Mycroft Holmes was having a horrible night.
The atmosphere was stultifying. Every person here seemed to be enrobed in a cloud of scent and pretension, and the resulting miasma stung his eyes.
The sole saving grace of the evening thus far had been the Baccarat crystal in his hand full of excellent 25-year-old Dalmore. He'd done little more than sip at the skin-warmed whiskey, but at least it was making the hours pass with a touch more smoothness.
At present, he was feigning attention at the vapid expounding of a man with a dried fleck of shaving foam by his sideburn that looked like a large piece of dandruff. Midway through a mental debate of its resemblance to Tasmania, two strong arms threaded around his middle and stubble grazed over his jaw.
Mycroft was at a momentary standstill, torn between flight, fight and complete surrender to the resultant shiver. It had been an unfortunately long time since arms of any nature had been around him.
"There you are, darlin’! Been looking everywhere for you!" The voice - warmer than sunshine with a cigarette smoke edge - was wholly unknown to him, and he was attempting to turn in the caging embrace to say so (or else use a grip he had not needed since his fieldwork days and fracture the man's wrist to make him let go) when an urgent whisper filled his ear. "I know. M'sorry. Word of honor I'm not a nutter. Just play along and I swear I'll make it up to you."
Hmmm. Interesting proposition, even if the stranger clearly has no idea with whom he is attempting to bargain.
So Mycroft turned softly, an ambiguous twist of his lips conveying amusement, affection or perplexation depending on the perception of the viewer, and allowed the hold to shift into a fond arm across his back. He was peripherally examining the rather stunning man who'd called him darlin' (and ohhh how affecting was that dropped g?) and decided he was perfectly willing to play along for a while... just as soon as he learned what the game was.
"Well, Rick, here he is. The one and only-"
"Mycroft Holmes?!" The 'Rick' of address was Richard Bartley, a toadying ignoramus who licked as many boots these days as he had arseholes at Cambridge. At least before his... unfortunate expulsion. (Not that Mycroft had had anything to do with that.) In any case, there was no doubt he knew exactly who Mycroft was, even if Mycroft had no idea yet whom exactly he was supposed to be. "B-but... You hadn't- you just said... I… Damn." The incoherent splutter drew to a halt as Bartley shook his head like he was wiping clean some mental blackboard of incompatible facts - though in his case, an Etch-a-Sketch would be a more apt metaphor . "Punching above your weight class a bit, aren't we, Lestrade?"
The facts were these: Greg Lestrade, desperate to get the slimy rep off his case about going down the pub and 'plucking a few birds' (an offer he made to all and sundry with frightening regularity despite no one ever taking him up on it more than once) had blurted out that he was seeing someone. Specifically, a man. Yet the revelation of his bisexuality had not been as much of a deterrent as would be hoped. In the intervening weeks, Bartley had dropped increasingly unsubtle hints that he didn't really believe Greg's assertion, despite Greg's ability to spin the necessary bullshit details out of thin air like a modern-day Rumpelstiltskin. The final straw was when they'd run into each other at the Supporters of the Met do in the adjoining ballroom, Greg apparently on his own, Bartley three drinks in and laying a damp paw on his shoulder with a look of mock sympathy. "You can come clean, Greggo. I promise - I won't think less of you."
I swear to Christ, if the DCI and half the Board weren't in the room, you smug bastard... In lieu of planting his fist in the man's pasty face, Greg grit his teeth and let his shoulder roll to shake off the unwanted grip.
"Actually..." As the copper turned his head to draw in a careful breath and steady his nerves, he spotted possible salvation through the open doors across the hall. Tall, slender, beautifully pale, poshness visible at 20 paces, and he even had red hair - a perpetual weakness of Greg's.... along with pale pretty posh boys in bespoke tailoring.
Admittedly, it was a niche fetish.
"He's right over there." His feet were moving before his brain had a chance to catch up.
In the 30 or so seconds since he'd turned around Mycroft had read approximately 88% of the situation, and so at least understood what was expected of him.
Both men drew up in smooth unrehearsed unison, and Mycroft used his slight height advantage to wrap an arm around Lestrade's.... pleasantly broad shoulders. He let the brief fantasy of gripping those shoulders during a moment of ecstasy infuse his gaze, smoldering like a hot coal. Bartley's already bugged-out eyes threatened to leave his skull completely as he correctly read the heat, even as he wholly misread the source as memory over imagination.
"One could hardly call a decorated officer of Her Majesty's police service out of their class, especially one so handsome. If anyone is out of the other's league, I assure you, it is ... he who is out of mine." The slight verbal stumble as he realised he did not know his supposed paramour's Christian name thankfully came across as affectionate emphasis.
"Aw. Sweet about me," Lestrade cooed, letting his chin brush Mycroft's shoulder as he flashed him a devastating grin and those puppy-dog eyes turned a little wolfish.
"Not at all, darling," Mycroft said smoothly, turning his attention fully on the man at his side, only noticing as he did so that the movement left a gap of a few scant inches between their noses. And eyes. And the suddenly tingling skin of his lips where Lestrade's breath ghosted over it like a phantom kiss. "You know the effect you have on me." His voice had dropped to an intimate hush and damn but he sounded a little breathless; the deep espresso gaze locked onto his own blurred slightly as the pupils flared.
Then Lestrade sank his teeth into the full softness of his lower lip and Mycroft's trousers grew unfairly snug. It had likely been an unconscious reaction to the suddenly ratcheted tension in the air rather than some lustful pull that fell on one like a ton of bricks; even that rationalization did not make Mycroft's teeth ache any less to have a nibble of their own.
The slight bloom of pain in his lower lip brought Greg back to the moment. Forget a ton of bricks- lust had smashed into him like a lorry, and he'd been lost for a tick or two in the icy realm he spotted hiding behind those beautiful eyes; it was like having a glimpse into Narnia, and Greg found he desperately wished to go exploring. Still, that was fantasy and this was reality and if he wasn't careful he'd embarrass himself or this very nice and handsome man who was playing along so... nicely.
Hours or instants later, Bartley’s uneven clearing of his throat to regain their attention proved effective despite sounding like the petulant whine of a toddler. Again moving simultaneously, the pair turned back, and after a few minutes deftly handling a not-so-subtle interrogation, Greg offered to go for a round of drinks; Mycroft politely declined over a sip of his whiskey, and a still slightly gobsmacked Rick asked for a Pimms cup. He walked backwards slowly, letting his hand linger at the length of his outstretched arm until the contact broke and left them hovering like the Creation scene on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The time it took Mycroft to recall the presence of the gaping man to his right only added to the story. Lestrade was acting as though he couldn’t bear to be parted from the dapper politician, who in turn appeared thoroughly captivated; on at least one of their parts, it was true.
Greg returned with a Pimms and 2 fingers of the Dalmore (as he’d asked for a hit of the very tasty stuff that hot redhead was drinking, unaware of the bargirl’s barely bitten back squee of delight at getting to serve Mr Holmes’ unexpected ‘date’) to find Mycroft looming rather sexily over a quivering Bartley, voice pitched so low he appeared to be mouthing words rather than actually speaking. The moment Greg was in reach Rick latched on to his drink, mumbled best wishes and a hasty apology for being so boorish, and let them watch as he beat a somewhat unsteady retreat to the Met party. Once he’d cleared the ballroom doors, Greg swung his attention back to Mycroft and let his eyebrows rise in curious amusement.
“What was that all about? Or do I not wanna know?” Instead of answering immediately, the gorgeous ginger directed a smile at the floor, cast a look around and settled a hand against the small of Greg’s back, gently ushering him towards the French doors that led to the terrace. As they left the oppressive atmosphere of the place behind, both took in a deep cleansing breath of the sweet, cool night air. Mycroft let his hand slide as it fell, and settled himself against the low stone railing.
“Mr. Bartley simply needed a refresher in how polite people act, or at least how one should behave when around polite people.” Greg’s brows ramped up again in silent query, and Mycroft relented with a sigh that sounded almost painfully fond. “He attempted to… press me, I did not respond well to said pressure, and proceeded to exert a little of my own in regards to our relationship and the swift response that will answer any further ill treatment of you. Gregory.”
Greg felt his jaw drop a little, some curious warm thing unfurling like a flower in the pit of his stomach both at the sound of his name in this man’s voice and at the thought that anyone - never mind a posh boy who was clearly the definition of someone - would care what happened to him, let alone take pains to make sure what happened was as good as possible. He felt… cared for; it had been a while.
“Oh,” he breathed. Alright. Reel it in, Lestrade. "Well - ahem. Thanks.”
A small smile (unmistakably genuine and a little sad) played in the corner of Mycroft’s mouth. “You are quite welcome.” And now sufficient time has passed to cement your ‘relationship status’ so you may leave me at your earliest opportunity.
“I didn't make things awkward with your work mates or anything, did I?"
A low chuckle escaped Mycroft at the very idea. "The slightest possibility of friendship would have to first exist for any of my colleagues to be a mate, work or otherwise. And Whitehall is remarkably forgiving of foibles, providing they do not affect one’s productivity or end up splashed across the front page of the Daily Mirror."
"Still. Promise is a promise. Can I make it up to you? S’there… I dunno… anything I can do for you?” The offer was coupled with another sink of Greg’s teeth into his lower lip, the gentle catch of Mycroft’s perfect bowtie between two fingers and a thumb that rubbed soft circuits on the superfine material.
An entirely too tempting proposal, Gregory. If you only knew… if you only would.
"I... have no end of faith in your ability to make amends; however, in this case I assure you none are necessary. This is the most fun I have had at any social engagement in... well. Suffice to say, quite some time. It is I who is in your debt." He made to stand, only to find the corner of his bowtie still retained. The man who retained it had not retreated when Mycroft found his feet, and so the pair of them were now occupying the same prime real estate, the lapels of their coats nuzzling as the breath from their lungs mingled.
"Agree to disagree, darlin’, even if it’s just to say we rescued each other,” Greg replied in a low rumble that made Mycroft’s toes curl against handmade Italian leather. “Don’t know about you, but all of a sudden... I’m famished.”
“Ravenous,” Mycroft admitted in a rough hush, leaving the specifics of what he was craving open to interpretation.
“Then what say we blow this popstand? We’ll figure out where we’re going from there… however you want to take that…"
Mycroft knew well how he wanted to take that, and the shyly cocky grin that stretched Greg's mouth felt like an answer as well. He caught Greg’s hand, instantly feeling calmer as their fingers tangled together and they spent a few moments simply smiling at one another.
"It's a date."