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Greg glanced at the flier again and chewed his lower lip. Why had he even agreed to this? This was totally outside of his wheelhouse. It wasn’t as though he knew anything about art and he knew even less about what would be considered queer art. Christ, he’d hardly seen the outside of the closet in the past two decades. And all it took was running into one of his unofficial exes from uni, a few batted eyelashes, the aching realisation that he was really fucking lonely, and Greg had agreed to this… “Exclusive Exhibition of a Private Collection.”

He checked the address one last time, wrinkling his nose and glancing out the window. Of course it would be in a bloody big house, in a posh neighborhood. At least he’d thought to put on a suit. He didn’t need to look anymore out of place than he already felt. His phone buzzed and he sighed.

Greg! We’re running fashionably late! Don’t wait!

Of course Pierce was late.

Wait… We?

Lord, he was an idiot. In what world would the invitation have been anything more than a generous pity offer? Suddenly, a night trailing after Pierce and his newest boyfriend was looking less and less appealing. He should just start his car and drive on home. There was beer in his fridge, and he was sure there’d be a bond movie on one of the channels. He watched someone make their way up the front walk as he wavered. 

No. No balking. He needed to do something outside of his house that was social, and not work related, and not work adjacent, and not just a pub to watch a match. Right, he told himself. Right. You’re going to go in there. You’re going to have a drink. You’re going to look at some art. And you’ll enjoy it. You aren’t going to wait for Pierce. You aren’t going to go home without setting foot inside that house. Good. He gave himself a nod, took a deep breath, and opened the car door.

An hour later, Greg found himself taking another sip of his champagne and pausing by the next painting. He kept his free hand buried deep in his pocket to keep from fidgeting. It wasn’t as awful as he’d envisioned. The art itself was tasteful, more dynamic modeling and impressionistic pieces than explicit -- likely queer artists rather than queer subjects. He wasn’t even sure where that expectation had come from.

No, scratch that. He knew exactly where that idea had come from. It was in Pierce’s raised brow and suggestive grin. He’d always loved to unsettle Greg, knock him clear out of his comfort zone for the shock value. He’d probably assumed Greg hadn’t bothered to show up. There was a decent sized group of people milling about the space; the pieces spread across five rooms, large enough to accommodate the collection and a crowd. But in spite of the number of people, there was a lovely, calm atmosphere. Not museum silent, but not modern gallery opening rave either.

“Greggie!”

His shoulders tensed instantly at the nickname. Christ, Pierce was loud. The hand that came down on his shoulder was jarring enough that he nearly spilled his champagne. He had to school his face before turning. “Pierce.”

“Greg, it has been forever and a day since you’ve been at any of these gatherings!”

He tried to smile. He tried. But suddenly there were hands on either side of his face and Pierce was pressing a kiss right to his lips. He stared rather stupidly at Pierce as the man started chattering at a mile a minute.

“I completely assumed we’d have missed you! It’s so lovely to see you when you’re not on the news. Goodness does the camera add ten pounds. You’re far more fit than I’d thought. And isn’t this such a lovely shade of grey? Do you get it colored?”

He felt his shoulders curl and tried not to wince. Pierce was well aware he’d gone grey early. Jesus, it wasn’t that long ago. He was torn between throwing back what was left of his drink or simply maintaining the distant hope of the floor opening and swallowing him whole. A gentle touch at his elbow and low pitched voice so perfectly juxtaposed the demanding scene in front of him that he worried for a moment he was imagining them.

“Gregory. Won’t you introduce me to your friends?”

Mycroft? 

Maybe the ground would actually swallow him whole -- it felt equally as likely as finding Mycroft Holmes out socialising for the weekend. Socialising at a queer art showing for the weekend. Socialising at a queer art showing for the weekend, seeing Greg, and swooping in to save him from embarrassing polite obligations. He felt his face flush, but cleared his throat and gave a sharp nod. “Pierce Winship, this is Mycroft Holmes. Mycroft, this is Pierce and… his friend…”

“Desmond,” the young man supplied, the expression on his face clearly unimpressed that it was the first he was being acknowledged. 

Mycroft’s hand didn’t leave Greg’s elbow, an intentional slight to keep from shaking either of their hands. “Pleasure.”

Greg tucked his tongue between his teeth to keep from grinning. How one word could be infused with so much disdain was completely beyond him, but that was Mycroft through and through.

“Yes, well. Desmond and I were just leaving. Such a small collection. Hard to justify any more time. You are more than welcome to join us, Greg.”

He’d left Mycroft out of the invitation on purpose. Well that was rude. And Pierce had been late and obviously didn’t want to actually catch up. Why should he bother twisting himself in knots over this bloke again and again? “Still working my way through, actually. There’s just such a wide variety of works that it’s taking me longer than I thought. But you two have fun.” It was a near impression of genuine regret and the best he could be expected to muster given the circumstances. 

“Shame.” Greg almost bit through his tongue at Mycroft’s simple dismissal. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Mycroft’s mouth curl into an insincere smile. “Do enjoy your evening.”

“Must meet up again soon, Greggie!”

He drew back, afraid of a goodbye similar to the greeting he’d received, and Mycroft moved. It was nothing more than shifting his weight, but it managed to politely exclude Pierce and Desmond from further conversation. “Come-” And just like that, Mycroft had dismissed the couple and taken the discomfort and the social slight and redirected it into something much safer. “-I’ll source you another glass of champagne.”

He’d hardly noticed his drink was empty; good champagne went straight to his head, but if Pierce was leaving... “Yeah, alright.”

The hand stayed on his elbow as Mycroft guided him off into another room. And a moment later, he had a fresh glass of champagne and was studying a new piece with Mycroft standing beside him, absorbing the art in a calmly competent way.

“I recognise the irony in what I am about to say,” Mycroft murmured, his voice a gentle and private hum. “But that man has no concept of boundaries.”

Greg snorted into his champagne. “If you make me spill this on the art, I’m gonna get kicked out.”

“I doubt that.” Mycroft tilted his head and they moved on to the next painting. “Incidentally, I must say I’m pleasantly surprised to see you here. I did not expect it.”

He tamped down the reflexive, defensive response that itched to escape. Mycroft didn’t sound annoyed that he was there; it wasn’t snide and he did say ‘pleasantly.’ Hell, he’d needed to give himself a bloody pep talk in the car to even come inside -- he’d hardly expected to be there himself. “I almost didn’t come.”

“Oh?”

“Well you just met the person who invited me in the first place. Pierce does like to toe the line of my comfort zone.” Greg caught the change in Mycroft’s expression out of the corner of his eye and rushed to stop the impending conclusions. “Did! Did. He was… we were a… a thing. A long time ago. And it didn’t work out for a lot of reasons.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow inched upwards. “I see.”

“Not like that,” Greg said flatly, turning back towards the painting. He could read the assumption in Mycroft’s tone, but thankfully, his half-arsed relationship with Pierce was entirely consensual. “He never forced me into anything. I just wasn’t exactly what he wanted and I wasn’t going to become it. He got bored when he finally copped that I wasn’t-” he waved a hand as he searched for the word he wanted.

“Malleable?”

“Nail. Head.” He moved on to the next painting to give himself something to do, something to look at while he felt Mycroft’s gaze fixed on the side of his face. God only knew what Mycroft understood from that or what he was gleaning from how intently Greg was trying to stare at the art instead. Color crept into his cheeks in the quiet that followed until he couldn’t take it anymore. “Look. I was just always wrong to him.”

“Wrong?”

He blew out a sigh. “Too rough. Too Eastend, like I could help where I grew up. Too serious and interested in being good at school -- don’t laugh.”

“I wouldn’t.”

“I worked hard for what I got in my studies. Too much of a prude, because I never really liked necking in public. Too much of a slut, because I dated women. Too much of a rebel for getting tattoos. Too much of a square for being a cop.”

Mycroft hummed. “It has always escaped me as to why one would elect to spend time with someone they simply do not like.”

“I was young.”

“Not you. Him.”

He winced as if he’d been slapped. Greg had known for a long time that Pierce had little to no interest in him as a person, that there was something that Greg had represented or some rubbish like that. But Mycroft’s simple statement cut deep, flaying open old wounds with such precision and speed that he didn’t have a chance to prepare for the blow. He couldn’t keep his shoulders from curling in or his jaw from tightening. “Jesus, don’t sugar coat it.”

“Greg.”

Mycroft’s hand was back at his elbow, resting with an easy pressure, asking not demanding his attention. Greg was more comfortable staring at his shoes. Sodding dress shoes. And this stupid suit. He’d even gone in with a tie when Mycroft, who was clearly the paragon of societal etiquette, was there in slacks, a shirt, no tie, and the softest looking navy jumper…

“I fear you’ve misunderstood me.”

He waited. Mycroft bloody well waited until Greg couldn’t keep looking at the ground, until he’d exhausted the painting again as well. He caught his tongue between his teeth and finally met Mycroft’s eyes.

“That man-”

“Pierce.”

Mycroft actually rolled his eyes. “-and I use the term ‘man’ loosely, had done everything in his quite limited power to upset, wrong-foot, and embarrass you within a two minute interaction, because a much younger version of yourself was simply too much for him, and he cannot bear it.”

“He what?”

“Furthermore, he paraded his boyfriend -- and I do emphasize boy -- around a mature space, in front of an old flame whom, I’m supposed to and certainly do not believe he cared for, in order to make him jealous.”

Greg felt his entire face crease. “Make me jealous?”

“And if you so wish,” Mycroft leaned forward, whispering conspiratorially, “I will happily continue to eviscerate his character and his fashion choices while plying you with free, though not poor, champagne until you find the entirety of his existence as amusing as I do.”

“Christ.” The somewhat incredulous laugh escaped against his better judgement and he shook his head. “I’m too old for champagne hangovers.”

“As you wish,” Mycroft straightened, the ghost of a mischievous smile turning the corner of his mouth. “There’s an entire room of paintings left to enjoy. And I have no reservations about passing the time in your company.”

“No?”

“Not at all.”

And then something about it was easy again. Like a weight had lifted. As though whatever had worried Greg about that part of his life meeting this part evaporated in the face of amusement and the fact that he could count on one hand the number of times he’d seen a playful expression from Mycroft Holmes. “Ah well, in that case…” He followed Mycroft through into the next room, stopping at the first painting. “You know, I think I was surprised to see you here too.”

“Oh?”

“Glad, don’t get me wrong. Just. I didn’t think this would be your sort of weekend event.”

“The art or the subject matter?”

Neither of those things surprised Greg. He’d often wondered if Mycroft painted or drew in his spare time. Deep down, he suspected the man had a very quiet, meditative hobby and he couldn’t imagine him doing needle point. “No, just the people. I mean, I know it’s not exactly an all out rave, but it’s more people than I’d picture you leaving home to mingle with.”

“You make me sound like some sort of recluse.”

Greg could hear the humor behind the statement and couldn’t help but tease. “Yeah, you tell yourself that while you’re home alone in your wedding dress with a mouldy cake like some sort of Dickensian antihero.”

Mycroft made a quiet tsking sound. “How very dare you.”

“So which is it? Do you do art or just like to look at it?”

“Do art,” he muttered. “I collect art. And on the rare occasion, I dabble with watercolor.”

Greg couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face. “I bet you’ve never dabbled with a thing in your life.” The brow was up and down in a flicker that suggested that not only was Greg correct, but Mycroft agreed. He was probably born competent at everything.

“Art is meant to be enjoyed.”

“Right.”

“What do you think about this one?”

He studied it for a minute. “Honestly, not my favorite.”

“Why?”

“Gut reaction, I think.” He took a step back in case he was just too close to it, had another sip of his champagne and shook his head. “Nope. Still don’t like it.”

“Hm.” Mycroft moved on and Greg followed. “What about this one?”

“Yes.”

“Yes?”

Greg grinned. “Yes, I like this one better.”

“Why?”

He huffed out a laugh. “I don’t think I have the fancy language for art critiques, Mycroft.”

“We both speak English.”

“Yeah, I know but…” They were alone in the room. It wasn’t as though anyone else would judge him for his words. But Mycroft was just so… Precise with his language. It was intimidating. And Mycroft had gone that type of quiet that meant he intended to just wait him out. “Fine,” he sighed. “I like the colours. It’s bright but feels… calm somehow. And it moves on its own.”

“It is dynamic,” Mycroft agreed. “You don’t think the colours are too vivid?”

“No. Not really. It’s… It’s warm, you know.” Oh no. He’d taken his hand out of his pocket and was gesturing again. “You couldn’t have it in a room with an orange sofa or anything.”

Mycroft’s entire face convulsed. “An orange sofa?”

“You know what I mean!”

“Thankfully, I do not.”

Greg chuckled. “Liar.”

Mycroft shook his head as if to clear the image from his brain. “I am going to need more alcohol if this is the course of our conversation.”

“Suit yourself.” Greg shifted his attention to the next painting and froze.

It… It was… He took a deep breath as his brain kicked back online. Breathtaking, for sure. Black and white. Simple, almost photographically accurate. Somehow… Erotic. He felt his face grow hot. It was just the bend of someone’s neck, adoringly detailed. He wasn’t even sure how he knew it was a person, the image was in so tight. Maybe it was the constellation of freckles. The shadow of a hairline just at the edge of the canvass. Any doubts that paintings could be sensual without being explicit were now firmly evicted from his mind.

The gentle touch made him jump. Same hand, same spot at his elbow, but it yanked him out of whatever daze he’d drifted into. Mycroft’s brow lifted. “Perhaps I oughtn’t offer you this glass then.”

“No.” When had his voice gone rough? Greg cleared his throat. “No, it’s fine. One more won’t kill me.” He abandoned the empty flute on one of the tables and accepted the fresh champagne. “So. What do you think about this one?”

Mycroft was staring at the painting, a carefully blank expression on his face. “It is… not my favorite.”

“Really?” Greg turned back to the canvass. He tilted his head to the side and ran his eyes along the lines. It felt like he could touch it; like he was touching it just by looking. “Might be mine,” he murmured.

He couldn’t completely classify the sound that Mycroft made -- something like a cough, higher pitched and uncomfortable. “This next one is my favorite.”

“Oh yeah?” He had to tear his eyes away from the painting. Make himself move on. And even trying to focus on the new piece, he kept glancing back. “How come?”

Mycroft launched into an explanation, exposition of sorts, lots of words, oddly vast gesticulation for someone usually so contained. In fact, Greg was pretty sure that Mycroft was rambling. He glanced at his champagne and back at Mycroft; there was a light pink stain creeping across Mycroft’s face, the tips of his ears were flushed. Maybe he was drunk. Maybe Greg was drunk. Mycroft seemed to run out of steam, his eyes flicking between the painting and Greg’s face.

Greg grinned. “So that one’s your favorite then?”

“Yes.” Mycroft’s brow creased. “Did I not just explain-”

He held up a hand in surrender. “Yeah, alright. Alright. That one is your favorite.” He gestured at one of the paintings on the far side of the room. “Just would have thought that one instead.”

Mycroft blinked. “Oh.”

“Yeah. But whatever. You like what you like. You like that one. I love that one,” he twisted to look over his shoulder at the black and white canvass again. “To each his own, yeah?”

Mycroft stared at the champagne glass in his hand, an unreadable flurry of expressions pulling at the small muscles in his face until he met Greg’s eyes again. “I think something stronger. Yes?”

“Stronger?”

“Scotch, yes?”

Greg laughed. “They aren’t serving scotch.”

“No, they are not.” The champagne flute was plucked straight out of his hand, abandoned on a table, and then Mycroft was heading out of the room.

He scrambled to catch up, following him through the open rooms then back through a kitchen. “Myc, I don’t think this is part of the…” 

Mycroft didn’t stop. Or slow down. He breezed through the next hallway as if he owned the place, nodding to staff as he went. Then he unlocked a door and held it open waiting for Greg to enter before shutting it firmly with a loud exhale.

When Mycroft seemed intent on staring at the closed door in silence, Greg stood in the middle of the room -- a study or home office maybe -- carefully running through the events of the past few minutes. “You… collect art, eh?” Greg watched the line of his spine straighten, the quick inhale, but then nothing. Well, Greg could play the silent waiting game too. He shoved his hands deep into his pockets and held his tongue. If this was Mycroft’s house, it didn’t require too much of a leap to understand that it was Mycroft’s art collection. Though why that led to whatever this was...

“I lied,” Mycroft said suddenly, brushing past him to reach the dry bar on the far side of the room. “Scotch?”

“Sure…”

It took a very long moment for Mycroft to manage Greg’s glass of scotch. He handed it over and hid back over the dry bar, working on his own.

“When you say you lied…” Greg offered. It was an opening, an invitation. Mycroft didn’t take it. So he defaulted to his other Holmes-managing tactic -- playing dumb. He’d been offended by how well it had worked in the past, but now that he knew how to use it, it was incredibly effective. “I can only assume you mean that you went and had Pierce disappeared and now you’re worried that I’m going to be upset about it. I’m not. He can rot in Siberia for all I care.”

Mycroft snorted and shot Greg a wry look. “I did not have him disappeared.”

“No? Shame.” Greg casually took in the room. “It was the dabbling thing then. All those paintings are yours, like you arted them, not just own them.”

“Arted? Good lord, Gregory.” This time Mycroft turned to fully face the room.

“No? I’d guess that one’s yours,” he bobbed his head at a small, framed, watercolor piece hanging beside the desk. Based on the way Mycroft averted his eyes, he knew he was right. “Ok, so not about Pierce, not about the actual paintings, was it the champagne? Is it actually shite and you just didn’t want to tell me? How bad of a hangover am I going to have?”

“The champagne was perfectly acceptable and will certainly not be the source of a hangover.”

“Right,” Greg nodded slowly. “So then, all I’ve got left is that you lied about enjoying my company.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes and huffed. It was such a familiar reaction that Greg only just managed to bite back a smile. “If I disliked your company, do you honestly believe I would have allowed you into my study?”

“I’m still surprised you let other people into your home. That has to violate like twelve layers of national security.”

“I am not a recluse.”

“Of course you aren’t, Mr. Haversham.” This time he let the amusement spread across his face in a wide grin. He wanted Mycroft to be absolutely certain he was being teased.

“Incorrigible,” Mycroft muttered into his scotch. “I… I lied about the painting.”

“Oh?” There were a lot of paintings. There had been a lot said. “Which one?”

“The one I said was my favorite. It is not.”

“Oh.” He nodded reflexively, though why that was any of Greg’s concern… 

“The one that you suggested was likely to be my favorite is, in fact, my favorite. You were remarkably astute in that assessment.”

“Ok.” He still didn’t understand why that warranted whatever this reaction was.

“I was flustered and I lied.” Mycroft finished his scotch in one swig and turned to refill his glass.

“Why…” Greg blinked, stared at the way Mycroft was holding himself, his posture, the set of his shoulders, the curve of his neck… The freckles. The hairline. A warm weight twisted low in his gut and he understood. His eyes followed the sloping arc until his fingers were itching to feel the blush that was staining the previously pristine skin. “Oh.” Not only did he want the true sensation of that simple geometry against his hands, he wanted to press his lips just there. And it was a want that unfurled like heated molasses, coating everything it touched in his brain.

It was clear from his body language that Mycroft didn’t approve of the realisation. Embarrassment, discomfort. He still hadn’t managed to refill his scotch. “You cannot possibly understand what-”

“Then explain it.”

“I… This viewing… I should never have included that piece. And you of all people… Show up dressed like that…”

Greg looked down at his suit. “Like what? In a monkey suit?”

Mycroft turned around sharply and glared. “You know perfectly well how devastating you are in a suit.”

Both of his brows shot up. It was the strangest sensation -- being struck dumb for the second time in less than an hour.

“For the briefest moment, I actually suspected that you had orchestrated this entire incident.”

It took a lot to make him blush out to the tips of his ears, but Greg was worried that his face might have actually been on fire. “What… What incident?”

“You. Here in my home. In-” Mycroft gestured up and down with his free hand, “-that. And putting to rest any doubt about whether or not you…” Mycroft winced rather than finish his thought and took another sip of scotch.

“Whether or not I what?”

“Like men.”

Greg stared. “Like men?”

“And you stood there, ogling my likeness as if you…”

“Jesus Christ, Mycroft,” he cut him off. “Of course I didn’t orchestrate this!”

“No. Clearly. I’m much mist-”

He didn’t let him finish. “Yes I like men. I like everyone! But I have been fucking gone on you for a lifetime! God, I must be an idiot for never copping that you didn’t get that.”

“What exactly do you mean ‘gone on’?”

“Flirting! Dammit! I have been flirting with you every time I see you!” Greg needed to get rid of the glass in his hand before he spilled it, or threw it. The sideboard next to the drybar was the best option, and the glass landed with a loud thud. “I asked you to dinner last week!”

“And I declined, because I was due at a State function.”

“On a DATE! Mycroft!” How had he missed it? How had Mycroft not understood? They were less than two feet from each other and Mycroft somehow thought Greg didn’t like to be near him!

“I have dinners all the time for work.”

Greg actually laughed. “‘Wanna grab a drink?’ is not about work!”

“It… It may have been about Sherlock.”

Greg let out a frustrated growl. “Of all the times I was being too subtle, it was with the man who literally reads people for the good of the world.” It was too absurd. He pressed the heels of his hands over his eyes.

“If I may clarify.”

Greg snorted into his hands.

“You have been, both delicately and ineffectively, attempting to engage me with flirtation and social company in a… non-platonic manner for…”

“Months,” he groaned. “For months.”

“I am afraid your efforts were too delicate,” Mycroft finished primly.

Greg dropped his hands to his sides and fixed on Mycroft’s diffident gaze. “Too delicate?” Too delicate?! Christ, what would possibly be enough to spell it out?! There was one thing, bit extreme, but it would make it really, really apparent-

“Yes,” Mycroft shifted where he stood. “I was not fully clear that you-”

Not fully clear?! Jesus! Greg caught Mycroft’s face between his palms and kissed him.

It wasn’t hard, or punishing. But it was firm enough to get his point across, and apparently startling enough to curb Mycroft’s train of thought. Which, when the hot flash of frustration burnt off, Greg was left with the sensation of horribly soft lips pressed against his own, the slightest hint of stubble beneath his palms, and the expanding press of a chest warm along his front. Then Mycroft stiffened. And all of the lovely, inviting, and racy thoughts that had drifted through his mind came to a screaming halt.

Oh no. Oh God no. He’d gone too far. Mycroft wasn’t flirting, he was just looking for clarity. This wasn’t what he wanted. And Greg had gone and thrown himself on top of him like some sort of-sort of…

He barely heard the sound, the whisper of his name even as he was pulling away. But he only managed the space for a breath before long fingers slid into his hair and tugged him back in. It took two shamefully long beats before he caught up with the small of his back hitting the sideboard, the palm between his shoulder blades keeping him upright, Mycroft’s tongue brushing along the seam of his lips. 

The groan started low in his gut, twisting its way warmly though his chest and up into the back of his throat. He held on to it as long as he could, letting his mouth fall open, Mycroft’s tongue curling along his. Mycroft’s teeth raked his lower lip and it escaped, the relief of it making him light headed as if all his air followed it out.

Neither one of them were exactly steady on their feet, and Mycroft’s shoulders were heaving with each breath. He rested his forehead against Mycroft’s and tried to control his own breathing. Then Mycroft nuzzled in close, their noses brushing. Fuck. Mycroft Holmes was going to be the death of him.

He cleared his throat. “So… Are we clear now?”

Mycroft’s lips curled into a smile that Greg could feel. “Crystal.”

 

~

 

Greg wanted a date -- the date that had been lost to the ambiguity of uncertain language. If you could call it that, because anyone other than Mycroft Holmes would have known flirting when it hit him square in the face. And it had; it wasn’t as if Greg had been subtle. And now that they were on the same page, Greg wanted his date. No miscommunication, no lack of clarity. So he’d asked Mycroft on a date. Out to dinner. With wine. And maybe dessert. And whatever felt right afterwards. Thanks to a last minute trip on Mycroft’s end, he’d had two weeks to plan.

When the day rolled around, Greg was ready. From the expression on Mycroft’s face -- one of blatant restraint and purposefully expressionless -- Greg knew he’d made the right decision. It was a later hour than he’d like, particularly for a Friday. But he’d gone home first to shower, to change out of his work clothes, to put on the new suit that still felt a bit too snug, but had been tailored to fit. He’d shaved again. Because necking in a study was all well and good, but he wanted -- all but insisted -- on a proper date. And now he had it. Dinner date. Drinks and flirting and food and foreplay. Proof positive that he didn’t just want Mycroft, he wanted to woo him.

Mycroft had managed one of his politically neutral, polite society smiles by the time Greg reached the table, and if he hadn't seen the original panic, Greg might actually have been fooled.

“Gregory.”

He grinned as he undid the button on his jacket and seated himself. “Mycroft. Glad you could make it.”

“My pleasure.”

Greg was ready. He wanted Mycroft to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was flirting -- that he hadn’t changed his mind. “It will be.”

Mycroft narrowed his eyes and rolled his lower lip behind his teeth. It was far less fearsome with the dusting of pink across his cheekbones. “New suit?”

“Yup, and it came with a real tailor. Who knew?”

“Indeed,” Mycroft deadpanned.

“I’m thinking wine,” Greg hummed almost absently. “With dinner. You’re better with that kind of stuff. Want to order a bottle?”

“If we order a bottle, I will insist on paying for it myself.”

“Thought I asked you out for dinner.”

Mycroft reached for the wine list, flicking it open decisively and scanning the pages. “Yes, well, I happen to have expensive taste.”

Greg let the toe of his shoe find Mycroft’s instep and slid past the leather brogue to his socked ankle. “So do I.”

Mycroft’s eyebrow twitched and the corner of his mouth ticked upwards before he managed to hide behind the wine list. Greg grinned at the embossed leather dividing the space -- foreplay.

By the time they were enjoying coffee and sharing a creme brulee, Greg had sneakily sorted the bill and their knees were bumping affectionately beneath the table. “This,” Greg licked the spoon and set it aside, feeling full and content. “Was a really good idea.”

“Almost as though you came up with it yourself.” Mycroft’s smile was hidden behind a sip of coffee, but Greg managed to catch it just before it was truly obscured.

He hummed. “It is getting late. We ought to let all these nice restaurant people get home to their families.”

If Mycroft had noticed the slow emptying of the space, he put on a good show of realisation. “Goodness. Allow me to settle the cheque.”

“Already done,” he grinned, immensely pleased.

“Ah.” Mycroft replaced his coffee cup. “Then I rather insist on a nightcap-”

“You insist?” Greg lifted a brow. “Well, then by all means-”

“-At mine.”

“Yours?” Greg hummed. “Why should it be yours?”

Mycroft leaned forward, his head tilted to the side, an expression of benign innocence on his face. “As you have sneakily managed to pay for dinner behind my back, saw fit to meet with a tailor -- long overdue if you ask me, and have spent the duration of the evening attempting to flirt shamelessly with me-”

“Attempting? Succeeding,” Greg grinned, abundantly pleased with how much he’d managed to surprise Mycroft.

“Po-tay-toe, Po-tah-toe.” Mycroft held a hand to silence him again. “Given the above listed circumstances, we should retreat to mine, because I happen to have excellent security, an above average selection of expensive scotch, and a superior bed.”

He couldn’t bite back his grin. “And what does your bed have to do with it?”

“Because,” Mycroft’s hand waved absently. “I have every intention of stripping you, exceedingly slowly out of that delicious suit of yours; spreading you out across the aforementioned bed; then spending the remainder of the night familiarizing myself with every inch of your absurdly fit body and every possible noise I can wring out of your lovely mouth.” He reached across the table, setting two fingers under Greg’s chin and nudging his jaw closed. “To be crystal clear.”

For a moment, there was nothing but pleasantly warm static where his brain should be. He blinked and sucked in a slow breath, before sitting back in the chair and shifting to accommodate his burgeoning erection. “Right,” he cleared his throat and repeated himself, “right.”

“Objection?”

There was nothing to object to. “No. Nope. Not at all.”

Mycroft’s Cheshire grin unfurled slowly and steadily. “Excellent.”

 

~

 

He groaned and pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes. “Jesus, Myc, plea-” his words cut off in a gasp as Mycroft crooked his fingers, finding his prostate with shocking ease, and Greg bucked his hips.

Mycroft lifted his head from where he had been diligently sucking a mark into the crest of a hip bone. “Please?”

He whined as Mycroft’s fingers dragged slowly, lazily free of his body. “Fuck. I’m good. I’m good.”

They had walked to Mycroft’s house from the restaurant, seeing as it was so close and that Greg needed a moment to calm himself down after the epic declaration of intention Mycroft had given. Then, Mycroft was as good as his word. The front door had barely closed when Greg found himself pressed up against it, one hand sliding neatly under his coat, gripping the small of his back and another cupping the side of his head, a thumb beneath his jaw, tilting his head just so. If not for the door at his back, his knees would have given out the moment teeth were scraping his neck.

His coat had been abandoned in the entryway. His shoes and suit jacket somewhere near the stairs. He’d lost track of his socks and tie. He was distinctly aware of his shirt dropping to the floor just inches inside of the bedroom. His trousers had been shucked next to the bed. When he really gave it thought, he was nearly certain his boxers had been tossed over the side of the bed, but everything had gotten a bit blurry by that point.

Now, Mycroft was nearly thirty minutes into a torture session. He’d edged Greg twice, and seemed intent on exploring every inch of Greg’s skin with his tongue. He was a mess of sweat and lube and anticipation.

“Oh?” Mycroft’s brow lifted. “Just good?”

He whimpered. “Ready. Christ.” A sweep of pressure just below the head of his cock had him squirming. “Fucking hell. Just… Just…” There was the tiniest of kitten licks and Greg heaved. “Fuh-fuck. Fuck me. Myc. God. Now.”

“Now?”

It was uncoordinated, his growl and grab, but he managed to haul Mycroft up on top of him and in for a messy kiss. The negotiation of limbs and bodies happened without much thought and Greg’s attention narrowed down to the overwhelming sensation of Mycroft sliding gently and deliberately inside of him. In the space of a heartbeat, Mycroft was blinking down at him, wide-eyed and speechless. 

He gave a shaky laugh. “Now, Myc.” It was the last cognisant statement he managed before the night spooled out in a hot slide of skin on skin, panted shared breaths, and mutual satisfaction.

God only knew what time it was as he dragged his fingers through the disheveled mess of Mycroft’s hair.

Mycroft hummed against his chest. “That is lovely.”

He agreed with a sound, enjoying the comedown, the way his muscles had turned to mush, how the puffs of Mycroft’s breaths raised goosebumps on his skin. “Question,” he managed eventually.

“Hm?”

“Did you move all your art for that showing? Or was it just there already?” Fingertips stroked down his side and he shivered.

“Perhaps a bit of both.” A kiss landed on his chest, shy of center. “Why do you ask?”

“Just thinking…”

Mycroft had shifted, his mouth finding Greg’s collarbone, nipping at the skin. “Oh?”

“Yeah,” he gripped at the nape of Mycroft’s neck -- the bastard was going to leave another mark. “Just wondered where my favorite painting ended up.”

Mycroft pulled back, dislodging Greg’s hand, propping himself up with a fist against his temple. “Oh really.”

Greg felt the twitch of a smile at the corner of his mouth. Mycroft was bristling at the very thought of that painting existing again. After what they’d just done, how could he possibly be self-conscious? “Yup.”

“If you must know, I keep it locked in the attic in the back of a dusty press.” He picked an imaginary piece of lint from the sheets.

“Shame.” Greg tucked a hand behind his head.

“Is it?”

“Mmn, yeah.” He closed his eyes and smiled. “I was just thinking that when I can feel my legs again, I might just bend you over in front of it. Fuck you against the wall while you have to see what I’m seeing.” When he opened his eyes again, Mycroft’s mouth was hanging slightly open as he stared. Greg nudged it closed again with a crooked finger. The drag of his thumb across Mycroft’s lower lip had the man’s pupils dilating further in the low light. “Shame it’s tucked away in the attic.”

“I… It could be moved. I could move it.”

“See that you do.” He hefted himself up to press a firm kiss to Mycroft’s lips. “Art is meant to be enjoyed."