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"I wasn't expecting to see you," Molly said. "I thought you were going to be in Dorset for Christmas?"

"That's first thing in the morning. Me and the wife, we're back together. It's all sorted." It had taken a lot of talking and patience, but Greg was finally hopeful after the incident with Steven somebody. He grinned at Molly. They'd not moved back in together yet, but he thought right after New Year it might happen.

Sherlock didn't even look up as he destroyed Greg's marriage. "No, she's sleeping with a P.E. teacher."

Greg froze, his heart shattering. The conversation around him continued, with Sherlock mindlessly skewering everyone in the room as Greg's face fell. As Sherlock started in on Molly, Greg put a glass on the table next to the man. "Shut up and have a drink," he grumbled.

Sherlock, being Sherlock, didn't. The discussion devolved from there, leaving Molly mortified and in tears. Sherlock's phone went off with an obscene sound, and when he left the room to take the call, Greg made his excuses and left. He didn't think the party was going to survive much longer anyway.

More devastated than angry, Greg headed for the flat he used to share with Janey. Never would again, not now. Not if she was shagging some new bloke after she'd said they should head for Dorset for Christmas.

He still had a key to the place, not that he'd been using it. Greg let himself into the building but knocked on the door of the actual flat before he opened it. Didn't want to walk in on any actual shagging. That would just be too bloody humiliating.

Janey sat on the sofa with one of her friends from the school where she taught. She looked up, guilt in her eyes. "Greg, you weren't going to be here until morning."

Greg sighed. "We need to talk," he said.

Janey's friend looked at her. "You didn't actually tell him?"

"I was going to over the holiday."

"I thought you had told him!"

"Going to tell me what? That you were shagging some other bloke again?" His bitterness rose like a tide. Janey and her friend looked at each other again, then at Greg. "Don't even try to pretend you're not. Sherlock rubbed it in my face tonight, and you know he's never wrong about this shite."

Janey sighed, her face troubled. "Well if he told you it was a man, he was wrong about one thing, then."

Greg looked at her friend. "Not a… but then…"

The other woman huffed an unamused chuckle and shook her head. She sounded annoyed when she spoke. "You need to actually sort this with him." She turned to Greg. "I'm Chris. I teach P.E.. I'm sorry about this whole fiasco. Janey was supposed to tell you." She looked at Janey. "I know coming out is hard, especially like this, but leaving him in the dark like this was really unnecessary."

"Chris, I've been trying!" Janey's distress sounded almost as painful as whatever the hell Greg was feeling right now. He couldn't have put a name on it if he'd tried. "It's not like I've ever come out before. I'm making bollocks of it, I know."

Greg, completely unable to cope, dropped into one of the chairs. "But…"

"Greg, I'm sorry," Janey said.

"Look, Janey, you're going to have to deal with this. I want to support you, but This conversation is between the two of you and I shouldn't be here for it, so I'll see you tomorrow." Chris got up, grabbed her coat, and left. Janey, tearful, nodded and closed the door behind her.

"You said we'd got it sorted," Greg said, his heart aching.

She looked at the floor. "I said we would get it sorted over Christmas, not that we had it sorted. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I gave you the wrong impression. I'd booked two rooms, Greg. I was going to tell you."

"But why over Christmas? Why would you do that?" He was hurt and completely confused about her motives. There didn't seem any reason to dump him over the holiday.

"I just… I thought we could have one last Christmas together. Dorset was, I don't know, neutral territory. We wouldn't have to do this here or at your place. The holiday might have made it seem a little less horrid maybe. I don't hate you, Greg, honest to god I don't. This was a stupid idea."

He held his head in his hands and shook it sadly. "Yeah, it was a colossally stupid idea. And I'm not at all convinced you don't hate me. God. What the hell was that with Steven, then?"

She looked him in the eye. "Okay, with Steven? At first I thought maybe it was you that I wasn't getting on with. I thought maybe a different man might be better, but I was wrong. He was an arse and honest to god, he wasn't anywhere near as good as you, in any sense of the word. But… it wasn't you. It wasn't him. It was… it was men. Just generally. I…" Janey took a sharp breath. "I've been living a bloody lie all my life and didn't realize it, okay? I'm attracted to women, Greg. It was never you. I'm a lesbian. I'm attracted to women, not men."

Greg's mouth opened and closed a few times, stunned and speechless, ashamed he'd never got even a hint. "You mean, all those years we were married, that was… you were just faking the whole thing? You didn't want me at all, ever?"

Janey sighed. "It didn't work quite like that, no. I loved you when we got together, Greg. And I mostly enjoyed sex with you, but... "

"But?" He thought about it, horrified. "Bloody hell, I never wanted to force anything on you, Janey."

"You never did. Anytime I said no, you never even argued. You never laid a hand on me like that when I wasn't willing. It's just… I didn't really enjoy it as much as I could have. It felt like something was missing. Maybe I felt like I was missing."

"Good Christ," Greg whispered. He took a few deep breaths to steady himself. "Okay, yeah, I can see why this wasn't working for either of us, then. I just… I wish you'd told me earlier. I wish you'd not led me on about this, talking about trying to work it out. I feel… I don't know how I feel." Greg's gut was churning with anger, resignation, mortified embarrassment, and complete uncertainty. "I need to go. I have to think about this. A lot. After New Year, I'll send you the papers to get the divorce started. There's not any point in anything else."

"There's really not. For what it's worth, I truly am sorry. I wish I'd known decades ago. I wish I'd known when I was a kid. Sometimes…" she curled up into herself, wrapping her arms around her body. "Sometimes it just takes a long bloody time to figure these things out, and people get hurt along the way." She looked back up at him, still holding herself. "You're a good man, Greg. I never actually wanted to hurt you. But I couldn't keep lying to myself anymore. I hope maybe someday you'll be able to forgive me."

"I don't know," Greg murmured, too numb to think clearly. "I'll get the papers to you as soon as I can." He rose and tried to pull himself together. She got up with him and they walked to the door.

"Goodbye, Greg," Janey said.

"Bye." His chest hurt. He felt utterly crushed. The drive back to his flat was more of a blur than anything else, and he had a couple of beers before he went to bed, hoping to drown out some of the pain.

It didn't work.

***

Greg was in no mood to speak to Sherlock until well after New Year. He'd gone in to file for his divorce as soon as it was possible after the holidays, and when he got back to work, he talked to Human Resources to ask about LGBT issues and maybe get a referral to an organization in the Met that could help him find a counselor to talk through the whole mess over Janey. They sent him to the LGBT+ Network, and he arranged to meet someone from the group over coffee at a nearby cafe.

The man he met was a uniformed officer, so he wasn't worried that he might miss finding him. He came over with his latte and offered a hand. "DI Greg Lestrade."

"Inspector Tim Hardy," the man said. He was a touch shorter than Greg, with a bit of a beard and green eyes. "How can I help you today?" They both sat.

"I'm…" Greg took a breath and sighed. "I'm not gay myself, but… Sorry, this is kind of hard."

"It's all right," Tim said. "Family?"

Greg nodded. "Yeah. My wife told me she was a lesbian on Christmas Eve. She'd been seeing another teacher at her school. We're obviously going to get a divorce, but I just don't really know how to handle the whole thing, and was hoping maybe your lot might have a list of counselors or something, because I need somebody to talk to about this." He and Tim drank their coffee as they talked.

"I'm so sorry," Tim said, sympathetic. "That's a really hard situation to be in for everyone. I just want to say I'm really glad that you've come to us about this. It's a much more common situation than you might imagine, and so many straight family members will go to a church or to other people who will blame the LGBT person for being who they are, for coming out, and ruining a relationship that wasn't actually working anyway. It's a mark of the strength of your character that you're understanding enough to want to respect her identity as you look for a way to cope with this."

Greg sighed. "One of my mates told me she was cheating, and I just assumed it was a bloke. She'd done it once before. When I confronted her about it, her girlfriend was there. There wasn't really any shouting, just a lot of confusion and hurt feelings. We talked and she said it wasn't about me, it was about men generally. She apparently only figured it out a few months ago. I just wish she'd talked to me about it."

"It's incredibly hard for someone in a nominally straight relationship to talk about how their sexual identity is changing. The whole idea can be incredibly threatening -- not just for the straight person in the relationship -- and some people do respond with violence, as I'm sure you're aware."

Greg nodded again. "Yeah, seen it happen. I mean, I guess I can't blame her too much, but I'm still pretty messed up about the whole thing. Makes me wonder about myself, why I wasn't good enough for her."

"It was never about you not being good enough." Tim pulled a briefcase from under the table and opened it. "I have some things here that you can take with you to read, about sexual identity, coming out, and support for both the LGBT person and their family members. There's also a list of referrals to LGBT-friendly counselors so that you can make some contacts and discuss this with a qualified professional."

"Okay, thanks." Greg took the handful of brochures, reading lists, and referrals from the man.

"It may not feel like it now, but it's not entirely unheard-of for people who split like this to end up as friends, once they've worked through things."

"Really?" Greg was skeptical.

Tim nodded. "Yeah, really. My ex and I did. It wasn't easy at first, but we got married for a reason, and we were good friends before we married. I obviously don't know your situation, and I'm not suggesting it's going to happen for the two of you, but just be aware that it's a possibility for people who might be open to it."

Greg just looked at him for a minute, thinking. "Are you, like, actually happier now? I mean, after all that? Coming out, getting divorced and everything?"

Tim smiled. "More than you can imagine. The weight off my shoulders, the ability to just be myself, to live openly and honestly, it changed my life so much."

He wondered if that was how Janey was going to feel in a few months. Happier. Without him, but with somebody she could be herself with. Miserable, Greg wondered if he'd ever be happy again. "That's… Okay, yeah. I guess that makes sense. Being able to be honest with yourself at the very least."

"The sense of freedom is amazing. It's like being let out of a cage."

Greg nodded, still uncertain and hurting, but at least having a little direction now. He wasn't the one who was feeling a sudden sense of freedom, that was for sure. He flipped through the papers, skimming the information. It seemed he had a lot of reading ahead of him. "Right then, I appreciate your time. Thank you."

"I hope it helps, Greg. If you need anything else, please be sure to give us a call or send an email. Someone will be happy to talk with you as you're dealing with this."

Greg put the documents in the inside pocket of his coat then stood and shook Tim's hand. "I appreciate that. I'll be in touch if I need anything else."

Tim stood as well and sent Greg off with a smile. "My pleasure."

***

Over the next few weeks, Greg ended up reading a lot about coming out generally, and about how people coped with a spouse who had come out when they were in an ostensibly straight marriage specifically. He went and got himself tested for STDs, as he'd done when Janey had cheated the first time. None of his reading helped much with his anger and his feelings of betrayal, but he did find some solace in being able to talk to a counselor.

Outside of that little cocoon, though, he didn't think there was anyone he could talk to about the whole thing. Who the hell was going to understand? Knowing that Janey wasn't bisexual, that she was really only attracted to women, did help take a little of the pain out of it for him -- it's not like he could have changed anything about himself to try to make the marriage work if she wasn't genuinely attracted to men at all. He took a little comfort in the fact that it really wasn't him, that it wasn't his fault. He couldn't have changed in any way that would have mattered.

It was reading about bisexuality, though, that left him with questions of his own. He'd always assume he was straight, but sometimes he had dreams about men. There were times when he'd found other blokes attractive, but had ignored it. When he was young, he just thought that was how everyone felt without ever saying anything about it, but now he wasn't so sure.

Brian, the counselor he saw weekly, said that yes, sometimes straight people had that sort of dream, but that people also dreamed about all kinds of things that had no real relation to their daily life -- flying, jumping off of cliffs, dying, swimming underwater and being able to breathe without equipment, being an animal, teeth falling out -- really all kinds of odd stuff. The occasional same-sex attractions in his waking life, though, seemed more significant. They weren't so dismissable. Greg occasionally talked about them in his sessions, but for quite some time just tried to ignore them outside of that protected environment.

Some three months after he'd filed for divorce, though, he was finding the whole thing less ignorable. "I don't know what's got into me," he told Brian. "I'm just… I'm noticing men a lot more than I used to. It's confusing, because I always thought I was straight, but after doing all this reading, I'm not so certain anymore."

"Does it disturb you, or does it leave you more curious? You never have to act on anything that you're feeling if you don't want to. If it's disturbing you, obviously we can work on that and at least help you come to terms with it. If what you're experiencing is more curiosity, then there are things you can do to explore that, instead."

Greg thought for a while, sipping at the latte he'd brought in with him. "A little more curious, I guess. Right now, I'm just not certain about anything in my personal life. I hardly know who I am anymore. I don't feel ready to be around other people for more than a pint in a pub. It's not like I'm really interested in going out on the pull."

"And no one says you have to," Brian assured him. "The whole point of this is for you to be comfortable with yourself and to work out how to be comfortable with your situation. A lot of people don't try dating after filing for a divorce for months, sometimes for years. It entirely depends on how you feel and what you want. If you're beginning to actively question your sexuality, you may feel you want to wait even longer, while you get your feelings sorted."

"How does this even happen to somebody my age?" Greg asked.

Brian looked at him, patient. "I'm sure Janey was asking herself that same question. When it happens, it happens. The fact that she cheated on you wasn't a good call on her part, but the confusion can sometimes make people do things they regret."

"Not sure she regrets having a girlfriend now," Greg murmured.

"No, but it does sound like she regretted hurting you."

"I don't know," Greg said, a bit grudging. "Maybe."

"The questions you might consider asking yourself, though, are more focused on your own situation right now. Your own identity and feelings."

Greg sighed and nodded. "Yeah, my own reactions to this stuff, my own feelings, you keep telling me it's the only thing I can really figure out for sure. Everybody else's reactions and feelings are just an educated guess at best, I know." Unless maybe you were Mycroft Holmes. He always seemed to know what people would do and how they'd react to things. Sherlock was a lot less concerned with emotional reactions, which was part of what had got Greg into this in the first place.

Greg left the session later feeling slightly more steady. He wondered how he might explore some of this stuff -- taking some kind of action rather than reading another book or just talking around it.

That night, after downloading and installing a VPN to keep websites from tracking his location or any personal information about him, Greg googled for wank videos. It was bloody embarrassing, and he hardly knew what to think. Furtively searching the web for gay porn, for god's sake. He felt like some sort of back alley junkie in search of a cheap hit.

He wasn't looking for anything fancy. Greg just wanted to see how he responded to watching another bloke get off, wondering whether it would do anything for him. If not, then the dreams and stray thoughts he was having were probably just unresolved crap from Janey coming out. If he did… respond to it, well, maybe it was something more.

It took him a little while to find something that didn't look ridiculous, and he turned the sound off, because he didn't need to be even a little bit reminded that he was trying to watch gay porn while he was sitting on his bed all alone, late at night. And didn't that just make him feel like a pitiful bastard? Finally, he found something that was just some decent looking guy having a wank, enjoying himself. Greg watched, a little more interested than he'd imagined he would be.

He found a couple more and discovered that he was interested in a physical way. Midway through the next one, he had his own cock in hand, stroking himself along with the guy in the video. When he came, it was nearly a surprise. Only nearly, though. He figured the fact that he'd watched half a dozen wank videos and then actually started wanking to one himself was pretty firm evidence that he might be less straight than he'd originally thought.

Greg closed the web page after that, turned off the VPN, and then shut his computer down. His dreams that night involved him kissing other men and mutual hand jobs, and he woke up hard and sweaty in the morning. He got rid of his morning wood in the shower, thinking about the videos he'd watched the night before. It felt really, intensely good. He wondered what it would be like to actually be touching another man instead of just himself, or wanking with another man in the room with him. In a bed with him. That wasn't something he was going to contemplate when he had to get dressed and go to work, though. Just not.

That Friday night, Greg thought maybe he'd poke his nose into a gay bar, just to see what things were like. Definitely not going on the pull, just to see what the scene was like. He had no idea of the sort of people he'd run into. He'd been in a few for work over the years, but that was generally after a violent crime, when the customers were shocky or the place was empty, or if he had to interview an employee. He'd never paid that much attention to the crowd when he was interviewing a bar employee unless it was necessary to the case.

With more than a little trepidation, Greg got dressed for a night out. Nothing fancy, just some decent jeans and a nice shirt. He shaved and paid a little attention to his hair, but he figured it was all men. How fancy was it likely to get?

The reality of it was more painful than Greg had imagined. He was one of the oldest people in there and it was hard to just grab a seat at the bar and watch the crowd. The majority of the guys were probably half his age, or younger. When one of them tried to get in his lap and called him "Daddy", over the deafening music, Greg extracted himself from the kid's arms as politely as he could and made himself scarce. Yeah, bars had to card you went you went in, but even a 22 year old felt a little too close to pedophilia for Greg's comfort. He'd have been just as alarmed if a girl that age had made a pass at him.

He went to his own local for a drink to calm down before he took himself back home.

Greg's next session with his counselor was a little embarrassing as he tried to explain what had happened. The experiment with the wank videos met with approval, but it was obvious that Brian was a bit amused and trying not to show it about Greg's moment at the gay bar.

"If you like music," Brian said, "the London Gay Men's Chorus will be having a show in a couple of weeks. Tickets aren't expensive and it would be a much tamer introduction to some of the queer community."

"I, em, I suppose I could try that instead," Greg agreed. Brian gave him a flyer and encouraged him to give it a chance. At the very least, it couldn't be near so deathly embarrassing as his encounter with the gay youth of the nation.

***

The evening of the concert arrived, and Greg had done a little more preparation for this attempt to figure out queer culture. He'd seen a few videos from the group, and had a look at the crowd and how people dressed. The choir itself seemed composed of a fair cross-section of types. He wasn't certain how it would go, but nothing in his life ever really seemed to be clear anymore.

The bits of audience he'd seen in the videos didn't seem to hold to any particular type, so he didn't make a lot of effort to dress up. He really just wanted to be comfortable. The choir itself didn't always dress up -- he'd seen a video of a performance where they were in shorts and t-shirts, so he tried not to go into it with a lot of preconceived notions.

Greg was a little nervous when he arrived at the venue, wondering if anyone could tell, just looking at him, that he wasn't straight. He told himself that was ridiculous, though, and tried to shake off the paranoia. There were a lot of people milling about in the street and just inside as the venue opened. Some of them looked pretty stereotypically gay or lesbian or just queer, but there were a lot of what Greg had previously thought of as "normal" looking people in the crowd as well. He realized that there was genuinely no way to know, just looking at someone.

"Greg, I didn't expect I'd see you here."

He looked up, startled, at the familiar voice. "Janey? Em, hi." He nodded at his ex's partner. "Chris." There was still a twinge of hurt, all these months later, but he didn't feel the anger he used to, or would have expected upon seeing them again.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. It just doesn't seem like your sort of scene," Janey said.

Greg shrugged. "After what happened, I had to find someone to talk to so I could try to sort through it all. I didn't want to be one of those arseholes who blamed you for being a lesbian, so I… I went to the LGBT organization at the Met and they helped me find a counselor." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "The more I talked with him and the more I read about the whole thing, the more I realized that… well… maybe I wasn't quite as straight as I thought, either."

Janey tilted her head, a little smile touching her lips. "You, too, eh?"

"I don't know. I'm just not really certain of anything right now. It's not that easy to figure out at my age." It wasn't so much that he wanted to talk with his ex about the whole thing, but it seemed at least a vaguely reasonable thing to do if you were standing there in the middle of a crowd of obviously queer people, where that was probably the default setting.

She nodded. "Yeah, I understand. It's… it's good you're trying to sort yourself out, Greg. I really hope you come out of it okay at the other end."

He shifted his weight as he stood. "Thanks." God, it was so awkward. "Are you… are you happy, at least?"

Janey smiled and tucked her arm around Chris. "Yeah, Greg, I am. Probably for the first time in my life. I appreciate how you dealt with it, and I'm still sorry that I hurt you."

"Thanks. That's good, then," he murmured. "I'm going to go find my seat."

"Enjoy the show," Chris said.

Greg nodded to them both and pretended he wasn't fleeing the scene, deeply embarrassed. "How does this even happen to me?" he muttered. "What the hell were the odds that in all of bloody London I'd run into the ex here?" His internal Sherlock voice snarked, 'obviously higher than you expected, given it's a concert by gay people and intended for gay people.' It even managed to perfectly duplicate the silent 'you idiot' at the end. "Oh, shut up, you utter twat," Greg grumbled. He looked at his ticket and wormed his way through the crowd to find his row, and then his seat.

The bloke in the seat next to Greg's was a little younger and shorter than him, with dark hair and a bit of a beard. He was wearing an Arsenal t-shirt, and Greg smiled at him. "Didn't expect to see another Gunner here," Greg said.

The man looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "Why not?" he asked.

Greg blushed. "Oh, god, sorry. Spent all my life thinking I was straight, and I'm still trying to unlearn a bunch of utter shite. Looks like it's been my day to put my foot in it."

The raised eyebrow turned into a gentle laugh. "Oh, yeah, that's understandable. It can be a tough transition sometimes. I'm Peter." He held out a hand.

Greg took his hand and shook it. "Greg. I'm really, really new at this."

"We all were once," the man next to Peter said. "I'm Jacob, Peter's husband." Jacob was taller and quite a bit rounder, and had a bushy but neatly trimmed beard. He was wearing a shirt with broad pink, white, and blue stripes on it. "And both of us are football fans. Though, really, there's no accounting for taste with you Arsenal lot." He smirked.

"He follows the Spurs," Peter said, pretending to whisper behind his hand.

"What? Tottenham? And you live with him?" Greg was on familiar territory now, and could dish it out with the best of them.

"He's got great taste in everything but footie," Peter said.

The three of them spent the rest of the time talking about football and music, when they weren't listening to the concert. Greg had a much better time than he'd expected.

"So what did you think of your first concert?" Peter asked, at the end.

Greg shrugged. "Not really the sort of music I'd usually listen to, but I had a lot of fun. It was great to meet you both."

"Listen," Jacob said, "if you like, there's a weekly queer pub quiz night at the Bear's Paw Pub in Soho on Tuesdays. Starts about eight. There's always a space on somebody's team for a new face. If you're into pub quiz nights, I mean."

Greg only hesitated a moment. "I could, actually. My hours aren't always my own, but that sounds like fun, and it would be good to have some friendly faces to see when I got there."

"Fantastic," Peter said. He pulled out his wallet and took out a card. He scribbled down the name and address of the pub on the back. "Here's our contact. Phone and emails."

"Thanks." Greg didn't really want to give them his card from work. He wasn't sure how his being a cop would be received, but he wrote down his mobile number and email on a page from the little notebook he always carried and gave it to Peter. "And mine. I'll see if I can make it this week."

***

Greg ended up going fairly regularly to the Tuesday pub quiz nights. What really surprised him was how often he got offers of a blow in the bog, or out in the alley in back of the pub, all of which he turned down. The idea didn't sit well with him at all, and public sex was, actually, illegal. He did take a couple of offers to go home with different men, but they were really only looking for a single night. While the sex was surprisingly good, and Greg enjoyed himself immensely, he realized that what he really wanted was an actual relationship with somebody.

"That's just so heteronormative," one really young bloke told him.

"Oh, it really is not," Peter insisted. He tugged on Jacob's sleeve. "Married trans man, here. Monogamous. We're about as queer as it gets."

Jacob nodded. "It's not like everyone has to be in a non-binary polycule of pansexuals, Ivan. You're not the judge of how queer is queer enough."

Greg mouthed 'polycule of pansexuals?' to himself, thoroughly confused. He took a swig of his pint, trying to cover for it.

Peter leaned in and murmured, "I'll explain later," into his ear. Thank god Peter was such a kind bloke. He and Jacob had really helped Greg over the last couple of months.

"It's just a tool of the state," Ivan said. "One partner is conceived as the property of the other. Queerness doesn't need it."

"Sometimes," Greg said, "it's just two people trying to find a little love and stability in a world that can be really uncertain. People who want familiarity and privacy at home. There's nothing inherently wrong with it."

"Oh, don't get Ivan started," Jacob said. "He'll be going off on anarchist theory next thing you know."

Peter nodded. "Besides, just because straight people do it, doesn't mean it's always heteronormative. I mean, a lot of straight people do pub quizzes. Doesn't mean they're inherently heteronormative either."

The break between the rounds over, everyone went back to the pub quiz, leaving Greg relieved that he didn't have to continue to justify wanting a relationship with somebody.

At the end of the evening, Peter said, "Greg, Jacob and I are going to one of the LGBT league football matches on Sunday afternoon. If you have time, do you want to come along?"

"There's a league?" he asked.

"There's an LGBT pretty much everything, if you know where to look," Jacob told him.

Greg shrugged. "Sure, why not? Could be fun."

Peter told him where the match would be, and Greg headed off home.

The next day, Greg got a case involving multiple assaults and a murder that appeared to be homophobic hate crimes. He and his team interviewed the assault survivors, their friends, and the people who knew the murder victim, and by Thursday they'd managed to find the perps -- three right wing twats who thought they were saving England by terrorizing the faggots. They were young and stupid and thoroughly bloody overconfident, so it wasn't like it was hard to find them. It infuriated Greg to no end, more now than it would have previously, because suddenly he was one of the faggots they thought needed to be removed. The perspective shift was unsettling, and Greg wasn't entirely sure how to cope with that.

Still angry, Greg ended up being interviewed about the case by some television reporters on Friday morning. Most of the day was spent dealing with paperwork and evidence handling, and he stayed home Saturday for a lie-in, just trying to get his equilibrium back.

Sunday at the match, Peter and Jacob met him, looking a bit uncertain. "Saw you on the telly Friday, Greg. You never said you were a copper."

Greg sighed and didn't meet Peter's eyes. "Yeah. I know how some people feel about us. I wasn't sure if I'd be welcome, if I told anyone."

"You caught the guys who did it, though," Jacob said.

"We did." Greg nodded and looked up at them. "That's my job, finding murderers and rapists and such. I'm not out there bashing the heads of protestors and whatnot for no bloody reason."

Jacob looked him in the eye. "Thanks for finding them. Makes the rest of us safer."

"Still have to get a conviction." Greg sighed, his shoulders slumped. "I think we've got more than enough evidence for a good case, though. My team knows what they're doing. This hit closer to home than usual for me, though. Normally I can stand a little aside from it, not feel quite so personally invested. It was harder this time."

"Makes sense, though, really." Peter put a reassuring hand on his arm. "You only came out a couple of months ago. I can't imagine you're out at work yet. It had to be hard."

"No, not out at work. Still not sure how to handle that."

"You'll do it when you're ready," Jacob said. "You don't have to unless you want to."

Peter pointed in the direction of the pitch. "Looks like things will be getting started soon. We should go find some seats."

"Sounds great." Greg smiled, relieved that his friends had accepted his work with a minimum of stress. He'd been concerned. He knew that there was usually an LGBT contingent from the Met in the Pride parade every year, but he also knew it was pretty controversial for a lot of reasons. It hadn't been something he was ready to deal with.

They headed in, looking for some decent seats, when Greg saw him. Tall, thin, dark as night, and really well dressed, looking like a young, slender Idris Elba. Greg stopped, taken aback by how fit the bloke was. Peter bumped into him, then saw where he was looking, and laughed. "Your type, eh?" Greg nodded, mute. "I'd climb him like a tree myself, if I didn't have Jacob. And really, I do prefer cuddly, but bloody hell, he is fit, isn't he?"

Tall, thin, and a sharp dresser really did describe what Greg had discovered he liked. A lot. Peter slid around him and led them over to where the man was sitting. He looked like he was probably in his 30s, so not too young for Greg's sensibilities. Peter made sure Greg was sitting in the seat next to the guy.

When they sat, the bloke looked at Greg. Then he looked at Greg, giving him a pretty intense once-over. Oh, god, Greg thought, he's checking me out. The man grinned. Greg, unable to help himself, grinned back.

"Isaac," the man said. "Isaac Otiemo." He offered a hand.

Greg took it. "Greg Lestrade. Pleased to meet you."

"Oh, the pleasure's all mine, I assure you," Isaac purred. Something in Greg melted. He was pretty sure his brain short circuited.

"My friends, Peter and Jacob," Greg said, gesturing to the men next to him.

"Cheers," they both said, looking entirely too amused.

The four of them talked a little about the match and the league, and which team they'd be supporting, though Greg didn't know enough about either of them to have an opinion. He and Isaac talked, as well, asking about each other. Isaac, it turned out, was a barrister. He worked mostly outside of central London, so Greg hadn't ever seen him in court. Isaac had seen his interview from Friday, though, and also recognized him as having worked with Sherlock occasionally. Greg put an end to that discussion fairly quickly. He didn't want to talk about Sherlock when he was hoping to get a date with someone. They were still chatting when the match ended, and Greg had really had a fantastic time, both with the game and with Isaac.

"It's been a really interesting conversation, Greg." Isaac smiled at him, his dark brown eyes crinkling. "Would you consider having dinner with me tonight?"

He could feel Peter elbow him in the back and hear the two of them making excited noises behind him. "Yeah, I really think I'd like that," Greg said.

They set the time and place and Isaac ran a hand down Greg's arm, then took his hand and gave it a squeeze. Greg blushed. "I'll see you tonight, then." Isaac waved as he headed off, and Peter and Jacob were damned near falling all over themselves with excitement.

"Oh, Greg, you have pulled. I have absolutely no doubt you are going home with that handsome thing tonight." Peter was bouncing a bit and Jacob wrapped his arms around his husband from behind.

"Nice to see you get an actual date, mate."

"Did that really just happen to me?" Greg asked. "Because that shit never happens to me. I am never that lucky."

Jacob laughed. "Yeah, you are. Right here and right now. You'd best go get ready for dinner."

"Don't forget some condoms," Peter said.

Greg covered his face with his hands. "Oh, god."

"Relax," Peter assured him. "You've got this."

"We want details tomorrow," Jacob insisted.

"Oh, Jesus, bugger off, you two."

They laughed.

Greg took himself home and got ready for his date, not certain what to wear. Isaac hadn't said anything specific, but he didn't think they'd end up at a chippy. He went for something a little nicer, but not his court suit. That, he thought, would be overkill.

It felt strange, getting ready for an actual date after so many years. When he was younger, he'd felt a lot more confident, but he supposed that was only natural. He'd been a bit shocked by his visceral reaction to the man. It wasn't something that had happened to him before. Well, he'd had a similar reaction to Mycroft Holmes, years ago, but he'd never thought of it as anything sexual. At the time he'd dismissed it as being akin to fear, the way something vulnerable reacts to a predator. Now he found himself wondering if that might have been a repressed part of himself trying to deal with a very anomalous sense of attraction.

He sighed to himself and shook his head. Seemed like any tall, thin bloke was hot these days. The barista at the Costa's down at the corner. Some of the guys at work. Men he saw walking down the street. Mycroft sodding Holmes, who had no bloody right to be so fit. Thank god that despite anything tall and leggy making awkward parts of him sit up and take notice, he didn't seem to have that reaction to Sherlock 'I am an absolute twat' Holmes, because that would have been ridiculously inconvenient. Besides, straight or not, Sherlock seemed to be very much John Watson's territory. Let him keep the arse.

Greg gave himself a last look in the mirror and poked at his hair, then headed out to the restaurant. The tube was a little more crowded than he'd expected, so he was a couple of minutes late, but the Greek restaurant Isaac had suggested was nice. Upscale, but not painfully so. When he got in, he saw Isaac already at a table. The man's face lit when he saw Greg, and he couldn't help smiling in return.

Isaac stood and shook his hand as Greg got to the table. "I thought maybe you'd been having second thoughts," he said.

"Sorry I'm late. The tube was a bit of a mess. Definitely not having second thoughts. I'd have to be mad."

They sat, and Isaac said, "That's really flattering."

Greg shrugged. "It's just the truth."

The waiter brought menus, and they perused them for a few minutes before ordering an appetizer to split, their main dishes, and a bottle of retsina to go with everything.

Conversation was easier than Greg expected. They'd talked quite a bit at the match earlier, but this was more personal. They talked a little about themselves and where they'd grown up. Greg knew by now that some gay men wouldn't give the time of day to a bi man, so he wanted to settle that right away before he'd got himself too hopeful, and mentioned his recent divorce and some of the soul searching he'd done afterwards.

"So your ex coming out was what led to you doing so?" Isaac asked.

"Pretty much directly," Greg said with a nod, "though it did take a while for me to figure it out. I don't regret having been married, but I could have wished for her to come out some other way than seeing someone behind my back."

Isaac eyed him sympathetically. "That's definitely harsh."

"You don't mind that I'm bi, then?"

Isaac shook his head and smiled. "No. I doubt you're eager to go diving back into the arms of a woman at this point."

"Not really. There's so much more that I need to figure out about myself. I can't really see me dating another woman anytime soon."

"All the same, it's good you had a wake-up. You could have spent the rest of your life thinking you were straight, and trying to fix things that weren't really broken."

"Still got a lot of mixed feelings about it," Greg admitted.

Isaac took a sip of his wine. "Only natural, though, isn't it? This is so new for you. I came out when I was a lot younger, and it was still hard, struggling with my family and their beliefs and traditions."

"I've not really told anyone yet. Not so much because I feel like I have anything to be ashamed of, but just not being certain what to say. It's not really something you just slip into a conversation, after all." Greg continued eating his dinner as they talked. "I'm more worried about Sherlock letting fly with it at a crime scene because he can," he said.

"You didn't want to talk about him earlier, at the match."

"Yeah, no. I mean, Sherlock's utterly brilliant. Only ever met one person smarter than him in my life, and that's his brother. But Sherlock gets bored; he's got no bloody filter whatsoever, and doesn't much care who he hurts with it, or how. It's a struggle, sometimes, to get him to focus, or to care about anything. At least he's got Watson now. John seems to get through to him better than anyone else."

"They an item?" Isaac asked, curious.

Greg shook his head. "Not that I can tell. John insists he's straight and keeps dating all these women that Sherlock drives away. I think Sherlock's jealous as hell and doesn't know how to handle it, really. John's just oblivious. Of course, Sherlock insists he's married to his work and he's not got room in his life for anything even close to a relationship."

"I've read Watson's blog. Sounds fascinating, but the kind of fascinating you want to watch from behind a blast shield."

Greg laughed. "Oh, god, yeah. If he wasn't so bloody good at what he does, I'd stay miles away. I mean, he's not all bad, and he's been getting better, but it's rough sometimes. Sherlock's a great man, a great mind. I just keep hoping someday he'll be a good one."

The conversation turned from there, and they talked about old cases they'd worked on. Isaac talked about some of his weirder clients, given that Greg had bizarre stories about Sherlock's antics at his crime scenes. They laughed and drank their wine, and soon they were lingering over dessert, reluctant to let the evening end.

"Greg," Isaac said, hesitant, "I really like you. I know this might be a little fast for you, given how recently you're out, and how you're still figuring yourself out, but I'd really like it if you'd come home with me tonight."

Greg, his heart thundering with the idea, said, "I think I'd like that, but I need to ask a couple of questions first."

"Whatever you like."

"Is this going to be just a shag and then I head home, or do you want me to stay the night?"

Isaac smiled. "Oh, I'd love to wake up with you tomorrow morning."

Greg smiled back. "That sounds good. And, look, I'm not trying to push for anything, but would you be open to seeing me again, or is this a one-time thing?"

"Well, the date so far has gone really well, and if we have a good time tonight, I don't see why we couldn't see each other again. See how it goes, figure out if we're right for each other."

He nodded to Isaac, feeling ready for it all. "Then yes, I'd definitely like to go home with you."

They paid and left together. Greg felt a flutter of excitement when they walked to the tube hand in hand. It felt a little bit dangerous, but mostly just romantic. They walked close together, their shoulders brushing, both of them smiling and laughing together as they talked. He felt light, and younger than he had in ages.

When they got to Isaac's place, they kissed. Isaac was tall enough that Greg had to tilt his face up for it, and his lips were soft. His arms went around Greg's body and he melted into the embrace as Isaac's tongue slid into his mouth. He leaned back just a bit, their bodies pressing together, and it was an utterly amazing feeling. Being held like that was something he'd never experienced with a woman. He'd always been the one doing the holding, always the one that had leaned over them a little. Greg moaned softly into the kiss, breathless.

Isaac nuzzled Greg's nose, chuckling quietly. "Mmmm. Good?"

"God, yes," Greg breathed, dizzy with it and intensely aroused. "Take me to bed."

"Oh, with pleasure," Isaac purred. He took Greg's hand and led him deeper into the flat, to the bedroom, where they both got lost in stripping each other. Greg's hands moved, slow and exploratory, over Isaac's body, and the feel of the other man's fingers, his palms, caressing Greg's chest and his sides and his hips was even more intoxicating than the wine.

They kissed and Greg sank into it, relishing the feeling of their bodies pressed together, their hot, hard cocks meeting, and Isaac drew him down onto the bed, tossing the covers aside with one hand as he held Greg. The man's weight on him as they moved together was solid and warm. Not too long later, there was slick being stroked over their cocks and Greg drowned in the kissing and the slow rocking of their bodies. He wasn't sure how long it took before they came, but Greg knew that it was only the first time that night.

He regretted that the next day was Monday and they'd both have to get up for work, but he was going to make the most of it. They kissed and held each other and laughed together, quiet in the darkness. Greg revelled in the touch. He'd missed it so much in the last years of his marriage, and in the quick, empty sex he'd had with the blokes from the pub quiz night. This was what he'd been wanting all along -- slow, relaxed skin contact, no rush, with a promise of breakfast in the morning and maybe a connection with someone.

He fell asleep with arms wrapped around him, blissful in the dark. Greg woke to one hand gently caressing his chest, warm and solid. He sighed and stretched comfortably. It wasn't even dawn yet, but he was eager enough for one last round before they had to get up and get ready for work. "Mornin'" he murmured.

Isaac kissed him. "Good morning." There was fondness in his voice, and Greg wrapped him in his arms and hugged him. A few moments later, it was mouths on cocks and Greg was blissfully happy that his morning wood wasn't going ignored.

They showered and dressed and made a quick coffee and toast breakfast together, knowing Greg had to get out early so he could go home and get changed for work. "I really enjoyed the night with you," Greg said.

"Mmm, yes." Isaac put his arms around Greg from behind and rested his chin on Greg's shoulder. It felt warm and welcoming. "So did I. We should do this again soon."

"I'd like that a lot." Greg turned in his arms and kissed him, slow and luxurious. Before he left, they exchanged numbers. "Text me anytime. Let me know when you'd like to get together again."

Isaac nibbled at Greg's neck. "Maybe Friday? We could lie in and spend some of Saturday together."

"That… that sounds fantastic, actually. Provided I don't get completely derailed by a case, I'd love that."

"Let's plan on it then. Let me know what you might like to do Saturday."

***

Naturally, Greg couldn't escape Sherlock's utterly intrusive commentary. He flounced into Greg's office with John at his heels that afternoon and flopped dramatically into a chair. "I need a case! You must have one!"

John, thankfully, shut the door behind them to keep Donovan and the rest from being overly curious.

"I've got nothing right now," Greg said, annoyed but still a little too much in the afterglow to snap at them.

Sherlock's eyes narrowed. "Oh, I see you're finally dating again."

"Sherlock," Greg warned.

John smiled, half apologetic. "Well, you do have the look of the well-shagged about you, mate."

Sherlock's nose wrinkled. "But this time it's a man."

Greg got to his feet and glared down at Sherlock. "You can just shut up, Sherlock. I'm not shagging you and it's not like it's any of your bloody business." John's eyes widened, and Greg thrust one impatient finger at him. "And I'll thank you to keep your mouth shut, too, John. This doesn't concern either of you and it is not a conversation I am willing to have at work. No, I do not have any bloody cases, and you can both just bugger off before I have you escorted from the premises."

"Greg?" John looked thoroughly confused.

"I mean it, John. Both of you, out. If I want to tell you about it, I will, and I do not need you" he rounded on Sherlock and shoved a finger into his face, "to deduce my fucking life in front of everyone like you did at Christmas."

"Oh, Mycroft will find this very interesting."

God alone knew why Sherlock thought Mycroft would care. "It's none of your brother's business either. One more bloody word and you'll be begging Dimmock for cases for the next six months." He gestured at the door. "Get. Out. Now." He reached for his desk phone, aiming to call security to have them both removed.

John caved first, and took Sherlock by the arm. "Come on, Sherlock. He's serious. You have to learn to keep your bloody mouth shut sometimes."

"But John--"

John tugged at his arm, dragging him to the door. "Not now. We are leaving." He looked back at Greg. "Sorry. Sorry. I've got him. We're going."

Greg sighed with relief when they were gone, resting his head in both hands. Just what he needed, Sherlock outing him at work before he was anything even close to ready for that. Between Sherlock's sneering and John's befuddled 'not gay' bullshite, Greg hadn't the least bit of patience. Thank god John had closed the door before Sherlock had started spouting.

He buried himself in his paperwork backlog, not feeling like sticking his nose out of his office for anything that wasn't a mandatory meeting or the usual supervisory bollocks. And wasn't it just like Sherlock to put his foot into something small and guarded that Greg wanted time to try and nurture for himself. He growled and glowered at the stack of papers on his desk.

During his lunch break, which was late, Greg went out to Pret for something quick, and got a call from Peter. "Hey, how did it go last night?"

At his little table, with a coffee and a sandwich, Greg relaxed at his friend's familiar voice. "Really well," he said, finally able to smile again. "Had a fantastic night, and we have another date for this Friday. Isaac seems like just the sort I'm looking for. Can't be certain yet, but it was a fantastic night."

"I'm so glad to hear that, mate! You coming tomorrow for the quiz night, like usual?"

"Hope to. Almost got my day thoroughly ruined when Sherlock showed up at my office earlier. He blurted out that I'd been on a date with a bloke, and thank god John had closed the door behind him when they came in, or I'd be out to my entire division right now. I'm just not ready for that, yet."

"Oh, bloody hell. He can be an absolute twat, can't he?"

Greg sighed. "I swear to god, for all that he's brilliant and how he can be amazingly helpful, I spend most of my time around him trying really hard not to punch him. And that's now that he's more presentable with John around."

Peter snorted. "There are moments when I think you probably qualify for sainthood."

"Oh, not even. You should see some of the ridiculously embarrassing photos and videos I've taken of him over the years. Hilarious, some of 'em."

"Ohh, can I?"

Greg laughed. "Nah, I threaten to show 'em to his brother when he's being even worse than he was this morning. Usually shuts him down pretty effectively. I've got no idea what happened between them. Mycroft is this terrifyingly overprotective mother hen type, for some pretty obvious reasons, in my opinion. Sherlock seems to hate his guts most of the time, apparently for the cardinal sin of trying to keep him alive. It's completely beyond me. Then again, both of them are completely beyond me. Neither of them are on the same level as the rest of us. Smartest two blokes on the planet, as far as I can tell."

"Sounds like a lifetime study for some psychiatrist."

"No doubt. Look, Peter, I need to eat my lunch and then back to the salt mines. I'll probably see you tomorrow."

"Right then, take care."

"Yeah," Greg said. "Say hi to Jacob."

Tuesday pub night came and Greg spent time with the crowd, fielding good natured questions about his potential hot new boyfriend. It was friendly and only felt a little awkward, mostly because Greg hadn't dated in forever, and it was still a bit strange knowing he was looking at a relationship with a man.

The rest of the week was quiet. A few domestic violence cases but nothing at all that brought Sherlock to any of his crime scenes, or back into his office, which was a massive relief. On Thursday he and Isaac coordinated about their Friday date, deciding where to go for dinner and floating a few ideas for what they might want to do on Saturday, beyond shagging like hormonal goats, which both of them agreed was absolutely on the agenda.

When Friday arrived, Greg was ready. He was familiar with the restaurant -- not quite as nice as the last one, but definitely good enough, and the food was fantastic. Isaac arrived right from work, so he was wearing a really sharp suit that did Greg's libido rather more good than was possibly healthy.

"Yours or mine?" Isaac asked, when they were done, flush with wine and good food.

Greg shook his head. "Mine's a bit of a wreck compared to yours. Tiny bedsitter, post-divorce. Not that great for setting a mood."

"Ugh, understandable. You really need to find yourself a better place, Greg. I mean, it's not like you couldn't afford something nicer, you being a DI and all." He took Greg's hand as they left the restaurant. "Mine it is, then."

It was true. Greg could afford something better, and he was on month-to-month rather than a lease, so he wouldn't have that much trouble moving. "Yeah, I should look into it. It's just been too much effort, and I've not been that motivated."

"Well, motivate, my dear. That way I'll be able to see your space without you feeling guilty." He grinned.

Greg shook his head. "Not guilty so much as an utter slob. I'm just not fancy or polished, not like you at all."

"You don't need to be like me. You're more than enough just as you are. God, you're so fit. Don't even start."

Greg was quite certain he was blushing now. "Go on with you."

"Oh, please, Greg, has nobody ever told you that you are edible?"

Surprised, Greg looked at him. "No?"

"Well, you are. Trust me on this."

At Isaac's flat, their trip to the bedroom was almost as much of a whirlwind as last time. The biggest difference was the trail of clothes from the front door to the bed, none of which Greg regretted in the least. It wasn't like he'd have to worry about getting to work the next morning and nobody was going to care in the least if he was a bit scruffy on the way home. Besides, he was hoping to spend the best part of Saturday morning in bed, having fantastic sex.

They kissed and groped and rubbed and sucked and Greg was happy with all of it. After a while, they backed off a bit, still not having come, but Greg was okay with that, too. "You look like you've got something in mind," he said.

"Have you ever done any kind of anal play before?" Isaac asked, his fingers slowly, gently trailing between Greg's cheeks.

"No. I mean I've heard that some blokes really like it, but I've no idea what it would be like."

Isaac smiled, still just trailing his fingers gently up and down, which actually felt pretty good. Greg shifted himself slightly to rest one leg over Isaac's thigh, opening his body up a little. "Some don't like it, but it's worth trying at least once to see what it feels like."

Greg reached between them and gave Isaac's cock a gentle squeeze. "You're pretty big, though, considering how bloody small that hole is."

"It'll stretch out quite a bit, if you do it carefully, but we wouldn't have to start with anything like that. I've a lovely little toy that's not quite as big around as one of your fingers that will find just the proper spot for quite a lot of fun, if you're interested."

His fingers teasing carefully at Greg's hole actually felt much nicer than he'd have expected. "If we go slow," Greg said, "but I don't like the idea of pain at all."

"There can be some discomfort at first, but if we go slow, like you say, there won't be that much of it. And what you'll get in return, if you enjoy it, will be a mind-blowing orgasm."

"What, you mean better than last time?" Greg raised a skeptical eyebrow.

"It's entirely within the realm of possibility." Isaac smirked. He rolled toward the edge of the bed and pulled condom packets, some lube, and a little angled vibrator out of the bedside drawer. "See, it's not so big." There was a little bulb at the end of it, after the angle. "This'll buzz on your prostate and most blokes I know really get off on it."

Isaac was right - it wasn't as big around as most of Greg's fingers. It probably wouldn't be too bad if he were relaxed and they used enough slick.

"You get off on it?"

"Like a bloody rocket," Isaac murmured, pressing kisses to Greg's temple and down his jaw. "I would love to see you come like that, watch you shudder with it. I bet you'll beg for more by the time we get there."

Begging for more seemed pretty promising. "Just… go slow, all right?" Greg had to admit, he was a little nervous about the idea.

"Gentle as a lamb for you, my friend. And whether you love it or you're not interested in trying it again, I'll be happy to let you fuck me through the mattress afterward." He opened a condom packet and slipped it over the little vibrator.

That last bit was practically a growl and it definitely got Greg's interest. "You have a deal." He could definitely get behind being the one to slide into a tight, hot opening, especially given how enthusiastic Isaac sounded about it.

"I'm quite confident in your ability to make me a very, very happy man." Isaac kissed Greg enthusiastically, and soon the careful exploration around his hole was slipperier and felt really good. Isaac kissed his way down Greg's body and took Greg's cock into his mouth, sucking as he teased at Greg's hole. Greg's cock thoroughly approved of the entire project.

Greg sighed as Isaac played with him. "I like the sounds you make when you're enjoying it," Isaac said, between enthusiastic kisses to Greg's cock and bollocks. "Just keep that up. I like knowing what feels good for you."

The slow teasing turned to pressure, just gently pushing in a bit. "That's good," Greg murmured, relaxing into it. Isaac's warm finger moved and soon the slightly cooler, harder plastic of the vibrator was circling round and pressing gently in and out, just barely penetrating. It felt a little strange, having something going in, but it was small enough not to be actually uncomfortable, just odd. He was distracted by Isaac's hot mouth and the motion of his tongue, and just tried to breathe into it as the penetration slowly got deeper, finally breaching him completely. The feeling left him panting a bit, uncertain, but wanting more of the gentle, slippery friction.

"It's all right?"

Breathless, Greg said, "Mmm, yeah. It's weird, but it's okay."

"You'll really feel it soon. I'm not quite in deep enough yet." Isaac slid up Greg's body, the little vibrator still moving inside him carefully, and kissed him, slow and languid. Greg moaned softly, arms around his lover, legs open, until he gasped as the bulb of the vibrator slid over his prostate. "Ah, there you are," Isaac said, his lips moving against Greg's. He rubbed the toy carefully over the spot inside Greg that left him melting. "I'll turn it on to the low setting. Don't want to overwhelm you entirely."

Isaac shifted a bit, both hands between Greg's legs for a moment, and the sudden vibration left Greg gasping for breath, shuddering with the intensity of the pleasure. He moaned and shook and he heard Isaac laugh.

"Oh, god." Greg was writhing with it, barely able to draw breath, his cock and his nipples so hard you could cut glass with the damned things. He was so obscenely turned on that it would have been comedic, except for the part where he thought he was going to explode in the next five seconds.

"Feels just as good when you're filled with a nice, thick cock, too," Isaac purred.

Holy hell, Greg could imagine it now, too, how full he'd feel, and he moaned again. Isaac pinched one of Greg's nipples, and Greg gasped and panted, barely able to form words. "Fuck me, god, yes."

Isaac slid down his body, teasing Greg's cock with his tongue as he played with Greg's hole, gently stretching him as he slid the vibrator carefully in and out. The pleasure completely overwrote any discomfort he was feeling. Some time later, Greg murmured, "Think I'm ready now," his breath still coming a bit rough and ragged.

"We'll try." Isaac's own breathing was more than a little ragged by that point, as well. "You tell me if it's too uncomfortable." Greg nodded and Isaac turned off the toy and pulled it out carefully. A moment later, there was a steady gentle pressure and the heat and thickness of covered flesh pushing against him, trying to enter. "Bear down for me," Isaac encouraged, kissing him softly. Isaac's cock felt bigger here than it had in his hand, but Greg did his best to relax and bear down. The stretch was uncomfortable at first, then the thickest part of the head entered him and Greg gasped and shuddered. "Breathe, breathe," Isaac said, stopping. "Let's wait here until you're okay. That was the hardest part." His own voice was strained and Greg could only imagine what that had to feel like, waiting right at the edge like that, so bloody tight.

They both paused, panting, until Greg nodded and Isaac slid further in. He felt too stretched. He felt wrecked. He felt utterly fucked and it was fantastic as he relaxed into it and they began to move together. It was intense, but in a very different way than it had been with the vibration. This was gentler and softer, but still immensely erotic. He wrapped his legs around Isaac's hips, both of them kissing, Greg's hips rising to meet his partner's thrusts.

Isaac took one of Greg's hands and brought it down between them. "Here, get yourself off. It's amazing, when you're all full like this. So much deeper." Greg was reluctant to let go of Isaac's shoulders because holding him felt so good, but he took himself in hand and started stroking as Isaac fucked him. He was right -- it did feel amazing. Much faster than he expected, Greg shuddered and came, harder than he had in ages. The way his body gripped that thick cock moving inside him intensified everything and left him wrung out as Isaac chased his own finish.

When they were done, Isaac dropped on top of him, both of them panting like marathoners, sweaty and blissful. They held each other and, after a few minutes, Isaac slipped out of him slowly, both of them more than a little sensitive after all that. Greg basked in the feeling, not trying to express anything at all, just wanting to lie comfortably in a lover's arms because it felt right for a change. He wasn't at all worried about whether his partner had enjoyed himself, or whether Greg was accepted; it was blindingly obvious that this had been good for both of them, that Isaac wanted him here. They kissed, slowly and softly, just for the sensation of lips on lips.

Finally, when he was ready to speak, he nuzzled Isaac's cheek. "That was so good. Thanks for being so kind to me. I really didn't know what to expect."

"Mmmm, you were a star, Greg. Was an absolute pleasure introducing you to that. Can't wait til you give me a proper go at it later." His grin was brilliantly sunny.

***

Greg had reluctantly called Sherlock to a crime scene with a firm injunction that he should keep his mouth shut about Greg's personal life or he'd be tossed out on his ear. Sherlock, being Sherlock, and agreed, though it was obvious how much he was struggling to comply. Every time Sherlock opened his mouth even looking like he was going to say something about Greg personally, Greg poked a finger at him and glared, which seemed to have slightly more effect than usual.

"It was the octopus," Sherlock said, looking into the large saltwater fish tank in the victim's living room.

"The octopus?" Greg looked into the tank with him. "There's no octopus here."

"But there was, until quite recently. Someone removed it after the murder."

"Murder by octopus?" Greg wasn't sure that was even close to credible.

"Toxicology will confirm," Sherlock insisted. "Your victim didn't realize it was there. He cleaned the tank and disturbed the creature, which then bit him. He probably didn't even realize he'd been bitten until the respiratory depression and paralysis began to set in. The brother-in-law is a marine biologist."

Greg shook his head. "Right, then. Anderson, get blood samples. Donovan, bring in the brother-in-law. Check him against any fingerprints we find. Sherlock, why the hell would he have been murdered?"

"Really, Gavin, do your own work here. The motivation is of no interest to me, merely the method. The barrister -- he's not right for you. John!" Sherlock turned, his coat swirling with its usual overdone drama, and headed for the door.

Greg opened his mouth to shout at Sherlock, but he was already gone. "Where the fuck does he get off with that shite," he grumbled.

John, who apparently hadn't heard the interjection, hesitated before he followed. "You up for a pint this week?" he asked.

Talking to one or both of them was inevitable at some point, and better that Greg should have a little control over the situation, so he agreed. "Yeah, Wednesday be okay? I'm busy Tuesday."

"Sure. The usual time and place, if you like." John looked relieved.

"Right, I have to get back to work. See you then." He waved as John hurried after Sherlock. Bloody octopus murderers. At least finding the perpetrator shouldn't be that hard.

*** 

When Wednesday rolled around, Greg thought maybe he was ready to deal with John's attitude, but he hoped the man had finally had enough time to get used to the idea that maybe Greg wasn't actually straight. John was already waiting at their usual corner table, a pint in front of him. Greg got one of his own at the bar and headed over to join him.

"Greg, it's good to see you!' John smiled at him and raised his glass.

"Cheers, mate." Greg tapped his pint against John's as he sat. "How's his highness been?'

John sighed and huffed a laugh. "Bored, as usual, since the octopus murder. You get the brother-in-law?"

Greg nodded. "Yeah, wasn't too much of a search, he lives in Brighton, works at the aquarium there. The victim owed him about £70,000 and was showing no sign of paying up, so he figured he'd do him in. Said he thought people would think the bloke had died of natural causes."

"Not like anyone can pay up if they're dead."

"The victim's sister was the only living relation and the beneficiary on a big life insurance policy. Left her a quarter of a million pounds and everything he owned."

John whistled. "Yeah, I guess that'd be sufficient motive for some people. How have you been, Greg?"

And here it came. "Been pretty well, actually. I keep telling Sherlock to keep his thoughts to himself, but he's bloody hopeless at it."

"So you really are seeing a man now?"

Greg sighed. "Yeah, I am. Not that it's anyone's actual business but mine."

John looked at him over his pint, brow wrinkled. "But you were straight. You were married."

Greg shrugged. "It's not an on-off switch, John. There are more than two options." Greg pulled out his phone and found a photo of himself with his boyfriend, just sitting together, arms over each other's shoulders, comfortable and casual. He held it out to John. "That's him. He's a barrister. Name's Isaac. Sherlock apparently thinks he's not right for me, based on god knows what."

John's head tilted. "Is it just me, or does he look a lot like Idris Elba?"

"It's not just you. He definitely does, lucky me." Greg smiled, feeling fond.

"I'm… ah… I'm happy for you." The stammer was awkward and obvious.

"Why does it give you so much trouble, John, really?" Greg was honestly more than a little tired of it and willing to let it show for a change. "Given your sister was married to another woman, you'd think you would be just a bit more comfortable around the whole thing. What the hell are you afraid of?"

John glowered. "What, do you think I'm gay, too, because I live with Sherlock?"

"Really defensive, there, mate. I think you're terrified you might be bisexual or something and you spend all your time saying you're not gay and having disaster dates because Sherlock's jealous and can't do a bloody thing about it but cockblock you."

"That's--"

"Accurate? Intrusive? Welcome to my life around you two. Sherlock blurts out every damned thing that comes into his head, and you wander around feeling entitled to question me about my life because of it. Yes, I'm seeing a man. Yes, I have sex with him. Yes, I like it. Yes, I still like women. Can we move on, now?" Greg couldn't help the irritation that had been building in him for so long around these two. "God help me, you're both my friends, but there are days when I wonder why."

John had the grace to look chagrined, at least. "Okay, yeah. I'm sorry. Maybe it has been a little intrusive. And maybe I am kind of uncomfortable. I guess it just seems different when it's women."

"You really need to get past that. I don't care what your orientation is, I just wish you'd stop going along with Sherlock's sneering attitude about it."

John shrugged. "To be fair, mostly he only sneers at Mycroft."

Greg rolled his eyes. "Yeah, that makes it so much better, he's only sneering about his brother. Who, presumably, is gay, which makes it hilarious or something. Sherlock seriously needs to grow up. I still can't figure out what his problem is with Mycroft."

"Creepy, voyeuristic control freak?"

"Who's pulled his sorry arse out of the gutter and literally saved his life more than once."

John sipped at his beer. "How long have you known Mycroft, anyway?'

Greg snorted. "I 'know' Mycroft about like I 'know' Sherlock. We met not long after I met Sherlock, but neither of them says much to me. I'm just a means to an end for both of them." Which was kind of a pity, as Greg realized he actually wished he knew Mycroft better.

"What, did he kidnap you, too?"

Greg shook his head. "No. He came to bail Sherlock out the first time I had him in lockup for contaminating a crime scene. Swooped in looking all Home Office 'you don't have the clearance' and got his brother out. I was annoyed, but I'm used to it now. He really does mean well, and at least he doesn't spill my personal life all over the room or tell me I'm an idiot."

"No, he does that with nothing more than a look."

"Some people have useful skills."

They both laughed, most of the tension between them finally dissipated.

***

Greg should have known it was too good to last. He and Isaac had been dating for almost six weeks when Isaac asked him if he'd like to go visit some friends. He said that sometimes they all shagged each other, and he thought maybe Greg would enjoy that too. Greg was curious, and it wasn't like he'd never had fantasies about threesomes or that kind of thing, though those fantasies had usually featured himself and a couple of beautiful women. He liked being with Isaac, and the idea of being fucked while he was fucking somebody else sounded really bloody hot.

He agreed to go along and he genuinely did have fun. The sex was brilliant, and Greg had a good experience with all of them, but when they were done, he realized that it hadn't been what he'd imagined. Nor, really, what he wanted.

"Are you all right?" Isaac asked him, concerned, after they left his friends' flat. "You seemed fine while we were playing, but you've been quiet since we finished up."

Greg nodded. "Been thinking."

Isaac squeezed his hand. "You want to talk about it?"

"Yeah. I do. Need to, in fact."

"Sounds serious."

"It is."

Isaac sighed. "When we get back to mine, let's have a drink and we'll see if we can sort what went wrong."

Greg looked at him, already sad, knowing what was coming. "That sounds good."

Isaac made them both a gin and tonic, and they sat on the sofa. "Talk to me," he said. "What happened? I honestly thought you were having a good time."

"I was. I mean, I really was. The shagging was brilliant." Greg took a drink. "It was after that was the problem. When I'd had time to think about it."

Isaac seemed to slump a bit. "This is a breakup talk, isn't it?"

Reluctant, Greg nodded. "Yeah. And you have no idea how sorry I am that it is. I just… what happened, I had a great time, and I'll never forget it, but I'm just not… I'm too monogamous, is what it is. And you've been doing this with your friends for probably years. We've only been dating a few weeks and I have no right whatsoever to ask you to stop doing that. I just can't see myself ever doing it again."

"Not even if I were to go and you didn't have to play?" Isaac looked like he knew the answer, and was only asking for form's sake.

Greg shook his head. "I don't really think I'm cut out to share someone that I'm sleeping with. You have been an absolutely brilliant boyfriend, and I'd really hoped…"

"Yeah," Isaac murmured. "I'd really hoped, too. It was why I asked you to go with me." He put an arm around Greg. "I wish it had turned out differently."

Greg set his drink down and hugged Isaac. "So do I. But trying to make this work when there's a basic incompatibility like that, it wouldn't be fair to either of us."

"You're not angry or anything?"

Greg huffed a quiet laugh. "Nah. Hot fantasy like that? Hot bloke like you? I don't regret it at all, except that it showed me what one of my limits is. You've been the best boyfriend I could have asked for while I've been figuring myself out. And I really, honest to god, hope you find the right guy for you, because you're amazing, and I would have liked it to be me."

"I would have, too. I hope it won't be awkward if we see each other at the matches and stuff."

"I don't see why it should be. We've not had any screaming rows nor any sort of problems other than the fact that we both want different things."

Both of them were silent for a few minutes, drinking their gin and tonics. The sadness between them wasn't awkward, but it was enough that Greg knew he'd need to go when they finished their drinks. Finally, Greg set his empty glass on the coffee table in front of them and rose. "Thanks, Isaac. Thank you, for everything."

Isaac got up to see him to the door, subdued. "It was a pure and genuine pleasure, Greg. I wish it could have lasted."

They hesitated for a moment, hovering at the threshold. Isaac reached out to him, and they held each other and gave each other one last kiss, sad but achingly sweet, then Isaac opened the door for him and they parted. Greg left without looking back, knowing that he'd only regret it if he did.

Outside, Greg put his hands in his pockets and headed for the tube station. It was a longish walk, and fairly late. He hoped he wouldn't miss the last one, and contemplated calling a taxi as he remembered Sherlock's words. 'The barrister -- he's not right for you.' Miserable bastard had been right, after all.

A few minutes later, an unmarked black car rolled up and slowed down next to him. Greg sighed and stopped. What the everloving fuck had Sherlock got into now, that Mycroft was going to interrupt Greg's post-breakup wobble? The door of the car opened and, rather than Mycroft's leggy brunette minion, Mycroft himself sat in the back seat.

Resigned, Greg slid in beside him. Thank god he'd had a shower or he'd stink like sex. Not that Mycroft wouldn't be able to deduce what he'd been up to just by looking at him. "What now, Mycroft? What's he got himself into this time?"

"I simply thought you might want to be spared the cab fare," Mycroft said, quiet in the darkness.

Greg looked up at him, surprised. "You're… doing something nice for me?'

"Is it truly that much of a shock?"

"Well, yeah, actually. It is."

Mycroft's expression shifted, but Greg couldn't really tell what was going on in the dark. The car headed off in what Greg assumed was the direction of his tiny flat. "Allow me to offer my condolences," Mycroft murmured.

Greg just stared for a moment, boggled. "Mycroft, I've known you for years, and you've hardly said a word to me that wasn't about work or your brother. I… I don't understand what's going on here."

Mycroft didn't look at him. "Then simply accept my words for what they are, and the ride for what it is."

This was important. Greg knew it was important, and he had no idea why, but he wanted to find out. "Why did you even know what just happened tonight? I've not been anywhere near Sherlock since our last case. I didn't think you kept an eye on me like you did on him."

"Generally, I don't."

Greg's eyes narrowed. "Was it something about Isaac?"

"Mr Otiemo? No. As barristers go, he's quite an upstanding specimen."

"Then why? And why this specific night? Why right now? Why is this suddenly so personal, after all these years?"

Mycroft looked up, meeting his eyes under the glow of the passing streetlights. Greg could see him swallow. Mycroft was nervous. Mycroft was never nervous. He reached out and gently, hesitantly, touched Greg's cheek with the backs of his fingers.

The touch was barely there, but electric. He was stunned. "M-Mycroft?"

"It was always personal," Mycroft whispered.

How could that possibly be true? Greg reached up and touched Mycroft's hand with his fingertips, taken by the moment and his own uncertainty. Mycroft's breath caught at Greg's touch. He could see Mycroft's eyes widen, even in the dark.

"Mycroft," Greg said, his voice soft in the quiet darkness, "it's… awkward to spring this on somebody who just broke up with their boyfriend."

"I know." Mycroft sighed, slowly withdrawing his hand. "I apologize."

"When we get to my place, we should talk, okay? I don't want to have this conversation here, in your car."

Mycroft's sharp eyes took in every detail, deciding how to react, then he nodded. "Yes." He retreated into a reserved silence, and Greg just watched him, thinking.

All those years of being treated like a lackey -- the distance, the assumptions that he'd keep his nose down and do what he was told -- had left Greg believing that he'd been nothing more than a convenience. And now this; a tentative touch and simple, hesitant words in the dark. It completely derailed everything Greg thought he knew.

When they arrived, Mycroft followed Greg up to his flat. Greg looked around at the slightly unkempt jumble of the place when he turned on the light. Sherlock and Mycroft had both been there before. He'd never invited Isaac up. Greg wondered if that meant something.

Mycroft looked tired and uneasy and Greg's heart ached for him, even as he tried to cope with his own emotions over walking away from Isaac. "Do you want something to drink? I've got a bottle of whisky here." Mycroft nodded. Greg poured a glass for each of them. Their fingers brushed as he handed one to Mycroft. There was something magnetic in it, just standing there so close to him, a hint of skin on skin.

Mycroft took a large, bracing swallow of the whisky. Greg sipped his and waited.

"I am… genuinely sorry that your relationship didn't work out." He stared into his glass.

"Did Sherlock tell you I was seeing someone?" He and Mycroft stood where they were, close, in each other's personal space. He could feel the heat of Mycroft's body radiating from him.

Mycroft shook his head. "I already knew. When you and your wife parted ways, it was inevitable that you'd seek out another relationship, most likely with a man."

"How --" Greg shook his head. "When did you know? I mean, I didn't even start to figure it out until after all that."

Mycroft's storm-grey eyes looked into his. "The first time we met."

That was… unnerving. "You didn't say anything."

"I'm not my brother. It would have been exceedingly poor form to inform you of something so personal about yourself that you had not yet understood. You were more or less happily married."

Greg sighed. "I can appreciate that, yeah." He found himself drifting minutely closer to Mycroft, who leaned in slightly. Greg had to look up at him to meet his eyes. A moment later, Greg knew that it wasn't just that Mycroft was his type, but that Mycroft was the reason he had a type. He shivered.

Those grey eyes took in the tiny motion and blinked slowly. Mycroft's face drew close, and he murmured in Greg's ear. "I hope that when you are ready, you might allow me the privilege of treating you as you deserve." There was a slight scent of whisky on Mycroft's breath, and the barest trace of Mycroft's nose against Greg's temple as he withdrew.

Breathless and silent, Greg nodded. Even now, he could feel arousal thrumming through the shock.

Mycroft didn't smile, but Greg could see something like hope in his eyes. "Then I shall bid you a good night."

He was gone before Greg could recover from the entire thing, the door clicking closed behind him. Shattered, Greg sank down on his tiny tan sofa and downed the glass of whisky in one shot.

***

"How have you been this week, Greg?" Brian asked.

Greg took a deep breath, trying to figure out what to say to his counselor. "Mixed bag," he said. Talking about Isaac wasn't going to be so hard, but what the hell could he possibly say about Mycroft?

"What happened?"

"Me and Isaac, we broke up. It… it wasn't angry or anything. We're okay. It was just," Greg sighed and shook his head. "A basic incompatibility that we didn't discover until this week."

Brian raised an eyebrow. "Do you want to talk about it?'

Greg gave a little huff of a laugh. "It's kind of embarrassing to talk about, but yeah." He took a minute to figure out how to get into it, because talking about that sort of thing felt really awkward. "He, em, invited me to go with him to some friends' place. For… well… sex. With all of us."

Brian nodded, but said nothing, waiting for Greg to go on. "When he suggested it, I wasn't sure how I felt. I mean, it sounded hot, right? Straight blokes, a lot of them, they have these fantasies about threesomes with a couple of gals. I had a few of those fantasies of my own over the years. I figured, well, maybe it was the same sort of thing."

"Those types of fantasies are perfectly normal, yes," Brian said.

"I guess when I thought I was straight, maybe there was some little bit of me that thought having fantasies like that was kind of… I don't know… more straight maybe? And that something like this was… more queer?"

"And what happened?"

"We went," Greg said. "We had some bloody fantastic sex. It was great, until it was over and then it… wasn't so fantastic anymore."

"In what way? Did you regret it?'

Greg leaned back in his chair. "Not exactly regret, no. I mean we've talked about how sometimes it's good to try things, just to see if you like them. Be open minded about stuff. It wasn't really the physical part of it that was the problem. Certainly not when we were in the middle of it." He shook his head. "After, though, I realized that it wasn't anything like what I actually wanted in a relationship. It felt… empty, I guess."

"Empty how?" Brian asked.

"I didn't really feel any connection to anybody. It was fun, but aside from the sex, there was just nothing. I find myself wondering if I did it because maybe it would prove I was… queer enough, I suppose. Not that it makes any sense."

"Greg," Brian said, "you're dating men. You're having sex with men. You're participating in the community in ways that make you comfortable. That strikes me as entirely 'queer enough.' There aren't any 'you must be this queer to participate' signs on your relationships."

"I guess not," Greg said, shaking his head. "Feels like it, with some of the guys I see around me."

"They're not the arbitrators of your sexuality."

"Yeah, they're not."

"And Isaac?"

"He's been doing this with his friends for years. I don't know if he was going off with them while we were together before he invited me along, but I don't think so. He knows my ex was cheating on me, and I don't think he'd have done that to me." Greg shrugged. "Said he'd invited me along to see if I'd like it. He'd been hopeful."

"A compatibility test on his part, then."

"Yeah," Greg sighed, still sad. "We'd both been hopeful, really. But it showed me that I'm not the sort who can share a partner, not even if it's with everyone's approval and right there in the room together. It wasn't… jealousy, I think. I wasn't at all angry about it, it just didn't feel right. Didn't feel like me, like what I could live with. I wanted so much for it to work out between us, but that… that was a limit I couldn't ignore."

Brian smiled at him. "I'm glad you're recognizing what works for you and what doesn't. Did you talk about it?"

"Like actual adults, yeah. Had a conversation when we left his friends' place. I told him I didn't think it was fair for me to ask him to stop doing something he'd been enjoying for years just so I'd be comfortable. I think neither of us quite wanted to let it go, but we both knew we had to. When I left, he kissed me goodbye." Greg didn't want to get teary-eyed about it, but it was still a little harder than he wanted to admit. He wrapped his arms around himself. "I don't think it'll be too awkward when we see each other at the league matches. I think we might still be able to be friends, once we're both past the regrets about breaking up bit."

"I'm really proud of you," Brian said. "You realized you had some hard limits, and you were able to talk about them and understand what they mean for you. You were both clear about your hopes and your needs. You'll know more about what you're looking for in your next relationship, and what kinds of questions to ask when things start getting a little more serious. I think you've done a really brilliant job making your way through your first relationship with a man."

"I'm just lucky he was such a great bloke."

"He's lucky you are, too."

Greg didn't bring up Mycroft. It was really too soon to try talking about it and he had no idea how to describe either the man or the situation without it sounding either entirely too creepy or giving away Mycroft's much more than 'minor' role in the government. He still needed time to think about what had happened and how he'd reacted to the man. It hadn't been the same kind of cock-stirring visceral sexual response he'd had to Isaac, but it was just as intense, if not more so on an emotional level, and he wasn't entirely certain what to do with that.

He was attracted to Mycroft. God, he was ridiculously attracted to Mycroft. But he had no idea how to reconcile all those years of feeling like some sort of occasionally useful convenience to both of the Holmeses. At some point he'd have to talk to Mycroft about it, he knew that. Greg had to get himself sorted, first. Get over the relationship with Isaac, so that it wasn't scrambling his feelings when it came to something new.

Because Greg was convinced that if Mycroft had approached him, he knew what he was doing, even if Greg wasn't on the same page yet. A man like that wouldn't take a chance unless it was damned near a sure thing. Mycroft was cautious and guarded and he never showed his hand unless he thought he would win. At the same time, he'd seemed so tentative, as though the idea of a relationship with anyone was some kind of ticking time bomb. Greg could see that Mycroft regarded the whole thing as a terrible risk. He could sympathize more than a bit, being well aware that if something with Mycroft went pear shaped, Greg was likely the one who would bear the brunt of it in more ways than he could quite imagine.

Just the spectre of Sherlock's potential mockery was enough to make him shudder. A disastrously failed relationship with Mycroft wouldn't lead to an assassination, like Sherlock might imply with all his archenemy talk, but he was pretty certain his career, and probably his personal life, as well, would be over. He'd be walking wounded for the rest of his life, wondering when the next 'coincidental' problem would crop up and stay unresolvable for months or years. He'd seen how petty the Holmeses could be with each other, and Greg wasn't sure he'd be immune to that kind of thing if Mycroft believed himself the wronged party in a breakup.

Tuesday's pub quiz night was a soothing bit of calm in Greg's uncertainty. Peter and Jacob were there, supportive and sympathetic about his breakup. "It's really okay to be monogamous," Jacob said. "Too many people treat it like it's some kind of old fashioned, pathological thing, but seriously, what's wrong with just wanting to be with one person?"

"It's not like having a relationship like that means your partner is the only person in your life. Nobody can be anyone's all and only. If it's healthy, both partners have friends and things they do by themselves, as well as together. So many people think it means you're stuck in this isolated bubble where you only ever see each other, only do things with each other, and nobody intrudes on that hermetically sealed universe." Peter snorted. "Idiots." He leaned over and wrapped an arm around Jacob.

Greg couldn't see either himself or Mycroft insisting on being the other man's only source of anything, though Mycroft certainly struck him as being very solitary. Granted, he didn't know really anything at all about Mycroft's private life beyond the things Sherlock had occasionally let slip.

"We were both really hoping you and Isaac would find what you wanted," Jacob added. "Sometimes things just don't work, though."

"We're good," Greg said. "As breakups go, this one was clean. It was easier and more amicable than the one with my ex-wife -- nobody was cheating. It hurt, but there weren't any hurt feelings about it, if you know what I mean."

"Yeah, I do. You going to get right back in the game?" Peter asked.

Greg shrugged. "I think I need a little time before I want to be involved with anybody else, but…"

"But?" Peter perked up.

"There's this bloke I've known for years. I ran into him not long after the breakup. He… well, he's said he's interested. I'm not ready yet, but the ball's kind of in my court at this point." Greg needed to hear himself at least say it aloud. Mycroft was interested in him. He was interested in Mycroft.

"Ooh, do tell!" Peter said.

"What's he like?" Jacob asked, their words jumbling on top of one another.

"He's… he's really private. Works for the government. I met him not long after I met Sherlock -- it's his older brother. Aside from tall and thin, they're…" he trailed off. "I can't say they're not alike, because in a lot of ways they are, but they're not nearly as alike as they could have been. Probably a good thing."

Jacob's head tilted. "So, both smarter than anyone else in the room, then?"

Greg nodded. "Yeah. Not entirely sure why somebody like that would be interested in me. I mean, I'm not stupid, but I'm not a patch on either of them."

Peter gave him a knowing look. "It's not just brains, Greg. You've got a good heart. I can see how it would be really appealing to a super-intellectual type."

"Hm." Greg pondered. "Hadn't really thought of that, but maybe you're right."

"Well," Jacob added, "you're also completely unfairly fit."

Greg laughed. "Go on, you."

***

It was a couple of weeks before Greg was ready to deal with Mycroft. He'd spent a lot of time thinking and sorting through his priorities and the things he knew he needed. He hoped that he'd actually be prepared for what was likely to be a tangled and confusing conversation.

Sherlock and John had shown up during one of Greg's investigations. They'd been put onto it by one of their clients, dealing with the art theft angle, rather than the murder that Greg was looking into.

After Sherlock had dropped some information about how their cases intersected, he made a smug comment about Greg's breakup, then he started in on his brother. "You'll regret any attachment to him," Sherlock said. "Mycroft doesn't do emotions. 'All lives end,' he told me. 'All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage.' That's his entire life philosophy. Do you really want to get involved with an emotionless automaton?" Greg, thoroughly annoyed, raised an eyebrow and shot a pointed look at an unsuspecting John. Sherlock's mouth had snapped shut, John none the wiser, and Greg ended up having a much calmer afternoon than expected.

That evening, before he left work, he called Mycroft. The only number he had for the man was still the office number that connected him with Mycroft's PA. "Tell Mycroft I'd like to talk to him," he said.

"Please hold."

With a sigh, Greg waited. It didn't take long for her to get back to him. "A car will be waiting for you outside your office in 15 minutes."

"Right, then. Thanks." Mycroft would know why Greg had called, so he doubted he'd be spirited off to Mycroft's office. Maybe that odd club of his, with the silent old money, and the eye-wateringly expensive booze. He finished up the last few things he needed to do before he locked his office door and headed down to the main entrance.

Mycroft's black car was there waiting for him, though neither Mycroft nor his PA were inside. The car dropped him off directly in front of an old Georgian house near Whitehall that Greg had never been to. He went to the door, which looked pretty much like every other door on the block, except for the massively complicated security system next to the bell. Mycroft's house? Greg hadn't been expecting that. He rang and waited a moment, then Mycroft opened the door for him. He was, as always, perfectly dressed, and Greg couldn't help looking him over.

"Please, come in." Mycroft gestured and stood aside, letting Greg enter, then closed the door and rearmed the lock. "I've just arrived home myself," Mycroft said. "May I offer you tea?"

"Sure, ta." He followed Mycroft through the front of the house back toward the kitchen.

The place was large and elegant, though the kitchen was dim and obviously rarely used. Greg saw some delivery menus stuck to the fridge with magnets; it seemed so much at odds with what he'd imagined of the man. Mycroft probably barely spent time at this flat unless he was sleeping. When Mycroft turned on the kitchen lights, the room looked slightly less dire, but even more unused. He thought the kettle and maybe the toaster were the only things that were regularly touched. Something about the quiet loneliness of it struck Greg.

"How was your day?" he asked, as Mycroft put the kettle on and prepared the tea pot and cups.

"Busy," Mycroft said, not exactly short, but obviously unable to offer any details. "It would likely be best if we wait to talk until we're in the lounge with our tea. We'll be more comfortable." He dug around in a nearly empty cupboard and pulled out a packet of biscuits, putting some on a little plate. It astonished Greg that his own tiny bedsitter actually felt more like a home than this room.

Greg was uncertain how he could get through the walls around Mycroft, despite having seen something under the surface of him the night of his breakup with Isaac. It would be Mycroft's choice, not Greg's urging, that would most likely offer an opening.

Once the hot water was poured into the teapot, Mycroft took up the tray and Greg followed him into a large, comfortably furnished lounge with a fireplace standing empty in one wall. There were full bookshelves, and some landscape paintings on the walls. The place looked more lived-in than the kitchen by far. "Please." Mycroft indicated one of the chairs, and Greg sat as the tray was placed on a little table between his chair and the one that Mycroft obviously frequently occupied.

"I know you have questions," Mycroft said as he poured tea for them both. He added milk and sugar to Greg's exactly the way he always took it, then just a touch of milk to his own. He sat, and looked expectantly at Greg.

"I'd really rather this be a conversation than an interrogation," Greg said. "We've known each other for years, but I don't feel like I've ever known you. You've always kept me at arm's length, treated me like an employee. I can't deny that I'm attracted to you, but I don't understand what's going on here."

Mycroft held his teacup in hand, staring down into the brown liquid. Greg waited patiently. It took a few minutes before he looked up at Greg. "I had to be certain."

"Of what?" Greg asked, brow wrinkled.

"You."

"Of me?"

Mycroft raised his head, full of dignity but lacking his usual arrogance. "That if I approached you and you accepted my overture, I would not simply be a failed experiment, discarded when you decided that the majority of your preference lay with women."

It made an uncomfortable sort of sense. Isaac had certainly been taking the same chance. Greg had never envisioned Mycroft having that sort of insecurity. "That doesn't really explain why you treated me as you did before."

"You were married," Mycroft said, flat and matter-of-fact. "There was no point to wallowing in temptation, and you were, believe me, very much a temptation. Remaining distant was the surest way to avoid the certainty of a painfully one-sided emotional entanglement. You were always willing to help with Sherlock, for which I have been and continue to be extremely grateful. Your influence on him has been exemplary.

"When you divorced, it was only a matter of time until you came to your own realization of your nature, but whether you would follow through on that knowledge or discard it as too complicated and risky was uncertain. I had to give you time, and enough space to decide what you would do, how you would choose to continue, before I could say anything."

A temptation. Painfully one-sided emotional entanglements. It shed a lot of light on Mycroft's distance and entirely gave lie to Sherlock's characterization of his brother as emotionless. "I guess I can see that," Greg said. "So much of what I thought I knew about you was influenced by your brother."

"Inevitable," Mycroft answered. "You see him frequently. I remained in the shadows. You would naturally respond to the person to whose views you were most exposed."

"You chose a pretty awkward time to say something."

Mycroft nodded. "I'm aware. Yet, I felt it was necessary to do so before you…" Mycroft swallowed, looking down into his tea again. "Before you thought to seek out another relationship."

He was so hesitant and uneasy, Greg thought. So bloody vulnerable behind his armor. It tugged at Greg's heart. "Wanting to let me know there was an option I wouldn't have otherwise been aware of."

"Precisely."

Greg sighed. "Your timing could have used some work, but it wasn't unwelcome." Mycroft looked up, meeting his eyes, and Greg smiled. Mycroft's unease lightened and some of the stiffness in his posture dissipated. "It isn't unwelcome."

"I'm… gratified."

Greg drank his cooling tea and thought. Mycroft, silent and a little more relaxed now, waited. The amount of emotional investment that Mycroft had been trying to avoid, apparently for years, was staggering. The fact that he'd felt he had to avoid it at all spoke to the intensity of it. If it hadn't mattered, he wouldn't have bothered. Sherlock had outright insisted that Mycroft was incapable of feeling, only able to manipulate and control. There was no evidence of that here, in this quiet room between the two of them.

Greg didn't know where that left him. He was attracted. Something in him had apparently been so for a much longer time than he'd understood. And Mycroft, in his understated but still undeniably dramatic way, had taken an immense risk by saying something, by being seen. Mycroft never made himself vulnerable if he could help it. Greg couldn't imagine the man being casual about a relationship, or even about suggesting one.

"What would it look like? Us, I mean. To you."

Mycroft's eyes widened slightly. "You're… considering this."

"I'm here."

"You are," Mycroft whispered, an echo of disbelief in his voice.

Greg set his empty cup on the little table and leaned forward, elbows on his knees, hands hanging down. "Tell me." His heart was pounding frantically at the idea. "What would it look like?"

Mycroft hesitated.

Greg gave him an opening. "I don't know you nearly well enough, but I do know that you'd never be the sort to cheat on someone. You don't strike me as the type who would go for an orgy."

Mycroft shook his head. "I hardly tolerate the company of individuals most days. I find the entire idea of an erotic involvement with a group appalling."

"Yeah," Greg said. "I figured."

"I am… possessive. Secretive. I don't express affection easily," Mycroft said.

"But you love your brother, and you'd do anything for him."

A bit taken aback, Mycroft nodded. "He's my brother." The unspoken 'of course" was obvious.

"You'd be the same way with anyone you loved, though, wouldn't you? There for them until the bitter end. Supporting and protecting them as best you could. And I know some of the things Sherlock has said about you -- to you -- have been really cruel. I've seen it, especially when he's high. You're just, you're the responsible one, aren't you? Substitute parent, unless I miss my guess." Mycroft's eyes widened. "Seen it before. Older sibling, usually, had to grow up too fast for whatever reason. Angry, resentful younger one." The look on Mycroft's face told Greg he'd nailed it.

Shaken, Mycroft said, "I fear your assessment is quite accurate."

"Possessive," Greg continued. "It can definitely be too much sometimes. But…" he sighed. "With Janey, I wasn't hardly even wanted, and that hurt. It still does, even though we're both better off apart." He looked into Mycroft's guarded, vulnerable eyes. "Is possessiveness a cage, or an embrace? What does it really mean, and who judges how much is enough?"

Mycroft set his teacup down and covered his face with both hands, hunched over a bit as he rested his elbows on his knees. "You are so much more perceptive than Sherlock imagines," he whispered.

Greg moved to kneel by the chair Mycroft occupied. He put a hand on Mycroft's knee, careful and cautious, feeling the warmth of his skin and how he was trembling ever so slightly under the fine cloth. "I don't know you, Mycroft, but I see you. I can see that you want me and I'm… I'm willing to be wanted."

Mycroft raised his face, shattered. Greg reached up, careful, and touched his cheek. Mycroft's eyes closed and he leaned into it like a feral cat, afraid but desperately needing the contact. It left Greg shaking a little as well, knowing that this could be it, this could be real.

"I'm willing to want you, too," Greg murmured.

Mycroft's eyes opened. He reached up carefully and gently took Greg's hand, then turned his face and pressed a kiss into the palm of it. His lips were soft and warm and Greg completely melted.

After a moment, Greg shifted, feeling like a supplicant kneeling at an altar, and he slid his arms slowly around Mycroft's body. Mycroft leaned into him and returned the embrace, breathless. "I wanted," he whispered, "but I hardly dared believe you would accept my desire."

Greg pressed a kiss to Mycroft's cheek and just held him. "You know me a lot better than I do you. We'll have to do something about that. We need to just, I don't know, spend some time together. We'll need to talk. But we can do this. I really believe we can do this."

***

"I'm seeing somebody again," Greg said over his pint during a break at the pub quiz night.

Peter gave him a head tilt. "You don't feel like it's too soon?"

Greg shook his head. "Not really, no. It wasn't like I had a traumatic breakup or anything. Saw Isaac in court last week and we went for a coffee after. We're good."

Peter and Jacob smiled at him, obviously pleased. "So tell us about him, then," Jacob said.

"Known him for years," Greg said, "but from a distance. Didn't even know he fancied me until recently. We've been getting to know each other better, taking it slow."

Peter sipped at his pint. "Sounds serious."

"Yeah." Greg nodded. "It is."

"You going to bring him round to the quiz night?" Jacob asked.

Greg honestly couldn't see Mycroft at a pub quiz. "Probably not. He's got hours worse than mine, and he's not much for crowds. I don't think he'd be into it at all, but he's absolutely brilliant and he'd wipe the floor with the lot of us on damned near everything but pop culture stuff."

"Are you sure you can't recruit him?" Jacob asked with a grin.

"Tall, with legs to his neck, and a fancy dresser?" Peter asked.

Greg chuckled. "Yeah, he is, and no, Jacob, I really doubt I could."

"What's his name? Where did you meet?" Peter's eyes were lit and a bit mischievous.

"I've mentioned him to you before. Sherlock's brother, Mycroft."

"Oh, that one," Peter said, nodding.

"Sherlock and Mycroft," Jacob said. "What the hell were their parents thinking?"

Greg shook his head and chuckled. "Family names, I think. I'm pretty sure they come from money."

"Looking for a sugar daddy now, are you?" Peter teased.

"Oh, god, no. He's a couple years younger than me, anyway. I'm not interested in him for his money at all. He's just… I'm looking for somebody steady, somebody reliable. Mycroft's got that in spades. He's smarter than his brother. He's… elegant. He can have a sharp tongue, like Sherlock, but he generally reserves it for people who deserve it, unlike his brother who just lets fly whenever he feels like it."

Jacob fiddled with the answer sheet for the quiz, doodling a bit around the edges. "You see him much? You said you've both got mad hours. Gotta be hard to see each other."

"Not as much as I'd like, no. But we're talking about getting away for a weekend soon if we can swing it." Greg couldn't help what had to be the sappy grin on his face, just thinking of it.

***

Their meetings after that night at Mycroft's had been coffee, or short lunches, or dinners that ended too soon due to interruptions. They'd had time to talk, but not nearly enough. After that first, hesitant night, Mycroft's confidence had returned, and Greg found it compelling. Mycroft had, within the bounds of his security clearance, tried to be as open with Greg as he could, and Greg appreciated it, but what they really needed was time. Time together, away from distractions.

What Greg really needed was to be able to get his hands on Mycroft and deal with the tension that shimmered between them like the aurora borealis whenever they met. Mycroft, who had taken to standing so close to him, hovering at his shoulder or looking down into his eyes with the slightest hint of a smile, or brushing against his arm without taking his hand. It was driving him more than a bit mad, and he was certain Mycroft knew it, because nothing escaped him.

They had finally agreed to take their weekend in a little cottage near Bath, close enough to town to get in easily for anything they wanted, but far enough out that the nights would be quiet. Both of them wanted isolation and privacy. He knew they'd end up in bed together, that was certain. The attraction, the connection he felt got stronger every time they met.

"I heard you're out early today," Donovan said. "Long weekend?"

Greg nodded. "Yeah, I'm out of town." He'd put his bag in the boot of his car, and they'd agreed that he'd pick Mycroft up, rather than them taking Mycroft's car and driver. It would be less formal, easier for them to make a quick decision to go somewhere or do something. It would stand out a lot less, as well, which Greg thought of as a good thing.

"What are you up to? Hot date?" Donovan smirked. He knew he'd been looking happier lately, so it was a fair guess.

"Not talking about my private life at work," he said.

"Oooh, that's a yes, then." Her eyes lit up.

"Still none of your business." Greg took the stack of files from her and dropped them on his desk. "Back to the salt mines, Sally. These cases don't solve themselves." The teasing was good natured, and there was no way anyone at work would have any idea of who he was dating. He really wanted to put that off for a while. It might not be quite so good natured after they found out.

He skipped his morning coffee break in order to get as much done as he could before he left. He also managed to resist the temptation to call Mycroft. Barely. They'd be together soon, with a genuine hope of uninterrupted time.

Greg breathed a sigh of relief at getting out without any issues, and no calls from Sherlock. The drive from NSY to Mycroft's wasn't bad, and there was, probably not coincidentally, a parking spot free right outside Mycroft's door. Greg hadn't even properly had time to turn the car off and get out before Mycroft was on the doorstep with a carry-on and a garment bag. Greg opened the boot so Mycroft could put his things in.

He was still dressed for work, just as Greg was, and looked bloody fantastic. He always did, of course. Mycroft stood behind him as Greg opened the passenger door for him, just over his shoulder, close enough that Greg could feel his presence without their touching. Mycroft's voice was soft in his ear, and it sent a shiver down Greg's spine. "I'll be most pleased to finally get you alone, outside the city," he purred.

Greg bit his lower lip at the sensation as Mycroft got into the car. Once they were moving, Mycroft's hand found Greg's thigh. It wasn't high enough to be in the least salacious, but the contact was warm and comforting and more affecting than Greg would have thought. "I'm really looking forward to this, too," Greg said. "I'm hoping like hell Sherlock will be occupied by damned near anything else over the next few days."

"He was quite deeply enmeshed in a case less than an hour ago. I have some faint hope that it will keep him occupied for more than a day."

"That would be bloody fantastic."

"It would. We've been deliberately interrupted far too often by his antics." Mycroft sighed. "I hope that we'll finally be able to have the conversations we've both been wanting."

Greg nodded, though neither of them spoke for quite some time after that.

About halfway to Bath, Greg finally broke their comfortable silence. "Mycroft," he said, not looking at him because he had to keep his eyes on the road, "back when I was dating Isaac, Sherlock at one point made some comment about you being interested in that fact. What was he on about? You already knew I was bi."

"An attempt to cause discomfort, no doubt. He was aware that I was interested in you, and undoubtedly imagined that your continued unavailability, particularly in light of the fact that you'd finally acknowledged your orientation, would distress me. We are, unfortunately, both far too capable of that sort of pettiness."

"He jabs you about me, you jab him about John."

Mycroft sighed and Greg could see his nod from the corner of his eye. "I'm certainly not innocent. Perhaps we both deserve it, to some extent. I'd rather not speak of Sherlock, though."

"Understandable, sorry." Greg filed it away for later, with some other questions he had about Sherlock's comments. "What do you think you'd like to do this weekend, while we're out and about?"

"Just walking about the countryside and in town, I think. Tea in a little shop on the bridge, perhaps. So much of my life is planned down to the minute that it would be a pleasure to have a little unstructured time for once." Mycroft sounded almost wistful at the idea, and Greg hazarded a glance at him for a moment. Mycroft was gazing out the side window, eyes unfocused, unguarded. It was distinctly at odds with the armour of his three piece suit, but all the more compelling for it.

The thought that this, just a weekend that wasn't scheduled to hell and gone, was what Mycroft wanted was startling. All that power, and he couldn't hardly get a little time to himself with someone he cared about. "We can do that," Greg promised. "Anything you like, just tell me."

"You're far too kind, Greg." Mycroft's fingers tightened slightly on Greg's thigh.

Greg shook his head. "I'm really not."

Mycroft had arranged to already have the key to their cottage, and to have the place supplied with food in the kitchen so they'd not have to check in or go to a shop when they arrived. The cottage was isolated and covered with roses and ivy like something out of a picture book, the nearest neighbors quite some distance away. It was situated at the edge of a copse of trees, ideal for a quiet, private weekend.

They shed their jackets at the door; Mycroft in just his waistcoat and shirtsleeves was a startlingly intimate sight. The cottage was small, with a lounge, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bath. Mycroft hung his garment bag in the closet of the master bedroom, and they both left their bags there, as well, not wanting to bother unpacking immediately. Greg sighed as Mycroft stood close behind him, one hand at his waist, and slid his arms around Greg's body, slow and gentle. He could feel Mycroft's breath at his ear, ghosting down his neck, and it sent a shiver through him.

Greg covered Mycroft's arms with his own, soaking in the warmth as Mycroft nuzzled at Greg's neck then kissed it, his lips tracing slowly from behind Greg's ear down to his collar. Neither said anything, their breath growing rough as they stood there entwined. Mycroft's hands moved slowly, caressing from Greg's waist to his chest, fingers tracing softly over a nipple.

This was it, this was perfect; the difference in their height, the want, the gentleness between them left Greg shivering. Mycroft drew him closer, Greg's body against his, not tight but close nonetheless. He could feel the buttons of Mycroft's waistcoat against his back, the outline of the pocket watch, the chain that looped from the buttonhole, Mycroft's hips against his. Mycroft's lips were thin but soft and Greg wanted to kiss him, but he wanted just as much to stay like this, the focus of the man's attention, held and desired with such immense care. Mycroft's elegant fingers traced his chest as though he were memorizing the lines of Greg's body.

"I will admit, I am something of a hedonist," Mycroft whispered, his lips moving against Greg's skin, "but you are such an incredible pleasure to touch." Greg was nearly panting now. This had to be the most intimately sensual experience of his life, and he was still fully dressed. "You're so sensitive. It's exquisite."

He had to. Greg couldn't stand it any longer and turned in Mycroft's arms, tilting his head up. They kissed, mouths open, tongues caressing, his arms around Mycroft's body, still gentle. Their hands traced each others' backs, moving slowly from shoulders down to thighs and back up, exploring. Where Isaac had been fiery sexual energy, this was depth and sensuality and a kind of desire Greg wasn't sure he'd ever experienced before. It filled his chest like smoke and made his entire body ache with desire, but he didn't want to cling, to drag Mycroft in and crush him to his chest.

"God, I want you," Greg gasped, and Mycroft brought trembling hands up to cup his face, pulling him into a fierce kiss that caught fire between them. Greg slipped his hands between them, his fingers tightening on the fabric of Mycroft's waistcoat, both of them desperate.

"Please," was Mycroft's breathless response.

Their fingers trembled on buttons, tugging and insistent. Mycroft unpinned his tie bar and dropped it into a pocket while Greg slipped the knot slowly. Their desperation didn't translate into frantic speed, but an intensity of focus. Their shirts were open when Greg sank to his knees, opening Mycroft's buttoned fly and nuzzling his face against Mycroft's groin, taking in the musky, aroused scent of him.

Mycroft gasped at his touch, his fingers burrowing gently into Greg's hair, and Greg tugged at Mycroft's pants, lowering them enough to get at Mycroft's cock and his bollocks, caressing with his nose and kissing softly along the length of him. Mycroft backed carefully toward the bed and leaned against it for support as Greg shuffled with him on his knees, then gently took Mycroft into his mouth, his teeth carefully covered by his lips. Mycroft's sigh shivered through him and Greg felt like some acolyte, worshipful and blessed. Mycroft's hands trembled and his breathing shuddered as Greg licked and sucked. He held Mycroft's hips between his palms, caressing the warm, bare skin, nuzzling into the rough, dark auburn hair above Mycroft's hard cock.

Greg tugged at his own zipper as he gave careful attention to Mycroft's pleasure. The sounds the man made were quiet but obscene, and Greg couldn't help taking himself in hand, hard with the sensation of it all. He moaned around Mycroft's cock and Mycroft shuddered. "Let me see, please, let me watch," Mycroft croaked, his voice rough and shattered by his need.

Good god, and of course the man who spent so much of his life watching everything on CCTV would have a bloody voyeurism kink the size of the moon. Greg looked up and pushed at Mycroft's hips, urging him to lie on the bed, then climbed up after him and lay next to him. He kissed Mycroft and took himself in hand, watching Mycroft watch him, stroking himself as Mycroft's eyes widened, his mouth half-open, lips wet by his tongue.

"Oh, you love this, don't you?" Greg's own voice was rough as well, gravelly but controlled. It was incredible, seeing Mycroft so aroused just watching him. Mycroft's cock twitched, leaking, and Mycroft slipped a hand around himself as well, stroking slowly as Greg let himself feel it all. He wanted to show Mycroft how he felt, how fucking hot this was, being seen by someone who wanted so damned much to see him. Mycroft nodded frantically, unable to speak for his arousal.

Their bodies curled close together, heads and knees touching, but they both kept their hands to themselves. It was obviously the watching that was so intense for Mycroft; he stared, transfixed, at Greg's hand slowly stroking himself, and he matched Greg's rhythm, trembling. Greg watched Mycroft, as well, and it was all he could do to keep from speeding this up, from getting off too fast. He wanted to make this last more than just a couple of minutes. Their harsh breath flowed between them, delicate on the skin of Greg's bare chest, tickling at his nipples, ruffling the hair there, and he shuddered with a groan.

Watching Mycroft watch him, Greg felt his own hand, his own strokes, much more intensely than if he were just having a wank alone in his own bed. The focus and attention were an erotic force that seemed to concentrate everything, distilling it down into pure desire. He'd never imagined just touching himself could feel like this. Too soon, he wasn't able to control it anymore. With a choked, "Mycroft!" he came, hard, squeezing his cock as he stroked, and his come splashed between them, splattering Mycroft's abdomen, his cock, and his clothes. Mycroft gasped and shuddered, stroking faster, then came as well, the warm, thick liquid hitting Greg's skin, leaving both of them gasping and shaking together, reaching out with trembling arms to hold each other in the aftermath.

They kissed, smearing come all over each other's clothes as their hands moved, and they held each other close, body to body, their legs intertwining. Neither spoke, choosing instead to rock gently together on the bed, the motion comforting and oceanic, settling them as their breathing steadied.

After a few moments, they moved, Mycroft's body rolling to partly cover Greg's chest. His weight was a reassuring heat and Greg clung to him, kissing Mycroft's neck as Mycroft tilted his head and rested his chin in Greg's hair.

"That was exquisite," Mycroft whispered. "Thank you. Thank you for letting me watch you."

Greg sucked gently at the bare skin of Mycroft's collarbone. "You're amazing."

Mycroft chuckled quietly and shook his head. "We're both a terrible mess. We should shower."

"Oh, god, I've ruined your suit." A belated embarrassment washed over Greg, suddenly conscious of his sticky hand, and the trail of come he'd slathered all over his lover.

Mycroft sighed and shook his head, rolling onto his back. "I have a dry cleaner, Greg. It's messy but not exactly impossible to clean. I shall not accept guilt from you over this. It was well worth the mess." He got to his feet and stripped off his clothing, removing things from his pockets and dropping it on the floor. It was a bit shocking to see Mycroft do that to his suit, but not enough for Greg to comment further. He did the same, and they showered together, holding each other under the water and kissing.

Eventually, warm and dry, they unpacked their things and picked up their scattered dirty clothes. Mycroft dressed in tan chinos, a shirt, and a perfectly coordinated jumper, absolutely the least formal Greg had ever seen him. Greg went for faded jeans and a grey shirt, himself. He asked if Mycroft wanted to go for a walk, and they spent the rest of their afternoon slowly strolling through the trees and along the little country road where their cottage was situated.

Around dusk, they found their way back, a little tired from the long walk but relaxed. About halfway through the walk, Mycroft had taken Greg's hand, silent but staying close beside him. Greg had smiled and not said anything, simply enjoying the contact. That Mycroft would do that, in public, even out in the middle of nowhere, lit a flicker of joy in Greg's chest.

They made dinner together, moving around each other in the kitchen with more assurance than Greg would have expected. He hadn't been sure Mycroft even knew how to cook, given the state of the man's kitchen in London. They ate and drank wine and talked about noir films until both of them had drawn their chairs close to each other, unable to stay apart longer.

Mycroft slid closer, taking Greg's hands in his, his legs slipping around Greg's, one knee between Greg's thighs, the other to one side. He leaned forward, kissing Greg gently, open mouthed, just a soft caress of lips. Both of them sighed and nuzzled at each other's faces, eyes closed, their cheeks slightly scratchy with evening bristles as their lips moved. Mycroft tasted of white wine and salmon, and Greg could smell the slightest hint of his cologne, woody, earthy and sensual.

Breathless after their kisses, Mycroft whispered, "This afternoon has been idyllic."

"Seeing this part of you, it's been a revelation," Greg murmured in response. "It's wonderful."

"Let me take you to bed." Mycroft's eyes were intense and completely focused on Greg's.

"Oh, god, yes."

Mycroft rose and drew Greg to his feet, their hands still joined as he kissed him again. They moved to the bedroom, bodies entangled, with a slow and awkward grace. Greg's head swam with the want of him, intense and dizzying. They stripped, hands roaming one another's bodies, and Mycroft lay Greg on his back on the bed, moving to kneel over him, kissing him again. He reached over briefly and turned on the bedside lamp, creating a small, dim halo of yellowish light to see by.

Mycroft ran his hands over Greg's chest, his fingers carding through the sparse, rough hair there, fingertips playing at Greg's nipples. Greg's breathing was already ragged and he reached up to caress Mycroft as well, but his lover took his wrists in hand and moved them to the mattress above his head. "Please," Mycroft said, "let me. Don't touch, just let me." Greg swallowed, harsh, and nodded, his cock already quite interested in the proceedings. "Thank you," Mycroft whispered, kissing him again.

Greg folded his hands under his head and arched his chest up into Mycroft's touch, enjoying the warmth of it. Greg sighed happily. "Is this about watching," Greg asked, "or telling me what to do? Because I'm not fussed if it's either. I'm just curious."

"Exploration," Mycroft said, his voice soft and reverent in the dim circle of light. His fingertips trailed over Greg's body as he spoke. "You are a beautiful man, Greg, entirely appealing to me. You have such broad shoulders, a lovely, solid chest. These tight, brown nipples," Mycroft pinched them gently and gave them a little twist that made Greg shudder with pleasure, "are so delightfully sensitive." Mycroft leaned down and kissed them, sucking at each of them for a moment, then bit one gently, just squeezing with his teeth, and Greg gasped, his hips rocking up to try to get some friction on his cock. Greg's fingers and toes clenched at the sensation.

Mycroft's hands trailed downward, over Greg's belly and along his sides. "You've no idea," he continued, his voice gentle and shaking slightly in the darkness, "how often I've denied myself the fantasy of simply touching you like this, the thought of your skin under my hands." He drew a harsh breath, and Greg's lungs echoed him, breathing together as Mycroft traced the lines of Greg's body.

"Christ, I'd love to fuck you," Greg whispered, his cock now hard and aching. He kept his clenched fists under the pillow just over his head, wanting to touch but refusing to move.

Mycroft's fingers teased his cock, barely touching, and Greg writhed between Mycroft's thighs. "Mmmm. Tomorrow, I think. Tonight, just this."

"I swear, you're going to kill me," Greg gasped.

Mycroft spread his hand over Greg's cock, just pressing gently against the full, hard length of it. "That would be terribly counterproductive," he purred. He reached over to the bedside table, where they'd left some condoms and lube, and he drizzled some of it over Greg's cock, the sudden cold making Greg shiver then sigh as it warmed, and the slick of it eased the movement of Mycroft's hand.

Mycroft's slow stroking made soft, wet sounds. "You really are just the perfect size, you know." He squeezed Greg's cock and Greg moaned quietly. "I'm very much looking forward to how you'll feel inside me." His fingers slid down, caressing Greg's bollocks, teasing them and tugging them gently.

"Easy." Pulling too much could get painful, though he didn't think Mycroft would go that far.

"I would never hurt you." Mycroft rolled them in his hand, cupping them as his thumb eased up Greg's cock from the base. Greg shivered, knotting the fingers of both hands together so that he wouldn't move them. He wanted so badly to reach out to Mycroft, to take him in his arms and pull him down to grind against him and find some relief. "My only desire is to give you pleasure. If we find it together, so much the better." Mycroft slid his hot, hard length against Greg's and both of them shivered. He took them both in hand and stroked their cocks together for a moment and Greg whimpered in desperation. He tried to rock his hips, but Mycroft pinned him, pulling back to sit firmly on his thighs. "Let me," he whispered.

Greg grit his teeth and moaned, resisting the need to move. Mycroft grinned. It was a very evil overlord grin, and Greg's cock and his hard nipples responded with eager enthusiasm.

One of Mycroft's fingers slid down over Greg's perineum and pressed in, putting pressure on his prostate from the outside and Greg choked back a shout. Mycroft chuckled and massaged the area, another slick finger circling Greg's entrance and pressing gently but never going so far as to penetrate. Mycroft took Greg's cock in his other hand and began stroking steadily as Greg gasped and moaned, his head thrashing back and forth in his desperation to come.

"You'd love to feel me slide into you right now, wouldn't you. You'd love to feel my cock," Mycroft growled. "I'd fill you and fuck you and you would beg for more."

"Please," Greg moaned. "Oh, fuck, please, I need to come." Greg couldn't keep his hands together any longer, so he reached for the headboard, pressing into it with all his strength, trying to dig his fingers into the wood as he resisted reaching for his lover. Mycroft leaned down over him and sucked hard on one nipple while he stroked Greg's cock and massaged his prostate. A moment later he bit down enough to pinch and Greg shuddered through a sharp, intense orgasm while Mycroft leaned back and watched, stroking Greg through it.

As Greg shivered, panting hard, Mycroft took himself in hand and jerked his own cock, fast and rough; it only took a few strokes until he was coming as well, spurting body-hot liquid on Greg's belly, his mouth open as he groaned harshly and gasped for air.

Shuddering, his chest heaving as he panted, Mycroft leaned on one arm, hovering over Greg, his head hanging low. Sweat glistened on his forehead as he tried to catch his breath. Greg reached up with both hands and dragged him down, needing the weight and heat of his body, mindless of the sloppy mess on his abdomen. Mycroft dug his arms under Greg's back, taking him into a tight, needy embrace, panting into Greg's ear and pressing hot, insistent kisses to his temple.

"Oh, god," Greg sighed, finally starting to breathe normally again as the aftershocks settled. "You are so bloody amazing." Mycroft leaned onto his elbows and took Greg's face in his hands, kissing him firmly.

They held each other for a few minutes before things started to get unpleasantly sticky, then went to rinse off in the shower before returning to bed and slipping, naked, under the covers together. Greg lay on his back with Mycroft resting at his side, his head on Greg's chest. Greg ran his fingers through Mycroft's dark, thinning hair. The quiet domesticity of it left Greg smiling with contentment but a little while later he noted that Mycroft had been rubbing his thumb absently on the ring he wore. His eyes were distant, glittering slightly in the dim, yellow light of the bedside lamp.

Greg reached out slowly and rubbed one of his fingers over the ring and Mycroft stilled. "What are you thinking about?" Greg asked, quiet in the near darkness of the bedroom.

Mycroft didn't move, but his eyes refocused and turned up toward Greg. "Youth," he said, "and folly."

"A while ago, Sherlock tried to put me off of you. Said something--"

"All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage." Mycroft's voice was hollow and stilted.

Greg nodded, one hand still moving softly in Mycroft's hair, the other resting over Mycroft's hand. "Yeah, that."

"I was young," Mycroft said, "and thought myself infallible. As one does, in one's twenties, I suppose."

"We all think we're bulletproof then."

Mycroft's eyes flicked away, back to the gold ring on his finger. "When I began with the Security Services, I worked under the aegis of my uncle, Rudy. I was arrogant and, despite men like me not being allowed in the Services, I insisted that the rules should be changed. What everyone knows can never be used for blackmail, after all, which was one of the main objections to homosexuals at the time." He sighed. "Because I was considered such a valuable asset, and because my uncle had a great deal of influence, I was allowed to serve if I didn't speak openly about my status. If I didn't visibly act on any of my desires."

Greg's fingers cradled Mycroft's hand. "But you met someone, of course."

Mycroft made a humourless sound that might have been a chuckle. "Of course. His name was Harold Odegaard, and he'd been a year behind me at Cambridge. He was brilliant and considered nearly as promising as I was but, without the patronage of someone like my uncle, he had to be far more circumspect in his… proclivities." Greg noted but said nothing about the world 'proclivities,' not wanting to interrupt Mycroft's flow.

"You were recruited together?"

"Near enough. We did go through training together. He was handsome and really rather dashing. I was… at the edge of the weight limit for my height, but I managed everything that was required of me, and more. My hair was a frightful shade of ginger, and that's when I began to dye it a darker colour. One doesn't want to stand out if one is undercover." And that explained Sherlock's cracks about Mycroft's weight, no doubt.

"'Course not."

"You must understand that this is all still classified information, Greg. You are an exceedingly trustworthy individual, and your clearance is already higher than you likely realize, given that you work regularly with Sherlock, and that you've been at least peripherally involved in some highly classified cases."

"Baskerville, you mean." That had been… not on Greg's top ten list of cases he wanted to remember.

Mycroft nodded. "Just so." He sighed. "Harold and I developed a rather intense attachment to one another. We were young and far more idealistic than we had any right to be." The hand that bore Mycroft's ring tightened into a fist. "We swore we would find a way to be together," he whispered. "We would defeat the odds. We would influence the Services to accept others like us. We would be loyal as the Sacred Band of Thebes and show those in power what we were truly capable of accomplishing when allowed our freedom and our dignity." Mycroft's eyes closed and he shook his head. "I was a fool, and a romantic, to boot. It was doomed to fail, of course."

Mycroft's voice roughened with his story, obviously still deeply affected, even so many years later. Greg moved his arm, cradling Mycroft to his chest, and pressed a kiss to his forehead. "It must have been terrible, what happened."

"We were in Spain," he said, "assigned to a diplomatic mission. We weren't supposed to be anywhere near potential violence. We were young and only tasked with intelligence gathering, but there was a betrayal. One night at a meeting, there was an assassination attempt." Greg shivered and he could feel Mycroft trembling minutely as he spoke. "We weren't security, but we were absolutely under instruction to protect the mission at all costs, and so we ran in the direction of the gunfire. Harold was cut down before he got anywhere near the target, and I was grabbed by two of the assassination team and thrown down a steep flight of stairs." He took a deep, shaky breath. "I woke two days later, with a severe concussion and a broken shoulder that kept me in hospital for some time. The incident landed me behind a desk, permanently. I didn't know until several days after I regained consciousness that Harold had died from his wounds at the scene."

"I'm sorry," Greg murmured. He pulled Mycroft close, holding him in the dim light. "That had to be a horrible loss."

"When I found out," Mycroft said, his voice holding steady as his body trembled, "I was shattered. We had known the risks. We weren't ignorant. We were just young and convinced of our invincibility. I had cared so much for him, and been destroyed by his death. I refused to ever allow myself to be that vulnerable again, and vowed to keep Sherlock from making the same kind of mistake. I would live by logic and would drag him along with me, whether he wanted to come or not."

Greg pressed his face into Mycroft's hair; Mycroft's face was buried in his chest. "You're here, though. We're here." He rubbed Mycroft's back with one hand. "Something must have changed."

"I met you." Mycroft sounded devastated. "I met you, and all my intentions vanished into mist. You can't imagine how hard I fought against the attraction I felt. My only refuge was your unavailability, your status as Sherlock's preferred contact at Scotland Yard.

"Why would you reach out, after all that?"

"Because I realized that everyone else around me managed to have something at least vaguely resembling a personal life and, whether I wanted to admit it or not, I wanted one, too. Even Sherlock, for all his insistence that his body is only transport, has a very deep attachment to Doctor Watson." Mycroft's voice was steadying again, much to Greg's relief.

"I don't know that John's ever going to be what Sherlock wants." His insistence on his straightness wasn't entirely convincing to Greg, but John seemed a lot more deeply in denial that Greg had ever been.

Mycroft looked up at Greg. "Sherlock has no idea what he wants. I'm reasonably convinced he's actually asexual, though he has certainly developed what could be described as a romantic attachment to John. I suspect neither of them would quite know what to do if there were anything physical to it."

"He spends enough of his time getting between John and his girlfriends."

Mycroft grumbled, "He's spent enough of his time attempting to get between the two of us. He's extremely possessive, and what he regards as his, he insists that I should never touch. He'll no doubt throw a rather spectacular tantrum when he discovers the depth of our connection. As you might imagine, I'd rather put that off for as long as possible."

Greg nodded. "Yeah, I can see that."

"Greg, I understand that your work puts you in danger from time to time, but you must also be aware that my own position could also put you at risk. I don't expect you to turn away from this because of that fact, but I do want it to be explicitly stated. And I also wish to explicitly state that I shall do everything in my power to protect you if it comes to that."

Greg kissed him. "I figured as much. And no, I wouldn't walk away because of that, any more than I'd walk away because your brother seems to think I'm his personal murder dispensing device. If I can cope with him, I'm sure I can cope with anything else that's likely to come along."

"I hope that we shall never be tested." Mycroft kissed him back and rolled, pulling Greg on top of him. "There is little I would not do to keep you safe."

Greg caressed the line of Mycroft's cheekbone with a thumb. "I've seen what you do to take care of your brother. I don't doubt that. I trust you."

"You have no idea what a gift that is."

"I've a very good idea what a gift you are." He surrendered himself to Mycroft's arms, and to the night.

***

Greg woke the next morning to an empty bed, sunlight filtering in through trees and sheer curtains. He lay there for a moment, getting his bearings, and could hear quiet activity from the kitchen. With a sigh, he got up, relieved himself, and brushed his teeth in the en suite, then made his way into the kitchen, where Mycroft had the kettle on and was slicing mushrooms at the counter.

"How long have you been up?"

Mycroft looked up at him and smiled. "A little over an hour. Would you like tea?"

Greg nodded and went to Mycroft, wrapping himself around his lover from behind. He kissed Mycroft's cheek. "Love one. But you could have stayed in bed with me, you know. Would have liked to wake up with you."

"It hadn't occurred to me. I had no wish to disturb you." Mycroft turned his face and kissed Greg as he prepared the mushrooms.

Greg chuckled. "Maybe I wanted to be disturbed. Maybe it would have been nice to lie there together, warm and close, without worrying about the time."

Mycroft set the knife down and turned in Greg's arms, taking him into a warm embrace, his hands held out slightly from Greg's body so as not to dirty his robe. "I shall take that under advisement for tomorrow."

"Have you never slept in with someone before?" Greg asked, his brow wrinkled. He nuzzled at Mycroft's morning scruff.

Mycroft pressed a soft kiss to Greg's brow, just above the bridge of his nose. "I've never had the opportunity."

"Tomorrow, then," Greg said, kissing Mycroft back. He thought about Mycroft's story from last night and tried to imagine the profound loneliness that it all signified, never having a lie-in with anyone, ever. "We'll make the opportunity. Maybe even a morning shag."

The kettle clicked off and Mycroft untangled himself from Greg's arms. "That does sound extremely appealing," he said. "Shall we have tea? The frittata can wait a few more minutes."

"Sounds good." Greg got mugs out of the cupboard while Mycroft made the tea. "Any thoughts for what you'd like to do today?"

"I've made a call to reserve a table for lunch in Bath. There's a little Italian place on the Pulteney Bridge where we can sit with a view of the river." Mycroft looked hopeful.

"I'd like that. Never been to Bath before. Are we going to see the Roman baths as well, then?"

"It will be positively infested with tourists, being a Saturday, but yes." The distaste in Mycroft's voice when he said 'tourists' was obvious, and his nose wrinkled. He poured their tea.

Greg laughed. "You do realize that, not being residents here, we're technically tourists as well, right?"

"Don't remind me."

Greg put milk and sugar in his tea and picked up his mug, then poked Mycroft gently with his elbow. "You've got too many years being the exception to all the rules, Mycroft. Join the rest of us humans once in a while. It'll do you some good."

With a sigh, Mycroft poured milk in his tea, but didn't add any sugar. "You are one of the very few humans in whose presence I'm willing to spend an extended period of time. I quite dislike crowds. They're inevitably disorderly. People jostle you. I find being touched by strangers distasteful. There could be… security issues."

"I'll be right there with you. You know you're safe with me."

Mycroft sipped his tea then turned back to preparing breakfast. "I know."

"Do you have security people nearby?" Greg asked. "Will your people be lurking about in town?"

Mycroft shook his head. "No. There aren't any active threats at the moment. I keep a low enough profile that someone would have to be specifically targeting me or my immediate colleagues before there was a concern."

"You can't tell me what you really do, can you."

"You haven't the clearance." He sighed. "I really shouldn't have given you the information I did last night. If it's discovered, I'll likely face several extremely disappointed colleagues and possible censure. Very few people know about the incident at all, and only three are aware of the nature of my involvement with Harold, including you."

"One of the others being Sherlock?" It was a fair guess, at least.

Mycroft snorted and cracked eggs into a bowl. "Surprisingly enough, no. He was aware of my orientation, certainly, and felt it entirely mockable, but he never knew about Harold."

It shouldn't have been a surprise, given how secretive Mycroft was, but it made the whole thing even more significant, that Mycroft had told him. "Then thank you for trusting me. Thank you for sharing that with me."

Mycroft poured the egg into a hot pan and looked up, catching Greg's eye for a moment. "At some point you'll need to sign rather a large number of security documents if you wish to continue this with me."

"I'll sign whatever's needed, you know that," Greg said, laying out plates, forks, and knives for them on the table. He poked around until he found bread and put a couple of slices in the toaster. "It's not even a question."

"Perhaps you should consider asking more questions, Greg."

Greg shrugged. "I've already had background checks before. I've worked with your lot a couple of times. I want to be with you. I don't see any reason to hesitate. Do you?" He looked over at Mycroft, who seemed vaguely startled by the response.

"No," Mycroft said, shaking his head. "I suppose not."

"After all this, did you really think I'd say no? That I'd change my mind after one proper night with you?"

Mycroft carefully turned the frittata. "It was a possibility, though admittedly not a likely one." Greg started the toaster.

"I suppose someone like you probably always plans for the worst, regardless." If Mycroft had been a budding James Bond who'd been chained to a desk after a disaster like the one he'd described, of course he'd have to plan for the worst. Add in Sherlock for a brother, and it would all be completely justifiable.

"In this case," Mycroft said, "I think I've been remarkably optimistic. You have, after all, chosen to take a chance on a relationship with me. It could be considered my best possible outcome." He smiled, watching the pan to be sure the eggs didn't overcook.

Greg laughed, grinning. "I don't think I've ever been anybody's best possible outcome before."

"Perhaps it was time," Mycroft responded, smiling fondly at him as the toast popped up.

Greg left the toast in the toaster and went over and hugged Mycroft, holding him tight. "Maybe it was."

***

They started their day in Bath with the Roman baths, so as to get the obligatory tourist crowd out of the way quickly. Greg found he didn't need the informational audio because Mycroft knew a vast amount of history and trivia, and made a fantastic private tour guide. "It's too bad you can't use the baths anymore," Greg said.

"There's a spa nearby that has private rentals, if you'd like. It may be too late to arrange anything for this weekend, though," Mycroft said.

"Wish I'd thought of it earlier, then." Greg pulled out his phone and took some photos as they wandered the grounds and then out into the nearby streets. They were all lined with columns along the cobblestones and Greg walked close to Mycroft, their shoulders bumping occasionally. He pocketed his phone, content to rub elbows with his lover, but wasn't certain whether holding hands would be welcome.

When Mycroft rested a hand low on his back, Greg relaxed into it, smiling. It was a confirmation, as far as he was concerned. To him, it was damned near a miracle. To anyone looking at them, they were just a couple on holiday. They could have been anyone. This was it, Greg thought. This was what he wanted -- nothing extraordinary, just a sense of belonging to someone who cared for him. He reached out and rested his hand at Mycroft's waist as well, their closeness a warmth between them.

Lunch at the little Italian place on the bridge was quiet. Mycroft spoke Italian to the server, who was from Florence, though not so much that he left Greg out of the loop entirely. They had a table next to one of the windows, looking out over the river, but the only thing Greg had eyes for was Mycroft. Idyllic, Mycroft had said last night. Greg had to agree.

After lunch they browsed some antiquarian book shops, though that was rather more Mycroft's taste than Greg's. He was happy to wander along and keep Mycroft company. It wasn't that Greg didn't read, but more that he was content with whatever mysteries were just released, where Mycroft asked questions about different editions of things, and particular presses. He had definite interests and criteria for his books. When Greg started to get a bit less enthusiastic, Mycroft redirected his attention and they spent some time at the Abbey looking at architecture and stained glass.

Dinner was in a little Moroccan restaurant, and by that time, Greg was glad to get off his feet for a bit. "Tomorrow more walking in the woods near the cottage?" he asked.

"That sounds like a capital plan," Mycroft said, over his tagine. "Though Bath is a lovely city, I'll admit I am much more interested in spending my time here in your exclusive company." Their ankles pressed together under the table as they sat. Greg idly caressed Mycroft's foot with his own.

"Yeah, saw some interesting stuff today, but I'd rather see you."

"We have tomorrow."

It was true, but Greg felt a twinge of sorrow on top of the pleasure that thinking of Sunday brought. They had tomorrow. Then they'd have to be back in London, with work and responsibilities and not enough time to properly see each other. "Wish we had more than just tomorrow," Greg sighed.

Mycroft gave Greg a fondly exasperated look. "It will certainly take some effort, but I have no doubt that we shall be able to find time for one another back in London."

"There's that. With constant interruptions."

Mycroft poked him with a toe. "One week here and you'd be chafing to get back to your routine. I can't see you transfering to a place like this and being satisfied with your life. You like the bustle of London far too much."

Greg laughed. "Yeah, you're right."

"I usually am." Mycroft smiled, smug.

"Watch it, you. No need for that look on your face." Greg shook a finger at him.

The smugness intensified. "I have it on good authority that you actually enjoy it."

"Oh, fuck me," Greg groaned. Mycroft was right of course.

Mycroft's left eyebrow rose. "I thought that was my privilege this evening," he drawled. "I do recall you making an offer."

Greg barely managed not to choke on his wine. "Soon as we're back at the cottage."

Dinner became rather more hurried after that, and they got out and back to their cottage fairly quickly. They were kissing on the way in the door, and almost didn't bother to take a moment to hang up their jackets.

"You go get undressed," Greg said. "I've got something in mind." Mycroft gave him a curious look, but headed into the bedroom. Greg poked around in the bathroom and found a couple of towels and some massage oil, then got the lube and condoms out of the drawer by the bed. Mycroft watched as Greg lay one of the large towels out on top of the covers.

Greg grinned brightly at Mycroft. "Here," he said. "Lie on your back. I want to start with your chest."

"I wasn't aware you did massage." Mycroft looked hopeful.

Greg shrugged. "It's nothing special, but it should at least feel good. And it'll be a fantastic excuse to get my hands all over you, if nothing else." He patted the towel. "Up you get." Mycroft kissed Greg and got on the bed as Greg shed his own clothing, tossing it at one of the chairs and not really caring if he hit it or not.

He got onto the bed next to Mycroft, leaning down to kiss him, Mycroft's face held in his palms. "I want to make you feel so good," he murmured. "Want to touch you everywhere."

Mycroft's hands rose, stroking down Greg's sides. "It sounds wonderful."

"Hope it will be. Hands down. No touching. It's my turn tonight," Greg said. He reached over and took the massage oil, pouring some into one palm. Setting the bottle down, he warmed the oil between his hands before he lay them on Mycroft's chest and started stroking slowly up and down. Slowly, gently, adding more oil when he needed it, Greg slipped his hands over Mycroft's shoulders, over his tightening nipples, down his arms, and along his sides. Mycroft breathed deeply, relaxing into it as Greg's palms slowly covered him.

"Mmmm, I love to see you relax." Greg's hands drifted down over Mycroft's hips, spreading more oil.

Mycroft took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "It's… hard for me."

"Nobody you could trust."

"No." Mycroft shook his head.

He worked his way down one of Mycroft's legs, his heart aching. "I'm glad you trust me, then." Greg pressed a kiss to Mycroft's knee as he moved down toward one ankle. Quietly, he worked on Mycroft's foot, digging his thumbs into the arch carefully, so as not to cause his lover any pain.

"More than you know," Mycroft said, sighing. Greg swapped sides and worked his way down Mycroft's other leg, nuzzling at his cock and balls as he leaned down. Mycroft made a contented sound, his cock twitching slightly against Greg's cheek. Greg licked before he moved down further. Wiping his hands off on the towel, Greg crawled back up Mycroft's body and took his mouth in a slow, soft kiss.

Mycroft took Greg in his arms and returned the kiss, languid and indulgent. "What did I ever do to deserve you?" he asked.

Greg bumped his nose against Mycroft's. "I don't know. You exist? Existing works." He chuckled.

Mycroft's eyes lit and he nibbled at Greg's lower lip. "You are unbelievable."

"Here, love. Roll over and I'll give you something to believe in." Greg grinned a lascivious grin. "You'll be calling out for god before you know it."

Mycroft giggled. Greg could hardly believe it. Mycroft 'suits and seriousness' Holmes actually giggled. Greg kissed him hard. "You're lucky I'm a committed atheist," Mycroft said, "or I'd be sorely tempted to declare you a deity and immediately demand the construction of temples and the institution of cultic worship." Mycroft was obviously struggling to contain more undignified giggling.

Greg laughed. "Oh, Christ, turn over, you. Let me work on your back."

Mycroft half turned, reaching into the bedside drawer for a glove as he spoke. "I imagine I could spend hours kneeling before your altar, taking communion from between your thighs." He dropped the glove next to Greg, grinning. "Use this, when you get to poking fingers inside me, would you?"

Laughing, Greg took the glove and dropped it by Mycroft's hip. "You are a very naughty boy, Mycroft Holmes. And yeah, I'll try to keep your filthy bottom as clean as I can."

"Much appreciated." Mycroft flopped onto his stomach, still grinning. He crossed his wrists under his chin.

"Cultic worship," Greg said, oiling his hands again. "Sort of implies a public. I didn't think you'd be wanting to share that whole communion thing."

"Reserved solely for your high priest," Mycroft sniffed. "Do not imagine I'd share the holy of holies with anyone else."

Greg laughed and leaned into Mycroft's shoulders, pressing the heels of his palms into the muscle with his weight. Mycroft moaned, and Greg could hear his spine pop a couple of times. "Oh, god, that's good," Mycroft groaned.

"Told you you'd be calling out for god," Greg said, chuckling.

"Sooner than I'd imagined."

Greg let himself enjoy touching Mycroft's body, soothing and pressing, looking his fill at his lover's smooth skin and all the freckles that gave lie to the darkness of his hair. His fingers traced Mycroft's ribs beneath the skin, thumbs following the slight bumps of his vertebrae. Mycroft's arse was glorious, and he had runner's legs. The man might work behind a desk, but he definitely kept himself fit, and Greg couldn't get enough of him. "Who knew you'd be a proper phallic-worshipping pagan," Greg murmured into Mycroft's ear.

Mycroft turned his face to Greg and kissed him. "Anyone who appreciated masculine beauty would be utterly convinced of the validity of my faith," he insisted.

Greg returned the kiss, still smiling. He lay on Mycroft's back, rubbing himself slowly over his lover's body, getting hard from the sensuality of it. Mycroft sighed. Greg nipped at his ear and sucked on the lobe. "Good thing I'm a kind and generous god," he murmured. Slipping the glove on, he applied lube and rubbed his fingers between Mycroft's cheeks. "How long's it been since you've had anything in here?"

"Not very," Mycroft said, a bit breathless. "I may not have had a partner in years, but I'm quite content to see to my own needs as necessary."

"Mmm, good. I wouldn't want to make you uncomfortable." Greg pressed gently, sliding one thick finger inside. Mycroft pushed back against him, taking Greg's finger in more deeply than Greg had expected, moaning softly. "Oh, that's nice," Greg whispered. "Won't take much to get you ready."

"No need to rush," Mycroft murmured, his hips moving slowly as Greg slid his finger in and out. "This feels quite magnificent."

"I know." Greg's other hand caressed Mycroft's hip and his lower back. "I'm not in a hurry. Just, being with you like this has got me so bloody hard, and I really, desperately want to be in you."

"Patience is its own reward," Mycroft said, then gasped as Greg slid a second finger into him. He pressed his hips into the bed, rubbing his cock against the mattress.

"Patience," Greg teased.

"Ruffian," Mycroft grumbled, writhing back against Greg's hand.

Greg wriggled his fingers inside Mycroft's body, thrusting gently. "Thought I was a god."

"An evil one," Mycroft groaned. "Utterly vile. I demand that you fuck me right now." Greg couldn't help laughing, his fingers still moving slowly. He eased a third into Mycroft's tight hole. "Please!" Mycroft begged.

Hearing Mycroft's desperation left Greg aching, and it was just too much. He stripped off the glove and rolled a condom onto his cock, then helped Mycroft rise up a little on his knees for a better angle. Greg took himself in hand and pressed the head of his cock against Mycroft's hole. "Here, love, I'll give you what you need." Pressing harder, he penetrated slowly, and both of them gasped then groaned together. Mycroft shuddered under him, leaning back into Greg's hips and Greg wrapped his arms around Mycroft's body, hands sliding up to his shoulders to pull him back onto his cock.

Breathless, they moved together. "So good," Mycroft whispered, "oh, god, you feel so good."

They were so close to each other, and Mycroft was so tight and hot. Greg pressed his face into Mycroft's neck, breathing him in and sucking kisses onto his warm, soft skin. "Oh, fuck, never want to let you go," Greg rasped, his voice harsh with his need and arousal. His hips moved slowly, sliding in and out, and it was heaven.

"More," Mycroft gasped, one hand clenched with one of Greg's, their fingers knotted together as he held their weight on one hand. Greg pulled back, slid in, pulled back again, then thrust harder, his balls slapping gently against Mycroft's. He trailed his free hand down Mycroft's body to caress his cock, playing with his bollocks as they fucked, slow and intense.

Mycroft shook under him, mouth open as he panted. "Greg, please. Fuck me harder."

"I'll give you my cock, love, fuck you hard. Make you come." Greg's hand tightened around Mycroft's length and he kept stroking slowly. He thrust harder, but not faster, trying to keep himself under control. Mycroft was moaning now, sweat dewing his skin as his chest heaved.

"Need you," Mycroft gasped, thrusting into Greg's fist and driving himself back on Greg's cock.

"I'm yours," Greg panted, "all yours. Want you so much."

Mycroft's arm wobbled, and Greg let go of his hand, bracing it on the bed to stabilize them, then eased them both down so that Mycroft's shoulder was against the mattress. Greg stroked Mycroft with one hand while teasing his nipples with the other, still driving slow and hard into his body. Mycroft convulsed, gasping and coming hard, his body clenching around Greg's cock as he shook and cried out. "Take what you need, love," Greg moaned, "take it all. Feel me fuck you."

"Yes, yes!" Mycroft's voice was harsh and ragged as he trembled in Greg's arms.

Wrapping both arms around Mycroft's chest, Greg let himself go, fucking frantically into his lover's shaking, willing body. It took only a few more moments before he lost himself in a wash of intense pleasure, coming and thrusting himself deep into Mycroft's heat.

Finally, both of them gasping, they collapsed together on the towel Greg had laid out under Mycroft's body, exhausted and sated. They lay there panting, catching their breath, until Greg started pressing soft, gentle kisses to Mycroft's face and his neck and his shoulder.

"Mmmm," Mycroft rumbled. "I do believe I've experienced a miracle."

"I could worship your arse until the sun burnt out," Greg muttered. "Fucking glorious."

Slowly, they untangled and rolled so that they held each other face to face, kissing slowly. "I wish I had approached you years ago," Mycroft whispered.

Greg huffed a little chuckle. "Half of me wishes you had." He nuzzled Mycroft's nose. "The other half knows I'd have run like a terrified rabbit because there's no way I'd have been ready."

"I know," Mycroft sighed. "So much time to make up for." He kissed Greg, their tongues sliding together, tender and sensual.

"Not giving this up. Not for anything," Greg said, his wet lips moving against Mycroft's.

Mycroft's grey eyes met his. "I should be devastated if you did." Mycroft caressed Greg's temple, fingers trailing through the short hair there.

Greg shook his head. "This is too good, My." Mycroft's mouth twitched at the nickname, but he didn't object. "I think we both know it."

Mycroft nodded. "It was more than worth taking the chance that I did."

"This is it, then. Us. Together."

"Mmm. Together."

***

Greg woke slowly, to the warmth of a body pressed to his back and an arm around his waist. He didn't bother opening his eyes, content just to be there, happy to be held. He slid his arm over the one around his waist and twined his fingers with Mycroft's. Mycroft nuzzled at the nape of his neck. "Good morning."

"Mmm. You're here." Greg couldn't help his smile.

He felt Mycroft nod, that long nose tracing along his skin. "I'd always wondered why anyone would wish to remain abed once they woke." Mycroft pressed a kiss behind Greg's ear. "I feel enlightened."

Still half-asleep, Greb mumbled, "What'd you discover?" Mycroft pressed a very evident erection against Greg's bum. Greg tilted his hips back against him, amused. "Seems like a good reason."

"You are the most exquisite reason I could possibly want."

Greg's eyes slipped open a crack and he could see the morning light from the window washing across the bed. Blinking, he yawned, then stretched, arching back against Mycroft's body. Mycroft ran his hand up Greg's belly and over his chest, trailing fingers through the hair there. With a contented sigh, Greg turned under Mycroft's arm and rolled, wrapping Mycroft's waist in his arms, and he rested his head on Mycroft's chest. His lover's heartbeat thudded under his ear, slow and soothing. "Best pillow," Greg mumbled. Mycroft cradled him in both arms, kissing his head gently.

"You seem quite indifferent to the fact that I'm extremely aroused with you in my arms." Mycroft sounded very amused.

"Did you want to do something about that, or do you actually just have to piss really bad?" Greg asked, looking up at him with one eye. "Fifty fifty chance with morning wood."

Mycroft chuckled. "You're ridiculous when you're half asleep."

Greg closed his eye again. "You like it, though."

"I do," Mycroft admitted. "Very much."

"So," Greg asked, "did you want me or the loo?"

"You, you insufferable miscreant," Mycroft grumbled, his hand caressing its way down Greg's side to squeeze one cheek. "Tempting me like this so late in the morning. How dare you exist?"

"If I didn't, you'd have to make me up."

"Greg!" Mycroft laughed. "Please, let me make love with you."

Greg's heart tightened with emotion. His eyes opened and he looked up at Mycroft, who gazed down at him with adoration in his eyes. "You love me," he whispered.

"What I feel for you is too intense to be anything else," Mycroft admitted softly.

"We've been together just a couple of weeks, and you love me."

Mycroft nodded. "You knew that, though. You knew I felt that way about you long before I approached you."

"Or you'd not have done it at all. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that." Greg shuffled up Mycroft's body and kissed him, moving gently against him, both of them hard already. "May take a while."

Mycroft rolled Greg onto his back, pressing him down with his weight. He kissed Greg deeply, grinding his hips against him. "I shall give you all the time you need," he whispered, kissing Greg again. "I would dearly love to be inside you. May I?"

"Oh, hell yes." Greg wanted that. He wanted to get lost in it, to feel Mycroft buried in him, moving slow and deep. "Best way to wake up on a Sunday."

"I could certainly get used to it," Mycroft agreed, kissing his way from Greg's earlobe down his neck to his clavicle.

"Mmmm, take your time," Greg purred. "Can't get enough of you touching me." The warmth and soft smoothness of Mycroft's skin, the rough rub of the hair on his chest against Greg's, was sensual and so comforting. They moved together, slowly and gently, just enjoying the contact. Greg stroked the inside of his thigh and calf along Mycroft's hip and down his leg. Mycroft sighed, sliding down Greg's body a bit to kiss his chest and tease at his nipples with lips and tongue. Greg moaned softly, arching his chest into it, silently asking for more.

Mycroft caressed his body with the flat of his palms, and long, slender fingers. Greg tilted his head back, reveling in the sensation, and Mycroft nibbled gently at his throat. "Please," Greg sighed, his nerves all alight with pleasure. He didn't really know what he was asking for, just more. More of the slow caresses, more of Mycroft's mouth, more of their skin sliding together.

Eventually, Mycroft reached into the bedside drawer for supplies, then slid an arm under Greg's knee, lifting it and spreading Greg open to his gaze. He leaned down and pressed a soft kiss along the hard, aching shaft of Greg's cock and Greg writhed on the bed. "Gently, my dear," Mycroft murmured, "I'll give you everything you need." Mycroft's slick, gloved hand stroked Greg's cock and eased its way down his tight bollocks, fingertips finding Greg's entrance. They circled slowly, pressing slightly as Greg's breath caught.

"Yes," Greg sighed, his eyes closed as he focused on the sensual pleasure of it all. Mycroft was so good at this, so gentle, so intense. Greg would never have imagined it six months ago. He didn't think anyone else would be able to imagine it, even now. Mycroft was so deeply reserved around others, and so immensely passionate with him, and the contrast was stunning.

Fingers entered him slowly, opening him gently, as Mycroft's mouth played at Greg's cock and bollocks. His hot tongue teased at the tip, dipping into the slit, then slipping under his foreskin to caress the sensitive crown. Greg was panting breathlessly as Mycroft stretched him, then shuddered as his fingers withdrew. He heard Mycroft dispose of the glove and roll a condom over himself, then Greg took a breath as he felt the pressure of Mycroft's slow thrust into him. He moaned, shaking with it.

"Hush, my dear," Mycroft whispered. "Relax. Let me have you."

"Oh, god, please." Greg's voice was rough with desire and his hips moved to meet Mycroft's slide into him. "Feels fantastic." Greg reached for him, wrapping his arms and legs around Mycroft's body, desperate for more. He wanted to feel the depth of him, the slick friction, the powerful thrust and withdrawal as Mycroft set a rhythm between them. Greg's heart beat frantically as Mycroft's hips moved between his thighs.

Mycroft's breath stuttered and he moaned, pushing deeper into Greg's body, both of them sweating with the effort and the pleasure of their joining. Greg couldn't contain his cries, or his pleasure as Mycroft fucked him, driving slow and hard into him, overwhelming his senses with the sound of his voice, the scent of sweat and sex, and the motion of their bodies as they rocked together in pure animal instinct.

Greg needed -- god, he needed -- and Mycroft met his need with every rocking thrust of his hips. There were no words for how good it felt, being in his lover's arms, taking his cock, being filled with the man and surrounded by the slick heat of his skin. Trembling, Mycroft shifted his weight and reached between them, taking Greg's throbbing cock in hand. He started stroking as his thrusts grew faster and harder, and Greg shouted his pleasure as he came, gasping and shuddering. Mycroft came as well, only moments later, his chest heaving against Greg's, both of them trembling with the force of it as they panted desperately for breath.

They slumped together, boneless, and Greg kissed Mycroft, sloppy and open-mouthed through their harsh breathing. Mycroft kissed back, but neither could speak for several minutes, too drowned in the flood of their release for words. Slowly, breath came back to them, and they clung together in the aftermath, sweat cooling on their bodies as Mycroft's cock softened, then slipped from Greg's body.

Finally, Greg found words. "You could fuck me like that every damned day for the rest of my life," he rasped.

Mycroft huffed an exhausted laugh. "It would be my endless privilege to try." Greg found himself overwhelmed by emotion, too deep for words, so he tightened his arms around Mycroft and shivered, instead. Puzzled, Mycroft nuzzled Greg's temple. "Are you all right?"

Greg nodded but said nothing. He took a few deep breaths, trying to pull himself back together. "Just… feeling a lot. It's intense. Sorry."

"Don't be sorry," Mycroft murmured gently into his ear. "This is… it's more than I'd ever hoped for. Intensity should only be expected."

"How do you just manage to take all this in stride?" Greg asked.

"You might be shocked by how tangled my emotional state is right now. It's a very unfamiliar sensation. Quite disorienting."

"You don't seem it."

"Decades of practice," Mycroft said with a wry smile.

"How are we going to do this back in London?" The question haunted him. Greg didn't want to lose this, but they were on holiday, and it was never going to be quite the same. "How are we going to find the time for each other, keep things from interfering with what we want to make together?"

"We are both intelligent, competent adults," Mycroft said. "I'm certain we'll come up with something. We both know we want this to continue. We are both aware that there will be difficulties ahead of us."

Greg nodded. "I know. Doesn't stop me worrying. At some point there's going to be Sherlock. Your work. Mine. Other family, if it gets to that."

"My work will be the first thing to come up. As I noted before, there are documents that will have to be dealt with. They'll no doubt be quite suspicious about the apparent speed with which our relationship has progressed."

Greg sighed and caressed Mycroft's stubbly cheek. "It'll look like lightning, won't it?"

"Indeed. Explaining will very likely be--"

"Awkward."

"Yes." Mycroft kissed him. "I'll do what I can to minimize the awkwardness. We have, after all, known one another for years now."

"If anyone could convince your lot, it'd be you, I'm sure."

"You will likely be required to come in for an interview. I'm sorry."

Greg couldn't help the quiet groan. "As long as I know it's coming, I'll cope with it. How nosey are they likely to be?"

"Extremely," Mycroft admitted.

Greg sighed. "And how personal are my answers going to have to be?"

"Their questions are likely to be far more about the emotional, rather than the physical aspects of this. I realize this is likely to be uncomfortable, but once it's over, it's over."

"Okay. Like I said, I'll cope." Greg's bladder was making itself inconvenient. "It's time to get up," he said. "Nature calls."

"As it inevitably does." Mycroft rolled to one side, taking his weight off Greg's body. He ran a hand down Greg's chest, one last caress before they rose. "Shower?"

"Yeah. Sounds good. Then breakfast and maybe a walk?"

"An excellent idea."

***

Dropping Mycroft at his house was a lot more painful than Greg anticipated. He knew they'd be seeing each other on Wednesday about signing the security and background check papers that Mycroft had told him about, but just the idea that Mycroft would be walking away from him left a hollow ache in his chest.

"Do you want to come in?" Mycroft asked as they got his bags from the boot of Greg's car.

Greg shook his head. "We both know that if I go in with you, I won't be leaving tonight, and we've got work in the morning. I think we need the sleep."

Mycroft sighed. "You're right, of course." He shrugged. "I did try."

"You did," Greg said, smiling. He walked Mycroft up to his door and they both hesitated, but neither of them were quite ready to kiss on a London street.

"I shall see you soon," Mycroft murmured.

"Not soon enough." Greg turned as Mycroft keyed the security system on his door. "Goodnight."

Mycroft looked back at him as his door opened. "Sleep well."

Greg forced himself to not turn and look. He knew he'd be too tempted to say 'bugger it' and spend the night in Mycroft's bed. He really could not go into work on Monday morning in weekend clothes, looking like he'd had an olympic shagging session. Just the thought of the ribbing he'd get made him shudder.

Monday was the usual; slow and catching up with things. There were briefings and meetings and paperwork, assignments to hand out, things to sign off on, evidence to review. Greg spent most of the day at his desk, and when Mycroft's leggy shadow showed up, he wasn't sure if it was about Sherlock or Wednesday.

He set aside the papers he'd been working on. "What's up?" he said, as she closed the door behind her. "Usually you just wait until I leave and tell me to get in the car."

"What have you done to him?" She looked genuinely concerned and a bit puzzled.

Greg leaned back in his chair, tapping at the desk with his pen. "Nothing, Andrea. Nothing that hadn't been coming for a very long time."

"He spent two days with you, and suddenly he's asking to have you cleared as a romantic partner. That's completely out of character for him." She didn't sit, even when Greg gestured at the chair in front of his desk.

Greg sighed. "I thought we were going to be dealing with this on Wednesday? Mycroft told me there'd probably be some sort of meeting with the people he answers to, and awkward questions, and all that. Why are you here now? Do you honestly think I mean to hurt him?"

"No." She shook her head. "No, it's just such unusual behavior for him, and it's my job to make sure he's safe. I was certain I'd have seen something like this coming miles away."

"It's been a lot longer in coming than either you or I would have thought, at least for him. Please, Andrea, trust us, would you?"

She looked him over, her eyes sharp, and she sat. "This may be unwise on my part, Detective Inspector, but I do want to trust you. You've always been reliable in matters pertaining to the younger Mr Holmes, and careful and respectful regarding my employer."

"You're looking for an ally."

Hesitantly, she nodded. "You see this as potentially long-term."

"Yeah. I really hope it is. From what was said this weekend, so does he. And I imagine he can be really hard to take care of sometimes, given how he is. Private, proud, stubborn. Too smart for his own good."

She smiled. "You seem to have a good grasp of his character."

"Observant, me."

"I shan't argue that."

"I'll need an ally, too," Greg said. "He's been really easy for me to care about, but to care for him is going to be a challenge for both of us sometimes. We could… have each other's back, I guess. For those times when he's too smart or proud or stubborn."

She raised an eyebrow. "Assuming Wednesday goes smoothly, I suspect that would be a wise decision." Her phone vibrated with a soft buzz. She looked down at it and frowned. "I'm sorry Detective Inspector, but I do need to go."

"It's Greg," he said, rising from his chair as she did.

"Thank you, Greg."

Greg started to feel some genuine anxiety on Tuesday over the whole situation, and he didn't have the time to go to his usual pub quiz night. He did call Mycroft, and they spoke for a while, but both of them were too busy to talk for long. Just hearing his voice helped ease some of Greg's disquiet.

Wednesday morning came too early. Greg knew he'd be facing down Mycroft's colleagues, or superiors, or whoever it was that he answered to. He still didn't even properly know what the hell Mycroft really did, just that it involved the Security Services and he'd probably be shot for asking too many questions. Greg was shown into a room somewhere in the bowels of Legoland, which definitely suggested that Mycroft's job went far beyond just the UK. He felt a momentary spike of worry that giving the wrong answers to the questions he'd face might just lead to him being disappeared, but dismissed it.

When he entered the room, there were two people waiting for him on one side of a desk, and a couple of empty chairs on the side where he'd entered. One was likely for Mycroft, at some point, he figured. "Please, have a seat, Inspector," the woman said, gesturing to one of the chairs.

"Detective Inspector," Greg replied, planting himself in one of the chairs. "The distinction's actually meaningful."

"Apologies, Detective Inspector." She cleared her throat and looked down her nose at him. "I am Lady Smallwood, and this is Sir Edwin, and we have been tasked with discussing your… acquaintance with Mycroft Holmes."

Greg sighed. So, it was going to be like that. "It's not an 'acquaintance,'" he said, "unless you're the sort who spends an entire weekend shagging the brains out of your acquaintances. Which I don't. Mycroft and I have a relationship, ta."

"A very sudden one, Detective Inspector." She looked like she had something crammed up her arse and Greg decided he was extremely annoyed with her.

"Yeah," he said. "It looks sudden on the surface, but we've known each other for years."

Sir Edwin got the next shot in. "Years during which you were remarkably straight. You expect people to believe you're suddenly gay, and that you've developed an interest in a man like Mycroft?"

"I expect people to keep their noses out of my business, unless I've invited them in, but since you seem to have some kind of control over whether or not Mycroft gets to have a relationship -- and why that's the case, I have no idea -- I expect you to believe that I'm bisexual and that I'm attracted to Mycroft. Hence, the shagging bit."

"There's really no need for this hostility, Detective Inspector," Lady Smallwood said.

Greg shrugged. "So, tell me. Did either of you have to go through this when you started dating somebody? Did you just get grandfathered in because you were already in a relationship? Or is this because we're both men?"

"The suddenness is what concerns us," Sir Edwin insisted.

"Have you never just fallen in love with someone?" Greg asked. "Mycroft told me he'd been interested for years, but I was -- as you noted -- married when we met. I got divorced recently, and was dating again. Dating men. So Mycroft asked if I was interested. I was. I had been for a longer time than I realized. I very much am right this minute. Pretty much end of story, really. I mean, do you seriously think that after all these years of working with him and his brother, I'd suddenly turn into some foreign spy or something? You've already done background checks on me. I know you have. I've worked on stuff with Sherlock and some of your lot that I'd never have even seen if you hadn't. What on earth would be my motivation to hurt Mycroft?"

Greg took a frustrated breath and kept right on, not letting either of them get a word in. "Have you never even considered how worried I am about hurting him? Do you think we're going to split up the first time we have a disagreement?"

Both of them shifted uncomfortably in their seats. "I can see you're quite passionate about this, Detective Inspector," Lady Smallwood said.

"Yes," Greg snapped. "Mycroft Holmes is a good man, and I'm lucky as hell that he's interested in me. Yeah, it seems fast, if you don't know either of us, but it was a very long time in coming. There was nothing the least bit sudden about this."

Sir Edwin and Lady Smallwood looked at each other, then back at Greg. "And really," Greg said, "which one of us do you think is using the other? Me, getting above my station and trying to worm my way into money and power because I obviously can't get enough of Sherlock's abuse already? Or Mycroft, who's so blinded by my questionable middle-aged charms that he's thrown out decades of being alone for a chance at a shag with an aging copper?"

"That… does seem like a rather compelling argument," Sir Edwin stammered.

Lady Smallwood's eyes narrowed. "You're obviously blind to your own charms," she said.

"Mycroft isn't reckless," Greg insisted. "He's probably the least reckless person I've ever met. And even if you think I'm good looking, do you really think Mycroft would just randomly choose me, out of everyone he's ever met, over the course of decades? I'm not that good looking, by anybody's scale. Everything he does, he thinks about it. He weighs it. He doesn't just leap in and do things for no reason, does he?"

"No," she admitted. "He really doesn't."

"So does that mean you're not going to stand in our way?"

She pushed a button on the intercom on the table. "Send in Holmes, please." A few moments later, the door opened, and Mycroft entered, back straight and head high. His expression was guarded. "Have a seat, Mycroft."

Mycroft sat in the empty chair next to Greg. His eyes asked how it had gone, and Greg gave him a tentative smile.

"There is one exceedingly important question that neither of you have yet answered," Sir Edwin said. "You have both made allusion to your privacy in this matter, and it is, of course, a reasonable thing to expect. However, it is also absolutely certain that at some point your connection will be discovered. You are both very well aware that blackmail is only possible where there is secrecy. What do you intend to do about it?"

Mycroft looked at Greg. Greg looked back, knowing that this was, in fact, the most important thing to the people who were sitting in judgment of them. He turned to Sir Edwin and Lady Smallwood. "I may not want Sherlock harassing me about it starting this afternoon, but I'm not going to deny that I'm with Mycroft," he said. "Being out at work would be a little awkward at first, but people would get over it."

Mycroft nodded. "Greg's presence in my life could make him a target, that's entirely true, but by acknowledging our relationship, he would be protected from some contingencies should the need arise," Mycroft agreed. "As Greg said, neither of us are particularly keen on immediately informing my brother, but I have no objection whatsoever to our relationship eventually becoming public."

"We all know that your brother is immature and difficult to control," Lady Smallwood said, "but why would he be particularly annoying about this?"

With a sigh, Mycroft said, "He's always felt that my orientation was nothing more than a joke, but the fact that he works with Greg frequently has left him feeling that the Detective Inspector is his personal property. He feels he has precedence and that his needs and interests should come first and has, more than once, insisted that I keep my hands off, so to speak."

"Yeah," Greg said. "Sherlock really can be a twat -- sorry -- and he's not above pitching a fit and thinking I won't work with him anymore if he's not the center of the universe."

"Well, that's quite understandable," Lady Smallwood admitted. "He really is quite trying."

"Unless you have any further concerns," Mycroft said, "I assume we are free to go?"

"Yes, yes, we'll see you at ten o'clock for the council meeting," Sir Edwin said. He and Lady Smallwood rose. "Thank you for your time."

Greg and Mycroft waited for a moment for the other two to leave. "I hope that wasn't too entirely unpleasant," Mycroft said.

Greg shrugged. "I've had worse." He leaned toward Mycroft, who tilted his head down and kissed Greg gently.

"We should go and have you sign the necessary documents." He took Greg's hand. "Andrea has them in my office."

"Sounds like a plan."

"Come to mine tonight," Mycroft said, smiling. "Bring clothing for tomorrow."

***

Actually dating Mycroft was more comforting that Greg had expected. Keeping it from Sherlock was impossible, but they'd both known that going into it. Greg was a bit amused that Sherlock had deduced it from Mycroft, not him, but it was still a trial dealing with the temper tantrum. Sherlock was angry. John fell out more on the appalled end of the scale, given how little he thought of Mycroft. Greg was annoyed with both of them, but at least Sherlock's pique meant he didn't show up demanding cases for over a month.

Neither Greg nor Mycroft kept reliable hours, so getting time together could be hard, but when they were together, it felt right. Neither of them were perfect, of course, so there were inevitable moments of tension and disagreements. Greg tended to have more of a temper than Mycroft, but Mycroft had walls of ice that would go up when he was feeling angry or hurt, and it took patience to get through them afterwards.

"You can't treat me like Sherlock when you're angry, Mycroft. I'm not Sherlock. I can't read your mind and know what you need. If I don't know why you're angry, I can't do anything to fix it. Please," Greg said, after one particularly icy evening at his little flat. "I mean, I don't even know if you're properly angry at me, or if it's something else."

Mycroft's glower softened. He sighed and deliberately tried to relax his shoulders. "It's not you," he murmured. "It's Sherlock. Again."

"What's he done this time?" Greg brought Mycroft a glass of wine and sat with him on the sofa. He slipped an arm around Mycroft's shoulders as Mycroft drank the glass down.

"You know I can't give you details."

"Of course."

"It's a case that I put him on some months ago, before the end of last year. There was… an uncertain resolution, and I asked him to step back. He did not. Things have become extremely tangled and," he looked up at Greg, "Moriarty's involved."

"Oh Jesus," Greg whispered. The man was a lunatic. A deeply dangerous one. "No wonder you're upset."

"I appreciate your patience more than I can say. There are times when I fear my moods will drive you away." He set the glass down and turned to Greg; they wrapped their arms around each other, close and warm.

"Why are you and Sherlock always at each other like that? I don't understand why he's always so angry at you. Why he's so eager to do the opposite of what you ask of him. So often it seems like he's deliberately out to hurt you."

Mycroft buried his face in Greg's neck. "It's complicated," he said, his voice muffled by Greg's skin.

"Nothing with either of you is ever simple. I'm here if you want to tell me."

Mycroft leaned back a little, still in their embrace, but he could now look at Greg. "Family is always very difficult to talk about." Greg brushed Mycroft's loose curl back from his forehead and waited patiently. It was really the only way to get anything out of the man. "I think it starts before Sherlock, actually."

"This is going to take a while, isn't it?"

Mycroft nodded. "Perhaps tea is in order."

"Talk to me. I'll make some." The flat was small enough that him putting the kettle on wasn't going to interrupt the conversation.

"Mummy was… not eager to have children. She had a promising career as a professor of mathematics when she became pregnant. It would have been perfectly understandable, if not particularly socially acceptable, had she chosen to terminate the pregnancy." Greg didn't react to the statement, but he did find the thought of Mycroft not existing more than a little painful. "Be that as it may, I always felt that she was at least somewhat resentful of my presence. I was a quiet child; undemanding, more interested in books than anything else, and not particularly inclined to physical activity.

"When I did want attention or affection, I was usually given some sort of sweet in an attempt to distract me. This eventually resulted in my being fat, as well as inactive. Mummy didn't find it particularly attractive, but I complained so little that I was tolerated. A few years later, she decided that I perhaps needed some company, and Sherlock arrived. He was, as you might imagine, quite the opposite of me temperamentally. He was an active, laughing child. Really quite charming, and very pretty. Being seven years the elder, Mummy made him my responsibility when she hadn't the time or energy to deal with him, which was frequently. We were inseparable."

"Pushed into a parental role, way too soon," Greg said. It was much as he'd suspected.

"In essence."

"Where was your dad in all this?"

"He's always been cheerfully content to follow along with whatever Mummy wanted, a charming and not particularly intellectual companion for her. They share a mutual love of dancing and musical theatre. It seems to be enough to knit them together." Mycroft wouldn't look at him.

Greg brought a mug of tea back into the lounge for both of them and sat on the sofa with Mycroft. "Doesn't sound like either of them were very present for you."

"I found benign neglect better than the previous years of active resentment. We were home-schooled until I was fifteen, and Sherlock eight." He picked up his mug, holding it between his palms as though he needed the warmth. Greg slipped an arm around his back and Mycroft leaned into him slightly. "Mummy eventually decided that enough was enough, and that we required socializing with others our own age. I could never see the point. Sherlock and I had become our own miniature society by then, able to hold entire conversations without a word. I'd taught him how to deduce but, unlike me, he had to constantly show off his skills rather than making use of them. It led to a great deal of embarrassment for all of us, and he never seemed to quite understand why."

"Still hasn't learned, has he?" Greg grumbled.

Mycroft drank his tea. "I was accepted at Cambridge at fifteen. Sherlock was shipped off to a boarding school not long after I left, which he resented deeply. He was, as is so common in those institutions, bullied rather fiercely for being different, and he hadn't developed any sort of defense against it, having had little interaction with other children. His greater intellect made him a threat to them, and his talent for deduction was considered freakish. He was no longer the beloved center of attention that he had been at home. He felt that my departure was the reason Mummy no longer wanted him; that I had caused her to cease caring for him."

"But that's--"

"Neither accurate nor useful, I know. I've attempted many times over the years to explain things to him, but his resentment grew, as did his interest in illicit substances, without me to help him occupy his mind."

"I don't understand why he hasn't moved on from that."

Mycroft shrugged. "To a certain extent, he has, but patterns developed in youth are often quite difficult to break. Our relationship is not quite so antagonistic as it used to be. I've done my best to take care of him but I do have other responsibilities. I can't tell you how many times I've had to find him when he's gone to ground in a drug-addled stupor. It's nearly ruined my career more than once."

"You still love him, though." Greg tightened his arm around Mycroft.

"He's my brother." He looked Greg in the eyes. "You must understand that things are never entirely as hostile as they might seem from outside. And there are circumstances under which it can be useful for us to appear more distant from one another than we actually are. There have been instances when people have attempted to use him against me, and we've both found it to our advantage to present our relationship as combative. It would be prudent if you didn't believe everything you imagine is happening between us." Mycroft shook his head. "Sherlock is rather fond of painting me as his 'archenemy' when nothing could be further from the truth."

"Does he even know how much you care about him?"

"Not that he'd ever acknowledge, no."

Greg kissed Mycroft's cheek. "It's all so complicated with you two."

Mycroft chuckled, humorless. "You should meet our parents. You'd be properly puzzled. Anyone might think they were rather dotty and entirely ordinary. Mummy, at least, is anything but."

"That… would be interesting."

"Please," Mycroft said. "I wouldn't wish it upon you. I'm not certain I'd tolerate it well, either."

"Is there anything at all I can do to… I don't know, ease the way a little? Sometimes?"

Mycroft shook his head and sighed. "No. Sherlock and I, we are what we are. He's worse when he's lost in his addictions, but he's correct that I'm overprotective. I'm not sure I know how to be anything else. Neither of us wants to expose our vulnerabilities."

"You do it with me." Mycroft leaned into Greg, and Greg eased himself back into the corner of the sofa to let them rest together with Mycroft in his arms.

"I feel safe with you," Mycroft said. "It isn't something I've ever experienced with anyone else. I keep worrying that it will be torn out from under me at some point." He burrowed into Greg's arms. "I don't know what I'd do if I lost what I have with you."

Greg rested his chin on the top of Mycroft's head, as Mycroft set his mug down and pillowed his head on Greg's chest. "I hope we'll never have to find out, love."

***

Despite their unfortunate tendency to get derailed by work, they eventually fell into a rhythm where they could see each other every few days, and they called each other frequently. That made it harder much when Greg hadn't heard from Mycroft in several days. He knew his lover was busy and that something really classified and critical was happening, so he hadn't tried calling because he didn't want to disturb Mycroft. He figured a call would just go to voicemail, and that Mycroft would let him know when things had gone back to something resembling normal. Greg's day had been long and exhausting, with an arrest and a long interrogation session, and he'd been glad to get home; he wanted nothing more than a quick dinner and to drop into bed.

His phone rang and he grabbed it from the coffee table with a groan. It had best not be Sherlock, he thought. The last thing he needed right now was to be dragged out on something new. He held it up to his ear without looking. "What?" he snapped, before he realized that it might be Mycroft.

"I"m about five minutes away," Andrea said.

"Wait, what? Is Mycroft all right?" He stopped where he stood, the idea of food suddenly turning to ash in his stomach.

"He's unharmed, but I'm taking you to him. I'll explain when I arrive."

She rang off and Greg hurried to put an overnight bag together, because something like this wasn't likely to be ten minutes and then back home. He finished moments before the buzzer for the door to his building rang, and he let Andrea in, ready to go when she arrived at the door to his flat. "Come on," he said, bolting down the stairs toward the car he knew would be waiting. There would be time enough to talk when they were on their way.

Once they were safely in the car, he asked, "What the hell happened? What should I expect? And we're not headed toward his flat, where are we going?"

"The country house," she said. "We'll be about an hour and a half." Greg had never been there, not because Mycroft was unwilling to take him, but because they'd not had a free weekend together since Bath a couple of months ago, and Mycroft had wanted them to have time together there. "There was an extremely complicated situation that's been brewing for some months that just came to a head in the last few days. I received word on my way to get you that it hasn't resulted in a complete disaster, but it very nearly did. He's not going to be best pleased with Sherlock, but things are much calmer than they were two hours ago."

"Is he all right?"

"Let's just say that had things not turned out as they have, we might be attempting to extricate his brother from a treason charge."

Greg sank back into the seat, his head spinning. "Good Christ."

"Yes." Andrea was not in the least amused. "It was an extremely stressful few days, and the situation went down to the wire. I'm uncertain what his mood will be like, but at least Sherlock and the other party won't be there when you arrive." Her attention was fixed on her Blackberry, typing away.

Greg didn't think he should ask who the 'other party' was, not that he thought he'd get an answer if he did. If the situation had resolved well, he hoped Mycroft wasn't going to be too much of a mess, but that depended entirely on what the previous few days had looked like. "Is it possible I can get something to eat sent in to the two of us when I get there? I haven't eaten since a sarnie around lunchtime and my stomach's about to eat its way out of my body. I'd been hoping for something quick and a few solid hours of sleep. Got my doubts about the sleep, but food would probably be a good idea."

"Of course. I suspect he'll be wanting something as well. I've already arranged for dinner for both of you." She didn't look up. "You may wish to try to get a nap while we're en route. I can't say how long he'll want to be up once you get there. It can take hours for him to decompress after this kind of stress."

Greg sighed. She was probably right. He was feeling the lack of sleep, but not sure he could relax enough to sleep at this point. Then again, the soft motion of the car was fairly soothing. He laid his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes.

He must have been more exhausted than he'd thought, because the next thing Greg knew, Andrea was waking him as the car rolled up a long drive into an impressive looking country estate. He'd known Mycroft had money, but this was big and well cared-for. A lot of country houses were in sketchy shape, and many of them were open to tourists or operated as museums, just to get the funds for maintenance. This place showed no signs of that.

Aside from the exterior security lights, only a few parts of it were lit, but it was getting late and he couldn't imagine there was any need to light rooms that weren't actively being used. He got out of the car and grabbed his bag, following Andrea inside, past a couple of bulky security men. Greg was pretty sure he recognized one, but not the other. It wasn't like he'd been personally introduced to everyone who worked for Mycroft. He knew a couple of the drivers, but that was about it. The guards nodded to him and Andrea as they entered the house.

The door led into an entry with a huge staircase going up to the first floor, decorated with old paintings, many of which looked an awful lot like Mycroft. Andrea led him off down a corridor to the left, where they met Mycroft, who was waiting for them in a drawing room.

Mycroft looked shaken but not overwhelmed. "Thank you, Andrea. There's no need for you to return to London tonight if you'd prefer to stay."

"I think I shall," she said. "I'll leave you to your conversation. Dinner has been arranged if you wish to retire to your room, sir. Food will be waiting there for you within about five minutes."

"That's precisely what I need at this point," he said. Mycroft held a hand out to Greg, who twined his fingers with Mycroft's. "You look exhausted, Greg."

Greg nodded. "I hear you've had a really rough time."

"Given that we're both exhausted, we'll skip the tour of the grounds," Mycroft said. He led them up the grand staircase and off to one side. There were old weapons on the walls, and more paintings. The corridor was dim, but lit enough for them to see where they were going. Mycroft stopped at a room and opened the door. It opened into a huge bedroom, with a small table and chairs where food had been laid out. One wall had a fireplace, with a Persian rug and a couple of comfortable looking chairs in front of it. There was a desk, as well, and the bed was large and very elegantly appointed.

The food smelled fantastic. Some kind of chicken thing with vegetables, not that Greg really cared at that point. He just needed something to stuff into his mouth so that he didn't pass out from hunger. "Thanks for this," Greg said. They sat at the little table together, their legs tangled beneath. "Andrea said things were really rough, and that Sherlock was involved."

Mycroft nodded. "The situation from this past winter that I'd hoped was resolved suddenly blew up. It exposed a long-term project that I'd been involved with." He sighed, looking defeated and angry. "Lives were lost, and Sherlock's ego was at least partly to blame."

"I'm sorry. It's over now, though?"

"I don't think so. Moriarty stands, once again, at the periphery, and I'm quite certain we've not seen the last of him."

"Is there anything that can be done?"

"Not at this point," Mycroft said. "We've managed, barely, to thwart this particular scheme, but I'm uncertain where it will lead. We can only remain vigilant, and hope that Sherlock has learned a lesson about his need to show off."

Greg groaned. "We both know how likely that is."

"He was contrite." Mycroft and Greg ate for a few minutes before Mycroft spoke again. "This was serious enough that I have some hope of an attitude adjustment."

"And how are you, coming out of all this?" Greg set his fork down, dinner finished.

"Terminally stressed," Mycroft grumbled, "and staring down a minimum of two days of debriefings. It's going to be horrific. I'm sorry that you were brought out here with no notice. Andrea had gone to fetch you before I realized she'd left."

"It's okay," Greg said.

"It's not," Mycroft insisted. "When I wake tomorrow I'll be certain that you're given a bit of leeway to arrive by lunchtime, rather than first thing in the morning. It's the least I can do to make up for this."

"If you don't actually want me here, that's one thing. If you do, then I'm grateful as hell that she brought me, even if I get in to work late tomorrow."

Mycroft raised an eyebrow. "If you should ever even imagine for one instant that I would be ungrateful for your presence, then I have failed miserably in conveying my meaning. It's after midnight. I've not slept in nearly two days. You've obviously had an exceedingly long day yourself. I was expressing concern for your wellbeing."

"Two days? Mycroft, you need to get some sleep."

"We both do. Why don't we finish up here and go to bed?"

"Where do I take the tray?" Greg asked.

"We can just set it outside the door. The housekeeper will be along to pick it up before either of us wakes."

Greg started to put things on the tray. "Convenient, that."

"At moments like this, a staff certainly has its uses." Mycroft helped him, and soon they were curled up in bed together, Greg's head resting on Mycroft's chest. He'd missed this and found himself wishing for another weekend like the one they'd had in Bath, where it was just them, with nothing hanging over their heads.

"You're thinking much too loudly," Mycroft murmured. He ran his fingers through Greg's hair, slow and gentle.

"Sorry. Was just wishing for a couple of days to ourselves sometime soon." The slow thud of Mycroft's heart under his ear was comforting.

"As soon as I can find space to breathe, we can try planning something." Mycroft pressed a kiss into Greg's hair. "There is something I'd like you consider, however." Mycroft's pulse speeded slightly.

"Hmm?" Greg was already half asleep, but the tension he heard in Mycroft's heartbeat snapped his eyes open. "What is it?"

"You needn't answer right now, but would you like to move in with me?"

Greg leaned up on one elbow and looked down into Mycroft's eyes in the dim light coming in through the window. "You want me to live with you?" His own heart was beating faster at the thought of it.

Mycroft reached up and cupped Greg's cheek in the palm of one hand. "It would make sense. Neither of us is happy with the amount of time we're able to spend together, living separately. This way, there's some chance we could spend at least a little time most days in one another's presence."

"I… yes! Yeah, that sounds… I'd love that. Are you sure? But, I mean, what am I going to do with my stuff? It's not like any of my things are exactly going to blend in with anything of yours." That bit did worry him. "If I move into your house, it'll be all your space. I'm just concerned I'm going to end up with my things in a corner somewhere. Am I really going to be welcome there?"

Mycroft paused, mouth open, and his brow wrinkled. He tensed slightly. "I… hadn't considered that."

"How about this," Greg said. "I give you an enthusiastic yes, with logistics to be negotiated?"

Mycroft's tension eased. "That's quite acceptable. We'll need to make time this weekend to discuss it. I need to deal with the aftermath of this situation, and give myself a little time to consider my house, as well."

"It's all right, love," Greg said, kissing him. "I'm over the moon that you've asked. I just need to be sure it'll be my home, too."

Mycroft nuzzled Greg's nose. "That will never be in question, my dear. The only issue is how we shall deal with the situation."

Greg nodded, kissing him again. "Sounds good." He lay back down in Mycroft's arms feeling tired and happy and safe. Anything else that needed doing, they'd deal with it later. This was enough for now.

***

It took a couple of months to actually work out the balance between Mycroft's London house and Greg's things. The books and DVDs were easy enough - all they required was a little space on the shelves. Other bits weren't quite so easy. Mycroft went as far as hiring an interior decorator to incorporate the items Greg wanted to keep. There were several vociferous debates, and a few rooms that didn't change at all, but most of the space eventually blended into something that took both of them into account, and Greg had space of his own, as well. By the time they were done, Greg felt like it was his home, too.

With the shared house, Greg found that he was also sharing unexpected Sherlock visits. While he'd had them at his own place, they'd been fairly rare. Mycroft had them a couple of times a month. They were often strained, and sometimes turned into shouting matches.

Greg wasn't happy at all when he went to Baker Street with some files to ask for help and Sherlock tried to argue with him about Mycroft. "I can't understand why you'd actually live with him. It wasn't enough that he was following your every move on CCTV and manipulating you from elsewhere, you had to dive into the deep end of it for even more? Really, Lestrade, your capacity to endure abuse at close range never ceases to amaze me."

John snorted with amusement and Greg glared at Sherlock. "My 'capacity to endure abuse at close range' was pretty much defined by my work with you. If you want me to continue to do so, I'd really suggest shutting the hell up about the fact that I'm in a relationship with your brother."

"How's it gone over at the Yard?" John asked. "Has anyone given you trouble about dating a man? Do they know it's Sherlock's brother?"

"Hasn't come up outside of HR, actually," Greg told him. He looked over at Sherlock. "I'd kind of like to keep it that way, if you don't mind. It's nobody's business who I'm living with unless I want to tell them. And why the hell do you have to show up and shout at your brother all the time, anyway? Insulting texts just not exciting enough for you?"

"It'll come out eventually," Sherlock told him. "Better to get it out of the way now."

Greg shook his head. "Yeah, that's a conversation I'm looking forward to having with my team. 'By the way, everyone, I'm living with Sherlock's brother now. Just thought you'd be interested, ta.'"

"Nobody's seen you getting picked up after work?" John asked.

"I take the tube unless the weather's shite. Not that anyone really pays attention."

Sherlock caught him with a sharp glance. "Oh, believe me, people are paying attention. You've put yourself at risk, moving in with him."

Greg sighed and sat in the Client Chair. "Look, Mycroft and I talked about that before we ever got to the point of living together. You realize that I've got enemies, too, right? It's not like no copper in the history of policing has ever had family members targeted by the criminals they've dealt with. If either of us were afraid of that, we'd both be living alone forever. Look at you - that lunatic Moriarty strapped John into a bloody vest full of explosives! Do you think John should stop living here? Stop working with you? Just in case that madman tries something again?"

Sherlock's face turned positively grim. "Don't imagine I've never contemplated it."

"Like I'd leave," John said, dismissive.

"This is why my brother insists that caring is not an advantage," Sherlock growled. "He's right. It's miserable. Caring interferes with the Work. Life would be much easier without it. Alone protects us."

"Yeah, well, that's not going to happen," Greg said. "Like it or not, I love your brother, and you are not going to change that by being in a constant snit about it. Now, are you going to look at these cases or not?"

Greg was there for the better part of another hour before he'd persuaded Sherlock to look at the cases, and it was a relief to finally get some useful notes about the things he and his team had missed. He was glad to finish up and head over to the pub quiz for a few hours after work. He still went by most Tuesday evenings when he wasn't too busy, and had a fair number of friends there after so many months.

It was good to sit with a pint and catch up with everyone. Peter and Jacob inevitably asked him about Mycroft, even knowing they'd likely never meet him.

"You're looking a bit done in today, Greg," Peter said.

Greg took a sizable gulp from his pint. "Sherlock again."

"Oh, what this time?" Jacob asked.

Greg sighed. "Nothing new. He just can't seem to get over the fact that I'm living with his brother. Seems like every time he sees me he goes off on it. John mostly keeps it to a minimum, but there's always at least one comment."

"I wish he'd keep it to himself," Jacob grumbled. "You're so happy with Mycroft. Why can't he just be happy for the two of you?"

"He thinks he's protecting me. I know it sounds weird, but that's how he feels."

Peter shook his head. "Sounds like he needs to get laid. Might take some of the starch out of him."

Greg laughed. "Sherlock? He thinks his body's only transport. I can't see him being interested in anybody in a physical sense. I think he's mad about John, but not in a getting a leg over kind of way."

"Maybe he's jealous," Jacob said, looking up as the next question was asked for the quiz. They all put their heads together briefly and Peter scribbled their answer.

"I don't know," Greg said. "I'm never sure what's going on in Sherlock's mind. Sometimes I really do need his help, and if we manage to get a serial killer off the streets faster, it's worth dealing with his attitude. Unfortunately, some of my team doesn't agree with me on that."

"Murderers being put away seems like a pretty valid reason to deal with him," Jacob agreed.

The next question happened to be about serial killers, and Greg was on top of it.

An hour or so later, when the winning teams were announced, Greg headed out. Peter and Jacob walked down to the tube with him. As they crossed the street at the light, Greg heard the sound of squealing tires and turned to look. The car was coming at him fast from the curb, and he dove out of the way. It didn't strike him full on, but clipped him with the wing mirror, and his body exploded in agony. The impact spun him and threw him to the pavement, where he skidded for a metre or so, leaving him gasping on the ground.

He heard Peter calling for an ambulance, then the police. Jacob knelt and held onto Greg, trying to reassure him as he curled into himself. Greg tried to focus enough to think.

"Did you see the car?" Jacob asked. A crowd was starting to gather around.

"Yeah," Peter said, "but not the number plate. It looked deliberate. Greg stepped into the zebra crossing and they tried to hit him on purpose."

"Did anyone see the number plate?" Jacob asked the crowd. There were a lot of mutters, but apparently nothing useful.

Peter crouched down beside Greg and Jacob. He put a hand on Greg's shoulder. "Can you talk to us, Greg?"

"Ohhh bloody buggering hell," Greg groaned. "Hurts like a son of a bitch." He was in too much pain to let go of his side.

 

"You didn't hit your head on anything?" Jacob helped Greg sit.

"I don't know, I don't think so." Greg shifted his weight and hissed at the pain in his hip.

"Oh, you're bleeding," Peter said, upset. Greg drew his left hand up away from his side and grimaced when he saw the blood. He tried to get up, but neither of them would let him. "Just stay right there, Greg. Police and an ambulance are on the way."

"I'm okay," Greg insisted, not really feeling it. He didn't think he'd be able to stand, the way his entire side and back were aching.

"You're not, you're bleeding," Jacob said. "This wasn't a football pitch, Greg, it was hard pavement. The paramedics will tell you if you're okay. You are not in any condition to be making that determination by yourself."

Greg grumbled and leaned back against Jacob, who sat on the sidewalk with him to give him a little support. He rummaged in his pocket for his mobile with the hand that wasn't scraped all to hell and called Mycroft.

"Greg?" Mycroft would be expecting him to just come home, not to call. "Did you get called in on a case? You're not on call tonight."

"No. I got hit by a car in a zebra crossing." Mycroft started to speak, and he could hear the stress just in the sound of his voice, but Greg interrupted. "I'm speaking to you right now, so it can't be all that bad. There are officers and an ambulance on the way. I'm going to need some x-rays, but I don't think it's that awful."

"What emergency department will they be taking you to?"

"Whatever's closest, I'm not sure." He could hear the siren in the distance. "Look, emergency personnel are going to be arriving in a minute. I need to go, but I wanted to let you know what was going on." It was a bit of a struggle to keep his voice even, due to the pain.

 

"I'll meet you at the hospital," Mycroft said. "I expect you to cooperate with everything that the medical personnel tell you."

"I will, promise," Greg said, ringing off.

The panda and the ambulance arrived within minutes of each other. Greg answered the paramedics' questions as best he could, and they decided he definitely needed x-rays.

Peter, Jacob, and a few of the bystanders talked to the officers, but there really wasn't much that anyone could say beyond a vague description of the car that had hit him.

"We'll come to hospital when we're done here," Peter said. "Want to make sure you're all right."

Greg nodded as the ambulance crew hefted him up into the vehicle on a gurney. An officer got into the ambulance with him to get his statement as they headed to hospital. The paramedics had to cut up his trousers to get at the lacerations on his hip and leg that had been caused when he'd skidded through some broken glass. They gave him pain medication while they were at it. Greg didn't look forward to going home in scrubs, but at least with Mycroft, it would be a short trip to wherever the car would be parked.

He waited in miserable discomfort once they arrived at emergency. Even though he'd arrived in an ambulance, it was still going to be a while before he got taken for the x-rays. There were always things that were more important, if you weren't actively dying when they rolled you in. His bleeding had been stopped, and he wasn't having trouble with his heart or his breathing, so it was time to wait.

The x-rays showed no broken bones and that they'd removed all the glass, but he did require a few stitches on his leg. He'd bumped his head, but didn't have enough concussion symptoms to keep him overnight. He was sent home with two days worth of diazepam, paracetamol, anti-inflammatories, and instructions to rest for two or three days before he tried to walk too much. "There'll be a lot of bruising," the doctor told him. "You're going to have a fair bit of pain and you'll probably not be able to move much at first. You're going to feel it from your neck on down for quite a while."

Mycroft, Peter,and Jacob were all waiting for him when he was rolled out in a wheelchair. "Nothing broken," he told them. "I'm just supposed to take it easy for a few days." He smiled up at Peter and Jacob, trying to present a good face through the pain and the drugs. "You lot didn't have to wait here all night for me. It's well past midnight now, and I'm not here on my own."

"Wanted to make sure you'd be going home tonight," Jacob said.

Peter nodded. "It's okay, we finally got to meet Mycroft."

"We had a pleasant conversation," Mycroft said, commandeering the wheelchair. He looked at Peter and Jacob. "It is, however, quite late and I should take my errant partner home."

Greg sighed. "Yeah, the pain meds are making me groggy. I'm not likely to last too much longer as it is. Thanks, both of you."

They made their goodbyes, and then Mycroft wheeled him out to the car. "Carefully, Greg." He and the driver helped Greg into the seat, and Mycroft went round to the other side to get in. "Your friends filled me in on what happened, and my own investigations while you were indisposed turned up a vehicle that vanished from CCTV records not long after it departed from where you were hit. You were deliberately targeted."

Greg leaned into Mycroft, resting against him. "A murder attempt?" If so, it was a clumsy one.

"No, if you'd been wanted dead, you'd be dead. This was intended as a warning."

"I don't think I have any enemies who could pull off a vanishing vehicle," Greg said.

"I concur. Had it been aimed at Sherlock, the most likely victim would have been John. Logically, therefore, I must now narrow down the list of my own enemies to discover who is currently most likely to want to send me a message."

"Sherlock was going on about crap like that today, trying to put me off you again. Of course." Greg turned his head on Mycroft's shoulder. "And you have a list. That'll have to be narrowed down." Mycroft wrapped a careful arm around him.

"Mmm. Yes. And I am extremely angry that you were caught in the crossfire. When I discover the culprit, steps will definitely be taken. In the meantime--"

"You want to put security on me." Greg wasn't sure he was in the mood to argue. He hurt like hell, and he was going to be out of work for a few days as it was.

Mycroft pressed a kiss to Greg's head. "Can you blame me? If our situations were reversed, would you not wish to protect me?"

Greg couldn't argue with that. He would. He'd do anything in his power to take care of Mycroft. He wasn't sure how he felt about security, but he understood Mycroft's concern. "Can we maybe talk about this when I'm not drugged to the gills and in too much pain to focus?" he asked.

"Of course. We'll be home soon. Just rest."

He needed a fair bit of help getting up the stairs to the bedroom when they got home. Greg leaned on the bannister on one side with Mycroft supporting him on the other, trying not to put much weight on his leg. His back was giving him grief as well. So was his arm, for that matter. Damn, he hurt fucking everywhere.

His trousers had been cut off of him for his x-rays and so he had, as he suspected, needed to go home wearing scrubs. Mycroft was careful, helping him undress. He got a flannel and some warm water and made sure that there wasn't any blood left on Greg's skin, as well, because they'd been more concerned with cleaning the lacerations and stitching him than making sure he was clean anywhere else.

Greg lay there, groggy but still in a lot of pain, as Mycroft arranged for him to have the next three days off. "Roll over now," he said when he put down his phone. "I can see your back is giving you a great deal of trouble. Let me attempt to ease it somewhat."

It took some effort by that point but, with Mycroft's help, Greg managed to flop over onto his stomach. Mycroft got out some massage oil and did some really gentle work up and down Greg's back, from the base of his spine to his heels. It didn't fix anything, but it did help him relax enough to let him sleep.

***

The next day was pure misery and Greg could barely move. Mycroft had to work, but came back home at midday to check on him. Greg slept through the morning and had only been awake for about an hour when Mycroft came in. He sat on the bed and rested a careful hand on Greg's chest. "How are you? Have you taken your pain medication?"

Greg groaned. "Yeah. Still feel like shite though."

"I assume you'll want a little help to get to the toilet."

Greg reached up for Mycroft's assistance, knowing he'd take way too long to stagger there alone. "I hate this," he grumbled.

"I entirely sympathize," Mycroft said, letting him do his business then helping him back to bed. "It might offer some small comfort to know that we have, at least, figured out who did this to you." Mycroft did not, as Greg would have expected from the statement, look smug.

"Has anybody arrested the bastard?"

"That… won't be quite so easy." Mycroft was uneasy and looked away, his hand still in Greg's.

"Somebody untouchable." Greg didn't shake his head because that would have hurt too much.

"Moriarty."

"Bugger."

"Yes. You mentioned Sherlock had been warning you off me again last night, so I went to speak with him this morning. Although he was reluctant, we did have a conversation, and your injury convinced him to supply me with information about some of the threads he's been tracing."

Greg sighed. "And the threads led to our favorite mad bomber."

"We're exceedingly lucky it was only a warning." Mycroft looked grim.

"I don't feel lucky," Greg said, rolling gingerly onto his uninjured side to face Mycroft. "Thankfully, I don't feel dead, either. What are we going to do?"

Mycroft squeezed his hand. "Watch. Wait. Attempt to anticipate his next move." He looked up at Greg. "Putting security on you won't help, I'm afraid." The worry in Mycroft's eyes left Greg unsettled.

"Yeah, didn't think so." Mycroft leaned down to kiss Greg, soft and slow. Greg closed his eyes, wanting to block out everything but the sensation of Mycroft's lips on his. He looked up into Mycroft's eyes when they were done. "I couldn't do my job if there was security on me, anyway. You know that as well as I do."

"It doesn't stop me from wishing I could do more to protect you."

"What the hell does he want, though? What was he warning you about? What was he warning you away from? I just don't get it." Greg eased himself flat onto his back, hissing at the pain.

Mycroft brushed hair back from Greg's forehead. "What strands Sherlock gave me, I can't share with you. I'm sorry. You haven't the clearance."

"Of course not." Greg was less angry than uneasy. "I knew we'd have to deal with this kind of situation at some point -- me ending up involved in something that intersected with your lot, and you not being able to tell me anything."

"It's going to remain an unfortunate feature of our life together," Mycroft admitted.

"I know."

Mycroft brought Greg a little lunch and then went back to work. The next two days were painful as well, but by the third day Greg was at least able to move around without help again. He was glad he had the weekend, so he could be at home for another two days before he had to go back to work. He might be able to do something other than just sit at a desk dealing with reports and meetings by then. Slowly. While dosed with paracetamol.

***

"Peter Ricoletti," Greg said, "do you know of him?"

Sherlock looked up at Greg from where he was slouched in his chair. "On Interpol's Most Wanted list since 1982? Of course." He sat up from his slouch, eyes narrowed. "What do you have?'

"Reason to believe he's in London," Greg said, smiling, holding a file up and waggling it temptingly. "Will you have a look?"

Sherlock snagged the file from his hand and flipped through it quickly. "You actually believe Ricoletti is here based on this? I'm impressed," he said.

"Well, it is my job," Greg grumbled. "I clear up cases all the time without your help. Just thought you'd find this interesting."

"And much faster with me giving you the answers. At least you listen, when so many of those idiots at Scotland Yard don't." Sherlock re-read a few pages. "For what it's worth, I think you're actually correct on this one."

The case involved three murders. One of the victims, Jack Fanetto, was a man who had known associations with Ricoletti. Rumor had it that they'd had a falling-out, and Greg was certain it meant Ricoletti was in the city. He'd been acting on a hunch when he brought the case to Sherlock and was pleased to see that the man agreed with him. Half the people he'd floated the theory by told him he was mad to think someone like Ricoletti would actually be in London if he'd ordered a hit. Greg thought it was personal, and that Ricoletti was too confident to believe he'd be caught.

He took Sherlock and John to the murder locations, all in different parts of the city. All three had been executed with a single shot to the back of the head, and the other two victims had tenuous connections to Fanetto. Sherlock's examination of the scenes gave Greg more information to pursue. "These wouldn't have been the least bit interesting without the Ricoletti connection," Sherlock said.

"If we can find a way to get him, it'll be worth every minute of your potential boredom," Greg insisted.

Greg and his team spent the next three weeks following leads that Sherlock tossed their way, spiked with his usual snide comments and thoroughly inappropriate personal deductions and digs at everyone in the vicinity. Sherlock's comments were what finally called everyone's attention to the fact that, not only was Greg living with a man now, he was living with Sherlock's brother. It hadn't been Greg's choice of place or time for coming out, but life around Sherlock was what it was.

Donovan hadn't been best pleased, but he'd never expected her to be. She had a few choice words until Greg told her to leave his personal life out of it. As long as she didn't comment, and she did her job, that's all Greg really wanted.

They searched through half-filled shipping containers, raided warehouses that had been cleared within hours before their arrival, and tracked information to an abandoned ironworks structure at Leamouth. The place was huge and filthy, with entirely too many places to hide damned near anything. "There's something here," Sherlock insisted. "I'm certain of it."

The 'something' turned out to be a fourth body, executed like the other three. This one, Vasil Lomidze, was an arms dealer from Georgia. "This has suddenly got a lot bigger," Greg said. "It looks like Ricoletti's branching out from counterfeiting, extortion, and cybercrime."

"Just what we need," Donovan groaned. "At least we know we're getting closer."

Lomidze's flat had been turned upside down by the time they got there to search the place, but Sherlock found a carefully hidden safe behind a fake electrical outlet. "Here, Lestrade!"

Inside were documents that had actual evidence against Ricoletti. "It's the bloody Holy Grail," Greg said, stunned, as he leafed through them with gloved hands. "We'll need to get a search warrant for Ricoletti's house, and the warehouse that's listed here. If he's had this place searched, he was looking for this, and he might be spooked. Could do a runner."

Less than 24 hours later, they'd got teams together and informed Interpol about their plans. Ricoletti was taken at his house, in the midst of preparing to leave the country, but it was the warehouse that was the shock. Among the crates of military grade weapons was a container of fissionable material. Material that had been missing for months.

The press conference after the arrest was the highlight of Greg's month. Donovan and Anderson had taken up a collection to buy Sherlock one of those ridiculous deerstalker hats as a gag gift, in partial payment for the whacking great pain in the arse Sherlock had been during the investigation.

"You've really done an extraordinary job, Greg," Mycroft said that Friday night. "My own people had been looking for that fissionable material for nearly a year. I hadn't been able to get Sherlock onto the case at all. I'm astonished that it turned up in the Ricoletti raid."

"So am I, honestly. Something about it doesn't fit," Greg said, shaking his head. "Nuclear materials? Expanding to arms dealing is one thing; stuff that can be turned into nuclear bombs is another level entirely."

"It has me greatly concerned." Mycroft, who had been standing behind Greg as they both gazed out the window, slipped his arms around his lover. He rested his chin on Greg's shoulder and pressed his cheek to Greg's.

"I don't like it when things have you 'greatly concerned,'" Greg replied. "That usually involves utter chaos." Greg turned his head and nuzzled at Mycroft's cheek.

"Chaos," Mycroft murmured. "I suspect this will take a familiar form before we're done." His arms tightened around Greg's body. Mycroft sighed and kissed Greg's temple. "There's nothing further to be done about any of it this evening."

Both of them needed to unwind, and Mycroft took Greg out to a Greek restaurant for dinner so they could try to set their worries aside for a while. The food and wine were good, and Mycroft had got them a seat in a quiet corner, so they could both relax a little with a modicum of privacy. By the time they got home, both of them were feeling a little loose from the alcohol, and they had the weekend to look forward to.

"I've spent most of this week fending off people asking about you at work, thanks to your brother," Greg said as they got ready for bed.

"We both knew it would happen. It was only a question of when."

Greg sighed and shook his head. "In the middle of one of the biggest cases of my career isn't when I would have chosen."

Mycroft slid into bed and held the covers open for Greg to join him. "There's nothing anyone can do to you over it. You know that."

"It's true," Greg said, getting under the covers with him. "It's just annoying.They'll get over it soon enough."

Mycroft rolled to his side and pulled Greg into his arms. "There are things that can be done to take your mind off all of it," he said, kissing Greg, who returned the embrace.

"Just want to be with you for a while," Greg said, "not talk about work or your brother or anything else."

Mycroft smiled. "It would be my pleasure." He eased Greg onto his back and lay atop him, a warm, comfortable weight. They kissed, gentle open-mouthed brushes of lips slowly deepening into wet tongues and soft breath. Mycroft's hand moved on Greg's body, tracing his sides and over his chest.

"Missed this," Greg said. "Been so busy lately."

Mycroft nibbled on Greg's clavicle, then ran the tip of his tongue along the ridge of bone. "Your absence was noted," he murmured. "I trust, after a case as significant as this, you'll have at least the weekend with me?'

"Nobody at work would dare even look in my direction. The only potential disturbance would be your brother. Thankfully, the hat wasn't my idea, so I'm hoping he'll leave me alone."

"Let's keep my brother out of our bed," Mycroft grumbled.

"Far from it, I promise," Greg chuckled, then he turned serious. "Come here, you. I'm really in the mood for your cock inside me tonight." He took Mycroft's face between his hands and kissed him fiercely. "God, I want you. Fuck me," he said, his breath hot against Mycroft's lips.

"What do you want?" Mycroft asked. "Like this? From behind? Riding me?"

Greg grinned. "So many choices. I want to be on my knees for you, braced against the headboard. I want you to fuck me hard."

"Your back's still been giving you occasional twinges. You'll be all right?" Mycroft kissed the tip of Greg's nose, a bit of concern in his eyes.

"Should be fine, love. You've been so careful since I got hit and it was perfect, honestly, but right now I need a good, hard ride. I need a serious fucking."

Mycroft smiled back at him. "Then that's what you shall have."

They untangled and Greg got up on his knees and braced against the head of the bed. Mycroft prepared him with care until Greg was aching and needy and starting to sweat. He leaned the whole length of his body against Greg's back with the head of his cock nuzzled against Greg's hole. "Please," Greg begged. "Give it to me."

Mycroft slid into him with one strong thrust, groaning as his hips slapped against Greg's. Greg shuddered, his fingers clenching at the wood of the headboard. "Oh, god," he gasped. "Oh, fuck, that's good." The slick length of Mycoft's cock buried in him shot a wave of pleasure through him that had his already stiff cock feeling even harder and he pushed back against Mycroft's body. "More, please!"

It wasn't just the slick friction of penetration, or the way Mycroft's cock rubbed over Greg's prostate that felt so fucking good. So much of it was being on his knees for his lover, feeling how damned powerful the man was; not in any political sense, but the pure physical power of him. Sometimes what Greg really needed was to let someone else be in control, to feel that Mycroft was stronger, to know that he was held, safe, by someone taller than he was, someone who could hold him down and have his way with Greg's body.

He loved how it felt when Mycroft's arms were wrapped tight around him and Mycroft's hips pounded into him, the sounds Mycroft made when they were just fucking with all their strength, the way Greg's lungs strained for breath as they surrendered to that absolute, primal need for each other.

They were both sweating by the time Mycroft's thrusts started to lose their rhythm. Mycroft's mouth closed around the muscle of Greg's shoulder and his fist took Greg's cock in hand and started stroking, hard and fast. Greg moaned and shuddered, and he felt Mycroft coming, his hips stuttering. Mycroft bit down and Greg cried out as Mycroft stroked him through a hard, intense orgasm that left both of them collapsed on the bed, panting and boneless.

It took a few minutes before either of them could speak, much less move. With a groan, Mycroft rolled off Greg's back and flopped over onto his own, disposing of his condom. He looked into Greg's eyes. "You are magnificent," he rasped, his voice rough from the force of it all.

Greg huffed and smiled, still feeling a bit wobbly. "My arse is going to be sore tomorrow. Thank god I don't have to be anywhere."

Mycroft caressed Greg's back with one languid hand. "Not that I didn't enjoy it thoroughly, but what was that about? You don't usually want that unless you're distressed in some way."

He sighed and rested his head on his hands, just looking into Mycroft's eyes for a moment. "It's... " Greg took a breath and tried to collect his scattered thoughts. "Ricoletti," he said, "and the nuclear stuff. That's… I've dealt with antiterrorism cases before, dealt with bombs, but never--"

"Never like that," Mycroft said.

"No. Finding that, it was genuinely terrifying." Greg rolled onto his side and took Mycroft's hand. "I mean, it was different, when we were growing up, you know? This distant awareness that the world could end in a flash of light because the Americans and the Russians had all these nukes. But this? It was right here. It was right in the middle of my city. I was standing next to the bloody container. And it wasn't under any government's control, it was just some twat who'd decided he wanted to sell it to the highest bidder." Mycroft wrapped an arm around Greg and pulled him close. "It felt like the world really could end, right then. Tomorrow. Any minute," Greg murmured, his face buried in Mycroft's neck.

Mycroft cradled him in his arms and Greg just clung to him because Mycroft was right. Much as Greg loved the feeling of being fucked hard like that, it really did tend to be when he was feeling raw and out of control and vulnerable. "You know me so well," Greg whispered.

"So much of our world is smoke and mirrors, Greg," Mycroft said, his voice gentle. "There are so many things I can't tell you about my work, but I want you to know that these are the things I am always trying to prevent. In everything I do, I try to protect people. Whether it's Sherlock, or you, or the entire country, it's my most critical task." He kissed Greg and continued. "I see more of this sort of thing than you might imagine, and yes, it's always disturbing. Having you here with me has made this type of incident easier to deal with, and I'm relieved that I can help you, as well."

Greg sighed and relaxed in Mycroft's arms. "I'm glad I can help you, too."

"More than you'll ever know."

***

The reappearance of Moriarty happened in such an over the top, dramatic way that Greg was half-convinced he was hallucinating. How in bloody hell could anyone engineer simultaneous break-ins at the Bank of England, Pentonville Prison, and the Tower of London? Even more surreal was the fact that Moriarty was just sitting there on the throne, wearing all the royal regalia, waiting for them.

They had him dead to rights. He'd been so slippery with the bombings that Greg's entire team, working with Sherlock, had pulled together everything they'd ever had over the course of a couple of weeks for an absolutely airtight case. They didn't want a single potential error for the Judge or the jury to hesitate on. Greg checked every piece of evidence that the Met was going to present personally.

Moriarty didn't even bother offering a defense. There had to be a catch. Something had to be wrong, and Greg stayed on the proceedings with every bit of his attention. Defense did nothing. Moriarty himself oozed 'do not give a fuck' and it make Greg furious. Everything about the man sent horrified shivers down Greg's back. At one point while Greg was testifying, Moriarty had caught his eye and stared at him. It made Greg's skin crawl. If he'd been alone in a room with the man, he'd have feared for his life.

He'd had to be the face of the Metropolitan Police in the media during the "Trial of the Century," but that didn't mean he was happy to do the job. Everything about the case left him uneasy, and it was hard to conceal that when he was talking to the cameras. In his interviews, he simply stated that the Met believed they had a strong case, and that he believed the evidence would convict. Privately, talking to Mycroft, he was worried.

Mycroft and Sherlock's relationship seemed more stressed than usual as well, which made things awkward for Greg. They argued more and stayed distant longer. "Of course I worry about Sherlock," he told Greg, "but there's little I can do. You know he rarely listens to me, and now less than ever."

There wasn't anything Greg could do to bridge the widening gap between them, either, and it left him frustrated. He still had to work with Sherlock, especially over the days of the court case, but Sherlock's barbs about his brother became ever more pointed and vicious. Living with one and needing the help of the other added more stress to his life than he'd ever wanted, but he couldn't just give up on Sherlock.

When the Not Guilty verdict was handed down, it was like a punch in the gut. Something was wrong. Greg knew it had to be jury tampering, but there was no way to prove it, and the Judge hadn't made any kind of inquiry or objection to it.

Moriarty walked away with a vicious, smug smile, and vanished again, more terrifying than ever.

Sherlock's fame was on the rise, with so many high-profile cases in the news over the past few months. Some of it reflected on Greg, as well, and his own career was looking good, but the failure with Moriarty was hard to swallow. Sherlock didn't show up in his office again until Greg called him in on the kidnapping of the children of an American diplomat.

Just like always, Sherlock was bloody brilliant, pulling things seemingly out of thin air -- Donovan insisted it was out of his arse -- to find the place where the kids were being kept. Sure, Scotland Yard's forensics department might have got there eventually, but Greg knew it would have been much too late. The analysis of the material in the linseed oil on the kidnapper's boots and his subsequent determination of the location they were being kept was astonishing. Even with all that, they were nearly too late for the boy.

When Greg sent Sherlock in to talk to the little girl, she started screaming, and suddenly everything began falling apart.

Donovan, who had a long history of conflict with Sherlock, was insistent that his finding the location was too easy, too slick. "He could never have known that just from a footprint!" She and Anderson kept battering at Greg over the next couple of days, insisting that Sherlock was somehow faking the crimes. Then that he'd actually committed the crimes -- all of the ones he'd been involved in solving.

"That's bloody impossible!" Greg insisted. "What, are you going to tell me now that he somehow manipulated Peter Ricoletti -- who's been on the Interpol Most Wanted list since nineteen-fucking-eighty-two -- into arms dealing and stealing nuclear material? Or are you going to change your tune and say he was working for Ricoletti and turned on him? Because if he's a fake, it's got to be one or the other, and I don't find either of those choices in the least bit credible."

"Maybe not, but you have to admit, that little girl screaming at him, when she'd never seen him before, it's suspicious as hell."

Like it or not, Donovan had a point about the kid. Greg didn't believe it, but he couldn't ignore her, either. "Right," he grumbled. "We'll go talk to him."

"I'm looking forward to it," Donovan said.

"You're staying downstairs when I go up there," Greg said, pointing at her. "I don't need you exacerbating the situation. I might be able to persuade him to come talk to us if I go up alone. If you go in, there'll just be a fight, and nobody needs that."

Sherlock turned him away, telling him Moriarty was just trying to get a photo of him being hauled off by the police. That it was part of yet another sick game the bastard was playing. He knew it had been Donovan who'd suggested he was responsible for the kidnapping. Unfortunately, there wasn't much Greg could say except that he didn't actually believe Sherlock was responsible.

"He didn't come, did he?" Donovan said as they got back into the car. "Knew we'd have to get a warrant for him."

"I don't see how he could have done it," Greg insisted.

Donovan glared at him. "I'll make you see it, then," she said.

Less than two hours later, Greg was sitting in the hot seat in front of the Chief Superintendent, with Donovan and Anderson behind him like a couple of ravens waiting to eat his eyeballs on a battlefield. "Holmes, then. This Sherlock Holmes character. We've been consulting with him, is that what you're telling me?"

"Well, yes," Greg said. "He helped us not long ago on the Ricoletti case. He was here for the press conference. Surely you remember?"

Greg got a glare for his trouble. "He's just a bloody amateur! What the hell did you think you were doing? He's been given all kinds of access to classified information, and now he's a suspect in a case?"

"With all due respect, sir, I'm not the only senior officer who--"

"You're the only one who's been shagging his brother," Anderson said.

The Chief Super's eyes went wide. "What? You're shagging his brother? Do you have any idea how bad that's going to look for us, with him being a suspect?"

"His scary as fuck Home Office type brother," Anderson added.

"Why did nobody tell me this before?" the Chief Super shouted. "How bloody compromised are you, anyway, Lestrade? How do we know you're not involved in this? You're a bloody idiot! Now go and fetch him in right now!"

Greg hesitated. Objecting was going to get him into more trouble than he could imagine.

"Go, now! If you don't bring him in, I'll have you suspended!"

Anderson and Donovan hurried out, with Greg behind them. He grabbed his coat. This was going to get ugly as hell, he knew, and at this point his career was over anyway. He grabbed his coat and pulled his phone from the pocket, taking a moment to call John before everything went down. At least maybe it would give the two of them a head start, get them away from the madness before the whole bloody division came down on their heads. Every copper Sherlock had ever pissed off was going to want in on this.

Greg rang off quick enough to avoid the Chief Super seeing him calling as the man followed him out of his office. "Why are you still lingering here, Lestrade? Get moving!"

Greg threw his coat on and ran after Donovan and Anderson.

Less than three hours later, the best Greg could say for his night was that nobody had got shot, and that he'd put in enough effort toward arresting Sherlock that he wasn't suspended. Yet. God only knew what he was going to tell Mycroft when he got home. Whenever that would be.

He'd been up all night directing the search for Sherlock and John. Greg was exhausted and trying to keep himself awake with yet another cup of coffee, his office door closed to keep everything out while he thought and tried to figure out where the hell Sherlock could have gone. Around dawn, knowing Mycroft would be up, he finally managed to call him.

"Are you all right?" Mycroft asked as soon as he answered.

Greg sighed. "I have no bloody idea. Donovan's convinced everyone that Sherlock was responsible for the kidnapping case we were working on. Sherlock says it's more of Moriarty's mind games, and I believe him. I'd been sent to arrest him, and now Sherlock's on the wind. The Chief Super's baying for my head, and the fact that I live with you means I'm being looked at as a potential accessory to whatever the hell they decide Sherlock has done. The only reason I still have a desk right now is because they made me lead the team to go after him at Baker Street last night. I've no idea how long I can keep this up." He paused for a breath and Mycroft spoke before he could continue.

"I'm aware of much of this, Greg. I'm doing what I can from my end. I know that you had no real choice, and I'm sorry that our connection is causing problems for you; we were both aware that something like this was a possibility. Unless Sherlock comes to me, there's nothing I can do to help him right now. Stepping in to aid you is only likely to cause you further trouble. We may have to wait until Sherlock is in custody before either of us can take any kind of mitigating action."

"I'm worried sick, Mycroft. He was armed when he ran. It's entirely possible that he'll get shot if he's found. And if we don't get to him before Moriarty does--"

Mycroft's voice was solemn and intense. "Whatever happens, Greg, I know that you are doing everything you possibly can to ensure my brother's safety. I do not and will not blame you, regardless of the outcome of this situation."

Greg set his phone down for a moment and rubbed his face with both hands, grim and exhausted. He took it up again. "I only hope there's anything at all I can do. I tried to warn them, but Sherlock didn't… he didn't run before we got there. And god, if that gets out, that I warned them, I'll be arrested myself, for conspiracy."

"I will do everything I possibly can to protect you," Mycroft said. "I will take care of you, I promise."

"Right now," Greg said, "I just hope we all make it through today. I'm running on fumes and I'll have to be back out coordinating the search in a few minutes."

"Go, Greg, and do what you must. I have a number of necessary avenues to pursue from here, as well. And as soon as we are able, I will see you at home."

"I love you," Greg murmured, eyes closed, his forehead resting in one hand.

He could hear Mycroft breathing for a moment. "I love you, Greg. Be careful." He rang off before Greg could say anything else.

***

When Greg got the news about Sherlock's suicide, he was in shock. Even Donovan and Anderson were taken aback. Greg, overcome, asked for some personal time, and went to find Mycroft, heading back to their house on autopilot, barely registering that he was driving. It was a miracle he'd not got himself killed in the traffic.

Mycroft wasn't there when he got home. God, he'd probably gone to Barts to identify Sherlock's body. Molly probably had to deal with the whole mess, poor thing. Greg sank into a chair and wept. Who knew when Mycroft would be back? Greg didn't know what they would do. Mycroft had said that no matter what happened, they would get through it, but he wasn't so sure 'no matter what' included Greg's team pushing Sherlock to suicide.

The thought of losing both of them, of Sherlock's death and Mycroft leaving him because of it, shattered him. He sat, shivering and alone, as the sky darkened into dusk. He should have fought them, should have argued against arresting Sherlock, but so many of them had been convinced that Sherlock must somehow have been responsible. The little girl, the scream, as though she'd recognized him. Or someone who looked a lot like him, but that argument would never have got past Donovan and Anderson, who had ample reason to dislike Sherlock anyway.

Greg could hardly put thoughts together through his scrambled, shocked emotions. What had he done? How much of this had been his fault? Would Mycroft hate him? Leave him? Hell, would Mycroft even be able to look at him, given Greg's complicity in his brother's death? He knew how much Mycroft had loved Sherlock, despite that they fought constantly.

And Greg had always understood that, when it came down to a choice, Mycroft would choose Sherlock over him. For Mycroft, no matter what happened, no matter how much abuse he took from them, family would always come first.

John would never forgive him for what had happened.

Greg wasn't sure he'd ever forgive himself, for that matter. How could he?

He was still sitting in the same spot, in the dark, when Mycroft got home. The lights went on and Mycroft hurried across the room to him, pulling him to his feet and dragging him into his arms. "You're safe," Mycroft breathed, hands moving along his back, fingers trailing into his hair. "You're safe." Mycroft kissed his face over and over, then took his mouth in a searing kiss that left Greg stunned.

"What -- Mycroft --"

Mycroft rested his forehead against Greg's and said, "We couldn't be certain they'd be called off."

"What? Who?"

"Oh, don't gape like a fish, Lestrade."

Greg's head jerked up and he looked over Mycroft's shoulder at -- "Sherlock?" The voice was Sherlock's but his hair was put up under a hat and he was dressed like one of Mycroft's bureaucratic minions. Greg wouldn't have recognized him at a quick glance on the street, especially not since he was supposed to be dead.

Greg's head went a bit woozy, but Mycroft held him and he stayed on his feet. "You were -- John saw you jump!"

"John saw what he had to see." Sherlock looked at Mycroft. "He's obviously still in shock, brother mine. I'll make some tea while you explain things." Sherlock headed for the kitchen.

"What just happened? Does John know that Sherlock's okay? Is he all right? Why were you worried about me?" Mycroft still hadn't let go of him. Greg's fingers were fisted in the cloth of Mycroft's jacket. He thought he might be hyperventilating.

"Breathe, Greg. Please, sit down." Mycroft sat with him on the sofa. "Moriarty is dead."

"Christ."

"He'd been on the roof of St. Bartholomew's with Sherlock. He intended to force Sherlock to jump. We had anticipated this as a potential outcome and planned for it, though the situation was complicated by other threats." Mycroft cupped Greg's jaw in one hand and Greg listened, trying to slow his breathing. "There were snipers on John, Mrs Hudson, and you."

"Me?" Greg blinked and shook his head. "Bloody hell."

"They had been ordered to kill all of you if Sherlock did not jump. Moriarty killed himself to ensure that he could not be made to countermand the order."

"Where are the snipers now?"

"The mole inside Scotland Yard and the one at Baker Street have been dealt with. The one who was assigned to kill John still hasn't been located." Mycroft looked cold as death, and furious.

"Who was it? In Scotland Yard?" Greg couldn't believe that anyone on his team might have been bribed to kill him.

Mycroft shook his head. "No one you knew. You're safe for the moment."

"Does John know?"

Sherlock returned, bearing a tea tray, and set it on the table in front of the sofa. "He can't. Moriarty is dead, but his organization remains. If they find out that I'm alive, all three of you are still at risk."

"We have to find a way to destroy Moriarty's organization," Mycroft said.

"I told you, I'm going after them," Sherlock growled as he poured the tea.

"Not without sufficient support!" Mycroft snapped.

"Why can't you tell John? Moriarty's organization doesn't have to know, but John should. He'll be a complete wreck." Greg put a little milk and sugar in his tea. His hand was still shaking.

Mycroft shook his head. "If John knew, he'd never be able to keep it quiet. He would try to go after Sherlock. He'd want to help. He can't. He's completely unsuited for undercover work."

"But it was okay to tell me?" Greg was finally starting to collect himself after the shock of the whole thing.

"You'd never come running after me, Lestrade," Sherlock said, sitting in a nearby chair with his teacup. "Nothing would keep John in London if he knew I'm alive. He and Mrs Hudson have to believe I'm dead. It's the only thing that will keep the three of you breathing."

"Keeping the three of you safe is non-negotiable," Mycroft said, pouring his own tea. "For the moment, you're very likely to face problems at work," he continued. "Your connection with me, and the scandal of my brother's alleged fakery are going to cause difficulties. We can't counter the stories that were published without Moriarty's people taking action. Once the organization is dismantled, we can restore Sherlock's reputation and he can safely return to his life."

Greg looked between both of them. The brothers were both solemn, angry, and determined, both uneasy. "And how long do you think that's going to take?" he asked.

"Depending on how much assistance my brother is willing to accept, sometime between a year and three years." Mycroft was glaring at Sherlock, who glared back.

"Your people would only get in my way."

Greg shook his head. "Sherlock, you can't do everything alone. You'll need contacts. You'll need money. You'll need resources. If you're dead, you can't use anything that's connected to your name. You can't go to your homeless network --"

"A great deal of this will be on the continent and in Asia," Sherlock said.

"All the more reason to let Mycroft help," Greg insisted. "Passports, identity documents, transport. Trying to do it without any help at all is insane. And Mycroft's right, it'll take a hell of a lot longer without some backup. This could get you killed for real."

"Do you think I don't know that?" Sherlock snarled. "Do you think I wouldn't rather be here in London than chasing ghosts over half the planet?"

"Then letting Mycroft help will bring you back that much faster."

Sherlock looked hesitant. "I will need to have complete control over what kinds of 'help' Mycroft and his people provide."

Mycroft's hand covered Greg's and closed around it. "We have a few days to negotiate the details before you're off," he said. "We can discuss it in depth with Sir Edwin and Lady Smallwood tomorrow. This day has been a long and exhausting one for all of us. I would recommend we finish our tea and try to sleep. You know where the guest room is."

Sherlock left his half-finished cup of tea on the table and went off to the guest room with less drama than Greg had expected. "Thank you," Mycroft said. "It would have taken me hours more to get even that much of an agreement from him."

"I know how little he listens to you."

Mycroft set his tea down, barely touched. "I'm exhausted. This entire situation has been more wearing than either of us would have liked. You've suffered from it as well. We could both use some rest."

Mycroft was right. Greg had been in shock, and now he was coming down from all the adrenaline and he felt like utter crap. "I don't know if I'll be able to sleep, but you're right. We should at least try. I'll probably have to face a ton of misery tomorrow at work. If you're right, and you usually are, I may have to deal with a suspension. It's… it's going to be bloody awful."

"Do you think you'll be up to maintaining the illusion?" Mycroft stood and pulled Greg to his feet.

"If Sherlock's going off to try to deal with all of this, he may well be dead soon anyway." Greg's heart ached. "It's not a big leap, is it? And me, probably losing my job." He shrugged. "Yeah, I think I can act about as depressed as Moriarty's people think I should be. I'll not be far off from it anyway." He leaned into Mycroft, taking him in his arms. "They'd probably accept that I'm not as bad off as John, given I still have you. Still got someone who loves me."

"I do love you," Mycroft murmured, holding Greg close. "I was genuinely terrified that I'd lose you today. We weren't absolutely confident of our ability to fool both John and the sniper when Sherlock jumped."

Greg took Mycroft's hand and led him up to their bedroom. "Let's just… let's just be together tonight. You and me, quiet in the dark. There's enough trouble waiting for us in the light of day."

"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," Mycroft quoted. "We've already had our share for this one. Let us leave it at the bedroom door."

Greg closed the door behind them.