may be shocked to know that after I found Claws of Desire—  and yes, that title is rather… well—  I went searching or more. Are you terribly shocked to learn I am one of your most faithful readers?”

“Shocked right down to the ground, if I’m honest,” Greg replied with a chuckle. “But. It’s a relief. I wanted to tell you about it. We see each other so often these days, it was starting to feel like a big lie, keeping it from a friend like that.”

The mirror of Mycroft’s own guilt in those words only made him feel more willing to speak honestly. 

“I didn’t want to admit I knew,” he confessed. “I worried it would make things awkward.”

“Why?”

Mycroft froze. How to answer without admitting that the books had served to fill in the spaces where real intimacy should have been. How to answer without admitting that he had… lusted after an author he hadn’t known at all? That he had been trying not to allow those feelings to transfer on to Greg once he knew? How to answer without exposing far, far too much?

“You don’t have to answer,” Greg said after the pause had gone on for too long. “Really, I get it. It’s weird to talk to someone knowing they’ve written some fairly raunchy stuff, yeah?”

“More awkward, I would think, for you to talk with me, knowing I had sought out the ‘raunchy stuff’.” 

“But that’s every smut author’s dream!” Greg laughed. “I’m...tickled. And I can’t judge, seeing as I wrote it, you see?”

“And nor can I judge, since I happily read it,” Mycroft added. “Interesting.”

“You should’ve said something before,” Greg chided. “We had a case of mutually assured destruction, here.”

“I suppose,” Mycroft admitted, unable to stop the twitching of his lips into a smile. “Will you tell me how you came to be a romance author?”

“Yeah,” Greg replied, his voice soft. “But not tonight, I’m knackered.”

“I should let you go.”

“I should get to sleep, yeah, but hey— big reveal notwithstanding, I was glad to see you were calling me. You could do it more often if you like.”

Mycroft flushed, hiding his face in his hand despite the fact that there was no one to see. “I shall keep that in mind.” 

“Do I have to wait until next Sunday to tell you the sordid tale?”

“No,” Mycroft said. “Not at all.”

“Call me when you’re back in this timezone, then,” Greg said, sleepiness creeping into his voice. “Come to mine, and I’ll cook. ‘M not talking about writing erotica where a server’s going to interrupt every five seconds.”

“Yes,” Mycroft managed to say, despite his howling thoughts, thrown into even further disarray at the prospect of being completely alone, in an entirely private place, discussing erotica with Greg Lestrade. “Yes, that’s fine. I’ll...call you.”

“Good,” Greg murmured. “Goodnight, Mycroft.”

“Goodnight, Greg,” Mycroft said, and ended the call with numb fingers.

He stared into the empty room for a moment, sure he had just imagined that entire exchange. Then, once he had managed to convince himself that it had been real, Mycroft opened his mobile again, this time to check his flight status. He needed to get the hell back to England. 



Chapter Text

There was nothing to be nervous about. 

It wasn’t like Greg hadn’t had dinner with Mycroft Holmes before. He’d been doing it almost weekly for close to a year. Just because this dinner would happen in his tiny flat and not out in some public place, and just because Mycroft knew now, didn’t mean anything had changed. 

Mycroft had known the entire time.

Greg couldn’t think about that. He needed to keep his head on straight and remember that everything was perfectly normal.

Still, the second he got off the phone with Mycroft on Monday evening - two real phone calls in as many days, be still his heart - Greg started cleaning his flat like Kim and Aggie were watching. By the time he was mostly satisfied that the place would pass muster, it was late. He would only have a short window of time the next evening to leave work, pick up ingredients, and start cooking a meal that would, he hoped, impress. 

This feels like a date. 

Greg sighed, tossing and turning in bed. He told himself to knock it off. 

It’s not a date, he thought sternly. A hopeful piece of himself replied: Yeah, but it still feels like one. 

Greg didn't need to admit that he wished it could be; he’d admitted that to himself a long time ago, some time last spring when the dinners had become a regular thing. 

God, he liked Mycroft Holmes so much it was stupid, truly. It was probably a really bad idea to like him as much as Greg did. The man was scary smart - smarter even than Sherlock, Greg had heard - and from every clue Greg had gathered over the years, extremely powerful. Mycroft had known for two years that Sherlock was alive. Had even spoken to Greg face to face once or twice in that time and hadn’t so much as twitched a single guilty muscle. Not even as he stood at his own brother’s fake funeral. 

Greg had been pretty furious about that for awhile, but with nearly two years like so much water under the bridge since Sherlock had come back, and then so many long talks getting to know Mycroft over meals and drinks, he’d forgiven it. 

He just liked the man. Liked his suits and his overly formal manner. Liked the way his voice changed when he was comfortable, the way he made sly observations and dry little jokes. Greg liked his faultless grooming and measured movements. He liked their dinners and their talks. 

He thought Mycroft was, whether or not he wanted to admit it or show it, a good man. He thought Mycroft had been showing it, just a little, to Greg over the last several months, and it felt like a privilege.

Still, Mycroft could be a cool customer. He seemed lonely. Greg had found himself wanting to change that for him. But Mycroft, even once he opened up enough to let Greg know him a bit, was still incredibly guarded. The man was a fortress. Sunday dinners were companionable. Once a week, they were friends. And that was it. Greg hadn’t yet figured out how to change that.

Then, a phone call the other night. It had been a complete surprise in and of itself; Mycroft’s obvious tipsiness a second surprise; the thing about the books, a complete shock. 

Greg felt queasy, lying there in the dark, thinking about Mycroft Holmes reading the things Greg had written. Christ, I write the word cock so fucking much, he thought, not for the first time. And Mycroft Holmes read all of the cocks I wrote, fuck, fuck—  He flailed around and grabbed a pillow, shoved it over his own face, and muffled a mad giggle. 

“Oh, god,” Greg said to the empty room, still half-crazed and shaking with suppressed laughter. He needed to breathe though, so he threw the pillow aside. “What next?”

He wondered how Mycroft looked when he read Greg’s books. All the plot twists and declarations of love; the sex and kisses; the emotional confrontations. Did he sit there with one eyebrow up, and analyze it all like a scientist observing a strange, less evolved alien species? Did he roll his eyes at it? Scoff? Or did he really like it? Did Mycroft ever feel, when he read those things, the way Greg did when he wrote them? Thrilled and excited, jealous and hopeful? 

Stop thinking and get some sleep.

Greg couldn’t stop trying to figure out which dinner had been his tipping point. He’d always found Sherlock’s mysterious, aloof older brother attractive in a distant, unattainable way. When exactly had Greg started feeling that attraction more immediately and insistently? Was it the fourth dinner, the first time he saw Mycroft really laugh? Was it during the first one that took place on a third consecutive Sunday, and seemed to cement the regularity of the dinners? Had it been the first one, full stop? 

Once or twice Greg had started to wonder if the dinners were dates, and he just didn’t know it. They were so.... Something. Not quite intimate. Not quite flirtatious. But close to it. Close enough that Greg had felt guilty scrolling through profiles on the dating app Laura’d made him install on his phone. 

That had been so pathetic, feeling like he was betraying a man he wasn’t even dating. Greg had gone and swiped right on a guy called Phillip just to try and actually date someone. 

Phillip had responded to Greg’s Hi, how are you with a picture of his cock. 

Greg had nearly thrown his phone across his office in frustration. 

He didn’t want that. Faceless torsos and arses exposed in bathroom mirrors? Disembodied erections? None of it was anything. Conversations that opened with strings of shorthand Greg didn’t understand? It made him feel old and tired. 

And he couldn’t say things were any easier with the women who showed an interest. Yeah, they were at least… whatever, generally more respectful, but the app seemed like a hook-up platform more than anything else. 

Even if Greg did find someone on his phone, what would that look like? Coffee to drinks to dinner to sex to sleepovers to moving in? Marriage again? How? The thought of trusting a complete stranger not to rip his heart out sooner or later made him feel a bit physically ill. 

He’d been with Dana for years and she’d done it. Often.

Was Mycroft Holmes capable of breaking Greg’s heart? 

Oh, definitely. 

So why would Greg even wish—  

Greg really needed to stop running over all this in his head and just go to sleep already. 

It was a long time before he could.

 

***

 

The knock at the door came just as Greg slid the lasagne into the oven, exactly on time at half six. 

Greg’s stomach swooped with a sudden rush of nerves; and he’d been doing so well. 

“Just a minute!” he called, yanking the dish towel off his shoulder and hurriedly brushing his clothing down. He’d had just enough time for a quick shower and change into jeans and a half-decent, non-work shirt. Hadn’t gotten around to shoes though, and now it would be weird to take the time to put them on, leaving Mycroft waiting out on his welcome mat. 

He’ll just have to know you walk around your own flat barefoot, Greg told himself. Answer the door, you fucking pinecone. 

He opened the door with a ready, friendly smile - no embarrassment, no weirdness here! - and was greeted by the sight of Mycroft Holmes more casually dressed than Greg had ever seen him. His coat already draped over his arm, he stood in the shabby hall outside Greg’s door wearing the softest-looking jumper that had ever existed over his usual dress shirt. He’d either forgone the tie or taken it off in the car. The trousers were the usually impeccably cut wool, but the shoes were casual, buttery brown leather. He looked incredibly vulnerable without his suit.

Attraction hit Greg like a torpedo to the chest. It wasn’t an unfamiliar sensation. He could power through.

Christ, you look so soft, Greg thought, even as he said, “Hi! You made it! Come in, come in.”

I sound like my mum, he thought, dying a bit inside, as Mycroft quirked one of his hesitant little half-smiles and crossed the threshold, holding up a bottle of wine. 

“I come bearing alcohol,” he said, then lifted his other hand and the bag he carried. It clinked. “Quite a lot of it, actually.”

Greg’s eyes widened and for a split second he was taken aback—  and then Mycroft’s wry expression registered and he felt the tension leave him at once, like having all his strings cut. He laughed. “You really are a genius,” he said. “Why should anything be awkward when you’re two bottles in, right?”

“Precisely,” Mycroft agreed, quirking an eyebrow. “I think we might both require the liquid courage.” 

Greg took his coat and hung it in the cramped little closet near the door, using his foot to shove the detritus trying to spill out back into its depths, all the while wishing he’d thought to tidy the thing. 

“Sorry,” he said, feeling himself flush. “This place is… small.”

“It’s quite alright,” Mycroft replied. 

Greg was having a hard time meeting Mycroft’s eyes now that the elephant in the room had, in a way, been acknowledged. He led the way into the small dinette and kitchen area. 

“Lasagne should be ready in an hour,” he said. “I… uhm.” 

Well, shit. He hadn’t really considered how awkward it would be to just...wait. Now what?

“Corkscrew?” Mycroft asked, and Greg felt able to face him again with a relieved grin. 

“Coming right up,” he said. “And glasses, too.”

Mycroft went about the business of opening two of the bottles, leaving one to breathe and pouring each of them a generous helping from the other. He handed Greg a glass and then held his own forward to clink them together. 

“Alright,” Greg sighed once he’d taken a sip big enough to be considered poor manners. “Ask.”

Mycroft raised an eyebrow and leaned one hip against Greg’s kitchen bench. One of his arms folded elegantly across his torso, propping up the other elbow. He held his wine glass at the ready. “Ask?”

“Yeah,” Greg prompted. “Ask me all the things you want to know about the books. There has to be something. Lots of somethings. So, ask.”

“Do you not wish to ask me questions?”

Greg snorted. “I’m not going first.”

Mycroft huffed and shook his head ruefully. “Fine. But show me somewhere we can sit, because this could be a long chat.”

Greg showed Mycroft to his overcrowded lounge, pointing toward the little hallway off to the side. “Bedroom and loo through there; I’ll give you the tour later if you’re dying of curiosity. For now, please - sit.” 

They sat. Mycroft’d had the forethought to snag the bottle of wine off the counter and bring it with them. He topped off their glasses, despite the fact that they had barely taken more than two sips, and set the bottle on Greg’s coffee table. He situated himself at one end of the loveseat, turned sideways with his long legs elegantly crossed and his gaze laser-focused on Greg’s nervous face. 

Greg waited, forcing himself not to fidget. He leaned against the opposite arm of the sofa with one leg bent against the cushions and the other tucked up under him, and resisted the urge to bend both knees and hide behind them like a child. He told himself to be cool, goddamnit.  

Mycroft cleared his throat and, at length, said, “How?”

“How?”

“How did you start writing?” 

Greg relaxed. This, he could handle. “Oh, well, I always liked doing it,” he said. “I wrote a lot as a kid. Was always at ease with those classes in school, and I amused myself with telling stories all the time. Sometimes I wrote them down, sometimes I just… you know, told them. Out loud. I got a reputation with my teachers for being quite good at it, and for a while I thought I might study it at University or something.”

“But you didn’t.”

Greg shrugged. He knew Mycroft was probably well on his way to deducing the why’s, but he described them anyway. 

“I didn’t. My father died when I was sixteen, and my mum wasn’t well. She got really sick a couple years later, and someone needed to watch after Laura. I ended up with the Met, and didn’t have time for Uni. Got my degree through part-time classes over a lot of years, and by then criminology was the sensible thing to study.”

Mycroft’s expression hadn’t changed, but his voice took on a sympathetic quality: “Did you write in your spare time then?”

“You can tell that I didn’t,” Greg said ruefully. “I know you can. When would I have, at that point? First with a sister and her baby underfoot, then in school at night and on the weekend, plus the wife and the job I’ve always been too willing to ignore everything else for. I suppose eventually I could’ve made time for it, but it was years before I picked it up again.” 

“Why is that, do you think?”

Greg shrugged. “I dunno,” he said. “I really don’t know, it was just something I let go of, I suppose. It didn’t make me sad at the time, nor does it now. I’m glad I found enjoyment in it again, but I do love what I do, my career, and I’m proud of my accomplishments.”

Mycroft smiled. “As you should be.” 

“Thanks. Anyway, I picked it back up when things were going south with my ex, and that somehow led to this. The books.”

Mycroft hummed and sipped his wine, which reminded Greg about his own. He drank and took a moment to breathe. This wasn’t such an awkward conversation; in all his worry about how this would go, Greg had nearly forgotten that Mycroft was in fact, his friend. That he could be trusted. 

“Why romance novels?” Mycroft wondered next. “Why not crime?”

Greg grinned. “Why not romance novels?”

“That doesn't answer my question.”

“Well…” Greg stalled for a moment by taking a contemplative gulp of his wine. Mycroft took mercy and broke eye contact to reach for the bottle and top it off again. “The most honest answer I can give you,” Greg said after a while, “is that writing romance was something I did because romance was a thing I had begun to miss. Quite badly.”

Mycroft paused mid-action, poised to return the bottle to the table. He seemed to consider this for a moment before setting the bottle down and repositioning himself on the sofa. “Oh?” he said, neutral as could be. 

Greg huffed and rubbed at his forehead, looking away for a moment. “It sounds a bit pathetic, I know.”

“Not at all,” Mycroft murmured. “It isn’t pathetic at all.”

Greg gathered his courage and looked at him again. Mycroft looked back, his expression gentle and encouraging. There was no judgment there.

“My sister loves to read,” Greg said, grasping for something to say that wasn’t so intensely personal. “She reads books like breathing, one right after the other. And when she doesn't have a book to interest her, she reads fiction people post online. Always has, since back when the internet was a shiny new thing. So when I started fiddling with writing again, I told her about it. She showed me where I might… get some feedback. Or - I dunno - attention for it. She thought it’d be good for me during the first… thing. With my ex. Said it would be therapeutic.” 

Mycroft stayed quiet, waiting for Greg to continue. He didn’t look weirded out by anything so far, so Greg kept talking. 

“I guess it was,” he said, trying hard not to look as uncomfortable as he felt to admit it. “So I got into that a bit, and after a while Laura asked me if I ever considered making money off it. At the time, I was pretty sure the divorce was going to happen. I hadn’t thought about writing for money, but at the time it was a good idea to try. Divorce is… it can be brutal. Mine was pretty rough. Financially. I’m sure you know all about it already.”

Mycroft tilted his head. “I know a little,” he admitted, not nearly as sheepishly as he ought have. “I try not to pry into the personal matters of others when it is irrelevant to my position or Sherlock’s safety.” 

Greg rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah,” he said, and he hadn’t ever been nearly as bothered by Mycroft’s omniscience as he ought to have been, so why start now? “Anyway, the publisher I signed with is really tiny, like I told you before. I’m not… the books don’t rake in the cash, or anything. Couldn’t quit my day job, not that I want to. But now that there are so many of them, it’s a nice bit of extra.” 

“Amazing,” Mycroft murmured. 

“Amazing?” Greg laughed. “It’s not, really. Plenty of people do exactly what I do. There are people who do it much better. Trust me.” 

“Hm,” Mycroft hummed, noncommittal, then visibly switched tracks. “And how do you keep all of this so well hidden?” 

Greg grinned. “Laura’s the one who signs the contracts. Gets the money. I make her keep most of it these days, you know, for the kids. If my divorce was brutal, Laura’s was a bloodbath. Her ex is a real piece of work, and she had a rough time of it for a while. I started writing to make myself feel better. I kept doing it because it turns out I just really like it, even when I don’t necessarily need it to work through my own… issues. I don’t really need the money, so.” He shrugged. “So yeah, that’s how. Nothing exciting; no espionage, I’m afraid.”

Mycroft smiled behind his wineglass and hummed again, amused. “I see.”

“Aren’t you going to ask about all the gay sex?” Greg demands, just for the pleasure of the flush it gets him; just to ruffle Mycroft’s feathers a bit. 

“I wasn’t going to,” Mycroft says. “Why would I?”

“Aren’t you wondering if it means I’m gay?”

“No,” Mycroft replied primly. 

Oh, Greg thought, disappointed. 

“You’re obviously bisexual,” Mycroft continued. 

Bingo! Greg perked up. “Obviously, eh?”

“Before I knew it was you behind the pen names, I knew that Mystere and Derien were the same person,” Mycroft said, eyes glittering with self-satisfaction. “Anyone looking, in possession of a few facts and with a decent recall of details such as word choice and sentence structure could figure that out.”

“Anyone, sure,” Greg drawled. “Of course they could.”

“Well, I could,” Mycroft amended. “I found it an interesting thought exercise, given the two obvious noms de plume, to attempt to… profile the author, so to speak.”

Greg laughed, tilting his head back against the sofa cushions. “Mycroft,” he said to his ceiling. “Did you start a file on my dirty books?”

“Of course not.”

“Not even in your mind palace?” Greg teased. He rolled his head to the side. Mycroft’s faint flush was wonderful. Greg bit his lip to contain his grin. “You do have one, don’t you? Sherlock says you showed him how to build one.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes. “I have one, but the answer is still no. I did not start a file. I simply… ruminated.”

“Ruminated.”

“Yes.” Mycroft shifted, his shoulders had stiffened defensively. “And I came to the conclusion that the person writing the books was most likely a man, most likely bisexual, or if not bisexual, gay with some level of experimentation of women in his past.”

“So, again, how d’you know I’m not gay?” Greg wonders, the wine and the ease of the conversation making him a little braver. “How are you so sure my marriage didn’t fail because I was secretly gay the entire time?”

Mycroft paused. 

“Are you gay?”

Greg grinned. “No.”

Mycroft cleared his throat and refilled their glasses again, tipping out the last of the bottle into Greg’s. He raised his glass and seemed to contemplate it before shrugging and draining it in one go. He leaned forward ever-so slightly. 

“Your marriage failed,” Mycroft said slowly, carefully, “because your ex-wife was a complete idiot who had no idea what she had.”

Greg didn’t dare breathe; he didn’t dare look away from Mycroft’s steady gaze. Mycroft didn’t say anything more or move any closer, but oh, how Greg wished he would. 

After a moment, Greg found his voice. “That… is that so?”

“Yes,” Mycroft said seriously, then he seemed to remember himself in a blink. “I—  I’m sorry. The wine seems to have gone straight to my—” 

The oven timer went off.

Greg, swallowing against the racing of his heart, breathed through a strange rush of relief. They both probably needed a moment to regroup. “Saved by the bell,” he said gently, then reached out to touch Mycroft’s hand where it had come to rest on a sofa cushion. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s go soak up some of this wine with carbs. It’s my turn to ask questions.”

He hauled himself up off the sofa and headed for the kitchen, not looking back to see if Mycroft followed. 

I think… this just became a date, he thought to himself. Fuck, yes, this is a date

At least he really, really hoped it could be considered one, when all was said and done. 

 

***

 

Once lasagne and salad were plated, water glasses set out and wine glasses refilled, they sat across from each other at Greg’s tiny dining table and seemed to mutually pause. Greg wished he had candles to light. 

“I’d like to know what you like about my books, if you wouldn’t mind telling me. And maybe how you figured out that it was me who wrote them.” 

Mycroft smiled almost shyly down at his plate and speared a cherry tomato with his fork. “I’m sure you would,” he said. “I don’t mind telling you, I suppose. I… think you might understand why I like them.”

I’d like to understand, Greg thinks. Tell me and I’ll try very hard. 

Mycroft took a bite of salad and chewed, thinking over his words. Greg ate too, and waited, barely tasting a thing. 

After a while, Mycroft spoke. “My life is… rather solitary,” he said. “It’s a circumstance with which I have been… more or less satisfied. My work is important to me; has been the most important thing to me other than my brother, and at times has regrettably come even before him. A life that includes companionship or intimacy, it isn’t one that prioritizes work the way mine does.”

Greg stayed quiet, cutting into his lasagne and eating slowly, mechanically, as he processed that. The conversation they’d had over the summer, about how little Mycroft dated, echoed in his memory. His chest ached in understanding. 

“I don’t often think on it,” Mycroft continued. “It’s not that I never do, or that I have never experienced a desire for those things, but.” He shrugged elegantly. “When I was young, and well aware that I was gay, a romantic commitment felt like something I couldn’t pursue; not while building the career I wanted. By the time legality ceased to be a concern, I was too old and too deeply devoted to the work to sustain anything long term. I decided I wouldn’t pursue it. It is what it is.”

Greg wanted to tell him that all of that sounded like garbage to him. He pinched himself under the table to keep quiet. Who was he to tell Mycroft that his decisions had been wrong? Still, he couldn’t help but notice the way Mycroft described a relationship as something distant and abstract. He couldn’t help but wonder if Mycroft just hadn’t met the right person; someone who would understand. Someone who—  

He pinched himself harder. Stop thinking. Just listen. Idiot.

Mycroft continued. “I told you that I found one of your books in an airport lounge. You’re right, the title leaves much to be desired—”

“The cover, too,” Greg interjected, smiling in a way he hoped was encouraging. 

Please tell me everything about this. About you. 

“Perhaps,” Mycroft agreed with a rueful little smile. “I was unbelievably tired but unable to sleep when I picked up the book. I started reading because I had, quite literally, nothing better to do. I kept reading because… I simply couldn’t stop. I’ve always had a tendency to get, ah, sucked in - so to speak - by stories that catch my interest. Your book caught my interest.” He toyed with his fork, eyes distant with the memory. “I couldn’t have explained it at the time. When I found the book again, having brought it home with me for reasons I didn’t examine closely until later, I had the strangest need to go looking for more. And so, I did.”

Greg practically held his breath, dying to ask questions but terrified that Mycroft would reveal less if Greg asked for more. 

Mycroft took a bite of lasagne and sighed. Swallowing, he gestured with his fork. “This is delicious.”

“Thank you,” Greg said, hushed. 

Please keep talking.

After another bite, Mycroft did. “I read all of the Mystere novels, and then quickly found Derien. I…” Mycroft looked down at his plate again. Greg’s heart squeezed in sympathy; this was hard for Mycroft to say. “I was affected more by those titles. And I admitted to myself that the reason I stole the first book from that awful little lounge was that it had given me something I didn’t, or couldn’t, have in my life. That book with the silly cover, and all of the books you have written.... They are so—  full. Full of intimacy and... desire. They’re so honest about what they are, what they contain. I… needed that. I suppose I needed these items which may as well have been labeled: take one in order to feel something, in order to give myself permission to do just that.”

“To…” Greg cleared his throat. “Permission to feel something?”

Mycroft made eye contact at last, all guarded eyes and soft red flush spread across his long nose. “Yes.”

Greg’s breath stuttered. “Mycroft.”

“I don’t wish to make you feel - awkward.” 

“You’re not making me feel awkward,” Greg said quickly, setting down his fork and dropping all pretense that he gave a shit about eating. “It’s why I write them. It’s. I enjoy writing, I’d enjoy writing anything. Crime, maybe, like you said. But this, these, I write because I needed permission, too. Don’t you see? You must have deduced that, yeah? Must have seen it in my commas or the way I use too many semicolons, right?

Mycroft’s lips twitched and the shutters over his eyes receded by degrees.

“I told you why I write . I haven’t had—” Greg waved a hand. “Any of those things I write about in so long. Intimacy, fuck, where’d that go? It was a distant memory before the divorce was even an idea in the back of my head. Romance? It’s… practically a myth to me, some days. The sort of endings I like to write, hardly anyone ever gets them. The things I see every day, they’re not happy things. People with murdered loved ones, people who are badly hurt and damaged. They don’t get happy endings. I didn’t get one. But Christ, I wanted - want - one, you know? Doesn't everyone?”

“I don’t know that I do,” Mycroft murmured, setting down his own fork as well and swapping it for his wine glass. “Or rather, it isn’t that I don’t, it’s that I didn’t know—  that I don’t know that it’s a possibility.”

Greg’s heart lurched sideways. “Of course it is,” he said, unable to stop himself even as his brain screamed at him not to push. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

“Why wouldn’t it be for you?” Mycroft countered, gazing over his wineglass in challenge. 

Greg stared back, hands gripping the edge of the table. When had he gone and started clinging to the table like it was a life raft on a raging, dangerous sea? Greg sighed and reached for his water glass, knowing just from that particularly flowery thought that he needed to take another pause from the wine. 

“I don’t know,” he said eventually. “Work? Age? Lack of realistic prospects?”

“Hm.” Mycroft turned the stem of his glass between his fingers. “My answer would be much the same.”

Greg wanted nothing more than to fling himself across the table and into Mycroft’s lap shouting: Let’s say bollocks to all of that, then, shall we? But he breathed through that mental image. 

This wasn’t a date, this was a revelation. A mutual confessional. If Greg didn’t tread carefully, the entire thing was going to collapse on itself. The two of them would never recover from the mutual horror of having been so desperately overexposed to each other. He would never be able to make Mycroft understand that it was fine. Safe. They’d never get to the good part.

I’m going to show you all the good parts.

Greg took a breath and picked up his fork once more. “I’m putting a pause on both serious conversation and alcohol consumption. Eat, before we both get drunk and even more morose.”

Mycroft did another of his little huff-laughs and obeyed. 

 

***

 

Once Greg had cleared their plates to the side of the kitchen sink and brought the second bottle of wine back with him, they resettled on the sofa in an arrangement similar to before, though now Greg was pleased to note that Mycroft looked slightly more relaxed. 

The lay of the land was a little clearer, Greg supposed. He, at least, felt less anxiety over what Mycroft must think of him and his silly little side projects. Mycroft clearly didn’t find them silly at all, which Greg really should have gathered from the fact that the man had read nearly all of the books on purpose. He’d wanted to believe it; now he knew for sure. Now he knew that Mycroft really got it.  

“Why’d you stop reading my books once we started, erm… hanging out?”

Mycroft laughed, this time more than just an amused puff of air, and Greg nearly preened to have caused it, even if it was just his awkward wording that did it. 

“Hanging out,” Mycroft mused. “My answer to that is...layered. May I pose a question to you before I explain?”

“Sure.”

“How biographical is Thicker Than Water?”

Greg winced. Fuuuuck, he thought. That was bloody pointed.  

“Right, he said, pained. “Fairly biographical. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, based on what I’ve told you about my younger years.”

Mycroft tilted his head in acknowledgment. “I thought as much. The truth is, I connected the dots and realized that you were the author of the books the night you accidentally texted me. I knew before we ever met for dinner.”

Greg sighed and rolled his eyes. “Well, not that it’s news, but you can certainly keep a secret.”

“That is demonstrably untrue. I cracked like an egg within a period of months.”

Greg couldn’t help his soft smile. The phone call had been a bit hysterical. Cracked like an egg, indeed. 

“And what sparked the epiphany?”

Mycroft twitched a sheepish smile. “I saw some of the books in your desk while alone in your office. The pieces fell into place later, during our text conversation.”

Greg laughed. “So you’re terribly nosey and it backfired on you. Bet that doesn't happen often.”

“The desk drawer was open,” Mycroft sniffed. 

“Uh huh.” Greg should have been more concerned about the way Mycroft’s quintessentially Holmesian lack of boundaries didn’t bother him a bit. It shouldn’t have been endearing. But… “So when did you stop reading?” 

“Almost immediately after I realized,” Mycroft said with a sigh. “It simply felt… When you told me about moving Laura in with you and I realized there was a biographical element… I felt like an intruder, even just remembering the novel’s plot.”

“I’m the one who put pieces of my real life into something.”

“Yes, but you didn’t offer it up to me for scrutiny, nor did you know I had accessed it, or that I had knowledge of your identity as the author.” Mycroft lifted one shoulder. “It didn’t seem fair.”

Greg didn't believe for a second that Mycroft read almost twenty romance novels and then stopped doing it just because Greg might use personal experience to inform them. “None of my other books are that close to my real life. You must realize that.”

“I do,” Mycroft hedged, eyes averted. “It wasn’t the only reason.”

Greg bit back a smile. “You don’t say.”

Mycroft leveled him with a baleful glare. “If you must know, it was a bit of a shock to suddenly personally know the individual who had written words which—  which I had found— well.

“Affecting?” Greg teased, laughing when Mycroft winced and covered his eyes with one hand. “It’s alright, I do understand.”

“Oh,” said Mycroft behind his fingers. “You barely grasp the depths of my embarrassment, I assure you.”

Greg wanted to reach out and pull Mycroft’s hand away, and then sit there holding onto his slim wrist, feeling his pulse and stroking his palm, soothing away the mortification. 

I’m so fucked. 

“It’s alright if my smutty books got you off, Mycroft,” Greg found himself saying, even as his body tingled in anticipation. It was like every hopeful feeling he’d ever had, over dozens of meals spent talking with unbelievable ease, and with all that flirting (It had been flirting, Greg knew it had) , was buzzing under his skin, intensifying the longer they talked this through. “That’s what they’re for.”

Mycroft’s face flamed under his own hand. “Oh, god.”

“Sorry,” Greg managed to say past the thundering of his own heart. “That was probably over the line.”

He couldn’t believe his own nerve, saying that. He felt vaguely nauseous, almost shivering with it. Greg recognized it now for what it was. Not just nerves. It was anticipation. Uncertainty ticking over into something surer. It was a feeling he hadn’t felt in years, this excited spark of something, when you just knew this was it, this person was the person you needed right then, right there. That they might want you back. That they must. All signs point to yes. All systems go. 

Greg shoved it all aside. He might be rusty, but he could do this. He could keep his cool just a little longer. 

“More like horrendously accurate,” Mycroft muttered, dropping his hand and uncovering his face. 

Greg tried to tone down his grin. “Accurate, you say.” 

“Don’t make me say it,” Mycroft replied. “And yes… that was significant in informing my decision to stop reading once I knew.” 

“Why?”

Mycroft blinked. “Why?”

“Yeah.” Greg shrugged. “Why? Who cares if I’m the one who wrote it? If it works for you, if you like it, who cares? I wrote it for people to read and enjoy however they want. So. You’re not upsetting me; I’d never know any better. So why?”

The silence that followed was thick. It stretched between them like molasses, the two of them staring at each other from across the length of the sofa, each frozen, waiting to find out what Mycroft would say to that. 

Greg knew the truth. He knew. He’d known for months now. The matter of the books was secondary. Greg knew Mycroft felt something. Felt what Greg had been feeling. And he wanted to hear Mycroft say it. His heart raced. 

“I…” Mycroft pressed his lips together.

He’s afraid.  

“Tell me,” Greg said numbly, practically shivering. “Go on.”

“I thought that whoever wrote all of that… who made kissing and touch and sex, sound like that… that I would be lucky to know that person. That man. To be with him.” Mycroft’s chest heaved as he spoke. “That was the fantasy, you see, before I knew. And then it turned out to be... you. You were the man who had made it all sound so desperately good. And I couldn’t possibly have allowed myself to keep fantasizing. To keep wishing. Not while attempting to be your friend.”

Greg swallowed hard, wanting to shout and cry and throw himself at Mycroft’s feet. “Is it that once you knew the author was me, he was less appealing?”

“The opposite,” Mycroft replied instantly. “Of course it’s the opposite. You must know that you are - incredibly attractive.”

Greg tried to halt the giddy laugh that escaped him, he really did. “Am I?”

Mycroft clicked his tongue. “Come, now. Don’t be coy.”

“I’m not,” Greg gasped. “Come on, Mycroft, you don’t be coy. Do you have a bit of a thing for me?”

“I’ve had a ‘bit of a thing’ for you since I met you.”

Yes!

“Oh.”

“The books were… a complicating factor. Our dinners… even more of one.”

“And now? Do you plan to just… what, have a crush on me and just… what? Nothing?” 

Mycroft only stared back at him, stymied, as if the question was ridiculous. 

Oh, you ridiculous man. Greg laughed again, feeling as though he could just bubble over with affection and relief. “Mycroft.”

“Yes?” 

Greg shifted forward. Mycroft’s eyes widened.

That’s it, come on, you’re starting to get it. 

“What would you do if I kissed you now?”

Mycroft’s mouth dropped open. He blinked. 

Greg waited. 



Chapter Text

“Please,” Mycroft heard himself say before he had fully processed the question. “Please do.”

Almost instantly he felt he ought to take it back. Greg couldn’t have meant that sincerely. He couldn’t have. Besides, Mycroft hadn’t even answered the question. He couldn’t possibly, as he truly had no idea what he would do if Greg kissed him now. Implode, perhaps? 

But Greg had already placed his empty glass on the coffee table, and now he was gently taking Mycroft’s and setting that aside, as well. He shifted across the sofa cushions slowly, cautiously. 

“Alright,” Greg said, nearly whispering, as if approaching a spooked horse, once he was close enough to take hold of Mycroft’s nervous, hovering hands. “You’re sure it’s okay?”

“I…” Mycroft glanced down at his lap, where their hands were clasped, his own pale, bony fingers woven between Greg’s shorter, stronger-looking ones. Of course he was sure, what a question. “Yes, I’m sure.”

“Good,” Greg said, and then he leaned forward. 

He didn’t kiss Mycroft. He simply moved toward him, an invitation, and then seemed to wait, patient and careful, for Mycroft to move, too. 

“Little closer,” he said, teasing, with an encouraging tug of their hands. “Don’t make me do all the work.”

Mycroft found himself smiling and swaying forward, angling his own face so that their noses would not collide. 

“There you go,” Greg murmured, then brought his mouth close enough for Mycroft to feel the warm gust of his breath. Greg’s eyes drifted closed. His fingers twitched around Mycroft’s, and then he pressed gently forward. 

Mycroft drew in a sharp breath, his mouth opening just slightly under Greg’s first, tentative touch, as his eyes fell shut.

It was… warm. Soft. So incredibly soft. Mycroft couldn’t resist the urge to press back, eager to feel more. 

Greg made a small, pleased sound, then moved away and quickly back in again, adjusting and refitting them together so that his mouth closed ever so gently over Mycroft’s lower lip in a soft, fleeting clasp before pulling away to repeat the action with painstaking gentleness on his upper lip. 

Mycroft’s breath shuddered in his lungs. They only touched in two places - at the hands, at the mouth - but his entire body seemed to be waking up from a long hibernation. Greg pulled back again, just far enough to breathe, quickened and humid, against Mycroft’s lips. He seemed to wait again for Mycroft to make up his mind. 

Under Mycroft’s hands, which had somehow wandered without his notice to Greg’s chest, he could feel the change in Greg’s breathing patterns; could feel the effect of the kisses, small as they were, on Greg’s body. 

He felt suddenly bold, even as he felt himself tremble. 

Experimentally, as he tried in vain to still the tremble beginning to shake his body ever so gently, Mycroft allowed his mouth to fall open before leaning back in. When their lips met again, his tongue brushed across Greg’s soft lower lip, just briefly, and Greg sighed, slipping one hand away from Mycroft’s hip (when had it settled there?) to wrap, broad and warm around the back of Mycroft’s neck. Greg pulled him gently closer, this time tasting Mycroft’s tongue with his own. 

Mycroft groaned, and it was muffled as he opened his mouth a little further, letting Greg in. 

The kiss deepened, tipping over the edge into something hotter and wetter than before; something that was still sweet but no longer tentative, something that was now undeniably, electrifyingly, sexual in nature. 

Greg’s tongue stroked against Mycroft’s. His hand wandered up into the hair at the back of Mycroft’s head, and his short fingernails felt delicious there against his scalp. His other hand found its way to and gripped Mycroft’s thigh, kneading at it, then slid down to his knee and back up in a long, soothing sweep. 

Mycroft realized he had taken fistfuls of Greg’s shirt in hand, gripping him tightly below the shoulders as if poised to haul him right into Mycroft’s lap. 

Mycroft did groan then, at the thought of it, and Greg answered with a soft moan of his own. Mycroft could feel the shudder of Greg’s body as he made the sound. Greg kissed him harder, sucked Mycroft’s tongue and nipped at his lips. 

Mycroft sighed through his nose, surprised at the sound that accompanied it - almost a whimper - as Greg’s arms wrapped tightly around him and trapped his clenched fists between their heavin chests.  

Greg mirrored that small sound. Of course coming from his chest it sounded delicious; gravelly and deep. His arms squeezed Mycroft tightly, once, before he softened his hold, gentling the kiss and pulling away. 

“Wow,” Greg said, his forehead pressed to Mycroft’s. “Just. Yeah, no, wow’s all I’ve got.”

“Oh,” Mycroft said shakily, his fingers flexing in the fabric of Greg’s shirt. 

“I’ve wanted to kiss you goodnight just like that so many times,” Greg confessed in the scant air between them. “I can’t believe you didn’t know.”

“No,” Mycroft replied, grateful for the way the closeness of their bodies showed him that they both shook in the aftermath. It wasn’t just Mycroft’s world spinning the wrong way on its axis.. “I’m sorry that I didn’t. I would have liked you to kiss me goodnight.”

“Good.”

Mycroft didn’t want to speak anymore. Didn’t wish to break the spell that had fallen over them; not just yet. Greg’s hands were still on him, and Mycroft experienced a flash of sense memory from many, many months ago, before he had made himself set the books aside: 

Sitting up late at night, a drink at his elbow and his tablet in one hand. Halfway through a lovingly written passage describing a passionate embrace, Mycroft realized that he had reached up and clasped his hand around the side of his own neck. He had, without thinking, mimicked a touch from the scene he had just read. He realized then that he ached with the need for it contact such as that. He told himself not to be ridiculous.

He had touched the very place on his neck where Greg’s hand now rested; had stroked his own fingers in much the same way Greg’s did now - gently, absently, unhurried. 

Mycroft’s entire body shuddered. He didn’t know he could possibly press himself further into Greg’s hands but he suddenly needed to, very badly. 

“Hey,” Greg soothed. “Hey now, it’s alright.” His hands tightened around the bits of Mycroft they touched. “Isn’t it? Are you okay? You’re shaking.”

“Yes,” Mycroft managed to say over the sound of his own hammering pulse. “It’s only that it’s been… a very long time.”

“I know.” Greg leaned back and quirked a self-deprecating little grin. “For me, too.” 

Mycroft didn’t say out loud that Greg had at least been married in the last decade. He must have been touched at some point even towards the end. Mycroft didn’t say that for him, ‘a very long time’ meant decades. Multiple. He couldn’t bear to see the pity a confession like that would inspire. 

“Should I back off?” Greg asked, and though Mycroft knew he was only offering to be polite, and though Mycroft did appreciate that on some level, he nearly failed to tamp down the sudden panic, the wild certainty that if Greg stopped touching him now he never would do so again. 

Mycroft’s hands spasmed against Greg’s body and he shook his head. “Please don’t,” he said. “I… would very much like to kiss you again, if that would be—”

Greg leaned in, cutting him off with his mouth, gentle and slow. Mycroft, thrilled and desperately relieved, gave in to temptation and pulled, tugging at Greg’s shirt until he understood his meaning and hummed into the kiss, tipping Mycroft back against the sofa cushions and covering him with his own body. 

That was nearly Mycroft’s undoing then and there. Greg didn’t break the kiss; he simply broke it down, for a brief time, into smaller kisses while he arranged their limbs and adjusted his weight so that he pressed Mycroft down into the sofa but did not crush him, and so that Mycroft’s thighs cradled his hips. 

Mycroft shuddered again, realizing that the hard line of pressure snugged up against his own rapidly hardening cock was Greg’s erection. He whimpered into the next kiss and pressed past the seam of Greg’s lips with his tongue, desperate to taste his mouth again. 

Kisses melted, one into the next, like warm chocolate. The two of them moved together, lazy with the lingering effects of wine, and, at least in Mycroft’s case, kiss-drunk and skin-high. He found himself taking in the tiny details of Greg when they briefly broke apart for air, holding Greg’s head in his hands and keeping him still so he could breathe deeply to catch the scent of his hair product, rubbing the tip of his nose down the bridge of Greg’s and noting the texture of his skin before their mouths sealed together again. 

Once upon a time, Mycroft would never have done that. He wouldn’t have let himself… feel, without thinking. Even in his younger days, he wouldn’t have tipped so easily onto his back; wouldn’t have allowed things to devolve so quickly into something so raw. But those days were long behind him, and in between there yawned a chasm of nothing. No other’s hands on him. No mouth pressed to his. No weight to hold him down, safely covered. Not ever. Not once in so long. He couldn’t bring himself to stop for thought; to temper his actions; to wonder if he seemed too desperate. All of that simply… dissolved away. 

Mycroft was distantly aware that their hips were hitching together in a disjointed rhythm; that if one of them would focus and put in just a little more effort, this would lead very quickly to at least one fully clothed orgasm. But Mycroft didn’t feel the need to do anything about it. That was even less important than theoretical embarrassment over appearing too eager. 

The kisses, the touches, were overwhelming enough; were more than good enough. 

“Mycroft,” Greg murmured, and pressed his mouth to Mycroft’s left cheekbone. “Mycroft, Mycroft.” Now his right. “I could do this all night.”

“I—” Mycroft swallowed hard, surprised at the tightness of his own voice. “I want you to.”

“Oh, god,” Greg said. “Good. I’m glad.”

They kissed until it was painful. Until it naturally bled into long, sensuous breaks to simply touch and breathe together. Mycroft gathered data greedily, testing theories and delighting in the results. His mouth at the hinge of Greg’s jaw: would that elicit a response? Yes. And if he allowed his fingers to tease at the inch of skin exposed along Greg’s lower back where his shirt had ridden up? Yes. 

Eventually, Greg shifted his weight to the side, wedging Mycroft up against the back of the loveseat so he could settle half beside him and half tangled with him from the hip down. Mycroft felt incredibly warm, and nearly overwhelmingly surrounded. It was good.

“You are really good at that,” Greg informed him once they had rearranged themselves and exchanged an indeterminate number of additional kisses. 

“At… what?”

“Kissing,” Greg sighed. “God, I had wondered. Well, I knew it would be good, I just—  wondered about all the ways it would be good.” 

Mycroft knew he shouldn’t admit it, but he felt dizzy and utterly flayed open by the flood of sensory input he had just experienced - was still experiencing - and more truth just seemed simpler in the moment than saying nothing at all. 

“The way you write kisses, especially first ones, caused me to… want such things. For the first time in a very long time.”

Greg  made a soft, concerned sound and curled, somehow, even closer, his face tucked against Mycroft’s shoulder. The position hid his face, which Mycroft realized was by design. “Well I don’t know if I can live up to the prowess of fictional men,” Greg said. “but I hope I came somewhat close in my efforts here tonight.”

Mycroft heard the truth behind the stilted joke. He pushed at Greg gently, until he leaned up on his elbows so that his face was no longer hidden. 

“I never wanted a fictional man,” Mycroft said. “Before you—  by which I mean you, the author, as well as you, the man I have known and respected for many years—  I didn’t even want, or allow myself to want, a real one.”

Greg’s breath caught audibly. He sat up and pulled Mycroft with him, holding Mycroft gently by the shoulders. “And now?”

Mycroft closed his eyes. Of all the honest things he had said so far, this was the ultimate. This truth had been there in his chest, like a living thing he fed and carried but otherwise ignored, for months. It had clawed at him all evening, itching to spill out of him. Their conversation over dinner, over wine, seemed a lifetime away, not minutes. Every word Mycroft had said about his work, his age, his lifestyle… they were now null and void. They had been for a long time, but everything had changed in the moment Greg touched him. Mycroft didn’t fight it. Couldn’t. Speaking the truth had gotten him here. He understood now that more of it could get him the unimaginable. 

“There is no question,” he said at last. “I want you, have wanted you. I only need to know whether you’ll have me. And if you will, I… I will give you everything.” He shuddered again, clenched his fists in Greg’s clothing again. “Everything.”

“Holy shit,” Greg breathed.  

Mycroft opened his eyes as Greg kissed him, smiling against his mouth, and Mycroft felt his own lips curve in answer before Greg had even pulled away.

“First of all,” Greg said, “I’d use that line in a book, and you’d not be allowed to tell me I couldn’t because that is the single most romantic thing anyone has ever—  but I won’t ever use it because that was mine, and I’m keeping it all to myself, oh Christ, you dark horse. You’re a romantic, Mycroft, did you know that? Have you? Yes, please. You can have me too, and I don’t require everything in exchange. Just you, Mycroft. Do you understand?”

In truth, Mycroft didn’t understand; this was so far outside his purview that he couldn’t even begin to understand what would be required of him in exchange for even just one night of Greg Lestrade’s affection and attention. He shook his head, helpless. 

“I’ve been trying to figure out whether I should tell you I’d like to date you for months,” Greg said gently, and as he spoke he kept his hold on Mycroft, steady and firm and encompassing. “It felt like we already were dating, some nights. I know who you are, you know?” He reached up and stroked a hand up and over Mycroft’s forehead, then smoothed it gently over his hair. Soothing, caressing. Mycroft arched into it on instinct, without a thought. “I know what your schedule is like and what your family is like.” Greg kissed his chin. “I know you have a scary assistant and intimidatingly fancy cars. I know your job is...way above my clearance level and my competency.” He pressed their foreheads together. “And I don’t really care about any of it. I don’t expect you to be any other way. I just want to be with you a little more often than most Sundays. And I want to touch you. Kiss you. Say stupid, sweet things to you. Hope that’s okay?”

Mycroft nodded, struck mute. Greg grinned and tightened Mycroft in his embrace, pressing a kiss to his cheek. 

“Good,” he said, and sighed. 

Mycroft marveled at the concept of being the person to cause that soft, contented little sound.

 “This is going to sound like a line,” Greg said after a moment, “but this sofa is really tiny. If you don’t have to leave any time soon, we could maybe move this to my bed? Not—  Not for anything we haven’t already done, I don’t want to sound presumptuous—” 

“It’s quite alright,” Mycroft managed to say, dizzy again at the prospect of lying down in an actual bed with this man. “Yes, we can move, I would like that.”

“I don’t think we should have sex,” Greg blurted, his fingers scrabbling nervously at the back of Mycroft’s jumper. “Not—  not tonight.”

“I…” Mycroft paused, realizing that what he felt at those words was relief. “I agree.”

“But I really would kiss you all night if you’d let me.”

Mycroft couldn’t think how to respond to that. At some point this evening, he would need to reintroduce himself to reality. He’d been given the gift of a clear schedule tonight thanks to the changes in his travel plans over the weekend, but tomorrow would start early and run late to make up for it. He would need to leave this flat sooner than he’d like. 

Mycroft resolved not to think about it just yet. He allowed himself to be helped up off the sofa, and then led down the small hallway to Greg’s bedroom. 

It was dim, lit only by the yellow glow of the streetlight positioned just below the window. Greg didn’t bother with the bedside lamp or overhead light. Mycroft could see that the bed large and neatly made, but the bedskirt was askew in a way that indicated something had been shoved hurriedly underneath. Dirty clothing. Mycroft bit back a smile and turned, a teasing comment at the ready, but he was cut short by a sweet kiss, delivered as Greg’s tentative fingers brushed against the hem of Mycroft’s jumper. 

“Can I take this off you?” He asked, his fingertips pinching and rubbing the soft cashmere between them. “I meant what I said. Just want to get a little more comfortable, if that’s alright.”

Mycroft nodded and lifted his arms to allow Greg to slip the sweater up and off. Greg unclasped Mycroft’s cufflinks next, depositing them atop the tall dresser by the door. He circled one of Myroft’s bare wrists with his fingers and brought it up to his mouth, pressing his lips to Mycroft’s pulse point gently. Mycroft’s breath stuttered. 

“Oh,” he murmured, as Greg pushed the sleeve up as far as it would go, placing more kisses in a line up toward Mycroft’s elbow. 

“Your skin,” Greg said, nearly groaned, then stepped forward. He guided Mycroft’s arms around his own waist and leaned up for a closed-mouth kiss while he tugged the tails of Mycroft’s shirt out of his trousers and slipped his hands underneath. As Greg’s mouth opened, his fingers made contact with the bare skin at Mycroft’s sides, and they moaned together as their tongues met. 

Yes, Mycroft thought. Yes, yes, yes…

Higher thought processes seemed to have abandoned him, and he was left quivering in Greg’s arms, unable to speak and unsure of what he could possibly ask for should he remember how to find the words. Then, Greg walked them toward the bed and guided Mycroft to sit at the edge, where again there was a pause while Greg took Mycroft’s face in his hands, bending down to kiss him again, again, and again. 

“Shoes,” Greg muttered when he pulled away, and then he dropped to his knees at Mycroft’s feet. 

“My god,” Mycroft gasped, his hands tightening into fists at his sides. “You’re going to send me into a cardiac event at this rate.”

Greg chuckled, already finished unlacing one shoe and moving on to the other. “Hope not,” he said, slipping one and then the other shoe off and placing them to the side. He stood and made quick work of untucking his own shirt, flicking open the top buttons. 

Mycroft sighed and slipped his palms over Greg’s hips and up to his waist under the shirt, stroking his thumbs over the ribs of the vest. Greg kept himself fit, and the abdominal muscle beneath the fabric was lightly padded and firm; to the sides, a bit of softness. Love handles. Mycroft squeezed those and Greg laughed, covering Mycroft’s hands with his own. 

“Middle age,” Greg said wryly.

“Mm,” Mycroft hummed, thinking that he’d have to investigate these places later. With his mouth. 

“Covers?” Greg checked, and Mycroft shook his head. Soon, they were lying atop the duvet. Greg had Mycroft in his arms, and they were kissing again. 

Kissing. Mycroft didn’t remember it ever being quite this thrilling, even when the concept had been a novel one. 

Greg moved to roll Mycroft onto his back, but Mycroft surprised himself by resisting and turning the tables, nudging at Greg’s shoulder until he reversed their earlier position and allowed Mycroft to hover over him on his elbows, dropping heated kisses to his face and neck. Every so often he made his way back along Greg’s jaw to his mouth, and their tongues met and slipped together while hands wandered over small patches of exposed skin. 

Greg seemed fascinated by Mycroft’s forearms; by his hair, which was probably by now a complete mess. Mycroft shivered with every scratch of Gregs nails over his scalp, every sweep of Greg’s palms over the soft, sensitive undersides of his wrists. 

“I feel like a teenager,” Greg murmured at one point, one of his legs pulling Mycroft closer into the cradle of his thighs. 

“I never felt like this as a teenager.”

Greg’s fingers soothed over Mycroft’s back, up to his shoulders, where they kneaded gently. Mycroft groaned and let his head hang down, pressing his cheek up against’ Greg’s.

“That’s a shame,” Greg said into Myroft’s ear before he kissed there, too. “Never just sort of… fooled around like this?”

Never. 

“No… not quite like this.”

“In that case,” Greg said, teasing, “allow me to tutor you in the subject.”

“Please do,” Mycroft replied, amused and grinning with it, as Greg tipped them sideways and arranged Mycroft on his back once more. 

“First,” Greg said, straddling him, “hands should wander.” He picked up Mycroft’s hands and placed them on his own hips. “But one must never wander too far.” He stroked his own hand down Mycroft’s chest, partially exposed now that several buttons had, without his notice, been undone. Greg paused with his hand just over the waistband of Mycroft’s trousers, where he fiddled with the button. “One might imply an interest,” he continued, and hooked two fingers just under the wool, against Mycroft’s skin.

Mycroft’s hips jerked and he attempted to swallow the desperate whimper spilling out of him. If Greg would just slip his fingers a little further down— 

“But fooling around isn’t sex,” Greg said. “More a… practice run. So once one has demonstrated appreciation,” He slipped his fingers out of the scant space between trousers and skin and traced them, feather light, down the hard line of Mycroft’s clothed erection. “One must then move on.” He leaned forward, weight on his palms, and brushed his mouth against Mycroft’s. His next words puffed hot air across Mycroft’s parted lips. “Kissing is obviously mandatory,” he said, and demonstrated. By the time he pulled back, Mycroft’s breath had quickened to the point of near-hyperventilation. Greg’s hips ground gently down, and his body shuddered over Mycroft’s.

“This is torture,” Mycroft gasped, his hands tightening around Greg’s hips. “You realize that?”

“Torture isn’t fun,” Greg corrected with a smile. “Isn’t this fun?”

“God, yes.”

Greg chuckled and leaned down again, kissing Mycroft even while he kept laughing. His hands were warm against Mycroft’s skin, slipping up under Mycroft’s shirt to lightly tickle at his ribs and elicit an answering laugh. “Knew you’d be ticklish,” he murmured. “Sensitive.”

His fingers quested further up Mycroft’s torso and brushed, at the same time, both of Mycroft’s tightened nipples. Mycroft’s entire body responded to the unexpected stimulus, tightening and jerking under Greg so hard that the man was nearly bucked off of Mycroft’s lap. 

“Very sensitive,” Greg amended, sounding pleased. 

“I—” Mycroft swallowed hard. “Please don’t make me come in my trousers.”

Greg raised an eyebrow. “Do you think you might?”

“If you keep doing, ah, doing that,” Mycroft said, indicating the slow circling motion of Greg’s fingers under his shirt with a jerk of his chin. “Yes. Please, it’s just that I—”

But Greg had already retreated, and his face showed no disappointment as his hands slid back down and away before smoothing Mycroft’s shirt over his belly. “Shh,” Greg soothed. “You don’t have to say please, sweetheart, I won’t do anything you don’t like.”

“I like it,” Mycroft hurried to say. 

“Good.” Greg smiled. “Then I’ll do it again, when you ask me to.”

Mycroft felt the need to clarify. “I’m not a blushing virgin.”

“I didn’t think that.” 

“I’m…”

“Nervous?”

Mycroft averted his eyes, unwilling to admit it. 

Greg nudged him and held up one hand for Mycroft to see. It was shaking. “Me, too.” 

Mycroft caught the trembling hand in his and brought it to his mouth. He brushed his lips over Greg’s knuckles and took a moment to breathe slowly in and then out.

On the next inhale, Greg began to match him, breath for breath. 

Mycroft tasted the skin of Greg’s fingers with the tip of his tongue, unaware he was doing it and only realizing when Greg’s lashes fluttered. Mycroft watched his face as he traced his tongue along the web of skin between thumb and forefinger. The image of Greg’s mouth falling open in pleasure burned itself into Mycroft’s memory, and he knew he would replay this moment many, many times in the coming days and weeks. Possibly for years.

He kissed Greg’s palm and went back to counting breaths with his lips pressed there.

“There’s another aspect to fooling around you’ll need to familiarize yourself with,” Greg said after a half dozen breaths or so. 

“Oh?”

“Mmhm.” He swung his leg back over and settled beside Mycroft on the bed. “It’s the cuddling bit.”

Mycroft laughed, keeping it quiet, just between the two of them in the close space beneath the sheets. “Oh?”

“Yeah,” Greg replied, serious and comically grave. “There’s just one preliminary question.”

“By all means, let’s have it.”

Greg’s hands stroked sweetly over the small places where Myroft’s skin was exposed. “D’you want to be held? Or do the holding?”



Chapter Text

Greg woke from a doze in the small hours when Mycroft shifted away from him, having apparently already disentangled himself from the circle of Greg’s arms. 

“What?” Greg grunted, not quite awake. “Alright?”

“I need to go soon,” Mycroft said with regret, shifting back across the bed to press a chaste kiss to Greg’s cheek. “I had hoped not to wake you.”

Greg caught his wrist to keep him from moving away again just yet. “You were going to sneak out?”

“I was going to be polite,” Mycroft replied, a touch of reproach in his voice. “I wouldn’t sneak.”

Greg tugged at him, pulling him down and back into the snuggle they’d been in before Greg fell asleep. “It would have broken my heart to wake up and find you’d gone.” 

“I was going to leave you a note.”

Greg scoffed. “Ridiculous. I’m glad I woke up. You’re sure you have to go?”

Mycroft sighed. “I have a conference call with China in two hours.”

“Someone in China or China as a whole?”

Mycroft made that noncommittal humming sound Greg was beginning to realize was just another way of saying ‘I can’t or won’t speak further but I don’t want to be weird about it.’ It made Greg smile against Mycroft’s sleep-warm cheek. 

“Alright,” Greg said after a moment. “I understand, of course. Let me help you gather your things.”

“I can—”

Greg quieted him with a kiss, and his heart skipped at the way Mycroft let him. He’d imagined this for months now, but he had never thought Mycroft would just...soften, like this, for him. “I’m helping.”

It seemed to amuse and arouse Mycroft all at once when Greg slithered out of the bed and onto the floor, finding Mycroft’s shoes where he had left them hours before and then knelt there expectantly, holding one leather brogue at the ready. 

“I am capable of dressing myself,” Mycroft murmured, even as he allowed Greg to slip on one and then the other shoe before carefully tying each. 

“I want to do it,” Greg said. It wasn’t the time to get specifically dirty about it and explain that he would love to simply kneel there at Mycroft’s feet; that some time soon he’d do it in a more interesting context if Mycroft let him. He didn’t say it, but he thought it with a smile as he tied the laces neatly, then stood with a popping of his knees. 

Mycroft surprised him again by circling his arms around his waist and tugging him in, encouraging him to sway closer. Greg embraced him back, arms round his shoulders, and kissed the top of his head before breathing in the scent of his hair: posh product, sleep-warm skin, Greg’s laundry soap, and a hint of Greg’s cologne. Delicious. 

“I’m so glad you stayed as long as you did,” Greg said softly. “Did you sleep at all?”

“I did, and very restfully,” Myroft replied with a tightening of his arms. “I’m fairly certain that I’ve never napped so enjoyably in my adult life.”

“Come over any time, then,” Greg told him, petting one hand over Mycroft’s head in an attempt to smooth down his ruffled hair. “I’ll cuddle you into submission and kiss you to sleep anytime.”

“Careful,” Mycroft warned, speaking into Greg’s torso, eyes hidden. “I may take you up on that.”

Greg leaned back and tilted Mycroft’s face up, gently. “I wish you would,” he said. 

Mycroft’s sleepy eyes were terribly endearing, as were the cowlicks in his hair. He looked up at Greg, his face a picture of sweet surprise. 

“When can I see you again?”

“Like I said.” Greg grinned. “Come over any time. Or call me. Text me. Send a smoke signal or a posh car. I’ll come to you, if you like. Today would be great. Any time.”

“We both need to work today,” Mycroft said, voice full of regret, “and I will likely be chained to my desk well into the evening. But… tomorrow, if schedules allow, could I… Would you allow me to take you to dinner?”

Greg’s smile grew somehow wider. “So formal,” he teased. “But yeah, of course. Text me tomorrow, and we’ll figure out a time?”

Mycroft paused as if surprised it was that easy. As if surprised that Greg had said yes. “Excellent,” he said after a moment, a touch awkward.

Greg helped him with his cufflinks. It felt wildly intimate to gently and carefully refasten them at Mycroft’s wrists. Greg stroked his fingers under the edge of the fine fabric of Mycroft’s sleeve and then down his palm. Greg couldn’t remember the last time he’d touched someone this way. He was glad he hadn’t gone and tried it with some random dating app prospect. Having Mycroft be the first in so long felt right. Felt like the way things were meant to be.

Still, it wasn’t all easy. They didn’t actually live in a romance novel, so when they said goodbye at the door it was, for a moment, very awkward. Greg stopped himself from chewing on his lip, forced himself not to fidget. He wanted badly to kiss Mycroft again, just one, maybe two more times before he let him walk out the door. But Mycroft looked stiff and uncertain now that he had his coat on. Greg, more out of practice even than he’d realized when it came to interpreting that sort of thing in another person, hesitated. 

“I—” he tried, but cut himself off before his mouth could move too far ahead of his brain. He didn’t have a clue what to say. 

Mycroft stared back at him, and he seemed just as frozen as Greg. Greg swallowed hard and tried to come up with something to say. Mycroft cleared his throat. 

“Kiss me goodbye,” Greg blurted at last, horrified that his social skills were so rusty. “Uh, if you want t-”

Mycroft leaned in and stopped him from embarrassing himself too much, stilling Greg’s mouth with his own. 

Greg’s breath stuttered, and Mycroft moved to back off after just the one chaste brush of lips. 

No, Greg thought, and caught Mycroft round the back of the head to pull him back in for something a little hotter; a lingering lock of lips, plus the tiniest brush of tongue. 

“I’ll see you soon,” Greg said, low, when he found it in him to release Mycroft again. 

“Yes,” Mycroft breathed, then cleared his throat again. “Yes.” 

“Okay.” Greg tried to bite down on his grin. “Good.”

“Good,” Mycroft echoed, and opened the door. 

“Great,” Greg said, chuckling. 

Mycroft nodded and stepped backwards out of the flat. 

He did turn and go, but it took him half a second to unstick himself. 

Greg tried not to feel too smug about it. 

 

***

 

Of course - things being the way they were in Greg’s life, and from what he knew, in Mycroft’s too - things got delayed. Significantly. 

“Thanks for calling. I know it’s early,” Greg said into his office phone just shy of a full twenty-four hours since he’d said goodbye to Mycroft at the door to his flat. “My mobile’s almost dead, and I need to go out and buy a charger, I guess, at some point. Can’t find mine.”

He hadn’t been back to his flat since just a few hours after he’d kissed Mycroft goodbye, and he was dead tired. The sound of Mycroft’s voice, after the time Greg had been having, was intensely comforting. 

“I saw you on television last night,” Myroft said, sounding wide awake, though the sun was barely up. 

“Yeah,” Greg sighed, rubbing a hand over tired eyes. “Hope they got my good side,” he joked weakly. “I’m—  I need to…Uh-” He just couldn’t get a handle on his words, could he? “Sorry.”

“Greg.” Mycroft’s voice was gentle. “Have you slept?”

“No,” Greg admitted. “Of course not. Of course I haven’t.”

“And will you be going home to get some sleep any time soon?”

“...no.” 

“Then I understand, and we shall reschedule our dinner,” Myroft said, saving Greg the discomfort of spelling it out. “I also understand that it may not be possible to do so anytime soon. We can worry about that after the children are located.” 

“I just… hope they are ,” Greg managed, feeling despair edge back in. 

The call had come in a couple of hours into his workday, the day before. A kidnapping, the two daughters of a wealthy arsehole with no discernible job description. As much as Greg couldn’t stand the father - he really was an arsehole - the man was distraught, and publicly so. The press were already having a field day. It was a mess. There had been no ransom note. The little girls’ shared bedroom an absolute wreck, and a nanny badly injured on her way to hospital by ambulance. 

Greg had woken from a few extra hours’ sleep, still high on touch and kisses from the night before, and gone into work feeling on top of the world. The call had effectively doused all that in gasoline. The hours following had lit it all on fire. 

It would soon be twenty-four hours since the girls went missing - halfway through the critical window of the first two days of investigation for any disappearance. 

“You will find them,” Mycrot murmured reassuringly down the line. “Keep the faith, Inspector.”

Greg sighed. “Distract me for a minute. Reset my brain. Please tell me your day was better than mine.”

“Yesterday was…” Mycroft paused. “Fine. I wasn’t entirely present, to be quite honest. I was… mildly distracted.”

Greg found himself smiling through his worry and exhaustion, mustering up a bit of tease in his voice. “Only mildly?

“Don’t fish,” Mycroft admonished him with a tsk. “Today will prove more tedious, I’m afraid. I’m sorry we won’t be meeting later, to say nothing of the case you’re facing, but at least this way I shall have some chance of focusing.”

Despite the lightness in Mycroft’s tone, the clear intent to make him feel better, Greg winced. “I’m really sorry to cancel.”

“Nonsense. I understand. Work is…”

“Work.”

“As you say,” Mycroft murmured. “And of course this case is incredibly urgent. I understand, Greg. Completely.”

Greg didn’t know what else to say. He was pretty sure Mycroft did get it, and he really didn’t sound bothered. But the instinct to apologize again was strong; the vague, familiar feeling of dread that Greg always used to get when he would have to call home and regretfully cancel plans, knowing it would mean a fight sooner or later, settled in the pit of his gut like concrete. 

It didn’t help that he was experiencing a weird cognitive disconnect; he was so tired even as he burned with a drive to push through and steamroll his way through this case. Find them, keep them safe, unravel the threads. 

At the same time, it was just strange to talk to Mycroft like this. They’d been in bed together a day ago. Mycroft had shaken in his arms just from kissing. And now here they were, Greg stretched too thin while they talked like it was just another Sunday evening they’d have to skip, and Mycroft sounded sort of like the British Government again. It made Greg itch with discomfort. It encouraged an insidious voice in the back of his mind to tell him he’d imagined it all. He’d pushed too hard and Mycroft hadn’t been all that into it. Or thought he’d been into it but would inevitably come to his senses. Would hate the way Greg gets around cases like this. Would eventually tire of coming second to complete strangers. 

“Greg?”

Greg shook himself. “Sorry. Sorry, I…” 

Mycroft waited, and then when Greg offered nothing further, sighed. “You need to rest.”

“I know. I will. When it’s done.” 

“Would it— “ Mycroft cleared his throat. “That is, would you like to speak on the phone again when it is? I’d… like to know you’re alright. To…” he cleared his throat again, a nervous little tic. “It would be good to hear your voice.”

Greg closed his eyes and swallowed hard. There it was. There was just the thing to get that little voice in his head to shut the hell up. The relief, on top of his exhaustion, drove him dangerously close to tears. “Yeah,” he managed to grate out. "Yeah, please, I’d like to call you.”

“Any time of day or night,” Mycroft murmured. “If I’m in a meeting, I will call you back straight away. If I’m asleep, I will wake up. Greg? Yes?”

“Yes,” Greg said. “Yes, okay. Talk soon.”

“Alright,” Mycroft said softly, impossibly gently. “Soon. Good luck. You will find them.”

“Thanks.”

Greg hung up because if he didn’t he’d lose his composure right there over the phone, and no one needed that. 

He had a tiny bit of battery left on his mobile. He reached for it. Sherlock wouldn’t like it; he understandably hesitated to involve himself in kidnapping cases since Moriarty. But Greg needed to find those girls, and fast, before something happened to them. 

He had twenty four of the first forty eight hours left. He backed out of the messages with Mycroft, where he’d sent: could you call me?,  found his ongoing conversation with Sherlock, and sent the text. 

 

***

 

Eighteen hours later, Greg threw Sherlock out of his office. Or, actually, he gave John a significant look and let him do it. 

“Come back Monday, Sherlock,” Greg growled, upright only because he held himself that way, and only about halfway. He was standing, hunched over his desk with his fists pressed to its surface. 

He vaguely heard John cajoling Sherlock out of the room, but he was already slowly collapsing into his chair, eyes squeezed shut. He was so tired that even with his eyes closed the room seemed to tilt around him. 

This case. It had been awful from start to finish - not that it was really finished. The kidnapped girls had been recovered, the youngest unharmed but badly traumatized, the older of the two in stable condition in hospital having nearly drowned in the Thames. 

The kidnapper, a woman whose motive was still entirely unclear, had in fact, managed to drown in the Thames. 

Greg felt nauseous just thinking about the scene. He’d been off the bridge, watching their negotiator trying to talk the woman down. Between one blink and the next, six year old Angelina Matheison had been thrown. And then the kidnapper had jumped. 

His desk phone began to ring. Greg jumped, pulled out of the replay in his mind, and groaned. He rubbed his hands over his face, and picked it up. 

“Yeah,” he started, then stopped to clear the gravel out of his throat. “Lestrade speaking.”

“Will you allow me to send you a car to take you home?”

Greg nearly dropped the phone. Mycroft’s voice was such a balm for his frayed nerves, flooding him with relief so quickly that it was disorienting. “Mycroft.”

“Forgive me,” Myroft said, and Greg realized he sounded nervous. “ I don’t mean to pry or overstep. News broke about the recovery of the girls and the unfortunate events after, and I thought… I’m sorry. I believe you said the other day that I am too nosy for my own good.” 

Greg closed his eyes. “I think you might be, but I like it. Don’t worry.”

“You sound exhausted,” Mycroft replied after a beat. “Please, don’t drive yourself home. Let me do this for you.”

“You still working?”

Mycroft paused again. “Yes, for now, but I will be finished soon.”

“Soon enough to be inside the car when it picks me up?”

Greg gripped the phone tightly, waiting out the hesitant silence on the other end of the line. 

“No, not soon enough for that.”

Oh.

Greg cleared his throat. “Right, no, I underst--” 

“Perhaps soon enough that I could arrive at your flat with a warm meal in hand, giving you enough time to bathe and change?” 

Relief washed over him again, and Greg sagged, his elbows holding him up but his head hanging low. “It’s nearly midnight as it is. I won’t be the most sparkling company,” he said. 

“I had hoped to be out to dinner with you earlier tonight,” Mycroft said gently. “Instead, I had an early supper with my assistant, consisting of Pret sandwiches and tea. I’m utterly ravenous, and frankly a bit over-caffeinated. You are not required to be good company. Consider it my privilege to dine with my favorite author for a second time this week, regardless of his ability to converse with me about all manner of loaded personal topics.”

Greg laughed weakly. “You’re funny.”

“I’m being utterly serious.”

“‘m not your favorite author.”

“How would you know?”

Greg smiled to himself. “You’ve got me there.”

He could hear the sounds of typing on Mycroft’s end. “I’m going to tie up these loose ends and then leave things in Anthea’s capable hands until tomorrow morning - excuse me--” Another pause. “I have been informed that her hands will be capable enough to free up my morning as well.” 

Grinning now, Greg rubbed a hand over his face and wondered at his luck. “That so?”

“...Yes, though I don’t wish to presume—”

“Presume away. Please stay with me. I’ll… make breakfast.” Your fridge is bare. “Or buy it.” 

“I’ll see you at your flat soon.”

 

***

 

When Greg slid into the waiting town car, an unopened phone charger waited for him on the seat. He plugged his mobile into one of the USB slots in the door and spent the rest of the ride nodding off with one hand pressed to his swelling heart. 

 

***

 

When Mycroft arrived just after midnight, Greg was just barely finished dressing in sweats and a t-shirt. He answered the door barefoot again, but was too tired to spare it a thought. 

He was also too tired and, he realized, too desperately in love, to bother hiding the way the very sight of Mycroft standing there in his suit relaxed his shoulders. He didn’t even think to temper his reaction or restrain himself from stepping directly into Mycroft’s space, slipping his hands inside Mycroft’s unbuttoned coat and wrapping his arms around that incredibly fine suit. 

Mycroft, holding a bag of takeaway in one hand, recovered admirably from his obvious surprise and wrapped his free arm around Greg’s shoulders

“Are you alright?” He murmured. 

Greg breathed deeply. The cold of the night still clung to Mycroft’s coat and skin, but he smelled like cologne and warmth underneath. He nodded against Mycroft’s shoulder. “Fine,” he said. “Thank you for coming. For sending the car.”

“Of course,” Mycroft murmured, and Greg felt the tentative press of lips at his temple. 

He could’ve fallen apart, it was so tender and hesitant. Lovely man. “Come in, sorry,” Greg said, stepping back and releasing his hold on Mycroft’s waist. “Didn’t mean to just…” 

“As if I minded at all,” Mycroft chided him softly. He held out the takeaway bag. “This late, I’m afraid the only thing I could obtain quickly and close enough to keep warm on the way here was Chinese. The restaurant is good, though, and I ordered a variety.”

Lovely, lovely, ridiculous man. 

“I’m sure it’s great,” Greg told him, and led the way into the kitchen and set down the food while Mycroft removed his coat and draped it over one of Greg’s kitchen chairs. “You’re welcome to risk my hall closet.”

“No need,” Mycroft said easily, already consigning his suit jacket to the chair as well. “Step aside and allow me to plate this. You should sit.”

Greg let Mycroft steer him away from the counter with gentle hands; a bit hesitant at first, then more confident once he seemed to realize that Greg was going to let himself be moved. 

“This is kind of you,” Get heard himself say, feeling like everything he said was coming from a great distance. “Thank you.”

“It’s selfishness on my part,” Mycroft replied. “I wanted to see you. Sit down at the table.” 

Greg did as told and a moment later Mycroft set a plate of noodles and beef down in front of him. Greg blinked at the food, breathing in the smells. “Christ, I’m so hungry.”

“Then you should eat,” Mycroft said, returning from the counter with cutlery to place at Greg’s hand. “Go on, I’ll join you in a moment.”

Greg ate mechanically, slowly, pausing to smile gratefully and (he was sure) dopily at Mycroft when he sat across from him at the table. 

Christ, had it only been two and a half days since they’d had dinner here? It felt like a month.

“I missed you,” Greg said, head ducked to watch his hand twirling the noodles on his plate round a fork. Across from him, Mycroft wielded chopsticks like an expert, but Greg lacked the energy to even try tonight. 

“Did you?” Mycroft’s foot nudged Greg’s under the table.

Greg glanced up. Mycroft meant the question, was the funny thing. Greg was punchy enough with exhaustion that his feelings about that were probably more obvious than he might normally like. He probably looked horrendously soppy at the moment, but he didn’t care. 

“‘Course,” he said. “It was good to have you here the other night. I… yeah, I loved it. Maybe it’s strange to say I missed you. Sorry.”

Mycroft laid his chopsticks down and chewed, considering Greg over their plates. “It was wonderful to be here,” he said after a few moments. “I missed you, as well. I don’t think it’s strange.”

“It wasn’t the first time I’ve missed you,” Greg admitted, thinking of all the times they had to skip dinner. All the times they said goodbye at the end of the evening, went their separate ways. The way it had begun to ache, every time. 

Mycroft paused. Greg was horribly grateful that his face must show everything, and that Mycroft could so easily read it, understanding his meaning without needing words to explain it. “I… Same.”

They smiled at each other, and then ate in the delicate silence that followed. 

Greg cleared his plate. The food was delicious, but he didn’t taste it much past the first bites. His body was beginning to ache in ways that told him he’d be paying in the knee and lumbar areas tomorrow. He remembered squatting down to check in with a medic back when it was still daylight, and winced.

Mycroft had stopped eating a while ago, Greg thought, when he managed to look up from his own empty plate. 

“Sorry,” he said. “It’s been a long couple of days.”

“I know,” Mycroft said simply. “You really mustn’t apologize. Do you wish to talk about it?”

“No,” Greg replied instantly. “No, no. I know you can look at the file. Probably already have. It’s… it was bad. That’s all.”

“I didn’t look at a file,” said Mycroft gently. He reached across the table and pressed two long fingers to the side of Greg’s wrist. It was an awkward gesture, but it felt grounding, and Greg realized he really wanted Mycroft to touch him a little more, maybe hold onto him and tether him to the present. “What I know, I saw on the evening news with everyone else. I will read the file if and when you ask me to. I know that it was an unspeakably difficult day, and I do not need to know more. Now, tell me what you need.”

Greg stared across the table at Mycroft, his exhausted brain struggling to process it all. He felt the rush of blood to his face, the thickness in his throat. He tried desperately not to let his face crumple, but it did. Mycroft’s fingers circled his wrist and tightened. 

“I need to lie down,” Greg gasped, and swallowed hard to keep from following the words with a sob. “Could you… come lie down with me?”

“Of course,” Mycroft murmured, and in the next moment he was out of his seat and guiding Greg out of his. 

“I can get the dishes,” Greg said, knowing as he did that it was feeble. 

“Later,” Mycroft told him, with the finality of a man who already knew he’d be the one doing the dishes. “Don’t worry about it.”

Greg let himself be steered to his own bedroom, and felt the threat of tears and imminent emotional breakdown recede. That kind of thing was rare for him, but oddly enough he wasn’t even embarrassed to be feeling it like this in front of Mycroft. He felt, if not good, then at least safe to be a bit less than good. A lot less than good. 

Mycroft pulled back the covers and guided Greg down into the bed. 

“What next?” He asked. “Held or holding?”

Greg squeezed his eyes shut and breathed through his nose, sure he was going to go over all weepy again. “Held, please. Christ.”

“Good,” Mycroft murmured, and after a couple of minutes spent shedding waistcoat and tie, shoes and socks, slipped in beside him, arranging Greg against his chest as if they’d done this hundreds of times and not just once, in reverse, two days before. 

“Thank you for this,” Greg said into Mycroft’s chest. “Seriously.”

“I maintain that it is selfish of me,” Mycroft replied. “Do you feel ready to sleep?”

Greg thought of the way the eldest Matheison girl had looked when the constable had pulled her from the river.

She’s alive, Greg thought. Stop it.

He couldn’t help picturing the way the kidnapper’s body had looked, floating out on the water. 

“I can’t sleep,” Greg said, “not yet. I promise I’ll be alright, it’s just…”

“You have been stretched to the limit,” Mycroft soothed. He ran his hands over Greg’s arms and back in large, sweeping circles. “Past the limit. I understand, believe me.”

“We tried to talk her down,” Greg murmured. 

“Of course you did.” 

“The little girls—  they’re alright.”

“I know.”

Greg’s breath shuddered in his lungs. “She was just… someone. She didn’t know them. She wasn’t right, wasn’t well. And she took them. And she nearly—” 

“Yes.”

Greg decided to stop speaking for a while and just breathe in the faint scent of whatever the fancy dry cleaners must use on clothing like Mycroft’s; the stronger scents of posh deodorant and absurdly delicious cologne. He breathed and let Mycroft gently touch him until he felt steady again. 

“I don’t think I want to talk about it after all.”

“That’s quite alright.”

“Mycroft.”

“Yes?”

Greg sighed. “You’re so wonderful.”

Mycroft’s chest moved with his wry little chuckle under Greg’s cheek. “I’m pleased to hear you think so.” 

“Would you kiss me?”

It was amazing, getting to actually hear Mycroft’s breath skip, but that feeling was quickly overcome by the perfection of having his head tilted up, two of Mycroft’s fingers under his chin, and his lips kissed, painfully and perfectly gentle. 

“Thanks,” he said, when Mycroft drew away. “Do that whenever you get the urge.”

“Every other minute, then?”

Greg smiled, his first really good smile in hours and hours. “Like I said the other day. You’re just a secret romantic.”

“Perhaps,” Mycroft murmured. “I’ve had plenty of inspiration.” 

“Flatterer.”

“You assume I mean you.”

“I’m your favorite author.”

“Mm.” 

 

***

 

Greg must have drifted off. His eyes snapped open and his body roused into half-alertness some time in the small hours. He nearly sat up; he did gasp. It took his brain a moment to register Mycroft’s arms around him, and by the time it did, their embrace had tightened. 

“Greg?”

Greg turned in Mycroft’s arms - when had he rolled to his other side? - and curled in close. 

“Are you alright?”

“Just leftover adrenaline,” Greg murmured. “Body doesn't know it can stand down yet.”

Mycroft’s hands moved to grip him gently at his upper arms, tipping him away just enough to find him in the dark, push their mouths together in a brief, sweet locking of lips. Greg felt himself relax into it instantly, as if this was all normal business-as-usual. 

It wasn’t. 

It’d been years since he could rely on someone to do that for him. It wasn’t just that he hadn’t actually slept in the same bed as another person since his divorce. In the last years of their marriage, Dana had been unwilling to hear a word from Greg about the job. She hated when he couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t stand the way he jerked awake in the middle of the night. It disgusted her when he got silently weepy over coffee the morning after a rough case. 

It hadn’t always been like that. But it was like that for a long time. 

Greg’s body still remembered how to be comforted. The thought filled him with sadness and joy at the same time. God, he was so tired. 

“Do you need anything?” Mycroft asked, once he had pressed a series of kisses over Greg’s face in the dark, aimless and dry, but sweet and reassuring all the same. “Water? Lights on?”

“Just more sleep,” Greg sighed, melting into Mycroft’s body, into the mattress. 

“Sleep, then,” Mycroft murmured.

Greg did. 

 

***

 

He woke again around six, still heavy with tiredness and achy from days of tension, but miles better than he had been when he arrived home the night before. 

Mycroft was asleep, and deeply so. Greg wondered if he had been able to drop off as easily as Greg had. They had migrated apart a bit, one of Mycroft’s arms under the pillow and the other between their bodies, snug against Greg’s back instead of wrapped around Greg’s waist. He slept with his face half-buried in the pillow, just one side visible. Greg resisted the urge to reach out and trace the fine cheekbone. He didn’t want to wake him. 

Greg left the bed carefully, silently, and padded to the bathroom on quiet feet. His mind turned over the events of the night before while he relieved himself and washed his hands and face, brushed his teeth. 

He never would have expected things to go that way. When Mycroft called, when Greg got into the car, he had thought how nice it would be not to go home to an empty flat, eat with someone, maybe talk a bit. He hadn’t expected Mycroft to just… completely take care of him. 

When Greg got back into the bedroom, Mycroft had shifted in his sleep, more of his face visible in the pale morning light. He had pillow creases on his cheek. Greg would have to kiss those in a bit. For now, he’d let Mycroft sleep and occupy himself for a while. He knew he wouldn’t be able to drop back off at this point. He’d be able to sleep more solidly tonight, with a day in between himself and the worst details of the case. 

He found his laptop where he’d left it, half-shoved under the bed. Sitting up against the headboard, careful not to disturb Mycroft, Greg got comfy and opened the laptop, waking it from its sleep. The screen blinked to life, offering up the manuscript he’d been editing a few days prior. 

Greg sighed. He was a little behind on those edits; he had a deadline next Friday. 

He couldn’t begin to describe how much he didn’t feel like murdering all his beloved semicolons that early in the morning. He could cut himself some slack, he decided, and swapped to another document. An outline. Something new and exciting. Something he could play with and not feel in any way concerned about. 

Greg began to reread what he’d come up with so far, filling in little notes here and there with bits and pieces he’d come up with in the back of his mind in his idle moments since the last time he added to it. There wasn’t much; he’d been slightly busy that week, what with finding out that Mycroft Holmes wanted to kiss him and then throwing himself bodily at a kidnapping case as if ruining himself would make the answers come faster. 

But early morning, even on little sleep, was always the best time for this sort of thing. Greg was quickly absorbed in the flow of a story forming line by line, and he didn’t notice Mycroft waking beside him at first. He didn’t notice until he got down to outlining the revealing moment of the story, where the protagonist would realize his growing feelings, and found his gaze drifting away from his screen and toward Mycroft, the thought half-formed in his head: When was our— 

He was met with Mycroft’s open eyes, surprisingly clear this early in the day, just after waking. 

“Oh,” Greg said, inexplicably embarrassed; like Mycroft had woken up to find him doing something private. He supposed that up until that second, his writing had been private. “Hello.”

“I have wondered,” Mycroft murmured, with more poise than any person just waking up had any right to have, but also endearingly fuzzy by his standards. 

“What about?”

“What you look like when you’re writing.” Mycroft shifted, rolling more onto his back with a stretch. 

Greg set the laptop aside, knocking over his alarm clock on the side table as he did. “Oh? And what do I look like?”

“Content,” Mycroft said immediately. “Handsome.”

Greg found himself grinning. He leaned down and pressed his mouth to Mycroft’s cheek, and then to his lips. “Flatterer,” he said when he pulled away. 

Mycroft reached up and tugged him gently back down. Greg couldn’t stop smiling long enough to properly kiss him, but it didn’t seem to matter. 

“Feeling better?” Mycroft wondered, still close. 

“Much,” Greg replied. “Thanks to you.”

“I… hated to think of you on your own.”

Romantic.” Greg’s tone was teasing, but he meant it.

“I never was before,” Mycroft admitted. 

Greg leaned in and kissed him, sweet and close mouthed. “I don’t believe that.” An idea formed vaguely in the back of his mind. “You said you’ll be free ‘til the afternoon?”

“At least until then,” Mycroft said, then smiled wryly. “Anthea would probably assassinate my 3 o’clock meeting if I asked her for more time. She is rather impressed with you and is curiously invested in our spending time together.”

Greg laughed, collapsing down beside Mycroft to bury his face in his neck and breathe him in. “God,” he said. “Is it weird to say I want you to ask her?” Greg took advantage of the fact that his face was already hidden to ask the question that kept posing itself in his mind “Are we… is this too much? Too fast?”

Mycroft’s long fingers threaded through Greg’s hair. “It has taken me many years to… feel this way. To want…” He trailed off, but then repeated himself, more firmly, a complete sentence. “To want. ” Full stop. “Please. Don’t slow down.”

Greg shivered and wrapped his arms around Mycroft the best he could without moving. “Okay,” he said. That could’ve been considered an opening, once upon a time, with anyone else, to just go for it. Maybe he’d get an article of clothing or five off Mycroft and illustrate with his tongue how very little he minded going very fast. But…no. Not just yet. He propped his chin against Mycroft’s shoulder and tried not to let the skip in his heart show when Mycroft looked down at him with eyes as vulnerable as Greg had ever seen them. Yeah, not yet.   

“So, then… should we get up? Breakfast? Or be disgustingly lazy and call it brunch?”

 

***

 

They had a lie-in, curled together in Greg’s bed, just talking. Greg explained the way cases involving kids always got to him, and how he was always more likely to push himself too hard when dealing with one. Mycroft was reassuring. Understanding.

“There is no shame in needing to… settle,” he said gently. He held Greg’s hand as he said it, his thumb soothing circles over Greg’s palm. “It might be hard to believe but I… that is, my job… of course it can be quite intense now, but I am afforded a certain amount of distance. I wasn’t always.”

Greg tsked. “And who took care of you when you had a week like the one I’ve been having?”

Mycroft shook his head. “You know the answer to that.”

“You’re very tight-lipped,” Greg replied, scooting closer. Maybe if he got so close that they didn’t have to make eye contact, Mycroft would feel more comfortable telling him. “I can guess that you didn’t have someone, at least not recently. But never?”

Mycroft’s eyes closed, and he did as Greg had hoped, tilting their heads together so that they touched almost everywhere, but didn’t have the space to lock eyes. “Never,” he said softly. “I didn’t know how. I still don’t.”

Greg smiled. “You’re doing great so far.”

“Am I?”

They kissed, gentle and brief. 

“Yeah.” Greg thought it might be time to give Mycroft a break from all the sharing. “D’you like sweet breakfast? I know a place.”

 

***

 

They walked together to the bakery a couple of blocks away, for pastries and coffee, and then back to Greg’s flat. Mycroft never bothered to re-dress in his suit, and Greg felt stupidly distracted by the sight of him in his shirtsleeves, rolled and shoved up to above his elbows. They ate flaky, jam-filled pastries in the kitchen, trading sugary kisses when the mood struck, which was often. Greg thought with no small amount of wonder that he had never been this soppy over anyone before. 

“What were you writing?” Mycroft wondered. “This morning in bed?”

Greg leaned his cheek against his fist and smiled across his kitchen table at the blush that bloomed across the bridge of Mycroft’s nose when he said those last two words. “You want to know?”

Mycroft cleared his throat. “Of course I do. I’ve been deprived of my favorite author’s work for months.”

“Whose fault is that?” Greg teased. “Maybe I should make you join my newsletter, hope you get some sneak peaks—” Mycroft flushed harder. Greg barked a delighted laugh. “You already joined my newsletter.” 

“Before I realized,” Mycroft admitted, looking away in embarrassment. His lips twitched. “Yes.”

“Fantastic,” Greg said. “Bloody wonderful. You’re my favorite reader, you know?”

Mycroft looked back at him, appearing more pleased than he should for such an obvious statement. Greg’s heart thumped hard against his ribs. He would have to think of more things to say to get that sweetly surprised reaction. 

“How’s this,” Greg said after a moment. “What I was working on this morning isn’t really describable yet. It’s early days. But I know for a fact you’ve missed two books since you decided reading them was disrespectful to me as a person. Which, by the way, I still think is daft.”

“Allow me my coping mechanisms,” Mycroft grumbled into his next bite of danish. “I was… besotted. And…”

“Confused?” 

“Afraid.” Mycroft looked surprised at himself for having said it. 

Greg wanted to call him sweetheart and kiss his bloody face off. He pushed that down. Too much, too soon. Probably. He said, “Don’t be afraid of me.” 

“I’m not.” 

“Still afraid of my books?”

Mycroft quirked a smile. “Not that I was, but no.” 

“Come back to bed.”

 

***

 

Greg couldn’t believe his luck. Ten in the morning on a Friday and he was tucked up against the pillows with Mycroft Holmes actually cuddled into his side, listening to Greg read out loud the first chapter of L.G. Derien’s most recent work. 

“A romantic mystery involving shadowy government initiatives,” Mycroft mused when Greg read him the back cover. “Set in Dartmoor. Interesting.”

Greg grinned. “I was spending a lot of time with you,” he said. “I kept thinking about that time. I couldn’t be sure then but I would’ve sworn you were checking out my tan.”

“I was,” Mycroft said drily. “It was unfair of you to be that handsome.” 

“Should’ve said something.”

Mycroft elbowed him. “You were a married man.”

Greg sighed and opened the book. “You’re right. Well, you’ll have to go away somewhere sunny with me. All the tan you want, then.”

He realized as he said it that it was more than a bit presumptuous, and it must have shown on his face because Mycroft smiled and shook his head. 

“I already told you,” he said. “Don’t slow down.”

They hadn’t even slept together. Well, not in the biblical sense. Greg wanted to go on a two week beach vacation with Mycroft anyway.

“Right,” Greg said, and opened the book to read. 

 

***

 

“Don’t read the next page,” Mycroft said a while later, close to noon. “I’m quite sure my heart couldn’t take it.”

“Come on,” Greg cajoled, even as he shut the book and tossed it aside to roll Mycroft onto his back. “They’re almost gonna kiss.” He hovered his mouth over Mycroft’s. “Not quite, though. Also, I knew you were reading ahead.” 

“If I have to listen to your voice reading that,” Mycroft said, nice and even, his breath ghosting over Greg’s lips, “I will perish.”

I am in love with you, Greg thought. 

He’d known it for a while, though for a long time it had made him despair. Going for near-weekly not-date dinners, carrying a torch for a man who probably didn’t feel the same. Laura had given Greg such shit about it. But he couldn’t help it, and he didn’t try very hard not to fall for the Mycroft Holmes he was growing to know. 

He’d really known it the night before, when just the sight of Mycroft on his doorstep, just the feel of him, had been a relief. He couldn’t say it, though. Not slowing down was one thing. Hurtling them both off a cliff a couple of days in was another. 

“Wouldn’t want to kill you,” Greg said instead, and nearly rolled his eyes at himself. 

“A nice way to go,” Mycroft replied. “But perhaps not just yet. Kiss me.” 

Greg obliged him, but regardless of who asked who to do the kissing, the thing changed direction pretty quickly, Myroft’s hand around the back of Greg’s neck holding him still; Mycroft’s tongue slipping between Greg’s lips. Greg really did marvel at the sort of kisser Mycroft was. For someone who hadn’t had much recent experience, who was so unsure of his welcome and how to go about things like cuddling and fooling around just for the sake of it, he kissed masterfully.  

Greg was happy to give himself over, put himself in those capable hands. 

When they came up for air, Mycroft was breathing hard, his hands clenched tight in the shoulders of Greg’s t-shirt. 

“Can I ask you something?” Greg’s hands hovered over Mycroft’s hips. “Or, can I…” 

“Yes,” Mycroft replied, and it took Greg a moment to realize that Mycroft wasn’t telling him that he could ask, but that he had free reign . “Yes.”

Greg felt light headed. Like he was being handed a winning lottery ticket. “I didn’t ask you yet.”

“Touch me, please.” 

Greg let his eyes fall closed and brought one of Mycroft’s hands to his mouth, pressing his lips to the knuckles and breathing slowly to force himself into something close to control and restraint. “I don’t want to do anything you don’t want me to do. I want to take this... if not slowly, carefully. Want to make everything perfect.” 

“It is perfect.” Mycroft shifted and rolled them, pressing Greg down into the mattress with their hands intertwined above Greg’s shoulders, pinning him. “It is everything. I want… everything.”

“All at once?”

Mycroft’s lips twitched. He huffed his self-deprecating little exhale. “Yes, all at once,” he said. “But perhaps we could start with…” He slipped on hand up under Greg’s t-shirt. “The basics?”

Greg’s heart fluttered in his chest. He nodded. “Yeah, okay.”

Long, uncountable minutes later, Greg had to wonder just what the definition of the basics was , because Mycroft had proceeded to more or less trap him there and was edging him blind. 

He rucked Greg’s shirt up his chest and then decided, apparently, that it was in his way just there, and shoved the neck of it over Greg’s head without actually letting Greg sit up to get it off his arms. He wasn’t bound by the shirt or anything, but the tightness of the fabric made him feel like he was. Then, Mycroft just… set upon Greg’s skin, his mouth soft and aimless at first, but quickly finding the strangest erogenous zones —  Greg’s belly button; the space below his last rib — and then moving on to the more obvious ones. 

He spent an inordinate amount of time laving his tongue over Greg’s nipples, paying what Greg was sort of positive was a perfectly equal amount of attention to each. Greg began to wonder if this was payback for his own inadvertent foray onto the knife edge of an untouched orgasm, touching Mycroft’s nipples the other day. But that didn’t seem like the sort of thing Mycroft was thinking about now. He seemed intent and focused, but not like he was collecting data or driving at any particular goal. 

When he drew away from Greg’s left nipple to bite along the lower edge of his pectoral, Mycroft seemed to be doing it just to do it. There was no finesse there, just enthusiasm and curiosity.

It was delicious. Greg felt like he was being enjoyed. Tasted. Maybe even used, a little, which was vaguely weird, considering all the pleasure in the world seemed to be on offer to him, and Mycroft was still fully dressed and hadn’t even put his cock anywhere near Greg yet. 

Mycroft drifted across Greg’s body again, and this time he bit the hardened nipple, sharp and stinging, before licking over it to soothe. 

Greg gasped and whimpered, his hips jerking involuntarily. He was painfully hard, and shocked by it. Just from having his chest played with? Greg couldn’t remember if that had ever happened before.  

Greg craned his neck to try and watch as Mycroft moved down his torso in a line of sucking kisses, dipping his tongue into Greg’s navel again in such a way that Greg couldn’t keep his head up. He collapsed back against the pillows and wished he could move his arms enough in the confines of the t-shirt to reach up and grip the headboard. Something. There was no way Mycroft could have missed the fact of Greg’s straining erection, not in the sweatpants Greg had changed back into after the walk to the bakery. Still, he seemed to be ignoring it for now, tracing his lips along the waistband of the sweats, his hands holding Greg at the hips firmly, but not hard enough to be painful. 

Greg remembered the other night, making out like teenagers on the sofa, and the way Mycroft kept pressing his nose to Greg’s hairline, darting his tongue out to taste the hinge of his jaw. 

This was the same; Myroft exploring him, taking him in, cataloging him and managing to make it extremely hot. 

“May I?” Mycroft asked in a murmur against the softness of Greg’s right love handle, one hand hovering over the tented fabric over Greg’s crotch. 

“You don’t need to ask,” Greg replied, breathless. “But yeah. Yes. God, please.”

Mycroft surprised him; Greg had been expecting that uncertain hand to rub against him through the fabric, which would have been just fine. Instead, Mycroft leaned up on his other elbow and hooked his fingers into the waistband of Greg’s sweats, pulling it up and over Greg’s erection and slipping it down just far enough to sit tight around the very tops of his thighs, snug under his balls. 

“Oh my god,” Greg moaned, when Mycroft’s perfect, long fingers wrapped around his bare prick. “Mycroft.”

“It’s alright?”

“Yes,” Greg said. “God, yes, but it’s been long enough that - oh - this might be over embarrassingly fast.” 

Mycroft’s hand tightened, nice and snug, around Greg’s cock, and he leaned up to kiss him, tongue slipping in alongside Greg’s in a dirty, invasive stroke that Greg groaned into. Mycroft sucked Greg’s bottom lip as he pulled back. “Don’t come,” he said. 

Greg bit down on a cry, strangling it in his throat. “Jesus—” his hips tried to come up off the bed. “Don’t say that, or I will..”

“I had forgotten,” Mycroft said, urgent, even as his hand stroked Greg slowly from root to tip and then back down again, “how much I could enjoy this.”

“Mmph,” Greg nodded. “Good! I mean, no—  not good, forgetting isn’t good.” Mycroft’s clever fingers formed a tight ring just below the head, jerking a couple of times, experimentally, over it and then snugly back down in short little strokes. Greg’s brain was probably melting, and that was fine by him. “Enjoying is good.” 

Mycroft hummed thoughtfully. He kissed Greg again, just as messy and filthy as before. And then he caught Greg off-guard again by sliding back down his body and taking the head of his cock into his mouth, hot and wet, without warning. 

“Fuck,” Greg cried out. “Mycroft, I’m—”

Mycroft’s tongue did something utterly wicked and Greg’s entire body shuddered. He slid his mouth down, expert and precise, and then he pulled off entirely. 

Greg twitched, caught there between Mycroft’s hands - one at his hip, pinning him, and the other still circling his cock with two fingers (his fucking pinky raised, which Greg saw when he looked down, askance, at the cease in delicious, perfect suction). His chest heaved. 

“What?” He gasped, meeting Mycroft’s gaze for the first time in what felt like hours. “You stopped.”

“You were about to finish,” Mycroft replied. “I’m not finished yet.”

The absolute kicker of it all, was that Mycroft didn't say it with the air of a man who was actively denying Greg his incipient orgasm; it didn't sound dominant. It didn't even sound coy. 

It was factual. Blunt. It was… incredibly Holmesian. 

Greg compartmentalized hard to avoid thinking of bloody Sherlock. 

“Oh,” he said, the brokenness of his own voice unsurprising. “You’re not?”

“Not nearly,” Mycroft said, then buried his face in the crease of Greg’s thigh, breathing in deeply while his tongue slipped out to taste the skin there and his hand stroked over Greg’s cock again, base to tip, tip to base, nice and smooth with a twist of his wrist at the head. 

“Jesus fucking—” Greg’s head hit the pillow with a thump. “You’re amazing.”

“I used to love doing this,” Mycroft told Greg’s inner thigh, echoing what he said before. “I still love doing this.” 

“I am extremely lucky,” Greg said, blinking up at the ceiling and gasping as Mycroft’s tongue darted out, pressing hard just under the head of his cock. His hips jerked, fighting against Mycroft’s grip. 

Mycroft laid his forearm over Greg’s pelvis, like a bar holding him down. The pressure there felt fantastic. Mycroft sucked him down again and Greg was gone, lost to it. Mycroft let up on his hold, instead pressing his palm down on the lowest part of Greg’s belly. Greg felt his balls tighten, felt his spine go electric with his orgasm just before it hit. 

“My- Mycroft, I’m—”

“Mmph,” Mycroft replied, and it was somehow eloquent. It was yes, and do it.

Greg saw stars, and came. 

Mycroft’s mouth was gentle and sweet through the aftershocks, releasing Greg slowly through a series of long, slow sucks and then gentle, deliberate presses of his lips along the shaft, down to Greg’s balls, his thighs, Mycroft’s hand taking his mouth’s place, softly holding Greg’s spent prick to his twitching belly. 

“Oh my god,” Greg said. “That was so…”

When he looked up, it was to find Mycroft sweeping one elegant thumb along the edge of his reddened mouth. Greg had watched him do that a hundred times, after the first taste of a good wine. Stunned, and utterly run over by intense affection and a desperate need to get his hands in Mycroft’s trousers, Greg reached for him. 

“You don’t have to—” Mycroft made to turn his face away. 

“You think I don’t want to kiss you on the mouth? After that?”

Mycroft made a small, noncommittal humming sound. 

Well fuck that, Greg thought. If I ever meet the man - men? - who made you this unsure I’ll— 

Greg shoved that aside and hauled Mycroft in and down into the wettest kiss he could manage. He groaned at the taste of himself, and it wasn’t just for Mycroft’s benefit. Greg loved that. 

“Can I?” He asked, reaching for Mycroft’s trouser button. “I’m dying to see you.’

Mycroft nodded, his forehead bumping into Greg’s. “Please.”

Greg struggled, with Mycroft’s help, out of his t-shirt at last, settling with Mycroft straddling his lap. He opened Mycroft’s trousers, not bothering to try and take it slow or make it sexy. His hands were shaking, and he was still panting from orgasm and kissing. Mycroft wore soft grey boxer briefs, silky to the touch and doing nothing to hide how hard he was. Or how…

Jesus Christ, Greg thought. Big. 

He let the trousers fall, slipping down Mycroft’s narrow hips, and then pressed his palm to the hard ridge of his cock. 

Which was big.

He’d felt it, of course, pressed against him, and thought at the time that it was probably on the larger side. But he hadn’t expected— 

“I was going to use my hand,” he murmured, not realizing, actually, that he’d said it out loud until Mycroft responded.

“Yes, please.”

Greg shook his head, hooking his fingers under the waistband to brush against the head. Mycroft’s hips shoved down, searching for more touch. “I think I really need to get my mouth on that,” Greg said, and pushed Mycroft gently over and onto his back. 

“Oh,” Mycroft said on an exhale, already kicking the trousers off his legs while Greg peeled down his high-end underwear with little finesse, but at least some restraint, despite the way his mouth watered in anticipation. 

“My, my,” Greg murmured, stroking Mycroft in a loose fist. “It is my lucky, lucky day.”

Mycroft made a choked-off little moan, thrusting up into Greg’s soft grip. His expression was stuck somewhere between smugness and embarrassment. 

Greg leaned up and kissed him as he tightened his hand for several purposeful strokes, mimicking the little twist of the wrist Mycroft had executed before. “I’m not as good at it as you,” he murmured against Mycroft’s mouth. “And I’m out of practice.”

“I could come just from this,” Mycroft told him, hips hitching up. “Just… please. Let me.”

Let him. That sounded… like something to turn over (and over and over) in his mind later. Greg had to kiss him again. “I’m not going to make you beg, darling,” he said. “Not today, anyway.”

Mycroft grinned, seeming to relax at the gentle tease in Greg’s voice, and then his smile melted as Greg stroked him again, again, again, a little harder, a little faster. His mouth went slack with pleasure, and Greg kissed it one more time, nice and sloppy and promising.

He didn’t linger over the planes of smooth, pale skin spread out before him. He’d promised not to make Mycroft beg - though he would definitely be returning the favor sometime soon, of being held down and sweetly tortured. Greg began with a long, slow lick up the shaft, sighing in satisfaction as he reached the slick precome at the head. He’d missed this. 

Mycroft made the most fantastic sounds when Greg sealed his mouth around him, taking as much of him as he could in those first tentative, sucking strokes. Breathy moans went deeper, lower, and if Greg was a younger man he’d be hard again just from that. 

It took a bit for his nerves to settle, to get the rhythm down. He knew he couldn’t take Mycroft’s entire length without extensive practice (what a hardship that would be) and relearning how to relax his throat, so he didn’t try to get too fancy with it. He kept losing himself to the feel and the taste, remembering to pay attention to what his hands were doing, pulling off to lick and nibble and tease. Mycroft didn’t seem to mind the lack of precision judging by the constant, delicious noises he made.

Then, as Greg sped his movements, bobbing up and down on Mycroft’s cock while his hand covered what length he couldn’t take, he got too ambitious and managed to nearly choke, gagging just a little before pulling away to gulp in a breath. Once upon a time, when Greg did this with men frequently, he’d have coughed, caught his breath and then just kept going. But he glanced at Mycroft’s face, a little embarrassed, wondering if the lack of finesse had killed the mood at all. 

Mycroft was watching him with dark, hooded eyes, his breath coming fast through his parted lips. 

He liked that, Greg thought, flicking out his tongue to play at the very edge of the head, just to watch Mycroft’s mouth drop open further, just to hear him gasp. I’m gonna let him fuck my throat one day, he’ll love it. 

We’re going to have the most amazing sex. 

Thrilled, Greg worked his fingers in between Mycroft’s where they had twisted into the sheets, massaging his grip until it loosened. He guided Mycroft’s hands to his head and shot him a wink before getting back to the task at hand. 

Mycroft’s fingers were shy in Greg’s hair at first, but Greg knew a couple of little tricks, surprising Mycroft with swirls of his tongue and the barest application of teeth just there. Mycroft didn’t mirror the death grip in the sheets on Greg’s scalp, but he let his hands wander, let his nails scratch a little, and when Greg made him gasp he twisted strands of hair in his grasp and the little shivers of fleeting pressure and just a little pain very nearly did make Greg hard again. He rocked his hips down against the bed a little, relishing the way it felt on his over-sensitive cock. 

He moaned around his mouthful and touched where he could reach: Mycroft’s nipples, which made him jerk and gasp, the hint of a laugh mixed into his moans, then scratching down his ribs, clutching at his hips and sucking hard before stroking up his inner thighs. Greg pressed a knuckle behind his balls, felt them beginning to tighten. He moaned encouragement and Mycroft pulled his hair until he was twisting into and away from Mycroft’s hands all at the same time, shivering with it. He wanted Mycroft to come down his throat, or on his face. He wanted Mycroft to yank him around or hold him still. He wanted to see Mycroft’s face, and keep his eyes shut so he could just feel all of this. 

It was a mess. It felt amazing, but it was frantic and graceless. Greg became aware of his own sounds as Mycroft’s stuttered and stopped; he whimpered in anticipation of Mycroft’s orgasm, each noise drawn from him shaking, because he was shaking, as though he was about to come again with Mycroft, his body tightening in sympathy. 

Greg gagged again when Mycroft’s hips twitched up hard, and he had to pull off, and it all sort of happened very quickly. Greg came up gasping, his hand following the trajectory of his mouth, intending to stroke Mycroft through the break he needed in order to catch his breath. Mycroft’s hand tightened in Greg’s hair. Greg looked up and registered the way his expression had broken open, the little line between his eyebrows and the slackness of his jaw. And then he felt the first striping spurt of come across his own cheek 

Yes.

Greg let his eyes drift closed as he stroked and aimed Mycroft through it, opening his mouth and groaning at the taste as Mycroft cried out above him. 

“Greg,” Mycroft grated. 

He opened his eyes. Mycroft was wrecked, hair sticking up and face flushed. His eyes had gone wide, presumably at the wanton way Greg had just painted his own lips and tongue with Mycroft’s come. Greg licked a drop away, and the sound Mycroft made then went straight down his spine. 

By the time Mycroft gently pushed Greg’s hand off him, gasping through the last over-sensitized slide, the first line along Greg’s cheekbone had begun to drip. Mycroft ran his fingers through it. 

“My god,” Mycroft uttered, his voice scraped hoarse. “You are a treasure.”

Greg laughed and pressed his face to Mycroft’s belly, giggling madly. A treasure.

When he’d composed himself, he propped himself up on his fist, elbow bent on the mattress beside Mycroft’s hip. “We’re going to be bloody fantastic together, you know.”

It seemed to bowl Mycroft over for a second, but he recovered with a tentative little smile. “Yes,” he said. 

Greg would need to go clean his face. They could both shower. But he let his head drop down to rest over Mycroft’s ribs, feeling the rise and fall of his breaths. Mycroft’s hand returned to Greg’s hair, gentle now. 

It was a while before either of them bothered to move. 

 

***

 

By just gone noon, Mycroft had ignored three phone calls. 

“If an emergency were to happen,” he told Greg while borrowing a disposable razor for a quick shave, “I would know from the ringtone.” 

“Have a feeling you can’t skip that three o’clock.” 

“Probably not,” Myroft said with regret. Greg kissed him quickly, and Mycroft reached out to swipe a bit of transferred shaving foam from Greg’s chin. 

Greg leaned into the casual touch and sighed. “This has been fantastic. I can’t believe you cancelled your morning for me.”

Mycroft tapped the razor on the bowl of the sink, then removed the last triangle of foam, and the tiny bit of stubble beneath, with a deft stroke of the blade. He wiped the traces of leftover foam away with the waiting towel and turned to tug Greg close. 

Greg wouldn’t have expected Mycroft to be so at ease with casual touching. But he was. Greg was obsessed with it, and with his own reaction to it. Mycroft touched him, and Greg went. Easy as anything.

“You realize you have stayed up overnight in hospital waiting rooms with me twice,” Mycroft said. “To say nothing of the risks you have taken, the myriad inconveniences you have withstood, for Sherlock’s sake.”

“True,” Greg admitted, letting himself be embraced and held close. “We barely knew each other then.”

“And yet,” Mycroft murmured. He kissed the side of Greg’s head. “I would have done anything you asked, assuming it was within my power to give, long before we became friends.”

Greg grinned. “And now?”

Mycroft huffed, his chest moving against Greg’s. “I would topple governments if it would thrill you to watch them fall.” 

“Ah, no need for all that,” Greg said, teasing and hoping Mycroft had been teasing as well. “Dinner would be fine.”

“Yes,” Mycroft sighed. “We still have yet to make it out for a meal this week.”

“We will,” Greg soothed, leaning up for a kiss. 

It was interrupted by an insistent banging at his front door. 

“What the f--” 

Mycroft’s arms stilled Greg’s movement out of the bathroom to investigate the commotion. His eyes fell shut, pained. 

“Wha-”

“It’s Sherlock,” Mycroft said, his entire body seeming to wince. 

Greg’s heart sank. “Oh, bollocks,” he said. This was going to be an explosion. 

“Quite,” Mycroft replied, but he smiled. “I fear our happy little bubble is set to pop.” 

“It’s alright,” Greg murmured. The banging at the door kept on. He kissed Mycroft again, long and sweet. “Isn’t it? Do you want to hide?”

“My things are in your kitchen. He could catch a whiff of my cologne, or read it in the way you open the door.” Mycroft shook his head. “It’s fine. Sherlock was going to find out eventually. I didn’t plan to hide this. I don’t think I could.”

Greg’s cheeks hurt from the width of his grin. It had been days since they started this, and Mycroft had thought about it in the long term. Long term enough to factor in whether they’d be public about it.

We’re really doing this.

“Keep the robe on,” Greg said, plucking at the lapels of his own dressing gown, which Mycroft had borrowed after his shower. “Really shock the little shit.”

Mycroft’s smirk was downright evil; the kiss he pressed to Greg’s lips was gleeful. 

“Answer the door,” he said. 

 

***

 

Sherlock had begun to drum a vaguely familiar tune on the door with his fists. Greg hauled it open with a glare. 

“Sherlock,” he growled. Over Sherlock’s shoulder John gave him his customary I tried look. “John.” 

“Your mobile is off,” Sherlock snapped, outraged, as he swept past Greg into the flat. “You weren’t at the Yard.”

“I was on duty for nearly forty-eight hours straight,” Greg informed him, rolling his eyes. “I took a personal day.”

“I have suspicions about the father,” Sherlock announced. “Donovan won’t listen. You’re needed at work. Now you’ve had your lie-in, it’s time to—”

Greg would remember the next moment for as long as he lived. Sherlock very nearly swallowed his tongue mid-sentence, his eyes finally landing on the kitchen chair, which was in his direct line of sight, thanks to the way Greg had intentionally positioned himself just to the left of the kitchen doorway. Just as the penny seemed to drop, a throat was cleared from the hallway, and Mycroft breezed through. Sherlock’s jaw liked to have hit the floor. 

“My apologies,” said Mycroft smoothly. He’d neatened his hair, but still wore Greg’s dressing gown. He slid past Greg and into the kitchen, a casual hand lingering briefly on Greg’s hip on his way past, where he gathered his suit jacket from the back of the chair. He didn’t even glance at Sherlock, not once, which Greg found incredibly impressive. Mycroft did smile blandly at John before he slipped back through the kitchen doorway, pressed a fleeting kiss to Greg’s cheek, and took himself back into the hallway and Greg’s bedroom. 

“Oh,” John said. “My god.” 

“Anyway,” Greg chirped sunnily. “You’re right, I’ve had my lie-in. But I’m not going into the office today. Sherlock, unless someone is about to be murdered, I don’t want to hear it. Make nice with Donovan or try to sweet talk Dimmock into helping you. I’m taking the day off. You can see yourself out.”

Greg left them - John covering his mouth with one hand and trying not to laugh; Sherlock with his mouth open like a guppy - and followed Mycroft’s path into the bedroom. 

Mycroft was just inside the door, clearly listening in, and practically vibrating with humor. Greg waited for the sound of the door to the flat slamming shut to lose it, and Mycroft hauled him in at that moment so that he ended up laughing against Mycroft’s mouth, and then moaning into a toe-curling kiss. 

“Wonderful,” Mycroft said when he was finished stealing the breath from Greg’s lungs. “You’re wonderful.”

God, Greg thought. I love you. And then: Gonna be killer to stop myself from saying that out loud. 








Chapter Text

Mycroft arrived in his office at a quarter after two, and made straight for his en suite, where an armoire held a spare, fresh suit. He did not make eye contact with Anthea on his way in, nor did he give her any indication that her presence would be needed or appreciated. Still, when he exited the bathroom, she was waiting at his desk. 

“Oh, sir,” she sighed. “I am so pleased.”

“I do live to please you,” Mycroft said drily, as he took his seat. “I would like to make a reservation for Sunday evening.” 

Anthea grinned widely. “Very good, sir.”



***



They made it to dinner, at last. 

“This is a bit fancier than our usual,” Greg said when they arrived. “Glad you warned me to spiff up.”

“Is it alright?” Mycroft was suddenly and horribly worried that he’d made a grievous misstep. Should he have chosen somewhere more casual? Perhaps the tapas restaurant from the beginning. That would’ve been romantic. He berated himself internally even as Greg happily set aside the wine list and told him to choose, as usual. 

Greg noticed his distress and shook his head with a fond smile. Told Mycroft it was perfect, that he didn’t mind being spoiled just this once. 

“It won’t be once,” Mycroft warned. 

Greg just grinned at him across the table, and Mycroft’s chest felt as though it would burst. 

Mycroft was scheduled to fly out in the small hours between Sunday and Monday, which he’d been hesitant to tell Greg before dinner. As the meal carried on, he regretted not saying something before. He desperately wished the plans hadn’t long been in place. For his presence to be unneeded. For his work, for the first time in his life, to come second. He knew, logically, that Greg understood the demands of work; that Greg himself had worried over cancelling plans with Mycroft because of them.

They hadn’t made plans for the night beyond dinner, but Mycroft knew from the sparkle in Greg’s eyes, the nudge of his foot under the table, that he wanted to. Mycroft wanted to. 

He managed to get the words out before dessert. He hated the way Greg’s gaze filled with disappointment. 

“Well, damn,” Greg sighed. “That puts a pin in my devilish plan to seduce you up to my flat after this. What time do you need to be in the car?”

“Just after midnight, sadly,” Mycroft said. “I’m sorry.”

“Nothing to be sorry for,” Greg hurried to assure him, and his hand made to reach across the table before he hesitated and glanced around. 

“Please—” Mycroft turned his own hand, palm up, on the tabletop. 

Greg smiled, relieved, and took it. “It’s alright?”

“Yes.” Mycroft squeezed his fingers. “And… I shall be out of the country until at least Wednesday. I know it’s - that is, I don’t wish to—” 

“I’m not about to go cold on you because you’re at work for three days, Mycroft.”

Mycroft opened his mouth to insist that he hadn’t been worrying about just that, but it would be a lie. Greg looked back at him, again with that fond twist of the lips. Mycroft couldn’t recall ever being looked at like that. 

“Perhaps I’m just disappointed,” Mycroft said at last. “Perhaps I wish to be seduced up to your flat.”

“This isn’t your last chance,” Greg teased, before glancing at his watch. “It’s nearly ten.” 

“Yes,” Mycroft sighed. 

“Dessert, then?” Greg ventured. “And then… you can drop me off at my flat, kiss me vigorously against the door, and get in the car for the airport right on the dot.” 

Mycroft felt weak with relief and desire. “Vigorously…”

“Yeah.” Greg grinned. “Chocolate creme brulee?”

“My first love was chocolate,” Mycroft acknowledged. 

“I know.”

The second is you, Mycroft thought, and very carefully didn’t make eye contact.

 

***



Anthea noticed his sour mood on the plane, and wisely said nothing. She noticed again at their hastily-eaten lunch between meetings, and again as they both unwound over glasses of aged rum - her favorite - much later than either of them would have wished the day to end. 

“You can’t let it get to you this way,” she chided, once one of two fingers of liquor had been imbibed. “This is what will sour it, if you let it.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Mycroft drained his glass and signalled for the server with a tick of his finger. 

“You’re annoyed that you aren’t with him,” Anthea said, giving up any pretense of skirting the issue. “You’re furious that you aren’t breathing the same London air. It’s making you hate this.” She indicated his life’s work with a waggle of her fingertips. 

Two more rums were delivered. Anthea drained her first and picked up the second, then waited for Mycroft to do the same. 

“What would you have me do?” Mycroft asked when she said nothing further for several passive-aggressive sips. “Ignore that I’m annoyed?” He thought that through and sighed, wincing. “Have I been unbearable toward you?”

“Never,” Anthea replied immediately. “Not once. But you are… sir, it breaks my heart, seeing you positioning yourself to break your own. What’s worse, I think you’ve done it before and no one stopped you.”

Mycroft didn’t close his eyes in acknowledgment of the precision of the blow. He carefully did not wince. He and Anthea never used to discuss personal matters for this reason. She was very nearly his match in terms of analytical ability and quickness of wits. Until Sherlock’s fall, they had kept a polite, invisible barrier raised between them in every conversation. Inquiries after health and the quality of one’s day were customary, as were meaningless, bland answers. 

Things changed, though, when Mycroft needed to entrust her with Sherlock’s wellbeing while he was away. Mycroft was very good at what he did, but even he couldn’t track the machinations of the world and a Sherlock who was running amok outside of London’s safe boundaries. Anthea could. She had shared the load with him, and been instrumental in Sherlock’s safe return. 

Mycroft had known, academically, that she was trustworthy, before all of that. Now, in the after, he knew that he trusted her completely. 

Thus began a new era in their working relationship: A friendship. Of sorts. 

Mycroft felt that, more often than not, theirs was a friendship which revolved around one party chastising the other for being terrible at managing himself. Mycroft would be more upset about it if Anthea was wrong, and if it didn’t feel so strangely good to be known so well by another person. 

“I won’t detail my romantic past for you,” Mycroft said after a moment. 

“I won’t ask.” She uncrossed her legs, recrossed them. Sipped her drink. “But I think you should consider that, this time, something will have to give.”

“No, it won’t.”

Anthea rolled her eyes, and for a moment she looked as young as she had been when he hired her. She shook her head, despairing of him. “You think you can maintain the level of commitment to the work you always have, and also commit to him?”

“I…” Mycroft sighed. “What else is there to do?”

“Mycroft,” Anthea said, as if he was very thick. “The solution is about to order you another drink.”

She left him at the door to his room a few hours later, the both of them a little worse for wear and a bit prickly with each other, with a pat to his shoulder and: “Go read one of his books, already. You’ll feel better for it.”

She was, as usual, correct.



***



Mycroft didn’t see Greg for almost another week after their dinner out. They had a short phone conversation when Mycroft arrived back in London late on Wednesday. They’d managed to talk once during Mycroft’s trip, while Mycroft ate a mediocre room service lunch and Greg cooked an undoubtedly superior supper. By the time he collapsed, exhausted, into the back of a car heading home, it was nearing the witching hour and Mycroft had a meeting at seven the next morning. 

The next day, three warehouses, fortunately out of use, burned to the ground with bodies, already deceased and partially decomposed, inside. 

Greg texted just in time for Mycroft’s exit from the most obnoxious meeting he’d endured in recent memory: I’m stuck with your bloody brother all day, and probably for the week judging by the damage to the bodies. Hope your day’s better than mine. 

Mycroft groaned, knowing this would mean the end of their tentative dinner plans for the evening. He texted back: My morning has been an exercise in patience, I’m afraid. I know you will be unlikely to finish in time for dinner. Could I propose an alternative? 

I’m all ears, Greg texted. Er. Eyes. You know what I mean. 

Mycroft smiled to himself and ignored Anthea’s curious eyebrow from beside him in the car. 

Fish and chips, hand delivered to your office at whatever time suits? I shall stay and eat with you if convenient?

You star. Please. Yes. And to borrow from your bloody awful brother who I will kick out before you arrive (7ish?) if inconvenient, stay anyway. 

Around 7, Mycroft typed back. Until then. 

“I need to be in Westminster by half six,” Mycroft told Anthea without looking up to see her gleeful face. “You may cancel my reservation.”

“Laughing Halibut, then?” She was smirking. Mycroft could hear it. “I could order ahead.”

“No need,” Mycroft replied. “I’ll walk in.”

“You think I don’t know about your extra gravy,” she muttered. “I know.” 

“My waistline is none of your concern,” Mycroft sniped half-heartedly, glancing at the time and despairing over the yawning chasm between now and seven o’clock. 

“Your heart health is my concern, don’t be a twat,” Anthea snipped back, startling a laugh out of him. “Promise me you won’t skip the appointment with your GP next month and I’ll say no more.”

“Done,” Mycroft said, and he felt impossibly fond of her as she tapped his knee with the pointed toe of her shoe, so glancing as to be easily mistakable as accidental. He knew better. 



***



“You know,” Anthea said later, after he had handed her his personal black American Express with instructions to treat herself and a companion to an extravagant meal as thanks for her admirable performance that day (and for the last decade-and-change, of course). “You could stand to take some time off. Perhaps next month, after Dr. Gurunathan pronounces your health to be fair to middling and tells you that you need to rest more.”

“I will take the card back,” Mycroft warned. The car was pulling up outside of The Laughing Halibut, behind the Audi waiting to take Anthea wherever she planned to go next. “And the car.”

Anthea ignored him. “Take Detective Inspector Lestrade to the house,” she said. “A Friday-to-Monday holiday.”

“The house?” Mycroft recoiled. “He wouldn’t— the house won’t—”

“You could redecorate it, you realize.” Anthea had already gone back to tapping out emails on her mobile. “That you find it so tacky and yet refuse to change things is beyond my understanding. This is, however, beside the point. Tell Lestrade that you hate the house but the security is ironclad, and the grounds are breathtaking. Tell him that you’re dying to see him working on his delightful books in the light of the conservatory in the morning. Take him there, shag him blind, and get a taste of what your life could be if you would only take a break. Sir.”

Mycroft wouldn’t dignify any of that with a response. “Get out of my car,” he sighed, aggrieved. “I will see you tomorrow. And we won’t speak of this.”



***



Still, Anthea had got into his head. She had a habit of doing so, usually through a series of pointed remarks. She had been making inroads into a forced break for weeks. Tonight was only one of a series of small battles she had waged thus far. Mycroft must have left some of his aggravation on his face; Greg greeted him at his office door with raised eyebrows. 

“Someone insult your mum?” 

Mycroft huffed. “You assume I am a better son than I am,” he joked drily. “No, just my right hand woman directing me in how to conduct my affairs. Again.” 

Greg laughed, and it was certainly more of a laughing-at-you sort of response than a laughing-with. “Last time you mentioned her you said she likes me enough to assassinate a man. She’s probably right about whatever it is.” 

Greg cleared space on his desk for the takeaway containers, and Mycroft produced two bottles of beer from his inside coat pockets. 

“Oh, you naughty boy,” Greg groaned, taking his. 

Mycroft nearly had a stroke, he was sure of it, but he recovered enough to clink his bottle with Greg’s over the steaming fish and chips.

By the time they had settled across from each other, Mycroft had decided, in the back of his mind, and very much without meaning to, that Greg was right, and therefore so was Anthea.

He had been very carefully avoiding thinking about their rum-fueled conversation in Miami the week before. It kept echoing, though, louder and louder the more he tried to shove it aside. 

“Do you wish to discuss the case?” Mycroft asked, delaying himself from voicing thoughts half-formed. 

“Christ, no,” Greg scoffed. “Sorry to say that I’m more than happy to let Sherlock figure this out without me. It’s completely lazy and entirely against procedure, but I’m reasonably sure he and John are out there right now finding our man through breaking and entering. The less I know the better, and if I’m lucky they’ll have delivered me a suspect by midnight.”

Mycroft smiled into his beer. “Pulling back a bit, Inspector?”

Greg shrugged. “I’m getting too old for this shit. That’s the line, yeah?” 

“Interesting you should say that.” Mycroft cleared his throat against a wave of nerves. “Anthea seems to think I need to… how did she put it last week? Check myself before I wreck myself.”

Greg barked a laugh, then tilted his head back very attractively indeed, giggling at the ceiling. “She never did.” 

“She finds it amusing to say absurd catchphrases in my presence,” Mycroft said. “On one occasion several years ago I was unable to parse her meaning, and now she endeavours to catch me out again.” 

Greg grins at him. “Let me guess - you periodically brief yourself on popular culture so she won’t win.” 

Mycroft gave a shrug. “It doesn't hurt to stay abreast of trends.”

Greg glanced out the fishbowl windows of his office; the desks outside were empty due to the late hour. He darted across the desk, holding his tie as he leaned over their containers of greasy food, and stole a salty kiss before sitting back down. “Sorry,” he said. “I had to.”

Mycroft felt heat rise to his cheeks and ducked his head, shaking it. “Never apologize for that.”

Greg waited graciously for Mycroft to compose himself and resume eating before he spoke again “So what did Anthea mean by it, then?”

“Ah,” Mycroft sighed. “Among other things, she feels I am due a mini-break. I wondered if you would care to join me.”

Greg’s face lit up, a sweet, pleased grin and a brightness to his eyes. “Really? You want to go away with me?”

“Of course,” Mycroft said, striving not to show just how breathless it made him to have made Greg look like that. “Well—  I don’t wish to get your hopes up, it would only be a long weekend at my house. It’s a dreadfully big, terribly decorated pile of rocks in Bibury, but it is private, and secure, and I think you might enjoy the grounds. Of course if you would rather, I could research other destinations. You need only—”

“Mycroft,” Greg murmured. “The cleaning crew is going to be through here any minute. You have to stop being so sweet, or I’m going to have you over this desk, grease stains be damned.” 

Mycroft spluttered, shocked and thrilled all at once. “Detective Inspector, you cad.” 

“Of course I’ll go away with you to your terrible house,” Greg said, his grin softening. “Of course I will.” 



***



It was as though London’s criminal elements, and those of the rest of the world as well, conspired over the next weeks to keep Mycroft sexually frustrated and incredibly off-balance, so that on the day he and Greg left for the estate he was nearly insensate with the need to touch the man - and would be unable to do so in any interesting way for a two-hour car journey. 

They also had their first… disagreement? Argument? Fight? As a… couple? Item? Partnership? Mycroft felt nauseated simply attempting to suss the terminology for it all, let alone navigating a situation in which Greg was annoyed and out of step with him.

It was over the matter of the car journey itself, and Greg’s insistence that he could drive. 

Mycroft couldn’t understand why Greg would want to drive when Mycroft employed a driver. 

Greg liked driving. He never got to drive outside of London. 

But, Mycroft pointed out - he thought quite reasonably - Greg had been working for nearly two weeks straight, and the back of the town car would afford him a chance to rest. 

Greg informed Mycroft that he didn’t want to rest, thanks. 

Mycroft sighed and said it wasn’t worth it to argue over such a frivolous thing. 

Greg glared at him and twirled his keys around his finger and said he agreed. 

Eventually, Mycroft got into the passenger seat of Greg’s BMW. He left his bags in the town car; it would have to follow them anyway. 

“I’m sorry,” Greg said, nearly half an hour of slow progress through Friday traffic later. “I should have just got in the bloody car with the chauffeur. Look at the state of this.” He waved toward the gridlock before them. “I’m a stubborn dickhead.”

“It was a long week,” Mycroft conceded. “I might have been a bit… heavy-handed. My apologies.”

Greg huffed and rolled his head against his seat, sliding Mycroft a sheepish glance. “Mostly I just wanted to be alone with you, and the privacy screen didn’t feel like alone enough.”

Mycroft swallowed. “Ah.”

“I had a vision, you see, when we planned this,” Greg continued. “Radio, open road, speeding out of the city with my… uhm.”

Mycroft felt unbearably slow. “Uhm, indeed.”

“Boy...friend?”

“Whatever you like.”

“Hm.” Greg tapped his fingers against the steering wheel. “I’m not sure. Let’s put a pin in it; I don’t think I can handle the what-do-we-call-each-other chat while I’m dealing with this level of sheer stupidity on the roads.” 

“You are a tense driver,” Mycroft remarked. “I’m surprised. You so rarely seem tense.”

Greg rolled his shoulders. “I know. It makes me crazy. I don’t know what I was thinking, wanting to drive. Christ.”

Mycroft snorted, trying not to laugh outright, but failing. He turned his face away, making unfortunate eye contact with the sour-faced child in the back seat of the next car over as he covered his mouth to try and stifle himself. 

“I know,” Greg said, his voice choked with humor. “So stupid. Sorry I was so grouchy.” 

Mycroft felt a pressure on his thigh and looked away from the baffled child staring at him still, to find Greg’s hand there. Out of instinct, Mycroft covered it with his own. 

“I’ve missed you terribly,” Mycroft said. “And I find I can’t bear to argue with you.” 

“Same,” Greg said. And then, for the first time, he added: “Sweetheart.” 

Mycroft could scarcely breathe, completely suffocated by happiness. 



***



Greg teased him mercilessly on the tour of the house. Mycroft was beginning to develop a Pavlovian response to the ‘you daft posh bastard’ tone. Greg’s little comments, rather than causing Mycroft to feel even more anxious about the oppressiveness of the house, put him at ease. There was such affection in the teasing. Mycroft couldn’t remember the last time anyone had spoken to him in that way. Had he ever been close to someone like this? He shied away from examining that thought, because of course he had, but very long ago.

Mycroft had forgotten that he could be close to someone in that way. It was nice to remember. 

They were both hungry by the time Mycroft’s driver arrived, delivered Mycroft’s luggage, and then disappeared again. Mycroft had called ahead for food to be made available, but things became delayed in the screening room, where Greg pushed Mycroft down into one of the overstuffed chairs and then lowered himself into his lap. 

“It’s completely ridiculous,” Greg murmured against Mycroft’s gasping mouth many long moments later, “that we haven’t been able to do anything in weeks.”

“We have had dinner on three separate occasions.”

“Yeah,” Greg scoffed even as he ground down against Mycroft with a shudder. “And no time for anything else, and then you were in bloody Indonesia or wherever for a week.” 

“India,” Mycroft corrected, amused. “I know. I’m sorry.” Feeling bold, he slipped a hand down the back of Greg’s chinos and squeezed. 

“Not your fault,” Greg gasped, then stopped talking in favor of sucking on Mycroft’s tongue. 

Mycroft couldn’t account for the time that elapsed between that and the moment Greg landed on his knees in front of him, yanking Mycroft’s trousers open and not bothering to pull them down before diving in and sucking Mycroft’s prick into his mouth. 

Mycroft shouted and brought his fist up to his mouth, pressing it against his lips and muffling the next sound that tried to burst out, his hips jerking against Greg’s hands, which mostly succeeded at holding him still. 

Greg groaned and pulled off, reaching up with one hand to pull Mycroft’s away from his face. “I want to hear,” he said, breathless, and back down he went. 

“God.” Mycroft put his hand to Greg’s head instead, wrecking his hair and tugging at it gently. 

“I like that,” Greg said, pulling back again to speak, then licked over the head of Mycroft’s cock in a swirling motion, dark eyes shining up at him in the dim light. “You can pull. Hard, if you like.”

Mycroft’s fingers tightened in reflex as Greg closed his eyes and took as much of him as he could into his mouth again. He looked—  “Beautiful,” Mycroft gasped, and pulled. Greg’s eyebrows drew together, a small line appearing between them as his lashes fluttered, and he moaned around his mouthful. “Christ… Greg…”

Greg’s eyes opened, slow and pleasure-drunk, and he deliberately locked his gaze with Mycroft’s before sliding his mouth down further, further, further, until his throat fluttered around the head of Mycroft’s cock and he had to pull back again. 

“You don’t—” Mycroft panted. “Have to—” 

Greg did it again and moaned into a low hum, the vibrations surrounding Mycroft as he took him deeper once more. 

Mycroft only twitched, but it was enough to trigger Greg’s gag reflex; he pulled off with a gasp, lips swollen and shining wet. 

“I’m gonna deep throat you eventually, swear to god,” he said, his voice like velvet over gravel. “Just need practice. Lots,” he licked a stripe up the shaft of Mycroft’s prick, kissed the flared edge of the head. “And lots,” his tongue swiped away a bead of pre-come. “Of practice.”

“You’re going to kill me,” Mycroft breathed. 

Greg grinned, then took him in his mouth again. Mycroft let his head fall against the back of his chair. 

It didn’t take long after that. Mycroft couldn’t keep his eyes away from Greg’s face for long, and every time he let his head tip back, caught his breath, and then gave in to the urge to look again, Greg had managed to make himself look somehow more debauched than the time before. He kept up the slow training of his own throat, fleeting pressure enclosing Mycroft over and over, and he made the most delicious sounds. Hums of satisfaction, groans and sighs and even whimpers, small choking noises and breathy moans whenever Mycroft’s fingers tugged at his hair. 

Mycroft gasped out a warning when he felt himself nearing the end, and Greg murmured: “Down my throat, gorgeous, come on,” before sucking him back down, and Mycroft was gone, helpless to do anything but obey. 

Mycroft had barely finished twitching, but was desperate to get his hands on Greg, so he shoved the other man back, down onto the floor, and slithered out of the chair to join him there. He tasted himself on Greg’s tongue as they kissed, and the thought of it sent an echo of arousal down his spine so electric that, were he a decade or two younger, he’d have been half-hard again. He was able to wrestle Greg’s trousers open and shove them down without pulling away from those perfect swollen lips. 

He intended to return the favor, but was only able to manage a few tight strokes of his hand before Greg released a strangled sound into Mycroft’s mouth and added his own hand, slick with saliva and sweat and probably some of Mycroft’s come. Their joined hands slid slickly together once, twice, and Greg came with an arch of his spine, the nails of his other hand digging into Mycroft’s scalp, his tongue fucking into Mycroft’s mouth. 

Mycroft didn't know how the entire house didn’t shake along with Greg.

“Fuck me, that was filthy,” Greg sighed as his body went pliant after the last of the aftershocks had gone and their kisses had slowed and turned languid. 

“Mmph,” Mycroft managed, and rolled to his back beside him. 

They lay panting, side by side, shirts untucked and trousers undone, and Mycroft realized they were both failing at fending off a shared fit of hysterical laughter. Like schoolboys who had got away with something. Mycroft tried to look at him and couldn’t, strangely embarrassed while also deeply satisfied and terribly amused at himself. At the both of them.

“I like your house,” Greg said eventually, the first to get himself under control. “It isn’t as terrible as you said.”

“Your presence improves it immeasurably,” Mycroft told him.

Greg rolled on top of him and kissed him, and it was late at night before their growling stomachs sent them to find the kitchen and their cold supper. 



***



In the morning, Mycroft woke later than was his habit even on a rare day off, disappointed to realize he was waking to an empty bed. He didn’t bother with his dressing gown, and left the bedroom in Greg’s vest, which he must have pulled on in lieu of searching for his own shirt the night before, and his own flannel pajama bottoms. The floors were frigid under his bare feet, but searching the house for Greg felt more important than finding his slippers under the bed. 

Mycroft felt incredible; well-rested and loose-limbed, comfortable in a way he never was. Even with cold feet and the chill of the unheated portions of the house pulling goosebumps to the surface of his skin. 

He found Greg in the first place he looked. It was the first room he’d shown him the night before: the conservatory. It was little more than a glorified sunroom, actually, and one of the few rooms in the house that Mycroft genuinely enjoyed being inside of. Night hadn’t been the best time to show it off, but the current hour - nearing eight in the morning - displayed it and the grounds beyond the wall of windows, in their full glory. 

The man inside was similarly perfect to look at in this light. 

Greg had made himself comfortable on the sofa, one of a few modern pieces Mycroft had moved into the house, his legs propped up along the cushions, with a blanket draped over them and another wrapped around his shoulders. He had taken Mycroft’s offer of the room as a good place to write in the early hours. 

Mycroft hesitated, not wanting to disturb him. He could go to the kitchen and come back with tea. It bothered him that he hadn’t thought to do that in the first place. He shifted onto his back foot, intending to slip away quietly, but a floorboard gave him away and Greg glanced up. 

He smiled. 

Mycroft couldn’t leave. He was drawn closer, silently, by that soft grin. Greg didn’t speak; he simply closed the laptop and set it aside before opening his arms to Mycroft, who surprised himself by crawling directly into them. 

Greg drew the blanket around both their shoulders. “You’re freezing,” he whispered, rubbing his hands over Mycroft’s back. 

“Apologies,” Mycroft said, unsure as to whether he should move away. 

Greg’s arms only tightened around him. “Daft posh git,” he mumbled, and pressed warm lips to Mycroft’s neck. “Don’t go, I’ll warm you up.”

After a while, Mycroft drew back enough to see Greg’s face, giving in to the impulse to touch, to cup the side of it in his hand. “Thank you for coming here with me,” he said quietly. “It is already the most enjoyable time I’ve spent here.”

Or anywhere else.

Greg leaned in and kissed him, chaste and sweet. “Mycroft,” he murmured. 

“Hm?”

“Just sayin’ your name.”

Mycroft closed his eyes and pressed closer. “Once more?”

Greg kissed him again, a little firmer, then tipped him down to the sofa cushions, sighing, “Mycroft.”

It was a familiar feeling, keeping his mouth shut against words queued up by instinct and impulse. Mycroft was a verified expert in not saying things until the exact right moment. But the words clamoring behind his teeth now, and many times before in Greg’s presence or over the phone, simply didn’t - to Mycroft’s knowledge - have a prescribed right moment to be said. Mycroft, for once, was terrified of speaking. He couldn’t be sure if this was the time. Or perhaps last night would have been better. Possibly he ought to wait until tomorrow, see if an even better opportunity presented itself. 

He decided, ultimately, that regardless of how perfect the feeling of Greg’s body pressing him into the sofa cushions was, he couldn’t say I love you with unbrushed teeth, and kept his silence. 







Chapter Text

Greg couldn’t believe his life. By midday Saturday, the first full day of his weekend away with Mycroft, he was so comfortable that it almost made him circle back around to dis comfort, unsure of whether he was imagining the ease he felt. He wasn’t imagining it. It was just… easy. Calm. Warm. 

He had spent a content hour and a half writing through the early morning, in the conservatory of a bloody manor house, only stopping when a gorgeous man appeared at the door. That Mycroft had looked unsure of his welcome was… so far beyond unacceptable. Greg hoped to continue his quest to murder every last shred of insecurity in the man, in lieu of murdering whoever had put it there.

They showered together, not bothering to try and start something then and there, but content to share the space and hot water, hands sliding over soapy skin and teasing out reactions without following up on them just yet. They made breakfast together in Mycroft’s large, but surprisingly home-y kitchen. Slipping around each other for soap and shampoo was natural, and so was passing utensils and dishes back and forth, like they’d done it every weekend for years. 

When Mycroft asked Greg if he’d like to walk around the grounds with him after breakfast, the awkward solicitousness he’d been carrying in his voice since they’d arrived the night before seemed to have fully fallen away; Greg agreed, and out they went. Mycroft wore chinos , grey ones, instead of his usual wool trousers, and the same soft sweater he’d worn to that first dinner at Greg’s flat, under a wax jacket. He looked utterly transformed out here, with the countryside melting from late winter to early spring behind him. 

Greg thought nothing of backing him against an ancient garden wall for a chilly snog, and Mycroft responded beautifully, hauling Greg in like he’d been ready for it, and just waiting. 

“There’s no one around for miles, is there?” Greg wondered when they parted, panting. “If it wasn’t cold as all hell, I could do all sorts of naughty things to you in this field.”

Mycroft laughed. “There is periodic aerial surveillance when I am in residence.”

Greg shrugged. “Eh. Let ‘em watch, then.”

Mycroft laughed again, a beautiful sight that Greg knew was a rare thing for anyone else to have the pleasure of seeing. Greg caught it with his lips. 

 

***

 

He landed in the conservatory again after lunch, and Mycroft stepped into his office to check in with Anthea. Greg was content to settle in with his laptop and a cup of tea. He wasn’t usually very good at finding his focus in the later parts of the day, but attempting to write something was particularly pointless today. His fingers kept going still on the keys while his mind wandered. 

It wasn’t lost on Greg that he was trying to write his way through a love scene. 

It was just… he’d said he’d do naughty things to Mycroft, right? And he meant it. But he couldn’t get his head around what he’d do. Him and Mycroft, they seemed to be bumping along on instinct, and that was fine. It was more than fine, it was bloody fantastic. But it made Greg nervous, not knowing what he ought to be doing, what sort of attention would be welcome. Mycroft liked casual touch. Loved kissing. Gave maestro-like blowjobs, and obviously didn’t mind having the favor returned. Greg had a pretty strong feeling that Mycroft might like to take a little control once in awhile, but didn’t know how to tell him he should; didn’t know how to say you can do whatever you want to me and I’ll probably really like it without sounding a bit trashy. 

Would Mycroft like him dirty? He hadn’t seemed to mind Greg’s comments the night before in his little mini-theatre (Greg couldn’t even get started on the fact that the man had a small cinema in his house). Did Mycroft like things messy, the way they had gotten that first time? If he did, would he let Greg come all over the freckles on his chest? Did he like penetrative sex? Did he prefer it one way or another, or did he switch, like Greg? 

Greg’s brain went briefly offline at the thought of bottoming for Mycroft. He hadn’t done that in… well over a decade? Maybe? Dana had gone through a brief but exciting toy phase early in their marriage. That was the last time. 

He’d never taken anything as thick as Mycroft’s cock. He shivered at the idea. 

“Greg?”

Greg’s eyes were drawn to the sound of Mycroft’s voice in the doorway, but it took him an extra beat to focus on him. 

“God, you look great,” he found himself blurting out. He blinked, and for the umpteenth time wondered at his own ineptitude when it came to simply not sounding like a complete tit in Mycroft’s presence. But then, what he’d said was true. Mycroft looked amazing. That sweater just begged for Greg to touch it, to slip his hands under it. Mycroft had let his hair do what it wanted which, unsurprisingly considering his brother’s mop, resulted in a wavy sort of flop over. The part Mycroft had trained into his hair held steady, but the length of it, usually slicked down with product, fluffed and gently curled in its absence. Greg would need to put his fingers through that again, soon.

Mycroft, to Greg’s intense delight, flushed. “Thank you,” he said awkwardly, but with a tilt to his mouth. A little half-smile that transformed his face; sweetened it. “You seemed deep in thought.”

Greg’s turn to redden. He could feel the blood pound straight to his cheeks. This was the problem. Everything seemed to be going fine, yes. But Greg’s race-ahead thoughts were killing him, and he was shit at hiding it. 

“Ah,” he managed, then cleared his throat. “Yeah. Well.”

Mycroft, still hovering in the doorway, raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“Come in here,” Greg said, setting the laptop, still open to a blinking cursor next to the word suck , on the side table. “Let me be embarrassed next to you, at least, and not shouting across this cavern.”

“The conservatory is of average size,” Mycroft protested, but he did cross over to sit beside Greg on the sofa. He submitted easily to Greg’s tugging hands, and Greg was able to get him settled in close, Greg’s arm around his shoulders. Mycroft reached up to hold Greg’s hand, which was lovely, so Greg put the other one on his knee and tilted in to kiss him. 

“It’s practically a ballroom,” he said when he was done nipping at Mycroft’s bottom lip. “I like it. I really like your house.” 

Mycroft made a face. “I don’t, particularly.”

“No kidding!” Greg laughed. “Couldn’t tell from all these looks you keep getting.” He tapped his finger to the wrinkling of Mycroft’s nose. 

“You weren’t thinking about the house,” Mycroft said, and Greg had to hand it to him— he wasn’t easily deterred. 

“I wasn’t,” Greg admitted. “I was thinking about...well. Sex.”

“Writing about it?”

“Failing spectacularly at writing about it, actually.”

Mycroft quirked an eyebrow. “Do you normally find it difficult? One can’t tell from the copious explicit scenes in your books.”

Greg sighed and nudged him. “As a matter of fact, I don’t normally have trouble, no.” He resisted the urge to deflect again, maybe this time with more kissing, though the temptation was very much there, leaning comfortably into his side. He needed to lay his cards on the table. He told himself firmly to focus. “It’s not like I can’t come up with ideas or anything, more that all my current ideas are meant for real-life...application.”

“Mm.” Mycroft’s fingers played idly with Greg’s, belying the nervousness given away by that little hum. “And what sort of ideas did you come up with?”

“All of them,” Greg laughed. “Every single idea, all at once. That’s the problem. I’m… not used to this. It’s been years since I’ve had to get to know what a person likes. I’ve spent some of those years just writing down some of my favorites. Then when I ran out of those, looking up other things and writing those down, too. The options are bloody limitless, until you factor in another person. Well, and sometimes physics.” 

“Physics?”

“I’m not as flexible as I once was,” Greg said cheekily, though he was pretty much dead serious. Some positions, while fun to write, were never going to happen. Not with his knees. 

Mycroft blushed gorgeously darker. Greg gave in to temptation and pressed his lips gently to the sweep of red across the nearest cheekbone. 

“I hope you’re not uncomfortable,” he said. “We don’t have to talk about this now.”

“No,” Mycroft replied, though he didn’t seem ready to make eye contact again. “Not uncomfortable. Overwhelmed.”

“Me, too.” Greg sighed and leaned in, drawing Mycroft into an embrace rather than a sideways snuggle, so he could press his own burning face to Mycroft’s neck and breathe in his scent. “Everything we’ve done has been… Honestly, sweetheart, it’s so good it terrifies me. Suppose I just don’t want to do anything to break the streak. I want so much with you and I just…”

“Don’t know where to begin?”

“Yeah.” Greg sagged with relief, letting more of his weight rest against Mycroft’s shoulder. Even that felt amazing. He pressed his lips to the crook of Mycroft’s neck, gentle and quick, breathing in the smell of him - no cologne out here in the country, just clean, warm skin. Greg’s entire body may as well have been full of butterflies. 

Mycroft cleared his throat. “I… have a stack of paperbacks and an e-reader in this house that would serve as a veritable encyclopedia of gay sex acts.”

Greg couldn’t help but laugh, tucking it into Mycroft’s neck and breathing slowly again. “Yeah, but—”

“I’m not saying that all of the things in them are to my tastes, or even to yours,” Mycroft interrupted. “Only… I may have a fairly comprehensive highlighting system on my tablet, and perhaps the blue and green categories would serve as a starting-point of sorts.” 

Greg sighed, practically melting into Mycroft’s side. Perfect, he thought. God, you’re so perfect. He swallowed a delighted giggle and drew back to look at Mycroft, stroking his hands down the man’s arms and bunching the softness of his sweater between his fingers like he’d wanted to do all day. “Are you saying we should go through your favorite bits of my filthy, secret books, and make a list of ways to fuck?”

Mycroft blinked, possibly only now cottoning on to what he had just suggested.

“You’re a genius,” Greg said, pressing the declaration against Mycroft’s lips, kissing him gently before giving him a nudge. “Go get your tablet.”

“Now?”

“Why not now?” 

Mycroft wet his lips, obviously nervous. Greg was helpless in the face of it, and had to kiss him again. 

“Don’t be nervous,” he murmured. “It’ll be lovely. Fun. I promise. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“Alright,” Mycroft said, swallowing, nodding. “Yes, I’ll… retrieve it.”

“Okay. Want me to come with? We could talk in the bedroom, if you like. Close the curtains and turn the lights down?”

Mycroft seemed to sag in relief. “Please.”

Greg grinned, happy to have been right in his guess that closer quarters and dimmed light would set Mycroft at ease. “Lovely. Let’s—”

His laptop chimed. 

“Oh,” Mycroft started. 

“Shit,” Greg sighed. “That’ll be my sister, making sure you didn’t bring me out here to kill me.”

Mycroft’s eyebrows raised. “ Oh?”

“Kidding,” Greg assured him. “She probably wants a peek at you, though. Or at the very least, your fancy house in the Cotswolds. Mind if I say hello and satisfy her curiosity? You don’t have to stay, I’ll just—”

The Skype tone stopped. 

“She won’t give up so easily,” Greg warned. 

“I would not mind meeting your sister,” Mycroft said carefully. The laptop began to ring again. “But I understand if you feel it’s too… much.” 

Greg opened his mouth to say no, no of course it wasn’t - because it wasn’t - and to ask Mycroft if he was sure, and then brought himself up short. Don’t slow down.

“Stay, then,” he said. “Come on, let’s sit. She’ll just keep ringing ‘til I pick up, and she’ll probably make a dirty joke if we delay too long.”

Mycroft joined Greg back on the sofa. Greg leaned forward, tilted the laptop to show only himself in the frame for the time being, and clicked the button to answer the call. 

Laura appeared, her familiar voice coming through before the picture cleared up to show her grinning face. “Whoop! He’s dressed and everything!”

Greg rolled his eyes. “Don’t be a dick,” he grumbled. “You look great, love the hair.”

Laura ran fingers through her freshly shorn pixie cut, dark with streaks of early grey just like Greg’s. “Lush, isn’t it? Told you I’d rock it. Holy shit, look at the room behind you! You weren’t fucking kidding, he is well flush!” 

Greg sighed. “Christ, Laura. He’s sitting next to me.”

“Oops.”

Mycroft shook with a silent laugh at Greg’s side, and Greg glanced up to see his amused face tilted down toward Greg’s, fond and sparkly-round-the-eyes. Greg grinned back, breathless. 

“Sorry about her,” he said, and tilted the laptop to the side so he could include Mycroft in the frame. “Meet Laura. Laura, this is—” 

“The bratty detective’s big bro, hmmm, introductions are boring,” Laura drawled in a passable impression of Sherlock. 

Mycroft laughed, surprised. “Have you met Sherlock?”

“The once,” Laura said. “In passing. Seen him on the telly a bit, too. He’s a looker. Must run in the family.”

“Don’t flirt with him,” Greg protested, outraged. “Laura, come on.”

“He likes it,” Laura laughed. “Don’t you, Mycroft?”

“I’m flattered,” Mycroft said smoothly, a little touch of his butter-wouldn’t-melt persona coming over him like a veil. “And very glad to meet you. Greg speaks so fondly, and highly, of you and his nieces. I have seen photos. You have beautiful children, Laura.”

“Well,” she tittered, eyes flicking between the two of them, her dismay at his perfect manners clear as day. “I… that’s very kind of you to say.”

Greg slipped his hand over onto Mycroft’s knee and gave it a squeeze: You’re doing beautifully. 

“Is your curiosity satisfied, Miss Cat?” He asked. “You’re interrupting my holiday.”

“I just bet I am,” she teased with a wink. “Yeah, well, he doesn't look like an axe murderer.”

Mycroft huffed one of his silent laughs. Greg squeezed him again. 

“Who’s not a murderer?”

Laura’s gaze shifted to a space just above her camera. “Uncle Greg’s… boy...friend?” She glanced back toward them with a wince and a mouthed sorry.

Greg looked away to check in on Mycroft, who looked pleased and fascinated, his eyes no doubt cataloging all sorts of information from Laura’s makeup and glasses, her outfit and the bookshelf behind her. 

“Can I say hi?”

Laura glanced at Greg and raised her eyebrows. 

“Of course she can,” Mycroft answered for him, and his hand dropped on top of Greg’s, his turn to squeeze reassuringly. 

Lucy’s curly hair appeared first, dyed a brilliant green for the moment, and then her face eclipsed her mother’s as she leaned further into frame. “Uncle Greg! You’ve got a boyfriend and you didn’t tell me?”

“I don’t have to tell you anything, you’re a baby,” he said, earning a glare. 

“I’m sixteen,” Lucy grouched, then to her mother: “Mum, budge over, I wanna see.”

“This is Mycroft,” Greg continued, not bothering to wait for mother and daughter to stop scuffling for position in front of the computer. “Please be polite to him.”

“Oooh, hello,” Lucy cooed, leaning forward. “I’m the favorite niece.”

Laura’s fingers dug into Lucy’s ribs, prompting a squawk. “He doesn't have a favorite.”

Greg smiled and shook his head. It was true, he didn’t have a favorite, but there was no denying that Luce was his little duckling. Always had been. He had been there for her birth, and acted as stand-in father for most of her life. Laura alternated between complaining that Lucy was a miniature Greg, and expressing her extreme relief that she had his sort of personality and not her biological dad’s, or even Laura’s. 

“I’m the best one, though,” Lucy insisted, throwing in a little wink. 

Mycroft made a small, amused sound at Greg’s side. “I reserve judgment,” he said. “Since I’ve yet to meet your younger sister. It’s wonderful to meet you. You are as lovely as your uncle has claimed you to be.”

“Go on,” Lucy laughed. Laura’s grin had grown wider. 

“He’ll sit here and compliment you all day,” Greg cut in. “And I don’t want to spend my holiday being teased by the likes of you and your mum. You’ve seen him, you’ve said hello. That’s enough for now.”

“You’re no fun,” Lucy pouted. “But I get it. Sex holiday and everything.”

Laura made a sound of utter outrage and Greg himself couldn’t help but demand: “And you would know about sex holidays how?”

“Oh, unclench,” Lucy teased. “I’m only messing with you. God.” She addressed Mycroft, “Do something about him, will you? He needs to relax.”

Greg felt himself blush. Mycroft’s fingers spasmed around Greg’s. Lucy looked thrilled, mouth open to say something horrendous, no doubt. 

“Annnnd, that’s enough,” Laura interrupted, hip checking Lucy to the side and nearly off the chair she’d squashed herself into. “Inappropriate.”

“Uncle Greg,” Lucy cried, literally on the edge of her seat and trying not to fall over. “Are we still on for the driving next week?”

“Of course,” he said. “Come ready to pass a readiness check. Study your manual.”

“Sir, yessir!” She saluted, then tumbled to the floor in a pile of giggles, disappearing from view. Her hand rose back into frame and waved, bracelets clinking on her wrist around the leather cuff Greg had gifted her from his own box of fashion choices past. “Bye!”

“She’s literally rolling away on the floor,” Laura said, gazing off-camera in consternation. “She’s a disaster.”

“She’s the best,” Greg corrected.

“Yeah,” Laura agreed, then zeroed back in on the screen. “Hey, thanks for letting me interrupt. Sorry we’re so… this way. Lovely to meet you, Mycroft.”

“It was my pleasure,” Mycroft said, and Greg saw that he meant it. It might not be evident to just anyone, but Greg was learning to interpret Mycroft’s subtle shifts in expression by now. It was all in the eyes, in the shoulders. He looked relaxed, now. Amused. A bit smitten, even. 

Wow, Greg thought, and turned to the laptop again. I need to kiss him some more now.  

“We’ve got to go,” he told Laura, not even bothering to feign regret. “Love you, babe, I’ll see you, alright?”

Laura was grinning, biting her lip, as she nodded. “Sure, sure. Have fun, boys.”

“Mmhm, yep,” Greg called, and slapped the laptop shut on her winking face. “Gonna kiss you now.”

“Oh!” 

Mycroft gave a little half laugh before Greg pulled him close and kissed him thoroughly, hands clutching at his narrow waist to tug him closer, closer. 

“You liked them,” Greg said when they parted. “You really did.”

“They are so much like you,” Mycroft replied. “And they love you. Very much.”

“Yeah.”

“And you obviously live for them,” Mycroft continued. He pressed a gentle kiss first to Greg’s cheekbone and then to his mouth. “It’s… A precious thing. It is a privilege that you introduced them to me. Thank you.”

Greg wanted to crawl into his lap. “I forget sometimes that you can read these things. I don’t need to explain… It isn’t easy—  wasn’t easy, I mean, in the past. Dating. Even with Dana. It’s difficult to explain how Laura’s not just my sister, the girls aren’t just my nieces. They’re… not my responsibility, or my obligation. They’re…”

“An extension of your right arm? Connected to your vital organs? A mirror of your heart and soul?” Mycroft’s hands were gentle on Greg’s arms. “Believe me when I say that I understand.” 

“I know you do,” Greg said. “Big brothers, eh?” 

“But you,” Mycroft continued. “You are very good at being one. It… you are such a good man, Greg.”

“So are you, sweetheart.” Greg murmured, reaching up to trace Mycroft’s small, sweet smile with his fingertips. “We’ll convince you of it, yet.”

Mycroft smiled wider. “Perhaps,” he said. 

“Come on,” Greg said softly, pulling away enough to gather Mycroft’s hands and tug. “Let’s find that tablet. Come curl up with me in the dark.” 

Mycroft followed easily, let Greg lead him by the hand, and even paused, briefly, on the landing just to press a kiss to the back of Greg’s neck. 

With every step toward the second floor and Mycroft’s bedroom, Greg felt himself filling up with anticipation and affection and, more than anything else, with adoration. 



***



Greg pulled the curtains closed. Mycroft lit the antique lamp that stood on top of his dresser. Greg made a cursory effort at straightening the bedclothes - neither of them had bothered to make up the bed that morning. Mycroft retrieved his tablet from the valise on the chair by the door, and then allowed Greg to situate him comfortably against the pile of pillows at the head of the bed. 

Greg joined him, but rather than slide in next to him, insinuated himself between Mycroft’s thighs, leaning back against his chest and holding up a hand for the tablet. “Could I? No government secrets on there?” 

He felt the warm exhalation of air that meant Mycroft had done one of his little huffing laughs; his body was jostled gently by the rise and fall of Mycroft’s chest. This position was a good call. It would do both of them the favor of being able to keep faces hidden while they talked about potentially embarrassing topics, and would let Greg read Mycroft’s feelings in the little changes in the tension of his body. Or at least, he hoped. 

“No government secrets,” Mycroft said, a teasing note in his voice. “Only my own very personal ones. Color coded.”

“Hmmm, blue and green you said?”

“Yes.”

“What do those colors mean?”

Mycroft hummed, low in his chest, and Greg shivered at the way it felt to be so close to him that the hum reverberated through Greg’s own ribs. “That would be telling. Suffice to say, I found those passages… inspiring.”

“Fair enough,” Greg murmured, then tipped his head back onto Mycroft’s shoulder. It was a bit awkward, and their faces were too close to really look at one another, but he could reach up and guide Mycroft’s face to the side to kiss him, nice and soft and slow. 

Mycroft handed him the tablet. 

Greg couldn’t help but giggle a bit helplessly when the array of covers filled the screen. Almost all of them were his. “Good god,” he said. “I mean...it’s not that I didn’t believe that you had read them. But.”

“Mm.” Mycroft’s hands reached around, his arms holding Greg a little shyly, so he could press his finger to the screen and work his way down the list. “This one is a favorite of mine.”

Greg nearly choked. “This one, you say.” 

“Is that—”

“It’s my favorite, too,” Greg interrupted, not wanting Mycroft to feel awkward or judged, not even for a second. “You… what did you like about it?”

Mycroft’s finger hovered over the thumbnail image of Bit of Rough ’s cover. He cleared his throat. “Well.” 

Greg felt a grin tug at one side of his mouth and had to bite down to keep from smiling so hard he couldn’t speak. “Sweetheart,” he ventured, “d’you have a type?”

“I—” Mycroft’s breath caught and Greg could feel it, feel the moment of tension and embarrassment, but then just as quickly—  and Greg would swear he could also hear the wheels of Mycroft’s gorgeous brain spinning from this close-up— Mycroft relaxed. His voice went sly. “I can’t say,” he said. “I’ve never tested any theories, but if that is your favorite of the books you have written, then I must ask. Do you have a type?”

“Ha!” Greg tipped his head back again, this time to turn his face and smother his laughter in the join of Mycroft’s neck and shoulder. He was thrilled when Mycroft responded by leaning down to nuzzle his nose in Greg’s hair. “You’ve caught me out,” he said, muffled. “Too smart for me.” 

“Let us not dwell on types,” Mycroft said. 

“Eager to get to the good stuff?” Greg teased, turning back to the tablet and clicking on the book cover. “If I remember correctly, this book features extensive portrayals of certain...oral activities.”

“I think we can establish that we are both enthusiastic about that category,” said Mycroft drily. “Don’t you?”

“Undoubtedly,” Greg murmured, clicking through to the highlights and sorting by color. Mycroft only used three: blue, green, yellow. He wouldn’t pry about their meanings again, but he did wonder. “Alright, here we are. Hmm…”

Mycroft’s throat cleared gently against his back, and he reached for the screen again, hesitating there for a moment. 

“Go on,” Greg said softly, pleased that Mycroft felt comfortable taking point, so to speak. 

Was this weird? Greg hadn’t thought it was, but now he wondered if he had talked Mycroft into this. That maybe it was just weird and clinical, not sexy at all. 

Then, Mycroft scrolled a short way down the list of highlighted passages, and tapped on one. “This,” he said, and his voice had dropped lower into his chest so that Greg could really feel it when he spoke. “I… may have fixated on this small passage here. For a while.” 

Greg had to work to focus on the text in front of him. His doubts began to drain away. Mycroft’s voice was doing things for him, and the fact that it had lowered like that, Greg was beginning to learn, meant that things were working for Mycroft too. Already. 

Greg read the highlighted paragraphs to himself and smiled. 

Jeremy pressed against Killian, held him against the closed office door with one hand at his hip. “What d’you want?”

“Nothing,” Killian stammered. “Nothing, this is… so inappropriate. I can’t do this, I’m at work—” 

“So?” Jeremy let his hand slide over to the zip of Killian’s trousers, fiddling with the pull. “What if I kept it all very…” he traced a finger up the shiny buttons of Killian’s shirt front, “ neat ?”

“What does that mean?” Killian asked, breath coming quicker as Jeremy’s finger trailed back down, down, down, until he could cup the hard line of Killian’s cock through the expensive fabric of his trousers. 

“Means what it means,” Jeremy teased, gently rolling the heel of his hand back and forth over Killian’s erection. “I could just leave. Leave you like this.”

“No,” Killian gasped. “No, please—” 

Greg hummed. “Yeah, I like this too. What d’you like about it?”

Mycroft’s hands rested on Greg’s shoulders, stroking up and down his biceps gently and easily. “You can’t guess?”

“I could,” Greg said. “Want you to tell me.”

Mycroft was quiet, maybe building up the nerve to be honest, maybe seeing if he could wait Greg out and force him into guessing. Maybe both. But he did eventually speak. “The clothing.”

“Thought so,” Greg sighed happily, loving the way Mycroft’s hands just kept moving over his arms and shoulders, squeezing a little and pushing out knots Greg hadn’t realized were there in his muscles. “What about the office bit?”

Mycroft huffed. “Maybe as a fantasy. Sadly, the reality would be fairly impossible, taking security clearance into consideration.”

Greg laughed. “Fair enough. But then, you do have that posh club of yours. And an office there?”

Greg felt Mycroft’s breath catch. “An interesting idea.” 

“Putting a pin in that,” Greg murmured. Instead of using the back button to return to the highlights list, he swiped quickly through book pages until another green passage caught his attention. “Here we go,” he said. “Oh!” He wanted to sing. This scene. Oh, this scene. “God, this one,” he sighed. 

Possibly by accident, Mycroft’s massaging fingers found their way to a pressure point at the knob at the top of Greg’s spine and pushed. Greg groaned, partially from the sudden delicious pleasure spreading through that muscle, and partly because this scene involved one of Greg’s absolute favorite things to do from either side of the equation. 

“Who would you rather be,” he wondered out loud, slurring a little as Mycroft’s thumbs kneaded at his shoulders. “Say we’re replicating this scene. Acting it out. Tell me.”

“I…” Mycroft’s voice came close to Greg’s ear, his breath ghosting softly there and sending shivers along Greg’s skin. “It’s not so much a matter of being penetrated,” he said. “Or doing the penetrating. It’s…”

“Can I guess this time?” Greg asked, letting himself melt backward, stopping Mycroft’s impromptu massage and prompting him to slip his arms round Greg’s chest in a loose embrace. 

“Yes,” Mycroft breathed against his lips. 

“You want to be in charge,” Greg said. “Maybe not all the time; I know you like being held, like it when I keep you still. But you would want to be Killian, here.” 

“Yes,” Mycroft said again, and they fell into a hot, slow kiss as easy as breathing. Mycroft moaned into it, arms tightening as Greg hooked a hand up behind him to hold Mycroft where he wanted him, pulling him even closer. 

“God,” Greg groaned. “Two scenes down.”

“We’re absolutely not getting through this book today, I hope you realize,” Mycroft said, still a breath away from Greg’s lips. 

“I’m not done with you just yet,” Greg said, then kissed him again. “Take a deep breath. Get yourself under control.”

Mycroft scoffed and slipped one hand down to the hard line of Greg’s cock, trapped in his chinos. “Take your own advice.”

Greg arched, pressing his back more tightly to Mycroft’s chest. “Fuuuuck,” he sighed, and weakly lifted the tablet up so he could read again. “Behave,” he said, and smacked Mycroft’s hand away. 

He focused on the highlighted sentences again. “So, that didn’t answer the question I was hoping it would, but I can’t really complain.” 

“What question was that?”

“Which way you like best - top? Bottom? Either-or?”

To Greg’s surprise, Mycroft went noticeably tense against his back. He wanted to turn his head, look at him again, but knew that might make things more awkward for him, so he forced himself to face forward and wait. He waited a long series of beats, but Mycroft stayed still and silent. Greg sat up and shifted halfway around, a hand already moving to cup Mycroft’s cheek. 

“Hey,” he said, gently as he could manage, keeping his touch light. “Sorry, was that—?” 

“No,” Mycroft said on a sigh. “No, not at all. I just… The problem is that I’ve only done things… one way. I’m afraid my level of experience is. That is, I—” 

Oh. Greg nearly sagged with relief. Oh, darling man. “That’s alright,” he murmured. “I know the books are um… detailed seems like a good word. But honestly, Mycroft, I’m not some gay sex expert. I’m no authority. I haven’t done a fair number of things I’ve written about, and the things I have were a lifetime ago. I thought I made that clear. ‘m sorry if I didn’t and freaked you out.”

“No,” Mycroft shook his head. “It isn’t that. It just seems such an odd thing to admit, at my age. That I’m so limited that I’m not sure what I actually prefer versus what I’ve done. And frankly, what I’ve done was so far in the past I’ve begun to wonder.. .”

Greg practically flailed in his hurry to turn the rest of the way around, shifting his entire body into Mycroft’s lap, achy knees and protesting lumbar spine be damned. “Sweetheart,” he breathed, tipping their foreheads together. “I absolutely get it. There’s nothing to feel badly about, I promise.”

Mycroft’s shoulders were already relaxing, lowering from around his ears, under the gentle pressure of Greg’s hands. 

Greg kissed his forehead. “I want to do so many things with you,” he said. “But only what you’re interested in doing. I… I seriously don’t care what way we do it, so long as I get to be with you.” 

Mycroft’s eyes were startled and soft before he hid them against Greg’s shoulder. His voice was muffled when he murmured, “God. I don’t have the faintest idea how I got here, but I’m so grateful.”

Greg closed his eyes and stroked a soothing hand over Mycroft’s hair. “Me, too. Seriously. I can’t believe my own luck.”

Mycroft drew back and let Greg take his face in his hands, tilting up sweetly in anticipation of a long, slow kiss. 

Greg poured his desperate gratitude and love into it, fingertips as delicate against Mycroft’s jaw as they would be handling fine china.

“What way have you done it, then?” Greg whispered when they pulled away. “And did you like it?”

“I liked it,” Mycroft said. “I loved it. I was the, ah… receiving party.”

Greg pressed his smile into another kiss. “Okay,” he said. “But you would be interested in trying the other way around?”

Mycroft groaned into yet another kiss, and shuddered. “Yes.”

“Great,” Greg said, already planning ahead for extra lube and possibly hours of stretching. It would take some preparation, him taking Mycroft, but god did he want to. “So back to the book— “

Mycroft sighed. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Greg laughed, leaning back to grab the tablet from where he’d dropped it. “Come on, Holmes, focus.”

Mycroft gazed up at him from where he leaned back against the headboard, amused and soft in the low light. “I am focused.”

“We’ll get to that later,” Greg said, faux-sternly. “I mean focus on the material.”

“Apologies,” Mycroft said. 

Greg settled his weight onto Mycroft’s thighs, glad that they had progressed to doing this face-to-face, despite Mycroft’s moment of distress. He held the tablet in one hand and kept the other pressed to the center of Mycroft’s chest as he scanned the highlighted bits. “I think, from this, I can draw a reasonable conclusion.”

“Do go on.” 

Greg licked his lips. “You want to fuck me,” he said, eyes flicking to Mycroft’s and then away again. “Or you’d like me to fuck you. But either way, you want to direct things. Slower, harder, move here, look there. Speak, don’t speak. In the scene, Jeremy’s technically the top. And in most of the book, he’s called the shots, hasn’t he? But even though he’s the one inside Killian, it’s Killian who has the upperhand this time. Am I right?”

When he took his eyes away from the tablet screen, Greg was nearly bowled over by the naked desire in Mycroft’s expression. 

“Am I?” Greg repeated with a grin. 

“Yes,” Mycroft said, and that delicious low note was back, coloring his refined voice in ways that went straight to Greg’s gut. 

“Noted,” Greg murmured. “And just so we’re clear?” He leaned in, stopping just shy of kissing Mycroft’s open mouth, but certainly close enough to feel his shortened breaths. “I would love to ride you, and the thought of you on top of me like that? Taking my cock? Mycroft, that’s heaven.” 

Mycroft sucked in a breath as he hauled Greg that last inch to crush their lips together, his mouth already opening, inviting Greg in, and then sucking filthily at Greg’s tongue the second he took the invitation. 

Greg reached for Mycroft’s hands, dragging them up into his own hair. He pulled out of the kiss gasping. “I don’t have the patience for lube right now,” he said. It was true. Greg had been hard basically from the moment they’d slipped into the bed. It had been easy to set aside until now. Now, he desperately needed to get out of his clothes and do something about it, and things like lube and condoms and gentle preparation were completely off the table. “But I want you to put me where you want me. I want to come with you, and I want to get there however you see fit. Can you try that for me, sweetheart?”

Mycroft nodded frantically, then dragged Greg forward with just a tiny, delicious bit of roughness, to kiss him again. He kept one hand gripped tight in Greg’s hair, the other sliding quickly down his body to squeeze at Greg’s arse, an echo of a move from the night before. He squeezed and pulled and shifted, settling Greg more into his lap than across his thighs, with the fantastic side effect of bringing the hard lines of their erections together.

“You’re amazing,” Greg murmured the next time he managed to tear his mouth from Mycroft’s. “So good, darling, I want you so much. You can do whatever you want with me.” It felt so good to say out loud. “I’ll love every second of it.”

“Greg.”

“I want you to take me,” Greg gasped, body twitching as Mycroft thrust up against him and used his grip on Greg’s backside to direct him down at the same time. “Use me. Tell me.” 

“I don’t know if I can.” 

“Why can’t you?”

“I don’t know how.”

“Yes, you do,” Greg sighed, raining kisses down the column of Mycroft’s neck. “You do, baby, you really do. You’re so strong and powerful, and that doesn't change depending on who’s fucking who.”

And that hit the nail directly on the head; it must have done, because Mycroft shuddered and let out a sound of relief like a sob before he used the hand in Greg’s hair to yank him back up and into a searing, perfect kiss. 

From there, it was almost a blur. Greg went pliant in Mycroft’s hands, hoping it would encourage him, and it did. Mycroft tipped him backward onto the mattress, pausing only to yank off his jumper and vest, and to strip Greg’s trousers and pants down his legs. He got his own trousers unfastened, revealing the shape of his cock and a wet spot of precome at the front of his briefs,  but didn’t bother further than that. He simply shoved Greg’s t-shirt out of the way and set himself to the task of nibbling Greg’s nipples until they were both tight and pink, shiny with saliva. Mycroft pressed his fingers against them, circled them, teased them, and Greg twitched helplessly under his hands, moaning and sighing as his hips jerked in search of friction that wasn’t there. 

“Would you—” Mycroft hesitated. Greg nodded in silent encouragement. “Talk to me?” Mycroft finished. “Your voice… I love your voice.”

Greg wanted to sob. Wanted to haul Mycroft in. He didn’t; he really did want Mycroft to try his hand at running this show - like he had at Greg’s flat, telling him plainly: I’m not finished. But he wanted it to be on purpose this time. Greg wanted to know what that felt like.

“Anything you want,” Greg said. “Anything.” 

Mycroft knelt up and shoved his own trousers and pants down his thighs, his cock springing free of its confines, long and hard and slippery at the head. 

Greg’s mouth watered. 

Mycroft sat back to wrestle himself out of the trousers. “Come here,” he said urgently, beckoning to Greg with one hand. 

Greg found himself crawling back up into Mycroft’s lap, the fleeting sensation of their cocks brushing together making him want to shove down, take them both in hand, slide them together over and over. Mycroft stripped Greg out of his shirt and sucked a faint mark into his left pectoral before tracing his fingers around it, studying it with what looked like satisfaction. 

“Talk to me,” he prompted. 

“Oh, god,” Greg whimpered. “It’s harder than it looks.” 

Mycroft smirked up at him, eyes bright. “I shan’t make the obvious joke.”

Greg groaned, tipping his forehead onto Mycroft’s shoulder. “Stop,” he muttered. “You’ve done this to me. Made words hard to find. I’m so wound up because of you. ‘m dying to come.”

“Are you?” Mycroft’s hands were everywhere. “Interesting, so am I.”

“I’d love for you to come all over me,” Greg said, grasping for all the filthy, shivery thoughts he’d had since the first time but hadn’t had the chance to voice. “Just. Everywhere.”

Mycroft’s elegant hand took Greg’s cock in a loose grip. “That sounds…” He squeezed and Greg bucked into his hand with a gasp. “Very good.”

“It would be good,” Greg said. “Would you—  I want to feel your cock on mine.” 

“God,” Mycroft uttered under his breath, immediately aligning them together, wrapping those gorgeous fingers around the both of them. 

Greg watched and panted, tried not to move too much, even as the head of Mycroft’s cock, slick with precome, caught and rubbed against the head of Greg’s. Mycroft stroked, and Greg could only hang on to his shoulders and shake. 

“It’s good?” Mycroft checked.

“So good,” Greg sighed. “Everything you do to me is good. Everything about you, sweetheart. I’m gonna have you fuck me like this. Tomorrow. Tonight. Soon.”

“Give me your hand,” Mycroft commanded softly, and Greg obeyed because yes, that was a fantastic idea. Mycroft licked a wet streak over Greg’s palm, and Greg felt that in his bones. Their fingers slid and locked together, a shared grip. “Move,” Mycroft told him. Greg did, shifting his hips in little circular thrusts, sliding his cock through the snugness of their hands, feeling the velvet smooth slide of Mycroft’s shaft against his own. “Faster,” Mycroft whispered, out of breath. 

“Gonna make me come,” Greg warned him. 

“Good,” Mycroft replied, and tightened his hand. Greg quickened the thrust of his hips and moaned helplessly, watching the tips of their cocks disappear and reappear into Mycroft’s fist entwined with his own. It was moments before he felt his balls begin to tighten. Mycroft tilted Greg’s face to his own for a kiss, then he whispered, brokenly, into Greg’s ear: “Kiss me, please, when you come.”

“Mycroft,” Greg cried, already careening over the edge. “Now, now, it’s now, kiss me—”

And Mycroft shuddered hard between Greg’s trembling thighs and against his heaving chest, their mouths meeting messily and breathlessly as Greg’s orgasm ripped through him like a current. Mycroft followed soon after, just as the movements of his hand over the two of them had begun to border on too much for Greg’s sensitive nerves. Greg came down from his high, twitching and gasping with aftershocks, as Mycroft’s own release dripped over them both.

Greg had needed to let go in the middle, his wet hand slapping a print onto the gleaming hardwood of the headboard. He stared at that, his fingers slipping in the sweat and come, and laughed, breathless and delighted. 

“I can’t—” Mycroft panted. “Imagine what’s so—  funny.”

“Not funny,” Greg said, sliding his lips over Mycroft’s sweaty cheekbone to nibble at his earlobe. “Just fantastic,” he breathed, and laughed some more as the huff of air over Mycroft’s ear set off a full body shiver that seemed to trigger a little bit of post-orgasm overload. 

“Fuck,” said Mycroft succinctly. 

Greg giggled madly, and let himself go boneless, draped all over this wonderful man in this big, soft bed in the middle of the day. I love you, he thought. And for once in my life I think I’ve gotten very lucky. And you might love me, too. 




Chapter Text

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. 







Chapter Text

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—” 

“High praise!”

“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.”

“Which 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.”

“Well—”

“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—”

“Yes.”

Sherlock reared back, blinking. “That is… Concerning.”

“Why?”

“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?”

“...maybe.”

“Good.”

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?”

“Of course.”

“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.”

“Wasn’t it—” 

“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?”

“Yes.”

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?”

“Of course.”

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 me.”

“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.”

“Love you.” 

“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?”

“Mmm… yeah!”

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.”

“Unc’ My?”

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.”

“Yeah?”

“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.”

“Why?”

“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.”

“Hot?”

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.”

“Sorry, sweetheart.”

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.” 

“Fuck.” 

“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…”

“Clam up?”

“Precisely.”

“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?”

“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.



Chapter Text

Mycroft, lulled by the ease with which he and Greg had managed everything else in the short time they had been together, was surprised - and later incredibly confused - by the difficulties which arose with the question of where they would live together. Maybe it was foolish of him to expect such a drastic change to go off without a hitch. But when it came to Greg, Mycroft had developed an uncharacteristic blind faith. It hadn’t occurred to him that they would have the slightest problem finding a home to share. If it had, he would have expected himself to be capable of handling it. Over the weeks following their first flat tours, Mycroft wondered if he would have been able to handle it all much better had it not been decades since he’d last needed to negotiate anything with a romantic partner.

Part of him, though, knew that it wouldn’t matter. Mycroft had never felt so attuned to another person’s mood, or so desperate to ensure another person’s happiness. He could see that the process was off to a rocky start almost from the first moment.  After two flats viewed, Greg seemed slightly pinched around the eyes, and Mycroft found himself feeling instantly worried and frantic to fix whatever had gone wrong.

“Are you alright?” Mycroft murmured as they climbed back into Greg’s BMW, Mycroft behind the wheel. “You’re quiet.”

“Just a headache,” Greg assured him, patting his thigh, but he didn’t meet Mycroft’s eyes, instead watching out his window at the people passing by. “Do you mind if we just. Take a break for the day?” He turned and smiled, and Mycroft could see it was forced, but his voice sounded genuine. “Go somewhere quiet for a nice walk or something before we meet Laura and the kids?”

Mycroft set aside his growing concern and focused on how nice the suggestion sounded. They  had been able to finagle most Sundays off together since they had decided to make it a priority to do so. That had been one of the best decisions of Mycroft’s life, he was already sure of that. Anthea had high hopes for his blood pressure, and he loved every moment he got to spend with Greg. He rarely, if ever, thought about the office on Sundays. Still, they spent a lot of their downtime in Greg’s flat, chasing the living-in-a-bubble feeling from their weekend away together.  They hadn’t ever meandered about London together for an afternoon. It sounded wonderful to Mycroft. He wanted to do it, and then make plans to do it often; a little tradition they could start when they did find the right place to live. 

Mycroft was eager, but they could squeeze in more showings later. It didn’t matter if they didn’t magically find their place today. The day would be a good one, as long as Mycroft could wash away that tension in Greg’s face.

“Certainly,” he replied after a moment, then leaned over to kiss Greg’s lightly stubbled cheek before navigating out of the parking space. 

As they wandered for the rest of the afternoon, the notch of worry between Greg’s eyebrows eased by degrees. Later, Mycroft met Greg’s fantastically funny sister and her precocious-but-sweet daughters, he was so high on having discovered the persona of Uncle Greg - an absurdly attractive, doting man with impossibly soft eyes who gave growling bear hugs and stern warnings that were clearly meaningless in the face of his nieces' batting eyelashes. 

It wasn’t until they were slipping into Greg’s bed, still unmade from their indulgent morning, that Mycroft remembered to ask Greg for his thoughts on the couple of flats they had toured before calling it off for the day. 

“Well?”

Greg turned from the wardrobe with a raised eyebrow, working his watch off and doing his usual nightly check that his wallet and keys had been left in the dish on top. “Hm?”

“Did any of the flats strike you as the one?” Mycroft pressed. “Personally, I thought the second one was quite good.”

Greg’s shoulders hunched, then dropped - a deliberate movement - before his face turned away again. “Actually…”

Mycroft felt the first stirrings of worry return, churning in his gut. He wanted to ignore the feeling. He had almost convinced himself, considering the excellent evening they’d had, that Greg’s tension and upset had been all in his imagination; a quirk of psychology based on his previous experiences with lovers near this stage of proceedings. But everything about Greg, from his forcibly relaxed posture (Mycroft couldn’t focus enough to put his finger on how Greg’s shoulders seemed to have a language of their own, but they did) to his flexing hands, screamed discontent. 

“You didn’t like it?” He tried, tentative. “Not even the—”

“Mycroft,” Greg interrupted, turning and fidgeting in place. “Those places…” 

“You…” Mycroft couldn’t imagine what was so awful about any of the flats. They had all been fine. “You didn’t like any of them?”

Greg laughed, barked it. “Well of course I liked them,” he said, a hint of snap in his voice. “They were all well posh, who wouldn’t like them? It’s just… none of them are all that realistic, are they?” 

Mycroft wrinkled his brow and made a conscious effort to stop and keep a face of calm, lest he actually begin to panic. “Realistic? What do you—”

“They’re expensive,” Greg interrupted again, which really did put Mycroft on edge. 

It wasn’t like Greg to interrupt, or to get snappish for that matter. Mycroft was the oversensitive one, of the two of them. The one with the soft underbelly. He felt suddenly frozen in place, unsure of how to proceed. He bristled, well aware of the price range represented by the few houses they had seen, and annoyed that it was being pointed out to him as if he wasn’t. Mycroft - well, Anthea - had been the one to find them, after all. He bit the inside of his cheek and swallowed his annoyance, waiting to see how Greg planned to follow this statement of the obvious.

“I can’t afford a place like that,” Greg continued. “I would think… I mean, I know that you know what my salary is.” 

Mycroft opened his mouth and, desperate to say something, said the wrong thing: “Yes, but I don’t see why that should matter, when my salary is more than sufficient.”

Greg’s eyes darkened, and he drew in a sharp breath. It was a tell that Mycroft would soon grow to understand meant he was quite irritated indeed, and that a row was imminent. 

And so, it began. 



***



Any mention of money seemed to inject Greg’s natural (and normally somewhat charming) stubbornness with a hefty dose of steroids. After the first argument there in Greg’s bedroom at the end of what should have been a perfect day, he had repeatedly dug in. They needed to “split” their new home, he insisted, and Mycroft hadn’t agreed, but had been unable to stand the sick feeling it gave him to be so at odds. He told Greg he would see what he could find. 

Mycroft attempted, because he loved Greg and desperately wanted to make the impossible possible for him, to find a flat that would meet this criteria. But not even he could force the real estate market to cooperate. A place in Greg’s price range would be too small, and woefully difficult to secure with regard to classified telephone conversations (at the very least). Even if that weren’t the case, Mycroft would be using a laughably small fraction of his income and savings to contribute, negating the fairness that Greg seemed so convinced was of utmost importance. When he took his arguments to Greg, he was met with the insistence that Greg would begin to look, too. 

“Two heads are better than one,” he said dismissively, and tucked his side of the clean top sheet under the mattress, which he and Mycroft had been sharing now for several weeks. 

Mycroft was sure they would have found something by now, but they hadn’t. Not only that, those weeks were fraught with uncertainty and tension, and that week seemed particularly difficult for Greg. He was home late several times, and suffered more than one night of poor sleep. 

Taking it all into consideration, Mycroft kept his silence that night and crawled across the freshly washed sheets to kneel before Greg and wrap him in a tight embrace. To his immense relief, Greg returned it, and even tipped Mycroft back onto the mattress after a moment, pressing their lips together in their first real kiss of the day.



***



Mycroft spent exactly two excessively late nights at work, dreading going home to Greg’s pinched expression and red-circled ads for flats they absolutely could not live in together, before Anthea intervened and told him that he could not simply avoid the problem and that she would be very disappointed in him if he gave in just to end the argument. 

“And,” she said, leaning over his desk, “it is only an argument. Just because it is Greg Lestrade does not mean you are permitted to take leave of your decades of experience and expertise in the art of negotiation. If you never work to compromise, you will eventually resent him.” 

“Forgive me,” Mycroft grumbled, feeling tired and obstinate. “I seem to have forgotten the counseling certification on your CV.”

“Do you really want to be snide with me?” Anthea raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “I’m on your side. You asked me to find you a house in Kent. You used the word commute. I’m trying to help you.”  

When they were both home, Greg grew quieter and quieter, frowning at his laptop and over newspapers, at real estate listings that would never match their needs. Mycroft stewed with guilt. Most of those needs were his own, after all. Greg was a normal person; he could live anywhere with any other normal partner. But thoughts like that made Mycroft itch to flee again to the office, so he squashed them with prejudice. 

In the end, Mycroft bent to Anthea’s influence and listened to her advice to attempt to talk it through again, a bit more firmly on his side of things this time. He had to do this if he ever wanted to get them out of Greg’s cramped one-bedroom (and, lovely as it was, Mycroft desperately wanted that). He had to put his foot down. 

He did it gently and diplomatically, and then had a low-level panic attack in the moments immediately afterward. He nearly missed Greg’s capitulation. 

“Fine. Fine,” Greg said, standing in the middle of his miniscule kitchen and tossing the hand towel aside, apparently deciding to lead with flippancy. “You could have just said about the security.” 

“I tried,” Mycroft replied. “Or. I thought I had tried.” 

He had also tried to propose three different ways of sharing costs. Greg hadn’t been willing to hear any of them. Had interrupted each and every one of Mycroft’s attempts at detailing them. Now was not a good time to bring that up, however, and Mycroft resisted the urge to roll his eyes at himself. Hello, decades of negotiation and political maneuvering, nice of you to show up now.

“Maybe you did,” Greg said, hands on his hips and head hung down. “That first...fight.” He looked up, wincing. “We’ve been fighting.”

“I noticed,” Myroft said, dry as bone. “You get… a bit snippy.”

“I know.” Greg seemed to deflate, pacing back to the sofa and flopping down next to Mycroft. “This has been awful. I don’t understand how we let this get so tangled up, and I’m sorry.”

“I know…” Mycroft bit the inside of his cheek. “I understand if you feel that… that the requirements—  the security and the extra space are beyond your… if the difference in our incomes is an insurmountable obstacle. I know you said we should look outside of London and I would be willing, but—”  

“Christ, I don’t want to make you leave London. I don’t want to leave. I don’t know what I was thinking. It would never work. It just all seemed so uneven, and I’ve been… Freaking out, a bit. And you… Mycroft, you’re acting like I’m going to break up with you over this.” Greg sighed heavily, and then paused at whatever he read on Mycroft’s face. “Mycroft? Do you think I would break up with you over this?”

Mycroft wasn’t proud of his reaction, which was to flee again, inventing an excuse about work and letting himself out of Greg’s flat without thinking to retrieve his laptop first. When he dismissed his hastily called car thirty whole seconds after summoning it, he returned from the pavement outside the building to the door to Greg’s flat, telling himself that he could simply get the laptop and go again. But Greg was waiting by the door, his arms crossed tight over his chest and his face creased with distress. 

“Don’t. Do that,” he said, and pulled Mycroft into a tight embrace. “Okay? Don’t go. I don’t want you to.”

“Sorry,” Mycroft gasped, unspeakably relieved and breathless with it. “I won’t.”

What followed was a much less embarrassingly inept discussion. 

“I don’t want to feel like a burden,” Greg said. “I can’t stand to take advantage of your money.

“You never could be a burden.” Mycroft sighed. “Please, do not ever think that. The money is needed to handle my requirements, which are not your problem. It seems fair to me that I would pay for them. And… honestly, I… I want to give you a beautiful home. An indulgent one. Because you deserve it. You seemed so happy at my house when we went there, like you could stretch out in the space. I… liked it very much. It would be worth it to me, to pay the difference in order to have the pleasure of seeing you in comfort. Besides, I’m embarrassed to say I do have more money than I know what to do with. I would buy you ten London flats if you wanted them, and not give it a second thought.”

“Christ.” Greg laughed, having listened to Mycroft’s impromptu speech while his face softened bit by bit. “Let’s just figure out the one, yeah?”

“I can’t change that I have money,” Mycroft said, still quietly devastated by the previous few days of discontent and feeling it like chest pains. “I… I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

“You don’t,” Greg murmured, finally sliding along the sofa cushions to take Mycroft’s hands. “This was all my bullheadedness and I’m so sorry, Mycroft. I put you through hell this week. These last few weeks. It’s just… I’m just a middle-aged cop. I don’t feel like the sort of person who can live in a lovely place with a lovely man. I think I got a bit scared, to be honest.” 

Mycroft’s heart cracked. He would swear that he heard it do so. “A middle aged cop?” He repeated. “You…” His mind offered up a thousand things to say: you are gorgeous, and easy, and kind, and intuitive; you are sweet, and sexy, and you always smell so bloody fantastic. Mycroft brought Greg’s knuckles to his own mouth and kissed them. “You are my favorite author.”

Greg’s expression broke like a dam and then crumpled. “Oh, god,” he said. “I’m a dick.”

“You are not,” Mycroft sighed. “But please, let’s never do this again.”

“Agreed.” Greg kissed him gently on the lips and then the cheek, apologetic. “I’m sorry. I forgot… I forgot who we are. Christ, I’m sorry.” 

Mycroft shook his head and pressed forward for another kiss. “I am sorry, too. I could have worked through this sooner. I was frightened, too.”

Greg sighed. “Look. Let’s just table it for right now. Could we? I need a minute to adjust my worldview, so if you don’t mind staying here for a bit, I don’t mind having you here. I know it’s not going to work long term, but I’ve loved it. I really want to live with you, you know. Even stuck in this shoebox together, it’s been great. It’ll be even better when we find a place that works. And we will, okay? We’ll… figure out the money. But not tonight.”

“I’m happy to be wherever you are,” Mycroft said softly, meaning it completely. He would be happy in a place like this tiny flat, were it an option. 

“Good,” Greg said. “Me, too. I mean, same.”



***



In the end, the solution turned out to be ridiculously simple. 

“What do you mean you own a house in London already?” Greg dropped his chopsticks. They were at the Yard again, another late dinner shared over Greg’s desk, the rooms outside his fishbowl of an office dark save for a couple of desk lamps lit toward the back of the bullpen where some hangers-on completed their paperwork, waiting for a call. “What?”

“I inherited it,” Mycroft admitted sheepishly. “I… To be completely honest, I’ve not set foot in it since the late eighties, when my uncle died and left it to me. He didn’t live in it. That house was in fact left to a historical society and functions now as a museum.”

“Fucking of course,” Greg said with a barked laugh. “Isn’t that what everyone does with their house when they kick it?”

Mycroft shrugged one shoulder, biting down on his own smile. “People who live in three-hundred year old mansions do, yes.”

“Christ!”

“Don’t be fooled, Uncle Rudy was wealthy, but not as wealthy as you might think. His own father, my mother’s grandfather, was fond of the ponies, and lost quite a lot of the family wealth on bad bets. The house, though, they say was protected by his wife and the threat of castration with her sharpest paring knife. She was a renowned chef’s daughter, you see.”

“God,” Greg muttered. “What must it be like for you, hanging round with my boring, middle class family every Sunday?”

Mycroft didn’t need to think. He said, “Heavenly, as a matter of fact. It’s my favorite part of the week.”

Greg looked up from his carton of noodles, his expression struck soft. “Oh.”

“Indeed.”

“I love you.”

“And I, you. Would you like to see the house? I believe the family rumor is that Uncle Rudy purchased it as a gift for a male lover who spurned him before it could be given. It likely has not been updated since the late sixties.” 

“A project, then.” Greg was beginning to look thoughtful, a little spark of goal-oriented excitement at the prospect entering his eyes. “Hm. Where is this house anyway?”

Mycroft cleared his throat and made himself busy adding sauce to his chicken. “I believe it is a short walk from the Notting Hill Gate tube station.”

To which Greg shouted, “Notting fucking Hill? Fuck off!”

Which startled the lone constable filling out expense reports in the bullpen, and caused Mycroft to laugh and nearly aspirate fried rice. 



***



The house was a wreck, but Greg loved it on sight. Within minutes of their arrival in the foyer, Mycroft texted Anthea and asked her to schedule builders to come in and give an estimate. 

“I can take the wallpaper down myself,” Greg said, eying the bamboo motif lining the walls of the master bedroom. “And paint. You know, I’ve refinished floors before t—” 

“Darling,” Mycroft sighed. “There is no way in this world I am allowing you to operate a sander. I have seen you drive.”

Greg laughed, head tipping back attractively. “Fine. Fine, fine. But let me paint something, at least.” 

“You have a deal,” Mycroft agreed easily, leaning on the balustrade of the staircase which led up from the master suite to a gigantic lofted dressing room. “Will you agree to investing in the renovations based on percentage of income?” 

“Whatever you want, sweetheart,” Greg murmured absently, already wandering out of the room with his eyes on the woodwork curling down with the staircase. “This place has amazing bones.”

Mycroft, deeply relieved and terribly turned on by the way Greg kept touching the woodwork, resisted the urge to take him there on the creaky staircase, but only just barely. 



***



Halfway through renovations at the Notting Hill house, Mycroft was obligated to undertake a series of lengthy trips out of the country. He discovered that while he hated being away, he loved reunions. Finding Greg waiting for him after being gone for a week - or even just one night - was a gift. A precious one. Mycroft hoped he never got used to it, even as the certainty of a warm welcome solidified itself inside of him. Even if his flight landed late at night, Mycroft knew that the moment he managed to slip into bed beside Greg, he would wake with a deep breath and a stretch. That his first words would be: “Alright, sweetheart?”

Late night welcome home sex filled a niche in Mycroft’s soul that he hadn’t been aware of, before Greg. 

“I did something,” Greg breathed against Mycroft’s neck on one such night, their hips hitching together under the sheets. Greg was naked, because the summer had been brutally hot so far, and with the horrendous air circulation in his flat, he had taken to sleeping sans clothing in mid-June. Mycroft was still, in fact, half-dressed, so hurried had he been just to get into bed with him at last.

“What sort of something?”

“Give me your hand,” Greg gasped. “Here, budge up.” 

Mycroft did, laughing a bit, breathless, as Greg guided his hand between his own legs. “What— oh, good god.”

“Yeah.” Greg squirmed.

“How did you sleep like this?”

“Oh,” Greg hummed, hips twitching as Mycroft’s fingers pressed clumsily at the base of the plug. “Practice.”

“Practice?” Mycroft was immolating. He was aflame.

“I’ve been doing it every night since you left. Seeing if I could just get used to it enough to, you know, relax. Wanted to be—  fuck. Um. Ready for you. When you got back, I mean.”

Mycroft threw the top sheet aside before leaning up to flick on the lamp next to Greg’s bed. He needed to see, and Greg apparently had worked himself into an exhibitionist mood in Mycroft’s absence, because his thighs parted, wanton, to display his hard cock, the smear of lube still evident at the crease of his perfect buttocks, and the flared purple edge of the slim plug Mycroft had ordered with his most secret credit card. 

“You,” Mycroft breathed. “You are a genius.”

“It takes a lot of relaxing to sleep with it.” Greg squirmed. “Once I’m awake though, every little move. Ah—”

“Shh,” Mycroft soothed, petting at Greg’s hip. “Stay still, darling, it’s alright. I’m going to take care of you.”

“I know,” Greg murmured, and pulled Mycroft down into a kiss. 

Mycroft would have enough brainpower later to analyze all of the ways he loved this: the way that things between them were both more familiar and constantly new and different. They were nearing half a year of this, and awkwardness and uncertainty had fallen away. Mycroft had never been this comfortable with someone, or with himself, in his entire life. He sometimes felt as if he had been operating with only half the necessary data before this relationship. Mycroft knew, now, what he liked. He knew what Greg liked. He knew how to make fantasy reality without needing a book to illustrate what he could not vocalize - not that he would ever be willing to give up the books - and he knew what to do now. 

“You’re beautiful,” Mycroft said, rocking back onto his heels to divest himself of his half-unbuttoned shirt. “Magnificent. I can’t… I can’t believe you’re here.”

“S’my flat,” Greg teased, stroking himself lazily with one hand and tucking the other arm behind his head. 

“You know what I meant,” Mycroft scolded, sitting back to shuck his socks, trousers, and underwear. He crawled back up, swatting Greg’s hand away in the process, and rocked into the crease of Greg’s hip, rubbing against him in a purposefully clumsy drag. He nipped at Greg’s mouth and nudged their noses together. “Brat.”

“Mm,” Greg wriggled beneath him, grinning. “Punish me, big bad government man.”

Mycroft laughed and kissed him, finding and pinning his wrists to the pillows at the same time. “I wasn’t aware you were interested in that sort of thing,” he said. “Should I order a paddle next?”

Greg quirked an eyebrow. “If you wanted to, I would try it. You know I would.”

“Hmm.” Mycroft sat up, giving Greg’s wrists a pointed squeeze - keep those there - so that he could observe his body all spread out over the rumpled blue sheets. “I couldn’t bear to hurt you.”

“You bite me all the time,” Greg laughed. “It hurts, you possessive git.”

Mycroft gently parted Greg’s thighs further and toyed with the base of the plug, relishing the sharp intake of breath that elicited. “That’s different,” he said. “We can discuss corporal punishment later. May I fuck you now or would you prefer to wait like this a bit longer?”

Greg grinned. “You may.” 

“Outstanding,” Mycroft breathed, and began to work the plug out of Greg’s grasping body. “Did you use an entire bottle of lube? My god.”

“Wanted you to be able to just—” Greg cut himself off with a groan as the widest part of the plug stretched his hole. “Just slide in. No prep. No—  Mycroft!”

Mycroft looked up from where he had been watching two of his own fingers slip inside to replace the silicone. “Yes?” Greg didn’t answer, too busy writhing down on Mycroft’s hand. “Are you saying you want me bare? That would be… new.”

“We… we talked about it. Just—  if you could push your fingers, um, up? Please?”

Mycroft bit down on his own smile and obliged him, fucking in with his fingers and then dragging them out, curled just the way he knew Greg wanted them. “Obviously I’m not going to argue,” he said, struggling to sound cool and smooth with two fingers sheathed in heat and Greg’s thighs trembling and begging to be bitten. “I’m stalling,” he admitted.

“Yeah?” Greg shuddered, rolling his hips down. “Afraid you’re gonna go off like a shot?”

“That happened once.” 

“Yeah, when you got home from whatever it was. Lisbon.”

Mycroft withdrew his fingers, wiping them absently on the sheets before stretching up and over Greg to kiss him. “Lebanon,” he corrected when they parted. “That was a two week trip. This was one.”

“And did you come?” Greg shifted restlessly as he tried to use his legs around Mycroft’s hips to pull him in. “Did you wank while you were gone?"

“You know that I didn’t,” Mycroft scolded, picking up Greg’s hands from the pillows where they had lain obediently, and gathering them to press kisses to the knuckles.

“Yeah okay,” Greg sighed. “So get in me already and we’ll see if I can beat the record.”

Mycroft wanted to laugh and groan at once. He would never live down the Thirty Seconds Incident, no matter how many times he managed to last through all of Greg’s best tricks. Still… the incident had been spine melting, in Mycroft’s recollection. And so he said, “Please do try.”

The moment he breached Greg’s body, Mycroft knew he was doomed. 

“Oh, god,” Mycroft managed through his tight throat, vaguely embarrassed by the whimper in his voice. 

Greg’s own was breathless. “It’s different, yeah?” His fingernails dug bluntly into Mycroft’s shoulders. “Better?”

“God.”

Greg’s head tipped back on the pillows, the long line of his throat exposed. Mycroft kissed at it, sinking further into his body by centimeters. “I love you,” Greg moaned. “Mycroft, I love you so much. I love your—  ah! I love your cock, Christ, you’re so—  Mm, so big and perfect for me.”

Mycroft buried his entire face in Greg’s neck and breathed, his length fully sheathed in all of that perfect, tight heat. He couldn’t form words, already grasping for control. 

Greg just kept talking, which he knew would be Mycroft’s undoing. “Come on, love,” he breathed. “Fuck me, let me feel it. Every inch of you. I’ve been waiting for you, I missed you so much.”

“Shut up,” Mycroft bit out, hips jerking against his will. “Or I will come.”

Greg giggled, his chest shaking against Mycroft’s. “Oh dear,” he mocked. “Can’t have that.”

Mycroft pushed up, first to his hands and then sitting up entirely when his arms shook, the subtle shifts in angle slackening Greg’s jaw and causing his breath to catch. Mycroft let one hand rest on Greg’s chest, the heel of his hand settled directly against the notch between Greg’s collarbones. “I will cover your mouth,” he warned. 

“There he is,” Greg teased. “I dare you. Go ahead and shut me up.”

Mycroft rocked his hips once, twice, shuddering and swallowing hard to hold back his desperate moans so that he could hear Greg’s. They both knew he wouldn’t stop Greg’s stream of dirty talk. They both knew Mycroft loved it; luxuriated in it. From the start, he had loved Greg’s way with words. 

“You feel so fuckin’ good,” Greg slurred, spreading his legs wider and drawing his thighs up with his hands. “Oh, my god.” 

Untouched, Greg’s cock leaked against his belly. Mycroft pressed his palm against it, trapping the velvet, heated flesh between his hand and Greg’s skin. “I’m not going to last,” he admitted, rubbing gently with his hand. “Are you?”

“Fuck no,” Greg groaned, twisting against the pillows. “Please, Mycroft, just move already.”

Mycroft did, adding his hands just below Greg’s, helping to hold his thighs apart and watching his own length move in and out of Greg’s stretched, slick hole. “Look at you,” he breathed. 

Greg’s only response was the rough sound of his breath, coming in harsh pants as Mycroft drove in deeper with each thrust. Mycroft might have been able to do this for a while, had he not been away for so long; had Greg not planted the image of six nights of ‘practice’ in his imagination. But it wasn’t going to happen, he wasn’t going to last, he really, really was not going to—  

“Greg,” Mycroft breathed. “Greg, darling, I’m—” 

“Come in me,” Greg begged. “Please give me your hand, more of your hand, make me come too, please. Sweetheart—  sw—  pl—” 

Mycroft closed his eyes, letting Greg’s cut-off moans and pleas make their way along his nerves, and let go, let himself fuck as fast and as hard as his body instinctively wanted, and closed one hot fist tight around Greg’s throbbing cock just as he felt the first shiver of orgasm make its way up his own spine. “Yes,” he cried. 

“Mycroft!”

“I’m coming,” Mycroft blurted, shocked despite having known from the moment this started that it would be over quickly. He was beyond embarrassment; last time, Greg had assured him that of all the things a person had to feel bad about in life, being so in love and turned on by their partner that they went off like a bottle rocket was not one of them. “Oh, god—” 

“Yeah,” Greg panted. “Yeah, yeah, I want it.”

Mycroft felt his orgasm everywhere, felt it slam through him even behind his eyes, filling them with tears. He squeezed them shut and came with a deep groan, stilling with his balls pressed tight to Greg’s perfect arse. For a hysterical moment, he was sure it would never stop, the constant waves of paralyzing pleasure. “Oh, god.”

“Lean on me, love,” Greg murmured. “Come on, it’s alright.”

Mycroft obeyed mindlessly, pushing forward into the cradle of Greg’s legs, allowing himself to be wrapped up in them as aftershocks rocked him. “I love you,” he sighed. “God, I love you.”

“I love you,” Greg echoed, his hands slipping in the sweat on Mycroft’s back and up into his hair. “So much, baby.” He squeezed with his entire body and groaned. “Oh, wow, you’re still hard.”

“Yes.” Mycroft rocked his hips and felt nearly blinded by the overload. “Fuck. Do you want…?”

Greg’s hands stilled their petting at Mycroft’s hair. “Can you?”

“Yes,” Mycroft breathed. “I think so.”

“Oh my god, do it.”

And Mycroft rocked forward, and back again, shaking at the intensity of it. “Greg.”

“Please make me come,” Greg begged softly. “Please, I’ve been dying to have your hands on me.” 

Mycroft closed his fist around Greg’s cock again and stroked, tight and slick with precome and sweat. 

Greg jerked beneath and around him, and Mycroft could feel in the squeeze and flutter of muscles around his own cock that Greg was nearly there. 

“That’s it,” Mycroft soothed, shoving in incrementally harder with each thrust. “That’s it, darling.” 

“Close,” Greg gasped. “Close.”

“I know,” Mycroft told him, tightening his hand and speeding his thrusts. To his shock, over-sensitization had begun to transmute again into pleasure. “I—  I think… I think I can—” 

“Holy fuck,” Greg laughed, head tipped back gorgeously against the pillows. “Yeah, come on.” 

And in another handful of strokes, Mycroft shuddered hard and came again, a split second before Greg’s body tightened around him, going taut with his own orgasm and pulling Mycroft’s out of him with a shout. 

Greg fell silent as his come dripped over his belly and Mycroft’s fingers, but Mycroft found himself completely unable to stifle his own ragged cries. He buried them in Greg’s shoulder instead, only quieting endless moments later, when his body finally began to slow its shaking under Greg’s soothing hands. 

“You’re amazing,” Greg groaned, dragging his lips over Mycroft’s shoulder and neck. “Amazing.”

“I can’t believe you have been sleeping while wearing an anal plug,” Mycroft slurred. “You trollop.”

“Yup,” Greg agreed, popping the ‘p’ at the end of the word. “‘M a giant slag. I thought you knew.”

“It’s one of your best qualities,” Mycroft said, already giggling. 

Greg gasped, mock-outraged, and then dissolved as well, shaking against Mycroft as he laughed with him, which of course caused them to finally slip apart below the waist, which led to a yelp from Mycroft that set Greg off all over again, and they both nearly fell off the bed. 

Later, once they were clean and showered and the ruined sheets were changed, Mycroft remembered to ask: “Did you stop by the house after work, like you mentioned wanting to do?”

Greg looked up from his fluffing of the pillows and grinned. “I did.”

“And?”

“It’s ready.”



***



And thus began the most stressful week of Mycroft’s life. Greg had thrown himself into supervising the renovations on the house, which was good, because Mycroft certainly had no time or much of an inclination toward home improvement. He was more than happy to discuss furniture and color choices, but he couldn’t care less what sort of tree the wood for the study floor came from, or whether they could source similar wood to match where repair was needed. He did not care a bit how plank styles had changed since the late 19th century. But Greg had seemed thrilled to focus on such things. 

It had been a bit disconcerting, but endearing, and then Greg seemed to wind himself tight as watch springs in the face of their actual move And, here they were on moving day, in the middle of what Mycroft feared was about to be a rage-induced stroke.

“I’m sorry,” Greg said, spinning around from the bay window in their new, empty front room, where he had just sat shouting down the phone at the drivers who were three hours late delivering their new bed. 

“It’s alright,” Mycroft said, aiming for soothing and landing somewhere to the right of frazzled. “I believe the gentleman’s name was Kenneth? He may require an apology, later.”

“I don’t think good old Ken will be making it here today,” Greg said, rubbing at his face with one hand. “Which means no bed.”

“We can sleep at your flat for one more—”

“I don’t want to.” 

Mycroft sighed. “I know.”

“You’ve rigged elections, I’m pretty sure,” Greg said, holding out his phone to Mycroft. “You try Kenneth.”

“If I could rig elections,” Mycroft said patiently, “do you honestly think we would have the PM we do?”

“How the fuck should I know? You play the long game!”

Mycroft carefully did not laugh. It was quite funny, or it would be if Greg were even remotely joking. But the move had effectively drained his usually good-natured partner of any sense of humor, and Mycroft had learned the hard way that laughing at what sounded like lunacy would in fact get him the stoniest cold shoulder since Unce Rudy insulted Margaret Thatcher’s neckerchief. 

He wondered if that story would cheer Greg up. 

Probably not. Greg hated Tories. 

“We can sleep on the floor,” Myroft settled on saying. “We can sleep in a hotel. We can charter a flight and sleep over the Atlantic, if you like.”

Greg’s shoulders sagged. “I want to sleep in this house. In the bed we ordered. With the really fancy new mattress.”

“I wish I could make that happen for you, darling.”

Greg shoved his phone in his pocket and stared around the empty formal sitting room. “At least the settee and everything is running on time.” 

“Indeed.” Mycroft stood and approached cautiously, hands outstretched. “May I?”

“Please.”

Mycroft drew him close in a hug, slipping one arm around Greg’s waist and encouraging him to rest his head on Mycroft’s shoulder with the other hand. 

“I’ve been awful to live with,” Greg muttered to Mycroft’s sweater. “Sorry.”

“You have not been awful,” Mycroft told him. “I have loved staying with you while we waited for this place to be ready. I considered it a preview of things to come. There has never been a moment that I didn’t look forward to living with you in a place we perfected together. Alright?”

“Alright.” Greg pulled back and brushed their lips together. “Thank you. I loved having you at my flat. Even though you’re weird about your socks.”

Mycroft laughed. “Brace yourself, I’m going to be weird about yours, now, as well.” 

“That’s fine,” Greg said, relaxing against him a bit further. “You’re sure you still want me? Now that you know I’m awful at road trips and moving house?”

“I’m sure,” Mycroft replied, because while the question had been posed as a joking rhetorical, he knew Greg did need to hear it. Mycroft sometimes needed to hear it. They were getting quite good at taking turns. “I’ve never been so sure of anything.”

“Good,” Greg said. “Same. Let’s uhm. Let’s just stand around and cuddle til some delivery guy or another interrupts, yeah?”

Mycroft could manage that easily. They would get through the next few days, and if he had to hold Greg with one arm the entire time, then so be it. 



***



The first Sunday in the new house, they had slow, lazy morning sex, and then Greg went on a rampage of cleaning, ignoring Mycroft’s insistence that the place was fairly spotless, since the cleaner they’d finally agreed to have come in once a week had just been there two days prior. Mycroft could suffer this; Greg cleaned in his oldest, softest, most threadbare jeans, and a too-tight white t-shirt. Mycroft didn’t even mind cleaning the powder room toilet, a task he had not performed since he moved out of his mother’s household at the age of seventeen. After all, Greg was bent over just outside the door in the front hall, wiping baseboards on his hands and knees. 

“Sherlock could not care less if my house is clean,” Mycroft said, helping Greg re-fluff the throw pillows in the informal sitting room they had started to call ‘the den.’ “Or if my pillows are fluffy. Your sister’s children certainly won’t care. John Watson won’t care. Is Laura a stickler, and you failed to mention it?” 

“I just want it to look nice,” Greg replied, unmoved. “I like cleaning up my own space.”

“Feathering your own nest, you mean.”

“Call me a mother hen, and see if you get any dessert.” Greg leaned over the back of the sofa for a kiss, and then turned to leave. “Going to change. Be a love and wipe down the mantle before you come up?”

Mycroft blinked after him, stymied. He didn’t even know what one wiped a mantle down with, both in terms of material and cleaning solution. He sighed and reached for his phone and Google. For Greg, he would find out. 



***



Mycroft, who had been teaching young Delia how to play chess over the internet since the first time they met, was in the process of explaining the use of the Catalan Opening to her when Laura caught his eye from across the den and tilted her head toward the doorway in a clear request to speak with him alone. 

Greg was on the floor with Lucy, playing a vicious game of Life with Sherlock while John looked on and handed Rosie toys to play with on the carpet. Mycroft never knew how to end an interaction with a child without seeming like a horrible prick. He remembered, vaguely, that giving young Sherlock a mystery to solve would occupy him nicely so Mycroft could get on with his studies.

“Delia,” Mycroft murmured. “I have a chess set in this room. It’s hidden, though. Would you like to find it?” 

Delia’s eyes lit up. “Yes!”

Mycroft smiled, pleased to have been right. There was something about Delia that reminded him very much of his brother as a child. He knew he shouldn’t--couldn’t--have a favorite of Greg’s nieces, but…

“I will give you one hint,” Myroft said. “It’s not in a box, and it’s not above the third shelf of the bookcase. Alright?”

“Alright!”

“Now, on the count of three, calmly begin to look. See if you can search without anyone noticing. One, two...calmly, remember…three, go!” The last word was stage-whispered as Mycroft stood and made his way to Laura and the glass of wine she was already holding out to him. 

Delia stood with exaggerated restraint and before Mycroft left the room he watched her cross to the bookcase, having taken the bait (a red herring) to start there. Greg met Mycroft’s eyes and asked, with a twitch of his eyebrow, if he was alright. Mycroft, still quietly amazed that he could have entire conversations with him without saying a word, twitched a reassuring smile, and joined Laura in the hall. 

“Can I steal you away?”

He nodded. “Of course. Is everything alright?” 

“Everything is perfect,” Laura said, her hand resting on his arm and squeezing. “Just want to have you to myself for a bit. Garden?”

“Certainly.”

They made their way to the small back garden, Mycroft remembering to switch on the string lights as they went. 

“This is gorgeous,” Laura sighed. “Really, Mycroft, the place is just… a fairytale.”

Mycroft fidgeted with the stem of his wine glass. “Oh?”

“Oh yeah.” Laura lowered herself into one of the chairs at the little patio table. “Sit with me? Don’t worry, I didn’t bring you out here to give you a shovel talk.”

Mycroft chuckled. “Lucille already took care of that,” he said, taking the chair across from her.

“Oh, Christ,” Laura groaned. “Sorry about her. You can blame Greg; he was just as unmanageable at that age.”

“I believe it,” Mycroft said. “It’s the… affability.”

“Not an act!” Laura wagged one finger. “He’s just as kind and easygoing as he looks! But he knows how to use it, too. And he went and taught it to Luce.”

“I like it.”

“I know you do.” Laura sighed. “Anyone can see you do. You gave him a house.”

“To be fair, I already had the house.”

“Mmm.” Laura sipped at her wine. “That’s the word on the street. Greg told me about the problems. His problems with the money thing. He didn’t go into detail but I want you to know that whatever you did, however you handled that? Must’ve been pure genius. He’s easygoing, yeah, but when it comes to money? His independence? He’s so bloody stubborn.”

“I have been learning that.” Mycroft relaxed into his seat, seeing now that she had brought him off to a private corner for something of a sit-rep on her beloved brother. “As I am stubborn about everything but money, I think we can muddle along.” 

“He has never been this happy, you know,” she said. “Not ever. It almost hurts to look at you two. Sorry, sorry, you’re all blushy now—  I don’t mean to embarrass you!”

Mycroft hid his eyes behind his hand. “I fear I’m not used to such frank discussion of… emotional matters. But please don’t apologize. I’ve… never been more happy to be out of my depth.”

“God, I see why he’s obsessed with you,” Laura laughed. “You’re adorable.”

“That, too, is new,” Mycroft said, dropping his hand to rest his chin on it. “It must be a Lestrade family trait, this strange perception of me. But thank you.” 

They lapsed into quiet. 

“Hmmm.” Laura hummed after a moment and considered him over the rim of her glass. “You know that he makes me keep the book money?”

“Yes.”

“You know that it’s equal to almost a third of his salary at the Met, these days?”

Mycroft raised his eyebrows, surprised. “Oh?”

“Ridiculous, right?” Laura rolled her eyes. “It’s not a fortune by any means, but it would’ve made his life a lot easier plenty of times, if he would just take it. It’s his money.”

“He feels that you need it more.”

“Once upon a time, that was true. And I was grateful for the help. But I’ve just been throwing it into savings for years, now. I want him to take it, but he won’t.”

Mycroft winced. “Are you asking me to argue the case to him? Because I don’t think— “

“No, no,” Laura held up a hand. “I can fight my own battles, and this one will be long, trust me. No. But I am sort of recruiting you to a cause.” 

Mycroft motioned for her to go on, glancing at the back door as he did, nervous about being overheard. 

“He needs to take the writing more seriously,” Laura said. “He’s very good at it, and his editor wants him to write more. And not just the romances. He said he told you about the fantasy novel.”

“Oh, yes,” Mycroft found himself sighing, commiserating, and felt vaguely guilty for it. But this particular topic had weighed on him for months. “He won’t allow me to read it, but it sounds truly excellent.”

“I’m sure you get the same excuses I do: no time, it’s not that good, he’s not a professional writer, this was all a big accident, any day now he’ll run out of ways to make two people meet cute or whatever, and it’ll be done. It’s a hobby. It’s for me. It brought him you and that’s more than he could’ve asked for.” 

Mycroft blinked, resisting the urge to press a fist to his chest to still the butterflies inside. “He said that?”

“Yes!” Laura leaned forward. “He’s an idiot! Oh, no, wait—  sorry, no. That last thing is very sweet. You’re lovely, we love you, I didn’t mean that. No, no. But listen: he’s an idiot. This could be his retirement. Not only that, but it makes him so happy, and he doesn't see it. I’ve always worried about his job, but… I dunno. It doesn't seem like it really makes him happy anymore, does it?” 

Mycroft breathed in slowly and made a concerted effort not to look like a person who had never been told by someone else’s family that he was loved, of all the impossible things. He realized in that moment that he hadn’t heard Greg talk about work in… weeks? Months? Suddenly, several stray threads of observation were beginning to weave themselves together: Greg’s extreme reaction to their difference in financial status (which had not been a surprise to either of them); his intense focus on the house; his anxiety about displaying their new life together in just the right light, as if he had something to prove. Mycroft carefully set it all aside. He would not deduce his partner’s feelings, and would not come to conclusions unless they were given to him by Greg himself. That was the only way he knew how to love him without smothering him.

He focused on Laura, who seemed to be watching the conclusions chase themselves across Mycroft’s face.

“What do you think I can do to convince him?”

“I don’t know,” Laura groaned, and then drained her wine glass. “I just want someone on my side. On his side.”

“I’m always on his side.” 

“I know! That’s why I’m coming to you, hat in hand, and asking you: make my brother stop being so stupid.” 

“Again: how?”

“He says you’re basically the man behind the queen. I’m sure you can figure it out.”

Mycroft drained his own glass then. He would need to have a word with Greg about the Official Secrets Act as well as about his writing career. 

“I will do my best,” he said. 

Laura leaned across the table and kissed his cheek. “I know you will. Thank you.”



***



“Kiss me, please, and then join me for a drink,” Greg groaned as he clattered into the kitchen a bit later than usual one Wednesday night a couple of weeks later. He dropped his bag and travel mug on the table without looking and crossed the room with the air of a man who had been through the wars that day. 

Mycroft turned from plating out the salmon and opened his arms readily. “That bad?”

“Eh,” Greg shrugged and tipped into a kiss. 

Mycroft melted into it, and the kiss, in turn, melted into a lazy grope against the worktop, as was their habit. God, but Mycroft could spend hours and hours doing this. He would never move past how good kissing could be. Barreling closer to the one-year mark, he often wondered if it was possible to do so. Surely most adult men in monogamous relationships didn’t experience heart palpitations from a press of lips? 

He had never been so glad to be atypical. 

“Tell me about it,” Mycroft suggested gently as they parted. “And eat something; you mentioned earlier that your lunch consisted of a packet of crisps. Did you manage anything else today?”

Greg sighed. “No. And to be honest love, I don’t want to get into the details of the day. It was long, it was difficult.”

Mycroft leaned further back, framing Greg’s face in his hands and studying the lines at his eyes, at the corners of his mouth. “Greg.”

“I’m fine.”

“You’re exhausted.” 

“That’s nothing new.” Greg extricated himself from their embrace and moved for the refrigerator. “I’ll get the salad.”

Mycroft let it go for the moment, which was a familiar exercise. For weeks, he had been attempting to draw Greg out of whatever funk he seemed to be in, only to be stonewalled at every turn. He retrieved the couscous from where it had been warming in the oven. They worked quietly together to assemble plates, carrying them to the table with glasses of Mycroft’s favorite white wine. Greg sat and took a healthy gulp of his. 

“This looks amazing, thank you for cooking.” 

“It’s Wednesday,” Mycroft reminded him gently. They normally cooked together on Wednesdays; it was usually their shared early night. 

Greg winced and then went blank, eyes falling to his plate. “Sorry. Sorry I wasn’t here.”

Mycroft could read it easily, the motivation behind the sudden void of emotion in Greg’s usually expressive face. “I’m not upset, darling,” Mycroft murmured as gently as he could manage. “Greg, look at me.” He waited. “I am not upset with you. Since we started them, we have each missed exactly one Wednesday night. It happens, rarely. This is one of those rare times. I am not upset with you.”

I’m horribly upset for you, Mycroft thought, but did not say. Greg looked exhausted and fragile, and like he would be unable to see the distinction were Mycroft to voice those thoughts out loud.

Greg quirked a weak smile. “Alright, alright. I believe you.” 

“It worries me that you don’t wish to tell me about your day.”

“I just…” Greg bit visibly at the inside of his cheek. “It was just a hard one. Just. Bleak. I want to be here, with you, not back on the scene or at my desk.”

“I can understand that.” Mycroft reached with his feet under the table, nudging at Greg’s until their ankles slotted together. “That’s fine. We can talk about something else. Or we can just be quiet together. Yes?”

“Christ,” Greg set down his wine glass and covered his face with both hands. “I love you.” 

Mycroft felt something in his chest fracture. “I love you, too. Are you… Greg what can I do?”

“Just keep being lovely,” Greg said into his palms, then sniffed deeply and rubbed at his dry eyes. “Okay, sorry. Sorry, please, let’s eat.” 

Mycroft nodded and ate, and eventually Greg’s shoulders dropped from around his ears and his face lost some of its tightness. But they would go to bed that night and Mycroft knew that it would be one in which Greg’s body woke him, full of tension and adrenaline. 

And Mycroft would soothe him and hold him, and that would be fine. He saw it as a privilege. 

But then, come morning, Mycroft would worry.